Thursday, August 23, 2012

Running and Germs

Cuban black beans last night, topped with not just the usual diced tomatoes (and shredded lettuce and cheese and jarred salsa), but with full-on freshly made salsa.  I was in heaven, I'm so enjoying these summer tomatoes.

And now, the two completely disparate topics on my mind today.  First, I've lately been pondering the age-old question, "Can I call myself a runner?"

I know, I suppose it's rarely a real question for most people, and if I'm asking it, then the answer is probably no.   I know from experience (a recent family Cub Scout/Activity Day Girls campout) that the true athletes will not let me try to obliquely participate in their conversation about biking and running triathlons and the right shoes and all that stuff.  I am clearly an impostor, and they roll right over me (figuratively speaking).

But, I am inspired by the people around me who really do this stuff and take on triathlons and Tough Mudders and all sorts of crazy events.  I have no desire to even get close to that mark, but I do read Runner's World pretty regularly from cover to cover; and I've come from not even being able to go 2 miles without walking and having a 13-minute mile to being able to go 5 miles (my personal distance record) and doing a 10.5-minute mile (this morning!)!  And, I've completed P90X, so that counts for something, right?

In the end, I realize that I don't take running quite seriously enough (and don't plan to, I've got plenty of other serious priorities) and that though I'm fit, I'm not categorically a Runner.  So, what the heck do I call myself?  I'm sort of a jack of all trades, fitness-wise.  But I'd like to have a sort of title so that I can reference it much more briefly and lazily in conversation, in blogging, etc.  

The second topic on my mind goes along with my earlier post on general hygiene, or lack thereof.  But moving beyond that into more of the medical realm, apparently the topic of germs in our own bodies has now gotten the trendy name of "microbiome" and is getting lots of press.  Besides the link to the TED talk that I posted, the Economist is featuring the human microbiome as its cover, and I also read a little blurb about antibiotics making us fat (like the cows who get fatter on antibiotics, too, right?).  The interesting part about the antibiotics link is the theory that it's the childhood antibiotics (which are doled out so readily) that affect our developing microbial system the most, right when it's helping us make crucial growth and changes.  

If you get me started too much, I might start linking you to articles about the possible connection between these new germ theories and other far-out ones regarding vaccinations being implicated in SIDS, autism, and autoimmune problems.  There are some intriguing things that I've read over the years, and this budding knowledge of our gut's full function (not to mention the rest of our bodies' microbes) has really clicked into place with some of those debates.  

Sadly, the only thing I can tell fairly definitively is that yogurt doesn't really change what lives in your tummy.  It does taste good, though.  Unfortunately, there's something even grosser that seems to work at the other end.  And I'll leave you with that lovely hint.  

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