07 March 2010

"A Warrior's Workout" or "I got beat up by a chick"

About a month ago, I read a great post at Barbells and Bacon--run by a Crossfit enthusiast name Jon--which talked about the bias we often bring to selecting an optimal training regimine. For example, if you asked Jon's opinion on the best exercise program for soldiers, he'd probably recommend crossfit. Similarly, if you queried a martial arts expert, like Boss Mongo, he might recommend one of the martial arts.

Both, of course, are excellent programs for troops, but I can't help recommend long-distance running. (I just heard Boss Mongo bang his keyboard in exasperation). After all, who can forget the legend of Pheidippides after the Battle of Marathon?

Okay, the legend of Pheidippides was probably made up. Nevertheless, I haven't found a whole lot of huge Crossfit or martial arts gatherings, whereas you can almost always find an interesting fun run nearly any weekend of the year. Throw in some good music, some fun costumes, great scenery, and lots of interesting people to talk to, and you've got quite an event. Hey, in my opinion, the best workout program is one you enjoy doing.

With my affinity for races, I jumped at the opportunity to take part in the 5th annual Shamrock Run in Syracuse this past weekend. Kicking off in the predominantly Irish Tipperary Hill section of Syracuse--a place where one can actually find street lights with the green lights placed above the red lights. It was advertised as a four-mile run, which is hardly a long run at all. I signed up with little hesitation.

Come race day, however, I was a little curious when I spied the back of one man's t-shirt. It was printed with a line chart which depicted large peaks and valleys running the length of the graph. Underneath it was one word: Syracuse.

Wait, so is this race supposed to have a lot of hills or something? File this under foreshadowing.

As I took off, I was surprised that, yes, contrary to popular belief, Syracuse has about fifteen hills, all in rapid succession. In fact, the city hosts an annual "mountain goat" run, during which competitors must overcome a number of hills over the course of ten miles. Who would have thought?

For a city which is perpetually covered in snow, Syracuse nevertheless boasts an impressive running community, with over 3,000 people showing up on race day. It also helps that around late February or early March, the snow begins to melt, resulting in all sorts of bizarre traditions. Chief among these traditions is the annual parade of the green beer truck which precedes St. Patrick's Day. Unfortunately, this particular parade occurred during one of the weekends I was stuck inside writing my essay for CENSA's upcoming Hybrid War compilation. Just in case anyone doubts my dedication...

Anyway, I play a little mental game during races, trying to pass as many people as I can throughout the duration of the course. During that particular race, I found myself either passing or being passed by some chick in a black running suit. Around the three mile mark, I recalled her passing me, eventually drifting ahead of me some thirty yards. As I neared the end of the race, though, I began sprinting, eventually passing her and a few other people. Hey, I finish strong...

That was until I felt a jolt from the left, as the aforementioned chick decides to literally push me aside so she could finish ahead of me. No kidding, I will pay $10 for the finishing photo to prove that this story is true.

So yes, running has all the sportsmanlike aspects of martial arts, to include getting beaten up by a girl.

Don't judge...


jenniferro10 said...

The search begins now...results to (hopefully) be published in a public forum similar to, and possibly including, morebadassthenSashaGray.

ADTS said...

It's interesting - as a returning CrossFit enthusiast, I wonder the proper mix of running and CrossFit as preparation for runs. How much running can you skip in preparation for races if you're doing CrossFit instead? I'm not sure the pathways CrossFit achives said goal - or does at all, although I'm reasonably confident it does. Still, I wonder about the causal pathways - stronger core, stronger legs, less bodyfat, better vO2. I wonder particularly about this last one because, while CrossFit definitely can have you sweating while doing primarily anaerobic exercises, is this an adequate substitute for *purely* aerobic exercises? And what about the loss of body fat, building of muscle, and increased vO2 derived from running? Again, what is the optimal balance of CrossFit and "straight" running when preparing for races (and this probably depends on the length of the race)?

I'm also a practitioner of a (somewhat obscure) self-defense system that self-consciously does not make physical fitness its priority. Nor should it, in my opinion. Most of the martial arts I've dabbled in have done conditioning in warmups - as has mine - but in my opinion the point of martial arts is to teach you either the art, or (in the case of self-defense) how to defend yourself. Granted, our warmups can be *almost* CrossFit in difficulty on occasion, but it just isn't the same, and again, in my opinion, it shouldn't be. Obviously it's easier to defend oneself if one's in shape, but I think a really good self-defense system or martial art should be able to teach how to defend yourself irrespective of your physical condition.