Welcome to the BC176 blogs!

Below are the student blogs for our 2017 Jan Plan course. Blogs are due by midnight each Thursday. Comments are due by midnight on Friday. The rubric for blogs is here: BlogRubric_BC176-2017

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Eat Bad, Feel Good

I always had a feeling that caffeine didn’t hit me hard, but I had no idea I’m more genetically fit for endurance activities. Finding this out in lab came as a huge surprise to me. I’ve never really given endurance activities a chance, but had I known my genes, maybe I would have given them a try. I don’t think it made a huge difference for me though because I’m not training to be elite, but it makes me question what difference sporting choices I could have made. But if I could go back I don’t think I would have changed anything. I’ve always liked fast, explosive activities with constant high intensity.

My current high intensity activity is track. Most all of my events are short and explosive. I want to begin using some legal ergogenic aids. I want to start with improving my nutrition. Eating healthy is something that I will always struggle with, I love junk food way too much. What I can do, luckily, is take nutritional supplements. I would like to start taking a daily vitamin and a vegetable supplement. I do not receive the proper nutrients because of my unbalanced diet. I eat mostly carbs like pizza and pasta. These supplements will allow me to enhance my nutritional intake without much effort at all. I lack amino acid intake because the dining hall doesn’t often offer a meat source that tastes very good. Protein powder after practice will serve me well. These nutritional aids will not only improve my athletic performance, but also my overall health.

It is incredible how easy it is to consume all sorts of vitamins, nutrients, and even illegal performance enhancing drugs. It blows my mind that a person can have a poor diet, yet get all their proper nutrients. That is what I plan to do, eat poorly and artificially receive my nutrients. A better solution may be to just eat healthier, but I don’t have too much faith in my self control when it comes to deserts.


Posted in Week 4 | 3 Comments

I Think I’m Going to Run a Marathon

Okay, so I’ve wanted to run a marathon for a few years now and I have never had the guts to just do it. My friend ran in the Boston Marathon two years ago as a “one time thing” and since then she has already run in the Chicago Marathon since then because she loved it so much and is now hooked. Naively, I believe that I won’t get hooked on marathon running as I am also calling this a “one time thing,” but who knows. Hearing Mr. Westphal’s story today as well as hearing that he will be at the Sugarloaf Marathon had me excited once again about the possibility of running a marathon myself. In a matter of hours, I’ve already looked up and found the training program that I believe I can stick to fairly flexibly (http://www.halhigdon.com/training/51139/home.html), I’ve looked at the course map and noted the fact that there is a 7.24 mile climb at one point (and I’m totally not intimidated). I’ve gone to the registration page and been too scared to register. I’ve been doing research. I’m ready to go.

Now once I did my research and found out for some reason I still want to do this, I knew there was only one thing that I needed to do. What I needed to do was make sure I kept my promise that I’m making to myself. I know how I work, I have crazy ideas of things that I want to do once every couple of hours, but they never come to anything. However, I want to believe this one will be different. Why? I’m going to tell everyone that I’m running a marathon, and that way I can’t back out of running a marathon. That is why I’m writing this down on a blog, so people know I’m planning on running a marathon. All of you now have to hold me accountable. You might say, “Well you have a screen name, so this could be anyone.” And all I have to say to that is that this is Cole Turissini, and I hate that I’m committing to this so strongly, but this is the only way for me to actually achieve stuff like this. Also, I’m trying to get my dad to do the 15k while I do the marathon, and that would really help my motivation to train to accomplish this. He’s gotten very into running recently and a 15k wouldn’t be too hard for him. He would also help me during the race as he will probably start running with me about the time where I’m going to hit the wall, and I’m not going to be a worse runner than my dad so that will keep me moving. So far he seems pretty hesitant (see screenshot), but more worried about me than him so I think I’ll get him to do it with me. Having him at my side when I finish would be awesome as well.

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Com’ on, One More rep…

Tuesday’s class about ergogenic aids made me think about everything an elite athlete puts into his body. As an athlete myself, I have tried protein shakes, vitamins, sports drink, energy drinks and mineral salts; but a childhood friend of mine, on the other hand, has turned to illegal substances. It is for this reason I wanted to learn more about anabolic steroids, their desired effect and most importantly, the devastating symptoms they can have on our bodies.

