We have a slight problem here

Despite having only sporadically jogged before all this, I’ve run 600km in the past 12 months. I’ve stretched, flexed, accumulated gear and tracked every metre via apps (my full total is actually 642.8km, but who’s counting). To outside eyes, it might seem like I’ve found a burning passion for the hobby, but I’m here to report quite the opposite. I run, and will continue to run, but I hate running with every fast-twitch muscle fibre of my being.

Well, yes, but. We’re talking about a mile a day. That’s 15 minutes at a brisk walk (marching speed) rather than even running. Actually, it’s about the distance I used to swim when the pools were open.

That is, he goes for a daily trot. For this there is gear and apps? It’s actually the same distance as I do on my little elliptical machine. Or, as John B puts it:

he prides himself on having run 50k a month or 1 mile a day – when I was 70 I did a couple of 50km races under RWA rules (they took me 6 hours 9 minutes +/- a several seconds each) and did up to 100km in a day in training although recently lockdown (and the after-effects of a torn quadriceps from a long jump) has restricted me around 100km per week. In my 50s I knew a couple of guys also in their 50s who not only *raced* (as distinct from just running) marathons but raced London-Brighton (yes, I do mean that they *raced* it in their 50s!! – I never got near to thinking I could even run it). This wimp got paid to run one-quarter of the distance that this over-70 does in his rehab programme from a major tear in his quadriceps …

Is it young people today? Or just that it’s in The Guardian?

29 thoughts on “We have a slight problem here”

  1. I think it’s just “the way of the world”… Fitness, like so many other things looks like it’s become polarised – elite sportspeople are astonishing, their performance is so good that they’re overstretching the boundaries of what the human frame has evolved to support.. As for most of the rest – welcome to land-whale/couch-potato city! Some years ago I remember being amused by the fact that I could easily pass the fitness test for American Marine Corps soldiers – I was over 60 and didn’t consider myself particularly fit, certainly if compared to my 20s to 40s when a 10-mile run (not jog!) was just part of keeping fit for squash.

  2. I think it is probably the things you like pointing out – arts graduates not understanding numbers.

    600km in a year sounds like a big number, but it is really less than 2km a day which isn’t so impressive

  3. So Much For Subtlety

    Not exactly relevant, but – The standard to be a paratrooper in the US is ridiculously low in comparison with the UK Para Regiment. It is:

    17 – 21 Male 42 53 16:36
    Female 19 50 17:30

    That is, 42 push ups, 53 sit ups, and a two mile run. You have two minutes for each with a 10 minute break in between.

  4. Is it young people today?

    If you have been schooled in the everyone-must-have-prizes orthodoxy, then every little endeavour is an achievement and every achievement, however modest, should be celebrated.

    Or just that it’s in The Guardian?

    A hefty daily dose of misery helps reduce self-awareness and raises self-esteem.

  5. 600km in a year sounds like a big number, but it is really less than 2km a day which isn’t so impressive

    Or “walking to the shops or the station and back”, as I call it.

    Still, he won’t have run every day. Once every 3 days, for example, 5km. Still not exactly Marathon Man.

  6. Bloke in North Dorset

    smfs,

    That’s the entry test, the key is the completion tests and just a reflection on the sedentary nature of modern society. The key is the graduation tests and last time I checked the Paras here were still doing the stretcher race as the final test and I guess all the others are still in.

    My physio does some work with the FA assessing children at their camps and she reckons that the level of physical development of 8-year-olds is horrendous and they have to go on special training regimes if they want to play seriously. We can lament but if that’s what they armed forces have to select from then that’s all they can do and then build them physically and mentally.

  7. SMFS – two minutes for a two mile run is going some, I think we might be getting in to four yorkshiremen territory here.

  8. I’m 58, I walk the two miles to and from work each day at a brisk pace, I’m too fat to run.

    I’ve never thought about it much (though I do have an app that tracks my steps). It would never have occurred to me to write an article about how virtuous I am for doing it, especially when I’m constantly overtaken by joggers.

    If he jogs every day he must have come into contact with other runners, didn’t this give him idea of how little he does? Is he so oblivious, or does he just have to find something to write about, and he’s so desperate for copy, that he doesn’t mind humiliating himself?

  9. Fitness, like so many other things looks like it’s become polarised – elite sportspeople are astonishing, their performance is so good that they’re overstretching the boundaries of what the human frame has evolved to support..

    The human frame has indeed evolved to sustain a wide range of activities. It also evolved to die in its early forties. Hence, why so many of the supposedly fit are carrying so many so-called sports injuries. Walk, don’t run. Better still, get a taxi.

  10. The standard to be a paratrooper in the US is ridiculously low in comparison with the UK Para Regiment.

    We need to be careful what we’re comparing.

