TrainingPeaks CoachCast

Ep. 20: Endurance Elasticity with Alex Hutchinson

May 06, 2019 Season 1 Episode 20
TrainingPeaks CoachCast
Ep. 20: Endurance Elasticity with Alex Hutchinson
Chapters
TrainingPeaks CoachCast
Ep. 20: Endurance Elasticity with Alex Hutchinson
May 06, 2019 Season 1 Episode 20
TrainingPeaks
Dave sat down with Alex Hutchinson, New York Times best-selling author of Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance, to discuss his career and the findings in his new book.
Show Notes Transcript

You have probably pushed yourself to your limit before during training or racing, but what if you could push further? As science continues to unlock mysteries about human limits and performance potential, evidence supports the idea that maybe our mind is much more important in endurance than we previously believed.

Dave sat down with Alex Hutchinson, New York Times best-selling author of Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance, to discuss his career and the findings in his new book. They covered how Hutchinson approaches sports journalism, what science tells us about human endurance, and how athletes can use that information to improve their performance.



Speaker 1:
0:00
On today's episode of the training peaks. Coach cast your source for the latest information about the art, science and business of coaching.
Speaker 2:
0:10
You've heard the phrase mind over matter before, but if you truly giving your brain the credit it deserves.
Speaker 3:
0:24
On this episode of the training peaks coach cast, I was super excited to sit down with Alex Hutchinson. You might know him from sweat science, his column on outside magazine online or you might know him from his recent New York Times bestseller, endurer mind body and the curiously elastic limits of human performance. Alex and I talked about the role that your brain plays in your athletes performance, some different ways you can train that and also some of his recommended resources for you. Alex is going to be one of our keynote speakers at this year's interns coaching summit in Boulder, Colorado. We will be sure to include a discount code at the end of the show. Hope you enjoy. Welcome to the training peaks coach cast. I am your host Dave Shell and today I have the great pleasure to be joined by Alex Hutchinson. You might know Alex from his column sweat science or you might know him from his new 2018 New York Times bestseller, endurer mind body and the curiously elastic limits of human performance. Alex, thanks for joining us today. Thanks Dave. It's great to be here. Before we get into it, you haven't always been a science writer or really based in endurance. So where did you get your start?
Speaker 1:
1:39
Yeah, it's a along and twisting path. I, uh, I started out as a physicist, actually. I, that's what I studied in university and uh, for most of my twenties I worked as a physicist while I was also competing as a, as a middle and long distance runner. And I had, you know, it's kind of, I, I, I wouldn't say I had like this magical epiphany where, you know, choirs of angels were singing to me, Alex, you know, go become a generalist. But I, I kind of had the, the, uh, it was, it was pretty, pretty, uh, uh, a big jump. I was 28 and I'd never done any journalism before, like no student paper. And I just thought, man, journalism seems like a lot of fun. I'm going to go do that. So I left my, what was the time I post doctoral position with the national security agency and went and did a, uh, start started at the, at the bottom, did a master's degree in, in a one year masters degree in journalism work, then work today, a newspaper in Ottawa, Canada for 16 months doing like general assignment reporting, you know, car crashes and dog fashion shows and things like that.
Speaker 1:
2:36
Uh, and then, uh, after that I decided that after enough of that I decided I want it to be a freelancer. And so that was, that was 2006. And I'm at, you know, initially my, my, my beat was, I would write about anything that anyone would pay me to write about. And I did a lot of like accounting. I, you know, for the accounting, Canada's accounting monthly, a writing about accounting news and stuff. But pretty, I started to cut kind of kind of leverage my, my two areas of interest and expertise, which were the science, which is what I started out as career wise and, and running or endurance, which was my big passion. And so I gradually started to write more and more about that. And then it ended up almost by accident as my, yes, my specialty. That's cool. And that's pretty cool that you found something that you enjoyed doing that you could still use your a science background in.
Speaker 1:
3:23
So my introduction to you was through your website, sweat science.com and I don't know if it's because I'm a simpleton, but I've always been a big fan of people that can take very complex subjects and turn it into something digestible. And so was that with sweat science.com kind of your first foray into that or did that come later after you'd had some success with writing? I started to do some some magazine and newspaper pieces on the science of endurance. And I actually, well I was at this, the Ottawa citizen, this newspaper, when I started at Odette, I had one opportunity to write about running a big long sort of feature piece. And it was about, I wrote about the Kenyans who were coming to the Ottawa marathon in one, one runner in particular, who had won the race the year before. And everyone said, hey, that was the best piece I've ever written.
