Non-Joggers of the World Take Heart

Ah-ha. I knew it!

Jogging for fitness isn’t so good for you after all.runner

To recap: the dominant public narrative at the moment is that if some running is good, more is better. As I have discussed before, this had led to an explosion of half-marathons, marathons, and ultra-marathons. And to what end?

Nothing, apparently. A new study from researchers in Denmark has found that while some exercise is good, more is actually worse. According to the Los Angeles Times, “high-intensity, high-mileage joggers die at the same rate as channel-surfing couch potatoes.”

I’m willing to bet that obsessive jogging and/or running has more to do with competitiveness and perceived self-worth than any actual fitness benefits.

Personally, I take my cues from the Chinese. What do they do for exercise? They get outside and walk every day. No fancy running shoes. No strenuous uphill runs. Just walking. It works for me.

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Run Baby Run

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There are decals that I have noticed recently on cars in my area. They seem to be everywhere. For a long time I wondered what they meant because they simply are some numbers. Eventually, I figured it out.

26.2.

The number of miles in a marathon.

It seems that marathons are having their day.

As I have said before, I have a certain amount of ambivalence about exercise. I do what I need to do and no more. Marathons, to me, seem like way more than what’s necessary. So why are they so popular?

And when a “simple” marathon is not enough, how about one of these:

Antarctica Marathon — Run 26.2 miles on the coldest continent on Earth.

Death Valley Ultramarathon — Run (or walk) 135 miles in the hottest, driest place on Earth.

I don’t know whether to admire these people or feel sorry for them.

In another context, this would be considered self-flagellation.  And people generally think of self-flagellation as weird and vaguely fetishistic.

So why would the Antarctica Marathon attract 110 people in 60 days for its inaugural run? And why are there are 94 runners in the article about the Death Valley race?

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I don’t buy into what the organizer of the Antarctic race says: “These are people who take the reins and ride life hard. They’re not afraid to take some risk and live life to the fullest.”

Personally, I don’t shy away from living life to the fullest. I’ve written for publication. I’ve played music in a band in front of live audiences. I’ve donated a kidney.

But I think there is something unhealthy about all this so-called physical fitness. I don’t think of these marathon exploits as living life to the fullest. Rather, I think it’s madness.

Maybe that’s just me.

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Exercise and It’s Discontents

I crossed the finish line. My time wasn’t great, but I completed the 12 kilometer San Francisco Bay to Breakers race. In 1986, I was young, slim, and reasonably fit. From what people said, it sounded like fun, so I did it.

And how did I feel? Honestly, I felt neither exhausted nor euphoric. I felt nothing, really, except the pain in my knees the following day. It was a task I set out to do, and I completed it. I had no doubt that I would. And I had no expectation that I’d get the “runner’s high.”

Twio X | Parkour Leipzig
I’m still waiting for the day when exercise releases endorphins into my brain, giving me that euphoric feeling after a strenuous physical workout. When is it supposed to start happening?  Please tell me, because I really want to know. I’ve been waiting 4 decades for it.

Frankly, exercise leaves me with only one, simple feeling: tired. That seems normal, doesn’t it?  I’ve put out effort, I’ve burned all my calories. What else should I be expecting?

Euphoria, apparently.

That’s not to say I don’t have my exercise routines, because I do. I make a point of walking for 20 to 30 minutes each day, outdoors. And I lift weights on a regular basis.  If I’m being really good, I ride my bike once in a while. But these all have side benefits independent of any expected euphoria. Walking and biking get me outdoors. The weights allow me to avoid being embarrassingly unmanly when I have to lift something.

They are not, however, driven by any passion or expectation of euphoria. My exercise is a necessary evil, a means to an end, not an end itself. It is like sex in a passionless marriage, or the routine of a dull job. I do it because I’m supposed to, and I pretend to like it.

I could really use a dose of that alleged euphoria I hear so much about, though. It might make a difference.