I got a virus called running back in 2005, it lingered for a few years. Suffice to say I have now fully recovered (although you can never be 100% sure) and so feel ready to share my experiences with the world.
I was a reasonable 800m man in my school days (2.20) but never exceptional. I was tall then (I am 6’ 1” now) and naturally lean so running was a good biomechanical fit right up until I began trying to attach as much excess muscle to my skeletal frame as possible. Following my time getting beaten up in the boxing gym I began to feel a reductionist agenda fall upon me. I simply didn’t want to have all of the paraphernalia required to keep fit. Skipping ropes and running shoes were about my tolerance level. I am not sure what led me down that road but looking back I think it was the ‘long tail’ of my de-coupling from GloboGym that had started some years before. Running kind of happened naturally. I was living in rural Berkshire/Hampshire borders and so off road running was super accessible. The toughest thing was the adaptation period. Mark Lauren asserts in his book ‘You Are Your Own Gym’ that the process of getting ‘fitter’ from running is predominately a process of bio-mechanical adaptation rather than measureable aerobic increases. I am inclined to agree with his position on this. The first few weeks left me with hamstring, glute, quad and calve issues. Once I was over this my competitive streak soon emerged and I started hunting 10km times; target sub 45 mins. Just as I was regularly reaching this target I rolled my left ankle jumping over a fallen tree. Ouch. 5 weeks of no-running ensued, during which I visited an Osteopath for the first time ever. Diagnosis; hyper-mobility, prescription; single leg balances, wobble boards et al, something that I continue to this day with my one legged approach to escalators on my commute.
Let’s get to some kind of conclusion here. Running in and of itself is cool. I still miss the time to reflect and zone-out with or without iPod. The issues are that over ‘longer’ distances you are effectively moving away from functional fitness and towards specialisation. Also – the fix becomes longer and longer distances over shorter times. For me this was actually pretty handy because I needed to drop a bunch of muscle mass and running did that pretty effectively. The problem with running as a sole pursuit is hidden in plain sight; it’s not varied enough to produce a neuroendocrine response (read this for better info; http://msurecsports.wordpress.com/2011/11/09/neuroendocrine-response-to-resistance-training/)
You are going to drop weight but also power. It wasn’t going to work for me in the long run (Gettit? Long run? I am wasted on here… )