Coach Mike Mead

February 2008

The Benefits of Consistent Running

I had the misfortune to catch “the bug” that has been making the rounds this winter. It was not like I felt I was going to die or anything, but it knocked me out from running for a week. Seven days I went without running. I found that seven days without running makes one weak!

It had been almost eight years since the last time I took off that many days consecutively. You kind of take it for granted if you are a runner like me who gets out just about every day for a run. Last year I stepped up my training and worked at cutting back on “no run” days during the year.

But last month’s one week stoppage made me aware the importance of consistent running. At my age – I hit the Big Five-O in December – I get asked questions about the wear and tear on my body. But I’ve discovered benefits of consistent running.

I learned very quickly after college that I needed to “keep the wheels turning.” I discovered if I took more than two weeks off, my knees began to feel achy. There were a couple of times in my post-college days that when I took several weeks off I found that my knees got stiff and sore. In addition, some nights one of my legs would cramp up and the leg turned into one painful rock-hard muscle. I’d feel the after-effects for days. So I learned I could not take off many days from running and expect to live pain-free.

Another observation from my recent battle with the bug was that not running meant I wasn’t sweating much. Many people do not like to sweat. Besides cooling us off when our bodies overheat, sweating is a natural process that helps remove toxins from the pores of our body. I’d rather sweat running than sit in a sauna with a bunch of fat, sweaty guys any day!

Now toward the end of my illness, I broke a fever one night and sweated through two sets of evening wear. But I went two more nights waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat! I believe since I hadn’t been running, toxins were building up in my body. Since I hadn’t run – six days by the third night of sweating -- I figured my body was telling me it was time to get back to running. My body grew accustomed to me sweating just about everyday and since I hadn’t things were clogging up.

We runners don’t realize how consistent running makes us so fine-tuned. Our heart rates, body fat and body weight are much better than the couch potato. I know my body weight has stayed pretty much the same since my college days, some 25 years ago. I attribute this to consistent running.

At this point in my life, running is as normal as brushing your teeth or bathing. And just like brushing one’s teeth or bathing, miss a few days and you – or your friends – will notice a difference.

Keep it on the road!