Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Baby Steps into the Endurance World: A Few Lessons I'm Learning

The first time my middle school track coach made me run a 200 meter dash, I half jokingly told him I wasn't an endurance athlete.  I'll stick to the 70m, 100m, and the long jump.  My sophomore year of high school, my track coach added the 400 meter dash to the equation.  I actually started running a few miles for conditioning to try to get better at the event.

College brought football conditioning and more track.  I discovered mountain biking.  But, back then, I was taught that aerobic development would make me slower.  As a fast twitch speed guy, this was the last thing I wanted.  (this is all pre Internet, no real books I found, and Hillsdale had no Strength and Conditioning Coach)

Rugby brought a new way of thinking.  You had run, tackle and display ball skills for 90 minutes.  I brought biking back in and used track workouts to get in anaerobic shape.  I still pretty much shunned straight aerobic work.

Bobsled brought back pure power and speed.  Get big, get fast, run for 5 seconds.  You have 45 min to recover.  Fitness is truly defined by the parameters that you find yourself in.  I was in shape to push a sled well.  More then 5 seconds, and I was very unfit.

Decade and some change later, I find myself riding my bike for longer and longer stretches.  I have friends, that ride even longer.  Friends so good, they are Pros and win big races in the biking endurance world.

I find myself for the first time semi training to be an endurance guy.  Semi as in I try to ride my bike about 2x a week.  About two times less then is ideal.  But, in dipping my toes in this endurance world, there is some very interesting thoughts that come to mind.

Speed world is technical and done.  Mistakes mean hundredths of a second.  Gains are hard to come by.  Rhythm is big in the world.  I think this is why music is such a big deal to fast twitch archetypes.

Endurance you have time to think, I mean time.  Hours and hours.  It's the crux of being good (outside of being slow twitch monster)  It's your mental control of time.  It's your relationship to time.  Can you stay focused with each step or each pedal stroke.  I'm not sure how many times, I have zoned out on a bike, looked down and be going about 2 MPH slower.  My legs weren't tired, I wasn't tired, but my mind was.  I haven't trained the mental focus.  It too, needs to be trained.

Over the weekend I did a 100 mile gravel race as a training ride.  I purposefully went out to hard to put myself in a hole to see how my body would recover, physical and mentally.  I didn't expect to start cramping at 2.5 hours in.  My goal was 8 hours for the race.

It's really easy to project when you are in pain.  If this is how much I hurt now, in 4, 5, 6 hours what am I going to feel?  Fear.  Endurance lesson for me is stay in the moment.  Don't think about the outcome, do what you have to do right now.  Don't Project the Future.

Cramps have been my nemesis since I can remember.  Running through the woods when I was eight and getting a calf cramp.  I think most high school football games and rugby games I got calf cramps.  Every mountain bike ride over 2 hours, quad cramps.  I've tried everything under the sun.  At this point, I think I'm simply neuromuscularly under trained for the race/task at hand.  I don't do enough at the intensity I race at.

Endurance training takes time.  I miss the 45 min workouts.  Even the lung burners.   But, there are some nice life takeaways that are hard to own, when you haven't lived through them.  Be in the moment is great advice, but to shut off your anxiety of the future and work the minute is an entirely different takeaway.  Pain gets worse when we project it into the future.

I have some cool friends to bounce ideas and questions off, or just pick up some tidbits.  Here is my Matt Acker Pro Tip number 7, use loose sandwich bags to hold your snacks in.  Zip lock are hard to open with one hand when your biking down bumpy roads.  I forgot this tip going into the race.  I found myself struggling to open up my snacks.

I brought a PB&J sandwich to eat halfway of my last 100 mile race.  It may have been the 2nd most enjoyable meal of my life.  LOL.  Endurance work has a unique way of making ordinary things extraordinary.


There might not be a more fitting word to describe a successful endurance athlete.    

Monday, June 10, 2019

Thoughts, Musings and a Book Review

It is nice to be able to sit and write about things that have been percolating in my head.

The first, I have found myself reading more about logic and choices we make as humans.  None of it makes sense.  We are not logical.  We are emotional.  We know what we should do, but still find ourselves not doing it.  The key is most likely understanding and building in constraints.  I'm still building some ideas around that.  For instance, I find myself more genuinely a content person when I'm writing, yet it's the first thing I give up when time SEEMS crunched.  Yet it gives me a sense of peace and creativity.

