Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Mile Run

I run anywhere between a 9 minute mile and a 12 minute mile depending on conditions and how I'm feeling. I don't feel there to be much reason to run more than a 5k. I have friends who run a lot more, but I figure I'm a big guy and I might need my knees and hips when I'm 70. I also run into issues when I run too much (and not enough stretching) with sciatic verve pain, aka sciatica, where I can feel nerve pain running from my lower back to the bottom of my right foot.

There are also the grade school memories of having to run the mile. For a fat kid with asthma (I'll have to dig up my 4th grade basketball picture for confirmation) this was akin to a death March. Enough so that I seriously question the utility of this tradition along with all the other tests that seem only the elite athlete/gymnasts of those age groups can complete to any level of confidence building satisfaction. "Yep, I still mostly walk and wheeze a 15 minute mile". "Yep, I still can't do any pullups"

I have a hard time comprehending what the point of these tests are and how their measure relates to anything. Are we checking to see who will survive a zombie apocalypse? If this is the measure, it won't be the brightest and talented.

Don't misunderstand me. The original point of this blog was to talk about working at some semblance of a healthy lifestyle. I think there is profound merit in teaching physical education to kids, teaching them exercise can help you feel better and be fun, teaching kids that eating right and in moderation can improve quality of life and overall personal and public health. My arguement is merely that the methods are outdated and not producing the desired results. Also, there is seemingly no work into improving one's fall test to their spring test. There is no training path, no goals. And frankly training to run a faster mile is likely boring for a kid.

Life in the 'burbs with it's tv watching, video game playing, riding in cars everywhere instead of walking (my opinion is this last one is a bigger factor than gets talked about) is of course going to make us more obese than Europeans or most anyone as "one car per person" is not the norm in much of the world.

Digressing, much of this torture derived from rough comparison of American kids to European kids in the 1950's and resulted in Eisenhower establishing a cabinet post for youth fitness. Being a product of the Reagan era, the main fitness mogul was Arnold Schwartenegger. Big and cut, but unrealistic for most without anabolic steroids, even Arnold likely juiced up.  That is, the picture of ideal health got made into an unrealistic fantasy for most of us.

The bottom line is I think it's time to get real. Stop with the onerous and unnecessary mile run. Perhaps a focus on stretching, strength and endurance training that is fun and ego building? Perhaps an obstacle-based challenge that captures the kids' imagination. One of the things I really like about the show "American Ninja Warrior" is I can see most people I know doing some version of at least a couple of the obstacles. You also see failure and people working to overcome it and you see training that doesn't require much more than some park benches.

I understand the desire for the testing, but it's time for a change in both standards and expectations.

Here's some reading

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