Off the Cliff of Overtraining with Trevor Connor and Rocco Orlando

Overtraining is a dark journey. Trevor Connor, Host of Fast Talk, and Rocco Orlando, Army Veteran, and athlete, are here to discuss their respective journeys into the dark world called: overtraining.

Rocco Orlando cyclist

Overtraining is a dark journey.

Trevor Connor, Host of Fast Talk, and Rocco Orlando, U.S. Army veteran and athlete, are here to discuss their respective journeys into the dark world of overtraining. Each of these men has a poignant story to tell. The idea behind sharing these stories is that you, the listener, will get a feel for what happens if you decide to overtrain your body. As you’ll discover there are extraneous factors that play into each of these athlete’s downward spirals. There are powerful insights here into what makes the mind of the athlete tick.

This is a clear demonstration of what happens if you do decide to ‘just keep training.’ If you adopt the ‘more is always better’ mindset and ignore the signals of the body this is what can happen. Sticking to the training plan relentlessly or over-doing miles, intensity, and general time on the bike. This will eventually lead to some dark outcomes. Both of these guys have taken that downward spiral to the extreme. It’s very useful for us to hear their stories. Understand the elements that were at play for them to adopt this mindset and to keep going in spite of the warning signals from their bodies. This is where the power in the lesson lies.

Rocco’s Story:

Where we first heard Trevor’s story:

Episode Transcript

Welcome to the Cycling in Alignment podcast, an examination of cycling as a practice and dialogue about the integration of sport and right relationship to your life.

Colby Pearce 00:25
Greetings and salutations, listeners. Thanks for joining us for another episode of Cycling in Alignment. Today’s episode is a special one, we’ve got Trevor Connor and Rocco Orlando here to discuss their own individual stories and special journeys into the world of overtraining. You’ll want to stick around to hear Rocco and Trevor talk about their adventures in overtraining. Both of them have very poignant stories to tell. And the idea is that the listener will get a feel for what happens if we just keep training and training. As you’ll discover there’s some extraneous factors that play into both of these athletes, downward spirals. I’m sure you’ll enjoy this episode as there are a lot of powerful insights into what makes the mind of the athlete tick, and how one chooses to go over the cliff.

Colby Pearce 01:24
I wanted to bring Trevor and Rocco into a show so that we could clearly demonstrate to the audience what happens if you do just keep training. If you adopt the more is always better mindset and ignore the signals of the body. Only sticking to the training plan relentlessly or perhaps not even sticking to a plan but consuming as much load as possible. This will eventually lead to some dark outcomes. And both of these guys have taken that downward spiral to the extreme. So I think it’s very useful for us to hear their stories. Understand the elements that were at play for them to adopt this mindset and to keep going in spite of warning signals from their bodies. This is where the power in the lesson lies.

Colby Pearce 02:13
On the one hand, I think that sharing these stories can be hopefully preventative for some listeners. Some of you may hear these stories and recognize that you’re on the same path or that you have the capacity to perhaps go down the same route. But others will hear this and perhaps have to learn the lesson themselves.

Colby Pearce 02:35
In any case, my hope is that hearing Trevor and Rocco tell their stories will help some athletes either prevent this same sequence of events or help them come out of it more quickly and find the help that they need in the event that they do end up making the same choices.

Colby Pearce 02:57
Today’s episode is nuanced. Each story takes quite a while. But it’s worth hearing. And at the end, both Trevor and Rocco unpack some powerful insights into how they got to where they were. So it’s worth listening to hear the conclusion of their adventures and also their own takeaways from their experiences.

Colby Pearce 03:17
Onward. Please enjoy this episode with our special guest, Trevor Connor and Rocco Orlando.

Colby Pearce 03:28
Welcome, listeners to another episode of Cycling in Alignment. Today we have our first three way on Cycling in Alignment – get your mind out of the gutter. Today’s guests are Rocco Orlando and Trevor Connor.

Colby Pearce 03:46
Many of you probably know Trevor, if you’re on Fast Talk labs podcast and following that channel. You may or may not know Rocco, although you may have caught a glimpse of some of his amazing steeds on cycling tips. Check out Bikes of the Bunch Rocco Orlando and you’ll see what I mean.