Thoughts from work.

The best compliment at this point in time, "You seem to genuinely enjoy your work."  Years ago, it would have been, "You really are good at what you do."  Is that age or a different thought process.

A new patient told me a story about his wife.  She had never been to a chiropractor.  She was playing tennis and ran into net.  She could tell she did something to her neck.  It wasn't bad enough to stop playing or even have a thought about seeking help or telling anyone.  A few days later she started having some more pain, but also some mental confusion.  They went to the hospital.  She had a minor stroke.  The first question the MD asked was had you been to a chiropractor.  Lets say she had.  The chiropractor would have most likely been blamed for a cervical adjustment that resulted in this style stroke.  I'm not saying that some have, but the story lays out some potential wiggle room of ambiguity in the future.

I think foam rolling has value from a compression and blood flow idea.  It usually feels good and feeling good can't be denied as a positive outcome.  I usually ask people to get down on the floor 3-5x a day for about one minute followed up with a type of exercise.  (I've had people only do the exercise without the foam rolling and it never seemed to work as well)  I watch people when they first do it and for the most part the coordination of moving the body across that little ball or roller is quite unatheltic looking.  But, a few weeks later they are moving around on it like a professional roller.  I had an aha moment, maybe the benefit is up and down off the ground over and over and learning to coordinate body parts.  They would be a hard research to do.

Thoughts from life.

My problems are all my own.  They aren't from other people.  They may do things you don't like, but they still are all on me.  Don't give up your joy for anything.

Your life is a love story.  It doesn't mean that in a romantic way.  It means find stuff you love and protect it.  Have filters.  It doesn't mean a person or work, but it certainly can be.  Ideas, hobbies, time.  The old thought we all worship a God, so choose carefully.  If we look at the love story like a movie, is it a dud?  How can I make it more interesting?

Read only what interest you.  When it doesn't,  move on.  No guilt.

Thoughts from training.

The tongue is a muscle that doesn't have a bony connection.  The upper palate is the insertion for this muscle.  Having room for this muscle to rest and support the neck and airway seems to be a big deal.

I did an hour of step ups to help prepare for a bike race.  When I looked down (close view) it seemed hard.  When I let my eyes gaze at the horizon, (long view) it relaxed and seemed easy.  I don't really know what this means quite yet, but it seems to hold true.

The better you get at something, the more warm up, or body prep it seems to take to feel like you are ready in that endeavor.

Talking to a friend.  We both have come to the same conclusion.  There is a cycle that seems to repeat itself.  A fringe thing is shared with a few close friends.  It stems from a dissatisfaction with the current way of doing something.  The small group has fun, it separates itself from the pack.  People notice.  They gravitate to the new "cool thing."  The small group is now a large group.  Logistics and big group antics slowly shift the fringe into the thing it was fighting against.  Wash and Repeat.  How do you stop the cycle is a question we both didn't have an answer for.

It is all about consistent effort.  Effort.  Real effort.

Book Review

I recently finished the book "Range," by David Epstein.  He wrote the "Sports Gene." I really enjoyed it.  In a world that is becoming more and more specialized, the generalist is going to have more an more usefulness.  People that can bridge one field of study to another.  Many science, sport, music and research stories are studied.

There are two environments.  Wicked and Kind.  Wicked environments change.  Soccer pitch, with ball moving, people trying to stop you is an example.  Kind environments are always the same, a chess board, a golf game.  Kind environments lend itself to having some success with early specialization.  Wicked do not.  Sorry all you parents that picked a sport like hockey or soccer for your 6 year old.  Years of research have shown it doesn't work out.  Broader range for years, produces a more athletic, healthier, more creative player that has a bigger ceiling.  The myths of early specialization is being propagated by people that have a financial incentive to keep your child in a travel team or single sport.  "Among athletes that go on to become elite, broad early experience and delayed specialization is the norm."

Even musicians that have been told your to old to start that instrument to have any real success have example after example of this being false.

The takeaways, your not falling behind, by trying out different sports or careers.  In fact, it usually is the weird knowledge that comes from something out of your field that triggers breakthroughs or separates trains of thoughts for a more creative outlook.

Brain dump over....