Welcome to Exercise Physiology

An introduction to the metabolic responses of the human body to exercise, including biochemical and physiological changes in the major support systems (such as cardiovascular, respiratory, and muscular systems) in cooperation with energy production. Other topics include nutrition and ergogenic aids.

Below are the student blogs for our 2013 Jan Plan course.

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I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestioned ability of a man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor. – Henry David Thoreau

Throughout the past three weeks of Jan Plan I have been able to grow as an athlete and an overall individual. Exercise physiology has proved to be one of the most informational and enjoyable classes that I have taken this year and among other classes that I took during high school. As an athlete, I approached this class knowing that I could do well in it and that I would always be interested in the material daily.

Being able to work out, eat healthy, complete labs, and learn about every aspect of the body and how to keep it running to the best of it’s ability in combination with one another was both challenging and encouraging. It was challenging because we are complex beings, and to truly understand how everything functions with one another takes time and studying. Also because I had to change many of my own habits and maintaining persistence through the urges to revert back to old ways was quite tough, to say the least. It was encouraging because after learning so much, I leave this class with a new outlook on how to go about reaching fitness and health goals; I leave with confidence that I know how to navigate my own choices whether it is about selecting food to eat, or what exercises to do in order to improve an aspect of my fitness like VO2 max.

I feel as though I have gained a better appreciation for mental toughness and putting the work in so that I can see the results that I would like to see. This quote by Thoreau explains perfectly the mindset that I now have about continuing on as I try to reach my full wellness and athletic potential, “I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestioned ability of a man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.” I can elevate myself to reach any goal by going at it head on and with the confidence to get through any and all tough times, because I know the pay off will be tremendous.

 

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Ending Jan Plan and Moving Forward

Having retested my fitness on Tuesday, I can say that I am pretty pleased with the way things went.  I ran about 60 meters more in the Kosmin test than I did at the beginning of Jan Plan.  This changed my estimated 800m time from 2:21 to 2:15.  I still know I could do better than that.  Maybe when my foot is fully better I’ll have to run one myself.  I feel like I am in much better shape than I was at the beginning of Jan Plan.  I feel like I achieved the goals that I set for myself at the beginning of the month.  I just want to share a few thoughts about the whole experience.

-I am glad I took this class, because it made me write down my goals.  There have been studies that have shown that you are more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down.  Earlier this month I read an article that says you are much more likely to improve something about yourself in a new year if you explicitly state and write down a New Year’s resolution.

-The change that I made that I am the most happy about is being a healthier eater.  Eating breakfast every day, eating more fruits and vegetables, and avoiding very unhealthy foods has just made me feel better, and feel like I have more energy.  Healthy eating was definitely not just something ot help me get through this month.  I will definitely continue to eat healthy.

-I am happy that I was able to follow my wellness calendar so closely.  In the past I have struggled a little bit with commitment to exercise over an extended period of time.  I feel like I am in a rhythm right now, and my day would not feel complete if I didn’t exercise.  I don’t think my long-term commitment will be a problem anymore.

-As far as my rehab goes, my foot is doing much better.  My range of motion feels like it is improving every day.  There is still some stiffness, but my physical therapist says that might not go away for a long time, and it’s more about getting used to it than it is about getting it to go away at this point.  I will continue to rehab every day, and I think my doctor will clear me 100% sometime in March.  I’m really excited for that!

As a final note, I want to say that nothing I did this month exercise-wise, nutrition-wise, or otherwise has been solely for this class.  I did it for myself and I will continue to follow the same routine because I feel like it worked out very well, and I’m excited about how much better I can get.

Posted in Week 4 | 2 Comments

The Most Important Thing I Learned in BC176

After the first fitness test I was very sore. My legs in particular, were in a great deal of pain. Luckily, this pain did not exist after the second fitness test. The reason for this is not really in any better shape to be taking a fitness test and running the Kosmin Test, rather, it is because after the second test I finally realized the importance of a cool-down. Anaerobic respiration lasts about 60 seconds at time, and coincidently, during the Kosmin Test we were running for 60 seconds at a time. This means that my muscles had just about maximized the amount of lactic acid they could produce, and I felt it. My coach in high school always stressed the importance of a cool down jog, but at the beginning of the month I thought to myself, “What’s just one time without a 800m recovery jog?” Well, I learned the hard way, as I could not walk normally for a few days.

