Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Lifenerding? Upgrade it all!?

I like to geek out on stuff. From what you guys read week in and week out (right? I hope so anyways) that primarily means bicycle related things.

While that is more than accurate, it also spills over into almost every facet of my life. I obsess on just about everything... what knives go in the kitchen (Tojiro) what hex keys to use (Wera) or even what boxer briefs to wear (Spanx... yes for men) all of this after hours of research. Why? I dunno... it's just something I sort of enjoy doing.

But that said, there are some glaring weaknesses in my obsessiveness when it comes to my own performance. For such a nerd about aerodynamics, tire rolling resistance and drivetrain efficiency, I really lack when it comes to making my own body as finely tuned as I can. I've always been more of a "train hard and then when I'm done I'm DONE" type of person.  So I've been thinking about trying to see if I can apply myself (my teachers always said I didn't do much of that) to this in the same way's I've applied it to technology.

To start with (and hopefully not bite off too much at once) it's going to be an easy one. Proper cooling before a race. I've toyed with it in the past, and by that I mean I've poured water on myself and once I tried to put an ice pack down my back for the State TT (which turned out to be a cold/hot pack... which was a disaster once it melted) but after speaking with some fellow's in the know... I ordered a cold vest (pretty cheap on amazon actually! Same one the pro teams use so far as I can tell) and some menthol cooling spray. The cooling spray shows no benefit to actual performance in the studies I looked at, but perception was reported to be cooler in all cases. While that's not an actual gain, if it makes me feel a little better while I'm suffering on the bike, I'll consider it a win. The ice vests do have a positive effect on performance (well... lowering core temp does technically) so fortunately that money will hopefully end up well spent. There are some other area's of temp control (a slushy for example) that are definitely worth exploring, but these two should give me a chance to test it out.

Next is sleeping.  Like (I'm guessing) most of you, I don't think much about sleeping. Maybe I've used my Withings Activite to "monitor" it for a while (until the new wore off the feature) but really, that information, even if (and that if is a very big one, as I'll get to) it's accurate, doesn't really tell you what is important. Most of the "sleep trackers" on the market really only guess. Some more accurately than others, but at the end of the day, they are relying on HR and motion to estimate what kind of sleep you're getting. To really dig down you need some EEG readings. If only there was a machine that did that besides actual medical equipment.

Fortunately, years ago ZEO made just such a product. Unfortunately, probably due to timing (around the time of wearable fitness/sleep trackers a la fitbit) and the necessity to wear the goofy band to bed (I'm sure my wife will love it!) the company went under, despite good reviews and data collection of things like deep sleep and even REM. Although there is no longer official support for the Zeo, there is a fairly loyal community behind them, and it's still possible to get it to work. So, after perusing ebay, I ordered a used one. The goal behind this is to first start tracking my actual sleep and how much of it i spend in the different "zones" at night. Once that's established, I'll start making changes to see if I can maximize the amount of time spent in deep sleep. Is that worth anything? I think so, although I'm still trying to learn as much as possible in this area before I make any concrete statements. It should make a great project regardless of anything else.

It's also time to have my blood work done once more. With any luck everything will be a-ok after my "race season" and the bit of weight I've put on. We shall see!

Thanks for reading, a lot of randomness I know.

-Christopher Morelock

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