The Village Velodrome Appreciation Society

A blog about jitensha and jogging

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Another 5km, another high-17-minute finish

I tried a different approach to running 5km at the track tonight - time splits. The time splits were right, but I don't have the feeling in my legs for staying on a schedule. I ran the first lap 6 seconds too fast, then was right on schedule for the next two laps, but then I didn't get a time check until 1km to go - and I was 24 seconds behind! I lifted the pace and finished in 17.49. A good run, but I could have done better. So my fastest 5km times are now 17.45, 17.49, 17.51, 17.55. I really need to make a breakthrough and get under 17.30. I feel with a pace-maker or a person giving me time splits I can do it.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

An interesting idea about training

An interesting find - a whole new theory on running further, faster. It's from the University of cape Town website and this one

The limitations model

Timothy Noakes and colleagues associate professors Alan St Clair Gibson and Vicki Lambert argue convincingly that the limitations model of fatigue, the hallmark of exercise physiology since it was first proposed by Nobel-winner A.V. Hill back in 1923, is all wrong. According to this model, fatigue originates in the muscles.

But Noakes and his group contend, instead, that it is the brain that "causes" fatigue. Hill's limitations model holds that fatigue kicks in either when the muscles run out of oxygen, glycogen (which fuel the muscles) or ATP (adenosine triphosphate, the molecule that muscles use to store energy), or when they are "poisoned" by certain by-products of exercise, such as lactic acid. Noakes put the first dents in Hill's model in an article that appeared in the Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise journal - for now, the most cited text to come out of ESSM - way back in 1987. Here he showed that athletes could become fatigued even when they had enough oxygen left in their blood to keep going for some time.

Breaking down the theories

In "breaking down creaking edifices" (a Noakes catchphrase), UCT scientists and others have piecemeal also refuted the other underpinnings of limitations theory - that fatigue was always accompanied by the build-up of lactic acid (not so); that the body uses all of the available muscle fibres during prolonged exercise (not true - in fact, fewer fibres are used as fatigue sets in); and that glycogen and ATP stores are polished off during endurance events (not by some margin).

The body is very rarely allowed to reach a "catastrophic" state where it would run out of all such essential reserves, Noakes reasoned. "There is no evidence for a catastrophic failure of anything in the body," he says. "It doesn't make sense."

The central governor model

In coming up with an alternative model, Noakes, back in the eighties, toyed with the idea of a central governor (taking his lead from another controversial Hill hypothesis), a control switch of sorts that would keep a sentry's eye on such functions as oxygen consumption and the production of lactic acid. Noakes, at the time, did not have any idea what this governor could be, however.

The trio, together with a score of researchers and students, stepped up with some of the missing pieces for this model. Rather than the muscles dictating the onset of fatigue, it is the central nervous system that with a slew of "physiological, subconscious and conscious cues, paces the muscles to keep them well back from the brink of exhaustion", the three explained in a spread in the March 20 edition of New Scientist. "Our model is a complex one," summarises Noakes, "in which the brain will never allow one to have a catastrophe."

According to the model, the brain, when it senses that the athlete is overstretching him- or herself, sets off a series of sensations that the body translates as symptoms of fatigue. The brain does so to protect itself, the heart and the rest of the body. "Its main function is to make sure you don't get into trouble in whatever exercise you're doing," explains Noakes.

For the UCT researchers, the limitations model has been laid to rest - the challenge now is to find out exactly how the central governor model works. Which means going back to basics, says neuroscientist St Clair Gibson, who collaborates with Professor Kit Vaughan and Dr Lester John of the MRC/UCT Medical Imaging Research Unit to grasp those fundamentals of the brain. "We have to find out exactly how the brain works," he says. "We have to understand its minutiae."

As is wont, the central governor model is likely to undergo some tweaking, St Clair Gibson points out. In particular, researchers will have to come to grips with the "complex integration" between the brain and the rest of the body, the "yin and the yang" of the model, as he likes to put it.