It was a few weeks later in the course when I learned the biochemical reasoning behind the cool down. If the body is just idling it breaks down lactic acid at a much slower rate than it does when the body is undergoing light exercise. This is because the muscle cells can actually burn lactic acid during aerobic respiration.
Thanks to this course I learned tips (such as what not to eat before a workout and what to eat for optimal recovery) that will save me from a lot of pain and suffering during future workouts.

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On Bridging The Gap

I have a newfound respect for athletes.  But I did not always have this.  My family consists of musicians with little interest in sports, so growing up, neither did I.  To me, sports were just various games where grown men and women chased after balls, or threw things, or ran around.  My perspective about athletics has undergone a complete reversal.  I respect the work athletes do every day with their bodies.  I respect the coaches that discipline and support their clients.  I respect my peers at Colby who work so hard in the classroom, just to work even harder at the gym.  I truly admire athletes in a way I never have done before and I am grateful for this new lens of respect.

As a non-athlete, I learned a lot about athletics at Colby through this class.  I learned about the rigorous training, the knowledge needed about processes in the body, and the passionate dedication to live the life of an athlete.  But not all non-athletes know this.  And not all non-athletes at Colby have the opportunity to learn about athletics in this class.

At Colby there is a subtle divide between athletes and non-athletes.  In dining halls, many teams will have meals with each other after long days of practice.  On weekends, parties are sometimes named after certain sports (“Are you going to the football party tonight?”  “Nah man, soccer party all day.”).  It is a special dynamic, enforcing the strong bonds that teamwork can create in groups, displayed through how tight athletes become when training so hard.

The guest speaker talks were of my favorite moments in the class.  From the Nordic Ski Coach, Tracey Cote, I learned the amazing intricacies behind closed vans in Nordic skiing, as well as her intimate knowledge of the body, sports psychology, and the numerous kinds of Nordic ski equipment.  I was amazed by her experiences adventure racing, something I truly did not know existed.  From History professor, Dr. Paul Josephson, I learned how much an athlete can love his sport.  His excitement about all the different places in the world in which he ran was simply inspiring.  I wish that everyone at Colby could have heard those passionate talks, and learned about the dedicated training occurring throughout campus, across all departments and ages.

I would like to see more sports awareness talks like this on campus.  I think it would be really cool if Colby had a series of talks open to everyone by inspirational athletes like Tracey Cote or Dr. Paul Josephson, who can share with us their remarkable achievements, which did not unravel in a lab, a studio, or an office, but instead, in the great outdoors, or the gym.

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Performance-Enhancement For One – For All?

This week we learned a lot about the presence of nutritional aids, psychological aids, and pharmacological aids in athletic performance, but these influences exist in academic performance as well. Amphetamines, caffeine, etc., are commonly used in academic arenas and/or events to achieve a longer attention span, alertness, focus, and higher academic performance.

 

Most have heard of “study buddies” and the use and abuse of them, but our generation is the first generation that has grown up with prescribed amphetamines. When our parents were growing up, hyperactivity and inattentiveness were not medical conditions, but part of the reality of childhood.  For many of us the illicit use of drugs like Adderall and Ritalin is quite obvious, but these drugs are also facts of our lives. A good portion of our generation grew up taking these drugs every morning during grade school! Up until I was about 10 years-old complete strangers would approach my mom and say, “You know, they have pills that can help your daughter.” This was during the early to mid-nineties (I was born in 1990).

Whether or not they are personally prescribed, ADD and ADHD medications are readily available for studying for an exam, testing, and doing assignments. So, how does widespread use of these drugs shape and reshape the academic playing field? Cyclists Tyler Hamilton and George Hincapie gave statements that they used performance-enhancing drugs, just to stay in the race. The overall level of competition, the game itself, was changed because of the widespread doping by cyclists in the 1990s to early 2000s.

