Emptying out the mailbag & clearing the history #22

Posted on December 18, 2017

(Last Updated On: December 18, 2017)

Other mailbags can be found hereKeep in mind a lot of this is email conversations, comment replies, or some random interesting things I’ve found. By their nature they are not as thorough or complete as a post on one topic.

Here’s what’s covered in this installment:

How an Olympic Runner Hits Race Weight

This topic needs more research.

A lot of the fancy manipulations, which initially appear theoretically sound, haven’t worked out.

For instance, carb cycling and endurance running. The theory was we should train the body not in a carb (glycogen) full state. This way the body gets better at metabolizing fat. Then, say two weeks, a week, or the night before a race, we start pumping in carbs, causing an increase in performance. That is, we get the benefit of still being better at metabolizing fat, so we don’t need carbs as soon into the race, so we don’t deplete glycogen as soon = better performance.

That hasn’t panned out in the research, some of which has been very well done,

Low carbohydrate, high fat diet impairs exercise economy and negates the performance benefit from intensified training in elite race walkers

nor does it have backing in the real world. (Kenyans don’t bother with this.) Instead, we find keeping carbs at the same, typically high, level is better.

My hunch here is you get what you train. If you’re training in a relatively carb depleted state, you can’t run as fast in training. You subsequently don’t run as fast in a race. Sure, carb cycling and you might suddenly be in a better place metabolically to run, but your achilles tendons, knees, quads, nervous system aren’t prepared to suddenly run faster.

-> Not so sure about the metabolic argument anyways. If you’ve gotten better at mobilizing fat because you haven’t been eating as many carbs, you may very well have lost efficiency in metabolizing carbohydrates.

I’m torn on how bodyweight would play out. If you’re heavier in training, you can’t run as fast. However, being at the absurdly low bodyweight many runners find themselves in can wreak havoc on the hormonal system. Similar to endless dieting, where a cheat period can really be helpful. (This is why drugs can be so helpful. You avoid the e.g. testosterone decrease that comes with dieting.)

My bet is some brief periods -few days, maybe a week every couple months- where you let bodyweight come back up, aren’t as stringent with eating, can be helpful. But I doubt long periods of being heavier is advantageous. The link references injuries being common in runners, and this being a potential side effect of being at too low a bodyweight. Such as low bodyweight = more general fatigue = get injured more easily.

Eh. I’d bet the injury factor is more a coincidence of insane runners doing insane volumes tending to be super light. But if they merely lessened the volume, they’d be ok. Plus, being heavier in training might be better hormonally, but being heavier doesn’t help the knees. So it’s not that simple of a tradeoff.


Two of the biggest drivers of Facebook in its early days worry about using it

Sean Parker says Facebook ‘exploits’ human psychology

Sean Parker was played by Justin Timberlake in The Social Network. He’s concerned what it’s doing to children’s brains. I recommend watching the linked video. His concern is more palpable than reading his words.

Former Facebook exec says social media is ripping apart society

This is the former head of Facebook’s growth. He feels “tremendous guilt” and-

“He says he tries to use Facebook as little as possible, and that his children “aren’t allowed to use that shit.””

This view is underrated too:

“Palihapitiya also notes that although tech investors seem almighty, they’ve achieved their power more through luck than skill. “Everybody’s bullshitting,” he said. “If you’re in a seat, and you have good deal flow, and you have precious capital, and there’s a massive tailwind of technological change … Over time you get one of the 20 [companies that become successful] and you look like a genius. And nobody wants to admit that but that’s the fucking truth.””


Speaking of luck

“Several societies have seen as little as 1% of their population own approximately 50% of the total wealth. This was the case in many Western countries around 1900, including Britain, France, and Sweden, and some claim that at present, roughly 1% of the population owns 50% of total wealth at the global level.

Similarly, in natural communities, a small fraction of the total species often makes up most of the biomass; for instance, a recent study of the Amazon rainforest revealed that roughly 1% of the tree species account for 50% of the total stored carbon.

Although the correspondence between the dominance in society and this famously diverse ecosystem may be a coincidence, it raises the questions of whether there might be generic intrinsic tendencies to such inequality, and what could be the unifying mechanisms behind it.”


We demonstrate that in the absence of equalizing forces, such large inequality will arise from chance alone.”

Inequality in nature and society

This has endless ramifications. Tax policy being an obvious, currently newsworthy, one. However, for anybody running a business, I find it helpful to keep this in mind. If you find yourself thinking about the outliers, wondering what they’re doing you’re not, whether they’re that much smarter than you, you have to also consider they could be where they are through pure randomness.

