Any exercise physiologist will know the difference between a catabolic workout, and an anabolic workout. A catabolic workout produces a lot of the hormone called Cortisol. Cortisol is created when the body depletes its glycogen stores in the muscles, and if very depleted, your liver stores as well. You use Creatine and ATP (adenosine triphosphate) first when you are exerting force with your muscles, and then you use the sugar stores. Once the sugar stores are low, you produce Cortisol, and the more depleted, the more cortisol is created to save the brain glucose stores. They say that all glycogen stores would be completely depleted at about two hours and thirty minutes (why I never recommend marathons). So what are the effects of Cortisol?
Cortisol will take away your bone density, making you more susceptible to stress fractures and broken bones. It will also take away collagen that could cause weak joints and more arthritis effects. It will also weaken your immune system, causing prolonged recovery times. And finally, in small amounts it can increase your ‘flash bulb’ memory, (to remember what not to so) but if it’s a prolonged exposer, can damage cells in your hippocampus, hurting your learning abilities. Ate least it’s not bad for losing weight! All this mixed with the high impact of running can cause lots of problems. I know personally from my professional running days that if you do not have a strength program in place that hits all the areas runners need, you will get injured. I was injured about twice a year when I ran for MSU. But the good news is that you can take care of it in the gym, once I implemented a good strength program I did not get injured in 5 years of professional running. One time I did step in a hole and tweak my knee, but that’s an impact injury, not overuse.
So what does an anabolic strength workout do? Well the opposite of catabolism. So it builds muscle density, bone density, and joint density to put it bluntly. This makes you harder to get injured or sick. I had a very close friend that was run over by a 3 ton truck recently, and did not have a single broken bone. It ran over his legs and nothing else thank God, and he was already walking around without crutches about a week after the incident and walked a 5k without crutches in under and hour less then two weeks later! He was a very fit individual that took very good care of his body, lifted weights and played volleyball. It obviously will take a LOT of injure him.
I know this article sounds like a vendetta against running, but it’s not at all. I loved running and there’s few workouts better than finding a great trail and zoning out for a little bit. However, this is only a part of a good fitness plan. Just doing cardio is like only eating broccoli, good choice, but you might want to add a little variety to the diet. There has to be a good balance of anabolic and catabolic workouts. Catabolism is needed for the body, even for muscle, bone and joint development; but too much is too much. Hope this helps! Have a great day!