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June 03, 2009

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I agree. I think it is crazy to run 26 miles. Many of these uber-health conscious people need to realize that it is simply not natural to run 26 miles--the body is not designed for that.

If someone is otherwise healthy, it seems to me that anything less than 10 miles would be about right.

"Why marathons?"

Why not? It's fun, and keeps you out of trouble. If you know you have to run a 12 mile training run on Saturday, you won't have 5 glasses of wine on Friday, and over eat.

Sure, there are a lot of obsessive types that run, and I lean towards that. But as you get older, you know how to listen to your body, when to cut back, and take it easy.

The Times article doesn't really make it clear whether Gerspacher's kidney failure is related to running, or whether it was a pre-existing condition. Sounds like maybe he wasn't getting enough fluids.

You should try running in Central Park on the weekends. Lots of attractive, thin, professional white women run in the park on weekends. I'm always surprised how many of them sport tattoos these days. I guess it's true that deviancy has indeed been defined down.

I'm not so sure I agree that marathon running is a bigtime SWPL thing. My sense is that SWPL generally don't like to exercise just for the sake of exercise. It seems that they prefer to get their workouts via activities such as yoga, bike riding, frisbie golf, etc - activities that involve more than just the exertion of energy. Just having an active lifestyle.

I don't think SWPL like to lift weights either - something about being ripped is prole to them, just as being fat. They stay in shape by eating a healthy (& expensive) diet, in reasonable proportions (like their European heroes), and living an active lifestyle that does not require too much physical exertion.

[HS: Agreed that weight lifting is more prole than marathon running. Especially true for women--fewer women lift weights for exercise than men, but the women who do tend not to be upper middle class.]

same people who, if they have the means and ability, climb mt. everest.

I've never run a marathon, but running does seem to clear my head.

But to some extent being able to run a marathon does say something about you. That you have endurance, focus, and the necessary physical attributes to accomplish such a mission.

Shawn

The East African body was programmed for 26+ miles.

"same people who, if they have the means and ability, climb mt. everest."

Haven't been on Everest (yet!), but attempted Mt. Denali/McKinley last year. Made it to 17,000 ft. high camp, but didn't go for the summit since I had a bad cough. Despite that, it was a fun trip, and I'll be back next year I hope.....

I summited Aconcagua in Argentina, 3 volcanoes in Ecuador (Cayambe, Cotopaxi, Chimborazo), and Elbrus in Russia. Yes, I do have a bit of the obsessive/thrill seeking in me.

Again what does "SWPL" mean? Marathons are big with high-achievers - iBankers, Biglaw, military officers, etc. because it demonstrates that you have, as JohnM points out, focus, persistence and endurance, and are physically fit. These are desirable traits in executives. Marathons are also great ways for white people who aren't great athletes to demonstrate some physical ability. What I don't get are the people who take over 5 hours to finish a marathon and then act like they've accomplished something - you've basically walked and you want a prize for that? Please. And yes the human body is designed to run 26 miles, or more - maybe not at a 5 minute pace, but Roman legionaries could march 40 miles in a day at a pace that modern lazy sedentary office workers would consider a jog. Marathon running is not unhealthy if you train properly.

"I summited Aconcagua in Argentina, 3 volcanoes in Ecuador (Cayambe, Cotopaxi, Chimborazo), and Elbrus in Russia. Yes, I do have a bit of the obsessive/thrill seeking in me."

Mountain climbing? That's all you've got?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7S5BP-tvR8

Marathon running may be more SWPL than weight training, but there are exceptions. I go to 24 Hr. Fitness in an upscale coastal OC suburb - some of the guys are youngish gym rats, but there are a surprising number of guys in their 40s-50s-60s who obviously have money and they're hitting the weights.

As for the women having tats, it's just what they do these days. I've tried to tell my 20 y/o that it's stupid and unoriginal, but it falls on deaf ears - she's got 2 (that I know of). Sort of funny though, because a friend of hers came by the house, and she and I were having a conversation about it. I mentioned the "tramp stamp" that so many have these days, and said "you know, in another 20 years the kids are going to be calling those 'the old lady stamp' or something like that." It really seemed to shock her.

