Does Running Build or Break Down Muscle?
The answer to this question depends upon what type of runner you are. If you’re a distance runner, then yes, running will definitely build muscle mass. However, if you’re not a distance runner but rather someone who’s doing some other form of training such as weight lifting or swimming, then no it won’t build any muscle at all.
How much muscle do I need to build?
You’ll have to decide how much muscle you want to build. For most people, they don’t really care too much about building as much as they just like the feeling of having more muscles. So if you’re looking for a quick way to get bigger biceps, triceps, delts and everything else that makes up a “muscle head”, then running probably isn’t going to cut it.
However, if you’re looking to add size to your upper body and lower body, then running might be right for you. Running builds strength and endurance which is great because these two qualities are key in being able to handle the rigors of outdoor sports such as hiking, camping, climbing and so forth. It also helps with balance since running keeps your joints healthy. However, if you’re looking to build muscle in your arms and core, then you might need to incorporate some upper body and lower body weights.
How much does running help my legs?
Running is obviously a great way to stay in shape because it doesn’t rely on expensive equipment or a gym membership. It’s also very convenient to do since it can be done anywhere that you have a track or a road. If you’re a busy person and can only fit in a quick 10-20 minute run here or there, it can help to improve your cardiovascular system and your endurance.
If you’re doing long distance runs such as half marathons or full marathons, then it’s going to do more than just provide you some physical benefits. It’s going to help you mentally as well as it helps promote a positive mindset. It can give you a sense of accomplishment in accomplishing something that’s going to challenge you.
How much does running help my arms?
While running isn’t going to help you build bigger arms, it can still be a good way to keep them in shape. Assuming that you have the time to do some arm workouts on your running days, then it can promote an accelerated muscle building cycle. It won’t help you build bigger arms, but it will help maintain the size that you currently have.
How running breaks down muscle
Now if you’re one of those people who want to lose weight, distance running probably isn’t the best way to do it. Sure you can burn some calories and even potentially lose some weight, but it’s not really a healthy way to do it. If your goal is to lose weight, you’re probably going to have to put in some extra time with the treadmill and cut back on how much you eat.
Also, running is hard on your legs. Most people who do a lot of running suffer from shin splints and are always feeling tightness and sometimes sharp pains in their legs. Obviously if you’re trying to build muscle in your legs then this isn’t exactly the best way to do it. However, if you’re running to stay in shape and just want to maintain the size of your legs, then running can help prevent atrophy.
If you want to make sure that you don’t suffer from any shin splints or other leg issues, then you’re going to need to make sure that you’re wearing the proper running shoes and that your gait is right. It’s also a good idea to do stretching exercises after your run and have proper hydration.
The bottom line for running is whether it benefits you or not really boils down to what your goals are. If you’re looking for a good cardiovascular workout that’s going to help you lose weight, running is a great option. It may not be the most efficient way, but it can work. If you’re looking to build bigger muscles and gain strength, then you’re probably going to need to look into other options.
The physical benefits of running
Now let’s go over some of the benefits of running that most people are familiar with. Again, this is going to be for the people who are running for exercise and not as a competition. If you’re a professional runner then obviously you’re getting a different set of skills from your trade.
Endurance: Probably the number one benefit of running is that it helps improve endurance. When most people start running, they can only last a couple of minutes.After a couple of weeks, they can last for 30 minutes or more. If they keep it up, they’re able to run for hours and even marathons.
This is great for people who like to go hiking, backpacking, kayaking, sailing, climbing mountains, or any other outdoor activity where you need to have maximum endurance. It’s also great for people who just want to be in good physical condition in general.
Weight loss: This is a benefit that people enjoy when they start running. Obviously if your goal is to lose weight, then you’re going to have to watch what you eat as well, but running is great for burning extra calories.
Reduced risk of cancer: There’s no doubt about it, exercise in general and running in particular is great for preventing cancer. Studies have shown that it can reduce your risk of getting cancer, particularly with prostate, uterus, and urinary tract. This is also a benefit that people often overlook.
Improved brain function: It’s well known that exercise can improve your memory and make you smarter, and running is no exception. It can also reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety which are common among runners.
Reduced blood pressure: Running helps to keep your blood pressure low, which in turn can help prevent heart attacks and strokes.
So as you can see, running can have several positive benefits. Whether you’re doing it for weight loss, to improve your general health, to build endurance, or any other reason, there are benefits. Just be sure to listen to your body and take a break every once in a while so you don’t get injured.
Running with friends or running clubs
A lot of runners prefer to run with friends or even in a club. There’s a couple of reasons for this. First of all, it can be a great way to stay motivated. If you have a friend that’s also into running, you can run with them and give each other encouragement to keep going or to go farther.
Also, running clubs are pretty common and most of them welcome new members. Even if you don’t find a club that coincides with your style, you can still use the facilities like the track or gym when you’re doing your running.
