Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Bicycle stagecoaches

This needs to happen. Pedicabs are cool for event centered/drunkard transportation but let's face it, they're too slow to provide a real alternative to cabs. Bike pulled stagecoaches however would totally be able to replace other forms of public transportation.

In Mexico, there are these 'buses' that are little more than large vans that act as city buses. They're cheap and have certain routes though you can ask to stop anywhere along them. I don't know of any city here that has them but stagecoaches would be an awesome way of providing that kind of transportation without the gas required for huge city buses.

For them to make sense though, I think they'd have to be partly subsidized by a city government or even user memberships.

*sigh* one day...

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Ancient Olympic games

I've long been a fan of the classical world. History, myth, religious cults, and on and on. In reading a few books on the ancient games there were tidbits that I found too good to not share.

The first 13 Olympiads had as their only event a short foot race which dictated the length of the stadium. Later the diaulos was added which was two lengths of the stadium and then the dolichos (roughly equivalent to today's 5,000 meters), which was the long distance race at 20 or 24 lengths of the stadium.

Leonidas of Rhodes did what today would be unheard of. He, "with the speed of a god," won all three events at four successive Olympiads between 164 to 152 BC. Accordingly so, he was worshipped as a deity in some towns.

Much later came the pentathlon which consisted of discus, jumping, javelin, running and wrestling. Even later, chariot racing and boxing.

As for nutrition and conditioning, different 'trainers' and doctors of the time each contributed their own advice. Vigorous dancing was held as an excellent training activity which is of course, perfect. Ancient father of medicine, Galen, contended that 'natural' activities such as rowing and digging could properly prepare an athlete. He also recommended a diet rich in beans, boiled of course to reduce, ahem, flatulence.

Others said a diet with plenty of dried figs, wheat and cheese was key. Later a trainer Pythagoras, held that meat was the way to go. This of course, at the time, was an extravagance that many athletes could indulge in. Most of the commoners were stuck with their bread, olives and oil.

Women, of course, were excluded from the Olympiad but they had their own festival, the Heraia, in honor of Hera. It had only one event, a foot race of approximately 160. Runners were divided by age groups. As the men, the victors were allowed to set up statues of themselves in the temple of Hera. Many ancient male figures did actually advocate a certain amount of athletic ability in women. This sometimes could include sword fighting!

My favorite thing about the ancient Olympic games has to be the commonly respected truce that allowed the games to take place. Myth holds that King Iphitos of Elis from around the 9th century BC asked the oracle how to end the civil wars and plagues which ravaged the Greek city-states. The oracle told him to reinstate the Olympic games which apparently had been held unofficially for a long time before. During the games, a truce should be announced between all the Greek territories.

Before the games could begin, three heralds were charged with going out and carrying the message of the games and of the truce. Ultimately the truce ended up lasting for two to three months to allow for the travel of spectators. As you might imagine, this did contribute quite a bit in reaffirming common Greek identity.

stupid running injury

I was ignoring it at first but finally have to come to terms with the fact that despite all my caution, sigh...I have medial tibial stress syndrome, aka shin splits. More disturbing is that so much of the information out there kind of leaves you hanging in regards to what you should do next.

So MTSS occurs when there is too much stress put on your tibia suddenly, as in with a new training program. It turns out that what seems like 'just shin splints' are actually a kind of stress on the bone itself, not just the muscles. Which means, ignoring it and overtraining can land you in stress fracture land. So what to do?

Ideally, you let your bone build itself up to deal with the stress of a new running program. On the one hand bone remodeling can take up to a month but on the other, the idea of resting for a whole gd month sounds insane and counterproductive. Also, because of the way bone remodeling works, your bones are actually more vulnerable during this process.

Going off along the physiology tangent, bone remodeling is super cool. Osteoclasts, which are actually derived from white cells, break down bone with hydrochloric acid which dissolves the mineral component and lysosomal enzymes break down the organic parts. Then osteoblasts follow and secrete the ground substance and collagen fibers which will be the organic matrix and in a week or so inorganic salts crystallize within said matrix. Once these little guys are totally surrounded by this stuff, they become regular osteocytes, or bone cells.

Back to running...

After much research, I came across this article from the blog Running Writings which was extraordinarily helpful. It doesn't seem like I have to stop completely, just take it easy with pace and back off of increasing mileage for little while. Which I guess is ok.

so take away:
- Reduce the volume, intensity and/or frequency of runs
- Work on strengthening calf muscles every day
- Take your vitamins!