Sylvia:
[00:01] No. So, basically, I started running because I wanted to quit smoking. And so, what I would do is every time I would want to smoke I’d go for a run. And then I was running— Obviously, this is in 1993 or four, and then obviously I was running a lot. And I entered my first race, it was a 10K race, and it was an expert race in Tennessee, it was a Southeastern championships. And I came in third in my age class, I have never run a race before.

And I was really shocked, I actually didn’t know that I won until I looked in the paper the next day. And this is when it used to be in the paper. And then kind of after that I got a bug because I thought, “wow, if I train, I could actually maybe win something and I’m fast and it’s feels really good” you know? And then I kind of got obsessed with it, and I was a pretty quick runner. And then I started doing, I always came in second, I actually never came in first.

Jesse:
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Jesse:
[01:50] Welcome to the Smart Athlete Podcast. I’m your host, Jesse funk. My guest today has her PhD in chemistry. Currently, she’s a visiting lecture at the department of chemistry of the school of life sciences at the university of Sussex. She was a fellow at Oxford for eight years, seven, eight years old, I’ll maybe clarify that here in a minute. She’s a sea swimmer, or might also be referred to as over-water swimming, which I do. And she ran when she was younger. Welcome to the show Dr. Sylvia McLean.

Sylvia:
Hello.

Jesse:
[02:21] It’s always— You know, for people that don’t do podcasts very often, sometimes you get the big intro, which we were talking about before we got going that I like to do, but then it’s like, you start getting your life right out in front of you and you’re like, “well, okay, I guess that is me, here I am.”

So, I want to ask you this kind of as we get started here, I noticed and I find, or my assistant finds a lot of my guests on Twitter, there seems like there’s a very active science community on twitter that kind of—
Publishing research on Twitter, but just like sharing the research, sharing other people’s research, things that are relevant, all that kind of stuff. Do you have any thoughts on why Twitter is the medium that has kind of allowed academics to share so much of what they’re doing?

Sylvia:
[03:22] Yeah, I think because— I don’t know. I mean, there’s a pretty good— I wouldn’t say that most academics are on Twitter, I’d say that most of them are not on Twitter. Because I think only like 20% even of the US population is on Twitter. But I mean, I think one of the things that’s kind of nice about it is that you can actually interact with people that you wouldn’t normally do. I mean, this is the good part of social media. And so, if you’re trying to— I mean, I’ve met a lot of friends on Twitter, I’ve had a lot of opportunities on Twitter.

Like, I used to write for a newspaper in Britain and I think that was all down to the fact that I used to talk about stuff and blog and interact with the community of academics. But I think maybe it’s because of an audience, it allows you also to commiserate with people that are doing the same thing you do across the world. So, that’s why I think. Also, we’re not exactly people that aren’t egotistical, so it’s like, “here’s my research, look at me.” That’s part of it as well.

Jesse:
[04:26] I feel like that reminds me that, I can’t remember who at the moment, but I know I’ve had several guests, academic guests who have been on Twitter and I’ve I said, “Oh, Hey I interviewed such and such” and it’s kind of related to the research they’re doing. And they’re like, “Oh yeah, I know them because we’ve interacted on Twitter and we shared this.” Or like, some people have even ended up working together.

Like early episodes of the show thinking about [inaudible] they both work on gut microbiomes in ultra runners in different parts of the US, but somehow I think through Twitter, I could be wrong, sorry guys if I’m remembering that wrong. They got connected and they kind of like share notes and like, “Hey, what are you doing?” And like, it’s so interesting that it kind of connects those what otherwise probably be very niche subjects, somehow it makes those connections for those people.

Sylvia:
[05:31] Yeah. But it’s the same as conferences and stuff as well. Sometimes I think the beauty of Twitter though, is that sometimes it’s not— you go to these massive conferences and there’s like, the person often you might never run into him because there’s tons of people there.

But I think it’s just, anytime you can get people in the same room, whether that’s a virtual room or a chatty room or whatever, or the bar after a conference, right? It’s a way for people to kind of connect, but that’s quite cool that they met that, I think. And Twitter’s kind of funny because like it’s got its upsides and downsides, but I think it actually is good for, the good side of it is meeting other people, right? Like you’re just talking about

Jesse:
[06:09] Yeah. Well, I’ve never been active on Twitter in part because I feel so socially inept on social media period. Aside from like a format like this where it’s like, it isn’t really social media, I don’t know that I would consider this social media, it’s more of we’re having a conversation, which I could do that.
But I always feel, I don’t know, superficial isn’t quite the right word, but it maybe disingenuous. Even if I’m posting something that’s very genuine, it just doesn’t— Because I’m typing into a computer, I’m not actually like talking to you about it, something disconnects in my brain.

Sylvia:
[06:53] Yeah. And I think that’s why it’s easy for people to fight with each other on Twitter, because it’s not, you don’t see this person as a person. You’re just thinking “I’m angry at this statement”, you know?

Jesse:
[07:04] Right. There’s this idea floating around and I don’t like it.

Sylvia:
[07:08] Exactly. And so, I hate you. So, I think it’s an easy thing to kind of fall into, but yeah. I mean, I kind of have a love, hate relationship with it. I like it, and then I don’t know. I don’t tweet as much as I used to, I think. I just look at it sometimes it just close it back down and think “not today.”

Jesse:
[07:29] Yeah. Well, so before we got going, you had mentioned you grew up in the US and that’s something I missed in my brief, but it makes a lot more sense now because I saw recently you were tweeting a lot about like the process of the election and those kinds of things. And I have international friends who are interested in US sponsors and what’s going on, especially my Canadian friends. But I was going to ask you, I was like, why is tweeting so much about all of that stuff recently, but that makes a little bit more sense.

Sylvia:
[08:03] Yeah. I have a vested interest. I also think this is a particularly weird time for politics in our country because we’re all so divided, which is starting to worry me a bit, but you know, yeah. It’d be all right, hopefully we’ll all come back together because that’s the good thing about us. The good thing about not living in America is you realize America you realized all the great things about it. There’s bad things about it, obviously, but there’s really good things about it as well. And one of the things is we’re always, we have been every time pretty good about healing, but we’ll see if that continues. Anyway, I don’t want to be political, that’s probably not—

Jesse:
[08:40] Yeah, that’s fine. Well, It’s one of those things where like, it’s obviously a thing that’s going on right now, but it’s like, how deeply do you dive into it. And I have one time with my coach back in— Oh gosh, what episode was that? Second time he was on, but he’s a CPA and we were talking about like the stimulus bill and that kind of stuff, when that was going on, it was relevant to what he does.

So, now I have to ask, because I had missed out, how did you get from being in the US, you mentioned you were here in Kansas city, maybe in the early eighties just visiting, and then now you’re in the UK, where’s the transition? Was it going to school, a degree that you had gone over?

