My friend here at Aberystwyth is studying a Uni course thing what is known has ‘Sport Science’. Save your frustration fists fogies, I know it wasn’t a course in your day, but I bet a lot of you wish it was. It’s the perfect subject for the budding footballer who isn’t as thick as all the other lads and wants to get a degree, the guy who loved P.E. but hated the idea of becoming a brick-layer, like the rest of the squad, (apart from the keeper who always seems slightly more indie; what is it with goalies?)
Anyway, I got a call asking if I was able to help out with an experiment. I shuddered instinctively, as Ian Joy Division would have said. Now, I’m not the sportiliest of fellows and the thought of doing anything more than taking a walk from my bed to the fridge was quite frightening.
My first challenge was getting up the hill, after an extended Christmas holiday period where exercising at least four times a week is replaced with the violent capture and consumption of at least four Christmas puddings a day. That wonderful time of year when a quick jog becomes a yule log and a juicy slice of fruit mutates into a thick dollop of brandy butter. So I was slightly out of shape and was a lump of sticky cholesterol, wheezing like Muttley on spiked Lucozade by the time I made it to the top.
The entire Sport Science sector is currently being expanded so due to this construction, I couldn’t find the actual building. I quickly found myself next to a foreboding cement mixer when a builder who could’ve easily passed as a Keith Chegwin grabbed me by the elbow and escorted me to the correct room.
The department is sort of like a school crossed with a leisure centre. I assumed the swimming pool would be fitted with desks in the shallow end, along with walls covered in mathematically themed instructions; no diving (at a 45 degree angle), no running (with scissors) and no dunking (until you can find Pi).
I met Dan and he led me to the experimentation room. I was asked to fill in a form which basically meant I was signing to confirm to them that I wasn’t allowed to sue if I had a heart attack whilst mid exercise.
My task was set; all I had to do was sit on a larger than necessary bike and keep the speed on sixty revolutions per minute for as long as possible. “Oh yeah, by the way you should also know that every twelve seconds I’ll be putting significantly large kilogram weights on to this exercise machine which will make your task a bit harder.
I was then fitted with what looked like the Hulk’s watch, but was in fact something which measured my heart rate. Unfortunately this device was centred around the mood area pinching at the delicate chestial zone, it is most definitely not a device for the self conscious.
I got on the bike which has to be adjusted eight times higher for lankiness and I found myself pedalling away. I cheerfully chuckled through some humorous yet interesting calorie related patter, talking us through the positivity gained from the fact that frowns use more muscles than smiles as well as the sad truth that reading uses far more energy than watching television.
I asked Dan what this experiment was actually all about. Of course he couldn’t tell me, I quickly yet geekily replied with a squealed “Of course!” I went on to reassure him that I understood why and that the concept of the placebo effect was no stranger to me, and had he heard their song The Bitter End?
I must have been going for at least ten minutes by now, I look up at the clocky countdown timer thingy and it said a meer two minutes! I started to realise that as the weights piled on, this was going to be no easy ride (quite literally, guh huh). The claim that pedalling for over fifteen minutes was nearing Olympic potential was no joke. I hit the three minute mark and was starting to see blurry visages of Cornish pasties and McChicken Sandwiches. Dan’s encouragement (no doubt part of the confidential study) was ringing in my ears, but it made me feel worse about the fact I was being physically mugged by my own legs who not stop trying to step onto the floor but could not and just kept going on like that bit in Parklife about the joggers.
By this point I started to act very aggressively towards my eyebrows. I cursed them for not following through with their, their one function in life; (other than to give us something to laugh at Ronnie O’ Sullivan for) to keep sweat out of my eyes! It stings! Arrgh!
It was worse at the wedding because it made me look like I was crying and I most definitely was not… shedding any… well strictly… to be fair they weren’t really tears… you see what it looked like… hmm… well… you can’t prove it scientifically… they’re both just salty bodily liquids… oh come on! It’s an emotional day! Let me off man.
I’ve hit the six minute mark here! I feel like I no longer have legs, just KFC drumsticks attached to my hips and pounding at plastic peddles.
“I have to stop! Stop stop stop!”
“Alright, start to wind it down, slowly and let your leg muscles naturally come to rest.”
“Are you mad?” I took my feet off the pedals and got off the bike.
My legs felt on the one hand like they couldn’t walk and on the other, like they had been installed with springs, so I could now possibly jump into a nearby tree.
I quickly inhaled two cups of water and it sighed. It was over! I have to return at least two more times, under different conditions for further tests. Wow.