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The Performance Lab A place to discuss the role of physical exercise on health in diseased and non-diseased states.

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Old 24-04-2011, 08:41 PM   #1
Diane
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Default What makes people kill themselves physically competing?

I saw a blogpost twittered by BiM about this: Beyond Limit: A Friend And Competitor Tries To Make Sense Of The Loss Of A Swimming Star.

OK, it was probably the water that killed him, not the exercise, but still, it's dangerous to compete in a sport where no one is looking out for you (because it's out in some ocean), you have zero body fat even though you eat 7000 calories a day, so you'll sink like a rock if you pass out, or get a cramp, because you won't float, not even in salt water it would seem.
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Old 24-04-2011, 10:03 PM   #2
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Some people seem to have an enormous drive to overcome extreme conditions and do better every time.

I don't understand it, but it seems like an addiction and sooner or later the cerebral governor has to give up working.

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Old 24-04-2011, 10:54 PM   #3
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Hi Diane!

Coach Brooks Johnson often refers to these outliers on the performance curve as "mutants." His point is that such athletes weigh risks to rewards relative to performance enhancement far differently than you and I would.
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Old 24-04-2011, 11:36 PM   #4
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Race organizers do seem to be responding to the desire for people to overcome a certain sort of adversity. Ultrarunning, for example, is quickly gaining in popularity and the number of races putting people in extreme conditions with minimal support is increasing.
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Old 25-04-2011, 12:19 AM   #5
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I suppose on a deeper, darker level of human communal psyche it's a laugh in the face of adversity, a celebration of human decision-making capacity over biological constraints, a way of committing suicide that manages to garner admiration instead of pity.
No one would ever make me swim (run/jump/cycle/whatever) that hard, even me, unless there was a slightly faster gazelle involved, somehow, and I had to take it down or die trying. I don't have to, so fail to see the point in any of it.
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"Rene Descartes was very very smart, but as it turned out, he was wrong." ~Lorimer Moseley

“Comment is free, but the facts are sacred.” ~Charles Prestwich Scott, nephew of founder and editor (1872-1929) of The Guardian , in a 1921 Centenary editorial

“If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you, but if you really make them think, they'll hate you." ~Don Marquis

"In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists" ~Roland Barth

"Doubt is not a pleasant mental state, but certainty is a ridiculous one."~Voltaire
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Old 25-04-2011, 12:43 AM   #6
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Perhaps an evolutionary perspective would suggest these folks have access to resources and good genetics. And typically, they do. Of course there are other ways to demonstrate this but this is their preferred way. There's no accounting for taste.
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Old 25-04-2011, 12:56 AM   #7
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I've long had the sense that they possess receptors that have a higher threshold than mine. They need more stimulation to feel "alive," whatever that is.

I worked with a therapist years ago who went on to participate in "extreme racing." He even made it on TV. It seemed to me that simply living as I did wasn't nearly enough for him.

I thought he looked terrible.

Of course, I have NO evidence for this idea whatsoever.
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Old 25-04-2011, 03:45 AM   #8
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A friend of mine were joking around about doing something pretty extreme via a physical challenge and came across this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEzDKUj9480

Long story short, I did it yesterday for 12 hours. My friend ended up being the photographer for it due to the fact that his baby twins arrived 4 days before and slept 3 hours in 4 days.

By far the hardest...and stupidest thing I've ever done.
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Old 25-04-2011, 04:48 AM   #9
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OK, so what's your motivation? Fame? Glory, comraderie combined with competition? There are some triathalon people here, like Eric.

I'm wondering if it really does require physical self-inflicted stress to replace receptors for emotional stress. My approach to psychological stress has usually been to sit really still until it goes away, then move really slowly to get the stiffness to go away.
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"Rene Descartes was very very smart, but as it turned out, he was wrong." ~Lorimer Moseley

“Comment is free, but the facts are sacred.” ~Charles Prestwich Scott, nephew of founder and editor (1872-1929) of The Guardian , in a 1921 Centenary editorial

“If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you, but if you really make them think, they'll hate you." ~Don Marquis

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Old 25-04-2011, 12:03 PM   #10
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I've done a few very difficult things myself, but I feel that I was able to do this primarily because of my genetic inheritance. I'm not certain that my juggling or harmonica or writing or speaking skills were acquired with any less effort, though they did require more thoughtful effort and repetition in the face of countless failures. I attribute my success to a mild form of OCD.

My son completed Ranger Training in the Army which included much of what you see in the video. It's harder because it lasts three months and they begin by starving the candidates. He appears normal enough, but when others in the service see his Ranger tab they react to and treat him differently.

Maybe the way others treat us when they know has something to do with this. After all, we react to our own image in the mirror as well.
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Old 25-04-2011, 01:00 PM   #11
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I don't really know some explore high risk-activity. In the army, navy and airforce, I can understand.
I have done my share of moderately high risk stuff: sky diving, hanggliding, back country skiing, ocean sailing (cat, 42-footer and wind surfing), driving at 250+ km/h and rapelling out of a helicopter. All that is left over from that era: I love riding rollercoasters with my youngest daughter. A very safe thrill.

All the above activities were thrilling and reason to brag while expressing fake humility, yet without them, life is just fine too.
It wasn't a receptor threshold issue in my case; I know I was out to prove that I wasn't a wimp - some level of left-over teenage insecurity fed that need.