Sylvia:
[09:35] Yeah, so, well, that was my first job after my PhD. So, I got a PhD at university of Tennessee in 2004, and then I got a job in a facility in the UK called ISIS, not related to the caliphate. But it’s just called ISIS, and it’s a neutron facility. So, I got a job to research over there by a grant from the national science foundation to do research on actually the building blocks of proteins, amino acids.

So, I moved over here in 2004 and I went back to the States and worked for DOE, the department of energy, for about a year and a half. And then I kind of immigrated here in 2008. So, I came over for work, basically. And now I came back over and got married. So, and then for work marriage, all that. So, I’ve lived here now for well, 12 years, 15 years in all.

Jesse:
Combined.

Sylvia:
Yes, I think. I don’t know, it’s something like that. That’s great, I’m a scientist, I can’t even do like simple math in my head.

Jesse:
[10:47] Well, that’s perfectly fine. That’s something I’ve run into sometimes because one of my undergrad degrees is in math. And so, my family is always like, “come on, math major, do—” I’m like, “look, we stopped talking about numbers after year two, the numbers go out the window. It’s no longer about them anymore. So, don’t ask me to do arithmetic for you, right?”

Sylvia:
[11:09] Yeah. This is like life math. Life math is not the same, it’s like, I don’t know, three weeks, four weeks, whatever.

Jesse:
[11:16] Let me figure out a complicated logical system, I can do that, but you want me to add five plus seven? You’re on your own, get a calculator.

Sylvia:
[11:23] Yeah, exactly. I still use my fingers.

Jesse:
[11:27] So I was wondering, it seems like a lot of the research, at least research you’ve done recently I could find centered around various types of sugars, am I accurate in saying that?

Sylvia:
[11:42] Yeah. So, that’s part of it. We did research on drugs and also on proteins and sugars. And I did that with actually in collaboration, it’s less— I mean, I was a participant in that, it’s a collaboration with some people in Italy, in Rome.

Jesse:
[12:03] I guess, can you give me a briefing on what you were working on, I guess your time in Oxford and kind of what was going on at that time?

Sylvia:
[12:12] So, as you know, because you exercise a lot, water is really important to life but nobody actually really understands the fundamental rule of water. So, if you don’t have water, you’re pretty much like— If you have no water you will die within a week, you can’t really go more than a week without drinking. And so, what we tried to look at is how water interacts with different biological molecules to function in your body.

So, we looked at things like how proteins— Proteins are read off the DNA and they have to fold up into a certain form in order to work, and we looked at sort of water’s role in that. And we also looked in water’s role in how drugs cross into your brain. So, things like cocaine and Xanax and all that stuff. And then we also looked at how the role that water had with sugars and how that affected our taste perception.

Jesse:
[13:12] I think maybe I latched onto the sugar because that was the most easily comprehensible thing coming from [inaudible]. Coming up from nowhere and just be like, “okay, I need to digest this information.”

Sylvia:
Yeah, exactly.

Jesse:
So, that makes a little more sense when you’re trying to figure out the role— Correct me, please. The role of water in how it interacts with life, right?

Sylvia:
[13:35] Yeah, yeah. Basically, that’s a good way to put it, but on a really small scale. So, so we look at this sort of molecular scale.

Jesse:
[13:43] So it seemed like, at least from the sugar research that I kind of looked through, you found— I don’t want to necessarily say statistically significant, I don’t know if it was that kind of research, but just some notable interactions, right?

Sylvia:
[14:04] Yeah. So, one of the things that we found is that you can lick it like a glucose, for instance, or saccharose, which you can taste. So, trehalose is another sugar that you can’t taste. So, when you eat— Obviously, when you eat sugar you can taste that it’s sweet, and you have proteins in your body, your tongue that identify different tastes, right?

But if you look at sugars, sugars are really weird because they basically have very, very small differences in their molecular structure, like you would look at them, you have to really stare at them,when you draw out the little molecule pictures to see that they’re actually even different. So, they look that similar.

And we found that you can actually use the way that water clusters around them in solution to figure out how they might actually interact in your body, and so why maybe they’re sweet. So, that was kind of cool. We thought anyway, right? So, it’s actually the water that’s the key to understanding why things are sweet rather than the structure itself, I guess.

Jesse:
[15:04] Okay. So, that’s where I was kind of gleaning from it, it was like, you said H bonds, but I assume hydrogen bonds that’s being formed between the water and the sugar molecule. So, that’s like the— As I think I understood it, that’s the leading indicator to say this is the degree of sweetness, like how many hydrogen bonds are formed?

Sylvia:
[15:27] Yeah. And how long they are and things like that. Like how maybe easy they are to break, etc. But this is a good thing if you’re ever trying to pass a chemistry test and they ask you a question about water, if you say hydrogen bonds you are usually right. So, if you have to guess, hydrogen bonds.

Jesse:
[15:47] Yeah. For as good as I am with equations, chemistry was the thing that always screwed with me in college for whatever reason. Like, I did perfectly fine in the lab, I could take it and apply it, but I couldn’t sit down with a written test, I would like do terribly at the written test. Is that the same [inaudible]?

Sylvia:
[16:08] Yeah. I think that’s kind of common though, because I think like you get more excited about it when you actually do it, I think. It reminds me of when I used to be a graduate student and I used to do the, I was a teaching assistant in labs and all the kids were like, couldn’t believe I worked in a lab all day long. They’re like, “isn’t that boring?” It’s like, “I’m not just doing the kind of like same experiment you’re doing in general chemistry over and over. It’s a little more interesting than that.” So, yeah.

Jesse:
[16:34] So if, again, I’m fixated on the sugar because that was the thing I understood. Is there a—n I like to push academics for this answer, but I know that it’s not perfect. Is there any larger implications or like indicators that now that we know this, maybe we can think like, that it can affect how we think about sugar or how we think about food?

Sylvia:
[17:04] Oh yeah, sure. Because you could think about it because there’s whole industries that are designed around, well like all this sort of diet industries that are designed around making chemicals that tastes sweet, but then don’t have the extra calories. So, if you can think about a way to like look at the molecular structure or look at the hydration or water pattern and how water kind of interacts with this new sweetener you’re making. And you know, that actually can help you think, “well, I can design this chemical, even though I know people—”

Well, I don’t know, you have to design this chemical that tastes sweet, but what I was thinking is that I know people are like, people have this whole thing about, “I don’t want to take in chemicals because I’m healthy” but we eat chemicals all the time, I mean some chemicals are harmful, some chemicals are not, right?

Jesse:
[17:59] Yeah. I deal with that too. So, like the brand attached to this podcast makes skincare products for athletes. And so, they’re often plant based, and people like seeing the plant ingredients, but then you also have to include the nomenclature that actually denotes what that plant specifically is. Like instead of saying like tea tree oil, you have to like, there’s various varieties of tea tree oil, you have to like denote that.

So, the idea about like, it comes up with food more often, but it also kind of comes into skincare is like, if you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it. It’s like, well, that partially has to do with your education level, doesn’t it? Like whether you can pronounce it or not. But I always feel like talk to a chemist and you’ll get a better understanding of whether chemicals are bad or good.