“Anabolic-androgenic steroids” (or AAS) are sythetic mutations of the sex hormone testosterone. “Anabolic” refers to muscle building wheras “androgenic” refers to increased male characteristics. Doctors commonly prescribe AAS to treat hormonal imbalances or muscle losing diseases such as delayed puberty, AIDS or cancer. However, elite athletes and bodybuilders commonly abuse and/or misuse AAS, injecting doses 10 to 100 times higher than prescribed to patients. Skeletal muscles are the main target of anabolic steroids where they boost the muscle cells and promting the growth of both type I and II muscle cells(1).

Unwanted effects of AAS affect men and women differently but common symptoms include both mental as well as physiological complications. Physically, users may suffer from severe acne, swelling in hands and feet, kidney failure, liver damage, enlarged heart, high blood pressure, change in cholesterol levels. All of which increase the risk of sudden heart attack and heart complications. Psychologically, users may experience paranoia, irratibility, impaired judgement or even extreme mood changes. Other symptoms are gender specific where men can suffer from shrinking testicles, decreased fertility, premature loss of hair and increased risk for prostate cancer. In women, typical symptoms of AAS are growth of facial hair/body hair, deepened voice and changes in the menstrual cycle(2).

Can AAS be eleviated? Some athletes believe that they can avoid unwanted side effects by taking them in specific ways. “cycling” (user takes doses for a period a time, stop for a while, and restart taking) is the most famous routine but the truth is that no scientific evidence demonstrate that this practice (as well as others) reduces the harmful impacts of anabolic steroids(2).





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Runaway brain

First of all, shoutout to Julie, Ed and Peter for teaching a fantastic Jan-plan course. The past month for me has been a refreshing return to academia. As an ex collegiate runner and newbie coach, I have begun to explore the science behind the sport that ruled my life (and my body) for the past 4 years. For my last blog post, however, I want to talk about the brain. Specifically my brain. For no reason other than the fact that I am haunted by one single race. Sometimes every bit of anatomical, genetic, biological, or physiological science that rules running just goes down the crapper when your brains decides to step in. So here it is.

In a series of very fortunate happenings I have qualified for NCAA championships in the steeple chase during the first race of my outdoor season, running a time of around 10:50ish. So the season goes on, v happy, much running. And then this… GRAVITY STILL WORKS. not pictured, my elbows, which look similar to my knees. This was before my knee caps swelled to the size of baseballs (see below). So now its more like not happy, no running. I completely stop running for over two weeks. Eventually when I can finally kinda bend my knees, my coach sticks me in a race. The lowest pressure race ever. No goals, not times to hit, just run and make sure my legs don’t fall of. I crush my PR by over 10 seconds and run a 10:32. And it feels great. A couple more weeks go by, I continue training for NCAAS. Then suddenly, I graduate from college. I pack up my belongings, say goodbye to my best friends, my teammates and leave the most amazing place I have experienced in my 23 years. And off I head to Iowa to run the last ever race of my collegiate career. So… high pressure… at least in my own head. I went in to the race with the second fastest time run. Just a second or two behind the first runner. The goal is to win it. My coach and I had decided I was going for national champion. So on a hot May day on a black track in the middle of Iowa, I stepped on the start line for the last time. The gun goes off and my body shoots forward, but my brain just stays at the line. For 7 and a half laps and 7 water jumps I fight myself around the track. I lead the pack for most of the race ( I like space when I run), not feeling good, not feeling bad. On the second to last lap, the time to break away, girls start pushing harder and I try to follow. I lose the leader. It takes all my effort to just keep up with the others. Over the last water jump I go, with 200 meters left. Im in second. I wish myself forward. But I just don’t have it. Im fighting myself. Girls zoom past me with 50 meters to go, 10 meters to go. I cross the line in 10:43. Over 10 seconds slower than I ran not long before. I give my coach a hug, but I barely remember it. I remember feeling awkward. Im whisked off the track. Find my belongings, and start to cry. I’m no cryer, but I cried from there, all across the thunder and lightning swept plains of northern Iowa and souther Minnesota. Not because of the race. But because everything in my life had just changed. Everything I was comfortable with had just ended. Everyone I had loved so dearly for 4 years were heading off across the globe. And I had just run with my brain.