It always blows my mind how somebody could be one event from their work having a demonstrably different effect, without even changing the work!

This is the author of The Martian, five years ago,

Americans working the most they have in 40 years

Equivalent of every worker working 4.5 additional weeks per year. Can’t be explained by only looking at women progressively entering workforce. Men are working more hours too. Still waiting on that tech utopia where we all stop working.

WSJ data analysis shows average length of NFL careers decreasing

That’s quite a decrease.

Is Alzheimer’s a domain where passive treatment is doomed to fail?

I believe this to be true with osteoarthritis and obesity. Active participation of the subject is necessary for avoidance, treatment, or management. There are rumblings about this with Alzheimer’s too:

“More recently, when we tried to explain to the scientific community that using pharmaceuticals to clear amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease would and could never really restore cognitive function—that drug trials predicated on this assumption were doomed to fail—this avenue for treatment was still being very aggressively pursued to the tune of billions of dollars. That investment reflects a fundamental lack of understanding of brain plasticity-related science and Alzheimer’s/dementia ‘disease’ origin. Although there is an ongoing presumption that Alzheimer’s disease is a disease, our brain science argues that Alzheimer’s is actually the catastrophic end stage of a long, completely natural, negative-plasticity-driven change progression. A fundamental misunderstanding of the origins of this train wreck explains why more than 450 FDA drug trials searching for a ‘magic bullet’ to treat Alzheimer’s have failed”

On the other end of the spectrum, Bill Gates just invested a ton of money in Alzheimer’s research. Seems to be mainly drug oriented. We’ll see.

Your Race Against Time: How Climate Affects the Marathon

Fastest times are when temperature is in the 40s!

Rough goings for preachers of scientific literacy

Preaching scientific literacy isn’t scientifically backed.

Study: knowing more doesn’t change disbeliefs about science

Rebutting a posture and movement hater

A popular blogger wrote a post attempting to detail how posture, alignment, even certain movement, isn’t relevant when it comes to causing or getting people out of pain. I thought the post was egregious. I wrote a comment, but the author never let it through. I’m not linking their post because I don’t want to promote it.

Some topics they brought up-

  • No relationship between standing posture and lower back pain
  • No relationship between pelvic tilt and lordosis
  • Not able to differentiate between too much lumbar curve and an ok amount
  • Quoting a study about shoulder pain and posture / movement

Here is the comment I wrote:

Hey Ben,

Here is a study showing lumbar lordosis relating to low back pain. One interesting difference is the standing was done for two hours. http://www.mskscienceandpractice.com/article/S1356-689X(15)00002-8/abstract

Here is a study showing pelvic tilt relating to lordosis. Where the tilting was done to a more extreme: http://www.jospt.org/doi/pdf/10.2519/jospt.1996.24.3.130?code=jospt-site

“What are you comparing against to determine if the curve is too much or not enough?”

This seems pretty simple. Have a person say, stand in a certain way. If they have pain standing that way, try a different way. If they feel better in a different way, we deduce the initial positioning was too much, one way or another.

“They compared 67 people with shoulder pain and 68 without and firstly found that there was no difference in shoulder posture or motion between those with pain and those without.”

I don’t mean to sound combative, but this is not what the study found.

The study found there was no *significant* difference. As in statistically significant. It did find differences though. For instance, dyskinesis was 15% more prevalent in shoulder abduction, in the shoulder pain group. But the p-value was only 0.09. However, clinical significance != statistical significance.

We can’t reject the null hypothesis of e.g. there is no difference between shoulder movement in those with and without shoulder pain -there was no significant difference- *but* with the p-value above .05 we can’t accept the hypothesis either. High p-values require more clinical judgment than low. With this study, in one category we’re not 95% sure the results weren’t due to chance, but 89%. It’s silly to, and statistically we can’t, throw away the differences we found because we’re not as sure as we want to be.

I fully agree many are way too much a slave to postural assessments. Part of my rebuttal to this thinking is always we’re rarely THAT interested in how somebody stands in one position. After all, how many of us do that during the day? That’s not typically where the problem(s) are.

However, the crowd of posture is irrelevant, has no meaning, we can ignore it, any variability in painful people moving is just variability in movement, is no better.

Much like the diet world, we’re making this into an identity issue. “Brain science person” vs “Movement science person”. It’s better to find the commonalities, such as one can’t move without a brain.

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