Good point on the SWPL site about triathlons - those are a lot more "SWPL" than marathons. Road biking now seems to be the "in" sport with older SWPLs, especially doctors, worried about their knees. I see packs of 50 year old white men in full racing gear out roaming the streets every Sunday morning.

"HS: Agreed that weight lifting is more prole than marathon running. Especially true for women--fewer women lift weights for exercise than men, but the women who do tend not to be upper middle class."

which is too bad, because weight lifting is a hell of a lot more effective than endless cardio for giving women hot, toned, slender bodies.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7S5BP-tvR8

Not sure what the video is, that site's blocked here at work.

"Mountain climbing? That's all you've got?"

I also have one static line parachute jump, which was also my very first plane ride ever. Not many people can claim that the first time they flew in a plane, they exited at 3,000 feet, and didn't land with it. Also did 3 bungee jumps in New Zealand, in the same day, one of them at the Nevis Ledge (over 400 foot jump).

But, yes, if your insinuation is that I'm a "Poseur", it's all relative. That stuff is impressive to the average man on the street, but is tame compared to guys who BASE jump, free fall parachute, or some of the hardcore mountain guides I've met who sleep in caves or vans, and do some gnarly rock climbs that I don't have the balls to attempt.

We all have our limits, and it all boils down to effective risk management. I'd rather be a living "Poseur" than a dead "Alpha" thrill seeker.

Posted by: Wade Nichols | June 03, 2009 at 11:45 AM


Wade, the comment was in jest. The clip is from The Kentucky Fried Movie. If you haven't seen the film, do so immediately!

My impression has been that the women who engage in weight training tend to be more upscale than the cardio bunnies who comprise most women gym-goers.

[HS: Upscale blue collar, perhaps? Whenever there was a woman in the office who looked kind of buff, she was usually an Italian girl from Brooklyn or New Jersey with a state school/community college type of education.]

I think HS was right that in a post-morality world SWPL are trying to establish a new morality for themselves.

The marathoning and veganism and the raw food are examples of mortification
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mortification
that you might see in other spiritual practice.

They serve two purposes- assuaging guilty and establishing superiority.

SWPL are guilty about everything, and have a gnawing suspicion that they dont deserve what they have and that other white people deserve it less. Marathoning is a way of atoning and establishing that they are better than other people.

As the father said on the Goode Show when the son was worried about his carbon footprint “It’s O.K., Ubuntu, what’s important is that you feel guilty about it.”

As a competitive marathoner there are a few points I would like to make when I see these stories:
1) Many if not most casual marathon runners have no where near the base training needed for the distance. If you haven't adapted to running 15+ mile runs regularly of course a 26 miler is going to tear you up. People want to say they have completed a marathon but don't want to put in the work to train for one.
2) There's probably a selection bias in reporting marathon deaths over other sports. Marathons are big public events and are built up as the ultimate in fitness to the public so it is notable when someone dies at one. On the other hand the middle aged guy who had a massive heart-attack at my gym a couple years back did not make the papers.

SWPL are guilty about everything, and have a gnawing suspicion that they dont deserve what they have and that other white people deserve it less.

This is absolutely nuts - in relation to marathons at least. Have you met ever met any of the typical people who run in marathons, i.e. bankers, management consultants, attorneys, etc.? A lot of them are high achievers who absolutely think they're entitled to everything they have. Marathoning is a fairly easy way to demonstrate superiority over the fat asses who can't run. Vegans, as someone pointed out above, are more likely to be into yoga and hiking than marathons. In my experience vegans are also likely to look overweight because veganism is not a healthy lifestyle.

[HS: You're kind of agreeing with the point you're refuting, because being able to finish a marathon gives the guilty investment banker the feeling that maybe he's morally superior and therefore deserving of being a decamillionaire after all.]

"Marathoning is a way of atoning and establishing that they are better than other people."

