Deconstructing Paul Chek – T-nation Article

Deconstructing Paul Chek by t-nations by Chris Shugart is a bullet point recap of a 4 hour conversation with the therapist / trainer / coach. He has been at it for a very long time and remains in the best shape of his life.

Personally I like the holistic nature of his approach; even though I’m not religious, I can see the value of including all aspects on ones identity into their health and fitness development plan. He draws a distinction between the different religious views that people hold but only in so far as to say that each is a very important aspect of the individual.

• It’s only through a healthy body that you can have a functional, rational mind. Aristotle made his philosophy students workout with the Olympic wresting team. One of the main reasons I train my body is so that my mind works effectively.

• Toxicity means you’re bringing in more toxins from the outside than you can release. You can’t have a functional detoxification system unless you have a functional digestive system. Anyone who’s eating cheap food is likely to have a digestive system that isn’t working.

• If you don’t want to have problems, eat real food. Stop eating all this cheap crap. I’ve had multi-millionaires and world-class professional athletes in my office tell me that organic food is too expensive.I walk them to the window and point to their $140,000 sports car and say, “Eat that fu#ker then! Because when you die they aren’t going to bury that son of a bitch with you!” It’s just a matter of getting your priorities right. The more toxic your body is, the lower your quality of life is.

• We have a tremendous dehydration problem today. The only thing that substitutes for water is water. When you’re drinking water you’re actually drinking nature’s most powerful detoxification agent. The best solution for pollution is dilution. And that means water, not tea, not soda pop, not orange juice… water!

It will probably take a few reads for everything to sink in. Even if you don’t agree with all that he says, try and let his words impact you if for no other reason than he’s 44 and still stronger than everyone you know.

Anti-aging Drugs And Performance

Drug Test – A Cautionary Tale is a first hand account to see the impact that taking anti-aging drugs has on long distance cycling and performance. Over an 8 month period, and a price tag of over $7000, the author uses a combination of human growth hormone, EPO, deca and testosterone and finds the boost he was looking for.

The entire experience was done under doctor supervision and is completely legal in the US.

… I remained skeptical about all the drugs until March 29, when I rode an event along the central coast of California, the Solvang Double Century, at what for me was a fast and hard pace, finishing in around 11.5 hours. About ten hours in, it dawned on me that something was definitely happening. Sure, I’d been training hard, but I’d done enough of that to know what to expect. All around me were riders—good, strong riders—who looked as worn out as you’d expect after ten hours in the saddle. I was tired, but I felt curiously strong, annoyingly talkative and fresh, eager to hammer the last 40 miles.

The last time I’d ridden 200 miles, I felt awful the next day, like I’d been hit by a truck. After the Solvang race I woke up and felt hardly a touch of soreness. I also felt like I could easily ride another 200, and I realized that I’d entered another world, the realm of instant recovery. I’ll be frank: It was a reassuring kind of world, and I could see why people might want to stay there.

When I checked in with the good doctor soon after the race, he wasn’t surprised about what I’d experienced. “With your hematocrit levels higher, you don’t produce as much lactic acid, which means you can ride harder, longer, with less stress. The growth hormone and testosterone help you recover faster, since you’re stronger to start with and recover more quickly. All those little muscle tears repair much more quickly.”

Recap Of July 8 Hour & 5 Things To Be Faster Next Race

On Saturday I rode my third race of the year, Dukes 8 Hour at Hardwood Hills. Wes and I entered “East Coast Riders” in the 2 Person Male Tag Team Combined Age 79 and Under category. The coarse was 9.5 Km and we finished 13 laps. We placed 14th of 28 and I’m happy with how it went.

This was my first Tag Team race and my body held up fairly well for my 7 laps with ~30 minutes of recover / rest time between laps. My times were fairly consistent but did start to drop towards the end.

