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I've never met a marathon runner I would be afraid of in a dark alley...
Sorry, I just can't name one. Not one. I've always thought this. Now I understand why.
I've been reading a very compelling book called The New Evolution Diet, by Art Devny, PhD. I won't go into a full bio and review (you can either buy it, or look it up and read others' reviews).
I have to say, it confirms things I have felt for a great many years about exercise. Endurance work like triathlons, marathon running or cycling does nothing to make anyone stronger, or more able to jump higher, sprint faster, lift heavier or punch harder.
We are not built in any shape or form to do long, slow-distance exercise. To do so weakens modern human beings almost as much as sitting behind a computer screen.
Cavemen did not run marathons. They conserved energy as much as possible - either gathering food or stalking prey – then had to use as much strength and speed as possible to kill prey or an adversary (or run from a predator). After the kill, they had to use lots of strength to retain their prize and haul it.
Those cavemen that had the most maximal strength and speed were the ones that lived. The ones that didn't, died. Their genes were not passed on. Any caveman that chose to “jog” would have wasted energy, fast-twitch muscle fiber and died. It is in our DNA to recognize that, hence the reason no one finds skinny, pale and weak endurance athletes attractive. We find the bodies of sprinters, weightlifters and professional fighters attractive.
Plus, running for long periods (anything more than a few hundred feet) sucks. Cavemen didn't willingly do things that sucked. Yes, they lived hard, violent lives, but would not have gone out of their way to run anywhere.
Now, don't think this is some excuse to get away from cardiovascular training. I think hard cardiovascular training (to the point you can actually taste blood in your mouth) is important on a frequent basis. I think lifting things heavy enough you see stars is also a good thing. These are levels that only people in perfect condition should shoot for. If you are taking medications for high blood pressure or any other ailment, this obviously does not apply.
The funny thing is, that I have trained lots of runners. Every single one has found that training for maximum work capacity for short periods has improved their distance running, even without practicing it.
These are personal choices, and not exercise recommendations of any kind. Check with a doctor before beginning any kind of exercise program. If you haven't been exercising, get with a legit trainer.