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And Into The Fire We Go…


I wrote yesterday about starting to look into ways to keep weight on now that I’m starting to get thinner that I would like.  I talked to my buddy English Pete about it yesterday and he suggested Carbohydrate Backloading and a specific website that I won’t bother linking to.

The first article I clicked on, passing on many of the interviews, was an attempt to convince women that they should quit running immediately and comence with the CrossFit.  Some of what was stated made sense, and some didn’t.  As with all things fitness, it seems, everything is up for debate.  I have written about the benefits of running as it pertains to bone mass density, providing links to studies that demonstrate my point exactly, and even providing a personal story of a friend of mine who – because of running for decades alone – was able to get a hip replacement (required because of a fall off of a motorcycle and a roof) designed for a person ten years his junior.  The article I clicked on says that running robs the body of bone mass density (at least in women), exactly the opposite of what most studies show.  None of the studies I’ve read suggest a difference in affect for male or female runners, or that running robs a runner of bone mass density – in fact the reasons for the increased bone mass density due to running is a human characteristic – the repeated impact associated with running sets off signals in the brain to increase bone mass to protect the body from the constant impact (yes, that’s redundant on purpose).  This isn’t to say that injuries can result from a radically bad form or prior injuries, but I’m not about to look at extremes as a reason for everyone (or all women) to stop running because that would be silly – a practice all too common, unfortunately.  For instance, Bobbi-Sue injured her ACL in college, if she runs she will damage that knee, therefore women shouldn’t run at all…  A suggestion so stupid on its face that I won’t even bother with a take-down, but that’s how “they” form the argument.

Without getting too deeply into this, the author of the article even went so far, according to one commentor on the site, to quote a study that showed the exact opposite of that which he proposed:  “I had a particular concern with your reference 8, which found the exact opposite of what you are trying to prove”.  Nothing drives me more “up a wall” than someone quoting a study that proves the opposite of what they believe.  Call it laziness, call it stupid, call it dishonest, who knows – and I’m certainly not one to take the time to figure out which one it is (I default to dishonest).  I am not the protector of the fitness world, I just want to ride my damned bike and not shrivel up into a skin-flint doing it – I’ve been there and I hate that more than I hated being overweight.

This is from another commentor who obviously drank the Kool-Aid:

“I was finally convinced to stop running when I started training at a new gym with a bunch of competitive powerlifters.

After only months after [sic] I started running at the age of 15, my 50m sprint time went from 7.0 seconds to 7.8seconds. This should have been my first indication that running was stupid.

It is surprising that the fact my 10k time had been going down steadily from year to year for three years despite running more often for longer distances did not make me stop either [huh?]. I thought I just wasn’t trying hard enough.

My weight wouldn’t go up and the weights I could lift were going up at a snail’s pace. Finally I started CrossFit and did it for about three months. My strength was going up and so was my work capacity.

Luckily the light was rudely thrust at me by my new-found powerlifting training partners. They gave me an ultimatum: “Stop your CrossFitting ways or you will suck when you compete with us at your first powerlifting meet in a few months and we will incessantly make fun of you and we may not even let you train with us due to your ridiculousness.” [maybe I should have just not copied this sentence and just left it out]

I got way stronger after only a month or so of stopping running. My deadlift went from 265 to 315. That was almost two years ago. My explosiveness is finally starting to return but it is still nowhere near where it was before I decided to wreck my body with running. The only sport I ever did seriously growing up was freestyle skiing. I was the fastest girl in school, until grade 10 when I thought I would be healtheir if I ran…

Now I only do high intensity circuits and intervals. I have so much more time and energy and way better cardio. But most importantly, I’m so much stronger now!”

Where to begin you silly dope?  What do we know about what this woman experienced just going by what she’s written?  The important statements are in red…  And I’ve experienced the same phenomena and countered the slowing with high cadence cycling – as she increased the distance, she slowed her pace to preserve energy for the long haul…  She ended up training the slow twitch muscle fibers which allowed her endurance to increase but atrophied her fast twitch fibers, effectively slowing her down (this is why it’s important to keep your running cadence high, shortening the stide to preserve energy).  CrossFit got her to train the explosive fast twitch fibers and her body responded – of course we also know that because her slow twitch fibers are being ignored now her endurance will be shot.  This is hardly rocket science.  The trick is to train both (hello intervals).

As with all things fitness, what is important is doing what you enjoy.  I don’t give a crap if I can bench 350 lbs – lifting weights just isn’t my thing (even if I do end up having to do this on a limited basis to keep my cycling enjoyable).  If I don’t get any joy out of it, I won’t do it – so let’s say I followed this guy’s advice and gave up cycling and running to go to the gym four days a week like everyone else (he says guys running is stupid too, for different reasons).  I’d get bigger and stronger, for about two months – or until I ran into the first obstacle that required I give up my gym time for a day or two, say I got sick – or until I got bored (I wouldn’t give me two months realistically) and quit going – then I’d start putting on weight again…  I’d make resolutions to get back to the gym and I’d make excuses to skip it.  I’d go back and forth, hemming and hawing and I’d wind up depressed and lost, as happens to so many of us who try to fit that square peg (of the ultimate “right” way to exercise) into that round hole (our happiness with what we do).

In the end, it’s just a way to sell something – “Quit Running and Sign Up for My 180 Day Program because running is bad for you, really”.  Not.

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