This winter has not only been the snowiest but also the coldest in Massachusetts that I can ever remember. We got 100 inches of snow in about three weeks then 6 weeks of brutal cold. It is April 14 and it is just starting to warm-up. And there is still plenty of snow lying around.

Anyway, this is the time of year when we begin to see people hit the road early in the morning and start to run. Also, next Monday is Marathon Day in Boston so running is on everyone’s mind. Now, this is not going to be a bash on running. If you like to go for a long run to clear your head then great, do it! But if you think running is the best way to get back into shape then there is a much better way.

Don’t Run to get in shape, Get in Shape to Run!

Truth is too many people go from the couch to the road without preparing their bodies for the rigors of long distance running. This is especially true for those who are over-weight. With every stride you are putting 3 – 5 times your body weight into your joints. Unfortunately, when I see someone running along the road they, most likely, look like they are speed limping as opposed to really running. That is a good way to earn a trip to the physical therapists office.

Instead of long distance running for conditioning focus more on shorter bursts of activity. Dumbbell complexes are perfect. An example could be:

  1. RDL
  2. Clean
  3. Squat
  4. Overhead

Grab one pair of dumbbells. Perform 5 – 10 reps of the first exercise before going to the next. Do not put the dumbbells down until you are done with your last exercise. Repeat this sequence 3 – 5 times.

This is just one option. There are a whole host of other combinations using dumbbells, kettlebells, a barbell, even body weight circuits. These will not only decrease your likelihood of developing an overuse injury, they will get your heart pumping and build muscle in the process. These can be tremendous fat burners.

That brings me to my main thought. Once you are prepared to run, instead of running for distance, run for speed. We don’t sprint nearly as much as we should. Sprinting is perhaps the best way to build lean muscle mass. Head to a field and sprint 50 yards. If you wear a heart rate monitor, rest to about 120 bpm. Perform 6 – 10 sprints. Build yourself up to 100-yard sprints. Vary your distances and rest periods over the course of your training week and month. A good target is to sprint 3 times per week.

Don’t forget, you must be in shape first in order to run. But once you are in shape, then start sprinting!!

And if you need tunes to sprint to here’s my suggestion: