Wednesday, May 25, 2011

My Biggest Loser Soapbox

For those of you who either don't have a TV or who live under a rock, last night was the finale of Biggest Loser and although I am happy with the results, that's not the aspect of the show that I wanted to talk about today. There has been quite a bit of talk about the blatantly missing Biggest Loser Marathon from last week's episode, where the final 4 contestants go home for a while and train and then come back to compete in one final challenge by running a complete marathon.
I must say that I am mixed as to whether or not I missed the omission from this season. Although I do think it is inspirational to see these folks who at one time had all been morbidly obese go on to complete a marathon, I really do have some misgivings about the way in which this whole thing is accomplished. Yes, a marathon is an incredible goal and very worthy for those who feel compelled to complete one, but I am of the opinion that much more time and consideration should be put into training for one, both mentally and physically, than what these contestants are given.

I thing the show sends some false messages about what it means to commit to training for a marathon. Even though the contestants spend most of every day for several months in the gym, realistically it takes time to build up the strength to run a marathon... especially when you consider that many of these folks have never even set foot inside a gym or on a treadmill before going on the show. I think that so many people who go to run their first mile or two and are winded and gasping for air by the end of that first mile think that running 26.2 miles is primarily about overcoming the cardio-vascular contstraints of your body. Well, as any of us who run on a regular basis know, after a little while the cardio-vascular is the easy part of endurance running. What actually takes the serious time to build up are bones and soft tissues so that you don't end up running a marathon and causing serious long-term injuries that could limit your ability to run... at all.

I'm not saying that there are those people who can't get up and run a marathon at the end of a prescribed training regimen of so many weeks, I'm just suggesting that for most of us mere mortals who don't have lots of strength and cardio training already under our belts, the slow, steady approach to long distance running is the much better option... maybe even thinking in terms of years of training before running a full marathon... and the Biggest Loser contestants really don't have the benefit of time on their sides when they are preparing. So many people look up to the constestants who enter this competition as their guides, it would seem unwise on the part of the show's producers to suggest that a person who was originally obese, or even morbidly obese, is ready to run a marathon after a course of only five or six months of training, especially when most folks who watch the show and look up to these contestants as role models don't have the benefit of constant access to professional personal trainers.

In poking around the internet to see what was up with the BL and why there was no marathon this year, I did find out one other thing... apparently in the winter of 2009 season, one of the contestants was actually picked up in a car and got to ride for around 3+ of the miles of the marathon so that the producers could get a shot of this contestant crossing the finish line. I didn't read up on all the particulars, but it had something to do with trying to get the contestant completing the marathon within a certain time frame. I honestly don't know if this had any impact on the show's ultimate decision to drop the marathon, but my guess is it certainly couldn't have been a positive influence on their decision making process.

As anyone who reads my blog regularly probably already knows, I am a fan of the Biggest Loser, but I do think that they should make a little more concerted effort to let the viewers of this show know that these contestants are not living in a real life environment like most of us... they are completely set up for success while on the ranch as that's what makes the show a success in the ratings. For most of us, safe weight loss, increased physical activity and improved overall health are things that require a very long and difficult journey, not the quick fix of just a few months time... so to see the marathon dropped from the show for whatever reasons to my mind isn't necessarily a bad thing.

And don't even get me started on Anna Kournikova...

Yesterday's Run
7.0 Miles
4.9 mph


(Just) Trying is for Little Girls said...

I can't believe Anna K. is going to be a trainer. (I know, I wasn't supposed to get you started). I'll give her a chance next season, but I may be done with the show...

Jen said...

I think they cut it because the got a lot of crap about how it is not proper training. And while it might not be if they have been on the ranch for 5 months they will have gotten in lots of running, lots of intervals before going home for a month and heck many of them ran great times their first time out. While maybe not the best for everyone I think it shows that our bodies are stronger then we give them credit for.