Thursday, January 19, 2012

Running - Just for the heck of it

Many years ago someone decided that conditioning is achieved by aerobics.  That is,   running.  It gets your heart pumping and lungs working overtime.  Upon hearing this an observer complained that it would be much better if conditioning came with doing something useful like mowing the lawn or hoeing the garden.  Why is something as useless as running the way to get physically fit?

I have theories of my own about this.  I think runners aren't skinny because they run.  They run because they are skinny.   I think the people who prescribed running for fitness are skinny people who run because their anorexic bodies just float around the track.

You may deduce from this that I am not skinny.  A fact I have acknowledged elsewhere in this blog and admit freely.  To describe me as "not skinny" is to understate reality.

Vince Lombardi said that "fatigue makes cowards of us all."  Coaches all over the country have taken his words as gospel and emphasize conditioning.  The theory is that conditioning increases energy and decreases fatigue.  Ergo, well conditioned athletes are brave athletes because they don't suffer fatigue induced cowardice.  And they've all bought into the running theory of conditioning.

My recent and near-future posts are featuring photos from the tryouts and practice held January 14, 2012.  My file photos are sorted according to the drill they depict.  I have quite a few photos of Outlaws running.  Not to get anyplace.  Not to accomplish anything.  Just for the exercise.  Even big Outlaws have to run.  Run.  Run. 

There were different kinds of running.  The photo at the top of this post is two skinny ladies running because they are skinny.  Like the cartoon roadrunner, "running down the road is their idea of having fun."  Then there is group running, as in the photo above.  Notice the runners are staying on the infield rather than the asphalt track.  Why?  Because the ground is softer than the tar?  Or because laps are shorter?

Another kind of running is for speed.  A single runner races forty yards  - or is it forty meters?  When I was young we refused to accept the metric system.  Feet and yards and miles were the American way and we weren't about to let foreign influence change the way we measure things.  Younger generations failed to keep up our resolve and you see where the country is heading as a result. 
In running for speed, someone has a stop watch and times the runner to see how fast she gets from the start to finish.  Sometimes they run two athletes together, using two stop watches.  This is efficient because it gets the timed running done twice as fast.

It also introduces competition to the event.  I have to admit that competition has a positive effect on performance.  In the photo to the right, the runner in gray noticed her teammate is moving faster.  Look at the extra effort she is putting out to catch up, to win the race.
Good try.  But I think she still finished second.
We used to end our football practice with wind sprints.  We'd line up in groups of five and race fifty yards as fast as we could.  The one in each group who finished first was allowed to go to the showers while the four "losers" got to do more fifty yard sprints.  I remember looking over the other four in my group and deciding that, in spite of my being a big lineman, I could win my race.  I was motivated by pride.  Not.  I was motivated by the idea of not having to run more sprints.

I went all out as fast as I could go.  It is noteworthy here that we larger players rarely ran as fast as we could go.  We tried to look like it but we held back.  Conserved our energy for subsequent rounds.  But on this particular race I convinced myself I could win and I didn't hold back. 

And finished third. 

And learned an important lesson.  It is good to hold back because if you leave it all on the field in a losing sprint, you have nothing left for subsequent sprints.    Ah... Outlaws, please ignore this particular lesson from my sordid past.  Run all out all the time.  Don't want the coaches to think I'm planting bad ideas...  Remember, I wasn't on the A-Team.

Whether sprinting or jogging laps, running is a part of the game. 

Having fun?  Or wasting time?  Or getting fit?  Your call.

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