In my last 5 Things I’ll Do To Be Faster Next Race I mentioned tire selection, improved hydration, stand up in the single track sections, faster transitions, and don’t carry a camel pack as what I needed to work on. Addressing these things paid off. I’m really happy that I switch to treaded tired because they didn’t hurt my climbing or sprints in any noticeable way and they gave me the confidence to ride faster in the flowing sections.

5 Things I’ll Do To Be Faster Next Race:

1) Simulate and practice race behavior in some of my training rides. Racing is way more intense than training because I feel like there is something more on the line. When you feel that engaged, it’s easy to repeat “faster” a couple of 1000 times during the race to maintain your focus. I don’t get the same intensity from training rides in the trails. Maybe I can learn how to control the race response and teach my body to find the higher intensity during training rides by practicing getting into this mind set.

2) Fix gears, change cables, true wheels. Make sure you have confidence in the bike and the gear you are in. Hoping the bike is in the right gear is a lousy way to go through a race. I’d sooner not think about it at all and just peddle as hard as I can.

3) Go faster in the down hill single track. There was improvement in this area over last race, but I’m still losing too much time. I’m not entirely sure why I’m not going faster. I think I may be getting a little scared.

4) Take creatine before and during the race. I stopped taking it for the June 24 hour race because I thought it might be better to ride lighter. Stopping it did help me get to 165, but I lost the kick that it offers you. It gives you more power during the first 10 seconds of effort and it increases your ability to recover that power during short periods of recovery. I race better when I’m taking it so I’m going to keep doing it.

5) Drink more water. I was better hydrated during this race but I lost interest in drinking water between the 6th and 7th lap – usually an indication that I’ve become dehydrated. As the day goes on, your focus tend to slip a little and you end up letting certain things slide. Fluid consumption should never be one of these things. I held on longer this race, but I really need to see it through, even in the car on the way home.

The next event is Chico Racings Hot August Nights the final 24 hour relay of the season. It is my favorite event and tends not be be as busy as the Summer Solstice.

5 Things I’ll Do To Be Faster Next Race

We had our first 24 hour race last weekend. We placed 22nd out of 52 teams. Individually we rode well, but we lost 2 laps because of mechanical failures – a broken rear derailer drop-out and a broken chain. This was the first race in over two years were we’ve had any issues, so we are not too upset about it. Personally, I have a bit of work to do to attain my full speed potential.

Keys to improving my time for the next race:

1) Tire selection – I need to ride a softer compound treaded tire. For the last few events I have ridden a road slick. It makes for very fast acceleration in the straight portions of the course, but due to poor cornering and single track speed, they cost me dearly in these cross country races. Estimated time saving 30 seconds to 2 minutes per lap; maybe more during the night laps.

2) Improved hydration – I need to increase that amount of water I drink in the days leading up to the race. I didn’t suffer too much because of this, but any boost I can get will help me dramatically.

3) Stand up in the single track sections. You carry a lot more momentum when you are standing up and you have more agility. Plus, if you are good at finding the right gear, you accelerate faster when you stand. Estimated time saving 30 seconds to 2 minutes per lap.

4) Faster transitions. I need to find an easy access place to put the time chip so I don’t have to dig for it at the end of the lap when I’m exhausted or take my time putting it away at the beginning of the lap. Estimated time saving = 30 seconds per lap.

5) Don’t carry a camel pack. I don’t drink during the ride, so I don’t need water. Since I’ll scrap any lap that I have a real mechanical issue on, there isn’t any need to carry anything with me other than a tube and some tire irons. The goal is to ride fast and carrying a 3 pound pack isn’t going to make that happen. Estimated time saving = 1 to 2 minutes per lap.

How To Enjoy RPM If You Are An All Terrain Athlete

Some road, triathlon and mountain bike riders don’t take RPM classes because they don’t like them. I used to be one of these people. Our biggest concern with RPM is that there are a lot of times when you are not working very hard. We’re working on our cardio base by holding a steady heart rate and the RPM class has the participants HR going up and down over and over again. We don’t see it as valuable training for us because we need to ride flat road for hours.

