Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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Stuff I’m Learning This Year: Strength Training Edition

As you know, one of my goals for 2017 was to learn 12 new things – an average of one per month. First, I learned some basic toilet repair. Then I learned how to fold a fitted sheet. In that second posting, I alluded to the fact that I’m learning something else that required a bigger blog posting – well, this is that blog posting!

This goes back to the old time-y days of 2016, when I was injured so bad with bursitis that I had to walk with a cane for 2 weeks and I had to spend all of the dollars on physiotherapy for months so that I could walk again and I haven’t been running since then. When I was walking with a cane, one of my work colleagues told me that the best thing she ever did was after she got injured, when her physiotherapy was completed, she got a personal trainer. A personal trainer was able to help determine which of her muscles were weak and which were compensating for the weak ones and was able to give her an interesting exercise routine (as opposed to the super boring stretches you have to do when rehabbing an injury) that helped her get stronger so she wouldn’t get re-injured. And while I had made doing regular strength training one of my 2017 goals *and* I have a weight room in building in which to do said strength training, I spent the first two months of 2017 never lifting a single weight. And then I remembered that I suck at weight training because I have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing when I walk into a gym – I need someone to tell me what to do1. And then I remembered that I don’t really do any exercise unless I have some external motivator2. And I also remembered that I dislike doing exercise if it takes much more than walking out of my front door to do it because I begrudge the time it takes to drive to a place to exercise and then drive back afterwards3 – it’s one of the reasons I like running! So I joined a gym with personal trainers that is about a block from my place. It meets my needs of being super-conveniently located, it has someone telling me what to do, and I’m externally motivated because I’m paying money for it (and I have to show up 3 days a week to follow my plan!). The place is called Strong Side Conditioning4

Strong Side ConditioningBut it wasn’t just the super-convenient location that convinced me to go to this place. I did a free assessment there where I got to learn about the gym and their business model, to go through an assessment and hear what a plan for me would be like, and to meet some of the staff5. The business model of the gym is that it’s sort of halfway between a gym membership and a personal trainer. With a regular gym membership, you would pay less but not have assistance in creating a plan or assistance with your training (like making sure your form is correct or helping you decide when to go up in weight or number of reps). With a regular personal trainer, you get all 1-on-1 training sessions and pay by the hour (and then maybe do some other training sessions totally on your own, following the plan they’ve created for you) – and the hourly rate is not cheap. At Strong Side, they come up with a training plan for you each month and at the start of the month, you get a week’s worth of 1-on-1 sessions to learn your exercises (in my case, I chose 3 days a week, so I got 3 training session to learn my 3 workouts) and after that you have 3 weeks where you drop into the gym at your convenience to do your workouts, but there are a bunch of trainers circulating to help you if needed. You record your workouts and the trainers can see how you are progressing and then they make up a new training plan for the next month and repeat.

I started on March 3, and so far I’ve had my three training sessions, and done four solo sessions. My assessment had shown that I basically use my diaphragm and my quads for everything and all my other muscles don’t do anything. So I’m working on releasing the tension in my ribs and quads and strengthening my everything else so that my everything else will stop being such a bunch of freeloaders. I do exercises with a variety of resistance bands, free weights, kettle bells, machines, risers, sliding thingys, and more, so I’m learning the proper form for all kinds of exercises and what muscles should be doing stuff during those exercises. There are always plenty of trainers around watching during my solos sessions to tell me if my form is right or needs adjusting and I’m already seeing some improvements (in that I can do more reps of some things and squat lower than I could two weeks ago). And the trainers I’ve met, which I think is most of them by now, are all really friendly and helpful and down-to-earth.

The only thing that I can say that I don’t like is that I wish they had longer hours – they open at 6:30 am on weekdays, so if I want to do a morning workout, by the time I get through my workout, go home and shower and get ready, and then head into Vancouver, I’m not getting to my office until about 9:30 am, which is a bit later than I’d like (and on many days, too late as I have meetings at 8 or 9 am). Similarly, they close at 9 pm on weekdays, which means that if I don’t want to have to rush through my workout, I have to get there by 7:30 pm, which can sometimes be difficult for me on a busy day. I get that the hours of operation are constrained by the need to have enough trainers around and it doesn’t make any business sense to have the gym open at 5:30 am and close at 11 pm on the off chance that I might want to be there extra early or extra late once in a while. All in all, having to get to the gym within their set hours is a small price to pay for what I’m getting out of my membership!

