Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Conditioning vs. Fitness

We laid out all of our options for the project and failure wasn't one of them.--Gene Kranz

I write this post in the dark. No air conditioning or fan either. There is a storm down here and we have no power which, also means no intraweb. Please forgive me if anything seems weird. I am posting from my mobile (British accent).

I've been thinking a lot lately about being fit and being conditioned. It doesn't seem like there should be a difference but there is. I've researched the topic but I cold to find much on it. The bad news is, I'm going to draw my own opinion about it. The good news is, I will posit something potentially thought provoking.

Anyone who works out consistently is probably what one would consider a fit person. You know that person. They can run a 5k or a 5 miler. They have pretty good form in the gym when they lift. Usually, that person can do some push ups or pull ups. That fit person is by no means killing it at any one particular thing but they are fit enough to participate in any physical activity. Sort of like he jack of all trades scenario.

The contrary person would be the conditioned athlete. I guess saint contrary may be incorrect. The well conditioned athlete is also fit. Usually that athlete is very fit. The one caveat to their fitness compared to the person who is generally fit is that they have taught their muscles and their respective cardiovascular systems to perform at a high level for particular movements.

Here is a bad example. About ten years ago I had already run 3 marathons. I had played football for 13 years but I hadn't played for a while at that point. The bad example is that it's me. Although I was fit enough to run 26.2 miles, I was pretty winded by the equivalent of the second half. Now let's take two real athletes. Mo Farah and Floyd Mayweather are good examples. Mayweather may be the most well conditioned boxer in history. Mo Farah is on the fast track to be a Hall of Fame Olympian. Floyd is very fit but not conditioned to maintain championship levels of speed for six miles. No one would argue that he can probably run a 10k faster than most but he has not built his body for that. Mo Farah can run forever but he would find challenges keeping his energy up while throwing punches, dodging punches, dancing around the ring, and absorbing guy shots. As incredible as they are in their respective sports they would likely be subpar if not completely irrelevant in another arena.

Now for the point. We may be all fit people but if we don't condition our bodies to do what we want it to do, one will find great difficulty in achieving those goals. We have fast and slow twitch muscles. There is aerobic and anaerobic exercise. Figure out what your goals are and tailor your plan around conditioning yourself to perform like a person who accomplishes goals. If you want a fast time, you have to train fast. If you want to do ultras, you have to eventually add more miles.

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