I could synthesize this forever. Ive certainly thought about it a lot. This class had brought forth so much knowledge behind the human body and how it runs. Muscles, bones, organs, nerves, glycogen, hormones. Endless beauty and complexity.  We have learned that there is no one thing you can pin down that leads to great athletic performance. No gene. No magic food. But the brain is pretty powerful. And even if you’ve got the genes, or a magic food, lucky socks, or a good calf to lower leg ratio, sometimes life becomes the deciding factor.

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We Are All Mental

Pole vault is an exceptionally unique and mental sport. No really it’s seriously mental, we’re all crazy. Then again you’d have to be at least a little bit crazy to voluntarily fling yourself through the air on a fiberglass pole. With the end goal of seeing who can get the farthest away from the ground. A friend of mine once said that pole vaulting is combining 20 things and executing all of them in a matter of seconds. Which seems like it would be a fairly strenuous if not impossible task of the mind.

The vault begins before you ever leave the ground. The first part is mostly prep; I set my feet on my mark, find my grip on my pole, extend my hands above my head to mimic take-off, bring my hands back down and lift the pole, tilt my hips up, pull my abs in tight, shoulders back, chest up. The next part is the approach; it starts with a step and lean back, and then it’s seven strides at full speed. I count every time my left foot hits the ground to keep track of my placement; one… stay tall, two… stay tall, three… stay tall, four… let gravity drop the pole, five… start to lift, six… pole to ear, seven… extend fully and jump. The last step takes place in the air, the trick here is not rushing. You have to wait for the pole to bend and only then can you use it to its full potential. This is combined with the momentum from your back leg to create a pendulum and invert your body before the pole begins to unbend. Then uncurl the legs and shoot yourself upwards as the pole uncoils flipping over and turning around in the process. The last part is the easiest, all you have left to do is fall. For those of you keeping track that’s 23 or 24 things depending on how you count them so they weren’t far off with 20.

The secret about pole vault is it actually isn’t possible to remember everything each time you jump. You’re actually likely to do far worse if you attempt it. Instead you have to work on it one piece at a time and then rely on your mind and body to remember the rest without you telling it expressly what to do. The secret to the perfect vault is that it’s done with barely a thought. Somewhere between setting your feet on the mark and taking off down the runway you have to clear your mind of everything else and just go. It’s very mental just not in the traditional sense. You have to train your mind and body in each piece and the when the time comes clear your head and trust yourself.

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My Father Punched a Paramedic

Several years ago, in his early stages of training for the New York Marathon, my father decided to run the “Steeple Chase” with his brother. This event, unique to Lincoln Massachusetts, is a 6.7-mile endeavor through Lincoln’s conservation lands from one church steeple to another. The night before, my parents attended a party where my father consumed 2-3 standard alcoholic beverages. Despite warm temperatures the next day, he felt well, and had a strong start to the race. He pushed himself to kept pace with several of Lincoln’s elite runners and left my uncle behind. At mile 5.5, my uncle found my father running erratically adjacent to the trail, before collapsing. Shortly after, a paramedic was on the scene checking my father’s vital signs. When he pricked my father’s finger to check for hypoglycemia, my father responded with a punch. Fortunately, the paramedic was not injured and once additional first-responders arrived, they restrained my father and brought him to the emergency room. There, his temperature was 107o F. He was treated with intravenous fluids and an ice bath for severe heat stroke. Eventually, his delirium resolved and he found himself in a hospital bed. He made a full recovery and ran his best marathon in New York City the following year.