Not at all. Its all relative, and most people compete against themselves. There's no way that I'll ever finish with a time less than 3:15, let alone 2:15 with the Kenyans, Ethiopians, Moroccans, etc., so why would I boast? If you ever watch one of the shorter distance races in Central Park, or anywhere for that matter, you'll see runners ranging from gaunt Auschwitz survivor looking types at the front, to back-of-the-pack senior citizens, and overweight people. None of the middle to back of the pack types have any delusions that they'll ever win, or that they're "better than others", they're simply out there to enjoy the experience, get caught up in the moment, and maybe beat their personal best time. Then it's back to work on Monday!

hanlons's razor:
"Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity."
I'd like to submit a new law:
"Never attribute grand theories that which can be adequately explained by a desire to get laid"

I'm pretty sure that for each SWPL that runs to assuage their inner guilt about being a SWPL, there's a hundred SWPL that run because they want to look and be seen as more attractive.

And forgive me for saying so, but it'd be a natural response of guys who have not the capacity to run a marathon (or exercise, for that matter), to downplay the importance of said activities such that their genes then look healthier, or at least not as deficient.

HS and Turambar,
Why are you assuming iBankers or top flight management consultants feel guilty about their success? Not at all - they want to feel superior because they know there are always young turks gunning for their jobs and their status. Marathon running is a way for a 40 year old man to demonstrate that he's still virile (even though a 25 year old would kick his ass on a basketball court). This junk about the SWPL elite feeling "guilty" is really just a way for a lot of you to assuage your feelings of inferiority. I work with these people - most of them don't feel guilty in any way, sorry to break it to you. I'll say it once again - guilty liberal vegan types are mostly not the SWPLs who are running marathons.

"there's a hundred SWPL that run because they want to look and be seen as more attractive."

I ran the Brooklyn half marathon last Saturday, and there was a drop dead, gorgeous, tall, thin blonde wearing lycra shorts and a belly shirt that passed me at about mile 9.

Unfortunately, I didn't "want it enough", and I failed to catch up to her! That was my second worse personal half marathon time. Perhaps I should have Roissy find someone to flog me!

Endurance athletes are always more destroyed than short-burst athletes, especially having chronic respiratory infections. More oxidative stress. And endurance people are more likely to eat rabbit diets than weightlifters.

Put those two together, and it's no surprise.

After reading through some of the lit on this stuff, I've started to tone down how endurance-like I dance. Now, it's just get into the groove and be happy for the most part, and then every three or four songs, really get going for that one song.

"Vegans, as someone pointed out above, are more likely to be into yoga and hiking than marathons. In my experience vegans are also likely to look overweight because veganism is not a healthy lifestyle."

Raw Foodies in my experience are very unhealthy looking. Vegans are usually skinny but dont look malnurished. I dont think I have seen fat vegans.

There is a definite subset of vegetarians who tend to be heavy. Souffles form a large part of their diet.

"Why are you assuming iBankers or top flight management consultants feel guilty about their success?"

Because you know some investment bankers that are marathoners doesnt mean all marathoners are investment bankers.

The other person mentioned in the article Thomas McElroy works for the AP. And the author of the article Andrew Lehren is also a marathoner. Journalists are a well-known guilty class.

"Marathons are big with high-achievers - iBankers, Biglaw, military officers, etc. because it demonstrates that you have, as JohnM points out, focus, persistence and endurance, and are physically fit."

Indeed. A girl I slept with a few years ago while working in the US now works for 'Biglaw' and recently completed a marathon. She was definitely a high achiever and was on some scholarship when I met her.

Back then she had an outstanding physique from modern dance, and now she would be further toned from the marathon training.

Journalists are a well-known guilty class.

I'm not even sure that's true - in the sense that the guilt isn't all that sincere. I think their liberal "guilt" is actually a defense mechanism. Journalists these days typically have the same educational credentials and breeding as successful hedge fund managers and lawyers, yet the journalists make 10% of the salary of their former peers. So they adopt liberal guilt as a way to feel superior to their old classmates. They may not have as much money, but they're morally better people! In reality I've never met a journalist who didn't, deep down, believe they deserved MORE status than they had. Teachers are even worse in this respect.

"This junk about the SWPL elite feeling 'guilty' is really just a way for a lot of you to assuage your feelings of inferiority."

Bingo!!

"In my experience vegans are also likely to look overweight because veganism is not a healthy lifestyle."