Speaker 1:
4:10
And then, so I sort of realized writing about this stuff I, I, I cared about would be a sort of brought out the best in me. And so I started to do a few magazine pieces and then I got a newspaper column called with a newspaper here in Canada called the globe and Mail where I was writing about the science of exercise. And I just, and, and in order to come up with every two weeks interesting new studies, I had to be looking through journals all the time and sort of reading, uh, you know, all the abstracts and plowing through a whole bunch of ideas. And what I realized is there were only a few, like I could only pick one study every two weeks to write about for the globe. But I realized there was this whole firehouse firehose of interesting new studies coming out all the time that people that, that I was interested in.
Speaker 1:
4:55
And I figured, well, I'm not the only person out there who sort of is interested in optimizing performance and, and health for that matter. Um, so I thought, hey, if I'm reading these abstracts anyways, why don't I just start a blog? Because back this was 2008 ish that this is when blogs were like the next big thing. I thought I'll just start a blog and then all I have to do is like, you know, I've gone to the trouble of reading this abstract and you know, maybe getting the, the, the, the paper, the Journal paper from the, the, the library to figure out whether it's something to write about. I just summarize the key point and I know if I were someone else, I would be interested in reading that. So that was how it started as just saying, man, there's all this information, it's behind a firewall for most people and they don't necessarily have time to be coming through. I have this job that asks me to comb through th th the, the ongoing firehose of scientific literature on the science of endurance. Why don't I just, even if I'm not writing an article article about all of them, why don't I just start sharing a few key key highlights. Like, Hey, here's a study that found that ice pads don't do anything or you know, whatever the case may be. And I know that I definitely appreciate it because as he just said,
Speaker 3:
5:58
um, so as a coach, I, you hear all the new studies and it's, it's very tempting to just jump on to whatever that new trend is. And really the good science would be to go through and verify these things, um, on your own. But a lot of coaches just don't have time to do that. So I appreciate you taking the time to do that.
Speaker 1:
6:18
Yeah. And it, and it's certainly well over what I've seen as, as the right role has evolved over time to where it started out. I would just sort of uncritically, uh, you know, repeat what the abstracts has said and what I learned as time went on. It's like I'd realize, oh wait, that's that abstract that I reported on or that paper that I reported on two years ago. No one has ever reproduced that. And it turns out that was probably wrong. It was probably a, and so now I tried to do a better job at providing context and because I've ended up specializing in this, when I see a new study that says, uh, you know, uh, you know, this magical pill is going to make you faster. I remember that five years ago, I wrote about several other studies that found that that magical pill doesn't make you faster. So I'll have a little more context. So, so it's, it's definitely like you said, it's, you know, it's tempting to just sort of follow each new trend or new abstract and, and, and there's a value add for having, having someone put it in context. And I think I'm better at doing that now than I was initially, but it started out, it's just like, hey, let's at least just, just be aware of all this great scientific research that people are doing that has relevance to, to the things that coaches care about. And so
Speaker 3:
7:23
I'm going to speak to you a little bit about endurer, which is your most recent book, but that's not your first book. Um, I have another book fairs and I can't remember the title off the top of my head, but I think it's what comes first. Cardio or
Speaker 1:
7:37
I would just like to say that I pitched that book to be titled, uh, Sweat Science, uh, training, training truths or spicy, I can't remember the subtitle, but, uh, and the publishing company wanted to appeal to a broader audience and suggested it comes first cardio or weights, which I think turned off a lot of people. Of course there was more serious exercises because it sounds like it, you know, Oh shit, how do I tell him my abs? And it relates, it meant to be a little bit more of a, uh, sort of hard nosed scientific look. It's as well the common questions that people have about fitness.
Speaker 3:
8:07
Right. And I, and that's what I love about it, is that it's, for me, it's turned into kind of a reference that I, when I have questions about those sorts of things, I can go back and see like at that time, what was the thinking? Um, and so was that just a collection of sort of the blogs off of sweat science.com or did you dive deeper into that? Um, to create it?