There were several factors at play that led to the events that day and the answers can be found in lessons learned in Exercise Physiology. To develop heat stroke, my father’s normal thermoregulation must have been impaired. One of the most important forms of cooling during exercise is sweating, and since sweating can be limited by dehydration, I suspect that my father was dehydrated. One hormone secreted by the pituitary gland is antidiuretic hormone (ADH). This helps to increase individuals’ reabsorption of water in the kidneys, which ultimately saves water for other bodily functions such as sweating. Alcohol inhibits ADH release and leads to water loss. The half-life of ADH is short, so once ADH is no longer present, the kidneys cannot conserve water and repeated trips to the bathroom are required. This phenomenon has been described as “breaking the seal.”

Another factor that may have contributed to the heat stroke was my fathers’ determination to beat his brother and keep up with the elite runners. This effort impaired his judgment and he was not able to gage his own symptoms.

In summary, the alcohol consumed the night before and my father’s competitive nature, led to water loss from the kidneys so that he was dehydrated before he began the race.  This caused his thermoregulation to fail. Ultimately, he overheated and suffered from heat stroke. This entire endeavor could have been prevented if he did not drink alcohol the night before. It also helps to explain why alcohol should be avoided by athletes.


Epstein, Murray. Alcohol’s impact on kidney function. Alcohol Health and Research World. 1997. https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh21-1/84.pdf accessed January 26, 2017

Hoenig, Stephen. Personal Communication. 25 Jan. 2017

Urban dictionary.com, accessed January 26, 2017

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Younger Next Year

So my dad went through a phase where he lived and died by the book Younger Next Year.  While he may be out of the acute phase of absorbing this book, I think he made some chronic adaptations for the better.  For his age, he’s a fitness fanatic.  He wasn’t a collegiate athlete.  He hasn’t competed formally in decades, but he’s pushing himself daily and feels anxious on days that he misses.  Although it would be a sad statement for me considering a later growth sport, my dad’s favorite tagline is that he got back to his high school weight in his 60s.

Anyways, I hope I’m still a far cry from needing this book.  I also have a hunch that I’ve learned its lessons empirically through the amount of time I have spent and continue to spend in formal athletics.  Either way, I still want to be “younger next year.”  Not so much in a physical sense, but in the attitude of athletic openness, I hope to maintain.  In class, we had a handful of slides that illustrated the steady decline of many biological systems with age: VO2 Max goes down, bone density goes down, etc.  However, we also saw a slide that illustrated just how long people manage to hold on for as well.

Even so, that’s not really my goal by saying, “I’d like to be younger next year.”  This final class was an extremely moving one in my opinion.  Karen spoke very candidly about the trajectory of her athletic self.  She was open and in tune with herself.  She explored new things.  Any time one door closed another opened.  She seemed forever eager to continue finding her athletic self.  Meanwhile, Michael was equally inspiring in that he walked away from his athletic life due to the onset of an illness and then returned to it.  Through sheer willpower, he reopened a door that he thought was slammed shut.  Lastly, I think Maria’s story of metaphorically falling off her athletic horse in a very serious way and getting back on it combines both perspectives with a union of both positive thinking and determination.  I was once told something to the effect of, “what makes an athlete exceptional is not some extraordinary singular event or characteristic, rather it is the extraordinary ability to relentlessly commit to a goal day-in and day-out regardless of who is watching.”  That is something that can be accessible to everyone.

Over the past 11 years, I was pretty narrow-minded about my athletic pursuits in light of my rowing goals.  However, if I look back, even within that time, I approached new hurdles that I’d either never done or hadn’t done for years.  Sometimes, I came to them organically because I felt like something new, and other times, my hand was forced by injury.  Either way, I bought a speedo and goggles and started swimming again.  It was the first time I swam for a workout since I quit competitive swimming when I was 14 (15 years).  I cycled more.  I learned new lifts.  I went from someone who couldn’t touch my toes in college to someone who can hold “Crow pose” with some confidence (and touch my toes).  I went from being too uncoordinated to jumprope to being able to do crossovers and double-unders with proficiency in my early 30s.

I’m going to stay realistic and smart about what I choose, but I hope to stay forever open and eager to my athletic development no matter the form it takes.  Next stop: head stands.


