Monday, November 5, 2007

Marathons don't burn fat . . . say what?

Thanks to Pastaqueen’s ( heads up I watched NOVA’s Marathon Challenge special on PBS last week. You can watch it yourself online for free at the PBS website. It was a pretty cool one hour documentary about 12 sedentary individuals with varying history and ages and conditions who were trained to run the Boston Marathon in 9 short months. What I loved was all the cool CGI illustrations of how the training impacted and changed their muscles. It has been fun since I watched it to imagine the birth of new mitochondria in my leg muscles as I work out. Heretofore my entire understanding of mitochondria came from Madeline L’Engel. And really, who’s to say she was wrong? My mitochondria COULD be singing in harmony with the cosmos. That could explain the throbbing in my thighs at the end of a workout, its just the percussion section ramping up.

ANYWAY, I was also stunned to learn that distance running is not a great way to lose weight. In fact, one of the scientists overseeing the group said that the runners had achieved 90% of their fitness improvement by the time they ran 10 miles and anything beyond that was more about the mental goals than the fitness goals. A couple of the runners had weight to lose but the only one who did significantly reduce her body fat was one who ALSO did bootcamp while she was training for the marathon. Woohoo! Bootcamp ROCKS! So high intensity interval training is really the way to go in terms of losing fat and building muscle. But the mental challenge of distance running still really appeals to me. And emotionally I feel like there is so much in my life that I’d like to run from right now that I find running therapeutic. I can drop most of that stuff by the wayside while I run, and I feel more ready to pick it up again at the end. I got all choked up at the finish line scene when they actually finished the Boston Marathon and was sorely tempted to put on my shoes and hit the street right then at after 10 pm at night.

My only other comment about the special was that it felt WAY too short. I’m reality TV and blogosphere primed now. I want excruciating detail about each person’s journey through the process. I want back story and drama about obstacles overcome and those not cleared. I want to know WHY the one runner dyed his hair orange for the race day and WHY another runner completed the marathon with glass in her foot. I just have to wonder why she didn't take her shoes off to check what was causing the presumably sharp pains? But not knowing ANYTHING about it other than that she had glass in her foot at the finish line I don't feel that I'm in a position to suggest maybe she should have dealt with it some way other than continuing without checking first. This is how TV documentaries USED to be and it left me feeling like the whole thing was really unfinished and frustrating. I would LOVE to see a reality show that was all about getting fit rather than losing weight.

No comments: