Spartans run. I like to call the basic kind of running we do roadwork. Roadwork is a term that old time boxers used to describe the early morning jogging/running they did nearly everyday. They did this to build a solid foundation of endurance.
Roadwork has kind of fallen out of vogue in recent years, but I still consider it one of the most basic of all exercises. The absolute most important basic conditioning factor in soldiers from ancient times to modern times is running.
In the tough French Foreign Legion you have to be able to be able to run 5 miles with a 26 pound backpack in less than 1 hour. You also have to be able to hike long distances with 50 pounds or more.
The British and Australian SAS troops have to be able to travel long distances on foot carrying everything they need for missions on their bodies, sometimes up to 150 pounds of weight for hikes of 40 miles (65 km) or more.
The elite US Navy SEALs and other special forces go through a series of timed training runs of 4 miles or more in addition to long forced hikes.
Running is a natural movement for man. Our bodies are built to long periods of running and walking unlike our distant relatives the chimps. Speaking of the chimps here's some interesting information to keep in mind.
One of the things which surprised me while studying the Chimps was they would walk up to 4 miles (6^ km) each day looking for food and patrolling their territory. How many people do you know who walk anywhere near this distance each day? The thing is, Chimps aren' t even built like the walking machines we are. Chimps have short stumpy legs with feet shaped like a second pair of hands and long arms, they are hunched over and are quite at home swinging from tree to tree. We, on the other hand, have long legs with long feet built for running and walking. We stand upright and wouldn't last very long in a tree. Understand.
We as a species are much more suited to walking than our relatives the Chimps but they are doing more walking than most of us. No wonder we suck as physical specimens.
The Ancient Greeks of course invented the Olympic Games where many running events were contested. They had short sprints, middle distance and of course long distance runs. The most important race was held at the finish of the games and was a race in full armor.
It was the Greeks who inspired the modern Marathon race. After the Greeks fought a desperate battle on the field of Marathon they send a professional distance runner to take an urgent message back to Athens. He ran the 25 mile distance over rough terrain and actually died after he delivered his message. What most people don't know is the same runner had to deliver an urgent message to Sparta before the battle started. An agonizing run of 147 miles (which he did in a day and a half) and then back again! No wonder he dropped dead. It is still a great inspiration to build your own base of endurance.
Running should be done on grass or the beach if possible. Otherwise get yourself the most supportive running shoes you can. It is a worthwhile investment.
Listen to this next point, because not many people understand it and it goes against conventional thinking.
Because running is impact work done with the body working against gravity, it results in a build up of bone density and ligament/tendon strength. The very reason people will say running is bad news, that is too much stress on the legs, knees and ankles, is the very reason to be doing it! It's that very impact stress that forces the body to compensate and get stronger and tougher. Running isn't just about fitness, it's about strength too. Structural strength of the body.
Things like cycling and swimming wont give you the same benefits. They will give you a good cardio workout but they don't force the body to strengthen it's bones, ligaments and joins to the same degree as running.
Now, the kind of basic Roadwork I'm talking about is done at a slow/medium pace for 30-45 minutes. When you finish a morning run you should not be all red-faced, puffing and exhausted. You should be feeling great, refreshed and energized.
If you don't, you are probably running too fast and hard. This can also result in ankle & knee injuries etc. You don't have to kill yourself when doing Roadwork.
This can be a daily routine that you grow to love and can keep up for the rest of your life. The benefits are enormous! It will build your cardiovascular system, your endurance, your health, keep extra fat off and is a top discipline builder.
Go to bed an hour earlier if you have to (just don't watch as much trash on TV) so you can wake up in time for a morning roadwork session.
This is one of the best habits you can get into. As soon as you wake up, go for your run. Don't think about it just do it! Don't give yourself a chance to make excuses.
If you are only training for general fitness and you have a super busy life, then you should run every second day alternated with a strength workout (see Grinder Workout)
The next step up is to do some Roadwork 5-6 days a week. If you feel good, run everyday except, say, Sunday. But if you feel run down or tired take off Wednesday as well.
Remember, Roadwork is done at a steady pace, so it won't interfere with your workday or any other training you do during the day.
The best fat burning exercise is slow running for 45-60 minutes. This will cause your body to use body fat for fuel. You hear a lot of experts saying that walking is the best fat burner, much better than running. This is a case of, it may look good on paper, but in the real world believe me running kicks the arse of walking as a fat burner and body conditioner.
I' ve talked about some the most basic use of running, here are some variations you can use;
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