Thanks to Prof. Millard, Dr. Millard, and Prof. Klinkerch.  It was a very well-rounded and thoughtful class.  I only wish we had more time.  Thanks also to my fellow classmates for entertaining an old guy amongst them.


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Alpine Adventures: Bunny Slopes, Control, and Pizza

Last Sunday, I hit the slopes for the first time in 12 years. I’ll admit, I was nervous to try skiing again, as I had never even made it past the “bunny” slope as a kid. I’ve been at Colby for almost 3 years and every winter I get asked if I ski. It has been a common assumption that because I’ve lived in Maine my entire life, I must be experienced in all things winter- including winter sports, such as skiing. Though I was certainly curious about what I was missing, my inexperience compared to fellow classmates deterred me from trying it out. Not to mention, skiing is not a particularly cheap past-time- between the boots, skis, poles, helmet, goggles, and ski membership, the price can easily climb up to several hundred dollars. I was concerned that I would pay all that money (even just for rentals) and then hate the sport.

Amazingly, Colby put together a fantastic deal- a completely free day of skiing at Sugarloaf for 40 lucky individuals. Everything would be provided, from the lift ticket to a free lesson for beginners. This sounded like the ideal opportunity to investigate my place in the sport of alpine skiing. Needless to say, I signed up as soon as possible, and was grateful to find out that two of my friends also had extremely little experience skiing and decided to sign up as well. We checked and double checked the gear list, put on our brave faces, and headed to Sugarloaf together.

I knew little about what alpine skiing entails. The extent of my knowledge was that you snap your feet into some skis with special boots, hold some poles, and slide down giant snowy slopes. Most of our class discussions about skiing focused on Nordic skiing, so I wondered about the physiology of Alpine. This type of skiing has components of altitude, low temperatures, and complex biomechanical movement (1). Skiers move at high speeds and must make sharp turns, using specific techniques with specially trained muscle groups (1). An article written in 2009 summarized 30 years of research, and the authors found that several energy systems are utilized in the sport but no one has been observed as the main contributor. Apparently, the main component of success in alpine skiing is technical competence. That is, using the correct tools in combination with the proper movement techniques to achieve maximal speed and control (1).

Following a brief lesson that taught my friends and I the basics of skiing (the “Pizza” quickly became my best friend!), we were excited to try out our newfound skills on some bigger slopes. My greatest focus when traveling down was maintaining control- it was quite difficult at times to keep my legs in the right position. I only fell once, and that was when I was getting off the lift! Overall, it was incredibly fun and I felt quite accomplished by the end of the trip. I’m happy I finally went, despite my sore calf muscles the next day!

  1. Turnbull, JR, Kilding AE, Keogh JW. Physiology of Alpine Skiing. Web. 2009. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports: 19(2), 146-155. Accessed 26 January, 2017. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/24247534_Physiology_of_alpine_skiing
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The Dirtiest Race

For my honour diploma project in high school I covered the topic of performance enhancing drug abuse in Track and Field throughout the decades, and the main focus of my paper centered on the 1988 100m finals in Seoul South Korea. I was fascinated by this race, the history leading up to it, the hype surrounding it, and in particular the athletes who were running it. Anyone who is into sports long enough will eventually hear about Ben Johnson, arguably one of the highest profile drug cheats in all of sport. And anyone who hears about Johnson is likely to hear about Carl Lewis, since they had one of the biggest rivalries in track and field. I get the general sense from most people that I’ve talked to who are familiar with the race that it was just a simple dichotomy: the drug cheat Johnson vs the honest Lewis.

As I researched the race more and more I began to understand that there was nothing so black and white about this race as cheater vs clean athletes. The fact that of the eight athletes in the final five would yield positive drug tests at some point in their career. Lewis, who I’ve never been particularly fond of, had tested positive for a number of drugs, including pseudoephedrine, ephedrine and phenomenological, but had been cleared by the USOC to run. I had always found this to be a little too sketchy to simply shrug off as unimportant. I was devastated when Linford Christie (England) and Ray Stewart (Jamaica) yielded positive results, as I’d always admired them as athletes.