Colby Pearce 04:04
Trevor, how are you today?

Trevor Connor 04:05
Good. Nice to be on the show.

Colby Pearce 04:07
Thanks, man. Thanks for making time.

Trevor Connor 04:09
Of course.

Colby Pearce 04:10
Rocco. How you doing, buddy?

Rocco Orlando 04:11
Good. Get amped up always.

Colby Pearce 04:14
Today’s pod – in today’s episode, I’d like to unpack a bit about overtraining and overreaching. We’re going to have, Trevor- I’ll ask Trevor to to detail the technical definitions of those terms so that we’re using our terminology correctly. The inspiration for this episode was when I heard Trevor’s show with Chris Case and Steven Siler that aired a while ago, not too long ago, and they discussed this exact topic, the definition of overtraining versus overreaching. And Trevor told his own story, about a season back in I believe, was 1999 where he we’ll say trained so hard that he went over a cliff and I want to have him unpack his story. And that also reminded me of some conversations I’ve had with Rocco about his own journey in sports. And so today, what I’d like to do is have both of these athletes tell their stories, with a goal that we can unpack a little bit about how they got to that point, how they did end up falling over that cliff, and the ramifications of those decisions.

Colby Pearce 05:22
I’m going to start with a prologue, which is my own story. And that’s a warm up. It’s like the organic sourdough and goat butter appetizer that we have before we get to the main course, so.

The definitions of overtraining verse overreaching and some nuances of the two

Colby Pearce 05:33
But Trevor, if you wouldn’t mind starting us off? What is the definition of overtraining? And what is the definition of overreaching? How do we tell the difference. And maybe there’s some other nuance to that topic you’d like to enlighten us on.

Trevor Connor 05:48
This is what set this whole thing off. I inappropriately used the term burnout, to refer to overtraining and got appropriately chastised by Dr. Seiler who pointed out these are all different things and it’s important to use the right terminology. So I’ll quickly get burnout off the table, burnout is mental. It’s not really a physical thing, that’s the end of the season, you don’t want to look at your bike anymore, you’re tired of intervals, you’re just mentally cooked, you don’t want to keep going. So that’s burnout.

Trevor Connor 06:20
Overtraining and overreaching, these actually have only recently, at least in scientific terms, recently been defined. So if you went back 20-30 years, we really just kind of used overtraining to explain everything. Now it’s been important to differentiate them. So overreaching is that you have put yourself in a fatigue state, that is going to take a certain amount of time to recover from. There’s what’s called functional overreach and nonfunctional overreach. Functional overreach is I’m tired, like you just did a big hard training camp, you need about a week to recover, but at the end of that week, you’re gonna come back stronger than you were before. So that’s that whole concept of super compensation. Functional overreach can actually be a very effective form of training. Nonfunctional overreach is when you’ve gone too far. And now your body has gone into a fatigue state that’s going to take longer to recover. So now we’re talking weeks to months to recover. And generally, because you detrain during that recovery period, you come out of a nonfunctional overreach, either no stronger or sometimes weaker than you went into it. So that’s something you want to avoid. But it’s still- if you go into nonfunctional overreach in the spring, you can still potentially have a summer. It’s not necessarily a season ender.

Trevor Connor 07:51
Overtraining is becoming thankfully, much rarer. And that is that condition that you have done some sort of damage to yourself from just pushing it way too far. And now we are talking at least months, sometimes years. So I’m gonna be sharing my story later, it took me several years to get back to where I could train normally again, and some people never return. It can end careers. So that’s why we’re same overtraining is actually thankfully very rare, but it is a pretty severe thing.

Colby Pearce 08:28
Okay, good. So the difference between functional overreaching, and nonfunctional overreaching is, superficially it’s time, right? You would say, a week or maybe two weeks, possibly three weeks for a functional overreach, a really hard training camp or maybe just a hard month, competing a grand tour if you’re a world tour rider might be considered functional overreaching, assuming that they’re able to bounce back and race the rest of the season and have some moments where they feel okay?

Trevor Connor 08:55
Yeah, pretty much everybody who races a Grand Tour comes out of the tour overreached. Generally functionally, I think some of the guys who are doing a Grand Tour for the first time are probably coming out nonfunctional overreach and they don’t care because they’re in a Grand Tour and that’s a pretty exciting thing.

