Opinion: Bizarre experiment

POSTED: 07/27/12 12:44 PM

Dick Thijsen is a physiologist in Nijmegen and he made a discovery that sheds a peculiar light on his daily activities and his sense of responsibility.
Thijsen discovered that runners become faster after the blood supply to their legs had been temporarily closed off. Yep, there is nothing wrong with your eyes, dear reader. Thijsen tied off the legs of thirteen well-trained runners four times for five minutes each. An hour later he let them run five kilometers. And guess what? The runners were on average 34 seconds faster, an improvement of 2.3 percent.
Let’s consider this: 34 seconds over 5k means an improvement of 6.8 seconds per kilometer. A runner with a 4-minute kilometer pace would therefore complete a 5k-run not in the usual 20 minutes, but in 19 minutes and 26 seconds.
The story about this rather bizarre experiment does not say how Thijsen got the idea to do this. He did explain however that the effect on top runners would be less spectacular. His guinea pigs were amateurs.
And here is the kicker: don’t try this at home, Thijsen warned, because this could be dangerous. Aha, so now what? Top runners will just continue to do what they always did, and tying of their legs is not part of their routine.
But the amateurs who want to kick ass in regional races will wonder about all this. Would it really work? And does this mean that I will become 34 seconds faster every time I pull this stunt? There is no way of knowing how amateurs who are not under supervision of a professional trainer, will handle this kind of information. Maybe they need a warning against paying a visit to Dick Thijsen. That could be dangerous.

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