A big part of the information I used for my project came from watching the documentary film 9.79* which was mentioned in class, and I highly recommend watching it. It really gives perspective past the general facade of just “Johnson is a big cheat”. The film gives great insight into the rampancy of drug use, the dodgy way that some drug testing facilities operated, and also a human view to these athletes as it lets them speak their own words. After watching the film I even found Johnson to be a somewhat sympathetic character. The quiet spoken Canadian was a drug cheat its true, but I think it is a little unfair that he bears the brunt of so much criticism when possibly as much as 80% of the athletes at the time also used performance enhancing drugs. Lewis I find comes across as a spiteful individual, who is so concerned with elevating his own status that he has no qualms in putting down others to do so, even though personally I find his own claim of being a clean athlete to be very suspect, and that is also something that the movie addresses as well. I think anyone who loves track or sports history (as I do) should definitely give the movie a watch.

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Doping and Coping Through Adversity

First of all, I want to acknowledge the amazing speakers we heard in class. The stories we heard were truly inspiring. Whether it was surviving a 65 feet fall, becoming one of the first females to compete in a “strongman” contest, or running multiple marathons with Parkinson’s disease, all of these people know how to overcome adversity. Prior to todays lecture, I had no idea that any of these things were possible. It was uplifting to see how much strength people have even in their hardest moments.

There was one common thread between all of the individuals’ stories, recovery through exercise. Exercise was their way out and the “light” at the end of the tunnel. This lecture made me think about times when I faced adversity. I realized that every time I got through the tough times, exercise was my cure. Health is so important, not only physically, but also mentally, and I believe it is imperative that everyone has some sort of “escape” in their lives in order to successfully overcome adversity.

After hearing what these men and women have achieved, without the assistance of performance enhancers, is reassuring. In class we learned that well over 50% of Olympic athletes, in specific sports, used some sort of ergogenic aid in their career. Just think about it, the “Greatest 100 Meters in History,” should be known as the “Dirtiest 100 Meters in History.” In this race, Ben Johnson, of Canada, set a record at the 1988 Olympics and only soon after he was exposed for his positive drug tests. After the fact drug tests have been successful in finding what athletes participated in this form of cheating. The large amount of positive results is sad. How do you feel about the number of athletes (especially famous ones) who went as far as cheating to be the best?

Another aspect that caught my attention was that famous athletes, such as Lance Armstrong, lied under oath about taking PEDs and got away with it. The fact that he was even doping is disgusting, but it is even more concerning that the same thing happened to an Olympic runner, Marion Jones. Except in her case, she was sentenced to jail time and community service. As we talked about, sports are inevitably unfair, but what is not okay is intentionally taking an illegal drug to “up your game.” I guess there are two ways to face adversity. Naturally, through exercise and willpower, or getting through the adversity by using drugs as your “escape.” How are you going to face adversity? Has hearing these three individual’s stories changed the way you look at athletes who participated in doping?

Posted in Week 4 | 3 Comments

Got Talent? Hope so…

I wonder why we or I guess I at least, view the naturally talented in such a negative light or at least why we prefer the guy who worked all his life to get to the level he is at. In baseball and basketball and football games, we always root for the scrappy underdogs who work hard and hustle rather than the objectively more talented and entertaining teams like Duke or the Yankees. We completely disregard that to get to the level that they are at, even the most naturally talented had to work incredibly hard and to be elite, even those who are perceived as the hard workers who had nothing given to them, are obscenely talented, more than the average person.

We overvalue the role of natural talent in the success of those we don’t like because it lets us paint them as lazy, genetic trust fund kids if you will. Someone who is only better than us because they won the lottery essentially. At the same time, we downplay natural ability’s role in the success of people we like, allowing us to empathize and connect with them as people. We connect with perceived hard workers because they seem more human. That’s the reason basketball guard’s shoes sell so much better than power forwards and centers shoes. We recognize that we can’t just be like Lebron because he is a 6’8” 240 lb athletic anomaly, but we believe that if we just put in the work we could be like Curry or Kyrie (even if we really can’t). It’s why we love Michael Jordan so much. He was a failure initially, unable to make his high school’s basketball team his sophomore year and now he’s considered the greatest player of all time. We as people connect with him as he seems more normal. The only thing separating him from us are the countless hours of work he put in to become great at what he did. Conceivably we could do the same if we decided to and committed and therefore become great.

