This is not improving your marathon time. As the strength coach for the Portland Marathon the difference is; at FusionTX we make people stronger, faster, avoid injuries, and accomplish more in less time. This shows up in the results of training for sport, life and race day. From an energy systems standpoint (the type of fuel your body will use to perform a physical task), according to Tudor Bompa, your 'Anaerobic Threshold Capacity' lasts a maximum of seven minutes. What this means is that physiologically after performing an activity beyond seven minutes the body uses oxygen as its power source. Using oxygen as a fuel source some O2 molecules get left behind, these are called free radicals, and and you want to avoid them. The body has mechanisms to deal with free radicals, but understand its unnatural to have an overabundance of them. Certain cancers have a an element of free radical imbalance. Besides increasing risk for cancers think of your body as a car, when we perform oxidative steady state exercise the body and brain are now a rusting car on the beach oxidizing more and more each day. Strive to gain things, not lose them. In my experience steady state cardio has a lasting weight loss, and MINIMAL FAT LOSS, effect for no more than six weeks.
But coach, why do I feel good after doing cardio? And why do so many people do cardio?
Great question, two part answer.
First, from a hormonal standpoint steady state cardio, in particular machine based (IE elliptical) is a stressor to the system. The body responds to a stressor, at least one that is not life threatening, with a hormone called cortisol. For you nerds like me think of the adrenal glands as a wet sponge. Cortisol is secreted by the adrenal cortex, and if you touch your hand to the sponge thats what you get, it doesn't take much to secrete cortisol. Where as adrenaline (RAMPAGE!!!) is secreted (80%) by the medulla of the gland, the interior part. This would be like squeezing the sponge and draining the water.
In the first phase of using steady state cardio, cortisol remains elevated through the day. Optimally cortisol should start high in the morning & end low before bed. As a fight or flight hormone, this feels awesome. Energy is up, sex drive is up and so on. The problem is that when you burn all the fuel from the tank and continue to drive on that empty tank your body goes into hormonal burnout, this called adrenal fatigue. Cardio is a wolf in sheep's clothing, promising gifts and benefits (mainly due to poor science) but robbing your body of valuable tissue and necessary hormones, especially those that make us lean. As a side note, please don't confuse emaciated with lean. Common signs of adrenal fatigue are low sex drive, low energy throughout the day, zero exercise drive and performance and so on. If this is you I strongly recommend seeing a naturopath immediately.
Secondly, a lot of gullible people eat Kashi cereals thinking that its healthy & protein rich. Check this, the results of a study showed that when rats were fed the box that Kashi came packaged in they lived longer then those fed the cereal. "Popularity has nothing to do with results" -Prancersice LLC.
A good book on the subject of cortisol, its job & how we are currently affected by it is: The Cortisol Connection by Shawn Talbott
But what should I do Coach? Don't throw the baby out with the bath water here, going on a hike or a long walk on the beach with a loved one has some major health benefits. This is more restorative and stress relieving, I strongly encourage including this in your life, but I'll talk about that in item four.
The CrossFit community is doing an incredible job of improving work capacity to a freakish level. Youtube search or ask somebody with tall socks what 'FRAN'(21-15-9 Thrusters & Chinups for time) is & you'll know what I mean. A staple of Crossfit is that we strive to "Increase Work Capacity Across Broad Time & Modal Domains" conceptualized by Coach Greg Glassman. This means that we strive to move bigger loads faster through time, distance, or reps. Crossfit uses time caps on WODs (workouts), set rep goals for time, and record cumulative data (Personal Records) for each weight, workout, lift. This is a very controllable criterion for increasing your work capacity with 'x' weight & 'x' workout, AS LONG AS YOU HAVE GOOD TECHNIQUE. It has become language within the community. One of the crossfit athletes I work with, who is currently ranked 31st in the world, has a FRAN time of2:01 unbroken, thats called disgusting. But he also can Clean & Jerk 365, and Snatch 280.
Check Bryan out here:http://youtu.be/9IN2r-M3XUA
WRITE THIS DOWN: Strive to be able to build up and maintain an appreciable level of power in a set or exercise, that is not an olympic lift (for injurious purposes), for up to seven minutes per exercise/set. There is great benefits from fat loss & heart health to stimulating detoxification & muscular endurance if you do it right. When you break your record make it harder. Improve this component and you will get stronger/leaner/faster.
Now Rinse & Repeat the first 3 components, tomorrow we discuss Sleep & Spiritual Happiness.
In the best of strength & health,
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!