In refining the model, Lambert - who admits to being far more conservative than her two colleagues - has been at pains to emphasise that the model hinges on the interaction of a host of functions and parts, so to speak. "My revolving refrain," she says, "has been that it's the integration of metabolism with [brain] signalling with muscle function, and that the underlying cause of fatigue during exercise cannot simply "boil down" to one or other mechanism . . . It's going to be a complex integration of a variety of messages. And it is likely to be 'context-specific'. How hard am I working? How hot is it? How much stored energy is in my muscles? How much further do I have to go? How do I feel about all of this?

"I like to think of it as a neurobiological conversation."

But the central governor model, she allows, does have plenty of proof to back it up. "All the evidence points to the fact that, in certain contexts, the brain actually predetermines the pacing strategy, and how hard the body must work, from the outset.

According to the three, the central governor model - Lambert likes to think of it as a "neurobiological model" - has plenty of potential. It is, for one, able to cast light on why hypnosis and amphetamines, both which target the brain more directly than, say, performance-enhancing drugs, are so successful in boosting sports performance.

The reach of the central governor may even extend to the neuromuscular system, controlling each stride that a runner takes, for instance.

The Task Ahead

The three have won many new friends with their central governor model, which is beginning to be quoted far and wide. Pockets of resistance remain, however. But a series of five new papers, including a 126-page opus, that is set to appear in the British Journal of Sports Medicine may soon silence the critics once and for all, Noakes points out. "These 126 pages are what I've been thinking about for the past 30 years," he says.

Objections there may be, but the team is taking the demurs in their stride. Noakes even has a three-step model to explain the path to scientific approval: "First they say that what you're saying is wrong," he explains. "Then they say what you're saying is irrelevant. And finally they say that what you're saying is right, but that they've taught it all along."

Sore legs

Last week saw me do pretty high mileage. A 2hr 35min run and a 1hr 50min run in the same week as well some hour runs. And thisweek I've managed to keep going - an hour Monday, 1 hr 20min Sunday. But my legs are paying the price, both hips are now quite painful. But the good news is I now weigh 59.2 kilograms. My target weight is 57kg, so I'm getting there.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Route Vigor

I thought I'd do a separate post for the new massuer I'm going to. He runs a clinic called Route Vigor. The phone number is (03) 5789-2066. It's one of the few places in Tokyo were you can get a deep tissue sports massage - but be sure to ask for it otherwise you will get shiatsu.

How to get there: By subway, take the Hibiya Line to Hiro-o. Come out of Exit 1 and turn right, Route Vigor is on your right just after the cafe. It is on the 4th floor of the Sasaki Building. The top massuer knows all about runners but he's also an expert at working with dancers.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Excellent 1970s Raleigh

I was coming back home from a massage to day at Route Vigor and saw this beautiful Raleigh. It's all original, Campagnolo Record throughout with Cinelli bars and stem. A great bike, I hope the person who rides it takes good care of it, it worried me that it was left on the street leaning against a metal railing. There's so few of these Raleighs in such good condition left.

Training is going OK. I did an easy hour yesterday and a hard hour the day before. My leg has good days and bad (good if I stretch, bad when I don't). No training today.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

2 hour 35 minute run

On Monday, I did a 2hr 35min run . I ran the full length of the Sumidagawa river, from Tokyo Bay up to where it bends around near Kita Senju and back down again. I felt bad at the start, but as the run progressed I felt better and by the end I felt great - I even upped the pace for the last few minutes. I don't know how far I ran, but I guess I was doing 4.15 per km, so I'll let you do the maths.

We hiked up Takao mountain on Saturday. The climb isn't too difficult, but it took a good 3 hours. The leaves are just beginning to turn red. On the way down the mountain we took the valley walk, it was incredibly lush and verdant. Sorry some of the pictures are a bit dark and blurry.

