Sunday, September 20, 2009

Why (Most) Women Shouldn't Run

This might be good timing, this article has been around for a while and when it originally came out it stirred up allot of controversy. As you know, I'm not a huge fan of running for fat loss or for beginners. But last week I talked to a client that used to work out at the gym I worked at. After a short "catching up" conversation she informed me she was "trying to get back into shape" and "trying to lose a few pounds" by starting a running program. Not what I wanted to hear, but I understand that type of mentality is still out there. Again there are many other ways to successful weight loss without injuring yourself -sorry running isn't one of them. I will expand on this in a future article, but for now please read Mike's article and tell me what you think...........

By Michael Boyle

I really like Diane Lee's quote, "You can't run to get fit, you need to be fit to run." In fact, I've used it in numerous presentations and articles. It really resonates with me. Simple, to the point. I'm going to take the idea one step further. I'm not sure most women should run. When I say this in seminars, it really pisses off the female runners. Sorry, I'm not worried about you; I'm worried about all the other women. If you are a runner and healthy, read on, but realize that you are the exception, not the rule. I'm going to go from bad to worse. Here's a riddle for you. Q- What do most female runners look like?A- Male runners.Ever ask yourself why? I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Women who run successfully for long periods of time were made to run. They look just like men runners. Good female runners generally do not look like plus-size models. It's not a question of cause and effect; it's a question of natural selection. You can't run to get that cute little runner's body. It's actually reversed. You have to have that cute little runner's body to survive running. Why do I say this? Two simple reasons. Anatomy and physics. My favorite two sciences. No matter how hard you try or how well you eat, you can't change your skeleton. The problem with most women and running comes down to something they call Q angle in sportsmedicine. I won't bore you with the details, but it boils down to this. Wider hips make for narrow knees. This angle of hip to knee creates problems. Problems are magnified based on the number of steps. The average person gets about 1500 foot strikes per mile. Do the math on your 5-mile run. Running produces forces in the area of two to five times bodyweight per foot contact. Do we need more math? Let's go back to our elite female runner. Look at her body. You will generally see two things. She has narrow hips and she has small breasts. I know, there may be exceptions, but at the elite level, I doubt it. One thought process would say, Great, my hips and breasts will decrease in size if I run. The other thought process is more logical. Women with larger breasts and wider hips don't make good runners. It is the same logic as why there are no large gymnasts or figure skaters. Physics. Big people rotate slower. Natural selection rules it out. So what happens when a "normal" woman begins to run? She becomes a statistic. She becomes a physical-therapy client as she tries to shovel you-know-what against the tide. Her wider knees cause her to develop foot problems or most likely knee problems. Her greater body weight causes greater ground reaction forces. Greater ground reaction forces stress muscle tissue and breast tissue. Get my drift yet? The end result is likely to be hurt and saggy instead of the cute and little. The bottom line: Running is not good for most females. If you want higher-intensity exercise, ride a stationary bike. Take a spin class, use a stairclimber, and don't run.
PS- The best stuff is the hard stuff. Use the AirDyne Bike or the StepMill. Don't take the easy way out.

By Michael Boyle Reproduced with permission


  1. Whew!
    I thought you were going to make me go jogging.

  2. how about a 5k race? I'll use my car:)

  3. I'm glad I never had anyone tell me I shouldn't run since I'm a woman and not an "elite" athlete. I fell in love with running after losing 30 pounds by walking it off. Then lost another 10 running and have kept it off for 9 months now and INJURY FREE, thank you very much! Guess that kinda screws up his statistics. The treadmill and elliptical just don't do it for me anymore. I have taken up biking, and maybe I'll try swimming but I supposed as a woman I shouldn't enter any triathlons either.

  4. You know, if you're a woman that runs with no problem, great. Do it. But if you, like me, happen to fall into the category of woman that simply CANNOT run for pretty much the reasons stated, it's reassuring to not be made to feel "lazy" or "just not willing to put in the time." I've tried again and again, and wind up with hip bursitis and a busted knee every time. Even when I "take it slow." My last attempt was a 2 mile run that I managed to accomplish in just over half an hour. Not exactly a grueling pace. I was down for the count for a month and only a round of steroids got me out of my inflammation spiral. If you're one of the lucky few who's never had a problem running, I can understand how this sort of thing might rub you the wrong way, but know there's an awful lot of us out there who really need to hear stuff like this so we can stop beating our heads against a wall and feel like we have permission to focus our energies elsewhere.