Speaker 1:
8:28
Yeah, in a lot of ways it was, it was mostly grown from my newspaper column because as you know, as I was saying before, the blogs in a lot of cases were very just sort of, hey, I read this paper, here's something cool from it. Whereas for the newspaper columns, I was ritually always calling up the scientists involved and calling up some other scientists who were involved in the study and getting a little more context. So, so it from those newspaper columns, they, I used them as a base and the newspaper column was structured in a way that he, you know, every two weeks I would answer a question like, you know, if I'm doing a workout, which should I be doing my cardio or my weights first, if I'm doing both, you know, which is better. And I would try and look at the scientific literature and answer those questions.
Speaker 1:
9:06
And so then I brought together a lot of those preexisting columns. And then added in total that were like 111 questions and answers in that book. So a lot of them I wrote from scratch, but the, the idea was in that book was a, you know, every, every answer is between 500 and a thousand words. So it's not, uh, it's not like the ultimate deep dive. It's, it's like, okay, just I'm curious about this question, tell me what we know. And, and you know, what that amounts to is you give it 111 versions of like, well, it kind of depends, you know, the answers are seldom was black and white as we hope, but at least, you know, the goal is to say, look, I'm not going to tell you what you need to do. I'm not going to tell you if you should be running in bare feet or I'm not going to tell you if you need to stretch, but I'm going to tell you what the evidence is found so far and you can, you can make up your mind.
Speaker 1:
9:53
And now, um, so one point sweat science, Farrakhan got picked up by runner's world as that. Yeah. And I think it was 2012 they, they, uh, uh, invited me to, to move my blog to runner's world and he gave me a chance to write a column in the magazine too. So that was a real kind of a exciting opportunity. I mean, for a number of reasons. One is that it brought a huge new readership to the, the blog and it allowed me to sort of, that was the moment that was like, oh, you know, I could actually make a living from this because on the, when I was hosting my sweat science on its own, I didn't take any ads because I just, um, not, you know, fundamentally I guess I like to think that I'm a nice guy. And so if some, if someone sends me a free sample of something or tells me it, spend some time telling me about, you know, their product, I have a hard time saying, well, this is a bunch of garbage and no one should do this.
Speaker 1:
10:46
So I didn't, I really didn't want to be involved in that sort of, uh, it necessary quid pro quo. So going to run the world of course one is, well it has that had ads on it too, but I didn't, I wasn't the one making those deals. So runner's world that that allowed me to get paid for doing that blog, which I was just doing for free, um, without having to directly take advertising. So it was a really neat opportunity for me. It was very cool. And now you're on outside and how long it was. Um, how long have you been been asked? So in the fall of 2017, I, I basically moved the blog over to outside magazine and that was the main motivation for me at that time was, uh, I wanted to just have a little bit broader Palette to paint on as it were.
Speaker 1:
11:33
You know, I'm a big fan of running. I run every day, but a certain point you don't, there's only so many things you can say about running. And so, um, and runner's world was very good about it. Then, you know, they let me write about studies that involve cycling and, and you know, hiking and things like that. But a but of, you know, runner's wold it's runner's world so their focus is running and so outside has an interest in running but it also has a broader than just so I've been able to sort of explore, uh, a slightly broader range of topics within the still within the same, it actually sort of goes back to what I was doing. One sweat science was just my own little wordpress blog where I could be a little more broad about the things that I was interested in exploring.
Speaker 3:
12:14
Yeah. Just before we hopped on the call, I was going through and looking at some of the more recent topics and it's just fascinating. Some of the things you write about. Um, one of them was just, it think just being more self aware and can it predict injury prevention, um, and things like that. So it's very cool that you have that opportunity to write about all things in Durham.
Speaker 1:
12:36
Yeah, definitely. It, it keeps it fresher for me that, you know, I can at any given time, there's a few journals, you know, a list of journals that I'll go through their contents regularly, but at certain point, and they may be good journals, but you know, after you've been reading every issue for a couple of years, it's like, ah, I've kind of, I feel like I've kind of dug this well as deep as I can go. So, you know, moving over to that side, all of a sudden it's like, oh, you know, there's a journal called wilderness and environmental medicine. I've never going to read that for, for runner's world. But I read that and it's like there's some pretty cool stuff in here about, you know, what it takes to hike across the, you know, hike rim to rim in the Grand Canyon. The characteristics of hikers who do that or I can look at more, you know, like you said, there's, I, I've been really interested lately in some of the more instant some of the psychology literature like that one you mentioned, which is looked at like, you know, s self-regulatory traits like conscientiousness and whether that predicts whether you can end up with an over use injury.