On Sunday, I did an easy 1 hour run (well, kind of easy - I did a very fast 10 minutes in the middle), then watched as the Tokyo International Womens Marathon runners struggled in 8C weather and rain. Four runners from my club ran the event, one did it in 3hrs 10min - an amazing run in the conditions.


Here's two more pics, but scroll down the page for more.

Kendo frame and handlebars more high-tech stuff from Taiwan

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The best till last...

...same day I went to the Tokyo Cycle Show I found this beauty chained to a railing. To be honest I didn't see anything at the show that looks better than this. It's a Gan Well Pro, made in Kyoto.

Friday, November 17, 2006

TOKYO CYCLE SHOW 2007 - FIXED WHEEL BIKES (see previous post for the rest of the show)

Nitto handlebars and stems I enjoyed talking to the guys at Nitto. My first ever track bike had Nitto bars. It's amazing how slow this company is to adapt to change. Most companies around the world have stopped making quill stems, but Nitto still makes about 15 different types. But they do at least do a 126 gram titanium Ahead stem now. It looks quite nice - if you appreciate the industrial look.

MKS clips, straps, pedals and those things you use to stop your wheel from pulling MKS had an interesting cleat that clips into a standard pedal. I think track sprinters would like this system, you clip in, flick a switch to tighten and you can use it with clips and straps. I know the German team uses the old Shimano version of this system and the cleats are getting hard to find.

Nice pair of Deda bars on Pinarello's top of the range track bike. They put a Miche cog on the bike, paupers.

Pinarello's Mercurio fixed-wheel bike. Should Pinarello really being going down this road. So many manufacturers offered something for "couriers" at this show. But do couriers want off-the-shelf stuff like this?

Testach Now this is more like it. Steel frame, proper components, although the blue anodised Nitto bars and seatpost look awful, but it makes the bike orginal.

Fuji So cheap - just ¥51,000 - that's £250.

Q-lite Great Taiwanese company. The road hubs are excellent, but the track hubs aren't bad either.

Harp Cheap but looks OK.

Kona Paddy wagon

Sugino These are the worst offenders of the "Let's ride the fixie fad wave" companies. They'd be much better off rereleasing the cranks they had in the early 1980s. That's the kind of crank we really want.

Panasonic's track bike I like it. A simple, raceable track bike with brakes. Nice components too - does anyone know if Hatta makes the headset.

OK, now for the mad stuff

First, this crazy looking singlespeed...

But even madder, this guy has invented eliptical pedalling. He was demonstrating it to everyone, but who will buy this? Any enegry saved by a semi-eliptical pedalling action would be cancelled out by the extra weight and friction, not to mention the laughs of all your mates. Still, I laughed at tri-bars when they came out, so maybe he's on to something.

I didn't even ask about this one



Pinarello brought Alexandro Valverde and Oscar Pereiro to Japan for the show.

Alexandro Valverde and Oscar Pereiro

Alexandro Valverde's Pinarello

Tour de France winner Oscar Pereiro

Hummer had only one awful mountainbike on display - but it did have two nice looking girls

Panasonic has been involved in the cycling industry for years. Here's one of its carbon offerings.

KMC teamed up with fellow Taiwanese company CKT (are they one company?) to produce this bike. CKT made the brake calipers, seat, seatpost and handlebars.

Opera Leonardo

Colnago Ramarro

Colnago Arte

Cannondale's version of SIS cranks

The Nitto Aheadstem lineup - including the new titanium stem. The stem weighs 126 grams - quite heavy for titanium, but with an eye no doubt on ensuring the stem receives approval from Japan's keirin racing body.

Q-lite rear hub

Testach's cyclocross bike

Shimano showed its Alfine range. Terrible name. Aimed soley at commuters.

Ritchey wheels

Taiwanese Whistle frame

Mizutani showed finely crafted shoes and saddle bags

Koga had a big presence. This is its scandium tubed offering.