Anyhoo, so far so good. I’m sure I’ll blog more about my exciting strength training adventures as the year goes on!

Strong Side Conditioning

  1. Similarly, when I’m running, I always have to be training for a race, because I need a plan to follow as without one, I can’t seem to make a simple decision, like how often I should run or how far should I run on a given day. []
  2. Unless it’s hockey, but that doesn’t count because it’s so fun in and of itself that I don’t even think of it as exercise. []
  3. Again, hockey excepted. []
  4. As always, I haven’t been paid to blog about them, nor have I even talked to them about the fact that I’m writing a blog posting – I am blogging about them because I like them! I’m actually paying lots of money to go there! lol! []
  5. I also did a free assessment with a personal trainer whose gym is literally across the street from my office (Did I mention I need something conveniently located?). He seemed nice and all, but he charges by the hour for training sessions, so it would work out to a lot more than Strong Side (though in the end I’d get less service) – I liked the business model of Strong Side better and I clicked more with the staff. Also, the trainer near my work said he was a Philadelphia Flyers fan and said “I have to have a Canadian team too, so I’m a Leafs fan.” I’m not saying that I decided I couldn’t work with a Flyers/Leafs fan – but I’m not saying that I could. []

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Hopeful

Hey remember that time I was despondent over Trump being elected and I sat “staring at an empty screen for a disconcertingly long time, trying to figure out what to write”. So I’ve been experiencing that again. There’s so many horrible things going on in the world right now that I don’t even know where to start to unpack it all. I suppose I can start with the US ban on Muslims entering the country – or should I say the ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries where Trump doesn’t have business dealings? It’s thrown the lives of so many people into chaos, it’s racist, it’s xenophobic, and sadly, it’s something that Trump told everyone he’s going to do and lots of people voted for him anyway.

Then there was the terrorist attack on a mosque in Quebec City, where a far-right extremist white man opened fire and murdered six innocent men and injured many others. The accused in this attack (who I’ve just read probably cannot be charged with terrorism because he had no ties to an organization – even though it’s clearly an act of terrorism) was apparently speaking about the Muslim travel ban – and his belief that only white people should be allowed to immigrate to Canada and Quebec – the day before the attack.

Even closer to home for me, neo-Nazi posters were left near a local church and there was anti-Muslim graffiti written on the wall of the building directly across from mine.

And while there’s been so much chaos related to the US Muslim travel ban – both with it being unconstitutional and racist, and with it being implemented without warning so that the people expected to enforce it, and the people being affected by it, were blindsided – Trump’s slipped in a whole bunch of other actions, including looking at how to remove financial regulations1, delay the implementation of a law that would require financial professionals who advise people on their retirement savings to actually put their clients interests ahead of their own financial gain2, authorize the building of a wall along the US-Mexican border, banning federal funding to groups who provide abortions (or even talk about abortions, really)3, starting the dismantling of the Affordable Care Act, reinstating the Keystone pipeline, gagging scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency, and, in what might be the biggest oversimplification I’ve ever seen in my life, a rule that says for every regulation that a federal agency introduces, they have to get rid of two other regulations.

But there are some glimmers of hope. People are coming together to protest this bullshit, whether it’s the people who gathered in my city to protest the hate literature and demonstrate that the community will not put up with this, the vigils across Canada to show solidarity with the Muslim community in the wake of the terrorist attack in Quebec City, or the millions worldwide (including all seven continents) who participated in the Women’s March to protest Trump. Sally Yates, the acting Attorney General stood up to Trump, telling Department of Justice lawyers not to defend Trump’s Muslim ban law. She was fired for standing up for what is right, and the fact that she was willing to stand up for what is right is heartening. A March for Science is being planned for April 22 – Earth Day – to protest things like the gagging of scientists; denial of the overwhelming scientific evidence that supports that climate change is, in fact, a thing that exists; and the general shunning of science and facts; to celebrate and support science and the scientific community4.