Speaker 1:
13:32
And there was an earlier study along similar lines that found people with perfectionism traits were like 16 times more likely to get, you know, running injuries. And we all kind of understand this intuitively, but it's pretty crazy that you can think about, you know what the study involves, the Yoda, a cross country team, you have them all fill out a pretty simple questionnaire that measures their traits, like perfect perfectionism. And based on those results you can have a really good idea of who's going to be most likely to end up with a stress fracture. And, and you can, you know, you could imagine that that can start to be useful when you can say, okay, we've really got to watch, you know, Bobby here because he's going to push himself so hard that he's not going to back off when eight, even if he starts to feel some warning signs.
Speaker 3:
14:08
That's so interesting because now I think I worked for training peaks and we're a software company for insurance coaches and athletes. And so we placed a lot of emphasis on the devices and the metrics and things like that. And it's always interesting to me to hear when you take something so simple as just talking to somebody and finding out a little bit about their personality and how that can be a performance predictor or an injury predictor. Um, and so it's just a good reminder that we need to keep those things as well as this new science for share anything. You know, I think one of the things that over the last, last,
Speaker 1:
14:43
let's say two or three years, uh, there's been a lot of recognition that things like perceived effort, maybe even warm, let's, let's call it five years. People have sort of realize that, yeah, it's great to, to be quantifying, you know, training stress and things like that. But if you, if you have that and you have a sense of like, how hard was that on a scale of one to five or one to 10, um, it's an even richer information because then you can see, oh, like he's working the same, that he's reporting that it's harder or he's, he, he's saying it's the same effort, but he's, he's able to absorb more effort or more, more, more training stress. So He's getting fitter. So yeah, just the, the, the realization that, that are, are subjective, uh, responses to questions can not, can replace data, but can supplement data.
Speaker 1:
15:27
So now your most recent book, which I've mentioned several times, is endurer. What was the motivation for that book? Yeah, I guess it goes back about a decade when I first encountered, uh, Tim Noakes is research. So Tim Noakes is the scientist from South Africa who's, uh, uh, let's, let's see. He's a controversial guy. He, he's, he's been at the center of many contract from controversies to put it mildly and stay in it remains at the center of many controversies. Anyway, I started to encounter his work probably about 2007 or so. Uh, his sort of questioning the hydration that all come on. Dehydration isn't such a big deal and it's like, what are you talking about? I read in Laura running, Tim Noakes is book in the 90s. I memorized that book and, and you know, hydration is serious. Um, and then I looked at some of his, his sort of looked at deeper under research into his research and realized he had this sort of broader critique of the body center view of physical limits and of endurance performance and that he felt that we should, we needed to incorporate the, the brain in that picture and that he had this model called the central governor model, uh, are arguing that really when we're pushing as hard as we can, it's not that we run into some sort of physical limit where I muscles can't push any further.
Speaker 1:
16:41
It's our brain decides that's far enough and you know, for your own safety you shouldn't go farther. And so that's an idea that he had emerged in the late nineties, but I didn't really encounter it until the mid two thousands and when I started to look into this research, I thought this is really fascinating and I thought, I haven't heard a lot about it. And I also thought this really gels with my subjective experience of what racing was like. It's like, why is it that I have a finishing kick at the end of a race? Even when I felt like I was totally out of gas, three quarters through the race and why is it different one week to the next, some days I, you know, have better races than others, even though my fitness hasn't changed and so on and so on. It's just really, it really clicked for me.
