Monday, January 14, 2013

Would you read Slow Runner magazine?

Going to the Well
Running magazines provide great utility and can occasionally inspire. When I was a new runner, I found these magazines to be a useful source for information about terminology, practices and setting expectations. But just as there are no magazines to help you become a run-of-the-mill decorator or a mediocre cook, the focus of every running magazine seems to be about improving performance. Up until recently, I appreciated that focus. Now I'm a little conflicted.

The reason for this comes from recent studies published by the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health and the Lancet. Both of these studies concluded that mortality rates for those who exercised moderately were lower than the rates for sedentary people or high performing athletes. If running greater than 20 miles per week or pacing in the seven minute pace range causes a health concern, I'm certainly not going to do that. Not that I could run a sustained 7:00 pace anyway.

I'm curious to see whether running magazines will ignore these studies or dismiss them as inaccurate. If not, will they acknowledge the facts and modify their editorial focus? After all, the topic of minimalism started getting regular coverage after Christopher McDougall published "Born to Run". Covering running without a focus on performance may be a hard sell for Running Times, but many titles already devote pages to nutrition, human interest and lifestyle.

Given the choice, I'd always choose an article about running experience over a new approach to running intervals. Maybe that's a new market segment for Rodale to cover.

6 comments:

  1. I guess I read the results of that study differently. Right off the bat they say, "Over the course of the study, 2,984 of the participants died. But the incidence was much lower among the group that ran." Then they go on to talk about how Moderate exercisers say the most benefit. All runners saw benefit, moderates saw the most benefit...that's how I read it.

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  2. Hi Adam, nice to hear from you. I'll agree that being a high performing runner is far healthier than being a non-performing couch potato.

    What the NYTimes article didn't mention was that other studies show that aging (Masters) runners who run slower than a 7:30 pace and keep mileage below 20 have a far lower incidence of exercise related heart issues.

    Being in that category, I take it seriously. If I were still in my 20's or 30's I'd be frantically working on ways to break 7 minute miles on a regular basis.

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  3. I think that being a new runner at 52 puts me dab-smack into that category. It kind of takes some of the pressure off though, eh? I think I'd like to get as close to an 8:00 pace as I can before the inevitable slow down begins. Just to say that at one time I could run like that. But no faster than that, please.

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    1. TPP - I've sort of given up on low 8:00 minute paces throughout a run, but every once in a while I'll come through the first mile of a race in the 7's. That's good enough for me.

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  4. I don't think it is good to generalize. A 7 minute pace for one runner can be a challenge to sustain yet for another runner it takes little effort.

    On a training run I try to maintain a comfortable pace and maybe occasionally I'll push a bit past that zone. I go all out during races but only if the weather and course allow.

    I don't feel that is "bad" for my health. I rest when my body tells me too, skipping a run if I need to. Getting your heart rate well above normal on occasion is good, the human body was designed for it.

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  5. Hi Paul - It's difficult to know how hard we can push. I agree that everyone has a different threshold. Perhaps the best way to consider it is where people stand in terms of conditioning. For you to push into zone 5 or 6 would be less concerning than for me, since I don't run at your level.

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Comments are most welcome!

 

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