Friday, April 25, 2014

Reality Check

I guess you don’t realise how much a bike leans over when cornering – until you look at the angle of the road!

Descending from Champagny

It’s always hard getting fit again after a winter skiing. Alpine skiing and aerobic fitness are incompatible! Even though the sensations of skiing are fantastic it’s hard to beat the feeling of wellbeing that comes from aerobic fitness. (Even though you suffer getting there!)

Today’s workout was just over 1hr 57 mins. I thought that despite being tired from yesterday’s 10k run that I was significantly faster than the previous time for this route – but was amazed to see only 40 seconds improvement! If anything this sort of outcome proves to me that there is nothing “psychological” involved – your “fitness level” is whatever you are trained up to. You couldn’t go out and deliberately match those times so well if you specifically tried to.

Inverting Reality

Coping with tiredness makes a workout interesting because you need to focus on form and can’t rely on brute strength. Though I have a strong dislike of the mystical “chi” concept I have to admit that there seems to be no better guide for identifying efficient form than by adhering to the physical principles proposed in T’ai Chi. If we can separate the practical principles from the obvious mystical nonsense then we have something extremely useful that surpasses our “western” insensitivity by far. Western education teaches us that we know everything “physical” with a high degree of certainty – but it’s complete brainwashing. We know almost nothing. Physics hit a complete dead end around the 1920s to 1930s – when mathematical “deductive” theoretical physics took over from empirical physics and “inductive” reasoning. We are caught in hypnotic spell that leads technologically nowhere – from spending billions on useless high energy particle physics to an obviously flawed (and related) “Big Bang” cosmology that yields nothing but layer after layer of illusion – keeping our Earth religiously and slavishly at the centre of it all. Consequently we still don’t even understand gravity! Our word “energy” is nothing but a numerisation of an amorphous entity we do not understand. Notwithstanding this situation we delude ourselves into thinking that we know it all and that other concepts like “chi” are just rubbish. Well, some of it (chi) clearly is extremely sloppy thinking too – but no worse than that our own magical mathematical illusionists manage to produce.  Plato considered that the “real” world was just a shadow and that we can never perceive what is behind it. To him mathematical perfection was heaven and the “reality” of his god – the physical world being an imperfect and degenerated copy . This trick of inverting reality is complete rubbish of course – leading to stupid “utopian” philosophies and political abuse accordingly. Plato wasn’t very original following his religious Gnostic beliefs. Reality is exactly what we are confronted with and when people start the all too common game of “inverting reality” then it’s time to kick them into touch.

Chi Organising

Reality is what we feel. Eat more sugar – a correct mix of sugars – then your performance and recovery improve dramatically – you feel it. Improve your mechanics of movement and you make life much easier – you  feel it. The body is fundamentally designed to exploit gravity – in the same way that a sail boat exploits the wind to sail against it. Chi to me is a study of how the body exploits basic things like gravity – both directly and indirectly. Our universe is governed however by “entropy” – the immutable second law of thermodynamics. “Entropy” effectively means “disorder”. Whatever we do brings about an overall increase in entropy. The best analogy I’ve come across to portray this consists of a giant waterfall being the “entropy” and the fine mist thrown up being the order and organisation that we can create during this whole process. Given then that almost everything tends towards disorder we have to be extremely vigilant not to be sucked into the waterfall. Chi seems to be the art of using the body to create the fine mist – the most efficiently possible. Newton’s laws of motion are another good effort – but in a more general sense. We use vertical gravity to generate horizontal propulsion when walking and running – but still need to eat sugar to provide more energy overall than we take from gravity. The body is designed to do this unconsciously – but entropy itself gets in the way and disorder easily dominates. If anything “chi” is not an equivalent to our “numerical”  energy – it is more about “organising” for efficiency. 

Chi is commonly linked to the “centre” of the body – between the navel and the pelvis – in front of the spine. It makes sense that the organisation of the body be coordinated around the centre. When running what matters most is the pulling up of the foot behind the body – towards the centre and the pulling of the recovery leg inwards from being extended out behind the body. Think of the path moving like a treadmill – the leg being taken behind the stationary body and recovery being the key – it’s not about “pushing” outwards but pulling inwards. (This appears to enhance the reflexive action of the opposite leg pushing upwards against gravity – to maintain height) When pedalling on a bicycle we cannot access the effects of gravity in such a direct manner – but some aspects are still present. If the recovery leg is left as dead weight on the pedal while just focusing on pushing on the other – then that’s pretty inefficient. In cycling mostly they discus just lifting the recovery leg enough to remove the weight and resistance from the pedal. Apply this to running (what the body is designed to do ) and you can see it doesn’t fit – it should be much more active. When you make it active then you feel a strong pulling inwards directly to the centre of he body. This “connecting” feeling is only present when actively pulling. It’s not a heaving about of the hips with a massive rotation of any part of the body – it’s internal. It feels right. It protects the back. It aligns the bones and joints effectively. It feels like a pulling inwards towards the centre. By using the hamstrings and hip flexors on the recovery leg while using the quads and glutes on the “pushing” leg the core muscles (abdominals and postural muscles) are automatically activated. The power load is therefore spread over all those muscles instead of being concentrated on a few which would rapidly be exhausted.

Bozel village (Valley below Courchevel)

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