Siempre se ha relacionado a las personas dormilonas con un temperamento feliz y una incipiente “barriguita”. Pero es una falsa creencia; si preguntas a la mayoría de los atletas olímpicos por las horas que dedican a dormir, la mayoría supera con creces las 10 horas, y su porcentaje de grasa corporal está muy por debajo de los de una persona delgada. ¿Cuál es su secreto? Está claro que aunque comen más calorías que el resto de los mortales, entrenan muchas horas y consiguen “quemar” una ingente cantidad de calorías al día, pero además, dedican muchas horas al descanso para “asimilar” el entrenamiento y ayudar a los tejidos a regenerarse y evitar lesiones. El sueño es una de las claves del entrenamiento deportivo, pero también es una de las claves para mantenerse en forma. No creas que las cosas han cambiado y dormir va a solucionar tus problemas de peso, la obesidad es una cuestión de sumar y restar: engordamos cuando ingerimos más calorías de las que gastamos, es una cuestión indiscutible, pero esta operación matemática no es exacta, porque el problema del peso no es sólo una cuestión de comida; el estilo de vida también influye en los kilos que ganas cada año, especialmente el estrés y la falta de sueño tienen un papel fundamental a la hora de perder peso.
Si piensas que tu tiempo es oro y que dormir significa perder el tiempo, estás en un error y acabarás viendo como tu castillo dorado se derrumba. Dormir poco o mal puede ser el origen de tus problemas con la báscula. Cuando no descansamos adecuadamente es más difícil evitar los alimentos que no nos convienen, y cuanto más peso ganamos, más difícil es conciliar el sueño. Una mala noche puede ser la responsable de que te apetezca comer chocolate durante el día. Es difícil evitar los picoteos cuando nos sentimos abatidos y agotados, pues en esos casos la comida se convierte en una forma de calmarnos y sentirnos más descansados. Pero es una falsa sensación, pues las galletas de mantequilla no pueden sustituir al sueño que has perdido, lo único que consiguen es calmar tu ansiedad a costa de ganar más kilos. Dormir bien no sólo es cuestión de cantidad de horas dedicadas al sueño sino de calidad, puedes estar en la cama 10 horas cada día y no tener un sueño reparador.
Marty Liquori: The point I was trying to make is there are a lot of halls of fame that you get put into, your high school, your college, your city. Most of the time, the people have no idea what your life was really like. Probably the only hall of fame that understands what the distance runner went through is the National Distance Running Hall of Fame. To me, it is the one that is very gratifying to be in. I don't want to say I don't enjoy being in those other halls of fame, but the point I was trying to make is you get voted into most of them because the people on the board remember that your name was in the paper a lot, and that's about it.
RWD: Steve Perks, retired high school coach of a national championship team, asked what were your favorite one or two sharpening workouts leading up to a big mile or 1500?
ML: It's a very complicated question. The first thing I would say about that is, when you are leading up to a big race, it is not about the great workouts you did right before it, it is about the amount of rest that you got before it. It sort of shows the focus on, "I've got to get a good workout in before this race. When in reality, you have got to get a good rest in. What I found out over the years was American runners didn't know how to rest enough. They thought if they rested for three days before a race that was a rest. What I know was, it took almost a month of detraining-I'll say that again-a month of detraining before you were ready to set a personal best. Most people don't have the ability to say "I'm going to train 20 percent as much as I did for the rest of the year." They just can't cut back. So the first thing I would say is you can do a workout for six months; there is no magic one that you are going to do that is going to give you a PR. The magic is in the rest. But in saying that, I would say that at the end right before the race, you concentrate on workouts that are like races. Whereas if you studied Arthur Lydiard, the great New Zealand coach, you might go out for a workout and just run one 400-meter interval for the whole day. But basically you are doing workouts to keep your heart rate up in a high position, like 170 beats a minute for two to four minutes like a race would, which is very different from what you would be doing in the fall in cross country. So it is about training your heart; if you studied the heart, that's what really determines the training today. That is why people are so much better off today, having heart rate monitors. Most of your training should be geared to that heart rate monitor, which we didn't have in the old days. So we were kind of training in the dark.
RWD: You mention on your web site that one of your favorite movies is "Super Size Me". Let's talk about the shape of American youth and fast foods. What should be done? What can be done?
ML: I thought it was pretty interesting they said that in a couple of years they are going to try to phase Coca-Cola out of the schools. It is a matter of education, I think. I guess that is why I would say "Super Size Me" is such an important movie. There are just some things that we take for granted, just because our parents or other people have been eating them for years. You don't stop to think how deleterious some of those things are we are putting into our body. I think we can still find food that tastes good; you just have to take a little bit more time to do it. To tie it back to running, one of the reasons the runners are better these days is that they do pay attention to nutrition, which I would say in the 1970s not only did we not pay attention to it, but we thought by being runners, we could actually have horrible diets and get away with it. If I had it to do it over again, that is something I would think would be very helpful.
RWD: You were rated number one in the world in the mile in 1969-1971, and then in 1977 you were rated number one in the world in the 5K. What kind of mileage were you doing then?
ML: Once I got out of college, and even in college, in the fall I would average 100 miles a week, say between 90 and 120. I did that when I was running the 5000. I didn't increase it any. Interestingly, I just discovered last year that there are only 5 guys that have been ranked number one in the mile and in the 5000. Four of them are from Africa. But in saying that, basically I probably shouldn't have been running the mile. I was running the wrong event for most of my career. I was really more geared to the 5000 because of the amount of long distance that I did run.
RWD: Did you ever over-train?
ML: All the time. All the time. [Laughs]
RWD: We interviewed Patti Catalano Dillon. One of the things we talked about was the incident with her and the horse at the 1981 Boston Marathon, and some other strange incidents that happened to her. Have you had any strange or humorous incidents during your running career?
ML: Not too many. That is the great thing about the video on the Internet now that people put those types of stuff up. I know when we first started our running show, we thought it would be pretty easy to get humorous video of things that happened in running; we just never really found any. Right now I can't think of anything really humorous. It's kind of a serious sport. Once the gun goes off, it's not like basketball where you might be running down the court and making a joke. It doesn't lend itself well to comedy, I've found. It's more I remember the fights we almost got into over drivers or people on bikes almost hitting us or injuring us. That's the stuff I remember more.
RWD: Did you ever get injured by that?
ML: One time I did get hit by a car at a meet while I was warming up, but I was still able to run the race.