The Athlete’s Clock is a sports physiology book that combines multiple scientific disciplines to examine the impact of time on sport’s performance. Through focusing primarily on running, cycling and swimming, Thomas W. Rowland sets out to point out that the physical effort over time in sport performance may not be fully under the conscious dictates of the athlete, but is much more largely under the control of the subconscious processes within their central nervous systems that decide such factors as speed, stride frequency, and stride length.
Early on in the book, we get a thorough discussion of the concept of time, establishing its importance from several viewpoints. Time is conventionally thought of as a mathematical construct. In this way it is viewed objectively, and can even be calculated with an accuracy of five parts per ten million according to some clocks.
There are other ways we view time that deviate from this concrete, objective construct of time. There is subjective time, in which time is dependent on the individual’s perception of time. It can appear to be moving more slowly or more rapidly depending on the individual’s experience.
Relational theory of time is a concept in which people view time as a sequence of events, which also make personal experiences central to the idea of time. In this concept, the author says, “events do not take place in time; instead, it’s the other way around.” (Rowland, 2011, p. XV)
Einstein claimed that time was not absolute in his observations of relative time, saying that “the passage of time depends on the location and speed of the person looking at the clock” (Rowland, XV). According to this theory, time is directly related to speed, therefore if you could measure time at a considerable enough speed, such as the speed of light, it would appear to be moving faster than usual.
The last construct of time introduced in this early discussion was the Arrow of Time, and it concerned the question of time being multidirectional. Time is typically viewed as unidirectional, always moving forward, but “in the laws of physics, there is no preferred direction of physical processes in respect to time.” (Rowland, 2011, p. XVI) For example, we have been able to calculate the future and past positions of celestial objects.
With our minds fresh full of all these ideas of time, we move on to the idea of physiological time, which is what much of the research discussed in this book is primarily concerned with. Our involuntary physiological functions such as body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure vary in a rhythmic pattern somewhat similar to how we view chronological time, but the rates of these functions are not associated with it whatsoever. It’s been discovered that size is the factor that determines the rate of these processes, considering physiological processes take longer to occur for larger animals than it does for smaller animals. The point of all of this is that “We can’t rely on physiological...