Tell that to Dave Scott. You know, six-time vegan Ironman Triathlon winner.

Vegetarian Athletes: http://midnightcryministries.com/sports.htm . There's more than a dozen bodybuilders, and 18 Olympic athletes, in that list.

Of course, that doesn't fit in with the magical thinking which says that eating meat will make you more masculine (i.e., fierce and animal-like), or with Gary Taubes' long-ago debunked notions (see http://www.reason.com/news/show/28714.html ). But that's a *good* thing.

If, rather than just pulling "facts" out of thin air, you actually want to understand the science underlying why balanced vegetarian (and even vegan) diets are healthy, you can start with John Robbins' writings:

http://www.foodrevolution.org

"Back then she had an outstanding physique from modern dance, and now she would be further toned from the marathon training."


Still have her number?

The list of vegetarian athletes is rubbish. At least two that are listed are not vego (Martina Navratilova not currently and Gary Player never). Most likely there are plenty of others.

Don't believe everything you read online.

Hey Pete? Did you miss the fact that Scott Jurek is Vegan?

Or Tim Van Orden?

Or what about Brendan Brazier?

But let's just stick with Scott Jurek, shall we?
Here are the details about just ONE of his amazing feats:

Badwater Ultramarathon

This ultramarathon is a 135 mile run from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney in temperatures up to 130 degrees Fahrenheit, billed as "the toughest footrace on earth." Scott ran to a course record win in 2005, his first time on the course.

* 2006 25:41, 1st place
* 2005 24:36, 1st place and course record


Whine and grumble and hedge all you want, you cannot escape the fact that the world's most badass runner is Vegan.

I did my first to prove I could do it. I ran my second to prove that the first wasn't a fluke.

15 years later, I finished my 10th. Now it's about proving that I can still do it - that aging isn't getting the best of me. Gonna tone it down though. Think I'll do shorter races more frequently from now on.

While it's hardly an ideal form of exercise, it's healthier than, say, sitting in front of the TV eating chips and drinking beer.

In my experience, women who are seriously into weight training tend to be smart and focused, not to mention deeply committed to fitness. Among men, there is a subset of dimwitted meathead types who want to "get big" to attract women and impress/intimidate other men (though plenty of smart guys pump iron too). You really don't have a female counterpart to the meathead syndrome.

“I can’t tell you how much weight I gained being a vegetarian! A vegetarian would probably be eating vegetables. But to me being a vegetarian meant I’m going to eat enchiladas with no meat, and I’m going to eat lots of bread, lots of carbs.”

– Kirstie Alley in a new interview with PEOPLE magazine talking about the 83lbs she gained from going VEG
http://vegetarianstar.com/2009/05/07/kirstie-alley-the-bad-vegetarian/

I don't think marathon running is good for your body. I think it's bad for your joints, ligaments, etc. I think our bodies are not really able to run more then 15-20 miles in a row, as evinced by the fact that even most trained runners hit the wall by mile 20 (running out of glycogen stores). If you want to train for health, I would never recommend anything more than a half marathon. In fact, whenever people come to me for advice (one upon a time I ran), I steer them away from super-long distance events.

But why do people do it anyway? Because its the shortest distance that is too long for anyone to finish (even walking/jogging) when out of shape, even if you are super talented. And why is that? Because our bodies are not made to run such a long distance! So the exact reason why it is unhealthy is the exact reason it is so popular. Its so long its bad for you, but just by a little bit.

GreySwan

Queer as Falk doesn't understand the difference between experiments and observational studies. Who cares if there are vegan superstar athletes? They're genetic freaks who will perform awesome no matter what they eat. Just like I've always been skinny no matter what I eat. And beautiful people will be beautiful way no matter what make-up, hairstyle, or diet / exercise program they follow.

"Pulling facts out of the air" is risible, given that you haven't read anything other than reviews. Read the damn book, since Taubes reviews the lit all the way back to the mid-19th C. All you've done is some pathetic googling. You sure are in command of the data.

Taubes' takedown of that Reason nonsense is awesome, btw. Reason has sucked for awhile now, something Michael Blowhard has written more about.