Even though I teach RPM, I still understand this concern and it is legitimate. As an athlete you have workout parameters that need to be followed in order for your training to progress. Unless you have an idea of what the instructor is going to ask you to do next, you cannot adjust your workout on the fly to satisfy these parameters. The outcome is a lost workout and a bad taste for RPM.

This article will outline what RPM is so you training athletes can plan a cycling workout accordingly.

RPM is different from the other group cycling classes in that it is standardized and it follows a formula.

LMI standard:
All of the RPM instructors teach the same choreography and music, RPM 33 at Milton will sound and feel very similar to RPM at South Common or any club that teaches it.
There are a finite number of songs that you will ever hear at an RPM class so you will hear some tracks a number of times. Each time you do a track, you will get better at it.
Once you get good at riding each track you will be able to focus on your form and your effort level making you more successful.

RPM consists of 9 working sections of varying intensities and is regarded as an interval training program.

The participants are encouraged to work with three levels of physical exertion in mind, comfortable, uncomfortable and breathless. These are subjective and determined by the participant.

Songs are 5-6 minutes long. Track length remains fairly consistent between releases.

The Les Mills RPM classes are choreographed using the following formula (each track position serves the same training function on each release):

  • Track 1 Pack Ride – it’s a warm-up
  • Track 2 Pace Track – continuing to warm up and find your top pace
  • Track 3 Hills – seated and standing climbing – first cardio peak
  • Track 4 Mixed Terrain – speed and hill climbing – recover from track 3
  • Track 5 Intervals – quick peddle speed with seated and standing attacks – second cardio peak
  • Track 6 Speed work – series of races to top speed – slight recovery from track 5
  • Track 7 Mountain climb – seated and standing climbing with heavy resistance – third cardio peak
  • Track 8 Ride home – cool down
  • Track 9 Stretching

You are working to the same perceived exertion level for each track position on each release:

  • Track 1 Comfortable
  • Track 2 Almost breathless
  • Track 3 Breathless
  • Track 4 Comfortable
  • Track 5 Breathless
  • Track 6 Uncomfortable
  • Track 7 Breathless
  • Track 8 Comfortable
  • Track 9 Comfortable

There will be some recovery between tracks as songs fade out and new ones buil

Key aspects of the profile are:
Your heart rate should peak three times during the class, track 3, 5 and 7.

Your heart rate should recover almost completely during track 4 and somewhat during track 6.

Expectation of RPM riders:

You work as hard as you need to achieve the recommended level of exertion, recovering or increasing resistance as needed.

How to adjust your workout to make the most of an RPM class (assuming you are there for training and not just the fitness class):
Class lasts about 50 minutes and the last 7-8 minutes of that are cool down and stretching. Arrive early enough to make sure you get the time on the bike that you are hoping for before track 8. Your workout is over at track 8.

  • Track 1 – you will be peddling a lot slower because everyone else will be warming up. Use a lot of tension and treat track one as a seated hill. Make sure your legs are well warmed up. Hold the effort through the break between songs.
  • Track 2 – group peddling speed will be higher during this track. Adjust tension to find training HR. Carry effort to next song.
  • Track 3 – a beat matched track; riders should try and find push point to the beat. There will also be a couple of recovery period throughout the track and seated climb usually follows standing recovery. The best option is to seated climb thought recovery sections and adjust tension as needed to hold your training effort.
  • Track 4 – this is racing and standing climb at your pace, make it whatever you need it to be.
  • Track 5 – faster paced seated and standing attack. I think you should do this track, use it to spike your heart rate. I offer no suggestion for other options but it’s a high energy song so you could probably get away with staying seated the whole time.
  • Track 6 – this is racing at your pace, make it whatever you need it to be.
  • Track 7 – seated and standing climb, beat matched track. Seated climb through the standing recovery sections and adjust tension as needed to hold your training effort.
  • Track 8 – end of workout.

