Today, Dr. David Clarke of the Department of Biological Engineering at MIT and I
published a journal article that reviews the current state of the art in terms of the use of mathematical tools to inform the way we train. It also provides resources to help educators teach their students about these models. You can get a free .PDF of the paper at this link.
Any of you who have followed my work over the years know how much I like using these techniques to help athletes improve. Whether through my books, other articles on this website, or my grassroots or academic lecturing schedule, I think it is important to communicate these ideas and methods to the people who can best put them to use. Although triathletes tend to be early adopters of almost everything, those of us who actually work in both elite performance and academic exercise science can tell you that relatively few practitioners use these methods in other areas of sport and, importantly, in the health and fitness industries. Dr. Clarke and I decided that it was time to try to change that, for a number of reasons.
Firstly, academics have a responsibility to regularly and rigorously assess our collective knowledge, to find the strengths and the weaknesses, and to report them. Science advances because someone with a keen mind is inspired by one of the holes in our understanding, and subsequently attempts to fill it. We need to foster that process. Furthermore, we have a responsibility to expose our thoughts to scholarly criticism and suggestion. It is in this way that we improve our science. Finally, we each have a moral responsibility to try to make our own corner of the world better, and we in science and medicine can do that in particular by improving practice, and by providing helpful resources to those who teach that practice to the next generation.
Modern technology provides an immediate platform to anyone, and Dr. Clarke and I could have published our work in any number of places, including a simple blog post. With the above thoughts in mind, we chose an educational journal produced by one of the very best scientific organizations in the world. We also paid extra (out of our own pockets, not institutional funds) to ensure that the journal article would be available to anyone interested. In short, we believe you are deserving of science that has been rigorously reviewed by a panel of other scientists, even if (and especially if) you don’t work in a university or academic setting.
As the inimitable Professor Cornell West once wrote, “I am a jazz man in the life of the mind, and a blues man in a world of ideas.” Here, Dr. Clarke and I try to remix and communicate the threads of what we know and what we don’t know, and strategies for teachers to get these ideas across to students. It is our hope that this bit of ‘academic blues’ will move the field forward, and bring new people into the discussion who will have unique ideas and fresh perspectives to share.