Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Taking a Break... Or, Give Me a Break

Conference week starts next Monday, which means I'm spending most of my free time this week filling out report cards, scheduling conferences, meeting with colleagues, etc. But, in between report cards I snuck a peek at a back issue of Velonews just to clear my head...

An Ironman Triathlete/Cyclist whom I had the pleasure of knowing while she lived in Davis a few years back used to preach about the negative effects of drinking orange juice had on performance. Seems she thought that the lactic acid in the juice would compound the effects of anaerobic exercise... in a nutshell, she said it would increase the amount of lactic acid in one's muscles. I didn't think much about it, but the kidlets rarely drank orange juice before a race...

We've long since given up on skipping the OJ, but an article in the dusty issue of Velonews got me thinking...

BELGIAN LOGIC: When it comes to basic nutritional sense, some Belgians may tend to waffle with scientific facts.
The premise of the article is that those crazy Belgians have some even crazier superstitions...
  • no houseplants in the bedroom. they suck oxygen out of the air at night. Give me a break. Don't plants suck co2 out of the air and respire 02? Perhaps the superstition should say: no houseplants in the altitude tent, where we are actually trying to decrease the o2 concentration
  • no showering after a race. the parched body will absorb unwanted water weight through the pores. so much for climbing fast in the rain. perhaps I should dehydrate myself before racing. that should increase my strength to weight ratio right... the magic number?
  • no warm bread. causes stomach problems
  • no cold water. see warm bread
  • no tomato sauces or onions. same as OJ as it pertains to lactic acid

You can find many similar superstitions in Lance's War and other cycling books. In fact, sport is filled with them... When I was playing high school baseball we never shaved before games (maybe because we didn't need to) and always dressed in the same sequence... right sock first, etc... In the movie Bull Durham you can see just how far baseball players will go with superstition.

But, all this got me thinking... The superstitions themselves may be crazy and science says that they don't increase performance, but science doesn't account for the psychological aspect of superstition... the truth is, if you believe you are going to be faster because you didn't drink the orange juice or eat the pasta sauce or don't take the shower, then you just might be. If you believe you will go four for four with three rbi's because you are wearing women's underwear or just rubbed your bat with a chicken bone, then you just may...
If superstitions put you in a positive mindset, there just may be something to Belgian Logic...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I totally agree, that's why when the DBCJRT travels, we all wax each others' legs...

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