Thursday, 8 December 2011

#40: Birthday

Finally, a post today...and guess what? It’s about running! There's also a part about pancakes.

Yup, surprise, surprise, all I’ve got to talk about is running. I’ve become so boring that even I can’t stand to listen to myself talk. I think it’s why my plants are dying.

Part I: Dan Way Day 25th Edition.

So about a week ago it was my birthday and I just so happened to turn a quarter-century in age. For my special day I went home to the metropolis of Ingersoll, ON to see some friends and family and also to “run” the Rick Hansen Relay which just happened to be traveling through my hometown 25 years to the day that I was born! Cool huh. Despite only having to “run” 250m (the reason I’m putting run in quotation marks is because I had to carry this massive medal which proceeded to pound incessantly into my sternum when I tried to run so I really just jogged awkwardly), it was actually quite fun. I didn’t set any 250m personal best (it actually took about 2min) but I did have my entire fan club present (ie my mother, father and my Oma and Opa) and it was only raining slightly. I also got a sweet track suit and commemoration medal to take home; thanks Rick Hansen for the birthday present! The rest of day was spent baking gingerbread cookies, eating Oma’s pancakes and playing Mexican dominoes (something about a train…) So far, being 25 wasn’t so bad.

Me after finishing my leg of the 25th Anniversary of the Rick Hansen Relay in my hometown of Ingersoll, ON. Oh, and a woman taking bribes in the background

The celebrations actually got even better Wednesday and lasted pretty much all week long. Friday I had a party at my place in TO and it was a joyous occasion that involved some of the best people in my life, some mild binge drinking and even some of my infamous dancing (Yes! It's worse than Elaine's "little kicks"). At some point we made it to a local bar/club and my little brother (who isn't even of age!) bought us shots of tequila and while it seemed a good idea at the time, it ended up knocking me flat off my feet about 12 hours later in the mid-afternoon on Saturday. Thankfully, it was an off day. Thanks to all those who made this past year great and who will make next year even greater. Cheers.

Part II: "Great sport begins where good health ends." Bertolt Brecht

I also mentioned that we’ve starting training again and running plenty. I did 110km in the first week on the program and will do something similar this week too. It hasn’t been bad, but it’s definitely A LOT of running. And the main point I wanted to make today, which I realized at some point between km 11 and 13 on the day’s 18k easy/recovery run was this: Running this amount (and training more generally) is certainly NOT about good health! I won’t go so far as to say that it’s UN-healthy, but it’s probably not totally inaccurate to use this term, which I definitely think applies to ‘sport’ generally and high-performance sport specifically (another post for another day).

So ya, running 100+km per week is not about health. That is far from the top of my list of reasons for running. Consider that the ‘Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines' suggest that Canadian adults accumulate 150min per week of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA), preferably in 5 sessions of at least 30min duration but can be as short as in 10min bouts. I mean I do a weekly long run that amounts to that (150min) and on average will run well over 60min per day! All in all, I’m probably doing about 3 times as much! I’m also in a state of perpetual fatigue and endure constant aches and pains. It's an ongoing process of breaking down and building back up...
Don’t get me wrong: I do it because I love it and consider it an invaluable and essential part of my life. Being committed and dedicated is important to me and provides structure and a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. My closest friends are my training partners and coaches and my social life has merged with my running life. I am also extremely physically healthy and probably fitter than most everyone I know (although this fitness specifically relates to cardiovascular function and endurance... I couldn’t lift weights to save my life!).

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that it could be problematic to equate what I do and good overall health. Again, I’m not un-healthy or anything, but health and fitness should not be considered synonymous. I also want to point out that I wouldn’t recommend what I do to most people since it would likely break them down and spit them out. For most people, I’d suggest trying to meet those Canadian guidelines would be much more worthwhile.

Some might disagree with me completely and you wouldn’t be wrong to do so. This is an opinion and a very personal one at that. From my experience, running and training is enjoyable about 90% of the time and doing it is an absolute pleasure. But there are also days when it’s brutal and I want to quit and give up more than anything else (but I don’t!). It’s also problematic in the sense that “health” is a very subjective and personal term. So what is considered healthy for some, might be downright deadly for others.

Okay, that’s enough from me. In sum: if you want to be “healthy,” go find something (physical activity related) you love to do and do it for at least 150min per week. More is often long as it’s within reason.

A final note: Today, according to my 'Daily Mile' profile, I went over 4000km for the year and I'm still going strong... (Mostly) good times!

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