    Being a “paratrooper” in the US is not the same as being a permanent member of their airborne divisions. It’s just a three week course (for any branch, volunteer basis) to achieve a basic competence (silver basic parachutist wings); something akin to a scout badge. All candidates (up to age 36) must meet the basic army active duty fitness requirements for 17-21 yrs. Which includes 15.54 for a 2 mile run.

    The entry fitness test for the UK Parachute Regiment includes running 1.24 miles in 8:15. A faster pace but for a shorter distance, so not much different.

    Of course, the requirements to actually qualify in the UK Paras and US Airborne will be much tougher.

  11. That’s half the distance I used to walk to school *every* *day*.
    (Googles….)
    And half the distance I used to walk to work.

  12. 1.24 miles in 8:15 = 13mins for two miles.

    Also, that is the entry requirement as in “you aren’t even allowed to start the course at all if you can’t do that”. If you scraped in at 8:14, you haven’t a hope.

    By the end of basic training, Paras will be running two miles in running kit in not much over 8 mins (yes, I know that’s a 4min mile – these guys are actually fit). If you gave them 16 mins for two miles, they would be expected to do it in combat order: boots, helmet, rifle plus 15lbs in your webbing.

  13. Our local primary school does a “daily mile”, which makes 300km a year (assuming 190 days of school). That’s halfway to the author’s target. This starts in Reception with children just four years old.

  14. “This year I’ve listened to 12 entries in Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin saga, the peerless nautical fiction series set during the Napoleonic wars.”

    I’m warming to this guy.

  15. By the end of basic training, Paras will be running two miles in running kit in not much over 8 mins (yes, I know that’s a 4min mile – these guys are actually fit).

    Very dubious about this. The top-20 best ever two-mile times start at 8:10, the fastest 7:58:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two_miles

    These are elite athletes, almost genetically engineered to run mile and two mile distances, so adapted are they to the distance. Any bloke with substantial upper body strength, I don’t care how fit they are, isn’t going to be running two miles in just over 8 minutes.

  16. 1.24 miles in 8:15 = 13mins for two miles.

    That’s a mere mathematical projection. An unfit person might be able to run the 2km in 8:15 but be incapable of completing 4km. As I said, it’s a faster pace but a shorter distance.

    Also, that is the entry requirement as in “you aren’t even allowed to start the course at all if you can’t do that”. If you scraped in at 8:14, you haven’t a hope.

    That would depend on the potential of the candidate. If the Parachute Regiment thought 8:14 candidates had no hope they wouldn’t set the entry bar at 8:15. They may be pongoes but they’re not stupid.

  17. If he put his tracker on for anything other than running, he would probably be surprised to see his mileage double.

    But then he probably thinks that wouldn’t count because he would be walking instead of running.

    On another note: why even look at the Guardian? Is it because it is such a rich source of items worthy of mockery?

    Never mind.

  18. Similarly the Beeb. Today, male under-30 unemployment up 112%, female under-30 unemployment up 115%, “covid unemployment predomenently affecting young women”.

  19. “For this there is gear and apps? It’s actually the same distance as I do on my little elliptical machine. Or, as John B puts it:”

    People spend a load of money on Fitbit stuff instead of just “am I puffed out”, or setting a stopwatch on their phone before going for a walk. If you’re serious about this stuff like marathon running, I can understand it, but plenty of lard arses walking around with fitbits.

  20. BlokeInTejasInNormandy

    Fwiw, Fitbit offers a free app for your phone that does basic record keeping.

    I use it to capture my performance on my daily 2-3 mile walk, done for health rather than pleasure. (‘Performance’ is a strong word for what I do; my time varies between less than 15 mins a mile alone to 20 plus if i have the doggy with me ( she likes sniffing things, which rather breaks the rhythm…)

  21. Yes there are people like this guy bigging himself up for what are really quite minor physical achievements. But ironman triathlons are incredibly popular and there are thousands of amateur athletes of all ages who tackle this challenge. One of the most impressive was the Iron Nun who continued to compete into her eighties. The organisers had to keep adding new age categories because of her.

  22. Bloke in North Dorset

    Since my physio advised me to stop running I’ve found my Fitbit Charge 2 a great help with motivation to go walking/hiking. Minimum 3 miles at a very brisk walk but usually 5 to 10 miles including a couple of very steep hills. I aim for average of 3k+ calories a day and it’s set to remind me to move 12 hours of the day because I’m a lazy bastard at heart.

  23. Don’t get the criticism here. This is about 5k thrice a week – pretty typical for a novice runner past the couch-to-5k stage. Only long-distance runners or running fanatics do more. Sprinters may even do less.

    Increasing frequency would likely impair recovery and adding volume would probably bore him. Don’t compare to other exercises: swimming, elliptical or walking those distances is *much* easier; running is pretty hard on muscles and ligaments.

    If you’re looking for fitness problems with youth though, blame the schools: PE is basically just sports. Very little emphasis on improving fitness. It’s like trying to teach history by having students read randomly selected historical novels.

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