Who is Canada's Poet Laureate of Pain?
In gathering material on the extremes to which Canada’s Olympians have been pushing themselves this summer to get ready for the 2010 Winter Games – see today’s story in the Star featuring the “puking bucket of fame” -- I had an email exchange with Kershaw about the topic that just blew me away.
Much of the best stuff is in the article, but one part that didn’t make it was Kershaw’s description of what the pain of the lactic acid feels like and how he’s able to push himself past it.
JEFF MCINTOSH/THE CANADIAN PRESS
"The pain of lactic acid can be just plain nasty. As your push yourself harder and harder, your body quickly becomes hypoxic - needing oxygen to replenish the muscles - yet you are pushing through that need as the lactic acid pours in poisoning your system. At first your legs start to feel heavy, as if they suddenly became 40lbs heavier a piece. If you must keep going, your whole body tenses up, and your balance starts to sway as well. You may start to experience "tunnel vision" as your focus narrows quicker and quicker. Lactic acid is the body's way of saying "enough is enough buddy," and it takes a lot of energy (physical and mental) to push through that and put your own body deeper and deeper into oxygen debt.
"Once finished the effort, eyes somewhat glazed, coughing and exhausted you literally taste it. A distinct taste of blood rises in your throat as you are there doubled over coughing, trying desperately to recover - because you know that in only a few minutes you'll need to glide down the hill and repeat the effort."
Guess that’s why us ordinary humans don’t push ourselves that hard.