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Sub-optimal fitness

Discussion in 'Optimal Fitness' started by enyaw, Sep 18, 2012.

  1. enyaw

    enyaw Gold

    I know, this thread doesn't belong in the Optimal Fitness forum. But I'd like to get some insight from some other forum members. I've noticed there's a wealth of knowledge on these forums.

    I've spent some time in the Marine Corps infantry. That is a sub-optimal life. I know this. Running 3 - 5 miles, three to five times a week. Running operations, or even training, through the night. Eating a SAD. I guess we can add sub-optimal lifestyle to the list of sacrifices that our men and women in uniform make for us.

    I've since left the Marine Corps and am now in the Michigan Air National Guard. What a difference! When I'm at home, I do what I can to strive for optimal. However, I just got back from a three-month TDY, I have a six-week TDY coming up, and another three-month TDY next summer. This upcoming six-week TDY is very regimented. I will be force to eat whatever is served in the chow hall. These options are always less than optimal. I remember one day, I had to choose between breaded chicken parmesan, chili mac, or spaghetti. I could've had a big salad loaded with (most likely) soy based salad dressing. Fortunately, I had the option of going to my barracks room and enjoying a can of kippered herring filets and a salad with EVOO and red wine vinegar. I won't have that choice this time.

    On my upcoming TDY I will be required to run 2-3 miles about 2-3 times a week. Far less than in the Marines, but still not optimal. Does anyone know how bad that amount of running is? Does it significantly raise cortisol levels? Should I supplement with melatonin on nights after a run?

    Optimal isn't a choice; at least for six-weeks. I will be able to take vitamins, so I'm thinking about supplements. I should be able to take cold showers as well (stall showers, so no baths). Hopefully, I will have control over the A/C in my room and roommate that likes the cold.

    Does anyone have any suggestions on how to minimize the negative affects of this lifestyle?
  2. Michael

    Michael Super Moderator

    Well, with your background you'd know more amount fitness than me. And I only looked at this board, because having made an earlier post I was interested to see what people had thought about that.

    But, FWIW, looked at from the point of view of anthopology I'd have thought you're not necessarily way out of what would be normal for a young fit man. I think there's increasing evidence that long runs repeated frequently are quite physiologically harmful, but I'd have thought you were way beneath that threshold in both duration and frequency. People certainly had to run sometimes when following game. They seem also to have run when on journeys. And if warriors carried out raids on another tribe, they didn't walk away afterwards. All that seems to be amply attested.

    The guy at Harvard - Liebermann is it? - has this theory that "persistence hunting" was the main form of hunting in paleolithic times, and that the whole tribe, men, women, children, and old people, all did that all the time. Well, I don't know of a single reference to modern-day hunter-gatherers ever having been seen to do that, and I don't think he's ever offered one. I think the young men did it and probably not that often. But this is where the Born to Run book was coming from, and the unfortunate comment on that was the death of the mysterious "White Horse", who at autopsy was found to have massive heart damage.

    Liebermann even wants to explain our upright stance by saying that it evolved for running. Cunnane quotes an physical anthroplogist who says, "why would a four legged animal stand up in order to go faster?" and leaves it at that.

    I think the notion of man as "the creature who runs" is dead. Sure, they (or the young men) did sometimes run game down, which some people in paleo, Mark Sisson, for example, seem reluctant to admit. What I guess they didn't do was do that every day. However, man has certainly been a creature who runs when it suits him. I don't think anyone should go out and do 10 or 15 miles every day. But I doubt a medium distance 2 or 3 times a week is way out of the evolutionary norm. I think some people in paleo are averse to anything other than weights, sprinting, or walking, because they feel anything else tends to get in the way of "getting big" - lift and rest in the days between. Might be true, but if that's not your aim, and if what you want to do requires different ...
  3. AKMan

    AKMan New Member

    Hey, MooseMan - I think you are over-thinking things a bit. I spent 21 years active duty Air Force. Retired at 39, obese, hypothyroid, gout, high cholesterol, bad liver. Within 2 years of retiring, I had gained 50 lbs and was taking a handful of pills a day. Once I decided to get my life in order, I came across paleo, then Dr. Kruse.

    During my 21 years in the AF, I ate whatever I wanted, drank as much as I could, and exercised only when told to. I traveled all over the world, and worked all kinds of crazy shifts. I had sleep apnea, and couldn't tell anyone for fear of getting kicked out. I suffered the poorest sleep you can imagine for years.

    Long story short, I'm now about as healthy as one can be. If I could give you some advice:

    1. Learn to eat right. This may mean eating some bad stuff while out in the field, but you can make the best choices from what's available. Learn to fast, so you can get through the worst of it--Look to Barry on this forum for help!

    2. Get strong. Focus exercise on core and upper body. Learn to squat heavy. Only run when you have to. Sprint a couple times a week. This will keep you in shape for those 2-3 mile runs without overdoing the cardio.

    3. Don't drink or smoke. 'Nuff said.

    4. Sleep ya big dummy.

    5. Read the Quilt and let it sink in.

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