Speaker 1:
17:21
And I saw it. I decided I wanted to write a book about, you know, Tim Noakes and the revolution in exercise physiology and this was about 2009 and I went and visited them in South Africa in 2010. And you know, in a, in a perfect world that my book would have come out in 2011. Uh, but, but, uh, what I found is the deeper I got, uh, the more nuanced picture, God. And so, I mean, I remain a huge fan of, of noax is research. Uh, I'm not sure it's the final answer. And there's other people who have, you know, slightly different or dramatically different views and, and they have interesting evidence too. So in do your ended up being, it's definitely a book about the role of the brain in physical limits, uh, but it's not just a book about Tim Noakes is research it. So it became a much broader attempt to summarize what we know about not just about what scientists know and what they're still arguing about rather than just, well, what Tim Noakes is Tim Noakes knows. And so as a result and ended up taking me know, eight, eight years or something instead of the one or two that I thought it would take me initially,
Speaker 3:
18:23
I've been diving into it and I think I'm about three quarters of the way through at this point. And it really is fascinating and that, um, so I guess what I'm saying, one is I'm, I'm glad that you didn't just phone it in and that she did take the time to put it together because like, it's just so fascinating to learn about a lot of these things. Um, and so just hearing that the brain, it's almost like a protective mechanism at times. Um, and if you can find ways to I guess, hack that you might be able to eke out a little bit more performance in certain situations. Yeah. And, and you know, the truth is, and I don't mean just spoil any endings or anything like that, but the truth is the hacking it is harder than it than it
Speaker 1:
19:04
then. Then you might hope that one thing that's sort of conspicuously absent from the book is this sort of here's the seven things you should do with that will allow you to reset your central governor. Um, because the, because it's very, it turns out to be much harder than I sort of expected to be able to reset it. But I, to me it's still a really, I mean, and there are, there are some ideas in there about how you can learn to sort of get past that central governor. But the, the, to me, the fundamental thing is the idea itself because I think there's something very limiting about running a race and having the mindset of like, okay, that's as fast as I could run. That's what my body is capable of. Versus running a race and believing that, okay, that's what I was able to do today.
Speaker 1:
19:48
But if I can learn to push a little bit harder, I can, I can run faster next week, uh, or, or swim and bike faster as the case may be. Um, so, you know, I think it's an important insight and you know, you can draw some parallels to the learning literature where, where they've, you know, there, there's all this talk about things like grit and learning mindset and Eric growth mindset where if you believe you can get better at things that you, you're more likely to do the work that makes you get better at things. Whereas if you believe, it's just like, well, either I'm smarter or not, then you don't bother studying hard. And I think that there's, there's real parallels in, in athletics. And if you, if you, if you realize that your sup, you know, quote unquote physical limits depend on a lot on on, uh, or aren't set in stone and, and can be moved, then you're much more likely to do the work that both the physical and mental work
Speaker 3:
20:38
try and move those limits. One thing I found interesting is the notion of kind of training pain or training your tolerance to, and I, that's definitely something that I've experienced, I've experienced with athletes as well, is that with the newer athlete, they might be, they just don't know how to suffer at that point. And so they're wanting, maybe in their mind they're thinking, okay, well if I do this, I'm going to get faster, but I'm going to be comfortable at this higher pace where the reality is that no, you're going to get faster, but it's still gonna hurt like hell. And that's where you really break through those limits. And so what did you learn in, in writing this book about that kind of training pain and didn't need to suffer?
Speaker 1:
21:21
The painting was, has been really, really interesting to me. Partly because it goes back to one of those, well those questions that at least among my friends always came up on Sunday long runs or whatever. It's like who suffers more in a marathon? Is it, you know Elliot Kip Yogi running for two hours or is it Joe Schmo running for four hours? Cause Joe Schmoe is out there for twice as long and and you know, so he must be, you know, those lucky elite marathon is who were only out there for two hours and without meaning to sound too like elitist about it. My, my, my response has always been yeah but Elliot get Shogi knows how to suffer, how to absolutely keep himself on the knife edge for all those two hours. And for the most part it's not, it's maybe not proportional to speed. Cause some, there are some very experienced and tough athletes who, who might be running four hour marathons, but it's proportional to experience.
Speaker 1:
22:15
If you're a beginner, regardless how fast you are, you probably haven't learned to hold your finger in the flame quite as hard. And so this is, this is something that I've been arguing about with friends for, you know, 30 years or 25 years. But the, but it was fascinating to dive into this literature on athletes and pain tolerance and realize, oh yeah, there's, there's pretty good evidence that, okay, first of all, if you, if you compare athletes and non athletes, um, and you do pain tests on them, they all have the same pain sensitivity. So it's not like athletes have been Callista pain. They feel pain just like everyone else, but they're willing to tolerate much, much higher level. So they've learned to tolerate pain. But then the really fascinating detail to me was the evidence that looked at trained athletes, elite athletes, the study I'm thinking of us in swimmers at different points in their season.
Speaker 1:
23:04
And they found that as they approached their, their goal race, their pain tolerance as tested with a, you know, uh, uh, with a blood pressure cuff cutting off circulation to their arm, they were willing to tolerate more and more pain as they got closer to their goal race. And then they're taught pain tolerance dropped to its lowest level during their off season. And so what this tells me, it's not like it's, it's not that you learn to suffer once and then you never have to think about it again. It's that it's a constant, constant process of preparing yourself to suffer and dealing, getting ready to deal with higher and higher levels of discomfort. That end, you have to climb that hill every season. And before every race, you don't just learn it once.
