[Viewpoint]Homo sapiens, 2.0It is a strange thing, but the human body has an “upgrade” function. Yes, our body can improve its ability on its own. If human beings are creatures of God, the Creator must be the most accomplished programmer, system operator and maker of hardware, all at the same time. The human body and the spirit -- the software that operates our body -- are already masterpieces. In addition, the Creator has provided humans with life-long upgrade capabilities.
For example, people’s athletic abilities can gradually improve if they keep training. If not for that function, like the upgrades available for a computer, there could be no records broken in sports and athletics itself would lose its raison d’etre. Since people improve their athletic abilities by training and by competing with others; sports are some of those important human activities.
Supercompensation in sports physiology helps improve the human body’s abilities through training. If you rest for a while after engaging in a hard workout, you will be able to adapt to a higher level of exercise. They call that adapted state of being supercompensation.
If people find the correct balance between training and recovery, they can optimize their training and get the maximum possible effect from exercise.
A bodybuilder, for example, can develop muscle fiber through weight training, taking in calories and resting. Depending on the duration and difficulty of the training session, the resting time needed for supercompensation will vary. Beginners who engage in a relatively low level of training may require 48 to 72 hours of rest to experience supercompensation. Therefore, training three times a week is enough for them.
The phenomenon of adapting to a higher level is not limited to our bodies. People can also adapt to a higher level spiritually and psychologically. People who have endured severe psychological pain do not yield easily to minor difficulties.
That is because they are spiritually armed. Marine Corps training courses, which consist of four nights and five days of hard training without any sleep, during which it is difficult for the trainees to expect physical improvement, are effective to a certain extent because of the spiritual training. Ex-Marines take pride in their military careers because they finished the grueling training.
There is one thing missing in our physical functions: automatic upgrades. Unlike a computer, the human body can not be upgraded on its own with the push of a button.
It is not possible to upgrade, or adapt to a higher level, if there is no determination to overcome barriers.
After the period of adapting to a higher level ends, the human body returns to its original level of physical ability and slips back with time. Therefore, athletes should train themselves without losing the balance between training and recovery.
Some sports stars who have been active in the international arena have not been seen for some time now. Park Ji-sung of Manchester United and Lee Young-pyo of the Tottenham Hotspur have undergone surgery on their knees. Park Chan-ho of the New York Mets was sent down to the minor leagues. Choi Hee-seop, a former first baseman with the Los Angeles Dodgers, no longer plays in the major leagues ― he signed yesterday with the Korea Baseball Organization. They are all under extreme physical and psychological pressure.
But that should not be their only concern. I believe that the mechanism of adapting to a higher level will certainly work for them, too. As Park Ji-sung said, they will come back with stronger ability. Their expression of determination to get stronger is a sign that they have already pressed the upgrade button. In the near future, I am confident we will see them playing with lots of emotion in their hearts.
The setbacks and achievements that happen to sports stars give us, as drama does, both deep emotion and lessons. While we shivered in the cold during the foreign exchange crisis of 1997, we got courage and comfort from Park Se-ri, a star LPGA golf player, and Park Chan-ho.
Although we live in an era when life is full of risks and crises, I believe that the mechanism of recovery must be working in our society, too. Be courageous. We will certainly get stronger.
*The writer is the sports editor of the JoongAng Sunday.
by Hur Jin-seok