Once upon a time, a keep fit regime consisted mostly of a few laps of a cinder track followed by a restorative cup of something sugary and thick.
And it worked, up to a point, but the fact that human life expectancy has grown in the western world shows that we are developing more and better ways of keeping our bodies finely tuned. Although coincidentally obesity is also at an all time high, the truth is that people in the past put things into their body that would be more or less illegal today. And no competition runner is going to swallow a cup of cola right after a race now – at least if their coach has any idea what they are about.
After Usain Bolt’s amazing double Olympic gold and world record performances in 2008, he let the world in on his diet secret – he ate Kentucky Fried Chicken.
An advertising coup for the fast food chain, no doubt, but the fact of the matter is that he won despite what fast food did for him. He’s just that fast, that good a trainer and that mentally strong. But it should not be a message for children to eat fried chicken before races – back in the days gone past people could eat what they wanted, but they didn’t run 100 meters in a sub 9.7 time, unless what they ate gave them food poisoning and the bathroom was that far away.
Back then it was considered a good idea to drink a fizzy carbonated soda after a race because the sugar was good for energy – and in the short term it is.
But it is also highly acidic, and with a combination of nervous energy and physical exertion already doing a lot to heighten stomach acid levels, dropping a carbonated drink into the mix is the equivalent of feeding dynamite to a fire-breathing dragon. It will go off, and the results will be neither pretty nor healthy. No, things are not what they used to be, and for that we should be thankful.