Running is bad?

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Jorpho
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Running is bad?

Postby Jorpho » Fri Sep 26, 2014 1:25 am UTC

Truly, it is wondrous how much flagrantly contradictory information you can find on the Internet. It is not difficult to find people who proclaim that regular running will wreak utter wholesale devastation on your knees and feet, and then just recently I came across a bunch of posts proclaiming that cardio in general is a terrible idea.

I suppose there's something to be said for just sticking with whatever works for you, but maybe I should switch things up. To be clear, I just finished another half-marathon this past weekend (just over 21 km) in well under two hours; typically I average about that much (or a little less) every week when I run to the gym and back. I've never had much success in building muscle, and I find myself pondering whether I might make better progress if I just walk back from the gym instead after lifting weights. Or maybe that would be too easy?

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duckshirt
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Re: Running is bad?

Postby duckshirt » Fri Sep 26, 2014 3:27 am UTC

20 km of running per week is hardly anything, and shouldn't interfere with muscle building progress at all... in some ways you need at least some "cardio" to get warmed up. I've seen people get "bulky" running well over 100 km per week. I think the most important thing, if you're lifting and not seeing gains, is EAT MORE!!!

The "cardio in general is bad" has been debunked so many times it's not even funny...
lol everything matters
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nightbird
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Re: Running is bad?

Postby nightbird » Fri Sep 26, 2014 9:32 am UTC

I think most of this comes from paleo guys constructing strawman arguments - which is, admittedly, easy considering how many people get injured from running. I guess the main issue is that so many people go from being sedentary to running 15+ miles a week within two or three months. Long distance running done often is probably not the best thing for your joint unless you really ease into it - and it also isn't a surefire way to lose weight without also dieting. Every time someone I know wants to lose weight, their first idea is 'I'll run for two hours three times a week'.

(Note that none of this goes against cardio or even distance running in a healthy and responsible way)
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Nath
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Re: Running is bad?

Postby Nath » Fri Sep 26, 2014 10:00 am UTC

It's not that running is good or bad, but your body adapts to the tasks you make it perform. Yes, regular long-distance running will lead to muscle loss, because muscle loss is a favorable adaptation to an endurance athlete. Running a couple of km to the gym is no big deal, but running marathons is extremely counterproductive if you're trying to gain muscle.

I'm not saying that cardio is bad. I think most people should be doing some sort of conditioning, whether it's shortish runs, cycling, sprints, kettlebells, stairs, whatever. Just not multi-hour endurance work, if you care about strength.

wumpus
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Re: Running is bad?

Postby wumpus » Sat Sep 27, 2014 4:34 pm UTC

The "badness" of running comes down to two things:

Running injuries: Find a [long distance] running-specific forum and you will essentially find a forum specializing in repetitive-use injuries. Those just getting into may underestimate the importance of running shoes and just how specific they are (I started on some sort of "cross-training" shoe and would injure my ankles after a few months of running <15 miles a week).

Lifting specific claims: If you measure "fitness" by 1RM lifting, you will find that using energy in running will "use up" the energy you need to lift. There is also some issue about "needing" >=15% body fat for optimal muscle use (this might just be a side effect to eating amounts typical to strength builders, but it seems to crop up enough). Back when I was training for my marathon (long, long, ago. I'm getting back in shape) I was basically doing "maintenance" lifts and still watching my bench press go down (legs weren't losing anything). Since I was intentionally turning my body into a long-distance running machine, I could deal with that. It all comes down to your goals.

In the end, running is just about the best exercise for weight loss. If you are trying to gain weight, there could easily be a problem (although I would expect the weight lost to be mostly fat, these are still contradictory goals). If you want to train both your heart and the rest of your muscles as well, swimming might be better (swimming doesn't seem to help lose weight and uses all kinds of muscles, so I guessing here). Finally, you have to be in some sort of reasonable shape (obviously half-marathoners are far beyond this issue), otherwise you won't be able to run/jog for 20-30 minutes needed for the real gains to start.

Finally, you might want to look at some of the other things "they" say about cardio. Some of it can be hilarious, even more than "running: bad".

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Jorpho
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Re: Running is bad?

Postby Jorpho » Sat Sep 27, 2014 11:36 pm UTC

Well, it does kind of make sense that someone with more muscle tissue might have a higher basal metabolic rate than someone who has less muscle tissue and therefore weighs less – and accordingly the person who has more muscle tissue might be less likely to gain weight in the form of fat. Or is that not how it works?

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Xenomortis
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Re: Running is bad?

Postby Xenomortis » Sun Sep 28, 2014 1:01 am UTC

Jorpho wrote:Well, it does kind of make sense that someone with more muscle tissue might have a higher basal metabolic rate than someone who has less muscle tissue and therefore weighs less – and accordingly the person who has more muscle tissue might be less likely to gain weight in the form of fat. Or is that not how it works?

