Major rethink on the running front


I innocently bought Trail Runner magazine and found this virtually recommended “run” featuring at No.38! What will these Europeans get up to next? I’m half expecting Gove or Johnson to inform us that we’ll have to submit to an EU edict requiring each household to enter a team if we remain in Europe. I can think of worse outcomes : a rolling back of workers and human rights, an increase in the pace of attack on the NHS and unrelenting xenophobia if we vote out.

Anyway, back to normal running (cue question : what is normal?). I’ve decided to drastically cut back on maximum effort running because I increasingly think this is not doing my health any favours. Research is indicating that running long distances, too hard and over a long period of time seems to stress the heart unduly. I had a heart attack nearly seven years ago and recovered very well with no obvious deficits. In fact I’m probably running better now than before my heart attack. Nevertheless, the effort to run as fast as you can must surely have consequences for a person like me who has heart disease and takes cardiac medication to slow and strengthen the heartbeat. So, I’ll stop doing half marathons (with the possible exception of Cambridge half marathon at a slower pace), I won’t renew my subscription to my running club which expires at the end of this month and I’ll run 10Ks at a more relaxed pace. The good news is that I don’t have to run much slower to feel much more comfortable. Less is more! No future Junathons or Janathons.

The other spur to change my syle of running is that I know about five experienced runners who have either had heart attacks or have heart related problems.

I’m also taking it easier at 5k parkruns. Putting  just a little less effort into the distance only decreases my time by about 45 seconds and I feel better for it. I’m still interested in fell running as long as its down hill. I’m still working on this one.

On last thing. I borrowed a Fitbit today when I ran 7.3k and had an average heart rate of 150. Is this good, bad or indifferent? I don’t know. It took me 47 minutes and I felt good.


3 thoughts on “Major rethink on the running front

  1. I have mixed feelings about your post. I too can see that running for competition and running for health aren’t exactly the same. Since I took the pressure off myself to ‘push’ I find that I’m finally getting the health benefits that I originally set out to achieve, gradual steady weight loss and improved mental health – I feel quite cheery these days. Also because I’m running to a HR target sometimes I feel like I’m holding back, and I have set myself the ‘reward’ of a 5k Parkrun where I can run as fast as I like at the end of my 3 months trial. The bit that made me feel sad about your post was that you are leaving your running club, giving up Parkrun, 10ks etc. You seemed to have good friends there and surely that was a good thing? Is there a ‘middle way’ that you can pusue? If you are interested in finding out more about the slow running I recommend googling Phil Maffetone for the Internet site and there’s a Maffetone method Facebook group too. Or there are some good books by Matt Fitzgerald ‘run – running by feel’ and 80/20 . Glad to hear that you are taking up fell running though. Personally I like nothing better than the view from the top of a hill! Glad that you are considering walking up and running down- defeats the object of stopping competitive running if you are going to add extra work to your heart by running uphill instead! Keep us posted!

    • Put a stopper on the sadness immediately! I didn’t say I was giving up parkrun or 10Ks but simply putting less effort into them. As for club running, I’m not a natural competitor or an enthusiastic club member. I’ll still see chums at parkruns or local 10Ks. I will look at Maffetone. Thanks for the advice.

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