 

“The doping controls were not very good, and we came to believe that we needed to use banned substances to compete at the very highest levels,” said George Hincapie, US Postal team captain from 1999-2005, USA Today.

I do not mean to argue that students of higher-education are all ‘doping’ with study drugs. I am not at all arguing that everyone or even a majority use drugs to excel academically, but I am arguing that similarities can be drawn between academic and athletic use of performance-enhancing drugs. The greater cultural impacts of these drugs on academic and athletic landscapes is cause for further examination.

Posted in Week 4 | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

And I thought our sports were violent…

So the general consensus seems to be that football is a pretty violent sport. Usually, i would agree to this claim. It is a sport where you run into one another at full speed. However I have recently two sports, one European and one Japanese, that make football seem like a pillow fight.

The sport is Hurling. It is in no way a new sport, in fact it has been played for more then 3000 years. But it’s new to me. Originally a Gaelic Sport, it has spread throughout Europe. Since i have recently discovered this game i don’t know too much about it. However I have found the time to watch an entire professional game of the sport and to put it simply, it’s insanity. Its a mixture between field hockey, baseball, football and lacrosse. The goal of the game is simple, use the club like stick (Called a Hurley) to get the ball into the goal. There seems to be very few rules to this game. And the people who play it seem to be slightly psychotic  Sticks are frequently swung into opponents at full speed, and the recipient keeps running like nothing happened. People will be leveled by opponents at the most unexpected times. It’s as close to chaos as you can come while still retaining some sort of order. With all this being said, it’s an amazing sport to watch. It’s so fast paced and unpredicable. It’s overstimulating in the best way possible. Watch the first few seconds of this video to get an idea of the carnage: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vai3Gzd-ilw

The second sport i found is a Japanese one. This one is even more reckless in my opinion. I couldn’t find a translated version of the name, but it is essentially a game of capture the flag. Teams of about 80-100 people. Half are attackers and half are defenders. The goal of the defenders is to keep a giant pole upright. The attackers job is to take the enemy pole to the ground. Seems simple enough right? The sport shows it’s dark side once matches start. The attackers run full speed into their enemy’s attackers with nothing but a wrestling helmet. They bombard their opponents with their own bodies. Reading a description of the sport doesn’t do it justice, skip to 1:25 in the video and witness this spectacle :  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g12BaduWjb0 .

Both of these sports are a blast to watch, and i’m glad that there are people insane enough to play them. I sure as hell wouldn’t.

Posted in Exercise Physiology, Week 4 | 1 Comment

On Routine

I could not believe how far my fingers could touch.  Stretching daily for weeks increases flexibility slightly, subtly.  Only when we re-took our fitness test did I actually see the measured results.  My sit-and-reach flexibility increased greatly.  This month I did stretches every night and most mornings.  Through frequent stretch activity, I gradually worked towards a higher flexibility.  Today my stretches have become a part of my daily agenda.  If I don’t stretch in a day, I may feel too tight, or too tense.  To relieve this, I can stop what I’m doing, stand up or sit down, and start stretching out the things that need it.

This post is actually about the power of a routine.  I have made a lot of pretty big changes in my lifestyle and for my body this January 2013.  I have transformed my Colby diet, added exercise into my life, and made stretching a necessity for my body.  And I have done this by disciplining myself.  For the first two weeks I was going to the gym and stretching and eating my daily salad out of desire to succeed in our class.  I am truly amazed to feel how much a sense of regime has become ingrained into my body.  Nowadays, I actually want to go to the gym, I want to stretch, and I want to eat healthy.

This is truly revolutionary for me.  My old diet was a little bit nutritious, but mostly junk.  I never touched salads at the dining halls and hit up the ice cream bar and cookie spot frequently.  Flexibility was just not practiced.  And don’t even get me started about never going to the gym.  My life has completely changed from this.  And from here on, I do not see where else my lifestyle will move, except forward.  Learning about my body, about the processes within it, and the things I can do to help my body be healthy and strong, is a blessing and a curse (but much more of a blessing).  Now that I have all this new knowledge I can never go back to my old lifestyle of being ignorant about my body.