We want to believe talent is not the most important thing in the world for success and people like Malcolm Gladwell spread this idea, but honestly, I don’t think I am convinced. When people like Donald Thomas, who easily cleared 7’ the first time he high jumped, is the world champion, I am inclined to believe that natural ability plays a much bigger role than we want it to.

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The Power of the Mind

Overcoming adversity. What a great and super important topic to cover in exercise physiology! I’ve always loved listening to people talk about their own experience with exercise and how strong their minds are. It’s crazy how strong people truly are physically and mentally. In class the other day, Tracy said she thinks that sport psychology may be the most important component to success, and I agree with her. The things that we can do with just our minds are limitless. As we heard in class today, Michael Westphal is still able to succeed in marathons despite his dyskinesia caused by medications to treat Parkinson’s Disease. There’s also Stig Severinsin, who has the record for breath-holding, which is about 22 minutes. How are these things possible? I believe it’s all in the strength of the mind.

I think you can train your mind to be stronger mentally just like you can train your body to be stronger or faster. Last year, I injured my knee during practice right after spring break. I was doing single leg squats on my left leg, and I felt a stretch in my hamstring, which was very strange because usually I don’t feel anything in my hamstrings during that exercise. The next morning, I could walk fairly normal but it hurt a lot to do so. I didn’t do anything at practice for 3 days I think, and I found out I had strained my popliteal muscle and ligaments in my knee. This was only a minor injury, as I was told that it wouldn’t get worse and I could continue to practice and compete, but that I would just be in pain. So I continued to practice and go to meets even though my knee constantly hurt. I just was a little behind in training because I wasn’t able to practice as hard.

Despite the pain, I was able to qualify for nationals and I had a great experience there. Even though I didn’t score as high as I wanted to, I was really happy that I got the chance to go again and put in my best effort. I think the major reason why I was able to make it to nationals while injured was because I constantly told myself that I could do it and that I was strong. I used this self-talk to train my mind to be stronger and more confident, and I think it worked out well for me. Everyone faces adversity at some point in life, whether it’s a major obstacle or a small one. So, don’t fear obstacles because you can train your mind and body to get through them.

Posted in Exercise Physiology, Week 4 | 2 Comments

Hypothermia? More like scientific tool that will propel us into the intergalactic space age!

After watching the NOVA clip in class about stories of people who had suffered from severe hypothermia causing their heart to stop, I became curious about the effects of extreme cold on the human body. As I was looking deeper into these effects I came across the name Mitsutaka Uchikoshi. Uchikoshi was hiking on Mt. Rokko in Japan during October 2006 when he suffered an injury to his pelvis and was knocked unconscious. He claims he does not have many memories of the incident, saying he must have fallen asleep. The man was found 24 days later by another hiker. Uchikoshi hardly had a pulse and his body temperature had fallen to 72ºF, an extreme hypothermic state. Doctors were able to help him make a full recovery and said that Uchikoshi should not have any brain impairment.

Because of the harsh cold and the amount of time he spent unconscious doctors say that Uchikoshi went into a state similar to hibernation. Having had no food or water his metabolism slowed to a crawl in order to keep him alive. Unlike many mammals humans do not naturally hibernate, however experts say it is theoretically possible. Although his heart did not stop completely like in most of the other stories, Uchikoshi was in a severe hypothermic state for a much longer period of time, having been unconscious for days rather than hours.

This story brings up an interesting question in the world of science: how long could humans potentially hibernate for and what are the effects of an induced hibernation? Therapeutic hypothermia treatments are already commonplace in hospitals during different procedures, but what other ways would induced hypothermia benefit society? One way scientists are trying to implement this hibernation state is in long term space travel. Although still a long way off, it is interesting to think about the possibilities that induced hypothermia could create!