So while there is a lot to be despondent about, I’m going to go to bed tonight thinking about all the good people coming together to support one another in these dark times. To quote the late, great Jack Layton: “”My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”

  1. You may remember insufficient financial regulations being a major player in the financial crisis of 2007/08. Trump wants to disembowel the Dodd-Frank law, which was created to prevent that sort of thing from happening again. []
  2. I mean, heaven forbid that someone who seeks professional advice on their retirement savings would actually get advice that is the most useful to them! []
  3. And not just to prevent money going to these organizations to be used for provide abortion care, but to prevent any money at all going to these organizations for any of the other healthcare (or other) services they provide. []
  4. There has been a lot of talk about the intersection of science (and academia more broadly) and the Muslim travel ban. Academics have been debating if they should boycott conferences in the US, since those from the banned countries are denied the opportunity, or if conferences should relocate outside of the US so that people from the banned countries can attend (except that would mean that anyone from the banned countries who are currently in the US wouldn’t get to go because they wouldn’t be able to get back into the US afterwards. There is also talk of how scientific collaborations are being hampered by the travel ban, as some researchers aren’t able to travel to take part in collaborative work. []

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Peak Centre Video

Hey, remember those times that I did fitness asssessments and found out that I have a respectable VO2max but I’m a wimp and getting wimpier? The place I did those assessments – the Peak Centre for Human Performance – recently shared this video from when they were on the morning news1 putting some newspeople through fitness assessments. So I thought I’d share this in case you were interested in seeing what it’s like2 ,3.

In related news, only 18 days until the Montreal demi-marathon!

  1. It was actually from spring 2014, but I hadn’t seen it before. []
  2. As per usual, I have no financial relationship with the company, other than when I pay them money for their services, of course! []
  3. The newslady is doing the VO2max and blood lactate assessment on the bike rather than running, but the basic idea is the same. []

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My New Training Plan

Hey, remember that time I went for a running fitness assessment? Well, this past Tuesday I went to meet with Lewis at Peak Centre for a consultation, where he explains all the stuff in the report that they send you with the results of your test.

So, as it turns out, I’m a huge wimp. Lewis didn’t say that in so many words – he’s far too professional and positive to have said such a thing – but he did tell me that on the test, people usually keep running to a blood lactate level of 8-10 mmol/L, whereas I gave up at 7.2 mmol/L. I’m not the worst he’s ever seen, but I need to train my brain to accept more suffering!

2015-05-22 Fitness Assessment Results

Graphical evidence of my wimpiness. In my previous posting, which I wrote before my consultation, I’d thought that the sharp rise in my blood lactate meant that I’d run enough to be properly tired out. Apparently I was wrong.

I won’t bore you with all the details1, but some hightlights from the consultation are:

