Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Athletes and the Information Overload

  In this modern age we have at our fingertips access to an unbelievable amount of information. Have you ever said to someone who asked you a question about something you didn't have an answer for to go and "Google it"? I have, on many occasions, often with a smile on my face. While "Googling" it may provide information, it more often than not leads to more confusion than answers. Try this, Google (or Bing) a subject like, what type of aerobic exercise is the best. What you will find is thousands upon thousands of articles extolling the virtues of a variety of types of different aerobic activities while downplaying ones that are hyped on other posts. Perhaps a better example: Google the best diet for an athlete. Here you will get hundreds of thousands of listings for a variety of different "best diets". I believe you get the picture, there is a ton of diverse and conflicting information out there. It comes from all facets of the media as well as print and from the computer. So how do you work your way through this seeming informational Babylon?
  A few suggestions on how to get to the truth,and I should say that I am focusing more on athletes here but this can be applicable to everyone. First and foremost, resign yourself to the fact that you will have to do a little research and that will take time. Can't be bothered? Than do what most people do, get your info in appealing and affirming news and soundbites put out by "experts" who are promoting their way as the right way.
You want to find the proper way to train for your particular sport? I do not have the time this year to list the number of books on training (especially running) that tout the virtues of THEIR program. You want info on diet? That's a billion dollar industry which, in my opinion, is leading millions of people down the wrong path nutritionally.
So what do I do? The first thing you do is look to the fundamentals relating to your body. Fundamentals? What do I mean by that? Well, as there are fundamental truths about gravity, there are fundamental truths about your body's needs and what it can tolerate. In training for example, your body is best served when it is gradually introduced to more stressful work. Take running, you need to get aerobically fit before you do sprints or hammer the hills. In weight training, you do lighter weights before you work up to heavier ones. It's not only common sense, it's part of the fundamentals of anatomy and physiology. Of course you could jump right into heavier and faster but your body will  rebel and probably breakdown at some point.
Diet and the athlete? Do you know the basic needs as it pertains to fats, carbohydrates and proteins for your body? Most people don't. I recall that when I was studying to be a personal trainer a few years back I was surprised when I read what the daily protein needs were for the average person and the serious athlete. It was far more than what I had been led to believe from reading health books and articles by self-appointed health experts. The logical response to that last sentence might be, so what made that guy you read credible? The fact that he had a doctorate in his field, and most importantly, the bibliography in his textbook cited numerous studies and testing from valid sources was good enough for me. It all came back to the fundamentals, what your body requires to survive and thrive.
  The second and final way to validate information that promotes a particular way or idea, show me the proof. An example. Many years ago I attended an all day seminar given by the late Arthur Lydiard. Arthur, for those who may not know, formulated the quintessential distance training program. During the question and answer period, someone asked him what he thought of (name of coach here) program that was very popular at the time. Lydiard responded--"How many Olympic champions has he coached?" This coach had guided zero while Arthur had several to his credit. Don't give your acceptance to anything if there is no proof of its merit.
Finally, since we are on the subject of proof, let's consider diet and eating. There is a way of eating that has become quite trendy and popular these days. It is deficient nutritionally but it is not my intention to go into a discourse on it's shortcomings here. The question I have about this way of eating and others is, presently, what populaion on earth have lived long, vigorous lives eating this way?  You say none, yet? Well, there are examples of people living long robust lives eating a way that is radically different from what you espouse. When it comes to my long term health, I'll go with what has worked any day.
  Fundamentals and proof, the way to separate the wheat from the chaff every time.

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