Q&A with Dr. Jordan Metzl
Dr. Jordan Metzl is a nationally renowned sports medicine physician who is one of the most well respected names in the running world. He has completed marathon after marathon, as well as multiple Ironman races — but more than that, he truly loves to run. And he has dedicated his life to helping athletes keep running, without injury. He has worked with patients around the world, written best-selling books on the topic, and his Ironstrength workout, designed to improve performance and prevent injury, has reached millions worldwide. So we asked Dr. Metzl to answer one question: Is running good for your body or not?
It's fairly safe to say that you love running, as you are a 33-time marathon runner and 12-time Ironman finisher. What is it you love so much about long distance runs?
There is a fine line between running enthusiast and running addict. I hope that I am among the most enthusiastic runners in the world (who is not completely addicted). Quite frankly, I love to move and I love exercise. I think it makes me a better doctor, a better person, and helps me enjoy a happier and healthier life. Whether you're a patient in my office or seeing me out at a race, my general goal for myself and my patients is to finish standing upright and with a smile.
Although I love to compete and do well, the best medicine in the world is free — and it's called exercise. I move every day because that's the best medicine I know, and I want my patients to take it, too. Distance running is part of that equation, it is a time to free your mind, to challenge your body, and to release every toxin, mental or physical, that you might be harboring.
Although running is known as one of the most effective workouts, it also has a reputation for being one of the toughest workouts on your body. What are your greatest physical risks as a runner, and how do you avoid injury?
That's true, every day my office is overflowing with injured runners. However, I've tried to combine my philosophy as a sports doctor, a fitness instructor, and an athlete together in Running Strong. The idea is that I want to teach runners how to recognize and prevent almost every running injury, and then give them guidelines on how to build strength so they can keep themselves on the road and out of my office. My focus is about using strength to not only improve performance, but to reduce injury. It works for every runner at every level and at every age.
What is the importance of having the proper running shoes, and what are your recommendations on finding the right shoe?
I often tell people that choosing a spouse or where you live is important, but choosing running shoes might be the most important decision a runner can make. Okay, that's a bit dramatic but you get the point! Many people are swayed by color or fashion. I suggest going to a running specialty store the first couple times before ordering online. Much like Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, you must feel the force. Trust what feels good to you, and don't pay attention to what it looks like (unless it's really ugly).
You created the Ironstrength workout, a fitness regimen that simultaneously improves performance and prevents injury. What is unique about this workout?
This workout is a full body workout that uses bodyweight to build functional strength. It is unique in that it is designed for runners and designed by a doctor who runs. I think it's healthy, it works, and people can do it anywhere, anytime. I've had runners around the world try it, and I've received some amazing pictures and notes from every continent. It's really cool to see how it's taken off, and makes me feel good seeing so many people getting strong.
So if we have to be so careful to avoid injury, and running is so tough on the body, the real question is — Is running good for you or not?
Without question, running is among the most efficient forms of exercise, and among the most effective things you can do for your health. It is great for every aspect of your being and I encourage everybody who likes it, to do it regularly.
What would you say to someone who is looking to start running for the first time?
Enjoy it. Start slowly, get a good pair of shoes, do some of my strengthening, and maybe join a group as you get started. I promise, you'll love it.
Any advice or last words?
Not all things in life are easy. Running is like that as well. Sometimes it hurts, sometimes it's tough, but in the end it makes you a better athlete, and I think a better person.
I hope to see you on the road!
With a practice of more than 20,000 patients, Dr. Jordan Metzl is a sports medicine physician at the world renowned Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. Known for his passion for sports medicine and fitness, he completed his residency training at Tufts Medical Center in Boston and Sports Medicine Fellowship Training programs at both Vanderbilt University and at Harvard Medical School.
In addition to his busy medical practices in New York City and Stamford, Connecticut, Dr. Metzl is the author of the bestselling titles Running Strong, The Exercise Cure, and Athlete’s Book of Home Remedies, and has also authored three other books including The Young Athlete. Dr. Metzl is the medical columnist for Triathlete Magazine.
Dr. Metzl is a highly sought after teacher and fitness instructor. He lectures both nationally and internationally to health organizations, fitness communities, and in wellness venues on the topics of sports medicine, fitness, and preventive health.
His research interests include the treatment and prevention of running related injury, the effectiveness of preventive wellness programs, and the prevention of youth sport injury.
Dr. Metzl appears regularly on media programs including the Today Show, on radio including National Public Radio (NPR) and in print media including the New York Times, discussing the issues of fitness and health. In addition to his busy medical practice and academic interests, he practices what he preaches.
He created the Ironstrength Workout, a functional fitness program for improved performance and injury prevention that he teaches in fitness venues throughout the country. The workout is featured free online where it has been performed by more than 9 million athletes around the world and was also featured in the New York Times. It is also available on DVD here.
A former collegiate soccer player, Dr. Metzl is a 33-time marathon runner and 12- time Ironman finisher (and still going).