I’ve been writing this blog for some time now. And one of the things I get asked most is why the name? What does it mean?
Well, being a simple lad, it means exactly what it says. However, if you dig just a little deeper you’ll discover that the Latin word fortitudine can be used for both strength and endurance.
In life, both strength – to overpower your prey, and endurance – to outlast your enemies, are key abilities that have seen us survive longer than you may have thought possible. After all, in animal kingdom terms we’re quite useless with our soft pink hides, inability to run within minutes of birth and no natural weapons at all other than our big ol’ brain and opposable thumbs.
In times gone by man would have been very unlikely to have been able to overpower anything. Tools have only been around for about 200,000 years and we’ve existed as a species for about 750,000. So how could we have overcome wild prey with our bare hands?
The answer is that we didn’t. Man, as once explained to me by marathon great Robert de Castella, is the most powerful aerobic creature on the planet. Sooner or later a man can outrun anything. Sure, we may not be able to run fast compared to antelope and buffalo, but we can run long, eventually tiring out a single animal and causing it to literally drop dead from exhaustion (called persistence hunting).
But with our modern, lazy, sit down lifestyle could modern man actually endure running for hours non-stop? The answer, for most people is no. And the reason is simple – not enough strength endurance. See, strength comes in many guises – speed strength, starting strength, explosive strength, maximal strength, relative strength..the list is honestly nearly endless. Strength endurance is the ability to sustain force production for extended periods of time. Exactly what you’d need if you planned to run a buffalo to death over five hours or so. I’m also going to add here that if you planned to run a buffalo to death you’d need to have the strength to run safely without hurting yourself for those five hours.
Looking at injury statistics for runners – 60-85% of runners suffer an injury every year that keeps them off the pavement for four weeks. No one seems to have a specific statistic, likely, in my mind at least, because many will run through pain – distance running is like crack cocaine to the people who do it and they will often continue even when their body is screaming at them to stop. Perhaps this is a throwback to older days – a persistence hunt generally takes four to five hours. How long does it take someone to finish a modern marathon usually? Between four and five hours. And I’ll bet that if you look at how often that kind of hunt would have occurred, likely about every two to three weeks if successful, that the crack addicted, injury infected runner will put their feet up for between two and three weeks before “having” to head out the door again. In their lizard brain they have to get back out, on the hunt, to provide food for the tribe and cement their place as an alpha. Our modern hobbies are all based on primitive survival needs and it strikes me that this is no different.
So if we have this intrinsic, overwhelming urge to move, to hunt, to utilise this powerful aerobic engine we’ve all got, yet we get hurt up to 80% of the time we do it, shouldn’t we do something about that? If the key to human survival was our ability to move and move with strength then having the ability to move better – both in terms of range of movement as well as strength throughout that range, then we should probably address that.
Choose whichever definition you want – but strength does conquer and from tomorrow there will be a new name for this blog and a new address. Strengthconquers. com
I’m in the middle of starting a new project (a phrase which means it is still in the planning stages largely) that focuses on all of this. You and me, we’re built to move, to have what the French call souplesse – suppleness, a springiness that allows us to move well and with strength all day if we need to. And I’m on a journey of discovery. There’s some big things coming and I hope you stick around to learn about them.