Sunday, March 20, 2016

A Week With The Elite

Whenever I go on a trip or to a seminar I always look back at my notes/thoughts and write up my take aways.  Some of the stuff I publish on this blog, some I never do anything with.  A few weeks ago I spent 10 days down in Scottsdale, AZ with the professional track and field organization called ALTIS.

ALTIS is where professional track and field athletes (mostly sprinters/jumpers/throwers) come to live, train, get high level coaching and high level therapy year round.  They make a living as an athlete.  They travel the world competing on the track.  Most will be competing for their country at the Olympics (hopefully).  ALTIS isn't just for Americans.  Any country or athlete that qualifies can come train.  While I was there athletes from China, South Africa, Canada, Korea, Germany, Scotland, England, Australia, Ivory Coast and I'm sure a few others were there living and training.

First, some impressions.  There isn't magic formulas and secret workouts.  It's often assumed because someone is elite, that they do special "stuff."  In fact, if you were to write it down on paper it would be somewhat boring  "Really, this is it?"

When you step back you can see the beauty in the basics.  Mastery.  They master the basics.  They master drills, they master posture, they master the boring.  They sleep well.  Hydrate well.  Eat well.  Bring enthusiasm and joy to the workplace (track) They listen well....and do it day after day.

There aren't secrets.  Successful people and organizations don't have secrets.  In fact, ALTIS offers clinics all the time that allow coaches and therapist come and watch and learn exactly what they do.  Day in and day out.   The programming and coaching is simply smart.

I think often times athletes get injured when they or there coach over reach (over complicate) their progressions/workouts.  Probably the notion that mental toughness can be achieved by physical beat downs still exist in the college track scene.  Running to get tired.  If being tired meant you got better, I'd be world class athlete from my chasing my 2 kids around.  Smart training, done consistently.

2nd, some questions I have received.

Can someone if they work hard enough become that fast?  Quite simply, no!  To have the ability to run 9.9 in the 100m is a God given genetic talent.  Does that mean they don't have to work that hard to do it?  Absolutely not.  Just because you have the ability doesn't mean it will happen.  Years and years of training and hard work on top of unique talent is what it takes.

Is it a lot different working with elite athletes vs the average joe?  Honestly, no.  Anatomy is anatomy.  Histology is histology.  Joints move and muscles contract.  Fascia transmits.  Humans respond to load and fatigue.  The nervous system is the same.  What is different is sometimes the quality of muscle tissue.  They have taken better care of themselves.  This lends to faster recovery.  But, the same attention to detail goes into treating an average joe as goes into treating the elite sprinter.

If you had to do it all over again, would you do the same educational path?  A lot of the work I do isn't traditional chiropractic in the truest sense.  There are PT's that adjust.  I consider myself a strength coach that adjusts joints and treats connective tissue and makes everything play nice.  I doubt if I would need a Chiropractic license to do the exact stuff I do today, but I also don't think I would have been afforded the opportunities that I was presented with without it.  Catch 22.  (PS..I'm glad I went to school)

Take aways.  Start today on getting better at the basics.  Being around Olympians and Elite athletes you can't help but feel the urge to get better.  Today is the first day of Spring.  Pick something in every area of your life to improve on and commit to doing it every day.  Walk 10 minutes.  Do 50 push ups.  Read (study) for 20 min on a topic in your field.  Write a paragraph.  Eat 3 more vegetables.  Save 10 dollars.  Get 8 more minutes of sleep tonight.  Drink 2 more glasses of water.  Start becoming a master of the basics.  That is the path to an Elite life.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Don't Let Your Hobby Become A Chore

More and more I stop and ask myself why I do what I do in training and fitness.  More and more I stop and ask my patients why they are doing what they do in training and fitness.  I've decided there are good answers and there are answered that we won't call bad, but they need to be explored more.

I'm going to go back and use my 8 year old self as the filter to this question.  My 8 year old self, loved Star Wars, playing in the woods, playing with my dog Chelsea, playing baseball, building forts, reading books, climbing trees and riding bikes.  (Not to much has changed)  lol

My 8 year old self hated weeding, raking leaves, shoveling snow, hanging laundry, doing dishes, mowing the lawn.  Life Chores.  (Nothing has changed here!)

I can remember running as fast as I can for as long as I can.  Not because I was trying to prove something to someone or to myself (important point to remember) but because I liked that feeling of being utterly spent and exploring what my body could do.  If you had asked me why after I had done something like that I'm pretty I would have just said, "It was fun."

Why are you training that particular way?

I like riding my bike.  A few years ago I was talked into doing a longish ride/race/event.  Every weekend I'd go and add a chunk of time on my ride, till I was up to about 6-7 hours.  I hated it.  I really don't like riding my bike longer then 2 hours.  This wasn't fun.  It had taken a fitness activity that I had really liked and made it a life chore!

How often do we let our hobbies become life chores?  Something that becomes another check mark on our daily to do list.  No longer something that we look forward to, that pumps are body with feel good "stuff."

Why is this an important distinction?

Runner comes in banged up and injured.  "I started running to lose weight and found that I really enjoyed it."  I loved the feeling of just getting out there and forgetting the stress of my day for awhile.  I started training for a 1/2 marathon a few months ago and now my last long run I got really sore, but the plan called for me to run again and now my hip has been hurting ever since.  But, "I HAVE TO GET MY MILES IN."

This isn't a rant on smart training or listening to your body.  It's about defining your relationship to fitness and training.  If it's about proving something to you or someone,  I'm not sure you can get that from exercise or an event.  It might seem frivolous to do only stuff that is fun, but research shows exercise that is a stress, doesn't really do a whole lot for us.  In fact, I personally think it opens us up for injury and sickness.

This is a rant about protecting the stuff you love doing.  The stuff that brings genuine joy in the activity.   Guard your joy.  This is what will bring health and happiness in your fitness and training.  If your workouts have become a chore, analyze when and how it did.  Rethink your goals.  Don't get caught in the elusive trap of comparing yourself to another.  Don't get caught in the trap of letting a hobby become a chore.  Chores suck.