The Paleo community seems to be very anti-running except for maybe 10 minutes total of sprints a week. I walk about 5-6 hrs a week, lift weights 3 days a week and do rings and rope climbs one day a week (light, don't push it). I can hike for hours but can't run for 10 minutes. Although Paleo seems to be so anti-running I figured this is an indicator that I need to start running. I was thinking get up to 2 miles at a pace of 8 minutes a mile and that's it. Do you think this is counter productive for overall health? I don't do sprints, maybe I need to do that instead? Hope this isn't a stupid question. I basically have never run for exercise in my life and figured it would help overall fitness.
I really don't think that running is necessarily bad for your health. I think the main thing to get is that you don't need to run in order to be healthy (nor do any other steady state long and rather intense aerobics).
And this is the great difference between the common wisdom and the 'paleo-exercise-rules'. But you can be healthy and run... for fun.
Long distance running is not necessary for health and from an efficiency point of view, it is not very good at it. Exercising the way you often find in this community (like the suggestions Mark Sisson makes) is better.
But by all means, if you enjoy running, why shouldn't you run? But use your evolutionary framework to avoid some pitfalls:
barefoot or minimalist shoes, or appropriate running technique (fore/mid-foot landing)
trail running rather than on the track (our organism loves the variety of fractal patterns)
don't do steady state running, think of children or animals running
use the right fuel aka paleo diet
don't use running as your only way of exercise, we humans are allround athletes
smile while running (this really helps)
And of course, as you suggested yourself, take a slow and gradual increase in intensity.
If you don't enjoy running, keep on walking as you do, and keep your shorter and intenser workouts short and intense. Seems to me like you're doing fine!
(Edit: for clarity: I do agree that running too much is unhealthy, see many of the other commenters, see chronic cardio)
I recommend reading Born To Run, by Christopher Mcdougall. It is a riveting book and will appeal to those with the paleo mindset. It is about one guy's quest to be able to run without pain. Along the way he discovers barefoot running, which leads him to the Tarahumara, the Mexican indian tribe whose members routinely run 100 miles on homemade sandals. It explores human morphology, and we learn that we are practically designed to run. With little hair and numerous sweat glands, we can actually cool ourselves while running--other animals can't do this, they must stop and pant, or die. Because we run on our "hind legs" only, our respiration is totally independent of our gait. Most other running animals can inhale and exhale only one time per stride. He speculates that man is a specialist persistence hunter, which is running game down to exhaustion. I guarantee if you pick this book up, you won't be able to put it down.
However, we also know about the dangers of chronic cardio and chronic inflammation. So, just because we can do it, doesn't necessarily mean we should. I've long admired marathoners for their ability to attain peak cardiovascular performance, and especially for the ability to endure incredible discomfort and pain for the time it takes to complete the race. But I wouldn't want to do it myself, and in the long run I think it's unhealthy. I read somewhere that on a warm day, a persistance hunter might only have to chase an animal for 15 minutes before it overheats and has to stop (for reasons outlined in the book this is not easy). So it seems to me that running 15-30 minutes once or twice a week is probably in keeping with our paleolithic heritage.
I've bee a long-distance runner for 27 years. I took it up as a child with severe asthma at my pediatricians request, ran my first 8 miler at 11 and kicked my asthma's ass within a year. Today I'm a barefoot runner and do it because I love to do it....the runner's high is like a blissful state in mediation for me....it comes around rarely. No, I....like most of the distance runner's I know, run because we love it, because it's a form of meditation and an opportunity to be very present in the body. There are specific books written for distance runners, so I balk at the notion that a distance runner can' do well on a paleo diet, nor that a paleo eater can't/shouldn't be a distance runner...any thoughts?
I run 2-5 miles a few times a week in vibrams or cross country flats. I don't like to jog much, so I tend to run hard for a few blocks and then back off, weave between obstacles, jump and touch signs, anything to make it fun.
Paleo is big on sprints because of the McMaster and Tabata studies, but there is also research demonstrating the benefits of intervals in 3000m runners.
Kurt has two posts on the potential negative effects of habitual long distance runners (marathoners), but the volume of work they do is far beyond running two miles a few times a week. I see little evidence to suggest your goal would be anything but positive for your health.
I don't believe that our ancestors, in a societal way, did long-distance running that would equate to anything like our half-marathons or marathons. I do believe, like many of you, that they did run -- at least for some kind of long distances, more like our 5K's.
I ran before I started Paleo, and had already run a couple of half-marathons plus a bunch of smaller races. I am not a guy who runs every day, nor do I run 50+ miles a week even. However, I do still run half-marathons (two down already this year, one in Rochester and one in Buffalo) and have other long races coming up this year (including my first full marathon in September).
Ryan, I think running is a nice counterpart to doing any kind of crossfit or cross-training. Many running coaches and writers highly advocate cross-training on the days off from a running program, so why not vice versa? 8-minute miles are no joke, either, so I applaud you for being that fast! :)
Two miles at eight minute per mile pace is exactly what I do once a week. I think the anti-running stance you mention is a response to the 50+ miles a week routines many people advocate, aka chronic cardio. Sure that's detrimental, just look at how many runners end up crocked in later life. A few runs every so often if you're body tells you it's ok is just fine. Richard did a good post on this recently on Free the Animal
I'm just doing little bits of sprinting as i go on my long walks... I'm enjoying the rapid improvement of my capabilities, But have no intention of ever running for more than half an hour.
I think that won't take me into the long term damage zone while still evincing my survival heritage of being able to run like hell till out of all danger!
Edit: i live in a very hilly area, and make sure that i use different gaits while on different terrains... I'm always interested in how is uses differing sets of muscles.
Other than short sprints I think running is insane. People justify it because they like it. The runners high is actually the body preparing for severe injury or demise. Blood thickens, the vessels constrict anticipating much bleeding, and endorphins are released anticipating pain.
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