Sylvia:
[18:59] Yeah. And I mean, a lot of that is pharmacological. It’s like when I used to do research on that. I mean, cocaine is a perfectly decent chemical, right? I mean, in some ways it’s a great chemical because people still use it in local anesthesia and things like that, it’s an amazing drug because it has a lot of pharmacy that you can still deal with it. But of course people abuse it and it’s caused all sorts of socioeconomic problems as well, right? But you can’t— I don’t know, everything’s got its flip side to it, doesn’t it?

Jesse:
[19:32] Well, it’s the context, right? It’s like in that context, is the drug itself good or bad? It’s like, well, it’s neither, it just is, and then it’s our interaction with it that kind of frames the sense of evil. I think generally speaking if you say cocaine to average Joe on the street they’re going to be like, “get me away from it, I don’t want it.”

Sylvia:
Well, depending on [inaudible].

Jesse:
[inaudible] Well, depends on who you grab. So, it’s polarizing, but that’s without the context of like, I’m abusing it or I’m using it for more proper of the medical applications. I think with opioids they’re for medical applications and people abuse them.
[20:31]So, you had mentioned and as I kind of mentioned it at the beginning of the show, you kind of made a career change roughly a year ago.

Sylvia:
I did.

Jesse:
So, people— I know you probably know this being from the US, people speak pretty highly of Oxford or they have ideas about this institution. So, as somebody who doesn’t work in academia and hasn’t been to Oxford, though I have friends who studied there, it seems like this is the ideal place to be. So, why would you leave?

Sylvia:
[21:17] Yeah, that is true, people do think that. I left a lot for personal reasons, but also because I think it was just sort of that time, I’ve actually changed jobs a lot in my career as well. So, I didn’t even start my PhD until I was 32 years old, and so I got it when I was 36. So, for me it was so— And also because for personal reasons, my husband was at Sussex and I was at Oxford and we were living apart for several years, it just got a bit ridiculous. And also, because I worked mostly as a [inaudible] on soft money, and that’s a hard job, so you always have to raise your own salary. I mean, consistently. And you know, it just gets a bit waring.

[22:06] I mean, I actually always liked to raise my money. I was pretty good at raising my own money. So, it was just sort of, I decided that it was time for me to do something different, but I’m not really quite sure how that’s going yet. And so, check back with me soon. But yeah, it’s a good university. I think there’s many good universities, if you see what I mean. I think it it’s definitely got a lot of really good people, but like anywhere not everybody there is amazing, and you know, some of the best classes I ever had were at the university of Tennessee, so I don’t know. That’s a pretty vague answer, isn’t it? But I don’t really know. There’s nothing definitive really to say.

Jesse:
[22:53] Well, a vague answer for a vague question, that’s perfectly acceptable. You know, my job as the interviewer is just to like probe you and see what answers fall out, pretty much. So, I got the easy job, right?

Sylvia:
[23:09] Yeah. It’s also just not really very interesting stories there.

Jesse:
[23:14] Yeah, no worries. So, but you did say, so you’re raising your own money, and that’s something that comes up when I talk to academics is like the difficulty of getting grants in general to do the research. So, you were writing grant proposals to do this every year or how did that work?

Sylvia:
[23:36] So, I basically have had many fellowships. I’ve had four fellowships, so I never actually did a normal kind of postdoc job. My first job was mine, I’ve always written and funded my own research. So, I did that for 15 years. And I mean, which is great because the good part about it is you get to do what you want to do, right? If you get the money. So, I was writing quite often, but you also have to write papers And I sort of had a research group of about, I think, 10 undergraduates, graduates, PhD students, postdocs, and you have to keep the money for them, you have to keep the research going, and it’s a lot.

And I didn’t have a permanent job. So, if you’ve got a permanent academic position, you’ve got a different kind of platform. Whereas I had to keep raising my salary and everybody else’s salary and it just got a bit stressful. So, you spend a lot of time writing, a lot of time writing, which I didn’t mind, actually, I didn’t mind writing grants at all. I actually kind of liked it, I think I’m kind of weird, but you know, it’s fine if you’re getting funded every now and again, I think it gets a bit stressful if you’re not.

Jesse:
[24:53] Yeah. Well, it seems like that would detract from the time you could take to actually complete your research. You know, if you’re always worried about making sure you got funding for the research.

Sylvia:
[25:05] Yeah. Not if you’ve got people working for you there, because then it can be a bit easier and yeah, I know a lot of people complain about that, and I do think that there’s a problem with it, but I also don’t think you should just continue to give people millions of dollars every year without any kind of oversight.

So, I don’t really know where the balance of how to do it is. I mean, what happens though a lot of times is it’s quite short term. So, you might have a big research question, it’s really hard to get money that lasts more than five years, which I mean, this is a big problem, I think anyway, with climate change, is climate change is a massive problem, right? So, you have to put a lot of money into it over a lot of years in order for you to get a result. So, that’s one of the difficulties of it, but it depends on the questions that you’re asking, I guess.

Jesse:
Yeah, that’s fair.

Sylvia:
Again, I’m being really vague.

Jesse:
[26:01] That’s fair, because if you’re just like in your case, like you’re looking at the hydrogen bonds between the interaction of water and certain sugars, like that’s going to be a much shorter term question and more easily answered definitively than what are the longitudinal effects of carbon emissions on our climate? Like, you need a lot more data, you can’t hurry it up, you have to wait. So, that makes perfect sense where you were trying to figure out, I’ll say a big question or a long question versus something that you can up much easier.

Sylvia:
[26:45] Yeah, for sure. But it does get a bit stressful. I think at some level— I don’t know, I don’t know. I don’t know how to fix it.

Jesse:
[26:57] Yeah. Well, I don’t know that we’re going to fix it this hour. Maybe something will come to us.

Sylvia:
Maybe not.

Jesse:
[27:05] Maybe not. But I mean, one thing I talked to various athletes, we talk about sometimes is that their kind of athletic background helps lend them to have the ability to deal with the stress of that kind of situation because they’re trained to do it, they’ve done it in another environment in terms of athletics. And then do it in your case academically or with other people career wise.
Before we got going in, you had mentioned you’re more into running when you were younger, did triathlons, kind of had the bug and I was cycling, all that kind of stuff. And that stressful in its own right.

Sylvia:
Really?

Jesse:
Well, it can be if you’re really spending the time doing it.

Sylvia:
That is true.

Jesse:
[27:57] So, so how did that, what’s the progression here? Is that how you ended up, you know, kind of identifying now as a sea swimmer, an open water swimmer, like running triathlon, road cycling, and then that’s your life last single discipline or?

Sylvia:
[28:12] No. So, basically, I started running because I wanted to quit smoking. And so, what I would do is every time I would want to smoke I’d go for a run. And then I was running— Obviously, this is in 1993 or four, and then obviously I was running a lot. And I entered my first race, it was a 10K race, and it was an expert race in Tennessee, it was a Southeastern championships.