  • When you are training, you are supposed to do some of your runs slow (often called the “LSD – Long Slow Distance” run2 ) and other runs quickly (sometimes called “tempo runs” or “intervals” or “speed work”3. You often hear that runners run their slow runs too fast and their fast runs too slow. Well, it turns out I’ve been doing that. To truly know the speed you need to run on your slow runs (a.k.a., zone 1), you need to know where your aerobic threshold is – finding this out is a big reason to do the test! The aerobic threshold is the threshold below which you could run indefinitely, because you aren’t building up any lactate (lactate building up basically = fatigue). The results from the test tell you what heart rate range you need to run in in order to stay in zone 1 – for me, it’s 138-153 beats per minute. Doing this builds your aerobic base, so that, over time, your muscles will be able to go faster while still staying below the aerobic threshold. When you go above this, you aren’t training your muscles to improve your aerobic base, so you are going to hit a plateau instead. I haven’t consistently been using a heart rate monitor before this, as I didn’t know what heart rate range to be aiming for, but I’m reasonably sure based on how fast I can currently run while in my zone 1 heart rate range, that I was running my LSD runs too fast.
  • I’ve also been running my tempo runs too slowly. Apparently it is quite common that people do what they think are “tempo” runs, but they aren’t really reaching the pace that they need to reach to increase their lactate threshold (a.k.a. zone 3). Given that, as mentioned above, I’m a wimp, I’ve totally been wimping out on this and running at what I thought was fast, but I wasn’t pushing myself hard enough because did I mention I’m a wimp? The pace I need to reach for zone 3 is 5:24-5:43 min/km. This is *much* faster than my typically “tempo” run during my BMO training, which would be closer to a 5:50 average (meaning half the time I’m above that and very little of my run would have been within the zone 3 range).
  • I’ve run all my half marathons and all the LSD runs while training for a half marathon using 10 and 1s. This is where you run for 10 minutes, then walk for 1 minute, and repeat for the entire run. I’ve always run this way as my friend who got me into running did this and it’s been a habit ever since. This was something I really wanted to ask Lewis about during my consultation, as I have been wondering if it’s time for me to leave the 10 and 1s behind. His take on them is that if you are doing your zone 1 training correctly, you don’t need to take the 1 minute walk breaks because you won’t be running too fast for the long distance. When you do 10 and 1s, you tend to do the 10 minute running portion faster than you would otherwise, since you know you have a 1 minute break coming up. And that means you are running in zone 2 and thus not training your aerobic base. So, starting now, I’m say bye-bye to 10 and 1s!
  • I haven’t been refuelling properly. For a 2 hour zone 1 run, I should be taking in 116 g of carbs. My current fuel source of choice for running is Honey Stingers, which contain 39 g of carbs per package. Meaning that I should be eating 3 packages of these on a 2 hour run. I’d be lucky if I ate 1 whole package. So more attention to refuelling on the run is another thing to work on. I will also have to work on eating and drinking while I run, since I won’t be having any more 1 minute walk breaks to do that!

So basically, my game plan is:

  • run 85-90% of my training in zone 1, based on my heart rate target range
  • run 10-15% of my training in zone 2, based on my pace target4.
  • go back for another assessment half way through my training, to see if I’ve improved enough that my target ranges will have changed
  • kick some butt on the Montreal demi-marathon!

Wish me luck!

  1. *I* didn’t find it boring – it was *super* interesting, in fact. But I can imagine that you, dear reader, might not be so interested in the minutiae of my physiological state and how this relates to the details of my training plan. []
  2. a.k.a., zone 1 []
  3. “speed work”, I believe, would be super fast (a.k.a., zone 5), whereas a “tempo run” would be quite fast, but not crazy fast (a.k.a., zone 3). []
  4. Apparently these are better done on a treadmill, since it’s much easier to control pace than running outside. As much as I hate treadmills, I may just have to add this to my “learn to live with suffering” training. And really, for an interval-style of run like I’ll be doing for my zone 3 runs, I hate the treadmill less, as I at least have something to do, what with the turning the speed up and down and watching the time at which I need to turn the speed up and down. As luck would have it, the exercise room in my building *just* got a treadmill, but it’s not yet set up as we are waiting for a special adaptor plug to be delivered so we can plug it in. I guess once we have that, I’ll be getting back together with the treadmill []

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Reflections from a Running Study Guinea Pig

Dday 189

After a run on a particularly rainy day. This was the shirt I was wearing *under* my rain jacket!

Today marked the last of the Sunday group runs for the running study (which is looking at if there are differences between males and females in overtraining injuries while training for a 10 km race) that I’ve been taking part in over the past 11 weeks. There are just three more training runs left until our 10 km “race”1. In this study, we’ve had 4 running sessions per week2 – one group run on Sundays, one track workout (which I’ve mostly done on a treadmill3, and two “easy” runs. Despite having been a runner for the past seven years, I don’t think I’ve ever consistently maintained a four day per week running schedule. I’ve also ended up doing *a lot* of my running on a treadmill, due to the fact that this has taken place in the winter, when it’s too dark to go running outside by myself before I leave for work and too dark by the time I get home from work. Luckily, I have a free gym at work so I’ve been going there three times per week before work to get my run in.

Since “reflection” is one of my themes for the year, I figured I’d take some time for few reflections on my experience as a guinea pig in a running study.

