You Can’t Run to Get Fit, You Need to Be Fit to Run.


The title for this installment is stolen from a brilliant Canadian physical therapist named Diane Lee. I had the pleasure of listening to her speak in 2004 and this thought process was one of the many gems I took away.  This may be confusing to many as I’ve always advocated working at higher intensity to burn more calories and lose weight more efficiently. Here is the problem as Diane Lee so eloquently put it. Running is a poor choice for most people. I often talk about the group of people I like to call the “speed limpers”. They are the men and women you often drive by on the road that are running with a visible limp. Usually they have a knee sleeve of some kind on. When you ask them about their problem they will almost always reply “ it loosens up after a while and then I ice and take some Advil after”. What a lousy idea. Guess what, good exercise should make you tired but, shouldn’t hurt your joints. The discomfort should be limited to the muscles and should go away almost immediately after you are done. In my opinion running is only good for doctors and physical therapists. We have an entire cottage industry built up to take care of the injuries caused by running.

The reality is that most people are not made to run. More importantly, they are particularly not made to run long distances. Until the Cooper led aerobics craze of the seventies many of us didn’t know what a plantar fascia, iliotibial band or patella-femoral joint was. Most of us in the industry do now. We know because these are just a few of the litany of sites of injury afflicting runners.

More bad news. Running is even worse for women. Women runners seem to to sustain more running related injuries than men.

My recommendation. High intensity exercise is best done on a bike. The best bikes are the Schwinn AirDyne dual action bikes. They are the best work tools on the planet for fitness.  Not surprisingly most people who ever ridden an AirDyne hate it. Do you know why? Because it is really hard and nearly impossible to cheat. You can’t slump over or lean on the handle bars. I know this will anger the runners. The truth is I’m not trying to stop runners from running. I’m just trying to stop fitness enthusiasts from needlessly hurting themselves.

30 Responses to “You Can’t Run to Get Fit, You Need to Be Fit to Run.”

  1. […] You Can’t Run to Get Fit, You Need to Be Fit to Run. January 2010 23 comments 3 […]

  2. Great site. Thanks for the post.

  3. […] who make the bolder claim for everyone, citing Canadian physical therapist Diane Lee who has said “You can’t run to get fit, you need to be fit to run”. As Ultimate players, I think we get enough running from tournaments / practices and sprints […]

  4. This is an interesting point, i think there are a lot of things to discuss in the future…

  5. Human beings evolved as distance runners. We are distance runners and in most countries in the world we still run long distances. The problem might have more to do with shoes than with running itself. We can do forefoot strike or midfoot strike without developing any of the myriad running injuries, but we can’t do those foot strikes with a built up heel. Our arch muscles are integral to safe running, but when you have strong arch support you never develop those muscles.

  6. Ever use/try a spin bike with independent pedals? They are called Power Cranks and our athletes, after being frustrated initially, enjoy getting their non-running fitness workouts completed on these unique tools of the trade. A heart rate monitor and a pool is another option for us… Thanks for sharing Coach Boyle. Keep the posts coming!

  7. So true that proper instruction and correct technique are very important in rowing just as in squatting, lunging, Oly lifts etc. Also working up the time and pace on the machine slowly over a few weeks and months when first starting out and paying attention to how your body feels.

    Though not an exact analog for rowing, KB swings seem to be helpful in getting the idea of driving and open the hips while maintaining a relaxed upper body and arms and a neutral erect spine. Also basic squatting instruction for hip flexibility and upright spinal posture can help folks improve their rowing posture.

  8. mboyle1959 Says:

    I like the Concept 2 but, you need to be very careful of backs w/ rowing. Flexion is the enemy and 80% of people have some underlying back pathology.

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