Posted by: thehungryrunner | July 6, 2010

“There’s no need to jog in place at red lights.” Oh yeah?

I see this advice frequently, and I know it’s well-intended.  But more often than not, it appears to be given by one of these highly accomplished runners or running coaches, and I suspect this might account for why they may overlook one possibility when offering their rationale.

What advice is that, you ask?  It’s the advice given to runners who ask about whether or not they should jog in place while waiting to cross the street, such as when you’re at an intersection and the light is red.  Almost always, the answer is a more eloquent version of either “Nah, don’t bother” or “Goodness, there’s obsessed and then there’s over the top!”  Whatever the spin, the wisdom is almost always that when waiting for the light to change or cars to pass, it’s best to just stop moving and stand there, that jogging in place doesn’t accomplish anything.

Well, you might guess I’m a “jog in place” runner through and through, and as much as I appreciate their attempt to promote a balanced, relaxed approached to running, I must politely offer a dissenting take on this question.

The truth is, I think that advice works well for the body that runs very easily.  You know if you’re a body that runs easily, and if you are not, and I suspect that those who say, “Eh, don’t bother to jog in place” are the ones whose body runs easily.  Because if they weren’t, they would KNOW of one key reason for the incessant bouncing:  momentum!

For me — a body that runs OK but certainly not easily (maybe the word “naturally” would be better?  take your pick), I’m like a flourescent light:  once “on” I run continuously with fairly good energy efficiency.  But the minute I begin the process of starting and stopping, there’s a notable spike in my physical and mental energy expenditure.  Now, that can be a GOOD thing — after all, you need only do a casual scroll of this blog to see that I’m an avid proponent of run/walk workouts.  And for those days that I have specifically chosen to assume such a format, terrific!  I have prepared myself mentally and will approach the run/walk with the commitment I need.  But on the days that I have chosen to run continously, I find that the closer I come to orienting the workout according to the song by Aerosmith — “Just Push Play” — the easier time I have hitting my distance (or time, or pace) goal.  In other words, once I start to run, it is in my best interest to have the next time I stop be the end of the workout.  Any break in stride, be it to tie my shoe, stop by the water fountain, attend to my Ipod, or yes, wait at an intersection…..annoys me.  If I must, I will, but if I don’t have to, I’d just as soon not.  It has nothing to do with being “hard core” or overly anal (I *am* the latter, probably, but it’s not the motivator in this instance), it’s simply not wanting to break my momentum.

So….embrace the jog-in-place, I say!  And the next time you see runner bouncing up and down at a street corner, consider the possibililty that there may be an explanation — other than the need for a bathroom break!

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