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Scientizing performance in endurance sports: The emergence of ‘rational training’ in cross-country skiing, 1930-1980
Philosophy and History, KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2914-4476
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Alternative title
Vetenskapliggörandet av prestation inom konditionsidrott : Framväxten av 'rationell träning' för längdskidåkning, 1930-1980 (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

Elite athletes of today use specialized, scientific training methods and the increasing role of science in sports is undeniable. Scientific methods and equipment has even found its way into the practice of everyday exercisers, a testament to the impact of sport science. From the experiential, personal training regimes of the first half of the 20th century to the scientific training theories of the 1970s, the ideas about training and the athletic body shifted.

The rationalization process started in endurance sports in the 1940s. It was part of a struggle between two models of training; natural training and rational training. Physiologists wanted to rid training of individual and local variations and create a universal model of rational, scientific training. The rationalization of training and training landscapes is here understood as an aspect of sportification, a theory commonly used to describe similar developments in sports where increasing regimentation, specialization and rationalization are among the main criteria. This dissertation adds the concept of technologies of sportification to explain the role that micro-technologies and practices (such as training logs, training camps and scientific tests) have in the scientization of training.

This thesis thus sets out to analyze the role that science has played in training during the 20th century. It is a history about the rationalization of training, but also about larger issues regarding the role of personal, experiential knowledge and scientific knowledge. The main conclusions are that the process of scientization never managed to rid training of components from natural, experiential training, and that the effort by Swedish physiologists to introduce rational training was part of the larger rationalization movement at the time. In the end, training knowledge was a co-production between practitioners and theoreticians, skiers and scientists.  

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2016. , 65 p.
Series
TRITA-HOT, ISSN 0349-2842 ; 2072
Keyword [en]
History, environmental history, history of science, history of technology, landscape studies, cross-country skiing, Nordic skiing, endurance physiology, sport history, sportification, scientization, sport physiology, sport science, Sweden
National Category
History and Archaeology
Research subject
History of Science, Technology and Environment
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-195830ISBN: 978-91-7729-205-0OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-195830DiVA: diva2:1046413
Public defence
2016-12-09, F3, Lindstedtsvägen 26, Stockholm, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Projects
Rationell träning: vetenskapliggörandet äv träning för längdskidåkning
Funder
Swedish National Centre for Research in SportsMistra - The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental ResearchSwedish Environmental Protection Agency
Note

QC 20161114

Available from: 2016-11-14 Created: 2016-11-10 Last updated: 2016-11-15Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. How Much Sport is there in Sport Physiology?: Practice and Ideas in the Stockholm School of Physiology at GCI, 1941–1969
Open this publication in new window or tab >>How Much Sport is there in Sport Physiology?: Practice and Ideas in the Stockholm School of Physiology at GCI, 1941–1969
2013 (English)In: International Journal of the History of Sport, ISSN 0952-3367, E-ISSN 1743-9035, Vol. 30, no 8, 892-913 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The physiology research at the Royal Central Institute of Gymnastics (Swedish acronym: GCI) in Stockholm was never primarily focused on sports, but has made significant contributions to sport and exercise physiology. Changing ideas about the human body (from form to motor) during the early twentieth century led to criticism towards the posture-oriented Ling gymnastics. The rationalisation movement of the 1930s and onwards also paved the way for a rationalistic physiology research. GCI recruited Eric Hohwü Christensen (1904–1996) from Copenhagen for the new position as professor in physiology in 1941. Christensen built his research programme on the ideas of the Copenhagen School, focusing on basic research, bodily limits and rationalisation of exercise. The majority of research at GCI focused on basic physiology, and the main goal was to rationalise the exercise of the entire population, which was in line with the ambitions of the emerging Swedish welfare state.

But applications in elite sports became a claim to fame for GCI through names such as Per-Olof Åstrand and Bengt Saltin. This article aims at showing how the research programme was outlined during Christensen’s professorship, 1941–1969. How does a scientific environment focused on basic, physiological research become famous for its impact in sports?

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London: Routledge, 2013
Keyword
rational training; exercise physiology; Eric Hohwü Christensen; GCI; Sweden; welfare state
National Category
History
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-122973 (URN)10.1080/09523367.2013.784274 (DOI)000319377400005 ()2-s2.0-84878742688 (ScopusID)
Projects
Rationell träning. Vetenskapliggörandet av träning för längdskidåkning
Funder
Swedish National Centre for Research in Sports
Note

QC 20130603

Available from: 2013-05-30 Created: 2013-05-30 Last updated: 2016-11-14Bibliographically approved
2. Changing Tracks: The Battle Between Natural and Scientific Training in Swedish Cross-Country Skiing, 1948-1972
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Changing Tracks: The Battle Between Natural and Scientific Training in Swedish Cross-Country Skiing, 1948-1972
2014 (English)In: Idrott, historia & samhälle, ISSN 0280-2775Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Until the 1950s, Swedish cross-country skiers relied on natural training. But in the wake of failure at the 1952 Winter Olympics, the Swedish Ski Federation initiated a scientification of training. They sought aid from physiologists to “rationalize” the training of elite skiers. But the advocates of natural training resisted this new, scientific model. A battle was fought between the two sides, and a number of different power strategies were used by the federation and the physiologists to promote scientific training. In this article, the battle between different training regimes is analyzed using theories of power and sportification.