If you have any questions concerning how to modify your workout to better fit with the RPM format, just leave the questions below and I will address them or come to one of my classes and ask me directly.

My First Pay Cheque

Recently I got my first pay cheque from my fitness instructor job. It was for $20 less tax, EI, and Canadian pension.

It was a happy moment for me. This is the first job that I actually had a passion for BEFORE I started doing it. That’s a wonderful thing. It’s also the first job that I have had that I thought that I couldn’t do. Instructing is a skill that I have never had before so it’s completely new to me. I have been a personal trainer, war canoe coach and manager before, but these things are unique and different from instructing.

The hardest part with instructing, at least for me, is modeling proper form on the bike. When I race, I tend to get into whatever position I need to to get the bike moving quickly. Sometimes the back is rounded, sometimes my knees are pointing in, sometimes my head is down looking only a few inches in front of my wheel. This form doesn’t cut it with instructing because when you are leading a class, you can count on some of the participants copying and exaggerating you positioning and habits. My bad habits become the things that injure participants and that isn’t good for anyone.

I also passed my video which means I’m almost a certified RPM instructor. There is some paper work to complete and then it is done. I’m really happy about this because the feedback I got from the reviewer was mostly positive. As far as positioning goes, the only bad tendency I had on the video was a little upper body bouncing on the seated climb; the video was taped at the end of April and I have been working on this flaw since I noticed it. She also mentioned that I need to connect with the participants more and modulate my voice during some of the tracks; both things I am aware of and have been trying to address.

The positive feedback addressed my physical strength on the bike, my high level of fitness and my knowledge of the choreography. I was very pleased with the choreography comment because this was the first time I had ever learned anything like this so I’m still able to learn new skills.

My class this Tuesday night was my best yet. The participants are getting used to my coaching style and they seem to follow the cues I give them. I heard a lot of gasping at the end of track 5 and 7, which is what the choreography calls for and there were a few smiles during tracks 4 and 6. It is a fantastic feeling when it all comes together.

I still need to work on connecting with the class a little more, but the fact that they are following my coaching and positional cuing means I’m getting some of it right. Is it the world class experience that they are hoping to get out of it? Yes for some, not yet for others. But given that it has been 4 months since I took the training, I’m really happy with the progress.

Oh, and the $20 less deductions went to gas for my car.

Celebrate Your Failures

Yesterday someone I work with told me to celebrate my failures. He said it because I didn’t connect with a potential client properly and it ended up costing me a sale. I didn’t take the time I needed to be to recognized the next day. I didn’t make an impression because I didn’t care enough to make a good one.

He had a smile on his face when he said it because he knew it was a lesson. His point is valid if you are able to put your ego to the side and accept that you screwed up.

I learn more quickly when I accept that I have made a mistake, work to understand what I did wrong and moved to figure out how to avoid repeating it. By telling me to celebrate my failures, he was reminding me to hold onto my humanity, smile and improve my self-awareness. Great advice that I followed.

Today was better. I don’t think anyone I met today will forget me so I’m kicking my feet up and celebrating my lesson.

Stimulus -> Response? No It’s Stimulus -> Moment -> Response

Des once told me that there is a moment between stimulus and response and how we use that moment will determine what type of people we are and the quality of choices that we make. He said that once you realize that there is a period of time, you can then work to expand it and make more logical decisions instead of emotional reactions. That was a few years ago. It made logical sense at the time but it making practical sense has been long time in coming.

Well, yesterday I caught myself almost getting angry and in the moment when I realized the rage was building, I stopped and asked myself the question “why are you getting angry about this?” I was boiling water for tea and left the kettle in the kitchen. When I came back a few minutes later, I didn’t realize that someone had used the water and just turned the kettle on again to make sure the water was hot. If you didn’t know, it’s better for kettles if they have water in them when they are on. Nothing bad happened but I was told that you need to make sure there is water in the kettle before you turn it on.