Word Count: 313

Lieberman, Melanie. “Scientists Are Getting Closer to Making Intergalactic Space Travel a Reality.” Travel + Leisure. Time Inc, 24 Jan. 2017. Web. 26 Jan. 2017.

McCurry, Justin, and Alok Jha. “Injured Hiker Survived 24 Days on Mountain by ‘hibernating’.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 20 Dec. 2006. Web. 26 Jan. 2017.

Posted in Exercise Physiology, Week 4 | 1 Comment

How Will I Overcome Adversity?

It’s very easy to say “no, I can’t” and to give up on goals, especially fitness goals. In the past, I have been one to start a fitness plan, and then to quit after a few days because it got too hard or because I wasn’t seeing results quickly enough. However, that was then and this is now. Now, while I am much lighter and much more fit than a year ago, there are other things that stand in my way of being fit; my carpal tunnel and my anxiety.

After today’s presentation on the three people who overcame their health setbacks, I  came away with three conclusions. One, if there’s a will, there’s a way. Two, no setback is permanent. And three, if Maria Millard can fall 65 feet and survive and make a complete recovery, nothing is impossible.

After hearing these three great tales, I started to look at my own situation, seeing where improvements could be made. Firstly, with my carpal tunnel, there isn’t anything that I can do at this very moment to stop the pain or seizing (besides some ibuprofen) and bracing my hands when I sleep. However, there are options for cortisone shots, and if that doesn’t work, then surgery. While I am trying to avoid having surgery and shots at this moment, they may be necessary in the future. I’d love to see the day where I can grasp heavy weights and write without fatiguing again. I have tried to see if  exercise and weight loss will help with my hands, but I haven’t seen any changes yet.

Lastly, for me, there is a lot of anxiety involved in exercise and fitness. I have always been very self-concious of my weight, due to bullying and good-ol’-fashioned comparison, but this is something that I would also like to overcome. I want be able to confidently walk over to weights section and do my workout without the fear of the growing amounts of testosterone in the room or the stares of others. I would also like to stop comparing my abilities to everyone else, who may be much more fit, a varsity athlete, or a combination of both. I know that a lot of it has to do with me being in my own head, but it really is a problem. This I had a harder time thinking of solutions for. Any thoughts?

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Is Exercise the Perfect Drug?

Who else found today’s lecture super inspiring? I know I did. I very much admire the resilience and grit of our three speakers.

I was particularly interested in Michael’s story and the huge role that running plays in the management of his Parkinson’s diagnosis. I am curious as to why exercise has not been clinically studied as a treatment for diseases such as Parkinson’s—I know that Michael attributed it to a lack of interest, so I guess my real question is: how can there be a lack of interest in the effect of exercise on health? Exercise seems like the perfect ‘drug.’ It aids in weight management, healthy cardiac function, healthy respiratory function, strong bones (as demonstrated today by our first speaker), improved symptoms in diseases like Parkinson’s… and none of the negative side effects of pharmaceutical drugs (unless overdone or done with poor technique that is conducive to injury). Also important is the fact that exercise provides that ‘high’ that empowers people to take on the challenges of life, physical, mental, and otherwise: empowering people to take on family struggles, to run marathon after marathon even in the face of illness, to recover from near-fatal accidents, and more. Of course pharmaceutical drugs are important, life-saving even, but exercise sounds endlessly more appealing than taking drugs if it can benefit just as much as— or even more than— drugs can.

Over the course of the month, we’ve learned countless ways in which exercise benefits the body, and hearing from our speakers today solidified the importance of exercise in my mind. I hope that exercise becomes a more mainstream form of prevention and treatment for the constellation of illnesses that affect the population. I will be interested to find out the specific mechanisms that exercise has in disease once it is studied more thoroughly, and I will also be interested to find out exactly to what extent exercise can help people—I’m guessing that it is more than we think. Although Michael said that he has only heard anecdotally about the role of exercise in Parkinson’s treatment, I’m sure that science will point towards exercise as a key ingredient in our health. It would be very cool if people could supplement (or even substitute) exercise for pharmaceuticals in the future, and maybe slow or even reverse the progression of the diseases they are suffering from.

Posted in Exercise Physiology | 3 Comments