We’ve talked enough about the fat burning, muscle building capabilities of sprinting around here. We haven’t talked about how much mental confidence we can derive from operating at our fastest and most explosive.
Men, very generally speaking, begin losing speed, power and athleticism in their early to mid 20s. Testosterone output in males peaks around 19-20, and concentrations in the blood stay elevated through the mid 20s. Afterwards, however, there is a natural human decline. Men will produce 1-2% less testosterone every year after age 30. From wired.com:
Generally speaking, athletes start to see physical declines at age 26, give or take. (This would seem in line with the long-standing notion in baseball that players tend to hit their peak anywhere from ages 27 to 30.) For swimmers, the news is more sobering, as the mean peak age is 21…For setting world records in a given athletic discipline, the mean age is 26.1…
Fighting our biology is a fruitless endeavor. But this doesn’t mean we’re forced to accept our condition. Most men (and women…but seriously…men) begin to trade in their power for areas in which they feel more equipped to compete, like distance jogging, or they hop on the elliptical trainer and boast of their marathon sessions.
From a primal, animalistic perspective, I’m not certain this approach produces optimal mental strength results.
So what’s our move? We are not cats, but consider the analogy of a fearless cheetah chasing down a gazelle. The cheetah is primed with a burst of speed, sprinting furiously after his prey. He is not running long distances; in fact, he can maintain his speed for only around a minute. That one minute is all he needs to corral his prey and eat.
As hunters, whether of animal flesh or for that promotion at work, we need to be primed to move quickly, in explosive bursts of power. In fact, our bodies are particularly evolved for this, able to supply us with massive amounts of energy, but only for a few seconds, via the ATP-PC system. Immediately following the explosion, just like the cheetah, our bodies rest and replenish these stores for the next time they’re needed.
These high intensity bursts of action flood our systems with hormones. In our hunter gather days, these hormones would be used to be faster, smarter, better while outrunning another predator. Today, we can harness them and gain mental strength and confidence to go after our goal or surmount an obstacle in our way.
I will never again be in the identical physical condition I was in at 20. However, I may be faster and by some metrics, stronger. The confidence one obtains from trusting their ability to stave off natural declines is huge. Personally, I can’t derive the same feeling of power from jogging 15 or 20 miles.