Ask LH: I'm Fit, So Why Do I Suck At Running?

Dear Lifehacker, Today I decided to go for a run on my lunch hour. Despite having regularly done cardio on an elliptical (80 rpm average on level 12 hill setting for 30 minutes minimum) and cardio at the Kickboxing gym, I hit a wall at around the three-kilometre mark and couldn’t continue. I consider myself fit, so why did I blow up so quickly? Thanks, Cardio Fan

Cramp image from Shutterstock

Dear CF,

The reason your body gave out earlier outdoors compared to the gym could be down to a number of factors, including weather and terrain (was it hot? Was the ground rough and uneven?), hydration (did you take a water bottle with you?) and footwear. Also, elliptical equipment and treadmills tend to put less strain on your body compared to real running where the impact on legs and feet is more jarring.

We presented your question to Jason Fitzgerald, an exercise blogger and running coach with more than 15 years experience. Here’s what Jason had to say:

The rule of specificity is at work here! You didn’t feel good because you haven’t been running (though all that other cross-training will help your overall fitness). Unlike the elliptical, running is very plyometric. You’re essentially doing thousands of single-leg hops with every run. If you don’t practice that, you won’t ever feel good doing it. It often takes 1-2 weeks to get your running legs back underneath you and a consistent 4-5 days of running per week (at least) to feel good most days.

In other words, practice makes perfect! Other ways to improve your running performance include increased strength training, choosing the right footwear and methods to beat the heat. You can find more in-depth running tips here, here and here. Good luck!

If any readers have their own urban running hacks, let CF know in the comments section below.


Got your own question you want to put to Lifehacker? Send it using our contact tab on the right.

Have you subscribed to Lifehacker Australia's email newsletter? You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Trending Stories Right Now