Optimizing The Context Of Your Training And FitOldDog’s Last Scientific Publication


Last publication (on a mathematical model of glycogen regulation) as a career scientist for FitOldDog, and he is very happy to be moving on, as all good things must come to an end.

FitOldDog's last publication as a career scientist and he is very happy to be moving on, as all good things must come to an end. He did enjoy working with Ke, the first author of this paper, and Abby Todd whose doctoral degree work generated much of the 'Test Bed' component of the publication.

Hi folks,

A number of books have changed the way I think, including ‘The Road Less Traveled‘ (persuaded me to take responsibility for my own problems), ‘Atlas Shrugged‘ (moderated my tendency to be too left wing), ‘Tao te Ching‘ (gave me good advice on living), ‘The Power of Now‘ (trained me to silence the chatter in my head and develop a more stable state of inner calm), and ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (caused me to realize the importance of quality in life). The last book, by Robert Pirsig, which was an interesting philosophical discussion of the nature of quality, had a sequel many years later entitled, ‘Lila,’ which, as far as I could tell, addressed the nature of context within which quality exists, with an emphasis on ethics. I like reading this kind of work, as it makes me think.

So, what is context and what has it got to do with Ironman training and my last scientific publication? The context of something, almost anything, is the environment or set of circumstances in which it exists, operates or functions. For instance, in the off-season I fit my training into my life. The context of my training is the rest of my life, as I fit it into my life. As my annual Lake Placid Ironman race approaches and training becomes both intense and time consuming, I have to fit most other aspects of my life around my training, making my training feel as though it is the context within which the rest of my life exists. I would like to suggest that this might not be the best thing for your family if it goes on for too long, but a couple of months is fine, assuming everyone understands the importance of the race to you and enjoys the outcome.

This brings me to the subject of my last scientific publication, glycogen regulation in the liver, which is definitely related to endurance sports. About fifteen years ago I decided that I needed a mathematical model of general energy metabolism (Bioenergetics), within which to place small pieces of biochemical circuitry that interested me at the time. Such a circuit on its own is like a person on their own. An isolated human behaves very differently than the same person would in a group of other people. They interact with these people and exhibit behavior that is not apparent otherwise, such as arguing, agreeing, sharing food, discussing arcane topics, like mathematics, and so forth. In fact, the person influences the group and vice versa, each being contextual to the other.

To understand a person more completely she/he should be observed within a range of contexts, and that was how I felt about glycogen regulation. I searched for a suitable model on the web, found one that looked great and was quoted $1,200,000 per year for the license fee. Not possible! I then worked with a number of mathematics students to develop simple models of glycogen regulation, and this finally led to the material presented in my last paper. My contribution to this paper, apart from helping to triage (choosing the important bits) the biochemistry, was to come up with the idea of developing the biochemical context or ‘test bed’ for the glycogen circuit. I was pleased that this work finally came to fruition over a decade later. Research can take a long time. The beauty of this work was that it provided me with insights into how energy is generated, distributed, stored, used and dissipated in the body, and that is a key component of endurance training.

I am of the opinion that no piece of learning in your life is ever wasted. Everything you learn will have applications later in life that you never expected, which is why I love to learn. It is enjoyable and there is great payback. Now I am learning a whole new set of tricks as I develop a business sense. I bet my understanding of glycogen control will turn out to be useful there, too.

The important thing to remember about the context of your life and training is that you can change or mold it for optimal results.

Think about it!

-k @FitOldDog


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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.