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The Engineer

The Life and Times of Donald F. Simmons

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Acky Breaky Me

I think I seriously overdid it on the stairmaster last Sunday. I haven't done much cardio at all for the past couple of months, but recently I decided to get back into it (have to look good for my trip to Amsterdam).

I ended up using the stairmaster three times in a week, and I really got going on it Sunday. Then I was exhausted and full of muscle twinges Monday, and I'm not back to normal yet today, despite a good night's sleep.

On this topic there was an article in New Scientist a few months back about how some researchers are challenging the idea that we feel tired because our muscles are worn down and full of waste products. Their work seems to show that there is a big mental component to it, the brain decides we need to save some strength in case we get chased by a sabre-toothed tiger so it tells us "OK, that's enough for now".

This would explain the "overtraining" phenomenon, where athletes seem to lose their stamina even though they are still in good shape. There was an Olympic level female marathon runner who now can't run 5 km without collapsing. The switch gets reset somehow when people push too hard.