Training like an Elite Athlete for the Dilettante

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With the Olympics in full swing, reports abound (well, I’ve heard one) about the roll of science in elite athletics. From materials research to physiology to psychology, the sciences are producing steady and legal gains on performance. In sports where tenths or hundredths of a second divide the winner from the loser, tiny gains are important.

Specifically, I was listening to the Naked Scientist’s podcast entry, “How Science Goes for the Gold.”

Robert Förstemann

As I listened to the report, I was wondering how we mortals can freeload some good training advise off of the Gods without paying a red cent. Here is some information — some more, some less useful and some more, some less new news — I gleaned from the story:

  1. Feeling well prepared for your event improves your performance more than psyching yourself up for it at the last minute.
  2. Carbon fiber rocks.
  3. Lactic acid is not the evil it was once thought of.
  4. Each type of exercise has a lactic acid profile, and scientists can 
  5. You burn more fat from low-intensity activity and more carbohydrates from high-intensity activity.
  6. Polyurethane swim suits scared the IOC so badly that they were banned from the competition.
  7. Hydration is vitally important in competition.
  8. Only a tiny fraction of the population can be an elite athlete.
Although no single thing struck me as something I could use on a day-to-day basis to change my workouts, one thing does fall out of all that hi-tech information: athletic competition is hard. It astounds me to some degree that Olympians think about the same things I think about when I ride: keeping my heart rate at a good level, keeping hydrated and well-fed, worries about not performing up to my potential, wondering if my equipment is aiding or hindering my performance, among other things.
Another thing which stood out: I’m never going to be an elite athlete. While its true I never thought that before, it is good to think about. Sport needs to be fun for its own sake to be worth doing. So don’t worry if an oldster smokes you on a hill; the only person you have to psych out is yourself.

Your, Bear.

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One thought on “Training like an Elite Athlete for the Dilettante

    Pachwork said:
    August 2, 2012 at 7:31 am

    Scientists can!

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