I am proud of the progress I made but have realized that this is truly the beginning, and that the journey of health and fitness starts now.  To be a wholesome person one needs to be in tune with body, mind, and soul.  All three are equally important, although the class had to teach me about my body for me to actually believe it.  Now I am excited to continue this new routine.  Exercising, stretching, and eating healthier options.  This is an action plan I want to keep in my life way beyond this class.

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Equal Opportunities

There are many places in which women do not have equal opportunities as men, especially in sports.  One sport in which this is the case that particularly irks me is in whitewater slalom paddling, more specifically in the c-1 division.  For those of you who don’t know, whitewater c-1 is very similar to kayaking; however you use a canoe paddle and sit on your knees as opposed to with your legs stretched out in front of you.  The following video, in the first few minutes shows a run in a c1 (or canoe, as also labelled) by Tony Estanguet of France; he has won 3 olympic gold medals in this event.     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCRcMcv2L6U

Women can only compete in the c1 division at the World Cup level; there is no olympic level for women.  This to me, is absolutely ridiculous.  Women and men should have an equal opportunity to compete at all levels.  I will admit, canoeing is a dying breed, especially women canoeists; however there are enough women out there, who are good enough, to create a team, and perhaps to even do well.

I whitewater canoe and c1, and I have always been noticed for it, especially by the older paddlers.  This is because first of all I am a woman, and I was paddling.  Secondly, I was a canoeist in a sea of kayakers, and thirdly, I was canoeing well.  I have been in boats since I was little, and I was officially taught how to canoe when I was 9.  I have been seriously whitewater canoeing since I was 12.

I chose canoeing over kayaking because it felt like more of a challenge, but it also felt more natural.  It allows for usage of the entire body.  You use your thighs to brace when the water tries to pull your boat over.  You use your core to extend forward and pull the boat through the current.  You use your arms to put more muscle and strength into the stroke.  It is truly something that uses every aspect of your body, and I didn’t feel I could get that with kayaking.

If I had the chance and the opportunity, I would train for the olympic trials.  Not necessarily because I am good, but because it is my passion, and I am one of few to do it. However, I do not have the opportunity because women’s canoeing does not exist at that level.  Women’s kayaking exists because it is more popular and more well known.  However, I firmly believe that men and women should have the same opportunity to pursue their dreams.

jtuck2nd5

Posted in Week 4 | Leave a comment

Pole Pedal Paddle

After hearing about the Adventure Racing that the Nordic ski coach participated in I started to look at some of the other races out there besides marathons and triathlons.  While I was checking them out on the Internet I came across one that looked pretty cool, called the Pole Pedal Paddle.  It takes place in Bend, Oregon, one of my favorite places on earth and can be completed as a team or as an individual.  The race consists of a downhill ski, an 8km cross-country ski, 22 mile bike ride, 5 mile run, 1.5 mile paddle (in anything that will float) and finally a half mile sprint to the finish. My favorite part of the race is the diversity of skills that are necessary to do well and I think the 6 different legs would be perfect for my family of 6.

One of the most important things that I have learned from this class is that in order to stay healthy you have to enjoy living the way you are.  If you are on some crash diet where all you eat is carrots and soybeans, you might lose 10 pounds quickly but the moment you can’t stand the diet anymore it will all be out the window.  The same goes for exercise, it is important to do frequently, but if you go too hard and hurt yourself then you’ll be out for even longer.  Or, if you don’t like the regimen you have going, chances are you aren’t going to stick with it.  To me, this race seemed like the perfect way to change up the routine, have fun in a beautiful place and maintain a healthy lifestyle without pressure.  Now all I have to do is convince my sister that the 8km cross-country ski is “definitely the easiest option.”

