Bolt vs Gatlin, ‘Good vs Evil’ and the media’s apparent ignorance and inconsistency on drugs in athletics

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/othersports/athletics/11825556/Justin-Gatlin-is-a-bothersome-impediment-to-athletics-rehabilitation-in-the-eyes-of-a-jaded-public.html

The above was posted on the Telegraph website today, and what a joke piece of journalism if ever I’ve seen one. But it echoes the inconsistency of the reporting of ‘drugs cheats’ and random demonising of some individuals in sport.

Justin Gatlin vs Bolt- good vs evil or just bullshit spouting?

Let’s first clarify that of the starting line-up of this 100m final, 4 of the main contenders (Gay, Powell, Gatlin and Rogers) have served bans for doping. Yet the media and the BBC commentary are focussed on slagging Justin Gatlin off and making him out to be evil. Upon Bolt winning the race Steve Cram commentated “He may have saved the sport”- are you serious? How about every single other race in the championship that included previously banned athletes including some British athletes who had missed tests in dubious circumstances?

With more and more athletes testing positive and retrospective tests now showing positive with the improving drug testing techniques what does the future hold? Bolt has “saved the sport”, I wonder what they’ll say if (or when) he and others held in such high regard test positive. It will all just be shown to be a inconsistent journalism and highlight the fact that 90% of athletics (and professional sport) is fuelled by PED’s.

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Are you training for the right reasons?

Have a serious think about why you’re training, and be honest. I did this recently myself and questioned some of the practices I partake in and the reasons I do them.

I read a book recently by Harrison.G Pope called ‘The Adonis complex’ which looks into the unhealthy relationships we increasingly have with food, exercise and our body image. It was a bit of an eye opener in terms of statistics but the gist of the book was unsurprising and something I’ve picked up on myself when looking at other peoples behaviors.

adonis

Many people have unhealthy obsessions with exercise. It seems to be the younger generation’s thing to be obsessed with the way you look (under 30’s?) and more and more emphasis goes into body image and seeking the approval of others. Simultaneously there is less importance on ethics, morals and being a good human being. It’s likely due to the media constantly trying to sell us shit that we don’t need and this usually involves sham sales tactics of creating an insecurity in people in order to make them buy something. A man should look like this, a women should look like this….and this product will help you achieve it. You get the idea.

It’s all about social media these days, being seen in a certain light by your friends (and strangers) and sticking half naked selfies all over the internet in order to gain the approval from others you so badly need to pour water on the flames of truth that you’re likely insecure for some reason or another. I’ll probably get flamed by the naked selfie brigade here screaming “we’re not insecure”…..sorry but however much you say you’re not, you are! Progress photos are great for monitoring improvements but ask yourself why are you sharing these with the whole world on a daily/weekly basis.

I’m pretty sure my dad, my granddad and most other guys of that age couldn’t give two shits about having a six pack or spending 1-2 hours a day working out and missing their family time to get that 17 inch arm to show off on Twitter and Facebook. But then advertising was less aggressive towards these things back then and the big corporations hadn’t then figured out they could manipulate people by playing on physical insecurity (that they created) I guess.

How do you know you have an unhealthy relationship with your body image and/or food?

  • Do you miss social events with friends and family because you have to ‘make the gym’ or train?
  • Avoid eating out with friends and family to avoid ‘ruining your macros for the day’
  • Constantly post half naked selfies on the internet
  • Worry regularly what other people think of your body
  • Weigh every single food item you eat and spend large amounts of your time worrying about macros and calorie counts
  • Waste huge amounts of your time training for aesthetic reasons, as above these may interfere with your normal life.

Some of the above points are not always unhealthy. For example an athlete training for an event may be careful and very particular leading up to an event etc. Also note that  I’m not suggesting that healthy habits and training hard is wrong, it’s absolutely a good thing but there is a line. More importantly is the reasons why you’re training. 

What are good reasons to be training or being very anal about things?

Not many but here are a few-

  • You are a complete fat fuck and should lose some weight in order to maintain health and longevity
  • You have some type of metabolic disease that would benefit from strict dietary intake and exercise

That’s about it and arguably even in these situations there is no need for total obsession

So what should training be about?

  • Health- Weight training is excellent to improve and maintain all health markers
  • Living a longer functional life- Wouldn’t it be good if we could all get out of bed, walk and do normal stuff in our 80’s or 90’s?
  • Training for your sport or hobby
  • Keeping in shape for YOURSELF and not everyone else (so long as it avoids many of the unhealthy points raised previously)
  • Enjoyment of setting goals and achieving them
  • Being the best version of yourself (not aspiring to something unachievable like the pipe dream that is sold to you in the magazines and advertisements)

Health and Fitness Confusion

There are two buzz words used wrongly in the same sentence pretty regularly. The words ‘health’ and ‘fitness’ (I’ve even used them in the same sentence myself!)

This sounds really obvious but anybody looking to improve their health, fitness or sport specific performance needs to fully grasp the difference between health and fitness. This will ensure the training, diet and lifestyle system you use fits in with your goals and you’re not getting sucked into doing things that don’t fit with your goals and wasting your time and effort.

Health, as described in the dictionary, usually is defined as “The absence of disease”

Fitness is “The quality of being suitable to fulfill a particular task”

A person can be very fit but also very unhealthy and the flip side is a person can be perfectly healthy but lacks any specific fitness.

The above said, in most cases a fit person will likely benefit from many health benefits so the chances of being healthy are higher.

Example 1

A marathon runner runs 75 miles a week as part of his or her training. They have numerous niggling injuries. They also have worn their joints down (hips and knees) to the point that this may effect their everyday activities when they’re older. They may also be run down and get a cold or flu fairly regularly. Yet this person is obviously very fit at the specific activity of running, they have decent lower body development and a strong heart and lungs. Somebody able to run a marathon may have diseases too. Lance Armstrong for example got cancer that wasn’t detected for a long time all the while he was cycling competitively- he was fit but very unhealthy.

Example 2

A guy or girl does barely any exercise other than walking to work three times a week, they’re fit in no particular activity and have no real fitness, yet they have a reasonably healthy diet, average body fat levels and no diseases. Ask them to run a marathon or try any physical endeavor that requires fitness and they’ll fail,  they have good health without fitness.

How does this affect your training?

Training should be specific. If you need specific fitness for your sport you should be doing more of the sport and movements that mimic your sport. A marathon runner needs to run 26 miles so training for running this distance requires long steady runs for example as part of their training regime. For health it would probably surprise you how little is required in terms of training, you can likely get all the health benefits that an athlete might gain from as little as 30 minutes total exercise per week. Diet of course need to be dialed towards health to make this work.

In conclusion health and fitness are two completely separate things, some people may only train for health (which is great) but the training you do for health reasons and the training required for fitness are very much different and exercise specificity is key.