And I came in third in my age class, I have never run a race before. And I was really shocked, I actually didn’t know that I won until I looked in the paper the next day. And this is when it used to be in the paper. And then kind of after that I got a bug because I thought, “wow, if I train, I could actually maybe win something and I’m fast and it’s feels really good” you know? And then I kind of got obsessed with it, and I was a pretty quick runner. And then I started doing, I always came in second, I actually never came in first

Jesse:
Oh, I feel you there.

Sylvia:
[29:17] It’s like, in my age group, and it’s like, I can’t ever win. You know, I always just come in second. And then I started doing triathlons and then after that I did cycle racing and I had a— So I was pretty obsessed with it, I think. So, it did turned into a bit of a job, actually, doing it that much.

Jesse:
If you really get into it, it definitely can.

Sylvia:
[29:40] Yeah, which I don’t think so right now. So, then I sort of stopped all that. I mountain biked through bit before I went back to university, before I went back to get my PhD. And I think I got quite burnt out, to be honest, when I was doing triathlons, because you just train all the time, it’s ridiculous. You know, I felt like it was ridiculous. And so, for me it was kind of good to stop, but it was very strange. I mean, still today even when I’m pretty out of shape I can go run for an hour because I think my body’s just like, “okay, here we go again.”

But then I think more like going back to once I started working and stuff, I’ve always ran a bit.
And for me, it’s better to not be competitive anymore, if you see what— I don’t know how to say that. I had a really hard time when I started running again, I thought, “okay, I’m going to start running again” just about five years ago. I mean like seriously, not just sort of like “I’m going to jog around the block” because I’m so slow compared to what I used to be. And that happens when you get older, but it’s like so slow.

[30:54] And I found it really actually pretty upsetting, which really surprised me, because you can’t expect to be fast if you don’t train, but at the same time I didn’t— And I just didn’t really want to put the work in. So, I was always, swimming was always my worst thing in triathlons and I thought, “you know what, I’m going to take a swim class.” And I knew I was moving to the sea and, in front of the sea front.

So, I thought, “well, I’m going to take this swim class that’s designed actually in Brighton where I live, it’s great, it’s designed to take people that are swimmers, so people that just want to figure out like if you swim in a pool and you want to learn how to swim in the Ocean, and I thought “I should take that class.”

And I was actually quite intimidated because I thought it was going to be full of people like I was when I was 20 and like sort of triathlon males, blah, blah, blah. And it actually is, “get out of my way, I’m 50 years old, I’m having a big crisis.” And it actually wasn’t, it was a really, it was like a huge mix of people, there were some really healthy, really fit people. And there were some really like overweight people, and there’s just all walks of life. And so, it was really actually quite a positive environment. Really positive. And so, then now I just kind of swim all the time at sea.

Jesse:
But not racing anymore, not trying to like enter up a lot of races or anything?

Sylvia:
[32:17] Not. Yeah, I’ve done to two. I mean, I did, but they’re not— I mean, I try to not do that because I don’t know, maybe, I always start in the back on purpose so that I time myself. It’s like now when I run, I don’t ever kind of figure out how fast I’m running per mile anymore. I just sort of turn on my watch run for 25 minutes when they run for 25 minutes the other way and try not to think about it.

Jesse:
[32:49] Well, I think that’s probably the way to go too. I mean, regardless of age, if you’re just focusing on like, how do I feel on this run? Like that’s going to serve you more than having those expectations of I should be this or I should be that.

Sylvia:
[33:04] Yeah, sure. But I mean, I probably shouldn’t admit it, but I did have a hard time letting that go because it’s like, I used to be fast and I used to beat people and now I go and run with people and I’m like the old lady, I feel like dying in the back and it’s just not a feeling I’m used to. So, I found that really tough at first, but you know, it’s very not— I’m not super fast or anything, but you know, I’m getting faster.

Jesse:
[33:32] But with swimming I find, at least open water swimming, it’s like you don’t see people like you see them when you’re running. Like if somebody is running away from you, watch the go. When you’re swimming, it gets a little bit more like, you’re more than half blindfolded in a sense where you’re sighting every once in a while. But for the most part, at least when I’m out in the water, facing the water, I can just basically see black unless it’s like a really clear Lake or something.

Sylvia:
[34:03] Because you’re swimming in lakes, right?

Jesse:
[34:05] Yeah. Predominantly. I’ve done one ocean swim.

Sylvia:
[34:09] Okay. So, well, it depends. I mean the Ocean can be a great equalizer because it’s really rough, so if you go out swimming, it it’s really, really rough. You know, nobody goes fast, right? You just can’t go very fast when it’s pretty wavy. It’s like, you’re all clustered around each other.

Jesse:
[34:31] Yeah. The only one I did was in Santa Cruz, California, so it’s a half Ironman race and the swim is around the pier. There’re buoys in the water, but effectively, as long as you can always see the peer, like you’re fine because it’s just around the pier. Well, it’s good that we had that because the water was so rough and it was so foggy from one buoy to the next, you couldn’t really see the next buoy.

Sylvia:
That’s creepy.

Jesse:
You had to get like halfway to it before you could see it. It was so bad. So, just having this massive structure on your right the whole time was like the only way you could try to try to keep track of where am I? Am I still going straight?

Sylvia:
That sounds a bit scary, actually.

Jesse:
[35:24] Yeah, it was an interesting day. I was the second to last way. My buddy, who was a couple of years older than me, he was in the last wave for the day. And it was an adventure for sure.

Sylvia:
[35:38] Yeah, I imagine.

Jesse:
[35:41] Mostly it’s likes for me.

Sylvia:
[35:45] Yeah. I mean, the English channel is funny because some days it’s fine. I mean you have to deal with current. So, meaning that whether you have a spring tide or a neap side, so going up to the full moon or coming away from the full moon, you get really different currents so you can get in and it’s really, it can look completely like a Lake, it’s completely placid and you get in and all of a sudden you’re like, “okay, why am I like struggling to even get to this distance?” You know?

So, it’s not like swimming in a pool where you can be like, “right, I’m going to go swim two kilometers and that’s what I’m going to do.” It’s like, okay, you get there some days and you’re like, “I’m not making it, I’m not making it.” Which I think is actually good for your sort of attitude about things, because I’m always [inaudible] trying to run and you’re like, “I’m going to do this many miles this fast, I’ll have this kind of sprints in the middle of it, wind sprints or whatever.”

And so, you’re going to get out and that’s what you’re going to do. But I think when you’re swimming in the ocean, you just sometimes don’t really have an option, you just kind of have to go for it.

Jesse:
[36:52] Yeah. Well, the ocean is bigger than you are, you’re not going to tell it what to do. Like if it wants to shove you one direction, it’s going to shove you that direction.

Sylvia:
[37:03] Yeah. And sometimes it definitely does not want you in it. I mean, it’s just like the channels like, “get out, this is a bad idea, get out.” And it was sort of rolling up onto the beach and you’re like, “okay, maybe I should get out.”