Trevor Connor 09:13
Yeah, getting ready for our podcast, I read a recent review that said, one of the issues here is how you actually define the three. It is has been hard to come up with a proper definition. They really do use both how deep into fatigue you go more how long it takes you to recover, which doesn’t really help at the time because somebody says, “Hey, I’m really fatigued, am I functionally overreached or nonfunctionally overreaching?” Answer is well go recover, see how long it takes. But if you think about this, there is a problem studying it. And this is why the science is having a hard time defining because, due to ethical standards, you can’t intentionally put somebody into a nonfunctionally overreached or an overtrained state. So, if you want to do a study, you have to find people who have accidentally put themselves into that state which is hard. And then try to measure them. So they’ve been trying to do this, they’ve been looking for any sort of biomarkers of- to differentiate these things. And so far they haven’t found anything.

Colby Pearce 10:15
Okay, just thinking nefariously for a moment. You and I are both coaches. We’ve got piles of athletes we can manipulate, like puppets with strings… 2020 was our perfect year to throttle our athlete till kingdom come and then get them all blood tests, right? And then, you know, have a non-consensual, completely illegal and unethical study. But man, we learned so much.

Trevor Connor 10:39
That’d be fun. Well they do say that coaches, good coaches, develop a sense. They can tell the athlete when they – so I always heard from old school coaches, they call it riding the knife’s edge, and that nonfunctional overreach is going over the knife’s edge. Some of the coaches I have worked with are really good at identifying when you’ve gone over the edge.

Colby Pearce 11:05
Interesting. So this immediately makes me think of my discussion, and podcast episode I have with Jessie Stensland where she talks about how her paradigm, her training paradigm has completely shifted when she started working with Exos. And how the coaches there dialed her program back much – to a much lower volume and intensity than she’d ever had before. She had only a handful of days per week, two or three where she really trained hard, the rest of the days were off, or really easy active recovery pace riding or training. And she went to World Championships and had her best result ever there after, I think eight or 12 weeks of training with them. And it was a really interesting story. It’s a paradigm that I’ve kind of discovered in my own adventures as an athlete.

Colby Pearce 11:50
So what I’m pointing out is that we have this sort of more is always better mentality where where we have some coaches and some athletes who sign up all in and they assume that when they’re always riding the knife’s edge, that’s going to be the result of their best performance. And I would say, as a coach, when you use the word stylistically, even though it doesn’t sound right coming out of my mouth, I generally speaking, I will dial athletes back from that knife’s edge, because to me, the risk isn’t worth it. In most instances.

Trevor Connor 12:19
Well, that’s why I mentioned old school, it is a bit of an old school belief that to be at your best, you have to sit there right on that edge and try not to fall over. But keep yourself on that edge, I would say what the science is showing more, what you’re seeing in coaches now, is saying, most of the time, you don’t want to flirt with that edge, you want to stay away from it, you can actually get to a very high level doing that. And every once in a while just kind of flirt with the edge that’s that functional overreach for a very short period of time, then pull back and continue to stay away from the edge.

Colby Pearce 12:55
That’s how I train in the latter part of my career, for sure. Most of the time, I was well within the boundaries. And then before a race that I wanted to focus on, I would ramp up and do a functional overreach for a week, I throttle myself and probably looking at it, a lot of coaches I think, wouldn’t have predicted that might have worked, because I went, my volume increase was massive at times, I remember befor masters worlds, I went from an average of 12 hours a week to double that, actually, more, it was almost 30 hours. And I knew I could rely on that, because my recovery modalities were pretty dialed in, I think, and it worked out great. I was flying. Also that comes with the experience of being an athlete for however many 800 million years I’ve been riding my bike, not everyone can pull that off and have the confidence to do it, so.

Trevor Connor 13:39
You have a real innate sense for your limits. And when you’re pushing them.

Colby Pearce 13:44
In that case, I did. But it’s a never ending quest to know that limit. That’s the point.