  • I really like getting in a workout before work. I feel so much more alert and ready to tackle the day after sweating it out at the gym. In the past, I’ve typically been a go-for-a-run-when-I-get-home-from-work kind of gal, but I’m starting to wonder if this before work thing isn’t what I should really be aiming for.
  • Another benefit of doing my workouts in the morning is that it forces me to be more organized.  I know that for me to have any chance to get to the gym early enough, I have to be able to roll out of bed and head out the door with minimal tasks in between, so I pack my bag – including everything I need for the gym4, my work clothes for the day, and my lunch – and layout my gym clothes before bed, so that I can just get up in the morning, throw on my gym clothes, grab my bag, and head out the door. I just don’t seem to be motivated to do that kind of prep if I’m not going to the gym in the morning, and then I end up either scrambling to get it all done or skipping things like making my lunch.
    Day 187

    After a run on the treadmill at the gym at work. I look happy because I was done running on the damn treadmill.

  • I hate treadmills. I hate them with the fire of a thousand suns. I like running when you can forget that you are running, because you are looking at the beautiful sights around you or chatting with your running partner. Staring at the clock counting down on the treadmill makes it seem to take an eternity and sucks the life out of me. I bring a towel and use it to cover up the time, but I *know* the time is counting down underneath the towel and I’m always tempted to look. Because there’s nothing else to look at! The gym I go to does have TVs, but they are quite far away so it’s difficult to read the closed captioning and there are only two TVs for the whole gym, so you don’t get a choice of what to watch. One week the TVs were broken such that the only channel they would play was showing Jerry Springer and it made me die a little inside every time I saw one woman punching another woman over some loser guy… which is about 97% of that show. I have been listening to audiobooks as I run on the treadmill and that’s helped make it doable, but just barely. This past week I actually went to the gym with a friend and she did the elliptical next to my treadmill and we chatted throughout the whole workout and it was over in no time at all.
  • I hate treadmills less when I’m doing intervals. As I mentioned, I did most of our track workouts on the treadmill and I actually found that when we had to do short intervals, like 2 minutes fast/2 minutes jogging or 400 m fast/400 m jogging, it was actually kind of fun, because it gave you something to do (turn the speed up and down) at fairly regular intervals, so you wear a bit distracted and watching the clock was useful as you frequently had to do something about the time, rather than just staring at it slowly ticking down. But nearer to the end of the training program the intervals got long (like 1600m or 2400m) and so it was back to feeling like just a regular long run (albeit at a faster pace) and I got bored again.
  • Day 178

    Heading out for a run on New Year’s Day in the new running jacket that my Uncle Harry and Aunt Arlene got me for Christmas!

  • I enjoy running with a running group. I’ve been wanting to join a running group for a while and, in fact, it was one of the things that drew me to participate in this study. I’ve never found a group that fit with my schedule before, so I’ve never done it until now. I really liked meeting up with other people who are into running, sharing tips about stretches and what races we are doing and other such fun things. As an added bonus, you get to meet new and interesting people and, as I mentioned, chatting with other people really makes the time go by that much quicker. Sadly, I didn’t meet any eligible bachelors (I was also hoping when I joined the study that there might be some), but perhaps there will be some in the next running group I join?
  • You often here that intrinsic motivators are better than extrinsic motivators, but I have to say that when it comes to running, I need my extrinsic motivators! I’ve long known that if I don’t have a race that I’m training for, I don’t run. It’s just too easy to not throw on my running gear and hit the pavement. I’ll think “I don’t know how long/far I should run today” and that will be enough of a barrier to stop me from going out at all. When I’m training for a race, I follow a training plan so that I don’t have to make any decisions about how long/far I need to run on a given day and I’m motivated by the fact that I have to be able to do a certain distance by a certain date! This study has taken it one step further in that not only do I have a training plan to follow, but I also have the extrinsic motivator that the scientists are depending on me to do all the training runs because science depends on it!
  • I really need to do more cross training. Since I’ve been going to the gym at work, I’ve been running into colleagues who go to the gym for the weights. And it’s gotten me thinking that once this running study is over, I should probably find a good weight training program to follow, because I’m doing all cardio, all the time. I’ve also been wanting to get back to yoga, as my muscles are pretty tight right now!
  • Being an athlete means doing laundry all the time. Running four times a week and playing hockey twice a week makes for a heck of a lot of laundry. I have lots of technical shirts from the various races I’ve done, but I only have a limited number of sports bras and running shorts, plus I only have one pair of shorts with a jill built in for playing hockey, so I’m really, really thankful that I have in-suite laundry.