Speaker 3:
23:42
So one thing is, I was reading the book, something that kind of popped into my head and it's something that I found, it's kind of an interesting phenomena that,
Speaker 1:
23:51
yeah,
Speaker 3:
23:51
I've noticed over the last several years, and it's with athletes, there's, they're kind of gravitating towards these longer and longer events such as iron man or ultra running or a triple ironman and things like that. And so as I was reading the book on thing, I think at some point you talked about the joy of suffering and they, I've always wondered if there's just kind of this primal need or this desire to suffer. And so do you think there's anything to that with these people that really the whole goal of the race is just to see what you can endure?
Speaker 1:
24:23
Yeah, I, I, I do think that I've come around to that point of view and I started thinking about this closes at a conference and, and, and one of the presenters said something along the lines of like, let's be honest, most successful athletes probably ha endurance athletes probably have a, a hint of benign masochism that day at, at, at some level. They're not, they're not out there, you know, tying themselves up with the, with barbed wire or anything. But at some level they kind of enjoy the, the suffering and, and this sort of, I, this got me thinking and it got me think cause it as well as thinking about endurance performance as a generalist. I also think about health and like how to get people exercising more and want, you know, one of the great mysteries for people who are in the habit of exercising every day or most days is why doesn't everybody else do this?
Speaker 1:
25:13
You know, it just feels so good. You just, I mean it's, it's so wonderful to be in this, this routine of getting out there and pushing your body and, and, and, and just feeling healthy. Why don't other people do this? And, and finally it's sort of a cookie. It's like maybe other people experience the same things as I do differently. You know, like, um, hey, actually it sort of reminds me of my, I have a four year old daughter who, you know, will say that this food is too spicy and I'll be like, it's a glass of water. It's not spicy. And she'll say to me, you don't know my body. You can't tell them what my body feels. See my body might feel differently than yours. And I'm like, no, it's, it's seriously, it's a glass of water. But sort of digression there. But, but it's kind of like with STI, it's like, oh, it feels so good to have been out for a run.
Speaker 1:
26:01
Said, well, maybe for other people that just feels downright bad. And there's something about me that makes me enjoy that. What feels good to me is actually the discomfort that's inherent in, you know, serious endurance exercise. Right? Like, let's be honest. Right? It, it, it, it is uncomfortable. And so why do I enjoy it? I Dunno. Maybe, maybe I'll have a streak of benign Mac and masochism so maybe that's the next frontier of like under, you know, personality psychology is not who's gets injured. It's like who is likely to become an endurance athlete in the first place and did they get dropped on their heads as kids or something like that.
Speaker 3:
26:33
That's really interesting you say that because that's always been one of my, um, theories is that I feel like people who maybe injured some hardship early in life or had to deal with something like they are more
Speaker 1:
26:44
likely to succeed in sport because they're the ones that can deal with 'em but hardship I guess what's interesting there is some research does it, some research with British Olympians, uh, patch pumps in the last couple of years where they, they looked at like medalists versus near medalists and the people who really made it to the top, they all had what some, what they called childhood trauma. And now the trauma may have bitched spin, you know, parents separating or, or, you know, went through something that was, that they perceived as a challenge in their lives. And that left them maybe with a bit of a chip on their shoulder. And I was actually doing an article a couple of weeks and then maybe a month or two ago about what it takes to, uh, to, there was a study about the, the, the best predictors for success in the ranger is physical fitness tests.
Speaker 1:
27:26
So I was talking to some people in the special forces, like how do you know if someone's going to get through a special for, you know, a special forces training or selection, whether it's navy seal or whatever. And they're like, yeah, you know, like obviously you need to be able to do some pull ups, but uh, being able to do a lot of pull ups or whatever the physical test may be only gets you so far. And one of the guys I talked to who, who is a former navy seal trainer, he said, yeah, we, there's basically three things and they have, if you've got two of these three things, you're, you're pretty good candidate are making it through. And the three things where, if I remember correctly, your parents were separated. Uh, you were, uh, a varsity athlete in high school at least, and you'd been kicked out of school at least once.
