Friday, November 9, 2007

Unscientific Experiments

1. Massage: Does it make a difference?

My legs were feeling pretty trashed after last weekend's double race at the end of a high volume, high intensity week. I was at the point where walking up stairs got me out of breath faster than a fat kid with asthma, so I considered getting a massage. However, my current monetary state prevents me from getting massages, so I decided to do an experiment. While I was doing laundry, I massaged out one leg, and then compared its recovery to the other one. I generally don't like massaging my own legs because I have to make a very conscious effort to keep the leg relaxed, but I successfully worked out some monster knots in ~40 minutes.

The conclusions to this experiment? On Tuesday, my left leg felt a lot better than the right one. Going up stairs, my left leg didn't really notice that it had to step up, it was all peppy and playful. The right leg was more or less paralyzed and felt at least 25 pounds heavier. On Wednesday, while walking up stairs, the left leg still felt a little better (more pep, felt like less work to get to the next step) than the right one, but I no longer sounded like the obese child with a breathing problem. By Thursday, both legs felt the same walking up stairs. So, maybe massage does help recovery. At least it felt like that leg was recovered faster. But with no control, how is one to know??

2. Drafting semi-trucks: Do you really get better gas mileage?

I was out in Northampton MA for work all week, and as that is ~100 miles from here, I figured I would see what was the best gas mileage I could possibly get. I have a 2002 civic, which is pretty new to me, and I've been getting between 33-38ish mpg. My old car (1993 accord with a multitude of problems) could manage 32 mpg when driven by an old lady (me), so I figured I could beat 40 mpg on the new car. I've gotten 40 mpg while driving on state highways over hills, so I thought I had a good chance of beating that driving on a flat interstate.

The method was to drive 65 mph on cruise control at all times unless a truck passed me, at which point I would just draft the truck. This worked, and most of the trucks I was drafting went between 60-70, so I wasn't losing any time. Granted, I don't think they liked that I was drafting (some might call it tailgating), because they couldn't see me. And it wasn't the most restful experience I've ever had. But I stuck to the plan, and was all excited to see if I got 45 mpg or something. Well, for 202 miles I got 5.1 gallons, so not any better than 40. Not doing that one again.

If you have ideas for other unscientific experiments (or even an idea of an experiment that can be done scientifically, with a hypothesis and method and stuff!), let me know, because I'm having fun with this!

1 comment:

Colin R said...

My unscientific explanation for why drafting trucks doesn't work is that they're high enough off the ground, there's a ton of airflow underneath them, that your tiny little civic hits. I think a taller vehicle might see more benefit.