So, in conclusion, being in this study has been great in that it’s really kickstarted my 2014 running at a much higher frequency than I’m used to, gotten me motivated to workout before work, and I’ve met some great people. A++, would science again.

  1. I put “race” in quotation marks because it’s a race that was created just for this study. []
  2. Except over the Christmas holidays, when it was just 2 runs per week. []
  3. Because the track group gets together out at UBC, which is way too far for me to want to go to on a weekday evening. []
  4. Water bottle, headphones, towel/soap/shampoo/conditioner, makeup/brush, etc. []

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Ontario Science Centre – A (Very) Brief Review

As previously mentioned, I met up with my friend Sarah and her family at the Ontario Science Centre today. Sarah et al live in Ontario, but are in the GTA to see her in laws and so they came out to meet me today and the OSC seemed like a good place to do that because (a) we are science nerds and (b) they have an almost 5-year-old and a ~3 year old and the OSC has lots of fun things for them to play with and gives them a chance to run around and burn up some energy. They also have a nice baby – 10 weeks old – so it was awesome to get to meet her for the first time.

I remember quite liking the Science Centre, but it’s been awhile since I’ve been there and once inside *nothing* looked even remotely familiar except for the electrified ball that you touch that makes your hair stick out all over. I couldn’t believe how big the place was – we were there for 3 hours and didn’t even get to all the different floors. We all had a really good time and it was great to have a chance to catch up with Sarah and Dave and to see the kids. They have gotten so big since I last saw them – and they are so adorable!

I didn’t take any pictures at the Science Centre because I’m lame, here’s one that someone posted on Flickr. Hooray!

Ontario Science Centre: Plasma Ball

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On a bus!

Just to mix things up, I’m on a bus instead of a subway today. Off to the Ontario Science Centre to meet up with Sarah and her fam. Because science. I haven’t been to the OSC in a while, but I do remember it being pretty awesome. Because science. I’m sure there will be a blog posting about our science-based adventures in the very near future! Because blogging!

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Men Wanted

So you know that running study1 I was telling you about yesterday? They need more men to join. The study is meant to look at if sex is a risk factor for running injuries, so they need to have both males and females and right now they have more females. So boys, if you are interested in running and interested in science, this group is chalk full of fit ladies! Just sayin’.

If you are interested, you can tweet the study manager at @justdoitYVR or email ubc.amsmc.research@gmail.com.

  1. Also, at the running group this morning, we met the Principal Investigator for the study, Jack Taunton. He’s a sports med doctor who was the Chief Medical Officer for the 2010 Olympics and founded both the Sun Run and the Vancouver International Marathon, among other achievements. So, you know, a total slacker. []

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Running FOR SCIENCE!

As you know, I love me some running. And as you also know, I love me some science. So I’m sure it will come as no surprise to you that I’ve joined a running study.

Specifically, this study is comparing males and females going through a training program for a 10 km race with respect to injuries1. Basically, there is a 12 week training plan that we follow, including a mandatory2 group run on Sunday mornings and 3 other runs per week that we do on our own3,4. And then we answer a bunch of questionnaires about our running and any pain we experience. And then at the end we run in a 10 km race that they invented for this study. I’ve always wanted to join a running group and never found one that quite worked for me5, so this way I get to be part of a running group *and* contribute to science. Plus, I have a tendency to be very unmotivated to run after I do a half marathon – I usually think, “Oh, I just need a little rest time to recovery” and then the habit is broken and 6 months go by and I haven’t gone out for a run. As you know, I’m running the Fall Classic half marathon next weekend, so being in this study will be just the motivation I need to get running in the days and weeks after the race.

The training officially starts tomorrow, but I got my first taste of the study two Sundays ago when I went out to the Allan McGavin Sports Medicine Centre at UBC for my baseline measurements. This included measurements of my legs and feet and tests for balance, flexibility, and strength.

In the balance test, you had to first balance on a metal plate that measured the fluctuations as you balanced on one foot. And then you had do the same thing, but first you had to jump over a barrier and land on one foot and they measured the fluctuations as you tried to re-gain your balance. Have you ever tried jumping on one foot, over a barrier, landing and actually being balanced? It’s as hard as it sounds!

