Tommy’s week 2 blog post

Hi class,

As some of you know, I am on the Crew Team here at Union and was a very active member until I separated my shoulder last term. Crew has pushed the boundaries of my cardiovascular and endurance performance. This past fall, the team and I competed at a few regattas before wrapping up for winter break. I wanted to come back from winter break as a more powerful rower, so I honestly just worked out like crazy – lifting weights and doing cardio. I came back and set a new personal record on the erg (rowing machine) every time I sat on one. What helped me perform better was that I pushed back the display screen so I couldn’t see how I was doing throughout the pieces. Instead of working for a number, I was listening to my body and pulling however hard my body could. I really couldn’t believe how well I was performing and it seemed the harder I worked, the harder I wanted to work! This also proved to me that your mind plays a huge role in restricting or enhancing your performance. When I stopped my mind from convincing me that I was tired, I realized that I could row harder, longer.  

I think that the mechanisms that govern performance during exercise (on a cellular or organismal level) may be reflections or even exaggerations of what takes place on a normal basis. When you put the body under stress to metabolize faster, it might help us highlight what takes place on a day to day basis. Here are a few other thoughts: (1) we already talked about negative feedback loops like the pH of the blood and respiration rates, so I am guessing that feedback loops in general play an important role in exercise physiology. I have noticed in my other classes that feedback loops pop up a lot in biology, so maybe studying them in exercise physiology will help us understand how they work in other biological systems. (2) Also, maybe studying comparative exercise physiology can help us characterize phylogenetic trees which would help biologists understand evolution further! And, (3) on Wednesday 4/3 we talked about sensors, integrators and effectors. Studying how these biological components work and communicate with each other may help us understand what occurs on a biochemical level. Or maybe it is the other way around, understanding what takes place biochemically can help us understand exercise physiology to a greater extent.

It seems that in all of biology, structure is inevitably related to function. To understand physiology we must first understand anatomy of the systems we will study. This is where pre-existing knowledge of biology, biochemistry, and neuroscience can come into play. I’m excited to take physiology to the next level – studying it when the body is put to stress (i.e. exercise). How much of our exercise physiology can be explained by what our ancestors physically needed to do to survive? Chasing down big game might explain our great long-distance endurance running ability. In this way, I can see history playing an important role in exercise physiology. I believe just having had discussions in previous upper-level science classes will help make our discussions in this class great – practice makes perfect. I can even see the material in BIO 112 – anatomy and physiology of the respiratory and cardiovascular systems – helping to contribute to our discussions in this class. Maybe also knowing the pKa’s of molecules such as carbonic acid – learned in organic chemistry and biochemistry – will help me contribute to discussions. Similarly, interactions of molecules must play a role in exercise physiology! I’m sure that learning back to front about proteins in BCH 382 and lipids and carbohydrates in BCH 380 will help in exercise physiology! These are the fuels that our muscles can use to power acute or prolonged exercise. Can’t wait to learn more!

See you all in class tomorrow,


3 thoughts on “Tommy’s week 2 blog post

  1. I think it’s awesome that you were able to push your body – and continue to push – every time you practiced to improve. I feel like a lot of problems we run into are a result of mentally plateauing, and we don’t allow ourselves to make the jumps we need to improve. Your ability to push yourself mentally showed you that it’s not really about the numbers you achieve that are important, but rather the most important piece to our improvement is between our ears. I think it would be interesting to do a test like this to measure strength limits, where the individual lifting doesn’t know how much weight they are lifting.

    Tommy, I found your openness to interrelation of biochemistry and the mechanisms to be interesting, because I feel like too many people try to isolate one piece of our bodies as a cause and one as an effect. Your point of view – allowing everything to be interconnected – interests me, because it almost turns every mechanism in our bodies into feedback loops. I also think it would be interesting to find a way to connect all of these mechanisms in a way to relate organisms phylogenetically. Maybe we can learn more about our relationships with other animals through these feedback loops, actions potentials, etc.

    I think your eagerness to relate our physiological evolution to our history of lifestyles is an interesting point. In this sense, I think it would be interesting to try to predict what the next evolutionary advancement might be. I am looking forward to seeing how you will use your previous classes and knowledge to advance our class discussions and aid others in understanding the material better. I also agree that your biochemical knowledge from past courses will help you to contribute greatly to the class. As a Biochemistry major myself, I know we have learned about every fuel source in our bodies in depth. While some of the properties involved in the way these molecules interact might seem trivial to someone with much experience they are much more complicated to someone with less experience in the topics. I am looking forward to seeing how you will bring your knowledge to the table, and I am looking forward to hearing more about your thoughts in class!

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comments Troy! I agree it would be AWESOME to do blind lifting tests – not knowing how much weight is on. My high school strength and conditioning coach is now doing that.

  2. Very cool post, Tommy. I think your take on the role of mental fatigue and effort will be interesting as we delve further into the Endure book. Thanks for the thoughtful post.

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