Crème de la Crème
So like most people I use to think that marathon runner’s, triathletes and other hardcore endurance athletes were the crème de la crème of the fitness world. Superior athletes and the fittest of the fit. You just kind of grow up believing that people who have really good endurance are in great shape and incredibly healthy.
Well I for one HATE doing cardio workouts, especially running. To me it’s boring, my knees and hips ache and I personally think treadmills are for hamsters.
Cycling for 50 kms? Yeah not my cup of tea either. I’d rather take a softball to the nuts then sit on a hard banana for a couple of hours. The pain is quicker that way. Jokes aside, I’m not knocking endurance athletes. I have tremendous respect for endurance athletes. Not many people are willing to take their bodies and minds to that dark place of exhaustion and fatigue day after day. Extra props for guys training for Ironman’s and Marathon’s with regular jobs and families. I bow down to you. I could never do what you do and I am in awe of your accomplishments. You try doing an Ironman for 15 hours in the heat.
I can’t help but wonder though. Is putting our bodies through that much punishment actually healthy? The last couple years I’ve actually started to question things. The science out there is mixed. A quick Google search on “Are cardio workouts healthy for you” or “cardio workouts” results in a gazillion hits.
Every opinion from you should be riding the elliptical more than your spouse, to cardio outright damages your heart.
Lots of opinions from people with more letters behind their last name then I have. Whenever science or educated opinions confuse me (which happens quite often) I just look back at history. Our ancestors never ran for miles and miles every day. Imagine going back in time. If you told someone that you run for hours during the day for fun, they’d probably look at you sideways and deem you the village idiot. Human beings evolved as creatures meant for steady state cardio (ie.walking) with the occasional burst of high intensity cardio (usually running away from danger.)
I’m the first to say that any exercise is better than no exercise. Whether that’s pilates, running, jazzercise or what not. Anything is better than nothing. But is today’s cardio workouts of running for hours and hours actually improving our health? Or is it just creating more stress on our bodies? I’ve read that it’s not uncommon for endurance athletes to get sick more often. Take Mark Sisson from Mark’s Daily Apple as an example. He use to be an elite runner and is also an accomplished triathlete. He’s often mentioned that he was always sick during that period of his life. 5, 6 maybe 7 colds a year. It could have been his diet of high carbs or it could have been his immune system saying
“wtf guy….you’re working me too hard!”
Then there’s the 40 year old white male marathon runner we often hear of, that drops dead of a heart attack. Makes me wonder sometimes. For the average Joe, is there a more efficient way to lose weight? Do I really have to run on a treadmill for hours and hours on end to lose weight and stay in shape? Maybe this is why people fall off their fitness plans after a while.
There’s lots of info out there detailing how short, intense, interval exercises, can offer the same fitness benefits compared to traditional endurance training. My old (pre-kids) way of training was warm up with some cardio, lift weights, and then if I still had a little bit of gas in the tank (or time) I’d do some additional cardio at the end of my session. I would also try to squeeze the odd run, row or bike ride throughout the week. Let’s be honest. For those of us with families this takes a lot of time. Some of the so-called fitness chumps you see on the web that preach this type of training method are either:
B) Have all the time in world because it’s their job to work out and be in shape.
I have a job and a family now. I can’t spend hours at the gym after I’ve been away working all day. It’s just not fair to my family. I’ve actually dropped long cardio workouts altogether and adopted a more high intensity approach to my workouts, with a bit of high intensity cardio (HIIT Cardio, think sprints) into the mix every now and then. I find I’m actually in better shape now and I’m actually working out less. What would usually take me 1.5-2 hours in the gym to complete, has me down to only 45 minutes now.
The Take Away
I’ll say it again, I still have the utmost respect for endurance athletes. If you’re training for a marathon, triathlon or what not, you need to put in the hours in order to be successful. As for staying in shape, I’ve personally found there’s a more efficient way for my body to get the cardio workout training it needs without sacrificing my precious time during the day.
So what’s your take? Agree, disagree, think I’m an idiot? How do you do your cardio workout? Comments are always encouraged…both good and bad.
Keep the blue side up.
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