I do think that Barrett has a good thought there: some friends who are into extreme stuff are the most level-headed, calm and stable people, so the idea that their stimulation simply needs to be higher than ours may well be spot on.
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Old 25-04-2011, 02:09 PM   #12
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From a narrative perspective, the hero role is always popular.
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Old 25-04-2011, 09:48 PM   #13
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Brain chemistry may play a role. Looking for father's acceptance as well.
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Old 25-04-2011, 10:09 PM   #14
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Quote:
Brain chemistry may play a role. Looking for father's acceptance as well.
This struck a chord with me. Looking for parental acceptance is a very important aspect of growing up and many kids, probably mostly male, set out to achieve this in different ways. What they choose to do may indeed depend on their personal drive over which parents may have little or no effect.

I know of one fellow who could not cope with his father's expectations and instead of going into energetic pursuits, went to live overseas and have very little to do with his parents.

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Old 26-04-2011, 03:38 AM   #15
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I don't know about the father's or parental acceptance aspect for me. I could see it for some. For me I think that ignorance was a big one. I had no idea what risks I was taking on. I would do them when no one was looking just for the feeling of risk.

For some reason, young guys really like that feeling of risk. I am sure there are women who do and guys who do it for other reasons but I would bet that hormones would help a lot of the guys do stupid things
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Old 26-04-2011, 10:37 AM   #16
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Default feeling alive ?

Barrett alerted me to this poem a long time a ago --it is pinned above my desk. Why 'risk'. For many its for egotistic commerically inspired reasons .For many its to feel more alive and get rid of the 'dense smoke'....... I think its healthy myself, but like most things can be pathologial .......The most amazing thing on youtube i have seen is the bat suit big wall flyers . I have a cut off point where I think things are insane and that is one of them!
I think we live in a risk aversive culture .........any meaningful activity that shifts a bit of the dense smoke has got to be better than what many people do to shift it .
The poet David Whyte loves the imagery of kayaking. In his poem, Out on the Ocean, he writes about how stress can cause us to realize what is important, and enable us to rally when we need to do so:
In these waves
I am caught on shoulders
lifting the sky
each crest
breaks sharply
and suddenly rises
in each steep wall
my arms work in the strong movement
of other arms
the immense energy
each wave throws up with hand outstretched
grabs the paddle
the blades flash
lifting veils of spray as the bow rears
terrified then falls
with five miles to go
of open ocean
the eyes pierce the horizon
the kayak pulls round
like a pony held by unseen reins
shying out of the ocean
and the spark behind fear
recognized as life
leaps into flame
always this energy smoulders inside
when it remains unlit
the body fills with dense smoke.
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Old 26-04-2011, 12:00 PM   #17
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My son tells me that he's concerned about Michael Barrett (my grandson) deciding to try Ranger school in about 20 years. He figures he will have known a father who succeeded and will go there for that very reason. Maybe so.

But I reminded him that Carl Jung said, "There is nothing more powerful in a person's life than the unlived life of their parent."
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Old 26-04-2011, 09:51 PM   #18
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Who has ever thought of one of these participants as lazy or weak? Of course we haven't.
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Old 26-04-2011, 11:53 PM   #19
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I think this article belongs here.

http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_...ch_to_injuries

I've been around numerous power and olympic weight lifters that have hurt themselves (myself included) in a way that would make most folks quit any and all activities. After coming to this website and learning more about the pain experience I was curious why this group of athletes is able to continue while many patients I see develop persistent pain after a single episode of pain. What I noticed in many competitive lifters is an injury only means making everything else stronger than before. There is a continual drive to improve, no avoidance, only confrontation. Even with back injuries, everything else is pushed even harder. The smart lifters have been utilizing graded exercise/exposure for some time now until they can return to the prior level of function.

Matt
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Old 27-04-2011, 12:32 AM   #20
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We seem to have switched from someone literally dying in pursuit of their goals to those who become injured or merely experience some kind of unpleasantness. I suppose, unless the person who literally died, planned on dying, that their motivations are similar to those that don't die.

What do people think about the person running a marathon when 7 months pregnant?

Gil, I think you're right. A heavy set trumpet player, for example, may be perceived as lazy or weak even if they devote as many hours to their practice as a someone else training for their favorite pursuit.

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Old 27-04-2011, 02:43 AM   #21
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It is now clear that an endogenous antinociceptive mechanism exists and that it is typically engaged by increases in blood pressure or other cardiovascular phenomenon. There are many other top down mechanisms available as well. What we have not examined in much detail is how these mechanisms can become dysfunctional. Strangely, the engagement of these mechanisms is often attitudinal, yet if unavailable or exhausted, all the will power in the world will not make a difference. It is not only about how hard one tries, although, this is typically necessary. The mechanism itself needs to be available. Studies show that in conditions such as fibromyalgia, diffuse noxious inhibitory controls are diminished or absent.
This is another example of how being correct= but incomplete= is dangerous.
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Old 27-04-2011, 04:34 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gil Haight View Post
What we have not examined in much detail is how these mechanisms can become dysfunctional. Strangely, the engagement of these mechanisms is often attitudinal, yet if unavailable or exhausted, all the will power in the world will not make a difference.
Hi Gil,

There is a lot packed into those two sentences. Do you mean SS hasn't devoted many threads to how the mechanisms can become dysfunctional or that the knowledge base itself is pretty sparse? Maybe we could start a thread about when things go wrong.

Can you expand on what you mean about the engagement of the mechanisms frequently being attitudinal?
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Old 27-04-2011, 10:18 PM   #23
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Jon,
Thanks for the questions. I'll to answer on a new thread
Gil
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Old 27-04-2011, 10:30 PM   #24
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how about repetitive saggital plane, resulting in lack of cerebellar surround inhibition...in turn affecting the basal ganglia-limbic system connection to allow for a lack of inhibition when it comes to doing dangerous things!
Just a thought and for a chuckle
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