Thursday, May 25, 2006

Not Cool

Today, I was sitting by the Charles River with a friend of mine. This is a great spot for observing runners. I noticed that most of the folks were going between four and seven miles per hour.

Being the pompous ass that I am, I told my friend that these people were still out of shape precisely because they never ran faster than four to seven miles an hour. I regurgitated the company line: These pseudo-athletes would get more out of running one mile at top speed than five miles at a marathon pace.

I am such a jackass. My assertion wasn't incorrect, but the only reason I know that interval training is superior to long, slow distance (LSD) is Crossfit. I was spouting off like I'd just invented the f*cking lightbulb. If I'd never heard of Crossfit (which I read about in a glossy magazine at a big box gym), I'd have sat there and admired everyone's compact stride.

Like the Afternoon Warriors of the Charles, I once believed that five miles was better than two miles was better than one mile, regardless of speed. I'd jump on the treadmill, and sweat my butt off running two or three 8 minute miles.

I've been training for two and a half years. Two some-odd years is not a long time, but I've built on my knowledge. Three sets of 10 became WODs. Isolation movements became squats became olympic lifts. Running slowly became sprinting. Two minutes in between sets became no rest at all. What's my point?

I may find, two years from now, that everything I now take as gospel is complete and utter sh*t. I should probably shut my mouth and just be happy these people are exercising at all.

Yet, if someone could've saved you 500 hours of treadmill time, would you have wanted them to speak up? If you were using the Ab Lounge for eight minutes every day and you weren't ripped, wouldn't you want answers?

My friends ask me for training advice from time to time, and I give it to them. The only qualification I possess is, well...nothing. Except I did the same stupid sh*t they're doing now, and I managed to quit.

I could still be doing the same generic programs I read in Men's Health and Muscle and Fitness. This is the resource my friends rely on, because it's the resource they have access to.

For the novice athlete, it's certainly better than nothing, and if it inspires any level of activity beyond getting up to get another beer, I'm all for it. The problem begins when the athlete-in-training plateaus for the first time.

If they're lucky, they find another program that takes everything up a level. If they're not, they'll find a shiny new program that promises huge gains using only the JumpStretch 2000.

In the course of my running lecture, my buddy told me he's been doing the same workout for years. Not the same program--the same single workout! The same exercises using the same loads in the same order!

I started preaching about variety like Moses on the Mount.

I'm such a jackass. I going to stop running my trap? Probably not. But I promise I'll try to be a little less pompous about it next time. Keep jogging, everybody!


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