Writer. Warning: opinions. My lawyer advised a disclaimer, but didn't include any jokes to go with. Damned if I can think of any either.

Oxygen for Triathletes

The internet is a strange place. It’s very often tough to tell whether the madness you are seeing is actual madness, or just the earnest business idea of someone who is, themselves, insane. Then there’s the times when you think everyone must surely be kidding, but they aren’t, which was the case with me and Twitter. I’m now an avid Twittoisseur, but when I first heard of it I thought it must be a prank. Now it’s all over the place and I, supposedly a professional Internet expert, am left looking like a prize dill hole.

The only thing you can really do is try your best to inform yourself. A dash of perspicacity and a healthy measure of Googling should see you through most WTF-storms, but on rare occasions it is still hard to tell.

Such is the case with a video I saw yesterday which extolls the virtues of breathing canned oxygen for endurance and recovery purposes. The fun starts around 1:12.

Clearly when Megan is talking about “training” she isn’t referring to media training, which would have taught her to relax and be herself around the camera rather than employing a blank stare and a monotone speaking voice, but to be fair, if you have no on-camera experience it is hard to know how to act. The camera not only “adds ten pounds” as they say in Hollywood, but it also removes up to 80% of a person’s perceived dynamism.

Ever met a TV personality in person and noticed that they act like a spastic wierdo? On camera that looks normal. Alas, I digress.

Megan very clearly loves training. In fact, if you check out her web site, those are the precise first words upon it that she writes about herself. She also mentions in the video that she has an earnest desire to turn triathlon into a profession, which means she needs sponsors.

Unfortunately, I think she may have made a mistake by taking on Oxygen 4 Energy as a sponsor. Though it seems like a good idea to get more oxygen into one’s system for training purposes, the facts as I understand them are that the chief limiting factor in getting oxygen to the tissues is the blood’s ability to deliver it, not the availability of oxygen to be delivered.

Mind you, I am not a doctor, or even a person conversant in basic human anatomy as Cheryl can attest, but if I understand the situation correctly, a healthy human body operates between 97% and 99% oxygen efficiency in our atmosphere, and when this level drops it is because the hemoglobin in the blood has developed a greater affinity for the oxygen than normal and refuses to let the oxygen go.

In this way, the hemoglobin molecule behaves like a carpool that refuses to let all the businessmen out of the car when it gets to the office park. Introducing more businessmen into the system isn’t going to help. See the following image for more detailed information.

Breathing supplementary oxygen at altitude could have a benefit, because the availability of oxygen is decreased, but at sea level it can’t do you any good.

As I say, I am not a doctor, but neither are the people selling the canned oxygen. Let’s leave this one alone, triathletes!

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