True, they do get a bad rap on here, I think it’s just because of the completely different goals. Most bodybuilders couldn’t imagine sacrificing muscle mass for a sport. It’s kind of like the same sort of bad rap bodybuilders have in many powerlifting circles: powerlifters can’t imagine sacrificing strength so that you can wear fake tan, oil and skimpy thongs on stage lol
Sorry if this constitutes a digression from the OP, but I do think this is an interesting topic.
See, I think there’s a lot more to it than that. The thing is, tons of athletes in all varieties of sport sacrifice muscle mass for their performance. A good example that has been discussed recently around NFL circles is Felix Jones, and one could imagine a running back needing to stay leaner than they might be able to become. That’s just one example, but you can see that sort of thing all the time in professional athletes. Randy Moss won’t be looking to get jacked pecs anytime soon, haha.
I remember thinking about this point a bit when I first started reading this website, and here’s what my read on it is: serious marathon running and serious bodybuilding are considered very odd hobbies because they require the sort of 24/7 dedication that makes them reserved only for people who are regarded by most others as off in some way, either social, personal, whatever. They’re both even weirder to people outside the sport because they’re both individual–i.e., it’s not as if you have a team you’re working with–it’s all about you and maximizing your own performance. That’s weird to a lot of people because they identify sports with socializing. The only real acceptable individual sport is golf, and you usually encounter golf as a social sport.
Despite the fact that both of these sports are considered to be pretty odd, marathoning has become far more mainstream and well-regarded in popular culture than bodybuilding. One could speculate as to whether this is because of bodybuildings connection with AAS and such, but what it really comes down to is that marathoning is an “event” that people can do and feel good about having completed, while competing in bodybuilding is something that can’t really be done casually.
I think that it’s complicated further by the fact that the benefits of running have been put forward in mass media to a much greater extent, along with the fact that “progressive overload” and strain is not something that’s necessary to gain most of these benefits. Running has become a “yuppie” “sport” for the casual upper-middle class athlete. Bodybuilding is still something that would be met with a “huh?” by someone who says they aspire to compete in it.
To compare marathon running, which is a performance-based sporting endeavor, with bodybuilding, which is a pageant, doesn’t really work. Attending a bodybuilding pageant would make most people pretty uncomfortable. Shaved and oiled nearly nude grown men prancing around a stage to cheers…if you take a step back it is obvious how bizarre the spectacle is. Seeing men in such an effeminate position is uncomfortable for a lot of people…the way many straight people would be uncomfortable at a gay bar or a drag show.
On the other hand, any kind of respectable performance in one of these pageants takes a lot of natural ability, a lot of discipline over an extended period of time, and years of hard work. Pretty much any schlub, barring serious obesity or other health issues, can train for and complete a marathon in a few months’ time, then go back to being a schlub.
As far as just building the body without any competitve bodybuilding aspirations, I’d say there are at least an equal number of people involved in that pursuit as there are in endurance sports. Or at least it’s close.
And I will add that for a competitive bodybuilder, distance running probably doesn’t do much that can’t be accomplished with less intrusive forms of cardio, like a treadmill or elliptical or whatever. Schwarzenegger used to jog a good bit, though, didn’t he?