Monday, December 19, 2011

I agree, so Outside must be right

Many decades ago, when I was, I suppose, a senior in high school, a slightly younger boy came up to me one day and asked, “How can I get to be a good runner?”

“Well, you could hop in with us and see how it goes,” I said.

“No, no, I mean I want to try it on my own.”

“Well, then I guess you could start running a few miles, gradually try to increase your speed, and see how that goes.”

Long pause.

“But don’t you think I could just walk on weekends?”

This came to mind when I saw that Outside is running a feature entitled “The 10 Biggest Fitness Myths”.

Myth # 8 is “Long and slow is the best way to burn calories.” This idea has always driven me nuts. It flies in the face of experience, common sense, and science. A slow 10 will burn more than a quick set of quarters, maybe, but won’t even come close to a strong 10. Over time, you can simply feel it. And if you track your training and your weight, your training diary will tell the tale. (Of course, if you’re old and creaky and stupid, you will hurt yourself trying to run hard. But we don’t know anybody like that.)

I’ve also got strong feelings about Myth # 1 (Stretching prevents injuries and improves performance) and Myth #2 (Running barefoot is better for the body), and from a runner’s perspective agree absolutely with Outside that we need to toss these dopey concepts into the trash.

Stretching a cold body is a terrible idea. Want to get warm for a race or strong workout? Just run. Start easy, build up, get sweaty. You’re warm. Stretching? Maybe. But afterward. When you’re warm.

Running barefoot I’ve already ranted about. Twice. Which will suffice. (Well, maybe not. Strained achilles! Strained achilles! Strained achilles! There. That will suffice.)


Phreerunner said...

Very interesting, Mark; the belief that these are 'myths' flies in the face of what athletes in the UK seem to worship. Not being an athlete, I've always ignored the 'rules' in the same way as you seem to have done. My one exception is the ACL issue - repeated arthroscopies failed to cure a problem that was eventually fully resolved by surgery using the patella tendon. I've recently started doing Parkruns - 5km on a Saturday morning, no warm up, or cold bath (other than cold feet from sloshing through ankle deep fields) but great fun, even if dressed in a seasonal outfit!

Mark Alvarez said...

ACLs have become such a bane. I'd never even heard of them until the '90s. Glad yours was well fixed up. You've certainly been putting the knee to good use!

Best for the holidays.