The picture doesn’t really give you a good sense of it, but that yellow barrier is a good 6 inches high. You had to stand on the wooden part, jump over the yellow thing and land on the metal plate:

IMG_4593

Here are my test results, though since I’m not a physiotherapist, I have no idea what they mean:

IMG_4592

The other thing they did at the baseline assessment was a 3D scan of your foot. This study is sponsored by Nike6 and apparently this 3D scanning technology was “shipped all the way from Nike headquarters”!

To do the 3D scan, they put little stickers on different parts of your foot and then you stood with your foot in a box that shot lasers7 at you:

Day 112

And it looked like this:

But then we had to re-do that one because the computer said no. But in the end we got lovely 3D scans of my feet:

I’m not sure exactly what they are doing with all these measurements, as they specifically told us that they are only taking these measurements at baseline, but not later. The rest of the study is just questionnaires (including the pain scale I mentioned8 ). I presume they are comparing the males to the females at baseline to see where we are all starting from, but I guess they aren’t interested in balance, flexibility, strength or the shape of our 3D feet as outcome measures.

At any rate, I’m looking forward to having a structured training program to follow and meeting some new running friends.

Let the running begin!

  1. At least, that’s what they told us. But I get the impression that what they consider an “injury” is somewhat different from what I would call an “injury” – as the baseline assessment involved rating your level of pain on a pain scale, but I don’t think of just run-of-the-mill pain as an “injury” per se. I’d consider it more just being the result of using my body and/or aging. []
  2. Well, it was called “mandatory” when we signed up for the study, but has since been downgraded to “strongly recommended”, probably at least in part because it spans the holiday season and some of the participants will be traveling over the holidays and thus won’t be able to attend the Sunday runs during that time. []
  3. Tuesday nights are track training and there’s an option to do this run out at UBC, but frankly given my 2 nights a week where I have to drive to Point Grey for classes, the last thing I want to do is drive out there when I don’t have to []
  4. Given that we are in the part of the year where the sun sets so damn early (i.e., it’s pitch black out by the time I get home from work at 5pm), I think I’m going to have to get over my distaste for treadmills and do my running during the week on the treadmill at the gym at work. I figure if I go into work a bit early, do my run and then shower and get ready at the gym. I remember when I did a similar thing for my 26 hot yoga sessions in 30 days and I found that as long as I was organized enough with my bag packed and ready to go, I actually really like the schedule. I feel super energized and much more productive during the day when I exercise first thing in the morning. []
  5. They always seem to be on Wednesdays and I have Wednesday night hockey games. []
  6. Participants are apparently getting a free Nike Tshirt and the volunteers helping out with the study all got Nike shoes. Which, for the female, were, of course, pink. []
  7. I think. I asked the volunteers doing the scan “How does this work?” and they were all “lasers… I think. []
  8. I mentioned it in the footnote. You are reading the footnotes, right? []

By

The Letters of Dr. Beth

Earlier today, Cath posted a link to an article 1 in the latest issue of Nature about the importance to science history of archiving correspondence between scientists and how since everyone communicates by emails, and Tweets, and IMs, and texts, and Facebook messages these days (as opposed to the handwritten letters in the old-time-y days of yore), no one thinks to preserve these. The article talked about how scientists should work with archivists to determine which documents – both paper and virtual – should be archived for historians to be able to work with someday and that this archiving needs to be funded. As the author put it: “We want our scholarly successors to be able to follow the twists and turns of the scientific, political and personal pathways” related to important scientific discoveries.

Now I realize that I haven’t stumbled upon a groundbreaking scientific discovery… yet. But perhaps some of my correspondence with my colleagues should be preserved for history just in case. To that end, I give you just a smattering of examples of my daily correspondence with colleagues. The names of other parties have been changed to protect the innocent – “OP” in these transcripts stands for the “other person”:

Email exchanges with a colleague who works in my building:

Me: I noticed the ½ price tea lattes on the white board at lunch today and got all excited about the “½ price” aspect… but then I realized I’ve never had a tea latte. Have you ever had one?

