Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Jogging rant in E minor

I'm not against joggers, I just don't care for jogging.

I think the primary reason is joggers are usually the ones that find the dead bodies. You usually don't find dead bodies when you're at home on the couch sucking down soft drinks while watching the latest news about some jogger finding at some canal near your house.

And if finding dead bodies isn't gruesome enough, you also have to worry about the mountain lions these days, according to a leading supposed expert website author:

However, you may not have to worry about taking action to prevent an attack, since mountain lions ordinarily either lie hidden, waiting for prey to approach beneath them, or approach unseen, and then attack and kill by a bite to the back of the neck that severs the spinal cord. This was the modus operandi for the attack on Barbara Schoener.

So I think the rule for bears is the same for mountain lions: You only have to out-run the next guy. Since jogging is the domain of slow-twitch muscle fiber and an anaerobic exercise that deprives the brain and body of neccesary oxygen, joggers in mid-run aren't going to be the best sprinters under duress.

The American jogging craze/health nazi rally began sometime in the early 70s, when some hippy discovered there was money to be made in jogging fashion. So bundled in the first line of canvas Nikes was the tacit agreement between the health industry and the new American fashion. The implied message to the American people was empowerment to feel better -- and look good while you just do it.

We're just now developing the medical science to understand that humans have a limit, and the act of jogging can kill you.

In fact, jogging health nuts are some of life's best irony, however dark. Consider the exploding heart of jogging zealot Jim Fixx.

I knew a die-hard long-distance runner in high school who swore by jogging as a mental, spiritual, and physical discipline. It made you a better person, he said. He stopped jogging when he was 17 because his knees had deteriorated by years of abuse on hard pavement. His doctor told him he faced a lifetime of mobility limitations.

Here's something most people don't hear from their $100-an-hour trainers: Walking is much more effective for weight loss, exaggerated arm motion can create a better cardio workout, and it's just much better for the long-term stability of the joints.

Don't misunderstand me. I'm not advocating walking like a dork. You've seen these people -- the ones who look like they started out for a long, casual stroll but suddenly remembered they had two bran muffins for breakfast.

If that's not beyond absurd, someone thought walking like a dork (a.k.a. speed walking) should be a competitive event. We're not talking about Special Olympics here. People with fully-functioning brains and muscles are out there attempting to be the "fastest" dork walker in the world.

These are the same people who cherish their Little League "participant" ribbon, but I'll get back to my point.

Walking at a sustainable pace with moderate body motion for about 30 mintues a day is one of the healthiest things you can do. Not only is it unlikely you will explode your heart while walking, but you're more likely to have the stamina to outrun that guy training for the 10K should a mountain lion cross your path.

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