Again, there are scores of academic journals about exercise physiology, and they write articles all the time about the difference between endurance and short-burst athletes. I've stated the findings above, but if you're not lazy, you can look them up yourself.

I haven't read the commenting above, but I'll share a theory I have. SWPL's, being all hipster vegans, generally don't like the alpha male physique defined primarily by defined musculature. This physique too readily conforms to traditional gender roles and doesn't fit with them drinking espresso and seeing French films. Also, women who are attracted to SWPL men like the anorexic, skinny jeans look.

So they denigrate weightlifting, but need an exercise as a proxy for lifting weights. Marathon running, a sport full of skinny, weak men and BLACK people (of the AFRICAN variety!!), is perfect!

Is there any evidence of secret weight training out there? Like high status people hiding their workout habits to avoid looking lower class, while still getting a gym body? It's rare to see males in movies now that aren't wearing gym cadavers who aren't intended to be laughable or grotesque. The full bodybuilder look, rightly considered silly, is impossible without heavy steroid use, and it's hard for a woman to even stop looking soft without them.

From Amazon interview with author of Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen:

"I think ultrarunning is America’s hope for the future. Honestly. The ultrarunners have got a hold of some powerful wisdom. You can see it at the starting line of any ultra race. I showed up at the Leadville Trail 100 expecting to see a bunch of hollow-eyed Skeletors, and instead it was, “Whoah! Get a load of the hotties!” Ultra runners tend to be amazingly healthy, youthful and—believe it or not—good looking. I couldn’t figure out why, until one runner explained that throughout history, the four basic ingredients for optimal health have been clean air, good food, fresh water and low stress. And that, to a T, describes the daily life of an ultrarunner. They’re out in the woods for hours at a time, breathing pine-scented breezes, eating small bursts of digestible food, downing water by the gallons, and feeling their stress melt away with the miles. But here’s the real key to that kingdom: you have to relax and enjoy the run. No one cares how fast you run 50 miles, so ultrarunners don’t really stress about times. They’re out to enjoy the run and finish strong, not shave a few inconsequential seconds off a personal best. And that’s the best way to transition up to big mileage races: as coach Eric told me, “If it feels like work, you’re working too hard.”


http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0307266303/ref=pe_24390_12240120_fe_txt_3/

I can't speak for all marathon runners--being kind of a neophyte at it, but a few observations:

--I took up running because at 40 I had three options: Get fat, stop eating, burn more calories. Today on my lunch break, I burned roughly 600 calories.

--For me it is the opposite of feeling guilty: I get to have 600 calories more blood-rare steak, or pasta or ice cream today! All guilt free.

--Since I run anyway for utilitarian purposes, it is fun to set goals and the natural end result is a marathon.

--As was pointed out above: In spite of the stereotype, the women (at least the ones about my speed) are very attractive.

--Running a marathon is no big deal. It takes me a lot less time than a round of golf and it gives a lot more opportunity to brag. Nobody (other than another golfer) gives a crap what you shoot but most people seem impressed by a marathon.

The correct answer: ( The part below the '---' )

I don't think marathon running is good for your body. I think it's bad for your joints, ligaments, etc. I think our bodies are not really able to run more then 15-20 miles in a row, as evinced by the fact that even most trained runners hit the wall by mile 20 (running out of glycogen stores). If you want to train for health, I would never recommend anything more than a half marathon. In fact, whenever people come to me for advice (one upon a time I ran), I steer them away from super-long distance events.

--------
But why do people do it anyway? Because its the shortest distance that is too long for anyone to finish (even walking/jogging) when out of shape, even if you are super talented. And why is that? Because our bodies are not made to run such a long distance! So the exact reason why it is unhealthy is the exact reason it is so popular. Its so long its bad for you, but just by a little bit.
--------

Get real. You find a few cases of people dying when running--what caused those deaths may be totally unrelated to running. That hardly proves anything.

Yeah, running long-distance puts severe pressure on knees, ankles etc. You need to get a pair of cheap running shoes (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1170253/The-painful-truth-trainers-Are-expensive-running-shoes-waste-money.html), make sure you boost yourself with protein, and visit the gym once a week. You'll be fine. Running is awesome.

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