Tuesday, February 28, 2012

P90X2 A Slam Dunk!

Congratulations to P3 athlete Jeremy Evans who won the NBA slam dunk competition on All Star Weekend. In this video of Evans training at P3 you’ll see him doing a lot of the same movements we do in P90X2, including the exact same PAP movements (step-up convicts to split squats).

He began training at P3 immediately after being drafted, where Dr. Marcus Elliott and his staff have turned him into a dunking machine. Over 60% of his baskets have come via dunk, not counting this one:

When people use their athleticism to punch their meal ticket this is the kind of training they do. And it’s no coincidence Jeremy’s doing what’s more or less an X2 workout, since Elliott and P3 were integral in its design. If you want to improve your hops, or any aspect of your athleticism, P90X2’s a slam dunk.

This clip shows Evans’ winning dunks, with a guest appearance from fellow P3 athlete Gordon Hayward. Incidentally, after Blake Griffin won last year’s contest jumping over a car Evans went out and did it “just to see if I could.” He one-ups him this year by jumping over a seated Hayward, catching and dunking two balls in the process. Insane. Then he jumps over someone standing fully erect. Wow.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Bike Racing Season Has Officially Begun

Even though the Psyche isn’t always a weekly feature I was admonished by a friend for not posting one this week. That’s because I’m down with a little cold, which is nice timing since my backs not back to 100% and Finnegan--my furry daily psyche reminder--has an injured foot so we’re out of commission anyway. But I always have trouble with creativity when I’m ill and just keeping up on work is hard enough. However, thanks to Reed, Sam, and a lag in posting I’ve got a good ‘un for ya on this weekend's racing in Europe.

Varmarcke attacks on 15% cobbles
this is an awesome display of power. it also shows why bike racing outside of europe might always pale in comparison. we just don't have the roads they do in europe.

Got an email from Sam on Sat stating “for me bike racing season starts today” because it’s when the big names start to show. Nowadays professional bike racing is almost a year around sport, with cyclocross and winter 6-day races getting coverage and southern hemisphere events like the Tour of Oz and San Luis attracting major riders. But let’s face it, nobody really cares if Contador drops everyone, Greipel outsprints Cav, or Valverde returns from two years off and wins out of the gate until it happens against the big guns. And those guys tend to start their season now.

I don’t ride my bike a lot during the winter. As a weekend warrior who participates in many sports I train seasonally even though I want to perform at a reasonable level, which I think is the best way to train. In fact, I think I should be more diligent towards time off. Year around training for a sport, in my opinion, is not only a waste of effort but a hindrance. The best riders in the world take time off and amateurs should follow suite. When Contador says “I hardly rode my bike between the Tour (France) and December" there is a lesson there. You can’t peak all year. Choose targets and train for them with a purpose. I like my training to revolve around big events because it’s easier to keep your psyche up.

Last K of Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne
hard to see but note the sky train (blue stripes and helmets) leading cav to the 200 meter mark perfectly, making winning a formality for him. textbook

My Twittter is suddenly filled with post from racers who’ve been silent since September. When Sky controls the field in Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne “like a video game,” the worry over being dropped in Oman is replaced with talk of the dominant season ever. And when Boonen get played like this everyone starts yappin’ about, well, the next Boonen. Sam is right. It’s on. Time to start getting’ after it.

Last K of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
vanmarcke tricks boonen into going too early. beautiful racing.

above: highlights from omloop. vanmarcke and boonen are clearly the strongest two in the race as on or the other is on the front almost the entire race. note vanmarcke's attack on a flat cobbled section with 20k to go that splits the field. ridiculously strong riding.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Defense Of Injury

“I had an injury, as I always do.”
- Jerry Moffatt, explaining what kicked off a great training cycle

We should change our outlook on injuries. We think they’re bad because they keep us from doing what we want at a given time. But they also force us to change, which with the right outlook is almost always a good thing. Change forces adaptation and, as any trainer knows, the specificity of adaptation is the key to making progress.

So just after training camp, during a full-swing translation towards building biking and running fitness back up, I hit a snafu. Or rather it hit me, as one of my dogs decided a snowy downhill run was a good time for some impromptu tackle football. Regaining my footing from her cross-body block wrenched something connecting to the old L5S1 injury and, voila, I’m back to traction exercises and back care yoga while my endurance training gets shelved a few weeks.