Heavier people tend to have higher metabolic rates (it's harder to maintain a body with greater mass) and muscle is relatively dense.
Someone with high muscle mass might put on less weight in fat because of what they're doing to maintain high muscle mass.
But look at strongmen, not body builders but the guys that can move trucks and lift boulders, they're not exactly lean.

Jorpho wrote:It is not difficult to find people who proclaim that regular running will wreak utter wholesale devastation on your knees and feet

Humans are really good at long distance running.
But running on road can be painful and induce problems; tarmac and concrete are unyielding.
Grass is much nicer.

As for you actual concerns, it really depends on what you want. What are your aims?
Are you worried about weight or getting fat? Are you look to gain muscle mass? Are you training for a sport or whatever?
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Jorpho
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Re: Running is bad?

Postby Jorpho » Sun Sep 28, 2014 2:24 pm UTC

Xenomortis wrote:As for you actual concerns, it really depends on what you want. What are your aims?
Are you worried about weight or getting fat? Are you look to gain muscle mass? Are you training for a sport or whatever?
Well, I am getting older, and I expect the majority of my waking hours for the forseeable future will be spent sitting in a cubicle. I suspect I should do whatever I can to mitigate whatever negative effects may be coming my way as a result.

Like I said, I've tried gaining muscle mass in the past and never had much success; if it turns out there is something in particular that I should have been doing differently, I'd like to know what it is. (I may have been inadequately persistent.)

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DenisL704
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Re: Running is bad?

Postby DenisL704 » Sun Oct 19, 2014 3:00 am UTC

If you consistently train for and run half marathons and marathons it's understandable that you would have trouble putting on muscle mass. If you are serious about building muscle you might have to sacrifice long distance running, and do short sprints for cardio (something like 1/4 mile or less). Also lift weights (obviously). If you look at olympic sprinters, they have a ton more muscle than the marathoners.

jinisnotmyname
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Re: Running is bad?

Postby jinisnotmyname » Wed Oct 22, 2014 7:27 am UTC

Is there merit to the idea that having a higher muscle to fat ratio also increases the amount of calories burned in a certain exercise?

For example, would a fat person weighing 150lbs burn less calories than a fit 150lbs person when running a mile?

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DenisL704
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Re: Running is bad?

Postby DenisL704 » Fri Oct 24, 2014 3:28 pm UTC

Having a higher muscle mass increases you base metabolic rate. When you're not exercising. When running a mile a fat person will probably burn more calories.

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CorruptUser
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Re: Running is bad?

Postby CorruptUser » Mon Nov 10, 2014 7:58 pm UTC

Ok, several things.

You will not gain any muscle at first from working out. When you strength train or body build, in addition to your muscle you use your nerves. Nerves won't fire anymore, muscle stops contracting. Starting a workout program will cause your nerves to become more effective, and you will gain a lot of strength at first without gaining muscle mass itself. Once your nerves catch up with your muscle, your muscle will grow as well. Your body relies on bones and tendons too for strength; juiceheads end up with more muscle than their bones and tendons can support, often resulting in tears and worse. Stay away from steroids.

Know your muscle goals. Are you working on power, strength, endurance, speed, or mass? All require different exercises. Speed is low weights as fast as you can, power is moderate weight at high speed for few reps, strength is very heavy weight at few reps, mass is heavy weight at moderate reps, endurance is low weight at many reps.

I don't know where that ">= 15%" body fat number comes from, but you don't need THAT much fat to lift. Assuming you are male; 15% is the low range for women. Your body does need to be at least 6% fat or you will face serious health issues. Weightlifters can get slightly lower percentages only because fat is a percentage, but not much. Bouncing around percentages is very unhealthy in the long run, so I wouldn't recommend the bulk&slim method (eg, eat heavy one month, slim back the next). Plus, long term, that method tends to cause your fat cells to multiply. Fat cells never disappear once you have them, and they have a minimum size, so long term you will have more and more fat that simply can never leave.

The phrase 'cardio kills gains' is true, but only if you do heavy cardio before a workout. This comes from glycogen. You liver typically has about 200g of glycogen, and you have a bunch more grams throughout your muscles. By mass about 1-2% of your muscle is glycogen; quick twitch less (big bulky strength), slow twitch (lean endurance) more. Once you use up your glycogen, in the running world "hitting the wall", your muscles use up amino acids and lipids, which is much slower. So you can't work out as hard. 200g of glycogen is about 800 calories though, so as long as you aren't running 6 miles before a workout it won't be that much of issue. Best to warm up a bit before your workout, but feel free to burn off any excess energy you have AFTER with running.

In terms of pure health, weightlifting isn't that great. Cardio is. Running is the second best cardio exercise, behind swimming. The main problem with running is the stress on your joints. If you haven't ran before, you will need to start off light in order for your tendons and ligaments and so forth to gain some amount of strength. If you are overweight, intense running can murder your knees.

The base metabolism rate for muscle is not much higher than that of fat.

Whether you are muscular or tubby, if you weigh the same and run at the same speed you will burn the same calories from running. You can use more calories if you have more muscle, but only because you can run faster/longer.


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