Entertaining and informative blogs on fitness and health .... and running a long way.
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Now, for the physics boffins, the picture on the right may have peaked your interest........as for the rest of us (or perhaps just the male fraternity ) its safe to say the picture on the left is the one to hit all the hot buttons. As for the fitness freaks, of either sex, these pictures alert us to something entirely different......I shall attempt to explain; stay with me, its worth it.
Simply put, they are both visual descriptions of exactly the same thing. ie, the girl on the left could not be doing what she's doing unless she had an adequate supply of the thing on the right. Andenosine triphosphate or ATP, we all have this and its rather wonderful stuff.
Within this are three main energy systems which although they all work together, some will dominate more than others depending on what type of excersise you are doing.
No 1. ATP-PC is only for short bursts of activity, normally for about 10 seconds like sprinting and is then exhausted.
No 2 is the Anearobic ( glycotic) system which produces about 2 mins of power and leaves lactic acid and so is not useful for anything longer than a 400 metres sprint or a set of excersises in the gym, eg weightlifting.
So how do endurance athletes go on for 10,20 or 30 hours non stop? Obviously they do use the first two during a long run at different times, perhaps on hills, but replenishing these stores takes time and this is done by converting the food that we eat, however, to run continuously you need another energy pathway.
No 3; the Aerobic system. ATP here is produced by breaking down Carbohydrates and Fat by using oxygen, ( a reason why everyone recomends Aerobic exercise for weight loss). It takes longer to do this and most stores of Glycogen are exhausted in about 2 hours and hence the need for sports drinks, energy gels etc. However during this process the body will also switch to its Fat stores, (though not in 20 mins as some people believe) and even lean fit athletes have unlimited stores of fat ......and so they can keep going on and on. Teaching the body to burn fat as fuel is why we train and the fitter you are the more efficient this system is.
Now I know technically this is a gross over simplification of whats happening but hopefully you get the point about where our POWER comes from.
As regards burning fat to lose weight, running - although good - does not burn that many fat calories, in fact as I explained in an earlier blog, high intensity excersise burns fat stores far longer after you've finished a workout than does Aerobic. I am afraid it all comes back to the same old story, you must regulate what you put in much more rigorously than what you expend........thats if you want to lose weight. Here's an interesting fact.....
The average sized woman will burn more calories during 8 hours of sleep than she will doing a one hour jog around the park!
Excersise helps and gives a myriad of incredible benefits but it aint going to make you thin overnight - and neither will sleeping!
I like to think of No1, ATP-PC as my special superman energy source that I can call on when neccessary, be it running up a hill or sprinting at certain times during a race. When you see, even average runners sprinting at the end of a marathon, this is what they are using. Its great because it does not inhibit your other pathways.....its seperate like you're carrying it in a bag (one of those left overs from our caveman ancestors, handy when suddenly confronted by a Sabre-toothed Tiger!)
A few years ago my nephew Richard, a fitness expert from Canada, was staying with us and we ran experiments on ATP-PC on how quickly we could replenish it after depletion. It was driving Sue nuts as its all we talked about all week. One day she returned with a load of shopping, obviously needing help whilst Ricky and I were doing repeats or sets of 50 metres freestyle swimming. She heard this and had had enough. 'I'am sick of all this ATP' she shouted, whilst throwing the shopping to the floor and storming inside.......Ricky and I stood there heads bowed like chastised little schoolboys........silence reigned until he slowly looked up, smiled and whispered,
'Shall we do another set?'........I chuckled under my breath aware that if Sue had heard him she probably would have killed him....C'est la vie.