Lifting at the Olympic Training Center is a strange thing. One one hand, you miss the pageantry of the public gym. The steroidal gym rats who waddle in to do 2 reps with massive weight for bicep curls, the ultra-flamboyant gays throwing dance moves on the treadmill, the cougars trawling for gym rats, etc. On the other hand, all that is replaced by a different kind of entertainment.
A few Wednesdays ago: One of our Strength & Conditioning interns happens to be a competitive eater. You know the guys you see on ESPN2 scarfing hot dogs and ultimately getting beat by a pre-adolescent Japanese kid? He does that. So one day my coach bets this intern that he can not eat 3 whole Habanero peppers (seeds, stem and all) in 20 minutes without throwing up. No money is bet, no personal property, just "I bet you can't."
He takes the bet.
Several hours later, he is standing in the center of the gym in front of an improvised table (plyo box with a white towel on top), staring at a pile of Habaneros, a few cyclists, a puke bucket and a lot of cameras. To his credit, the intern finishes every last pepper in 7 minutes. Tears streaming down his face, buckled over the "table," trying to block out the uncontrolled laughter of everyone in the room. I laughed so hard at his misfortune and pain that my stomach hurt for days. His eyes weren't just watering, he was crying. Bawling, almost.
About an hour later, my coach finds him passed out in the corner of the gym. After rousing him, the intern says he feels like he "just drank a gallon of vodka mixed with gasoline," and has never felt so drunk in his life. He has to be driven home, where he retires to the toilet with a bottle of Tums. Later he says that the next 2 days are the worst of his entire life.
Today: I'm doing a workout with a cyclist who will remain anonymous. For the purpose of our story I will call him "Aaron Kacala." Aaron is a genetic freak who progresses faster than any human I have ever seen in the weight room. Today he is up to 180 kilos for 3 sets of 5 in the squat rack. He warms up, starts adding weight, and is finally ready to go. I stand back and watch with my coach as Aaron clears one rep by the skin of his teeth and drops the second rep. Aaron does not fail very often. In fact, this is the first time I've seen him miss a rep.
My coach asks politely, "how much weight did you do last week?"
The answer: 177.5 kilos. This would seem about right. Normal progression at this weight is 2.5-5 kilos per week.
My coach's next question, "Then why are you trying to squat 200 kilos?"
Aaron's face twists, he looks at the bar. Sure enough. 200k on the bar.
"Because that's not even close."
We are bike racers, not mathematicians.
Later, during that same workout: A female wrestler is convinced that if you do a handstand for 30 seconds before you get on a scale, you will weigh less. Supposedly, she has tried this successfully at a meet. I'm going through this in my head, trying to work out the impossible physics of decreasing mass via handstands when our habanero-chomping intern bolts up on his hands next to the scale. Gets on the scale. Sure enough, he weighs the same. The wrestler is baffled. We are very quietly losing our minds with "are you serious?" laughter. They try 3 more times before conceding that this theory must be total B.S.
2 years ago