 

If you want to check out the race : http://www.pppbend.com/race_guide.htm

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Gym Therapy

Ever since I was very young I have suffered from crippling anxiety. From test-stress to generalized anxiety I have always had trouble stopping myself from worrying and “stressing.” Over the years I have tried breathing exercises and meditation. However, the most effective treatment by far I have tried is working out. For me going to the gym was not originally about becoming fit, it was about finding a healthy outlet for stress relief. I remember my first month of college finding something new to worry about around every corner and seeing how this anxiety was effecting my concentration and classroom performance. One day I called my dad who told me to “go to the gym and run it out.” I did as he suggested, and now I’m hooked. I started out by going to the gym once or twice a week. I made sure that I worked out a day before an exam to lower my anxiety and immediately after the exam was over to clear my head. This method was so effective that I saw my test-stress diminish greatly. I began to go to the gym more frequently. Over the summer I began to go to the gym six-days a week leaving a day for recovery. I continued this schedule into this year and find that my anxiety levels have been diminished to much more manageable levels.

According to the Mayo Clinic exercise is effective for improving mood, reducing stress, improving sleep and much more. This seems to hold true for me as I have found that as I have become a “gym-rat” I no longer feel like a lab-rat running on a wheel.  It’s funny how something so fun and physically rewarding can have such a drastically positive impact on ones mental health.

The best therapy for me is in the gym.

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/exercise-and-stress/SR00036

Posted in Exercise Physiology, Week 4 | 1 Comment

Ethical cheating?

We’ve been talking about doping in class quite a bit. Last year I did some extra readings for a philosophy course and stumbled upon an article written by an ethicist who supported doping. While I forget his name (sorry, ethicist guy), his basic argument was that we are born with a huge range of genetic characteristics, but doping represents a way to limit these genetic keys to athletic success by providing everybody with the same advantages. This would place increased emphasis on training quality as a determinant for success rather than genetics.

I’m still not quite sure whether I agree with this argument, but I think it’s interesting to consider. Much of the literature and public opinion is heavily weighted against doping, and it feels almost strange to listen to someone promoting it. There are definitely aspects of truly unlimited doping I’m highly opposed to. For example, anabolic steroids have been shown to lead to a variety of health problems later in life. If a culture is created where athletes in some sports are virtually forced to take large amounts of anabolic steroids in order to remain competitive, it would obviously be problematic. A counter-argument would be that athletes should be allowed to do what they want with their own bodies, and attempting to stop them would be no different than telling a smoker that they weren’t allowed to smoke anymore. But I think that this train of thought doesn’t really hold water simply because encouraging a lifestyle that prioritizes short-term athletic prowess at the expense of health and safety is fundamentally flawed. Sports, especially contact sports, already have their share of risk involved, but I think there should be an attempt to keep them as minimal as possible. The NFL is slowly beginning to realize that traumatic brain injury is a thing that exists, and I think that anybody who isn’t insane would support movements that attempt to negate it.

On the other hand, I think that my ethicist friend would actively support ergogenic aids that do not endanger health. After all, the ‘war’ on doping is all but lost as this point due to an absence of reliable testing, with accusations flying at almost every highly successful athletes (in the track world, just about every 100m finalist in at least the last four Olympic games has had allegations against them). Furthermore, plenty of supplements availible right now already blur the line between nutrition and doping. Even training regimes are suspect. Mo Farah, the most recent 10k gold medal winner, trains with an underwater treadmill and a cryogenic chamber which is cooled to -140C to aid muscle recovery. The key difference is that these strategies are safe and openly talked about, while drugs remain a far more secret affair. If there were a way to bring them out in the light, attempt to educate athletes about dangers and ensure and enforce safe use, I think I could support doping. Obviously that’s asking a lot, but as drug doping becomes more commonplace and gene doping moves to enter the picture, it might become a legitimate option. Athletes don’t exist in a vacuum and  obviously regulating ergogenic aids can only go so far in providing every athlete with fair conditions, but pushing towards transparency and legalizeation could shift the focus around an athlete’s success back to training, work ethic and strategy and away from freak genetics and being big, dirty cheaters.

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Does it really make a difference?

