There’s a great piece in today’s Wall Street Journal that references the Chicago Triathlon. It highlights an all-too-common phenomenon that, in my opinion, is one of the major shortcomings to emerge from the explosive growth of endurance sports:
As the baby boomers who fueled marathon and triathlon crazes enter their 50s and 60s, their unquenched competitiveness can become a threat to their stiffening joints, rigid muscles, hardening arteries and high-mileage hearts. And it doesn’t help that nearly every exercise message they hear emphasizes more (emphasis mine). It’s as if nobody wants to acknowledge that exercise isn’t the fountain of youth.
I’ve lost count of the number of people I’ve met who’ve transitioned (pun intended) from healthy, enjoyable exercise to hyper competitive “quantity is quality” endurance training. Instead of viewing physical activity as something fun and challenging, they’ve converted it into a zero-sum game where they’re constantly competing with others – or with themselves. And the results are quite predictable:
A growing number of exercise scientists are questioning the more-and-harder philosophy of fitness, and not only for aging athletes. A study published last year in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine reinforced other recent research showing that intensity tends to diminish the view of physical activity as pleasant(again – emphasis mine). “Evidence shows that feeling worse during exercise translates to doing less exercise in the future,” says Panteleimon Ekkekakis, an author of that study and a professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University.
The key is, high intensity training coupled with a hyper competitive mindset is neither healthy nor enjoyable.
And if you need proof of this, be sure to check out some of the runners and cyclists out on the lakefront path any Saturday or Sunday morning. With their wide-eyed looks, perpetual grimaces, and dual patella bands you would think that they’re in a constant state of trauma.
That’s because they are…