Friendship Is More Powerful Than We Ever Imagined

Friendship is powerful — everything from pop culture tells us so. But how powerful is it? Turns out that friendship has all sorts of properties, that include making you healthier, increasing your self-awareness and helping you accomplish way more. Here are all the ways science proves that friendship really is magic.

Source: Friendship Is More Powerful Than We Ever Imagined

The ability to predict friends based on DNA is an aspect I had not considered, but if we hope to use DNA for determining various health risks…

The aspect I didn’t catch in the article was the impact of rivals.  Sometimes friendly competitive people, sometimes not so friendly.  I remember chatting with someone who thought that Augustus could not have become the ruler he was without Mark Antony as a rival.  A more recent example would be James Hunt and Niki Lauda. Similarly, I encountered someone in my swim lane who was definitely faster than us and body language was clear – they did not think well of me.  They’d do things like surge ahead, sometimes leaving myself to lead the rest of the group, take little to no break, or even start the drill early.  But I found that it took some effort, but I was able to draft and worked to improve as the drill distances also got longer.  The rival didn’t get anything out of it, but I did – I saw that I was capable of doing more but hadn’t been getting feedback from coaches to push me.  Similarly, I have cyclists I look to for various aspects from which to learn and strive to challenge.  No such luck in running currently, but eventually.

Can Pigs Empathize?

There are a handful of traits that scientists and philosophers would argue would make us human, including self-awareness and language. Another key part of being human is thought to be our ability to empathize (although I sometimes find myself doubting some humans’ abilities to empathize). I also doubt that we are the only animal that has empathy. However, this can be tricky to test. If we define empathy as Franz de Waal does as ‘‘the capacity to be affected by and share the emotional state of another, assess the reasons for the other’s state and identify with the other, adopting his or her perspective’’ how would we go about testing this in a non-human animal?

Take, for example, pigs. We know that pigs are ‘intelligent’ animals (whatever that word really means) and that they feel emotions such as stress.  They are also social animals, and so presumably if other animals do empathise with one another, then a pig might be a likely candidate.

Source: Can Pigs Empathize?

That’ll do pig, that’ll do…

Fitness Is a Skill, Not a Talent: Here’s How to Develop It

In the last decade, as a fitness coach and the co-founder of Fitocracy, I’ve been exposed to the stories and data of millions of people and countless successful transformations, including my own.

Despite these success stories, most people fail at fitness and obesity rates are increasing. Yet, if people understood the secret to fitness, success would eventually be inevitable.

…If you find your own transformation difficult to achieve, then you’re about to find out why and learn how to improve your fitness “skill.”

Source: Fitness Is a Skill

For me, I’d enjoyed cycling.  I showed up for a beginners ride in 2012.  I improved, but was never remotely fast.  In effort to get a little balance, I got back into yoga.  I lost weight, but eventually plateaued.  Then an incident that took me off the bike for weeks destroyed my fitness, and I really struggled to keep up with my old group.

Around the start of 2014, a co-worker talked about triathlon training.  Like most, I thought it was nuts until I looked it up to find that the Sprint (shortest course) run distance was 5 KM.  I never learnt swimming, but I was certain it couldn’t be worse than my distance running.  I was right…  But at 6 minutes per KM, it meant the worst of it would be over in ~30 minutes.  I came to find that lots were there for confronting water/swimming fear.  It’s been months, and some still are.  Some are fine with the pool, but weeds/open water makes them nervous.  Which is fine – these people can pass me on the run.  I don’t have to be the fastest swimmer either – because I can pass most on the bike.  But I would totally wear a cycling jersey with the following on the back “You’ll pass me on the run”.

I’m back cycling with my old group again.  I’ve been told by those who met me cycling in 2013 see a substantial improvement.  I know now that my issue is cardio.  I have the strength, and some nutrition knowledge from 2012 – but it’s moot if I can’t breathe.  Which means my cadence (rotation of the pedals) is below the “spinning” region (80-100 RPM).  I run at least three times a week with the belief that it maintains my cardio.  I don’t mind running, but over 10 KM?  I want a bike… 😉

I found a local run group that does track days.  I know from previous experience that track days on Thursday burnt me out for the weekend, and thankfully – these people meet on Tuesdays.  Another benefit is the group is likely larger so there’s more people at my level.  The group does hills on Thursdays, but I’m taking it a day at a time.  And this is off season…  Looking to the future, I’d like to see some improvement in my run times.  I don’t see the need to do Olympic distance triathlon until that happens, though it’s only the run that’s the limiting factor.

I’ve plateaued with my weight again.  That’s due partly to the cooking/eating better – I wasn’t as mindful of portioning.  It’s another work-in-progress.  But I am suffering less cramps & strains, and my INR levels have come up.  I was steady at mid 2’s, now in the 3’s even with eating avocado daily.  I’ll be checking my cholesterol and such at the end of the week, hoping to see the benefit of ~3 months on a better diet.

That’s where I’m coming from.  For 2015, I’m looking at doing more of the same – training, Sprint distance triathlon, cyclocross, off-season training with an eye towards improvement.  But I also plan to ride a century (100 miles, vs a metric century – 100 KM) once a month starting in April.  There’s a local Gran Fondo that’s longer than most that’s on my bucket list.

If you’re looking for something different, I recommend finding a group – running or triathlon.  Lots of people, and primarily women.  Best of luck finding out what works for you.  But if you’re on medication, consider a temp tattoo in case something bad happens.