The article concludes that the shift towards rational training during the period 1948-1972 was part of a larger rationalization of Swedish society. And the relative slowness of implementation was due to a lack of professionalization (of coaches). Rationalization should therefore be seen as one of the later stages of sportification. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Svenska idrottshistoriska föreningen, 2014
Keyword
scientification, training, cross-country skiing, power, rationalization
National Category
History
Research subject
History of Science, Technology and Environment
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-156852 (URN)
Projects
Rationell träning: Vetenskapliggörandet av träning för längdskidåkning
Funder
Swedish National Centre for Research in Sports
Note

QC 20150114

Available from: 2014-12-03 Created: 2014-12-03 Last updated: 2016-11-14Bibliographically approved
3. Technologies of sportification: Practice, Theory and Co-Production of Training Knowledge in Cross-Country Skiing Since the 1950s
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Technologies of sportification: Practice, Theory and Co-Production of Training Knowledge in Cross-Country Skiing Since the 1950s
2016 (English)In: European Studies in Sport History, ISSN 1999-8589, Vol. 9, no 1Article in journal (Refereed) Accepted
Abstract [en]

Elite athletes of today use specialized, scientific training methods and the increasing role of science in sports is undeniable. The scientization process started in endurance sports (e.g. Yttergren 2012, Bourne 2008, Krüger 2006, Svensson 2014, Heggie 2011, Johnson 2009), among them cross-country skiing. This article analyzes how Swedish physiologists and cross-country skiers interacted in the scientization of training methods, focusing on the technologies of sportification that were used. Examples of such technologies are scientific testing, training logs, training camps and training manuals. Material from archives, interviews and earlier research will be studied using theories of bio-power (Foucault 1998) and sportification (e.g. Yttergren 2006, Guttmann 1978). The article concludes that while technologies of sportification could not ensure a rapid rationalization of training methods, these technologies over time became standard features in the training and sportification of cross-country skiing.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Rouen: Presses universitaires de Rouen et du Havre, 2016
Keyword
Training, skiing, sportification, technologies of sportification, bio-power
National Category
History and Archaeology
Research subject
History of Science, Technology and Environment
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-195729 (URN)
Projects
Rationell träning
Funder
Swedish National Centre for Research in Sports
Note

QC 20161114

Available from: 2016-11-09 Created: 2016-11-09 Last updated: 2016-11-14Bibliographically approved
4. Science, sport et environnement: Le développement des techniques d’entraînement en altitude depuis 1945
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Science, sport et environnement: Le développement des techniques d’entraînement en altitude depuis 1945
2015 (French)In: Les liaisons dangereuses de la médecine et du sport / [ed] Grégory Quin, Anaïs Bohuon, Paris: Editions Glyphe, 2015, 1, 193-212 p.Chapter in book (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Today, most elite endurance athletes use high-altitude training to some extent. For at least the last 40 years, it has been linked to increased performance. But how was high-altitude training established as a means of improving performance? And how did the scientific approach to altitude differ from the traditional, natural valuation of mountains as a site for training?

High-altitude training was introduced in sports in the post-war period. During the 1960s, it became a highly contested method, with controversies between scientists, athletes, doctors, sport organizations and coaches. What ideas about altitude and performance were important in this process? What type of scientific hypotheses led scientists and sport practitioners towards increasing high-altitude training? Interestingly, those within sports who rejected the scientific, ‘machine-like’ training methods also often valued the mountains. Famous Swedish coach Gösta Olander is one example. He was the most influential protagonist of the natural training method in Sweden, and his base was in Vålådalen (in Jämtland, near Östersund and Åre). Both Swedish (e.g. Sixten Jernberg, Gunder Hägg) and international athletes (e.g. Michel Jazy and Michel Bernard) came to Vålådalen. The fresh mountain air and scenic surroundings were important as a place for training camps, but scientists later demystified the mountains via scientific explanations about increased oxygen uptake and increasing hemoglobin levels in the blood. Vålådalen became a center not only for natural training, but also for scientific monitoring, testing and evaluation.

And the setting of international standards regarding high-altitude training had a political aspect, as the issue was addressed when white runners from low altitude were threatened by the results of mainly runners from high altitude countries like Kenya and Ethiopia.

