Wednesday Grit Clinic

Apologies for the very late Grit Clinic this week but here goes:

Hi Grit Doctor
This is a question, rather than a reply: not sure where else to put it, so here goes…..

You’ve already changed my whole approach to exercise, and I’m loving my runs – with my dogs, so they’re loving it too. But the last couple of days, my 40 minute run has taken only 35 mins, and I’ve felt when I stopped that I could probably go on. I know the obvious answer to this would be, run a bit further then. BUT, I know what I’m like, and if the commitment begins to increase, and the runs have to be longer and longer to be effective, I might just pop and return to the sofa.
So, my question is: is it pointless to keep running in a comfort zone? Would it be OK to up the ante, perhaps once or twice a week, but stick to the usual circuit the rest of the time? And also, is a comfortable run (I’m still sweating, by the way: it’s not an absolute doddle!) doing me good, or does it have to hurt?

A: This is a very good question and one that I have often asked myself.  The scientific answer would be that in order for your workout to continue to be ‘effective’ you need to shake it up, vary it and keep on stretching yourself.  I would argue that it depends on what you want to get out of the experience.  I am the weight I want to be and have no plans to break any records running in any races, so for me, my regular 45minute run 3 or 4 times a week gives me everything I need: endorphin, stress-relief and fitness-wise.  It doesn’t have to hurt to work in my experience, but in your case the only thing I would recommend is stretching yourself to the optimum time of 45 mins, as 35 minutes is a little too short.  No, don’t panic!  You will not be returning to the sofa in a meltdown at the prospect of this small increase in distance – 10 minutes is nothing when you are finding it all relatively easy anyway.  The idea that this might somehow break you is just an excuse which needs to be binned along with all the others that stopped you getting outside in the first place. 

So, it doesn’t have to hurt to work.  If you are happy and at a decent weight and getting all you want out of the experience, then you have got it nailed and don’t need to start challenging Paula Radcliffe for Olympic gold.

The Grit Doctor says:

Running will be a different experience for everybody.  We are not all interested in breaking records.  Every time you run you win, whatever form it takes. 


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