Reasons we don't exercise
Is it too physically demanding to be a runner?
If your goal is to get your weight under control and become healthy by running 20-30 miles a week and eating well, then running is not too demanding. If your aim is to reach your full running potential, then yes, it will be very demanding.
In the first month of your life as a runner, these are the demands: three to four days a week (i.e. every other day) of walk-running for 30 minutes each time. In addition, you will aim to eat more fresh fruit and veggies and less fast food. If you drink a lot of wine and beer, you'll aim to cut back on that.
I am in my fifth year as a serious runner. These are the demands running places on me: six days running a week, which means 40 to 80 miles depending on the season. I spend between 7 and 14 hours a week running and doing other training.
Running is such an integral part of my life that it doesn't feel like a major time commitment. Most of the training runs are enjoyable. About 20 percent of them are so enjoyable I feel fantastic afterward.
I reckon about one run a week is a slog, dull, or unpleasant. When I start speed training for races, those days are very demanding and I sometimes throw up afterward. I think of them as vital hard work. I don't dread them, but I don't enjoy them until they are over.
On a level of training and commitment way above mine, there's Nolan Shaheed, one of the world's best runners in the 60+ age groups. He has set five world records since turning 50. At 43, he ran 5k in14:37 and 10k in 31:21.
He who trains the hardest wins the most.
(Nolan Shaheed, masters world champion)
Shaheed is also one of the world's best known jazz trumpeters. He served as the musical director for Marvin Gaye and then as lead trumpet with Count Basie, Natalie Cole, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Phil Collins, and Anita Baker. He has also performed and toured with Eddie Harris, the Duke Ellington orchestra, and the Lionel Hampton orchestra.
Shaheed is exceptionally light. As a 5' 9" 59 year old, he weighed 123 pounds. He eats only one meal a day.
I just feel better when I don't eat much, and it's spiritually uplifting, he says.
At 59, this was his training schedule two weeks before clocking 16:46 at the Gardena 5K:
- Monday: 10 miles at 6:40 to 6:50/mile.
- Tuesday: Mile warm-up, including 200 meters of high-knees and 10 to 12 strides, 20 x 400 m at 70 to 75 seconds with 45-second rests, 1 mile warm-down.
- Wednesday: Easy 4 miles on track at 7 to 7:15/mile.
- Thursday: Same as Monday.
- Friday: Same as Monday.
- Saturday: Same as Monday.
- Sunday: Rest.
Shaheed says of his training,
I don't eat until after my daily training at about 5 p.m. I do one speed workout a week and take a day of rest. Basically, my philosophy is, he who trains the hardest wins the most. Of course, it all depends on what 'win' means to you. I can come in last and still win.
So, is running too demanding? That's entirely up to you and the goals you set yourself.