Why are we fit when most people aren't?

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Aug 2017
5:07pm, 29 Aug 2017
27,268 posts
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Three levels (or more )

1. Elite - in Britain and US and most of Europe - declined, unarguably (and massively improved in Africa)
3. Joggers - in Britain and US (don't know about Europe or Africa) massively increased participation and corresponding physical and mental health benefits
2. (yes, I know it's not in order. Curb your OCD!) - us lot, decent training runners, decent club runners, through to training hard or running well etc. - I don't have the figures. Have we got worse / better than 70s and 80s?

My suggestion was that 2. has just changed shape a bit. Dedicated amateur athletes kinda straddled 1 and 2 in 70s. Now they are professionals, firmly in category 1. and distinct from rest of us mortals.

Other categorisation could of course be provided. :-) G
Aug 2017
5:25pm, 29 Aug 2017
11,688 posts
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Yep, I think it's a fair enough interpretation (other interpretations are available :-) ), and without some serious stats to hand, it would be hard to argue against. I was using anecdotal info, and any further points in favour would also be anecdotally based and also not conclusive. I'm not wedded to one way or another, I wouldn't be surprised if there was a general decline or if that dedicated amateurs or pros/doing other sports more now. I would suggest that point 1) possibly has a knock on to point 2).

(completely aside, I have a history of running book (by Thor Gotaas) that has stories of the 1600s and 1700s suggesting there were sub 4 minute mile runners, but without super accurate time measurement in those days there is no way of proving there was. The author doesn't dismiss the accounts out of hand, although neither does he accept them as anything more than potentially possible if unlikely, but he makes a half-hearted stab at why people in the 1600s and 1700s might have been able to run a sub 4 mile, yet those in the 1800s and early 1900s could not... industrialisation was involved :-).
Aug 2017
5:36pm, 29 Aug 2017
218 posts
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And wolves. :)
Aug 2017
6:42pm, 29 Aug 2017
4,494 posts
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Has the growth of obstacle racing, ultras and triathlons had an effect? If you go back to the 80s these things didn't really exist. Now you have 300 people turning up to run 100 miles down the Thames, or several thousand Ironmen in Bolton etc.

20 years ago I would probably be chasing a sub 3 marathon or 10 miles in an hour, but my 2018 goal is a sub 21 100miler.
Aug 2017
7:00pm, 29 Aug 2017
4,718 posts
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Thanks to the London Marathon and Great North Run, running in races has become an activity for all rather than just the few and good. It's unfair to compare races from 30 years ago which only a few dozen runners of top ability took part in to ones today where people of all ages and standard line up in.

When it comes to the decline of elite level runners, that's more a question for clubs, schools and athletics bodies as to why and where the talent has gone.
Aug 2017
8:46am, 31 Aug 2017
27,274 posts
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Interesting stuff guys. Lots of things affecting modern society and its general fitness and specifically performance of runners. :-) G
Dec 2017
12:18pm, 30 Dec 2017
40 posts
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I didn't run properly until I was 40. I thought it would be too hard, and unenjoyable. I had swam and cycled before though so I wasn't a total veg.
If I had known about the mental benefits, how easy if it (unless you are going eyeballs out for a PB or challenging yourself) and how great the running community is I would have done it early.
I now like telling people about the benefits, and can't explain people in their twenties and thirties who aren't fit, until I remember that was me.

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