Physiology, diet and the zen of wrongness

Feb 15, 2011 by

By Kennett Peterson
(Kennett Peterson is an Oregon-based road racer with the Hagens-Berman amateur elite squad that competes at national pro/am events around the country. This article was originally posted on Kennettron 5000).

Kennett Peterson. Photo: ©Pat Malach

The more I train and the more I learn about human physiology, the more I realize that I knew nothing when I began, I know nothing now, and I will likely NEVER know ANYTHING in the future. This is true for all of life, so I suggest you take up a new mantra with me and repeat, “I know nothing, so I’ll shut up and quit blabbing on about it. Sorry for wasting everybody’s time.”

If people began seeing this obvious truth we’d finally be able to move on and quit arguing about every minor detail.  An example of an enlightened discussion among world leaders: “Democracy, totalitarianism, communism, socialism, pshh.  Whatever, who cares?  They’re all the same anyways.  The people on the bottom get screwed!  Let’s go eat some damn sandwiches!”

In fact, we’d quit arguing about everything. To this, some might say, “Hey, Kennett, what’s the point of that? Argument gets the ball rolling. It gets people thinking and it makes changes happen where they otherwise wouldn’t. The status quo isn’t something to be desired, you know. Apparently you’ve never listened to John Lennon’s best song ever, Imagine. Things don’t have to be the way they are. Things aren’t set in stone because of some idiotic idea of destiny or fate, which was created by those in power to keep everyone else from uprising and taking them out of power.  Do you want to live in a stagnant world, living your same, miserable, boring, painful days over and over and over and over and over and over?”

To which I would reply, “First of all, yes I do want to live the same boring, painful, miserable days over and over.  You forget that I’m a bike racer.  Second, nothing will ever change anyways if people continue to adopt the mentality of needing to be right all the time.  Maybe something will change if we all decide we need to be wrong all the time.  Also, screw you for trying to make me argue with you.  I was going to stop, but you suckered me in.  OK, from NOW on I won’t ever argue again.  Starting now.”

What’s lead me to the path of the zen-wrongness?  A multitude of things.  

The first thing leading me down the path of zen-wrongness is my incorrect assumption that fatigue from a hard day’s training is due mainly to depleted glycogen stores, when in fact (according to persons in the know) it is due to central nervous system fatigue and/or the central nervous system governor forcing the body to under-perform due to other areas of fatigue.  I was baffled upon hearing this.  Simply baffled.  Here I was thinking this whole time that I was tired from lack of glycogen, when in reality you can replenish almost 100 percent of your glycogen stores within 24 hours.  So I spent the better part of two weeks scanning the Internet’s articles and forums to gather more info.  I found some, but I mainly learned that we know basically nothing about the nervous system, which is something that every researcher has right in front of them to observe and study.  They don’t have to send satellites to another planet or pay for large research crews to dig out ancient tombs.  The central nervous system is right here.  And yet we don’t know anything about it.  Baffling, I say.

The next thing that lead me to believe that I know, and also that you know nothing, was a long conversation about nutrition with two vegans last weekend.  Michael and I spent the night before the Boulevard Road Race down in San Diego with a fellow bike racer named Dustin and his wife.  (Thanks again for having us guys!) The first thing Michael and I noticed when we walked in the door was the floor-to-ceiling-high wall of bananas taking up an entire shelf.  We were both impressed.  I thought I ate a lot of bananas, a lot as in five or six a day.  But this couple, whose diet was limited to just fruit and vegetables, outdid me by a lot.  They ate no grains, seeds, nuts, meat, dairy, added salt or seasoning.  It’s a difficult diet to follow to say the least, but you couldn’t find a better way of getting in more micro-nutrients.  The amount of vitamins they were consuming was staggering.  The extra fruit and vegetables I’ve been eating this season has really paid off so far, so I can only imagine how good they must feel from eating ONLY fruit and vegetables.  She was following this diet for moral reasons, which I commend, and Dustin was doing it for moral, but mainly health-benefiting reasons (basically as an aid for racing).

I didn’t agree with the diet’s supposed ergogenic improvements, mainly the fact that the diet lacked any substantial form of protein and fat.  They didn’t agree with my diet either, and shot down virtually everything I said about what I thought was correct.  Who knows who was right, or more right, since I’m sure all of us were wrong anyways.  They had some good points, though.  But those points were almost completely lost on me since once you enter an argument with someone, you’ll do whatever it takes to disagree and prove that they’re wrong — not necessarily that you’re right, just that they’re wrong.  I’m sure all my points were lost on them too.  Arguing, termed “debating” in a stupid attempt to make it seem more civil when politicians or educated persons do it, solves nothing.  It’s better to assume you know nothing and listen to what the other person says.  You may even learn something (probably not).  You can even think of it as winning.  They’re giving you all this knowledge (probably incorrect knowledge, but knowledge nonetheless) and you’re just sitting there in silence, nodding and giving them NOTHING!!! HAHA!  Victory!

This only works if you’re not super pissed off though.  The other day I had just finished a brilliant day of intervals and was riding back home when some jerk sped by me going too fast and too close.  I flipped him off, and he stopped. I calmly explained why I had flipped him off, whereupon he said something dumb, so I decided to scream at him and tear him a new one  for about 10 minutes while he sat in his car taking it.  In this case, it’s best to tear your opponent down immediately and let him say nothing at all.  If he tries to make a point, you can always yell and pick out something about him to ridicule.  Insulting personal flaws goes a long way in winning an argument the old fashioned way of being “right.”  We both left hating each other more than before, though I’m pretty sure it accomplished at least a tiny bit (I ended up calling the police and reporting him) the whole ordeal might have scared him into giving me a bit of space next time.

But other than circumstances such as that, you should assume you’re wrong and just listen and nod.  I’ll let you all try it out while I explain to you why everything you do and believe is wrong and pointless.  Let me know how it works out.

A wise man knows that he knows not.  But a really wise man knows that he knows not that he knows not.  And the wisest man doesn’t know shit and he doesn’t give a damn.

• “How to avoid those Bonks of Monumental Proportion,” Oregon Cycling Action, Jan. 4, 2011
“Off-season can’t slow disciples of the Harden Up Church,” Oregon Cycling Action, Nov. 3, 2010
“Names have been changed to protect the innocent,” Oregon Cycling Action, Oct. 21, 2010
“How I got that job,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, July 17, 2010

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