Olympic athletes insider; how they train their bodies

Richard Giles [CC BY-SA 2.0  (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Richard Giles

Richard Giles [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Trinity Davis, Writer

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This year the Winter Olympics is held in PyeongChang, South Korea, and the weather is holding record-breaking temperatures of 16 degrees from earlier in the week of February 11th. Winds speeds have caused numerous events to be postponed such as Nordic combined, biathlon, and Alpine skiing. According to AccuWeather and The Weather Network, reports of the strong winds with a gust of 35 to 40 miles per hour affect the audience and athletes.

Winter Olympians practice and train in cold weather routinely to get ready for the real competition. CNN health reports on the science behind athletes preparing mentally for the games. Science professors at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Christopher Fetsch of Neuroscience and Kathleen Cullen of Biomedical Engineering explain their research and the statistics behind athletic performances in the cold. More specifically, Assistant Professor Fetsch says it is about keeping a level head to make fast decisions, “They’re making split decisions, you know, on the order of [a] tenth of a second, or less”, said Fetsch. Professor Cullen believes there is a different approach to getting ready. “… they can’t rely on vision, vision is a very slow sense. So, they take advantage of input from what we call the sense of motion so that they land on their feet,” said Cullen. It is strictly about being comfortable in an uncomfortable environment.

Muscle memory is mentioned on CNN health. Muscle memory is exactly how it sounds, it is a form of procedural memory. It involves a person doing a task that involves the use of a muscle, when this person stops it allows the muscle to get a break, then when they start up again it may seem like the muscle becomes stronger or more used to the task. The muscle has already experienced the activity so it is as if the muscle “remembers” so that it has the maturity to do better in the future. Athletes use this procedure quite often to prepare and pre-expose their muscles, and their body as a whole, to the initiative, so that it is already familiar with the task.

Athletes do not have to engage in hardcore, muscle aching activity to achieve the level of readiness that is required to take on the competition. Muscle memory does not have to be specifically the biceps or triceps in the upper arm or the gastrocnemius in the calf, athletes can use the muscle-acting cerebrum in the brain to make split decisions and direct the bodies functions. Actions that the average person thinks is simple could be the next best thing to helping an athlete achieve their goals.

Tips and tricks are listed in Psychology TodayJim Taylor, author of the article and has a Ph.D. in psychology of business, sports, and parenting, says that keeping the same routine and not trying hard to stand out is a good thing. Taylor says that when one tries new things it can often get them off the focus of the purpose of training in the first place; this means that the only thing that really matters is keeping your eye on the prize. Taylor states how athletes need to eliminate things that are essentially not important to their performance. He says athletes should just be happy, “It seems a little cliché, but just doing things that make them happy was one of the most common suggestions among these athletes.” Taylor recommends listening to music, watch a movie, meeting new people, etc. These activities are long-term pre-game rituals athletes should take interest in.

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