Colby Pearce’s experience with nonfunctional overreaching

Colby Pearce 13:50
Well, I’ll just briefly tell my 98 story, which based on the definitions we just laid out is pretty clearly a case of functional overreaching, I would say,

Trevor Connor 14:01
Or non functional?

Colby Pearce 14:02
Excuse me non functional. Thank you. Yeah. And well, we can – i’ll lay it out, and we can decide. But basically, I’d been a pro for two years officially. And I use the term pro loosely. So this was 1998, I was racing for the Colorado cyclists team, I was actually getting paid a salary. So I felt pressure to perform, to sort of justify that salary. That was my own mentality going into that season. And I decided I was just going to train – a couple years before I had sort of had, the evolution of my career was such that I had improved, improved, improved, improved. And then in 96, I felt like I had my first year right didn’t necessarily make that quantifiable gain. I was sort of like, roughly produced about the same amount of power, the same level of results. I wasn’t taking a step forward. ’97 was sort of the same, if not a little bit of a step backwards. So from that perspective, I felt like, ooo I felt better pressure, you know now is being paid to ride my bike and I had to make that next step forward. I felt that real impetus to keep progressing. So I decided I was just going to train like a maniac all year, and my staple was going to be 200K solo rides. So there were multiple times on Wednesday, middle of the week, where I would ride from Boulder to Horsetooth and back on my own. And my goal was to average 200 or 210 watts the entire time. Just grinding away in the good old zone two pace, right, in the five zone model, which was hard.

Trevor Connor 15:33
Yeah, but it felt fun. I actually still do that, right?

Colby Pearce 15:38
I don’t. So that was my goal. And I did that and it worked really well. In the early season, I was smashing results and getting – having some good results, I’ll say. Wasn’t smashing, but I was making progress, I felt like I was doing things that I’d never done before and races. And then the tide turned in about May when I went to Amsterdam for a couple weeks. And I got there and was experiencing a little jet lag. And I trained through it thinking it was just jet lag. But it wasn’t. It was the first signs that those 200K rides that I’d been doing consistently and traveling and racing, traveling around the US, I’d already been to Tour le Flores which was in what, man, I’m like, really showing my age right now. What state was that in? What city was that in? Do you remember that? It was an NRC race.

Trevor Connor 16:29
I’m trying to think, yeah… that’s going back/

Colby Pearce 16:31
Somewhere in the southeast.

Trevor Connor 16:34
We could do a whole episode of all the races that we’ve done that nobody’s even heard of anymore.

Colby Pearce 16:38
And then no one would care. If I sell you a road race in California, which used to be this giant, massive thing, it was a road racing criterion that was super hard and challenging. And several other events. Sea Otter was one that I went to and did well there for the first time. And well I say relative to my own universe, so it’s not like I won the race. But at any rate, lots of traveling and racing, and then in between at home every time back to altitude and always doing that long ride on the weekends or the midweek every time, just consistent. And that was I think, the fabric unweaving, was really the idea that I was just relentless, where every week, I seem to ignore the context of what I had done for months. And I just assumed this week, I have to do more to either, the mentality is always either have to do it to maintain or to make an incremental gain. And it was the constant load over months. And so then I went to Italy, from Amsterdam in May bounce around in my own head here, sorry, and I felt okay in Italy, performed well, at a couple races there, flew home, tried to keep going.

Colby Pearce 17:49
I really felt the legs come out from under me when I got back to Colorado. And June and July were dark months. And I remember specifically competing in the mount Evans hill climb in July, which is not an event that suits me at all. What I remember never feeling that bad on a bike; like just empty to the point where it was like, wow, this is really bad. I’m being passed by everyone. I think it took me almost three hours to make it to the top of Mount Evans that year. It was terrible. But I felt like I was actually trying. It wasn’t I’m just going to cruise long and nose breathe. It was I’m putting effort into pedals and I’m going dreadfully slow. That was a big alarm bell. And I wasn’t really mature enough to handle it mentally. So I recall distinctly riding down in the van and just being in this dark headspace where my teammates were trying to kind of consult me and I was just having none of it, which showed my lack of maturity at the time. So sorry, Jim Copeland.

