In the never ending quest for ego massaging and self glorification, a lot of sports people have gone from the normal “I want to be able to run a 10K” to running ultramarathons that can stretch to 200, 500 or even 1,000 miles over several days. Setting a record gives a sense of accomplishment, at least until the next person breaks the record. It’s a never ending race to be the fastest, strongest or most enduring.
In bicycle racing, there is Race Across America which normally takes approximately 9 days of almost sleepless bike riding from the West Coast to the East Coast. Contenders ride through fatigue, hallucinations and physical exertions. Does anyone even care about their accomplishments? Maybe a very small group of ten thousand. Is it worth it? Is it necessary? What does it accomplish for the rest of world?
I am sure you’ve heard of teenagers or young men in their 20’s falling dead while playing high school or college basketball without previous warning of any heart issues. Same with football. The other day on a doctor visit, my doctor told me that high school football players drive their blood pressure to 300/140 when they bench press 300 lbs. or more. He said that if done over an “extended period”, it could be fatal. Extended periods equate to a few more minutes of exertion.
There had been several instances of people of all ages dying right in a marathon, or right after a marathon. Most people look fit and no symptoms at all of any disorders. What is going on?
In professional bicycle racing in Europe, it has been widely known that almost every racer takes performance enhancing drugs (PED) just to be competitive. They need that extra boost in performance to “keep their jobs”. A few died while racing or died young after racing.
Does fitness equals health? No. Not when taken to extremes. Do some research – start with Dr. Mercola. Good health is 80% proper nutrition and 20% proper training. Overdoing training is counterproductive to health, overall well being and even fitness itself. Age also plays a factor – the older you are – the less extreme your work outs ought to be.
It is OK of course to have a certain kind of fitness. You only need to be fit enough for survival. Everything else is unnecessary. If your body looked good because you are fit, then that’s added bonus. You don’t need to be able to run a 24 hour run across Death Valley just to survive. No one will chase you that far and if they have a motorized vehicle, you won’t be able to outrun them anyway. You should be able to outrun bad people if necessary so you probably need to be able to sprint for 400 meters (approximately) and be able to run at a steady pace for 3 miles in a hilly terrain. You should be strong enough to haul bags of groceries or some light furnitures.
Of course, if your occupation requires a certain level of fitness, then by all means go for it, but ensure you are under the supervision of an objective medical doctor. That goes for the average person also that wants to be fit and healthy at the same time. You have to monitor your body regularly to ensure that it is functioning properly to give you a robust, fit and contented life.