Following on from Tuesday’s piece where I discussed the relationship between health and fitness and how its a bell curve where beyond a certain point as fitness increases, health will decrease as your increased fitness will cost you your health and well being from injures and mental toll.
This is however contrary to belief that fitness and health go hand in hand. But today I want to dispel another ideology that an increase in performance doesn’t mean an increase in fitness.
Firstly I want to discuss the law of adaptation. Maybe you have been following my 30 day challenge, maybe you haven’t. I started a 30 day challenge where I wanted to show you the power of being accountable, more on this in next weeks blog where I discuss my findings in detail. However as part of this accountability challenge I had to run a minimum of 5k every day for 30 days and I was astonished by the results.
I ended up running a 42 min 10k, almost 4 mins faster than my previous best, a sub 19 min 5k, almost a full minute faster than my previous best and a half marathon in 1.37. Not shabby numbers. All improvements from just doing daily 5-9km runs.
And while I got significantly better at running, I didn’t get significantly fitter, I just adapted and got more efficient at running as I did it everyday. It became easier, my cruising pace got faster and everything just felt smoother, again not because I was increasing fitness, but because my body was adapting to the task now that I was doing it so regularly.
This is the law of adaptation, and it applys to almost everything we do from learning a new culture or language, to sports, to our jobs. The more we do something the easier it becomes and the better we get at it.
In fact, over the 30 days I burnt less calories running 5k at the end than I would have at the start of the challenge as my body became so accustomed to it that it didn’t need to work so hard to fuel it. This is a beautiful segway onto a new topic of having to work twice a hard for half the results when it comes to weight loss, but that’s for another day.
So, over the 30 days I improved my running times and it became much easier to the point I burnt less calories but I also did so without improving my fitness.
You see many people place a massive emphasis on one tool to give them a complete picture which cant be done. Just like using a scales and a scales alone to determine your body composition would be misguided, so to is focusing solely on one tool to improve your fitness.
Fitness has many different components from strength, muscular endurance, cardiovascular, speed, power, agility, flexibility etc and while I got better running and my cardio improved, none of the other elements did so.
If I could run a marathon in under 4 hours, but wasn’t very strong, would I be fit? Similarly, if I was superman strong, but couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs, am I fit? What if I was a jedi yogi masters and could put foot behind my head but lacked the power to jump over a small fence, am I fit?
You are only as fit as your weakest element of fitness, just like you are only as strong as your weakest muscle, as lose as your tightest the weakest link will always break and or injure you.
And while my running improved, noting else did, in fact, as I have not placed an emphasis on the other elements in quite a while I have lost some strength, speed and power, so ultimately I am actually less fit despite running some personal bests.