Is it right to specialize in sports? Does it benefit an athlete in any way? I have always wondered about this topic. Growing up I played many sports. At one time or another I played baseball, basketball, football, soccer, lacrosse, gymnastics and wrestling. I have always loved athletics, and for me it wasn’t until I got to college that I specialized in a sport. I don’t know if it is because my parents wanted me and my older brother to stay active, or if they believed it was best for us to play sports we wanted to play no matter how many it was, but specialization was never a topic I worried about. Sports in general offer many advantages to kids. Specializing in a specific sport, in my opinion, at too young of an age could have negative effects on future athletes. For example, if a ten-year-old boy is told that he will play football and that he will only play football he may eventually grow to resent the sport. If his whole life is centered on becoming the best football player he can be, he could easily burn out and learn to hate the sport he was told to love. On the other hand, if a young athlete chooses to specialize in a sport, there must be enough love and passion for that sport for them to make that decision. I think that’s what my parents were trying to achieve. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to play whatever sport I wanted. I was able to try out different things until I finally made the decision on my own to focus my time and effort on playing football. I think that if I had been restricted to just playing football, I would have lost my interest in the sport. I also think that if a child plays multiple sports he develops the skills that are unique to those sports. For me, I still have the flexibility from gymnastics and wrestling, hand eye coordination from baseball, and the mental toughness it takes to compete at any sport at a semi-high level. I believe that there are many answers to the question of whether it is better for a child to specialize in a sport at an early age or to explore different sports until they choose the sport that they want to specialize in. What do you think? Is specialization a big aspect of sports these days? On a similar note, does it take specializing early to become an elite athlete?

Posted in Week 4 | 4 Comments

Aussie Rules

When I typed “AFL” into the Google search bar, the results were not what I was looking for at first.  The first result was a graph of the stock price fluctuations of Aflac Incorporated.  Next came something about fiber optic cables, the American Federation of Labor, and Arena Football – getting closer, but still not what I was looking for.

What I’d like to introduce you to is the game of Australian Rules Football.  Aussies take it very seriously.  They don’t even care that the rest of the world is oblivious to its existence – they still love it all the same like a proud parent whose child just never really amounted to much in the outside world. In their eyes, it’s obviously the best.  And they’re right, it actually is.

I can still hear fondly in my head a telephone call I’d get every Friday that goes something like, “Oi, Tash, come with us the footy tonight it’s the doggies verse the Sydney Swans!” (like I should know who the other team was and care who’s on it.)  I fell whole heartedly in love with this game kind of against my will while I was studying abroad in South Australia – I got enticed to go to a game by a cute guy’s cute dog who was the Uni team’s “mascot” at orientation.  It was all downhill from there to the point where I ended up watching “the footy show” – kind of like sports center with a lot more comedy – over pretty much anything else on television.

It’s not American football.  Nor is it soccer.  It’s kind of like rugby, but it’s not. If you want an example of a sport that takes EVERYTHING in terms of fitness, this is it: stamina, speed, strength, power, and most importantly grit.  They don’t wear pads. They don’t even wear helmets.  The hits are hard, the runs are long, and the kicks are far.  It’s demanding.  They play on a field that’s a massive oval that’s 150 meters long by 90 meters wide with four poles sticking out of the ground on either end.  You can’t even see who’s who on the far side of the field from the stands.  It’s huge, as are the players, and they run the ENTIRE GAME. AFL Field

I’d love to explain the rules fully but I’d lose you, so I’ll give you the gist. Basically the object of the game is to score points by kicking the ball between sets of four posts. The middle two are called goal posts and the outside ones are called behind posts. Six points are scored when the ball is kicked between the two middle post without being touched by any player, and one is scored when the ball passes between a goal post and a behind post, or if it hits a post.  You can’t throw the ball, you have to “bump” it with your fist (harder than it sounds) or kick it to a teammate, and if you run it, you have to bounce it or touch it to the ground every 15 meters.  Tackling’s fully legal, and fights are not uncommon.  There are 18 players per team on the field at a time.  Play goes on 20 minute quarters.  Another interesting thing (and maybe why aussies are so much fitter than us on the whole) is that they don’t suddenly STOP playing after high school or university – their leagues are based on ability and any one team has a broad spectrum of ages from teens to over 50-somethings still playing the same brutal sport just as tough as their young counterparts.

