Saturday, February 20, 2010

Environment and Athletics

For the last two weeks the Taylor Cycling Club has been training in the basement of Samuel Morris Hall (my dorm). We ride between 30-40 minutes per session, three times a week. For those of you who have never rode on a bike trainer, during the winter months, when snow is on the ground and its really cold (-32), most bikers will not ride or they use what is called "a trainer." (some do cross training or other ways of staying in shape. Some are crazy and ride year around...)

In order to ride on a trainer, you attach the back wheel of you bike to the trainer, hop on and start pedaling, only you're not going anywhere. It gets boring quickly because there is no changing scenery, no sun, no wind and no one to ride with. When I ride by myself on the trainer, going beyond thirty minutes is quite difficult. Even when I do intervals, it gets boring very quickly. Movies and music can be only help so much.

Enter, fellow riders. The environment that other riders create on the trainer is helpful because it builds motivation. First, other riders act as a reference point as to how hard you're working. If you're not sweating and they are, you know you're not working hard enough or if your pedal stroke is slower or faster then other riders, you know that you're either working too hard or too easy. (This is hard to guage because some people have faster pedal strokes or are in a different gear.) Second, their is the emotional encouragement. Giving high-fives and seeing other people in pain or knowing that they see your pain, can be a good motivator. Lastly, It's more fun to watch a movie with friends, and its even more fun watching a movie while riding your bike with friends.

On that note, I want it to get warm, sunny so we can get off these trainers.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Sex Education

Two studies recently came out with contradictory evidence regarding abstinence education. The first is from Guttmacher Institute, a think tank connected with Planned Parenthood. It says that in the last two years, there has been a slight rise (3%) in teenage pregnancy. This is in the age group of 15-19. Two things I would like to point out about this study. First, they found that pregancies in teenage girls at 18-19 were considerably higher then other age groups. What caused the 3% increase may have been this group. I find that interesting since this the time period that girls leave high school, end their education and enter "the real world." The second thing to point out is that though the Guttmacher Institute is connected with Planned Parenthood, I don't think that one can throw the study on the wayside because of potential bias. They have done research in the past which has given support for abstinence education. e.g. They reported the 41% drop in teenage pregnancy that occurred between 1990 and 2005.

The second study that recently came out from University of Pennsylvania of Medicine found that abstinence education models are more effective than their comprehensive sexual education counterparts. What are these models? (I found a good article answering this question earlier but lost the link.) This was an interesting study because it dealt with solely African Americans (6th-7th graders) and that after two years of participating in abstinence educational programs, only 1/3 of the students reported having sexual intercourse while 1/2 in the programs where "safe sex" was promoted reported having safe sex. The conclusion of the study is that "While the abstinence intervention program did not eliminate sexual activity completely, the study did demonstrate that such a program can successfully reduce the number of adolescents having sex."

Here are two contradictory studies. What does this mean for the debate over what type of sex education students should receive? One thing is for sure, it does not mean that abstinence education is proven to be inadequate to reduce sexual activity. Also, it does not mean that abstinence education is the cure-all.

I personally believe that there are deeper moral and cultural issues going on in the debate over how sex education should be taught. People bring their personal experiences into the debate, Also, one's view of sexuality is going to play into the debate, whether their are universal morals, how much of culture defines what is good as opposed to universal morals and other bunch presuppositional beliefs that we all bring to the table.

I have one question: what is the end goal of sex education? Is it to make sure students do not get pregnant, do not have sex or educate them about sex? Once this question is answered, I think it will bring clarity to this debate though it could create more tension.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

How I Got Hurt, and two Ironies

Some may have seen my facebook status yesterday and now you see a picture. The story is this:
I was biking to the Dining Commons yesterday morning before work. I was rode there because I was trying to save time. It had snowed. There was ice on the sidewalk. I almost made it though. I got to the stop sign which is next to the Dining Commons. In order to cross, you need to make two small turns. On the second turn, I leaned in and suddenly I found myself on the ground.
Because of years of experience on the bike, and crashing on bikes, I was able to crash without the bike landing on me, it flew in front of me. Because my left hand was otherwise occupied, my right knee, right hand and chin took most of the blow. I'm glad I didn't have my whole weight on one spot. (Like my wrist, knee or chin.) So the impact dissipated throughout my body. I had a small gash on my hand. My knee was cut, and I had a scrape on my chin, which isn't noticeable because of facial hair.

I laid there for a bit, wondering if anyone saw me. No one was around.
I thought I heard voices, maybe the angels were arguing over who failed to protect me, or arguing who succeeding protecting me. I sat up, made sure nothing was broken and walked my bike to the Dining Commons. I got a first aid kit, fixed my hand and went to work, I didn't get breakfast because of the accident. My boss suggested that I should go to the Health Center when they opened (She threatened to call my hall director... though it wasn't a threat, I think it was more of a motherly warning.) So after work I went to the Health Center. They checked me out and cleaned out my cuts, which was really painful because the nurse had to dig into my skin to get sand and rocks out. I would have just left them, in my experience that stuff tend to come out eventually. (I am no medical expert and they said it could lead to an infection. If it was me, in the least they could have used a knife instead a cue tip to get it out though!) I didn't feel very good for a while, after I got some food, and took a nap, I felt much better. I'm still not back to 100% though. It probably will take about a week to fully recover.

The Two Ironies, including my Triathlon Goals for the Year
First, you may be wondering why my left hand was otherwise occupied when I fell. I was holding my coffee. Yes, I was riding my bike while drinking coffee. I won't do it again, at least I will try not to. The irony is that though I did not save my head, knee and hand, I did save the coffee. It was set nicely on the pavement, the top popped off but the majority of the drink was saved. I drank the rest at work.

Second, one of my goals for this year is to avoid being injured. I have struggled with with overuse injuries and avoidable accidents. Hopefully this is the only injury of the year, after my back and knees get better of course.
My other goal for the year is to get my sprint triathlon time below 1 hr. My best time is 1:06.29, and I believe I can get my speed up so that I can drop the necessary six minutes. This will also drop the quantity of hours and miles I will be doing. I think many of my injuries have been related to overuse and trying to do too much too early. So I do not plan on doing any longer triathlons this year, which is a bit frustrating, but I rather shoot lower this year and not get hurt then risk getting hurt and getting far ahead.