Jesse:
[37:17] Yeah. Do you have like currents going multiple directions or can you get in and— So like, one of the former pros I had the fortune of kind of working with, she had always talked about like before you get into a race, get in for your swim and then you want to check and see if there is a current so you like lie on your back and you find a landmark, then you try to stay still and just see if the one moving you.

But you know, there’s on some occasions where it was like, you’d get a shift somewhere and it kind of screw with your sense of— So it’s like, I’m supposed to be going straight and it’s pushing me this way so I actually need to swim angle to try to go straight, you know what I mean? Does the English channel, does it have like one current across the whole thing? Or do you get like eddies and multiple situations?

Sylvia:
[38:18] Yes. Well where we live, fortunately, all we have is sort of, we don’t really have any kind of riptides or funny eddies. It’s pretty much just when the current’s going out, when the tide’s going out, it goes wind direction, and when the tide’s coming in, it goes the other, so it just gets stronger or weaker depending on the time of the month it is, basically. So, there’s no kind of like Australia where you can get stuck in some kind of like Riptide and be pulled out to sea, it’s not like that.

I mean, it can pull you out to sea. It can be quite rough. It can also be quite polluted. But mostly, it’s pretty— And we tend to, especially during lockdown, so one of the interesting things is during COVID the people that ran the sea front like the lifeguards were like, “please, please, please don’t swim out to sea very far because we can’t rescue you very easily, and if we do, they’re going to ban swimming on the sea front.” You know?

So, we could still— even though we had like a pretty severe lockdown in the UK they still allowed people to swim because obviously you need to get some exercise. I mean, it’s not like— You can social distance pretty effectively when you’re swimming in the sea.

[39:35] So, swim along the shore most of the time, so you don’t have to worry about going around a big pier or whatever. You just kind of swim in one directions. So, everyday you check the current and figure out whether you swim— So, normally you swim into the current, right? So, against the current to begin with and with the current coming back, unless you’re stupid like me and mess it up sometimes like, “well, I’m going really well, I’m really fast.” And then you have to turn around and you’re like, “Oh no, I’ve got to swim all the way back home. I’m not going to make it.”

Jesse:
[40:05] Yeah. Well, but you just keep swimming and you’ll make it eventually, hopefully. I guess if you stay in parallel to the shore then you can always—

Sylvia:
You can always just get out and walk.

Jesse:
It’s like duck it at some point.

Sylvia:
[40:19] But you also has some pride with that. I always think that. I think, “Oh, I’m going to get out and walk” and then I think, “I can’t do it.” You know? So, and we have peers here as well. So, you can swim around the pair. There’s all sorts of different places you can swim. And a lot of people I swim with are actually, a bunch of, or some of them [inaudible] when the pools aren’t [inaudible]. They were planning to do this big, you could swim across— A lot of people still swim across the channel, right?

Jesse:
[40:49] What’s the distance? I forgot. I know I’ve looked it up at some point.

Sylvia:
[40:53] I think it’s like 17 miles at its thinnest, but there’s a lot of current problems as well. You know? And I think now it’s a big shipping lane, so if you’re going to do it, you’ve got to get a boat, it’s not cheap. It’s not like he could just be like, “Oh, I’m just going to go swimming—”

Jesse:
“I’m just going to go do it today.”

Sylvia:
[41:11] Yeah, exactly. “Today’s a good day, why not?” But we have a big wind farm out from us and there’s some people I swim with that have swim from the wind farm back in, and that’s about 11 kilometers or so, or 11 miles, I think.

Jesse:
[41:26] Either way. I mean, for most people, either one is going to be, you’re going to be swimming for a little while.

Sylvia:
[41:34] I mean, it takes a good eight hours, right? So, yeah, I’m not quite up to that.

Jesse:
[41:41] I’m try to think for comparison what do I do in the pool. So, no current or anything like that to deal with. I’ll do, I don’t know, 2,500, 3000 or so, 2.5 to three kilometers an hour, but then you start getting pushed around and you slow down considerably, so.

Sylvia:
[42:10] Well, you can still swim— I mean, it also just depends on A, the currents and B, how turbulent, how many wavy it is, right? You know, I don’t know. There’s some woman last year that swam across it four times.

Jesse:
[42:29] Consecutively? like one way back the other?

Sylvia:
[42:33] Yeah. But it’s horrible. She wrote a blog about it, and the whole time— Like the whole time she kept throwing up all the time and she was sick most of the time.

Jesse:
Like nausea sea sickness kind of situation.

Sylvia:
[42:47] Yeah. And she couldn’t eat. And the whole time she like wrote this whole article about it. And I thought, this is when getting older you’re like, “why are you doing this? What’s happened to me? Halfway through it I’d be like, “just get in the boat lady.” This is why interestingly I think pushing myself, I like pushing myself, but there is a point where I just think, “come on, this is not rational.”

Jesse:
[43:14] Well, I mean, instead of like— I’ll call it the follies of youth, but I mean that in like an endearing way, is like— Not that I’m old, I’m going to be 32 years soon, so I’m still 31. But it’s like I just noticed there are certain things I just, I don’t care anymore. Like, I don’t have as much ambition to do silly things like that. Like I’m not going to be like, “let’s run across the English trail four times.” Like, no, I’m good. Like, I’m going to go get a croissant or something.

Sylvia:
[43:54] I mean, I think it’s like, one of my swim partners is like that, she definitely has to have a challenge, right? And she’s also really obsessed about like, touching, like if we’ll go swim around buoys she’s really obsessed about having to touch every one of them, and I kind of don’t care, like my days of that are over.

Jesse:
[44:15] We used to do that in college. We would— So, when the guys and I were out on a run, long run, short run, didn’t matter, if it had a turnaround or if you didn’t have a turnaround, if you went by— There were certain signs, could be a stop sign, yield sign, crossing, whatever, we would just like smash them as we went by and just making loud noises, just hitting signs. Why? I don’t know.

Sylvia:
[00:43] If because you go for long runs. When you get for really long runs, it does make you weird. I’m like completely convinced of this, because when I was doing triathlons a lot, and this was like in the nineties, when there weren’t that many people doing it, so people thought you were even weirder than they do now because it seems like—

Now it’s sort of funny because so many people and so many friends of mine have done iron mans, which just seems really hard to me because I never did that, I only did the Olympic distance swim, and I was really quite fast at running, I’m really quite good at— back in the day, not anymore, but I always liked sort of events where you didn’t have to really eat during them, it felt like if you have to ingest food, that is not my event. So, I was getting about 15 to 18 kilometers and that was about my limit because I just don’t like having to eat.

[45:32] But now like so many people kind of do all that, which is amazing. I mean, it’s great, it’s great for the sport, it’s a great thing for people to be fit. But you know, back in the nineties it was a whole different— But it does make you kind of weird, right? Because I think you’re so depleted of food all the time. Also like, I was really poor at the time and I just ate constantly, I do miss that, I miss all the eating. I’m training and I’d wake up at three o’clock in the morning and I’d have to eat because I was so hungry. You know, I don’t have that issue anymore.