Colby Pearce 18:45
So that was the bottom and eventually I got to the point where I kind of kept trying to train and thinking my legs were going to bounce back. And they just- every time I went really deep, like more than maybe 2500Ks worth of work in a training ride or a race, the bottom fell out, just had nothing. So I finally took two weeks off in the beginning of August, or middle of August, and went out to Killington for the last race of the year, which is a four day stage race in Vermont. And my legs actually were okay there. I made the break in the crib, but it was like a 12 man break and I got smoked in the sprint didn’t matter. And then we did the final road race, which was this hilly beast of a race and I had the most colossal nuclear bonk of all times. My system just wasn’t capable of storing enough glycogen to make it through a race like that no matter how much I ate, and then I ran out of food anyway and I- it was one of the weird scenarios where the gap between the break, really the the group split in two and it was like 25 man lead group and then the rest of the peloton and pat in pieces. And the gap was like 12 minutes and I got shelled out of the the lead group made it by the skin of my teeth weakest guy in the group probably. Ended up riding for half an hour by myself like looking for a store where I could, I had no money of course I was gonna beg for, you know, a pack of salt or something. There’s no stores in Vermont anywhere on those roads. It’s just cows and horses and nothing and beauty, but no stores. And it’s not like there’s a 7/11 every 500 meters like there is here and man, and then I lost 12 or 20 minutes by the time I got the line, the group caught me on the line and was like, “Wow, that was bad.” And then I went home and ate 7000 calories.

Colby Pearce 20:23
So – it -that experience scarred me in a sense, because it really like I was never the same. I had some little bright moments that were basically shell moments where I was faking it in June, July, and August, but I pretty much I never had the legs that I had in the spring the rest of that season. And that threw me a big- it changed my paradigm about the way I thought about training. I was like, Okay, this is what I can do if I really just keep going endlessly and don’t listen to my body.

Colby Pearce 20:57
And I unpacked this a bit in my last podcast, which just dropped this week with Ron Kosovar. And when he talks about is the difference between listening to the body and listening to the mind. And when we ignore the body 100% and decide we’re going to listen to our minds and say, “This is my athletic goal. I’m going to ride 200 kilometers a week solo at, you know, hard zone two pace every week all year. That’s what I air quotes have to do in order to be good enough.” Then I’m ignoring the body by definition. I think fundamentally, the problem is we’re just too shifted to one side of the paradigm, there are moments where we need to listen to the mind and say, today’s view to workout is really going to suck. But I’m going to make myself do it. I’m going to get on the trainer and do seven by three minutes on three minutes off, I’m going to finish the workout no matter what my legs say no matter what my body says no matter how much anything hurts just to get through this day, because I know it’ll be good for me. And then tomorrow, if I wake up, I’m throttled, I will take a nap or foam roll or use my normatext or whatever. And I’ll look after myself for a couple days until I bounce back from this workout.

Colby Pearce 22:08
On the other side, if we listen to the body too much, it can prevent us from reaching – from having those breakthrough workouts. Right? So there’s this tension between listening to what the mind conceptually following a training plan that is written down as a template to religiously or to dogmatically that can be our undoing. On the other side if we listen to the body too much, and we hear every ache and pain. Well, if we’re too internally focused, it can be there can be moments where we don’t push ourselves as athletes.

Running with lions

Trevor Connor 22:40
On that actually one of the very first articles I ever wrote for Velonews was called “Running from Lions.” So this is a, I’ll give you the very short version, but this is a talk I love to have, which is our bodies weren’t designed to race. Our bodies were designed to hunt and run away from lions. So when you’re going really hard, like you are in a bike race, your body isn’t saying, “Hey, I’m winning the race.” Your body’s saying, “Damn, that’s a big lion chasing me right now.”

Colby Pearce 23:13
Sympathetic uppregulation.

Trevor Connor 23:16
And the last thing the body wants to tell you at that moment is, “Hey, I’m hurting.” It wants to make sure that you don’t become that night’s dinner. So it’s going to do everything possible to help you be at your best. So when you are doing a lot of racing, a lot of intense training, your body is just thinking, “Man, we’re running away from a lot of lions right now.” So you’re doing damage, you’re hurting me, but I need to keep you alive. And your body’s gonna pull out every trick to keep you as functional as possible. So one of the reasons you see people, as you were experiencing pushing this, this overtraining, but continuing to do it is when you are first going over that knife’s edge, you are actually going to have workouts and races where you’re going to feel amazing.

