This is the second in the series of the long distance running blogs I wrote with gympluscoffee. This piece focuses on the benefits of long distance running and how they come about.
Improved cardiovascular health
Your ticker will thank you for it! Long-distance running is the gold standard activity for improving your cardio health. Cardio training or aerobic activity is the repetitive contraction of muscle groups in your body, and that’s long-distance running basically by definition! Aerobic activity is the best form of training for your heart as it pushes your entire vascular (circulatory) system getting more oxygen into your bloodstream.
Greater lower body strength
Running is one of the most effective forms of strength training you can ever do. Different physical activities allow for different types of muscle fibres to be produced in the body. Running in particular, leads to the gain of lightweight and durable muscle fibres which means lean, flexible muscle mass. Lean, adaptable muscles are stronger and better able for endurance-based activity.
Running, and long-distance running in particular, also helps to improve stamina. Stamina refers to our ability to perform at or close to full capacity and differs to strength or cardiovascular fitness. We increase stamina by training our back-up energy tank. That back-up tank, the ‘second wind’ that you get when you think you might be at the end of your endurance but somehow you manage to keep going; that’s stamina! The only way to train yourself to keep going is by getting your body accustomed to the demands of a specific type of activity, and then gently but consistently pushing a little harder. Long-distance running gives you this opportunity in spades.
Running for Mental Health
In addition to all the physical health benefits you’ll get from your long-distance running programme, there’s now plenty of research pointing to all the mental health benefits that running can bring. Intense physical exercise like running long distances has been shown to improve sleeping habits as well as the quality of sleep you get. It aids in stress relief and release, and in some cases has proven to be as effective as certain therapy in addressing symptoms of depression
So this year we trialed the Healing Area at WellFest! Now that we have seen it from both sides I am going to bring you through the highlights of WellFest 2019! It’s a festival geared at those interested in the world of health and fitness – so where else is more appropriate to find two Athletic Therapists! It’s packed with talks, classes, workshops and food vendors.
2019’s Top Five Picks
First up Ben Coomber, a coach who has openly talked about the relationship with nutrition and improvements in performance without a lot of the typical industry ideals of what people should be putting into their bodies and what they actually need to put into the body. He is a very approachable figure even holding a very Frank and honest Q&A with people who had attended his talk and was happy to give personal examples and was happy to answer any questions who could.
Next up is Gerry Hussey, a veteran to Wellfest at this stage and many other events, he is a sports psychologist and over the weekend held or was part of a number of talks. Albeit he takes a more holistic approach he makes really valid points about mindset and control which is valuable to everyone, not just from a therapist perspective. Learning to let go of what you can’t control and learning to believe in yourself were my two biggest take aways. Not just for me personally, but for my clients when they are recovering from injury, this mindset that if you believe in the actions you are taking and put the effort in equal to that belief will lead to improvements.
Huku Balance has brought balance conditioning to a whole new level. Cathal had a very slick set up to showcase the boards which are hand made and also environmentally friendly having his set up on the west coast of Donegal. These boards originally designed to help improve those involved in surfing and skateboarding are brilliant for balance and proprioception, with their unique shapes and size they are perfect to help with lower body rehab all the way to upper body stability work. The aesthetic quality and variability in his products really make them stand out of the crowd.
Yogaru is definitely someone everyone should either look up or make sure to see in future Wellfest events. She takes all the best parts of yoga and makes them accessible to every level. Her explanations of each routine, as well as her yoga card sets, mean that you can either have a full sequence with its difficulty stated beforehand, laid out for you which is great for beginners and intermediate level people involved in yoga. Her sessions and sets are also organised too, with certain sequences being relaxing, some to help energise and some to even help with cramped and tight after a day of desk work.
And lastly Owen Feeney AT with Peter Lacey and ARTI which I know is giving myself a pat on the back but I am really proud that this year we were able to not only attend but work at the event and show the general public what we are all about. Other than my own chance at being the first AT to work at the event there was also a large number of talks and events that truly made the event special and I think that we were able to provide a great service to the event as well as help a lot of people over the weekend.
Really looking forward to what possibilities next years WellFest will bring!
Recently I spoke about the benefits of exercise and injury prevention for everyone even those well into their older ages. People of every age benefit from exercise and injury prevention at every level but many people after a certain stage let their levels of activity fall away and its this gradual but long term situation where activity levels and different forms of exercise become obsolete in our lives which will only make things harder for ourselves in the future.
This concept that we suddenly reach a best before date is something that has never really made sense. We live for much longer and also work for longer into our lives. As such we should be more active in our later lives as well doing a greater variety of activities into our later lives. But sadly we have yet to keep up with this increase in our life spans with many people continuously doing less by the time they are over 60 years old. The link below shows a woman in her 70’s keeping up with a woman in her 20’s. They aren’t doing the same level of loading in their exercises but the quality of their movements is as good as each other showing that we often make excuses for why we don’t do certain things or as is normal we let injuries and pains persist and live with them even though they lower our quality of living.
Exercises involving resistance and loading where the whole body is involved have already been shown to help to maintain body function to a high level as well as to aid issues we often develop such as arthritis and muscle weakening. We as a population still seem to shy away from the activites that involve heading to a gym or asking people of expertise what should we do. This spans mainly from strength and conditioning still being relatively young in its presence in Ireland as well as the strong relationship we have to field and team sports. These sports often have an end date to many people ending these sports shortly after their mid 20’s and the specialisation that often happens in the training of these sports which often leaves gaps in what can be gained from solely doing them.
So we come to the main point, if age doesn’t really stop us from being able to do these activities and they have also been shown to help a number of health-related issues why do we still just accept this decline in our activity levels? Why do we happily accept the old story of, “well I’m getting on in age now”. There’s a phrase often used that we are only as old as we feel, so then we should never let ourselves be fooled into thinking old age means not being able to handle exercise. So take those chances and try new types of activites and training and always treat your body with the respect it’s due, it may be older now but it got you all the way here surely you owe it some TLC.