It’s not my first rehab rodeo and before I’d even assessed the damage I’d refocused my training schedule. A couple of years back, in the midst of recovering from the injury highlighted above, I took one of Kristen Ulmer’s seminars on the mental aspects of sport. Part of this was focusing on the beauty of injuries and how the changes they force on your life give you a new lease; license, or an excuse, to re-focus on something new. Reflection during this lesson confirmed it; many of my best performances have come in the wake of an injury.

The serendipity of this story is that Ben and I had become overly enthusiastic about sending a new route in the Coop. We were fit enough to get close but consistent redpoint attempts tend to make you weaker over time. Training makes you stronger, meaning if we stopped trying to climb and trained we would simply be able to do the route without all the fuss. When I called Ben to inform him that it was time to get serious about training he said, “I know what you mean. During one go (redpoint failure) I landed on the floor and just happened to be looking at The Beastmaker. I swear it was saying ‘Buddy, if you want to do that route you're staring at the answer.’”

Fingerboard (hangboard) training is almost perfect traction for the back. It’s also the single best way to get seriously strong for climbing. Its only downside is that it's hard to focus on because it's not necessarily fun. I haven’t had a meaningful climbing road trip, where I was peaking strength-wise, since sometime last century. Granted I've been focused on other sports but still; The Year of the Van beckons. My injury being the key to great success.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Soul Climbers

Crescendo |krəˈ sh endō| Sonnie Trotter AliasCinema from Alex Lavigne - AliasCinema.com on Vimeo.

For today’s Psyche here are vid profiles of two of the world’s most prolific climbers. Both are incredibly good climbers but make their living by doing things other than just climbing hard. They write, guide, do access work and put up a lot of first ascents . Though they preferred style of climbing is completely different they both share the same obsession with the climbing lifestyle and are the definition of soul climbers.

I lived like this myself for a long time. It was fantastic but I basically couldn’t hack it. I had too many varied interests in life to be so devoted to one thing indefinitely. And while I’ve had, and continue to have, a wonderfully rich life that’s filled with diverse experiences I still often pine for the simplicity and passion of how my life was as a climber.

Another soul climber, Canadian Scott Milton, once said something that I always reflect on anytime my life gets too conventional. We were talking about climbing icon Fred Beckey, whom I’d just seen in Joshua Tree. He was in his 80s, at a party, and living on the road as a “climbing bum” just as he’d been doing for the previous six or seven decades. A lot of people, even in Josh, seemed to find it strange. During my time as a climber I’d almost accepted it as fact that we were odd, and should probably consider joining the rat race again at some point if just to appease families and friends who’d thought we’d gone off the deep end. But Milton had a completely different perspective. “Imagine,” he said wistfully. “Staying psyched to be on the road for all those years. It’s my dream.”

Bravo to a couple of guys out there livin’ their dreams.

La Obsesión - A film about Dani Andrada from Haroun Souirji on Vimeo.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

In Shape vs Sports Shape

After getting destroyed at the Ritte team training camp it seems like a good time to address the difference between being in shape and getting into sports-specific shape. It’s important for any weekend warrior or aspiring outdoor enthusiast to understand and plan around this difference. Today’s post is a primer.

A sport doesn’t exist where you can simply train in the gym and then compete at a high level without a period of integration, where you transition the fitness gains achieved into real world scenarios. There are various factors involved in the answer. The obvious is skill, as every sport has its own technique, but the more subtle issues that tend to get overlooked involving specificity of sport.

The easiest example to understand is skin conditioning. Skiing, running, climbing, biking, horseback riding, you name it; all require that your skin be in a specific condition. Do any of these things too long off the couch, no matter how high your fitness level is, and you’ll wind up with blisters at best. Push it too far and a real injury can occur.

Skin is the leader of the integration chain—the obvious link that breaks down fast but adapts quickly. Following are a slew of physiological processes that all require neuromuscular adaptations of varying levels in order for you to be efficient. I like to lump these under a made-up word for neuromuscular patterns that blankets this entire category: engrams.

