Saturday, January 16, 2010

What's technology without training

I've been thinking - if we were to put the best runners at the starting line wearing the same basic running shoes, how would it turn out? I was taking my bike out for a ride when a fellow cyclist saw the bike and commented that how it's now obsolete (my bike is a ten speed, reminiscence of 1970's). His is a bike of a good brand. Then we started talking about technology versus training. What makes a better athlete? The technology or the training of that athlete?

It reminded me of this article I read about the F1 Drivers. Michael Schumacher was reigning the race track at that time, as were other hopefuls such as Montoya and Jacques Villenueve. The article reasoned that although there is no doubt that Schuey is a talented driver, his top-notch racing car and support helped made him number one. What if, suggested the author, they were to put all these drivers in the same basic F1 car and had them pit out against each other?

When I was running in races, one of my favorite things to do is to look at runners' shoes. I used to deduce newbies as those with non-cushioned or supportive shoes, and 'seasoned' runners with proper running shoes. But when I went back home and ran with my dad and his running buddies (they're called the Nilai Impian running club! haha) most of them were wearing Power and one even in the black canvas 'Boy Scouts' shoes. My dad was the only one who was wearing a running shoe, an Adidas I bought for him even as he resisted and complained about the unnecessity. And these uncles were good strong runners. Some smoked me like a gun.

I'm not saying that buying all these technology and brand name is foolhardy. My point lies in the fact that it's actually our brain and not the technology that is making us a better runner, cyclist, swimmer, etc. When we buy these high-technology stuff and we use them, in our mind we are already stronger. And that mentality is translated to a better performance. This is called the Placebo effect.

Imagine if the marketing team behind Asics brand revealing that there's nothing in the shoes except some common rubber and stuffing, but thanks to their claims of using some sort gel technologies, had most people running faster and better than they think they could.

Maybe it is already true.

Been going back to my long time favorite sports lately: karate. I dropped after uni, but thinking of getting serious about it. It's a sport of total art and strength, just like swimming :) I've done about 3-4 sessions already and loving it. Other than that I've been doing various bike ride (most recent was with an Ironman contestant! ya rabbi patutla dier annoyed aku slow gila), swimming, and some in-line skating (yesterday did 12km and my thighs burnnnnned). I'm actually quite enjoying my fitness life without any races to train for.


  1. nadia - you have a very colourful active life! and by the way, what you said sounded like technology is a placebo, which could be partially true. What about the effect of music makes you go the extra mile?

    I think most times you need both in combination. Michael Schumacher was great in Ferrari as he is a great driver, and Ferrari is a great car and engine so that's why I think, the team as a whole performed great. So did Jacques in Williams back in 1996-97. He was blazing the track! But when he switched (and eventually to Sauber), he was not even noticed as he could not perform his best.

    I suppose all the Nilai Impian boys will blaze the streets if given performance shoes, eh? Sadly to say, I pakai Asics pun, lari macam pacat jugak... heheheh

  2. I think it's sometimes mind over matter too and what you want to believe in. The power to believe is indeed strong and yet important to oneself. I mean back in those golden days, where technology were not as canggih as today, people still ran well, fast and good.

    Just that only now, technology have helped boost to even do one step better. It's not a bad thing really, ego boost aka placebo effect lah. I used to run in a no brand shoes and later got myself a shoe with good support after much research. Does it make a different? It sure does. Do I believe in it? Nothing I can lose from it and all to gain :)

    Think I'll take up cycling next :D

  3. Let's put it this way, if we are newbie, act like a newbie, and that means basic shoes, basic bike etc. Once you are good and think that you are ready to go the next level, then allow yourself to improve with the help of technology. Carbon bikes, cushioning shoes, carbon cleats, dri fit top, whatever the industry has to offer.

    And when you wear good, I believe it can make you feel good and that probably translates to going the extra mile.

    I had a worst bike than what you had now when I first started to ride. I did duathlons and ride long distances on it before I realised my bike is freaking heavy. You can ride my bike and see if you can feel the difference climbing up Peres. A 1k bike vs a 10k bike.

    If I can afford the RM700+ price tag for the new speedo swim tights, I would probably buy it. Hehe. Right now, I make do with the RM150 one.

  4. tech vs training..Balance ying and yang..

  5. syah: music definitely plays an important factor when you run, so much that sometimes we tend to fully depend on it. i have days when i listen to nothing butmy own heartbeat and days when I need the music. at least you have an asics - im still using my reeboks :)

    yimster: i am with both wearing good shoes as long as you don't depend in them to much and stop pushing yourself mentally. so i agree with you! and also on the cycling too - you can join me as a newbie... you've never done this cycling thing before, haven't you?

    kash: i agree with your first paragraph. i always try to get deep into the sports first before committing myself to such heavy buys. that way, you learn to work yourself around the sports and not rely too much on the technology.

    shaq: yin yang is correct!