Archive for the ‘Physical Performance’ Category
Last weekend I attended an Unarmed Self Defense workshop, conducted by Insights Training. The last time I hit anyone was in tae kwon do class when I was 10 years old. I figured it would be a good idea to learn how to hit and defend myself at a basic level. I also heard great things about the training and figured it would be a good use of a weekend. I was right.
The workshop was two full days and was mostly drill-focused with partners. Hardly any time was spent sitting in chairs. We would learn a technique for defending/attacking and then carry it out multiple times with multiple opponents. We covered a variety of grabs and attacks – both standing and on the ground. We also learned how to de-escalate verbally and through body language. The culmination of the day was a full force attack against a trainer in a specially designed attack suit. During breaks the trainer would tell stories and answer questions to teach new material.
The most important learning for me was a new mindset (one of preparedness and a desire to protect what matters most) and a firm understanding of my rights to protect what is important to me. Mindset is even more critical than fitness, equipment or skill. Personal safety is not something I have spent much time thinking about so this weekend definitely opened my mind to a whole new world and how to deal with it effectively. If you are in the Seattle area I highly recommend taking this training.
Geoff Roes – an elite American ultra-marathon runner – won an incredible race in the rugged Alaskan outback last week. Though, instead of saying he ‘won,’ it would be better to say he ‘survived the fastest.’
The 350 mile foot-race took a full week to complete in absolutely insane conditions. He pulled all his own gear in a sled behind him, often breaking trail through fresh snowfall and dragging himself up and over hills. It is worth reading his race report. To me it was a good reminder of what we are really capable of as humans from an endurance perspective.
Growth happens when you rest, not when you are training. If you just train constantly with little rest you will slow down, weaken and eventually get injured. Rest is the key.
Many athletes (like me!) spend a ton of money on gadgets like heart rate monitors, power meters, GPS devices and fancy training programs, but in the end you will improve just as much by optimizing your rest and recovery as you will from optimizing your workouts. Good coaches focus on this – which is partly why I think the best money you can spend to improve your performance in a sport is on a coach.
How to optimize your rest?
- Get quality sleep in a dark room with no noise
- Take ice baths after exercising
- Alternate warm and cool showers in the morning to flush stale fluid from your muscles
- Use a foam roller and do self-massage
- Take in high quality nutrition immediately after finishing workouts (200-400 calories with a blend of sugar and protein – I like a dozen raw almonds and 4-5 dates with some water, or a smoothie made with Vega and fruit)
- Give your nervous system a rest by not watching too much TV or using the computer a ton
- Stay off your feet when don’t need to be on them
- Cut back on stimulants like caffeine and sugar, especially in the evening
- Learn yoga, develop a home practice and do it regularly (focus on your known tight/bound muscles)
- SLEEP!!!! Go to bed early and wake up early!
How do you optimize your rest and recovery?
Talent is something that is innate. You are born with it and if lucky enough to notice and nurture it during your formative years, can achieve some level of success.
Skill, on the other hand, is developed through practice. Practice that can take result in massive capacity for achievement, as a result of months or even years of steady and consistent work.
For any endeavor there is a combination of talent and skill that come to bear in order to determine the final outcome.
A highly talented person with a very poor work ethic will not achieve success over the long-term, though some “lucky” moments of short-term success are bound to occur. Think about the students who seem to get A’s without studying, or the high school swimmers who crush school records with poor physical shape and a lazy attitude in practice.
However, someone with a dedicated focus on cultivating skill will slowly – and inevitably – become successful over the long-term, even if the gains take a while to show up.
If I had to choose between being innately talented – or highly skilled – I’ll take the latter any day, even it requires some hard work on my part to develop.
Skill, once developed, is enduring. The trick is to not give up too soon.
I’m a huge fan of the TDF. There is nothing more incredible than watching the world’s longest endurance event. Any single stage would be epic enough but racing for three weeks like that through the heat and mountains is crazy and so fun to watch. Since I don’t own a TV, for the past three years I’ve purchased access to the online video streams (this year available for $30 from NBC).
I’m rooting for:
- Andy Schleck. He’s been a solid contender for several years and I hope he can take the overall win this year! I like the way he rides and he’s young, strong and doesn’t show-boat…he just races hard and excels in the mountains.
- Tyler Farrar. From Washington (state) and an up and coming one day racer and sprinter. He’s already won a stage in this year’s tour and I’m rooting for him to win a few stages and potentially take the green sprinter’s jersey.
- I’m also a a fan of Tyler’s team Garmin-Cervelo. I ride a Cervelo and really like the company :) and also like the way the team rides in races….they are have several amazing time trialists and tend to ride hard tempo on the front of the peloton which is a gutsy (albeit risky) way to ride.
- Levi Leipheimer. He’s one of the older guys in the tour, but I would really like to see him win a stage.
Who are you rooting for?
I really had to dig deep this time. The swim went well and I didn’t push too hard given the length of the day ahead. With almost 2,500 athletes in the water it was VERY aggressive and I was getting punched, kicked and dunked every few minutes. I came out of the water 5-10 minutes slower than expected.
The bike ride was OK, and again had to keep the pace slow to keep my knee from flaring up. I was really concerned about even being able to finish the race. After 50 miles on the bike I really didn’t think I would finish, as my knee was really hurting and I just focused on pedaling with my right (pain-free) leg.
Since there was nothing I could do about in the moment, I just stopped thinking about it and after another 20 miles it sorta became numb and the pain was just a dull ache instead of a short-stabbing pain that usually happens, totally bearable.
The run was humbling. Normally my strong suit, after having not put in many miles running or biking in the past 10 weeks on account of injury, I was only able to slowly jog the first 13 miles (around 9:30 min/mile pace) before walking/shuffling the last 13 miles. My knee didn’t cause me too much trouble during the run, my legs were just totally dead overall.
Finishing, however, made me happy and accomplished my goal!
I can’t believe that not even 6 weeks ago I wrote this, essentially giving up all hope of being able to race. At the time it was painful to walk and the thought of doing an Ironman was laughable. My lesson in all this is that sometimes listening to your body’s aches and pains and giving yourself a total rest is the right thing, and other times it’s about getting the FULL STORY on what is actually going on.
In my case, some amazing doctors, a great coach and knowledgeable friends helped me pin-point the issue, treat it and come up with a plan that had a good chance of working…and it did work!
More detailed race report to come later.