8.10.16 Wise Words Wednesday – Running Doesn’t Have to Suck!

By August 10, 2016 Blog No Comments

The Wise Words today come from our new Running Coach, Bryan Ballard.  Bryan is one of those people who seems to run effortlessly and enjoy it!   How does he do it??  Bryan will be sharing his running knowledge starting on August 29 with a 6 week running clinic.  It meets twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays and costs $79.  If you’re interested in learning how to run efficiently and enjoy the act of running, send an email to barbara@crossfitzenith.com to sign up.

Bryan will also be doing a FREE running “mini-clinic” on Sunday August 21 at Open Gym.  Get there on time, the clinic will start around 10:15.


…and now some Wise Words from Bryan:

Running (Doesn’t Have to) Sucks

Contrary to being called a runner, or a marathoner – I’ve actually only ever run one marathon.  In 2012, I decided to run the Boston Marathon for charity because unlike some other insane people, I knew I could never hit the qualifying time of 7 min/mile for 26.2 miles.  For those of you unfamiliar with Boston Marathon grandeur, the Boston Marathon is so iconic that one cannot simply register to run it.  You have to qualify.  That is, you have to run ANOTHER marathon fast enough for the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) to say “OK.  You can run ours.”

For the vast majority, like myself, you have to agree to fundraise the B.A.A minimum for a participating charity (a minimum which, as of 2016, was $8000).  That means that when you watch the Boston Marathon, probably 70% of those 30,000 runners passing by have fundraised hundreds of thousands of dollars.

And it’s the junction of so much that makes the Boston Marathon perhaps the most beautiful day of the year:  One, the simple athleticism of marathon athletes is a spectacle in itself.  World renown athletes running sub-five minute miles for 26.2 miles.  Easily compared to LeBron throwing down a dunk.  Two, the philanthropic output by 30,000 strong is inspiring when you stop to think of the shear impact one day has.  And Three, every single one of those athletes is pushing themselves beyond their limits to complete something most never thought they could do, and they’ve worked for months if not years to do it.  When they’re done, they can say they’ve done something amazing – both for themselves and for others.

Running, you see, is perhaps the single most misrepresented and ignorantly marketed past time.  To run far you have to be some freak of nature//running a lot will help you lose weight//running is bad for you//running is boring//these sneakers will help you run, I worked out today because I went for a run//running injured me.  Blah.  Blah.  Blah.  Scientists and journalists argue that we most likely evolved to run.  They hypothesize that it may even be a defining characteristic of human evolution.  Competitive runners will argue against important points of the science just because they want to believe running is exclusive to their higher breed of humanity.  Such Divas.


None of it matters.

The bigger question is Why?  Why do all of these misconceptions exist?  Why is the running ideology so flooded with shoes brands, marketing schemes, opinion, ideas and hypotheses?

Why?  Because of sheer volume.  That is – anyone and everyone can run.  And the entire human species is a pretty lucrative market, especially if you’re an athletic company.

But the thing with running is that modern day isn’t conducive to it.  “Running is bad for you…” Wrong.  Modern life is bad for you.  In fact, what about modern life isn’t bad for you?  Sitting in a car, sitting at a desk – all of it shortens, weakens, and tightens all the necessary biology for running.  Those athletes you see speeding by at the front of a race?  They’ve been developing their body for running since they were in middle school.  Slowly strengthening the tiny little muscles in their knees so they can take a specific beating over a long period of time.

For most of us.  We’ve never been taught how to run.  We think that running is something some people are good at, and some aren’t.  But that’s like saying some people are good at walking and some aren’t.  Point is – when you were an infant you learned how to stand, then walk, then life never asked you to learn how to run.  Just wasn’t necessary.  So you didn’t do it.

Running IS something you can learn.  You need to learn, really.  Just like the basic tenets of CrossFit – functional form (babies have perfect squats) – the same is true of running.  There is a form to it.  A strategy.  A consistency.  So that when you go out to do that 400 M lap during your WOD it’s not a grueling trek there and back again on the black-top desert.

And the gains are worth it.  Aerobic supports anaerobic and vice versa.  You run better, you develop your bodies capacity to deliver nutrients and replenish, you lift more, longer, you have bigger gains.  You lift more, you have more strength to take the beatings of a repetitive movement – like running.  Circle of life, Simba.

And lastly, running builds your mental strength.  Make no mistake about it.  Those runners flying by feel just as bad as that person trying not to walk for their first complete 400-meter lap.  Both are dancing on the edge of their peak potential.  Good runners though, develop tricks to survive the pain and boredom of a 20 mile run.  Mentally, there’s a quickness to one set of three.  Three reps and the pain is over.  15 seconds.  Two hours of pain though?  That’s a different beast.

And the best example I can give of all of this happened on the eve of my marathon is 2012.  I was sitting at my reception table chatting with a very nice woman sitting on my right hand side.  As we were chatting she casually mentioned that she had run 495 marathons.  Yes – Four Hundred and Ninety-Five.  And she wasn’t cocky about it either.  Seriously she was an incredibly nice person, and as I was picking my jaw up off the floor she explained she had run 2 marathons every month since she graduated college.  I’ve done the math.  It would take about 20 yrs. to accomplish such a feat.

Important to note though, she did not look like a runner.  With all due respect (and she was very sweet and respectable), she didn’t even look like an athlete.  Best visual I could give you would be a middle-aged librarian – who never left the desk…

But she explained “Make no mistake.  I’m at the back of the pack.  I’m not running fast out there.  But I’ve finished every single one of my marathons.”

That’s amazing.  And that’s the take away — She had figured out how to make running sustainable for her body.  It was no longer a challenge anymore.  Her body had learned how to deal with it and sustain it.  Two marathons a month?  No big deal.

And the same is true for everyone.  You just have to learn how to do it correctly.  Form.  Function.  Fitness.  Nuff said.

And one more thing – that marathon in 2012 was the third hottest marathon in its 116-year history.  It was predicted to reach 90 degrees on race day, 5000 runners dropped that prior evening alone.  So after I chatted with this lovely woman, the butterflies in my stomach settled because she inspired me to believe I could finish my first race.  Especially if she had completed 495.  So you can imagine my surprise at her reply when I asked “So are you excited for tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow?!  No I backed out.  No way I’m running in that…”

Runners.  Such divas.


Here are the details again:

— 6 weeks starting Monday 8/29
— Every Monday and Wednesday 7:00pm
— One workout at the gym
— One workout at the Choate track
— Weekly homework assigned
— $79
— Limited Edition Zenith Running Club T-shirt included
— Limited to 10 people
— If you’re interested, drop me an email (barbara@crossfitzenith.com)


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