Engrams are the patterns a sport engrains in your physiology, like the “once you’ve ridden a bike you never forget” saying. Though you don’t lose them at a basic level, such as how to ride, run, ski, etc., you absolutely lose them in the realm of high performance, especially when you’ve made physiological improvements in fitness level.

Fitness gains made in the gym take some time to integrate, which is why athletes should only try and make big physiological changes in body composition during the off-season and, conversely, the closer they get to their performance goal the more specifically targeted their training should be. An outdoor athlete should be spending virtually no time in the gym (living room gym, whatever) close to a big event. But if you want to improve year to year you should spend a lot of time in the gym during your off-season. Check out my 2011 training synopsis and see how my gym training sessions tapered close to each big event.

For an example of what happens when you don’t do this let’s use at the Ritte camp. In SoCal, where Ritte is based (click here for awesome Wired article on Ritte), racing season begins in early Feb. This means that camp, at least for some, is a final tune up to race season.

My race season begins in June and ended in November, putting me in the very midst of off-season training. If I were a professional I would not mix my training with such a group because it will cause too much breakdown and interfere with my program. No coach would ever advise such a thing. But I’m not a professional racer. I’m a professional lab rat and wanted to mingle with my team, most of whom I’d never met. So I showed up in very good gym shape but with almost no time on the bike in two months, knowing full well I’d spend the weekend blurry-eyed and hanging on for dear life under the guise of anecdotal evidence.

If camp had been about who can do the most pull-ups, core movements on a stability ball, or probably even one-leg squats I’d likely have fared well as most of the team had left the gym behind in November. Specific integration often means you lose some of your training-specific strength in favor of, in this case, your ability to turn bigger gears at the same cardiovascular output where you turned smaller gears in the off-season. This gear difference makes a rider a racer. The example works the same across all sports, and is how we differentiate between in shape and sports shape.

pics: brian hodges at velo images

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Junk Food’s Fantastic Voyage

I thought this was going to be a duh-files experiment but it’s actually super cool. First off, the technology is mega rad--basically a tiny submarine that travels through your GI tract, not so unlike the 60’s Sci-Fi classic Fantastic Voyage, sadly minus Raquel Welch (though the narrator does have a sultry voice).

The incentive for this project is to try and present unseen and often veiled information about our food system in unexpected ways so that the public is armed with as much information as possible so that they can make informed decisions about their food."
- Food researcher Stefani Bardin

Then there’s what we learn, which is probably better defined as scary and takes junk food vilification to a whole new level. You hear us break down the obvious reasons to steer clear of processed foods based on simple nutrition (lots of sugar, lack of fiber, micro, and phytonutrients, etc). While providing no lack of ammo, it pales in comparison to evaluating chemicals that shouldn’t be in foods in the first place like, um, oil, sand and gas. And we’re not talking about canola and the magical fruit, either, but a full blow Exxon Valdez on the world’s supermarkets.

Petrochemicals. They’re not just for cars anymore! Now you can make them an integral part of your diet so that your food really stays with you!
- The campaign slogan rumored to have cost Darrin Stephen’s his job

Seriously, that’s the coolest finding in this study; showing how oil by-products don’t allow your body to use foods properly. I suppose this wouldn’t be shocking to anyone, really. In fact, it's likely why food company lawyers have made it legal not to divulge petrochemical inclusions in foods as proprietary secrets because, you know, other companies could copy them and cut into their earnings. I'm sure that's because, probably just like you, if I knew motor oil should be in food I’d stop buying all that expensive hoity-toity olive oil and just spritz a little 30 weight on my pasta. Um, yeah.

And now please enjoy our feature presentation!

Monday, February 06, 2012

The James Bond Diet: An Athlete’s Cleanse

Last night Romney mentioned cleansing until her birthday (15th), which reminded me that it’s annually the time where I start to get more serious about diet. The Shakeology Cleanse, which is really more of a lean, clean-eating plan, has been the cornerstone of the last two February’s “rid-myself-of-winter-indulgence diets”. Prior to Shakeology I’d do variations of different cleanse methodologies. This year I’ll combine a few of those, along with some elements of a new product we’ll be bringing to market, with a goal of detoxing while still training. It’s something I call the James Bond diet.