Running with music
A lot of runners these days like to run with music. There’s plenty of research that shows that listening to music can reduce the perception of pain and most runners prefer to listen to music rather than listen to nothing at all.
The only problem with listening to music when you run is that you have to have a way of carrying your phone or other device with you. You never know when a wild Pokemon might show up on your route, and you certainly wouldn’t want to miss out on the chance to capture it because you left your phone at home.
Another thing to consider is that you don’t want to wear earbuds. They can fall out or even get caught on something and pull on your ear, which could cause injury. It’s better if you can find a good pair of wireless headphones instead so you don’t have to worry about wires attaching to your phone or having an earbud hanging out of your ear.
Of course, another downside to listening to music is that it can make you less aware of your surroundings. There have been reports of people not hearing emergency vehicles because they had their headphones on too loud, so keep that in mind.
Fueling your body the right way
Eating the right foods before and after you run is really important if you want to get the most out of your training. It’s important to never eat right before you run as your body will be busy processing the food instead of putting it towards something productive like building muscle or burning fat.
This is why a lot of people like to run first thing in the morning when they’ve gone ten hours without eating. For those that prefer to run later in the day, it’s best to eat an hour before you run so your body has enough time to start processing the food.
When you eat after you run is up to you. If you’re running first thing in the morning, then you should consume some carbohydrates and protein within thirty minutes of finishing your run. If you’re running later in the day, you can eat whatever you want.
How much you should be eating depends on your weight and how vigorously you run. If you’re a 150-pound person that jog at an average pace for 45 minutes, then you only need about 140 calories. But if you’re a 190-pound person running the same distance and speed, you need about 675 calories.
You may notice there’s not a lot of wiggle room there. That’s because it’s extremely important that you get the right amount of nutrients. If you eat too little, then your body won’t have the energy it needs and if you eat too much, then you’ll just end up storing most of the excess as body fat.
The best thing to do is to use a phone app to track your caloric intake. There are many free ones out there and they’re easy to use. You just have to make sure you’re honest with yourself about the type and quantity of food you’re putting into your body.
How do you fit it into your day?
When you first start running, it’s going to seem like there’s no way it’s ever going to fit into your day. But once you get into a routine and set aside the time, it really isn’t a problem.
You don’t need to run for hours at a time to stay in shape. Most of the time, people only run between three and five miles. That could take you anywhere between twenty and forty-five minutes depending on your pace, so all you really need to do is set aside one hour a day.
If you can do it in the morning, that’s great. If you’d rather do it in the evening, then that’s fine too. The most important thing is making sure you do it every day so your body can get used to it and you start seeing results.
Your other choices are pretty open. If you like to run in the morning, then you can either do it then or at night. Some people like to run after work while others prefer the quiet of the morning to themselves. It’s really up to you and what fits into your schedule.
Regardless of when you run, make sure you have the time to do it and then make sure you stick to that schedule so your body can get into a routine. Once that happens and you see how easy it is to make time for running, you’ll never have an issue with committing to a healthy lifestyle.
Where do you run?
Running outside is usually best because you get to take in your surroundings and it’s free. However, depending on where you live, this may or may not be an option for you. There’s nothing wrong with running on a treadmill or other exercise machine if you don’t feel safe running outside in the area you live.
In fact, you might find that treadmill running is easier on your body since there’s no impact. You can also listen to music or an audio book easier, which helps the time go by faster.
There’s also something to be said about running outside in the fresh air even if there’s a risk of getting sick because of it. It really just depends on your preference and what you’re willing to deal with.
Regardless of where you run, always make sure you take appropriate safety measures. Run in a well-lit area if possible and don’t go out alone at night. Take your cell phone with you in case of an emergency and if you feel like someone is following you or acting suspiciously, head to the nearest public place immediately. Don’t worry about seeming paranoid, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Why do you run?
Running is a great tool for losing weight and getting in shape, but that’s not the only reason to do it. Running is a time for you. You’re outside. You’re moving. You’re free.
This is your chance to get away from the stresses of work and home life. This is your “me” time. If you have a stressful job, running can help relieve those built up tensions. If you have a busy schedule, running can help you stay focused and more organized.
If you have a challenging relationship, running can be a great way to release those pent up emotions and keep you from saying something you’ll later regret.
Running is not only healthy for your body, but it’s also healthy for your mind and soul. Don’t ever forget that.
Make it a good day!
You got this!
Return from Runners High to Running
Sources & references used in this article:
Artificial muscles by S Ashley – Scientific American, 2003 – JSTOR
Self-regulation and depletion of limited resources: Does self-control resemble a muscle? by M Muraven, RF Baumeister – Psychological bulletin, 2000 – psycnet.apa.org
Muscles, reflexes, and locomotion by TA McMahon – 1984 – books.google.com
Mitochondrial breakdown in skeletal muscle and the emerging role of the lysosomes by M Triolo, DA Hood – Archives of biochemistry and biophysics, 2019 – Elsevier