Jesse:
[46:06] Yeah, that’s this kind of— There’s a whole love hate culture with food in endurance training, because it’s like you’ve got to eat to fuel, but you can’t eat too much, you got to eat the right thing. But then there’s some people, and especially as you’re younger, I feel like you can just get away with eating whatever, like your metabolism is high, you’re putting in a ton of miles. “I’m just going to eat whatever” even though it may not be optimal for training, you can get away with it.

Sylvia:
[46:36] Yeah. But I don’t know how much difference that makes. I know a lot of people like probably you [inaudible] whatever, think it makes a massive— So, one of the things I really wanted to do when I was younger—

Jesse:
There’s a certain point where it doesn’t matter as much and it’s just like calories are calories.

Sylvia:
[46:51] Yeah. For sure. And fast calories you need them. I mean, I only was in one race in my life, it was this 17 mile trail run and it was the best race of my life. Well, it would have been the best race in my life, except for I completely crashed, I’d never had a crash before. And I still remember looking at other people and seeing— I was running up a Hill, it was like the end of the race, and I’m looking at these people and they were walking off. I was like, “oh, that looks like a good idea.” All these people passing me and just not really caring because your blood sugar drops. So, definitely you have to eat kind of keep that up.

But I mean, I think maybe it’s just because I’m old, but I think people get a little too obsessed with the nutrition part in a way that I don’t think matters as much maybe as people think it does. Maybe I’m wrong by that, I don’t know. I mean, certainly you can’t just eat McDonald’s all the time or whatever, but I mean, I imagine keeping balanced and fair— I don’t know. See, you should probably just make me hang up now. I’m saying stuff I don’t know about nutrition.

Jesse:
[48:02] If you’re saying stuff you don’t know about, then you’re joining my club,that’s basically my job here is to say things that I don’t know about and see what you say. So, no, you’re probably fine. But we can segue away, don’t worry about it. I do want to ask you about [inaudible] typewriters, it seems like it’s a group of scientists, they have kind of a collective blog basically

Sylvia:
Yeah.

Jesse:
So, it seems like you haven’t contributed in a little while.

Sylvia:
Oh yes, I’m sorry.

Jesse:
I was reading you’re like restoring your flat.

Sylvia:
[48:37] I am, we have a very old house and I’m fixing it up.

Jesse:
Yeah. I was reading you used the peel away, and I felt your pain. You were talking about how expensive it is. Because I live in— The house is here obviously, even the old ones are young in comparisons to the stuff in the UK.

Sylvia:
I don’t know, you get some pretty old houses, hundreds of years old.

Jesse:
[49:03] My house was built in 1930, and so you can see behind me this now Brown door, if you go back to early episodes, it was painted. So, I have stripped and refinished all the [inaudible] upstairs. Or actually if I can, there’s one hanging out over there that’s not refinished yet. I stripped the paint off of it, but I still need to do the staining part. But it’s led paint to the bottom.

In here, particularly in the office, eight layers of paint thick trying to get them off. And my friend recommended that stuff because it’s super effective, it’s used for restaurants, but it’s ridiculously expensive. So, I didn’t end up using it, I ended up getting like a sanding set up with the HEPA filter vacuum and that kind of stuff because I had so much work to do. I still do.

Sylvia:
How expensive is it there?

Jesse:
[49:59] I don’t know how big the bucket is, but that basic bucket was somewhere in between like $40 and $50? I think for one bucket. And I think one bucket was maybe going to cover a door or half a door.

Sylvia:
Well, if you buy a 15 Kilo bucket, it goes a long way. It’s worth it.

Jesse:
[50:19] Yeah, the big ones, I don’t know. It was like whatever their smallest unit was.

Sylvia:
That’s expensive.

Jesse:
[50:26] It seemed pretty pricey. I was just like, I’m going to have several thousand dollars in stripper trying to take all this paint off.

Sylvia:
Well, you can’t really see my house. I could show it to you if you want, but it’s— Because these are— It’s a huge house though, if you look at it, these are like, we have these big ornate ceilings. [inaudible].

Jesse:
[50:45] If you’re not on YouTube yoe’re missing out on the show right now, if you’re just listening to the audio version you’ll have to check it out the YouTube version.

Sylvia:
[50:55] Yeah. Well, YouTube is great, my friends are always like, “Oh, you should do YouTube”, but you know, you have to set up a video and like record yourself and then fast forward it, I mean, it’s going to be bad enough listening to myself on this thing, right?

Jesse:
No, you’re fine.

Sylvia:
[51:14] Yeah. So, what were you talking about? Restoring houses and my blog. I’ve had a blog for a pretty long time. I think part of it’s because now that I’ve got a new life, figuring out whatever, I’m doing a lot of freelance work now, and I’ve also like, for most of my things, I don’t kind of, I write when I feel like it, when I have the luxury to do that. I have a very hard time writing when I’m forced to, because then it’s just really boring, you know? Like it’s boring for me. It might not be— I mean maybe the stuff I write is boring for other people now.

But it’s collective of a bunch of people, and then we all used to kind of write for a newspaper here called The Guardian, and then some people continue to do that. It’s mostly about science-based stuff, though, I think. And everybody that’s on that site is a scientist.

Jesse:
[52:13] Interesting. I don’t know— Because obviously you can have like an online news publication or like the online version of The Guardian or whatever, kind of traditional news outlet that has multiple contributors. But I don’t know, and maybe I live in my own bubble, which is perfectly possible.

But I don’t know that I’ve really seen like a collection of people writing a blog like that, that didn’t try to brand as “this is science today” or like actually trying to make something more or “official” you know what I mean? Like The Guardian or come up with a brand name and somebody is in charge of building this business. It’s just like people are publishing stuff semi-regularly, but it’s not, it doesn’t seem like it endeavors to be more than what it is. Like, it’s not trying to be some big corporate entity.

Sylvia:
That’s a good thing.

Jesse:
[53:18] Right, that’s what I’m saying. It just seems, even though the underlying structure of it is similar, the actual flavor of it is different, and I don’t know that I’ve seen that kind of collection before.

Sylvia:
[09:35] Yeah. So, I think that’s good, I think that was the whole point of it. But there’s some people, obviously there’s some of the people that blog on there that are like a lot more prolific about writing for newspapers and they’re in the news a bit more. So, it’s a whole range of different people. So, some of the authors on there— I mean, I did a lot more recently, but just sort of, I need to find my major to do the next thing in my life versus what I’m kind of looking for.

I mean, that’s one of the things that like going back to exercising really helps with, right? Is that it’s a good thing, it’s a continual thing that’s been in my life since I was this kind of way since I was 20, and open water swimming is the best I think for all these things. It’s not like running, I can think when I run, and when I swim I just think, “stoke, stroke, breathe, stroke, stroke, breathe, don’t run into the side of this thing, there’s a tower I’m meant to be spotting. Oh, that person’s faster than me. Oh, look, here’s all the fast 19 year old triathletes passing me” or whatever. I think it’s really great healing and good for that.

