I want to skip right to the point, as I received a mountain of emails, asking me to elaborate on something I briefly mentioned in my earlier post titled The Extra Mile. Specifically, people want to know why I consider running on flat surfaces so crucially important, and why I consider running up- and down-the-hill virtually suicidal. OK, maybe I should cut back on the use of strong language; not quite suicidal, but let's just say - I strongly oppose it. But before you condemn this 5 AM Running Rain Man (it was raining again during my morning run today - NICE!), let me get a couple of minutes at the podium.
It's not that I oppose it ENTIRELY, but for the purposes of our discussion here, which more often than not happens to be about weight loss, it is useless. Let me also confess something to you, my fellow runners, dear readers and beloved followers - I was not always known as the 5 AM Runner. At one point, not so long ago, I was known as the 8 AM Overweight Flab, grossly fat, huge bowling ball for a stomach, unable to walk, let alone run, for more than 5 minutes. I have tried it all. Diets, gyms, you name it. I have written about it time and again, and I will not bore you with my life story now, but I will only emphasize one point - everything I know about running and weight loss comes from my own personal experiences; in fact, nothing I ever read on the subject had helped me one bit.
I learned that you have to have a clear goal in mind, and use the proper techniques that help you achieve that goal SPECIFICALLY, and if your goal is endurance, intensity, preparation for physical combat, etc., etc., then yes, up-and-down drills are exactly what the doctor ordered. But typically, that's not what people are after.
When your aim is pure weight loss, you want to do as much cardio as you can. Plain and simple. And even more importantly, and something "the professionals" often neglect to share - your goal is to pack as much cardio as possible into one continuous session. Your goal is to be able to run, walk, whatever you do, for as long as possible at one time without interruption, a point to which, of course, you will have to build up. You start off by running for 2 minutes, then you build up to 5, then to 10, and so on, and so forth.
Now, let me share a little secret - if you attempt to accomplish this building-up process on a rocky terrain, constantly up and down, going faster and slower, putting strain on your legs and breathing, you will not succeed. And there is no point to it. Just choose a flat, even surface (stadiums are the greatest examples), and start walking. The key here is not speed, but consistency. Maintain that same speed, and then try running, very slowly and carefully, just above your walking speed. When you get tired, just go back to walking, and then attempt running again after you catch your breath.
You change your internal body chemistry - this is not a joke - when you increase your heart rate, just a bit, and go at that CONSTANT STEADY PACE for as long as you can. By doing this consistently through the week, you will begin to notice the difference almost instantly. You will have become a runner! You will lose weight and that weight will stay off.
Climbing hills and sprinting, getting through muddy areas and putting extra weights on your legs will feel difficult, and you will probably feel more tired at the end. But what's the point? If you are only trying to sweat more, just hit the sauna! However, if you are interested in accomplishing a long-term change in your physical characteristics, stick to what works.