I’ll probably annoy some people by saying this – so what else is new? – but I think there are few things that are more destructive than long-distance running.  If you can stand the truth, keep reading.

The running/jogging craze was a major fitness phenomenon of the 20th Century, and running is still “da bomb” for tons of people as we sit here in 2009.  As the jogging generation has aged and they have become hobbled and hamstrung by overuse/over-training injuries that result from the years of pounding. Furthermore, running has created a whole bunch of people who are physically “one-dimensional.” Check out the crew at any local track. 

How many older, healthy joggers do you know?  When you do find an older jogger they usually look older than they are and run with an altered, ungainly gait brought.  These folks are the lucky ones, as they at least are still able to run. I have extensive experience working with runners who have done nothing but run.  As a result I have coined a phrase to describe the hard-core runner, “functionally unfit” or an “FU.” People who do nothing but lift weights also fall into this category, but I’ll talk about them at a later date.

A “functionally unfit” jogger is someone who has regularly participated in road races, consistently logs heavy-duty weekly mileage, has little if any flexibility and little strength to boot. An “FU” can’t do a calisthenics circuit, sprints, shuttle runs or agility drills.  When I get my hands on a jogger who claims to be in great shape because they run 3 miles, but can’t complete ten body weight squats, ten push-ups and/or a pull-up, I tell them “FU.” To a runner who suffers from stress fractures, tendonitis, feet problems, back ailments, joint issues and/or shin splints, I say “FU.” To serve as a contrast to “the runner,” I submit “the swimmer.” 

The hardcore swimmer of the same age will look healthier, have less in the way of nagging ailments, and will be able to do what they do longer and better. The swimmers that I have encountered are hearty, have great muscle tone, posture and endurance.  They are lean, not gaunt.  They are capable and not frail.  They are quicker to improve with resistance training, since the swimmer doesn’t have the litany of nagging ailments to deal with and work around.

With the “blame everyone else” mentality that has given us the suits against fast-food providers, will it be long before the anti-running movement picks up steam and lawsuits are filed against sneaker makers?  Will those who have had joints replaced because they ran countless miles sue Nike and Brooks and New Balance?  Will shoemakers be blamed for promoting an activity that undoubtedly led to countless, painful injuries?  How many people have been motivated to run, and run a lot, by the Nike advertising campaigns?  You may laugh and think that I am exaggerating, but stranger things have happened. Don’t agree with me?  FU!


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