This game flows like none other.  That was what struck me the most.  Despite the constant tackles and what not, it’s in a fluid state of constant motion, as are the players.  I was blown away by the sheer athleticism this sport demands.  At pretty much every level, but especially the pros, these were some of the fittest athletes I had ever seen playing a sport which takes every single ounce of guts and stamina they have simply because they love their game – their fame and glory never extended off their continent, and pros work other jobs because it doesn’t pay them much.  I don’t think they’d have it any other way.  American athletes in this country could really learn something from the AFL.

Skip ahead to 3:08 to get a sense of what Aussie Rules Football is all about: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MgakP9mC7o

afl

Posted in Exercise Physiology, Week 4 | 1 Comment

Preaching the gospel of Tabata

I am a huge fan of group fitness.  Nothing like some terrifying sweaty woman breathing down your neck, screaming about how you need to “PUSH” and “GO ALL THE WAY.”  Seriously.  It’s great.  It’s also fun to look in the mirror and see a room full of people raising their arms and legs in unison, looking like a bunch of robots in training for some big robot convention (I don’t know…)

All joking aside, group fitness is kind of like having your own personal trainer guide you through a rewarding and well-thought out workout.  Yes, you have to share your personal trainer with a bunch of other people, but if you want, you can just kind of block all of them out and listen to that awesome techno Pitbull remix.

At Colby, we have Tabata.  Usually I am reluctant to share the joys of Tabata with others because of its explosive popularity, but I can’t resist.  I love it.  Tabata is a form of intense interval training that will utterly destroy you.  (Yes, that is what I want out of a workout—destruction) It involves 20 seconds of super intense exercise (think burpees…done as fast as you can go) followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated for 8 cycles.  One session involves a period of warm up exercise, followed by 9 or so high intensity exercises separated by medium intensity exercises, followed by a cool down exercise.

Man, I remember my first Tabata class like it was yesterday.  It sucked.  And when it ended, I waddled (WADDLED) to Dana and had a 2 hour long dinner because I could not get out of my chair.  I was so sore for the next week that I had to kindly ask friends to pick my limp body up off the floor whenever I wanted to stand.  Carol (the instructor) is a little fireball of a woman.  She really knows how to whip ya in to shape.

For whatever reason, I kept coming back.  I’ve noticed that people who try Tabata generally do (no matter how much it sucks the first time).  And soon enough, I saw real improvements in my strength and stamina.  It was kind of amazing to see how my own body changed.  Plus, I didn’t experience the same intense soreness that I did the first few times anymore.  Just a little sore here and there, but no waddling.

No, it is not for the faint of heart, but Tabata will definitely give you a great workout.

Posted in Exercise Physiology | 3 Comments

Flyin’ Bobby Beaman

Learning about ergogenic aids this week and reading some other posts has reminded me of some cool animations that I saw this summer that the New York Times had made comparing the performance of the top three Olympic 100 meter runners, top three 100 meter free style swimmers and top three long jumpers in every Summer Olympics that has taken place. The first thing that obviously stands out is how much progression there has been since the first Olympics, especially in swimming and running. Times from the Olympians of today would crush the winners from only 20 years ago. In the long jump there has also been general progression but Bob Beaman’s 29.2 foot jump set in 1968 remains the record. This jump may have been helped by a tailwind and high altitudes but remains very impressive as there have been many improvements in training and technology since this jump but the now 45 year old mark remains the record.

The improvements in sprinting and swimming times are likely due to increased training, better nutrition and better and more nuanced sports technology. Records in swimming and running have incrementally improved each games and athletes surpass last Olympics marks by relatively small amounts. Beaman’s jump in 1968 broke the Olympic record by 21 and ¾ inches, a huge increase from the previous record, so far the digital measuring equipment in place at the time couldn’t measure his jump and it had to be measured manually. Beamon’s jump has since been surpassed by just one other athlete but has never been beaten in the Olympics. It’s hard to understand how Beaman could have done so much better than everyone else in his field that day and so many people since especially considering how much other sports have improved since 1968. It could just be that long jump is somehow resilient to improvement, gold metal jumps in the 80’s are just about what they are today and generally a little better. I don’t know what would make long jumping different than sports such as sprinting or swimming other than maybe the influence of weather or perhaps a decrease in the prevalence of doping.

Posted in Week 4 | 1 Comment