The foot of the average person striking the ground while running at a speed of nine kilometers per hour experiences a force equal up to seven times their bodyweight (approx. 1025 pounds). That fact alone should be enough to make us realize just how much running can transform us physically and help us improve our fitness level.
While runners know, first hand, just how powerful a tool for personal transformation running can be, those who train in different ways (lifting weights, climbing rocks or doing fitness classes for example) frequently overlook its benefits.
Yet running is used by boxers, gymnasts and martial artists as a shortcut to building better functional fitness. The definition of functional fitness is strong core stability and the ability of muscles to work well together so that they generate a respectable output of power.
Running requires us to use our arms in order to maintain balance and momentum. It requires us to use our legs in order to power our bodies and absorb the impact of every step and it demands a good core that connects our upper and lower bodies and synchronizes the movement between the two halves. It is, in other words, such an essential part of functional fitness that the legendary Bruce Lee called it the perfect exercise and in his Jeet Kune Do teaching, admonished regular running as the basis of building a good level of fitness for sparring.
Functional fitness holds the promise of better control of our bodies. Running provides a handy platform to build that control on.
Starting to run, of course, when our body is not used to it is never easy. Even fit people who ask their bodies to move in that synchronized way experience some level of discomfort as their muscles learn to work in sync with each other.
The trick is to simply start. It really doesn’t matter at what level of fitness we are. If we begin even with walking and slowly build up to jogging and persist so we can increase the distance we shall begin to see the adaptive changes we want to see in our bodies.
In our Running section we cover a lot of the advice functional fitness athletes need. For absolute beginners to running our Walking to Running guide will help open a new horizon in your fitness routine.
Running and Injuries
Because of the biomechanics involved running is a functional fitness exercise that can easily lead to injury if we go at it too hard, too soon, if we push ourselves using the wrong technique or if we don’t “listen to our bodies”.
Being able to run however is the ultimate form of freedom. Suddenly we can go wherever we want to under the power of our own bodies. This gives us a sense of control and self-determination that transforms us.