Jon-Erik Kawamoto, Personal TrainerI’m tired of biting my tongue. I’ve seen pictures like this pop up everywhere on the internet and honestly, I find it quite offensive. Here you have a wickedly lean and built sprinter/football running back compared to a frail distance runner, in this case, marathon-great Ryan Hall (and of course they choose the least flattering picture they can find).

The comparison is obviously about body image and has completely nothing to do with athletic ability (running a sick marathon time vs. running a sick 40-yard time). Who would want to look like Ryan Hall anyway? Obviously no one because skinny dudes look weak. We can thank Charles Atlas for this as he was one of the first to advertise that being skinny was a bad thing in the mid 1900’s.

We can thank genetics, nutrition, the training program (endurance based e.g. running vs. weight training e.g. strength training or body building) and drugs for the size and shape our muscles and body take on. According to the SAID (specific adaptation to imposed demand) Principle, you get what you train for – in the case of Ryan Hall, an amazing aerobic system and pair of lungs. On the other hand, sprinters develop high levels of strength and an amazing ability to generate force fast. Because the distance runner runs more total volume compared to the sprinter, the distance runner is in a constant state of repair with heightened levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Because of this, it’s actually quite difficult to put on additional muscle, let alone keep the existing muscle they have.

Sprinters also tend to have more fast twitch muscle fibres compared to distance runners (who tend to have more slow twitch muscle fibres). This is why fast kids tend to be sprinters when they get older – sometimes you can’t choose your event – you just find out what you’re best at.

But I get it. These pictorial comparisons between sprinters and runners target the general population wanting to lose fat. As I stated on my other JKConditioning blog in my 30 Years 30 Health & Fitness Tips series:

“…high intensity interval training is more effective at burning calories compared to a lower intensity session of the same duration. BUT, lower intensity cardio sessions are important for those unfit enough to handle the high intensity of sprinting and pushing their bodies beyond red-line. Cardio sessions at 60-ish percent of max heart rate are not only important for many physiological acclimations, but this type of training builds a strong base for higher intensity training later in your training program. Elite endurance athletes periodize their programs like this year after year.”

Runners love running because they love to run, plain and simple. Most hate going to the gym and would rather run with a couple friends in the rain than spend 30-minutes pumping iron. They don’t mind that they don’t look like Captain America or Thor but mind setting new personal bests for their favourite race distances.

Notice how they never compare distance runners to Jeremy Warner? He’s super lean and has run the third fastest 400-m in history: 43.45. He’s a sprinter, but because of his genetics, he doesn’t look like the sprinter pictured above.

Sprinting alone isn’t going to get you jacked. Is it more effective than long slow distance running at burning calories? Yes, refer to my point above. Repeated again however, if the same time frame is used e.g. 20-minutes running every other minute as hard as possible will expend more calories during and after the session vs. running the entire 20-minutes at 60% of your max heart rate.

You have to remember that each type of training has its place.

Many coaches advocate hill sprints, sled pushes and resistance training and body weight circuits to improve conditioning or GPP (general physical preparedness) whereas running coaches advocate running lots of miles in the off-season to build a base for the higher-intense track/road racing season.

The goals of sprinters and distance runners are completely different, so stop comparing the two.

If you want to run a fast 5-km, 10-km, half or full marathon, you must sacrifice you body image and get in the miles.

If you want to look like the Hulk, stop running so much and hit the weights.

Remember, you get what you train for.

To wrap up, stop bashing distance runners because of how they look. They may look lean and weak, but they can surely run circles around you.

Thanks for reading.

-JK

I chose JKC because I row/coach teams in the St. John’s Regatta and was looking to add strength training to our program. My wife is also running friends with Julia, so I got to meet Jon a few times and heard lots of good things. I like JKC over other gyms because of the level coaching I receive and the gym atmosphere. The energy in the gym helps me through the tough workouts.

Tara Rector-Whelan

Personal Strength Training by Thomas King

I started at JKC after a good friend recommended it to me. She had been coming for about a year and I was envious of her great results. I felt sluggish after failing to motivate myself with various home workout routines. I love the fun and relaxed atmosphere at JKC. It’s such a comfortable gym space and I enjoy knowing so many of the people I work out with. Jon and Thomas make an effort to introduce everyone to each other and with all the joking around,  it starts to feel like a family. Not to mention the awesome results. I’ve always liked to run on a treadmill but I’ve never had the drive to lift weights on my own. Going to JKC makes me accountable which was what I really needed. I feel so much stronger and healthier than I did 4 years ago when I started.

I was referred to JKC by my sister-in-law and had heard good things about it from many people in the running community. I also saw Jon’s picture on the wall at lululemon years ago! I really like the personalized training and the variety the guys provide. I started for strength training for running. I love cardio and do tons of it but wasn’t motivated to do much strength work on my own. Jon mixes up my strength work week to week so I don’t get bored but also lets me work in a hard circuit for the last 20 minutes of most sessions to get my cardio fix 

log overhead press

I had tried JKC based on the recommendation of a parent of one of my students. I originally started by attending Saturday drop in classes. I was hooked. I decided to join full time when I I had taken a year off from teaching and it was the best thing I have done for myself.

First and foremost the trainers at JKC are extremely knowledgeable. I feel like they are as dedicated to my success as I am. The workouts are tailored to me, my skills and my goals. This is important. Jon and Thomas truly want the best for their clients no matter what level of fitness they are starting from. I also like being able to book a session at a time that suits my schedule. This also helps keep me accountable. Once the session is booked I am not likely to cancel!

I started at JKC in January of 2014 and I’m 67 years old. When I had my Initial Assessment, I knew – almost immediately – that Jon knew what he was doing and what he was talking about. I was overweight, out of shape, and in serious need of someone, like Jon, who could get me back on a fitness/conditioning routine that suited me, my age, my less than acceptable physical condition, my sometimes intermittent RA, and my need for a structured, consistent and yet flexible training and conditioning program that would work for me.

Fundamentally, if I made a choice at all with respect to JKC – it was to continue to come back each week. I have not been in a lot of gyms. To be honest, they used to intimidate me. What makes JKC different is their approach to each and every one of their clients. Jon and Thomas – and now Craig – tailor each training regime to the particular needs of each client. That ensures that the training regime will suit each client upon the start of training and changes as the client improves. It adjusts for any physical setbacks such as injuries and it adjusts for success. It is just that simple.

It is also the consistent encouragement that comes from Jon, Thomas and Craig. That voice that comes to you while you are in the middle of a particularly difficult set – rear-foot elevated split squats comes to mind immediately – that says “good job” or “keep it up” or “just a couple more reps.” To know, in that moment, that you are not alone and the trainer is paying attention to what you are doing. That is priceless for me.

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