[54:33] But yeah, [inaudible] it’s a good kind of group of people. I mean, actually we all kind of met over Twitter, speaking of Twitter. So, but there’s some people on there that probably they do like lots of corporate sort of stuff.

Jesse:
[54:49] Okay, it was just a remark I kind of had about it. It just seemed interesting just because one of my endeavors with this show is to give people like yourself, academics, and other people that actually know what’s going on in terms of whatever their field is, a way to be personable and present these things, which happens on Twitter, but I just feel like there’s not a lot—

Sylvia:
[55:12] It’s not the same, isn’t it? Because people seem different on Twitter to you than they are when you actually talked to them. I remember meeting somebody at one point and I thought they were just this massively egotistical person, and I met him and I’m like, “you’re actually real nice.” So, I think there’s a whole different thing about it.

Jesse:
Right. Well, and like, if you read your blog posts, like how you come across in your blog post is different than this format or on twitter.

Sylvia:
Is it better? Is it worse?

Jesse:
More poetic.

Sylvia:
When I write or when I speak?

Jesse:
[55:51] The writing, and I do that too. It’s like, you’ve got time to think about it, and you wax philosophical a little bit more, you’re poetically self-deprecating and those kinds of things.

Sylvia:
I’m going to totally use that now in my Twitter bio. Poetically self-deprecating. Yes, thank you, that’s my new [inaudible]

Jesse:
[56:16] That’s perfectly fine. But I’m just saying like, I feel like in that— It’s like in this format when we’re talking you get a sense of who you are, but with the blog format, I feel like you get a better sense of who you are inside your own head.

Sylvia:
Yeah, maybe. I try not to talk that much about myself though, in that way.

Jesse:
[56:42] Yeah, but how you present situation and all of that is like, how you look at it, because I guess maybe that’s just a reflection of me and how I write things. It’s like, there’s a lot more turning inside my head that it’s hard for me to get out if I’m just having a conversation, in part because I eventually need to shut up so you can say something, but also it’s hard to keep it all together.

Sylvia:
[57:08] Yeah, for sure. And also, I think there’s something that’s lovely about this podcast, but this one was very self-indulgent [inaudible] right? Because I’m telling you about “Oh, I used to run, and all these things I used to do”. I mean, one of the things I honestly, and this sounds like I’m on a commercial or something, but one of the things that I think is important about athletics and talking about it is anybody can do it, it is not some kind of amazing thing.

And I kind of feel that way about science and stuff as well, I know it just changed the subject on you drastically, but I think that’s why it’s sometimes a bit awkward talking about stuff because I don’t think— I don’t know, you’ve got to have a certain amount of ego maybe to get out there and register even for a race, right? Because a lot of people won’t even sign up because they’re like, “Oh my God what am I going to do this? is kind of whatever.” But it’s like, actually all of these things are something anybody could do, It’s like riding or whatever. I mean, maybe you won’t do it well, but you still do it.

Jesse:
You can do it, right.

Sylvian: [58:14] Which is what takes me back to swimming. So, my brother, he passed away suddenly about four years ago and he was an amazing swimmer. I mean he just swam and swam, when we were kids and as an adult and whatever. And it was the thing I was always the worst at, I mean, the worst at. Like if all my triathlon things, I’m sure you’ve done triathlons, you’ve got one thing you’re better at than other, for you it would be—

Jesse:
Running. I come from a running background.

Sylvia:
[58:36] Yeah. And so, running is the best thing to be good at in triathlons because you pass everybody in the end.

Jesse:
Generally. If I was better at cycling, it would be better. But yeah, running is not bad.

Sylvia:
[58:50] Yeah. I was like that, that’s my whole thing. And I mean, I was doing triathlons, and you have to remember not that many people did them, so I had a pretty good chance of winning something, and also in East Tennessee, when even less people did them. So, but like swimming, it would take me, I don’t know, whatever it was to get to do a 1.5 kilometer swim, I was terrible, I was like the last person out of the Lake and I could hold my on the bike and then I’d pass everybody in the round. And I always felt like Rocky or something in my mind.

Jesse:
Running up the steps.

Sylvia:
Yeah, exactly, which is why I was sort of determined to swim, because I was like, “well, I’m really bad at this.” And swimming’s also one of those things where with even just slight modifications you get a lot better, right?

Jesse:
Yeah. Well, it’s so technique based.

Sylvia:
[59:45] Yeah. So, that’s why as an adult, I don’t know if you’ve done this, but everybody should take some swimming lessons as an adult.

Jesse:
I’ve had critique, yeah.

Sylvia:
[59:55] It makes such a difference, such a difference. But I still feel like it’s quite complicated. So, sometimes I start over thinking it, especially when it’s really wavy. So, you have to concentrate. Because in the sea, when you swim in the sea you don’t really kick as much, like in big waves, you just kind of stabilize yourself and then you don’t— You have to kind of swim with your arms really far out, like much further than you do in the pool. So, it took me a while to get adapted to that, and sometimes I get a bit confused while I’m doing it, which makes me sound really stupid. But you’re like, “wait, arm, leg, breathe, what am I doing?”

Jesse:
Yeah. Well, when you’re getting knocked around and you’re like trying to figure out, where can I breathe? And then a wave hits you in the face and you don’t get that breath, and then you’re just disoriented.

Sylvia:
[01:00:46] There’s a trick to that though. You’re always just— When you breathe in, when it’s really—This is one of the things that I got— I used to get really freaked out when the waves would get really high and now I’ve gotten so much better at it just this year. Because basically you have to breathe back towards your feet. So, you’re always like much more kind of extended than you would where you’re— You didn’t really want to tip for me, did you?

Jesse:
[01:01:10] That’s fine. I’ll take a tip. I don’t know when I’m going to be doing my next triathlon, it may actually be in a couple of years at this point. The few times I would encounter that, I think I would just try to get in the rhythm of the waves, which doesn’t actually help a ton, it helps a little bit.

Sylvia:
It does help.

Jesse:
But there was always that like irregular wave that would screw you up. Like you think you’re like, “okay, I got the rhythm of this. Oh no, here’s the extra one.” But yeah, that was kind of my ad hoc adaptation of dealing with being in a wavy environment, just what’s the rhythm of the current coming in and go with that.

Sylvia:
[01:01:54] That’s a good one though, because that’s like it doesn’t matter how big the waves are if you time you’re breathing right, because they do have a kind of—

Jesse:
You’re just trying to feel like when do you start going down, breathe then instead of like when you’re going up and the waves about to go over you.

Sylvia:
[01:02:07] Yeah. And it’s funny though, because a lot of times when you swim the channel it can feel quite wavy and then half the time you can actually stand up because it’s low tide. So, you’re like struggling and you’re like, you feel like in this really big epic thing, you’re like, “Oh, they could make a movie about me” and then you stop and stand up and it’s up to your waist, and you’re like, “okay, that’s just sad.”

