Tuesday, February 28, 2012

...and whatever else: part 1

Education ain’t Poetry

Because it’s about money, politics, agendas 
Poetry just lays in the sun half-turning itself when it wants

Education requires schedules, busses, and clocks 
Poetry measures time in the slow inches of rainwater caught in a bucket

Education screams “Crisis!” “Reform!” “Crisis!” 
Poetry whispers purple and blue syllables heard by owls

Education craves data, imbibing; spitting it out in triplicate 
Poetry rests under the kitchen table at Grandma’s house noticing dust

Education is about children, the future, the fate of our nation 
Poetry is the sound of the last snowflake striking the ground before Spring

Education is concerned with scores, grades, rankings 
Poetry hides in a swamp breathing through a single reed

Education enables the young to go on in life, have meaningful lives, contribute to society 
Poetry occasionally slides off a bookshelf exclaiming “Wheeeeee” while the librarian fingers “Shhhhhhh.”

submitted by my friend: mitch foster

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sportcount lap counter

I remember the short time I spent on an actual swimming team in junior high (the one I currently teach in as a matter of fact) I learned that we swim "length's" not "laps". Laps are for runners. Maybe that's why I switched to running... more common sense terminology. For Christmas I got a Sportcount lap counter which you can use for running, but I rarely workout on a track anymore. I bought the cheapest one they make so it only counts laps, which I have found to be hard to keep track of in the pool. You're swimming along and..."Oh man, what number was that?" So then I try to lie to myself and say it doesn't matter. But it DOES matter because I want to know how far I've gone. I still think in terms of milage too as a runner. I know the hip thing to do is think in terms of time spent running but I haven't gotten there yet. My friend Kurt says the even newer hipper thing is to keep track of "watts" or maybe "wattage" like a light bulb or something in terms of energy spent working out. I won't make fun of it yet because maybe I'll adopt this new way of thinking and speaking like a triathlete. Which reminds me. Kurt also sent me this funny video too, on that very subject.

So on with the workout. I am quite proud of myself for finding a cheap pool to use. I live right by Michigan State University and they have an uncharacteristically inexpensive deal for graduates to use their facilities. Maybe a last vestige of the "Land Grant University" philosophy. I got an alumni card a year ago and finally got around to using it this past week on Wednesday. My son noticed the lap counter sitting on a bookshelf in my study and asked what it was. I told him and he said (with the trademark adolescent dismissiveness) "When was the last time you've even gone swimming?" So I thought about it and realized it was this past summer during my last triathlon. Wow. Better get crackin'. The MSU pool was clean and uncrowded and I even read the diagrams for pool etiquette before I went. The one thing I noticed about using the lap/length counter while swimming is you actually have to remember to push the button while swimming so Hmmm. Should I have spent $200.00 bucks for the high end counter with the motion sensors that detect flip turns? Ummm no. I'm way too Dutch for that. $24.95 seemed unnecessarily expensive to me when I bought it. But I do have a fun toy to bring with me to work out with and I love pool workouts. Now maybe I need a swim towel and some of those cool shorty swim fins. And maybe an Ironman branded pool rubber ducky too.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

"Vanderbilt" Miles

Hope defeats Calvin 83-70 in 181st meeting of  "The Rivalry"!

The Central Governor theory or the idea that the body has a neural governor that greatly influences how we as runners (or triathletes or any kind of athlete I imagine) perceive physical exertion is somewhat new. I've heard enough theories now, having coached cross country for around nine years at the high school level, that at some point you have to look at your own life and develop a "feeling" for what meshes with your own experience and what feels not quite right. I grew up in running with two coaches: my high school and college coaches dedicated to Arthur Lydiard's training principles. Consequently, I have always identified with that school "old school":  high volume, periodization, base phase, etc. type of thinking. Now I see Sports Physiology has moved on (without telling me of course) to this concept of Neural Governor. It is embodied by a particular researcher, Prof Tim Noakes, as well as the host of my Wednesday evening marathon training clinic Owen Anderson. It is both challenging and fun for me to take in new viewpoints about what I take so seriously and also still appreciate as so life affirming and comforting as distance running, whether it is cross country coaching or marathon running or somewhere in between.

Tonight at the clinic Owen was detailing the Neural Governor theory as it applies to running and it reminded me of my college cross country coach, Bill Vanderbilt. We would be running along, hoping to be close to the end of the assigned length of the run, and Coach Vanderbilt would drive by in the bus and say "Okay, 1 more mile". So I would speed up and really try to get it done (my Senior year I was a bit jaded, but I speeded up out of respect rather than naivete). How that fits into the neural governor theory is this: we have an area in the brain that regulates our perceived difficulty. Of course Coach V. was indicating by his announcement of "one more mile" that we should speed up because we didn't have far to go. And of course it was maybe two or three more miles to go: in other words: a Vanderbilt Mile. This is the essence of what the neural governor does. If it was really lactic acid build up causing muscle fatigue, we wouldn't be able to speed up like we do. But we actually do better because our neural governor allows us to feel better for a time to get finished with our physical exertion, even if they are "Vanderbilt Miles". Maybe that seems like a large oversimplification of a respected theory, but it does limn the idea with a concrete example. More on this in the future I'm sure.

Bill Vanderbilt: who coached the Hope cross country program from 1971-87. A 1961 Hope graduate, Vanderbilt guided Hope cross country teams to 17 Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) championships, 14 by the men and three by the women.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

My First Spin Class

I've got to say that when I first heard about a "spin" class, it seemed a little unnecessary. I couldn't imagine what you would need someone in front of you to say while you were on a bike. When my friend Greg asked me to be part of his Gang Green (an MSU Spartan reference for you non-Michigan readers) to raise money for the local YMCA in his town I said sure. I probably would've gone running today or maybe swam (probably not) but in winter, I KNOW I would not have gone cycling. I don't have a trainer in my basement although my wife has her mom's old stationary bike. I tried that one once but it reminded me of the treadmill. Not my scene. So... off I went to go do a spin class for charity and get a winter work out in on the bike. My first thought when I got on the bike was. Oh yes, I remember toe-clips. I don't like them anymore. I did have the choice of using my biking shoes but I wasn't sure if the cleat was the same. I also noticed I was in the front row and pretty much had to stand or "climb" when the spin instructor said to or be lame. The class instructor was very good about getting people revved up and the music was loud. Her nick name is the machine. I totally get why. I recognized a song from my son's ringtone: LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem"... Every day I'm shufflin'... It was beginning to sound and feel like a Zumba class. In the end, the event raised 5K for their cause and I won a family pass to Potter Park Zoo which is very cool. It was a good workout as well. I may have to look into doing spin classes during the winter months for a change of pace. Now I know what all the fuss is about.
This is MUCH harder than I thought it'd be!