Monday, January 6, 2014

Running to Stand Still

I was listening to my new favourite podcast the other day and the guest speaker was Danny Dreyer who, apparently, has developed a new running technique/program/protocol/method (you can see I am not really sure what to call it) called “chi running,” which, again I say apparently, enables you to run “easier and injury free.” As an aside, is it a coincidence that so many running sites advertise something about being “injury free” or are endurance athletes, as I suspect, at higher risk of injuries than the rest of us?

 Doug by Katoomba Falls

Anyway, what caught my attention in this podcast – which was in general of zero interest to me as I am not a runner and never will be – was Danny's comment that running was great for burning fat, you just had to run further, and once you were running further, you should run further again. And therein lies the reason that the big machine with the conveyor belt in the gym is called a treadmill, 'cause once you're on it, you can't get off. Our bodies adapt very quickly to training and soon the 5 km you ran yesterday becomes 10 today, 15 tomorrow, and, before you know it, your entire life is about running further in an attempt to get any significant result. 

Climbing the 1,000 Golden Staircase

Of course, the whole idea that running burns fat is a crock unless you have got yourself fat adapted by cutting your carbohydrates down (which seems almost akin to asking a Repulican to support universal health care in the endurance world). If you haven't done that, you just burn whatever carbohydrate you just ate or have stored in your muscles and liver and, once that is gone, if you don't eat more carbohydrate, your body just starts to canabalize muscle to convert protein to glucose. Which doesn't really sound like a great way to burn fat but perhaps explains why endurance athletes are always scrawny with little muscle mass. 

When we were still living in Nelson a few of my friends got involved in triathlons. It often seemed that was the last I saw of them because, by the time they had finished whatever run/bike or swim training they had going on they had no time and no energy to go skiing, climbing or hiking. After their first triathlon they all swore they would never do it again because it ate up so much of their free time. But, the very next year they would all be back at it again. Strangely, despite Danny Dreyer's claims that endurance running would burn fat, they all had a cortisol cushion around the mid-section that never got any smaller, and, they never got any better at breaking trail, breaking a climbing grade plateau, or hiking uphill with a big pack on. In fact, they seemed to get worse. Funny how something that is supposed to be so good for you is actually so bad. 

Overlooking the Kedumba Valley

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