 

OP: I don’t know! I really like tea, and lattes, so I don’t see where they could go wrong. But that is a question we will probably have to answer by experience.

 

Me: Ah, yes, experience is the answer. I like your evidence-based line of thinking

 

OP: Yes, it’s hard, but we must do the field work!

 

Me: My shoulder hurts, my computer is being slow and I hate MS Word. Care to go get a coffee?

 

OP: That is a really sad story! I think we must get coffee. 10 minutesÉ Nuts, it happened again… my keyboard switches to Spanish almost every afternoon and suddenly I have É instead of a question mark, and è instead of a single quotation. Every. Single. Afternoon…

 

Me: Clearly your account is possessed by the ghost of a Spanish-speaking individual who was murdered in the afternoon and now returns to haunt computers from beyond the grave. 10 minutes sounds good. Shall I meet you at the front?

 

OP: Yes, clearly! I hadnèt though of that. I need to grab my jacket so ièll grab you in the process. (ahhhhh)

 

Me: Do we need free coffee2 today?

 

OP: Yup, uh huh, yes.

 

Me:  Excellent. I like that you provided a second and third opinion on this matter. Very efficient!

 

—-

Me: Thanks for the feedback! I’ll make those changes ASAP! And coffee at 2 pm sounds delightful! You can tell me all about your conversation with [name redacted]!

I like exclamation points!

 

OP:  Yes! Me! Too!!!

 

Email exchange with a colleague who lives on the other side of the country:

OP: I’m currently working on a Google document with 3 other people simultaneously. This shit is awesome.
I’m so living in the future right now.
Me: I was on a webinar with people from all over North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa this morning. Now I’m on a webinar with, among others, peeps from the Institute of Medicine in the US, learning about how they are working on Obamacare re: determining what things actually need to be covered by mandatory health care. And I’m doing all this in my pyjamas!

The future indeed.

—-

Email exchange with a colleague with whom I was collaborating on writing a grant application:

OP: Hey Beth,

How does one modify page numbers? I need mine to start at 11, and Microsoft word is a giant bitch. Have I mentioned how much I hate this program?
GAH
In other news, I’m almost done everything. 😉
Me: W00t to almost done everything!

As for page numbers, you just have to do the following:
Insert –> Page numbers — then click “Format”  – then click the circle next to “Start at” and type the page number you want to start your numbering from. And presto! You have the glorious page number!
OP: Ya, that’s the weird thing. I don’t have “Format” or a “start at” circle. I HATE WORD SO MUCH.

No worries. I’ve just created another document with 10 blank pages. I’ll let Adobe fix it for me. W00t!
In terms of the rest of the numbering though – how do we make sure that everything is numbered consecutively? Or do we? I mean, my CV apparently goes first, which would make all the numbering on your CV out of whack. Or do we care about this?
Me: I think the numbering of the CVs is separate for each CV. At least, that’s how I’ve always done it because it would be an insane exercise to get the numbering right when you have multiple applicants. [Name of computer system from granting agency] generates page numbers for the pages it produces, but sometimes it makes pages like 10a, 10b just to fuck with you. Because [Name of computer system from granting agency], like MS Word, is evil. And probably run by spiders. I think the best thing to do is to generate the pdf of all the crap that you put into [Name of computer system from granting agency] to see what page numbers it gives you and then we can number our two documents (“Research Proposal” and “Summary of Research Proposal”) based on whatever the last page of the [Name of computer system from granting agency]-generated pdf is.

I hope that makes sense. Because my brain is so tired right now! So tired!
OP: It does. This grant writing crap deserves a punch in the head. Fortunately I’m going to quiet my demons by feeding them beer in exactly 2 hours.

Science without beer is just torture.
Me: Why can’t we just come up with an idea and then [Granting Agency] & [Other Granting Agency] just give us a bunch of money based on our brilliant idea, without making us do stupid things like sort out page numbers on pdfs? Just give us money and beer and let us get to the sciencing!

 

  1. Link only works if you have a subscription to Nature though. Sorry about that. []
  2. This exchanged happened on a day when McDonald’s was giving out free coffee. McDonald’s coffee, as it turns out, is not half bad. And when free, doubly so. []