I don’t know why, but having someone tell me this really got under my skin. It bothered me so much that I actually took the moment to try and figure out why it bothered me. My internal reaction was so strong that my initial guess what that I felt that someone was attacking me personally and unjustly. I asked myself what I was afraid of and why the words “you need to run it with water in it because it’ll break otherwise” caused such a visceral response. As I talked myself through it I realized that my interpretation of the sentence was what was causing the problem. I heard a lot of stuff that wasn’t said and I had started to react to that. I made assumptions about what the person was implying and didn’t stick with just the facts.

The fact was, I ran the kettle with very little water in it and that will ruin a kettle.

What I took out of the comment “you need to run it with water in it because it’ll break otherwise” was a negative value judgement about me and my intelligence. The person was saying that I didn’t know how to use a kettle, that I was too stupid to figure it out and that I always did that type of thing. I don’t think my response would have been out of line if I had actually been told that I was stupid but, that wasn’t what was said. The other person stated a fact because they saw me doing something that didn’t make any sense. Which is fair because they hadn’t seen the other person slip in and use the water while I was out of the room.

What was odd about yesterday was how quickly I stopped the anger from building and tracked down its source. Normally the reaction takes hold and I’m left to let it run its course, only to figure it out later. This time I KNEW the rage feeling wasn’t appropriate so I checked out of the process and took a moment to identify what I was feeling, why I usually feel that way and how I took what was said to me as I did.

It was kind of cool because I stopped the emotional reaction dead in its tracks. It’s one of the first times that I’ve been able to grab hold of it mid process, engage it and take corrective actions to stop it from continuing. I’m also very happy to have identified my reactive tendency towards taking neutral comments as criticisms. Taken together, it’s a big step forward in my awareness of what is going on unconsciously in my brain.

Des was right about the existence of that moment of time, now I start to work on lengthening it.

Muscles for Athletes Part II by Christian Thibaudeau

Muscles for Athletes, Part II The Hypertrophy Methods by Christian Thibaudeau of T-Nation is mandatory reading for athletes and training professionals who want to keep their clients at the front of the pack and on the podium. It covers a variety of topics including concentric, ballistic, eccentric and isometric muscle contractions as they apply to athletic performance and functional muscle development. Christian also includes exercises, instruction and periodization cycles to maximize your gains.

I do not pretend to understand everything he is writing, but I will say this, when I have followed his advice before, I have seen improvements in my speed and times on the trails. His advice on isometric training mirrors exactly the advice Rachel gave me a couple of weeks ago – I’m not surprised by this given her immersion in the athletic therapy field and Christians track record with training performance athletes.

If you are going to be racing against me this year, DO NOT read his article.

New Starts and Falling in Love With The Future

I’ve taken a couple of day’s off from blogging to find myself again.

I wasn’t as lost as I was over the last 3 decades, but I’m starting a new job today and tend to find my mind wondering on all the possibilities of what it could become. I am a dreamer and I love to dream, even when I’m awake and particularly when I start something new.

I’m not sure how the new job is going to impact what I write, or how much I will write, but I know it’s going to influence things. New experience delivers us to new knowledge and if you keep your mind open, eventually to wisdom. I’m hoping to learn a lot and nurture a new level of self-awareness.

I’m happy about getting the job. I got the lead from an old friend I reconnected with on Facebook – so already there’s some new wisdom as I’m going to have to edit my unpublished draft of my article what Facebook is good for to include helping you find work.

You could say that I have that falling in love feeling again because I’m filled with optimism and excitement. There are a bunch of new experiences waiting for me in the next couple of months and I’m probably going to lose myself in a lot of new challenges. There’s the usual apprehension I have when I’m about to start something new, but given what I’ve learned about myself since taking the RPM training in February, I know I just need to take a deep breath, exhale and walk through the door. I can’t predict the future so I’m not going to try. I’ll be successful and right now I have no idea exactly what that will mean in this circumstance.

What will be will be.