When I was a personal trainer at VillaSport, I ran into this “nonresponder” problem quite a bit. The place has a magnificent cardio floor, occupied day and night by the young and old, male and female, endlessly burning calories. You could even set your watch by some of the dedicated. Some are still up there, these years later, and some, fortunately, have changed it up and seen their bodies change as a result.
We have a lot of triathletes in The Woodlands, and running is incredibly popular here because of it. Unfortunately, through no fault of its own, it is the most visible of “healthy” exercise choices, mainly due to the fact that scores of generally thin, toned people crowd the sidewalks and roadways, pounding the pavement, at any given time of day. For the newly dedicated to fitness, this may seem to be the most efficient path to reaching their goals, no matter what they are.
“Tough Mudder? There’s running in that so I might as well start there.”
“Weight loss? Yeah, you gotta burn calories to lose weight.”
“Something new? Yeah, I’m running a half-marathon this year.”
Dedication is absolutely necessary to achieving any goal. Unfortunately, when it comes to exercise, that isn’t the only variable that is involved. “The Biggest Loser” is a fantastic example of this, as most contestants have a rebound weight gain shortly after the show ends. You have to create a good base of training, otherwise the short-term “honeymoon phase” will be just that, short term, after which you find yourself with unrealized expectations and potential, looking for something else fulfilling.
Long-term success with any fitness routine requires that it be analytical and harmonic, adapting with the needs of the individual on a daily, monthly, and yearly basis. You can be as dedicated as you want to a specific modality and spend countless hours doing it, but unless it causes your body to continually adapt, you’re just going through the motions. In the best case, you’re wasting time, in the worst case, you’re injuring yourself and making the work harder, later.
How does your training affect your body’s primary energy systems? Are those energy systems being recruited to their full potential? What about the muscles in your kinetic chain, do you have them all? That is to say, do you possess the cortical map (brain power) to actually cause the right muscles to fire given the right circumstances? What about your joints? Can you move your toes? That sounds ridiculous but a great majority of my clients can’t differentiate between their big and little toes. That affects rotation of the foot, which affects the knee, which affects, among others, the hip, SI joint, shoulder, and head.
This is not a post designed to bash running, I truly believe there is a fundamental human joy in being able to do it. What I am trying to convey, however, is the importance of thinking about the end goal. If you want to lose weight, for example, why choose running as a modality? If you want to run marathons forever, why start with running? Why not create, through training, the best foot, then the best ankle, then the best knees, hips, etc. It doesn’t take long at all when you substitute the right exercise for the wrong exercise.
Foundational to manipulating a training regimen for specific goals is knowledge of the rules that dictate the body’s isolated structures and their global relationships. The NYT article I shared recommends trying all sorts of modalities out for a month to see how you respond to each, to find the one that “works for you.” I recommend you find yourself a coach that knows about the body. A personal trainer will happily guide you through endless “whatevers” (as I call them)—miles, sprints, wall ball slams, box jumps, jump-around-like-a-jackass’s— but a good coach will set you up with a program that builds you a base wide enough to support whatever lofty goals you may have today or whatever new goals may come tomorrow.
Contact Antidote, 2319 Timberloch Place, Suite F, The Woodlands, TX, 77381, 281-803-9930