Sports: December 2006 Archives

 

December 27, 2006

Went climbing last night at The Edge. Normally when you drop in at a place like this you can't find anyone to belay you, so you end up just bouldering. The Edge has an unusual feature: auto-belay devices. Basically, it's a web belt attached to what seems to be a spring-loaded device at the top of the wall. You attach it to your harness and as you climb it automatically takes up the slack. If you fall off, it pays out slowly, lowering you to the ground safely (at least theoretically).

The obvious advantage of a gizmo like this is that it lets you climb on your own without a belayer. Also, you can train continuously without having a belay slave. The major practical disadvantage is that it doesn't lock, so there's no way to hang and work out a move. If you fall, you have to start over again from the bottom, which means that it's a lot harder to work through difficult moves, since you're tired by the time you get there.

Psychologically, though, it's even weirder. When someone is belaying you and you fall, the rope stretches a bit (assuming it's a dynamic rope) but then you stop dead. With an auto-belay, you just fall slowly. If you're used to a regular belay, your first thought is "my belayer has screwed up and I'm about to fall to my death". That's not really an easy reaction to suppress, which makes it a lot harder to climb near your limit, as well as making letting go to descend at the top of the climb a real act of will.

 

December 22, 2006

Mrs. Guesswork and I are watching Harry Potter and the Goblet of Extreme LiabilityFire and in my sheer frustration over the plot holes I'm reminded of Tom Franck's hatchet job on Quidditch. Amazingly, HPATGOEL is even more nuts. Spoilers below.
 

December 18, 2006

Asahi reports on Nathan's hot dog champ Kobayashi's training regimen:
"Eating is my job," Kobayashi says. His life very much resembles that of athletes participating in conventional sports. Two months ahead of an event, he gets into fighting mode and starts maintaining meal logs. To put on weight (he now weighs between 70 to 80 kg at competitions) Kobayashi eats six to eight high-protein meals a day, totaling about 10,000 calories. But he emphasizes that his usual meal style is normal, eating conventional food at an average speed.

Wannabe speed eaters should start by increasing their food intake, Kobayashi advises. He emphasizes the importance of keeping logs. "Without precise logs, you can't tell whether your stuffiness comes from overeating or poor metabolism."

The champ lifts weight to tone up his muscles and improve his metabolism. He says that having a high metabolic rate makes weight control easy. Also by staying active, he is able to maintain motivation when no competitions are in sight. "I don't directly work on my abs so I won't damage them," he says. He has started running 10 kilometers in the morning and 10 kilometers at night to improve stamina.

I know elite triathletes who put in less than 20 km (13 mi)/day. A lot less.