So, one of the things, there’s actually a triathlon group I swim with around here, there’s a guy and he’s like the most positive human I think that’s ever been created, and he runs this triathlon group, and he does it off the same [inaudible] So, like you have to pay him a sum of like a pound and he’ll take us all out open water swimming, and then he sets up this big like table of coffee and snacks after everybody’s finished.

And he’s like the super encouraging human being. But he also has a little GoPro camera, so he’s taking these incredible pictures of me swimming that look like I’m out in the middle of some kind of big storm, and all my friends were like, “Whoa, you’re in beast mode.” And I’m like, “actually you can stand up, but that’s okay, I’ll take it.” It’s like, “Yeah, look at me, I’m swimming the channel three feet from shore.”

Jesse:
[01:03:21] That’s the secret you just keep to yourself. you’re like, “Yeah, it was pretty epic.”

Sylvia:
[01:03:30] Yeah, I know. It’s like when I used to be a bike mechanic a long time ago, a bicycle mechanics, there’s this guy and we were in a criterion, you know? [inaudible] where they run around. And so, this guy got dropped out in the back and with his friends he was like, “okay, get your cameras ready.” And he’s like, he waited for them to lap him, and he just poured a bottle of water over his head, went across the line with his arms up, and of course he was getting lapped and all these guys that were actually racing were like, “who the hell is that guy?” It was just fantastic. It’s a good picture, though.

Jesse:
[01:04:06] That reminds me of my friend Michael who ran with me in college, and he was probably our slowest guy. Not that he was slow, but just of our college guys. And he’s got this picture of him from high school where he had, when the race started he had just dead sprint it out as hard as he could, he’d made a gap of maybe 50 meters between him and the rest of the field. So, there’s a photo of him just leading this massive group of very talented runners, and he’s always just like, “I won, I won right there.” And that’s his story of that race. He was like, “I won.” And he would not deviate from that story, he’s like “the photo tells the entire story.”

Sylvia:
[01:04:51] I love it. I love it. Well, you have to make sure that you don’t take yourself too seriously, I think. Because there’s a lot of people that do. I mean, you can’t be too serious about it. I mean, this is one thing that I think is quite interesting, it’s a difference, because I remember when I was younger and trying to run or be in a pool and there would be some person that gets in front of you, that used to drive me nuts. And now I think, okay, if somebody gets really frustrated trying to run past me if I’m walking, I think c’mon, you’re running like I am in the middle of the city on lockdown, these two seconds is not going to mess up your training plan, this is not your hope of the Olympics dashed.

Jesse:
No. If you’re going to make it, it’s probably not going to do anything.

Sylvia:
Yeah, exactly.

Jesse:
[01:05:47] Sylvia’s, we’re starting to wind down on time. I’m asking everybody a question this year that kind of spans disciplines, both career and sports wise. So, I’d like to know your opinion on what you think the purpose of sport is.

Sylvia:
[01:06:04] Whoa.

Jesse:
Drop a bomb right at the end of the episode.

Sylvia:
[01:05:14] That is a really general question, isn’t it? So, for individuals— I think it is something that brings people together, right? Almost everybody likes some kind of sport, even if they never admit it. Even if they’re like, “well, I don’t watch sports or whatever.” But what I will say is that team sports or being with a team, so there’s a guy that I knew that worked in a big company and they were trying to go back and look— I’m answering your question, I promise.

They were trying to look back through what made people successful as entrepreneurs, and they came up with two things. You know, what those two things are? One was having participated in some kind of a team sport or a sport where you kind of lived or died together, right? And the other one is kind of irrelevant, but it was whether or not you’ve worked at a really crappy job, because people that have worked in really bad jobs are quite driven, and if you have some participation with sports, you tend to do quite well.

[01:07:19] So, I think it’s good for community, but I also think it’s going to keep us all from— We have a really bad problem in the US and start in the UK with obesity. And I do think people doing some sport, even if it’s just walk around the block, anybody can do that five times a day. I think it’s really important for the feature of our health. So, there you go, that’s my answer.

Jesse:
[01:07:40] No, that was a good answer. I’m fortunate to live in a neighborhood where there’s people all over the place. Like, I’m going to go run after we get off here and I see people go by the house all the time, but I also know in the city at large, we’re known for barbecue, which lends itself to obesity. I just feel like I wish there was a better— There’s such a big infrastructure for youth sports, sports for kids in school, that kind of stuff. And it’s like, the culture kind of drops off as you become an adult. There’s still, for me, plenty of things I can do, but like people play football and play volleyball and I play soccer, or like all these teams sports, you’re on your own, like we don’t do that. Unless you’re a pro.

Sylvia:
[01:08:31] That’s true. Actually, they could do that, that would be a good thing, that’s how we can solve the world, right? So, when you get a lot older there’s stuff for older people, like going back to the gym and doing whatever that is, like even older than me, like 60, 70. But you’re right, people in their thirties, twenties to sort of 50, there’s nothing. I mean, swimming, [inaudible] because swimming usually has masters teams.

Jesse:
Right. It’s like the individual sports you can do, but it seems very difficult to put together a team for anything. And I don’t know if that’s—

Sylvia:
[01:09:03] Yeah, which you should do. I mean, I think that would be something that if you could get people to do it— But people, this is the other thing, one of the reasons why I quit Oxford as well is that you can get so wrapped up in your busy life, that your busy life just becomes everything. And I think at some point sports are really important because you know, what are you doing to enjoy your life? And you know, and running sucks if you don’t do it all the time, like if you go out and try to run once every couple months, you’re like, “this is horrible.”

But then there’s that point after a month, it’s what I tell my friends when they start, they’re like, “I hate it.” I’m like, you got to give it a month because then you get that feeling— I mean, the hardest thing I think I ever did running was the first time I went over five miles. That’s a big barrier. I mean, breaking five miles is hard, it’s hard the first time you ever do it. But you know, you do get that, you throw it for your feelings, you just kind of feel better about the world. I mean, I can be having a really bad day and go swim in the sea and I feel better.

[01:10:09] Anyway, that’s your sort of uplifting [inaudible]. hallmark carpet. All right. Thank you.

Jesse:
[01:10:17] So, if people want to see what you’re up to on Twitter, see what you’re researching, any of that kind of stuff. If you get back into research or see the previous research you’ve done, where can people find you?

Sylvia:
Yeah, you made me feel guilty, I need to start blogging again.

Jesse:
No, you’re fine.

Sylvia:
Good thing about again.

Jesse:
Yeah. Where can people see what you’re up to?

Sylvia:
[01:10:37] Twitter, my Twitter account. And I’m also an Instagram. Not that that’s just pictures of my house and swimming in the sea, to be honest. I’ve got sweet sea swimming pictures.

Jesse:
Well, so if you like that, then the checkout Sylvia’s Twitter account, which I think we’ll put in the description, and then if you’re on YouTube, it’s probably on the screen at this point. So, thanks for hanging out.

Sylvia:
Thanks. And enjoy the rest of your day.

Jesse:
You too.

Sylvia:
Okay, bye.