The Bond diet goes way back for me. To college, specifically, when life was living was hard, fast and decidedly unhealthy. When it got too bad I’d take a week away, usually alone, to revitalize myself by eating well, resting, and exercising. You probably don’t know this side of Bond unless you’ve read the old Ian Fleming novels but this is what he’d do after a bout of assignments, drinking, womanizing, and thwarting sinister bad guys’ ridiculous plans for kaos. Usually he’d be on an island in the Caribbean, so I always tried to get away, but that’s not practical at the moment so I’ll be doing this version mainly at home.

I’m sure Fleming knew nothing of actual cleansing but his Bond plan wasn’t bad. 007 would eschew all his favorite vices, (smoking, drinking, woman) and spend his days swimming, running, lounging on the beach and eating fresh fruit until he felt revitalized or, at least, until someone bent on world domination tried to kill him. Anyway, it was always inspiring to me. I figured if a guy like Bond could go cold turkey so could I. And even though it’s a made up scenario for a fictional character, with no scientific underpinnings whatsoever, it always worked like a charm.

bond befuddles an evil temptress

This version, Bond 2.0 if you will, consists of a traditional week and a modern week. The first consists of simple elimination of processed foods (except Shakeology which I don't consider to be part of this category), animal products (except the whey in Shakeology unless I can procure an early bag of the vegan version), coffee and alcohol. Week 2 will be more strict, adding supplements and specializing the diet.

I’ll specify on week two later. Week one has no caloric restrictions at all. I’m training and need to recover. The goal is only eliminating toxins and revamping mindset and lifestyle. I’ll take my Shakeology shaken, not stirred.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Ski To Live

"You don't learn from experience. You learn from reflecting on the experience."
- Kristen Ulmer

This week’s psyche is a little different. Since Puxatony Phil says six more weeks of winter let’s embrace it with some life lessons with a ski motif. Hopefully Phil’s right because we’ve hardly had any winter so far but that’s another topic. Today I present former extreme skier turned teacher Kristen Ulmer’s Ski To Live.

Though Kristen is a famous skier her clinics are decidedly centered on the to live part. She uses the athletics as a vehicle for expression and also holds mtn biking clinics during the summer. The mind has a lot more to do with our physicality than we give it credit for. Here’s the story that inspired this post. For more go to Kristen’s site and get on her mailing list or, better yet, take a clinic.

People ask me all the time why I started Ski to Live.

I want to tell you a story about my past you may find shocking. It explains why I started these evolutionary mindset ski and snowboard camps, and also illustrates the next top mindset tip.

When I was 22 years old I was competing in local Utah mogul competitions and generally coming in last place. Heck, I hadn’t even owned a pair of ski pants until two years prior- just competing in anything was a big step.

That summer, while my fellow competitors trained on snow at expensive camps at Mount Hood, Whistler or even South America- I decided to take a different kind of jump than I was used to; a trip to Asia by myself. For 5 months. To work on my self esteem.

I had two rules on this trip. I made these rules because I realized my self worth was entirely based on the fact I was pretty, and could ski well. I realized I wasn't going to always be pretty, or always ski well, and I thought I'd better find a way to build a more solid personal foundation.

My rules where this:

1. I would make myself as ugly as possible: wearing coke bottle glasses instead of contacts, not washing my hair and wearing frumpy clothes.

2. I was not allowed to tell anyone I skied.

On that trip, I volunteered for Mother Teresa’s House for the Destitute and Dying in Calcutta, India. I was robbed in the Philippines by a group of 30 scam artists and forced to leave the country at gun point. I almost lost my right leg to gangrene in Nepal. The summer ended and I came home.

The first mogul competition that next season was a special event for the entire west against the best technically trained mogul skiers in the country. I felt funny just being there. But I didn't come in last place like usual. I won. I killed it, actually.

Within one single year, I then made it on the US Ski Team. That same year I also filmed 3 ski movies, and was subsequently named by 4 different ski magazines the best woman "extreme" skier in the world.

The math? I became world class at two different sports, in one year, without any technical training. We all hear mindset is everything in sports. I lived it. That trip forever changed my life and how I saw myself, so I believe it.

THAT'S why I started these camps.