Speaker 1:
28:06
So it's a mix of things like you have to have the physical characteristics, but, but maybe some sort of, like you said, some sort of chip on your shoulder. Yeah, yeah. I could totally see that in your research. Did you find anything that people could do, especially the coaches that are listening, are there things that will help to train people's pain tolerance or kind of DIY brain training that you came across? Yeah, so I, you know, I spend a bunch of time looking into, into brain endurance training, which is this emergency memorizing idea of, you know, basically training your capacity to stay on task and focus over long periods of time and fight against mental mental fatigue. And that's, maybe that's a topic for another time. I guess Boto I would say is, I don't think that's necessarily, I think it works, but it's not necessarily ready for prime time are easy to integrate into normal training.
Speaker 1:
28:56
If there was one thing I was going to say that people should be looking into now and that's not, it doesn't require sophisticated equipment or anything like that. Uh, it's actually a traditional sports psychology technique called motivational self talk, which is really at it's essence is just first of all, becoming aware of the internal monologue in an athlete's head. So if you're in a race and you're saying, you know, this sucks, why am I doing this? I hate this or, or this, or if you're thinking, I always, you know, get dropped in, in, in the, you know, the second half of the race and this, these guys are going to leave me in the dust or whatever. That's a real problem. And that, and that becomes a self fulfilling prophecy because it changes how your brain perceives the effort that you're undergoing. It makes things feel harder and that makes you more likely to slow down or give up.
Speaker 1:
29:43
And so if you can learn to replace those that negative self talk with more positive self talk, like I'm, I'm, I'm ready to do this, I can, I, I've trained for this, I can keep pushing. There've been some really fascinating research that shows that really works. And so when you zoom out and think about what, what does that really about? It's about instilling belief. And so from a coach's perspective, I think this is, this is one of the, I dunno, maybe, maybe this is the biggest, made me an exaggerating, but it one of the biggest roles of a coach. Uh, you know, sure, a coach can tell you what intervals to do, but I think the, the best coaches are successful at instilling in their athletes have belief that they have done what, what, what's required to be successful, uh, and, and that they're going to be successful.
Speaker 1:
30:29
And so for coaches, I think it's a really challenging thing because if you're an honest coach, you're not necessarily going to say, I have discovered the secret magic that is gonna make you the fastest athlete in the world. And if you do exactly this, you will become invincible and you'll be able to fly because that's not true. So you, so you, you want, you have to be honest with your athletes, but at the same time, convey to them the work that you've done to, to make sure that you're giving them the best possible advice. Doesn't mean you know everything and that you have all the answers, but it means you've done your due diligence that they're going to be as well prepared or better prepared than anyone else that they're facing and that that's going to be there. You're going to set them up for success. So, sorry, I'm sort of rambling here, but I guess I really think that's an important role for coaches is to get the athletes to buy into what you're doing and and share your conviction and your enthusiasm that, that you're doing the best possible preparation.
Speaker 3:
31:25
Yeah, and I totally agree with who their dad as you're talking about that. I was thinking about with some of the athletes that I've worked with, and I've always had the thought that if they didn't believe in the training, it didn't matter how well trained they were. If they start out, showed up at the start line, doubting what they've been doing to prepare, they've already kind of lost. And it sounds like that's kind of what you were saying right there is that really, if you can get that athlete to buy in and to trust in the process, then that will set them up for success.
Speaker 1:
31:57
Yeah. And, and you know, like good coaches have been saying this for years, right? Like we've always understood this, but it was fascinating to me to, to see some science that, that kind of backs that up and says, yeah, the, the role of belief is really important. And of course it's not trivial to instill belief in athletes that, that that's a specific skill set that, so, so for instance, I will say I don't coach athletes. I think I have some, some valuable skills in terms of understanding the, the, the details of training and recovery and things like that. But that's not the key differential that separates a good coach from a bad coach. And so I think coaches need to, uh, recognize their own strengths in terms of being able to con convey enthusiasm and belief to their athletes. That's great. Really good virus. So on that note, do you have any, if you were to talk to a coach with that in mind about, um, being able to instill belief and get buy in from the athlete, is there anything you've come across that you would recommend for a coach either, um, go watch or listen to or read?