Focusing on the Swedish case, we analyze the scientific interest in high-altitude training for sports. Especially, we study the links between science, military and sports.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Paris: Editions Glyphe, 2015 Edition: 1
Keyword
High-altitude training, mountains, physiology, skiing, Gösta Olander
National Category
History
Research subject
History of Science, Technology and Environment
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-177828 (URN)978-2-35815-165-8 (ISBN)
Projects
Rational training
Funder
Swedish National Centre for Research in SportsSwedish Environmental Protection Agency
Note

QC 20160127

Available from: 2015-11-26 Created: 2015-11-26 Last updated: 2016-11-15Bibliographically approved
5. Science, sport and landscape: The development of high-altitude training methods after 1945.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Science, sport and landscape: The development of high-altitude training methods after 1945.
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Today, most elite endurance athletes use high-altitude training to some extent. For at least the last 40 years, it has been linked to increased performance. But how was high-altitude training established as a means of improving performance? And how did the scientific approach to altitude differ from the traditional, natural valuation of mountains as a site for training? In this essay, these questions are addressed.High-altitude training was introduced in sports in the post-war period. During the 1960s, it became a highly contested method, with controversies between scientists, athletes, doctors, sport organizations and coaches. What ideas about altitude and performance were important in this process? What type of scientific hypotheses led scientists and sport practitioners towards increasing high-altitude training? Interestingly, those within sports who rejected the scientific, ‘machine-like’ training methods also often valued the mountains. Famous Swedish coach Gösta Olander is one example. He was the most influential protagonist of the natural training method in Sweden, and his base was in Vålådalen (in Jämtland, near Östersund and Åre). Both Swedish (e.g. Sixten Jernberg, Gunder Hägg) and international athletes (e.g. Michel Jazy and Michel Bernard) came to Vålådalen. The fresh mountain air and scenic surroundings were important as a place for training camps, but scientists later demystified the mountains via scientific explanations about increased oxygen uptake and increasing hemoglobin levels in the blood. Vålådalen became a center not only for natural training, but also for scientific monitoring, testing and evaluation.And the setting of international standards regarding high-altitude training had a political aspect, as the issue was addressed when white runners from low altitude were threatened by the results of mainly runners from high altitude countries like Kenya and Ethiopia.Focusing on the Swedish case, we will analyze the scientific interest in high-altitude training for sports. Especially, we will study the links between science, military and sports.

Keyword
Mountains, sport, high-altitude training, Harvard Fatigue Lab, skiing, Per-Olof Åstrand, Gösta Olander, Bengt Saltin
National Category
History and Archaeology
Research subject
History of Science, Technology and Environment
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-195728 (URN)
Projects
Rationell träning
Funder
Swedish National Centre for Research in Sports
Note

English version of a chapter published in French in the following publication: 

Svensson, D. and Sörlin, S. (2015). ‘Science, Sport et Environnement : le développement des techniques d’entraînement en altitude depuis 1945’ in Quin, Grégory and Bohuon, Anaïs (eds.), Les Liaisons Dangereuses de la Médicine et du Sport. Paris: Éditions Glyphe, pp. 195-214.

QC 20161114

Available from: 2016-11-09 Created: 2016-11-09 Last updated: 2016-11-15Bibliographically approved
6. I fäders spår?: Längdskidåkningens landskap som kulturarv
Open this publication in new window or tab >>I fäders spår?: Längdskidåkningens landskap som kulturarv
2014 (Swedish)In: RIG: Kulturhistorisk tidskrift, ISSN 0035-5267, Vol. 96, no 4, 193-212 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article discusses the landscapes of skiing from a heritage and memory perspective. Are there certain landscapes of cross-country skiing that can be seen as a national and/or local heritage? What constitutes these landscapes and how are they portrayed in tourism and marketing today? By the analysis of three examples - Hindås, Vålådalen and Vasaloppet - this article investigates how history and landscape is used to market skiing and to attract (skiing) tourism. How is skiing constructed as cultural heritage and used for present day purposes? The three before-mentioned cases are compared with fourth, Landvetter, a place where cross-country skiing does not have the same historical connection. The conclusion is that ideas about landscapes of skiing unite Vasaloppet, Vålådalen and Hindås, even though the efforts and commercial effects may differ greatly. Another conclusion is that landscapes of skiing (or any sport) are cultural products, and best understood as a form of cultural heritage. Landscapes of sport are now being articulated as sites of cultural heritage, much resembling the articulation process of other previously neglected landscapes of industry, research, cities and other. This articulation implies a broadening of the cultural heritage, a process that risk being paralleled by a commercialization and devaluation of the increasingly inclusive heritage concept. But there are also more positive aspects. The inclusion of landscapes of movement in the cultural heritage can result in both protection and increased attraction, like in the case of the VasaloppsArena.

Keyword
Landscape, cross-country skiing, cultural heritage, training, Vasaloppet, Vålådalen, Hindås, Landskap, längdskidor, kulturarv, träning, Vasaloppet, Vålådalen, Hindås
National Category
History
Research subject
History of Science, Technology and Environment
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-142380 (URN)2-s2.0-84908005697 (ScopusID)
Projects
Rationell träning. Vetenskapliggörandet av träning för längdskidåkning
Funder
Swedish National Centre for Research in Sports
Note

QC 20140430

[In the tracks of our fathers? Landscapes of skiing as cultural heritage]

Available from: 2014-03-03 Created: 2014-03-03 Last updated: 2016-11-14Bibliographically approved

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