Speaker 1:
33:06
Yeah, so I guess a recent stuff that I found interesting. There's a book by Christie Aschwanden called uh, good to go about the signs of athletic recovery. It just came out in February and it's, it, you know what, it's a chat. It'll be a challenging read for coaches because, uh, essentially the message in a lot of cases is here's 12 chapters on different recovery techniques. And the conclusion is there's very scanty evidence for almost all of those things. So how does a coach, I mean, this to me, and this is getting back to what I saying before, this is one of the fundamental challenges that faith spaces, coaches. How do you assimilate that information, continue to give good advice to athletes without filling them with doubt, um, uh, about the things they're doing. And so, but, but I think it's better to be armed with the information then to sort of keep your head in the sand and just pretend that just cause we've been doing something in the past, it must work.
Speaker 1:
34:05
So I think that's a good, uh, a good book to read to get a sense of what the current state of knowledge is about recovery, which is, we all, as we all know, is one of the fundamental challenges of, of you know, endurance training and performance. Um, you know, I read it with an open mind and, and it doesn't mean that you need to then abandoned everything you've been doing, but, but, but, but take a critical look at some of your routines and figure it out. Cause cause what Christie's booked also does do is highlight some of the things that she thinks are important, uh, about broader recovery, uh, giving. You're giving your body some downtime, giving your mind some downtime. Equally importantly, getting away from stress. And so there may be some tweaks you can make to the recovery routines you use that emphasize those things instead of maybe fixating on, you know, clearing lactic out set out of the blood, which is kind of a, a paradigm that it doesn't really have much evidence behind it.
Speaker 1:
34:59
So do you, so yeah, good to go by Christie. Aschwanden I would say is a useful and challenging read. Um, there's another new book by, uh, by Brad still work in Steve Magnus, which is less specific to sports. It's called the passion paradox. And as a followup to their book from two years ago, got peak performance, uh, Steve Magnus that's probably familiar to, to, to many of listeners, he's a prominent track coach and Brad Stulberg is, uh, a journalist who writes about, uh, performance, high performance. So they're very thought provoking guys and they're very good at laying out a whole bunch of complex ideas in a clear and simple way. So that in the passion paradox is kind of gets into, um, something that triathletes I suck, she'd certainly be familiar with, which is the idea of how you balanced and you know, passionate become, can become all consuming without having it take over your life o o n and become a negative factor in your life. So I think that's a useful one to read. And the third and final plug I'll give is for a book that I haven't read yet. Um, it's due out at the end of May.
Speaker 4:
36:05
Okay.
Speaker 1:
36:05
It's called range by David Epstein and it's about, it's, it's kind of a, a push back against the idea that we all need 10,000 hours to master any given domain and we have to start when we're three, if we're going to be successful instead of it's appraise it. Yeah. Maybe it's a good book for triathletes in the sense that it's a, it's a praise of mastering different domains and that it'll make you better at, at, at, at, at, at all the things you try if you're, if you're not just a pure
Speaker 4:
36:31
okay.
Speaker 1:
36:32
Specialists. Anyway. David Epstein is book the sports gene from like a six years ago. It is to my mind, the best sports spine science book I've ever read. So I'm, I'm very excited to check out range next month.
Speaker 3:
36:42
Yeah, I wasn't aware of that one coming out, but I'm a big fan of, uh, the sports gene as well. Um, so thank you very much for your time. You're going to be, um, one of our keynotes at the 2019 Endurance coaching summit in September, so we will see you there. Uh, before I let you go, any thoughts on what your next book will be?
Speaker 1:
37:04
Yeah, I'll put it this way. I can answer that. I'm very excited about the, the, the, the summit. The next book I'm really struggling with. I gave myself a deadline of December, 2018 to figure out a topic, but that that blew by without any, uh, you have to, we'll change the, the, the problem is that because I spent like 10 years in the last book, I'm, I'm a little bit gun shy about picking another topic and thinking, oh, is this interesting enough for another 10 years? So yeah, I, I'm, I think probably the plan for the next year is to, to do some sort of long form magazine journalism and give myself a chance to dip my toe into a few different topics and see if there's one that really grabs him. Vic did. The truth is right now, I, I really, really have no idea.
Speaker 5:
37:43
Well, we'll be keeping an eye out for it and I look forward to seeing you in September. Awesome. I look forward to seeing you then. All right. Take care of [inaudible]. Hey guys, Dave here again. I hope you enjoyed my talk with Alex Hutchinson. I hope you learned a lot because I know, I sure did. Be sure to check it out that this year's insurance coaching summit and use ECS coach cast 20 to take 20% off your endurance coaching summit registration or the endurance coaching summit online. Until next time.
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