Colby Pearce 24:03
Feel great, yeah.

Trevor Connor 24:04
Put out banner numbers and go I can’t be suffering. I can’t be overtrained. Because look at that workout I did the other day. Look at that one race. That’s your body pulling out the trick. Your body has natural painkillers, and they are flowing heavily to hide from you all the damage that you’re doing, and that’s why we can go so deep and not listen to our body because our bodies are actually fooling us at times into thinking that we’re feeling a lot better than we actually are.

Colby Pearce 24:34
It’s your body’s natural aspirin dispensary. It’s a way to think about it, right? These are catecholamines, right? Endorphins?

Trevor Connor 24:43
Yep. They get flowing and they get you feeling good. And this is when I do a an attentional function functional overreach with an athlete, I always tell them, so typically, we’ll do like a Thursday to Sunday block, and I’ll tell them, look, you’re gonna wake up on Monday, feeling great. You’re gonna want to keep going, stop.

Colby Pearce 25:03
Because Tuesday the trucks gonna come.

Trevor Connor 25:05
Right. I’m like Tuesday or Wednesday that you’re gonna wake up, and it’s gonna feel like you got hit by a bus. And that’s because that’s when your body finally says, Oh, I’m no longer being chased by lions. I can clear out all these catecholamines all the painkillers and kind of

Colby Pearce 25:20
Cholamines? Chole or Cole?

Trevor Connor 25:22
Canadian. Sorry, if I ever mispronounce something that’s Canadian.

Colby Pearce 25:26
No, I just wanted to make sure I was on the right page. Skeletal. That’s the Australian pronunciation of skeleton.

Trevor Connor 25:32
Right, which I really like. Once they clear, that’s when your body can do its repair work. But that’s also when you feel all the damage you’ve done. And that’s why you will wake up feeling like you got hit by a bus. But if you’re never recovering, if you’re never giving your body that rest, you never fully feel that.

Rocco Orlando’s background as a human and athlete

Colby Pearce 25:51
Let’s hear from Rocco. Rocco, I’d love for you to tell your story. If you could give us a bit of context about your background as a human and then how you got started in athletics. I know you went through a schema phase and then you jumped into bike racing.

Rocco Orlando 26:02
Yeah, I think it’s good to know the background, because it helps with the conclusion. So I grew up in California. And we’ll just jump straight into it. I was about, I think I was 25 when I joined the military, and just couldn’t figure things out after college. And I enlisted in the military, I didn’t come in as an officer, even though I went to a very good, you know, university, I needed to actually grow up and be a man and I was just a giant child at 25 years old. And was in the military for 10 years served two tours in Afghanistan, and my mother passed away from cancer. And I left the military and my mother died all within about the same year. So I was already kind of prepped for some sort of need to get myself back into some form of fighting shape. Or as my mother used to say, warrior mode. Like I wasn’t firing on all cylinders. And the usually the only way to get myself out of a funk is through rigorous activity. I never was an athlete. I never competed in anything prior to the military. I never did, racing obviously, barely did sports in high school, was always with a strength training background. My father was in the industry for the last 65 years and he was a big piece of the strength training trend in the United States in the 70s, and 80s, and 90s. So I came up with his upbringing of fitness from – about 15 years old is when I started taking it pretty seriously. And so by 20 years old, I was like a straight up bodybuilder. That was my focus, I was a gym rat. And I wasn’t one of those idiot douchebags that was like, you know, 10 times as big as they should be with, you know, a tiny little penis, but –

Colby Pearce 28:00
You weren’t competing?

Rocco Orlando 28:02
No, it was bodybuilding because it was literally six days a week in the gym, doing like Arnold training, you know? And pretty narcissistic, too. So, but that trend continued in the military; especially downrange in Afghanistan, you don’t really have a lot to do on what we call Forward Operating Base. I mean, you’re out there, you’re surrounded, you’re probably near a village where everyone hates you and so when you’re not doing missions, there’s downtime, and there’s a lot of downtime. And so that just extenuated, this kind of bodybuilding background, where other officers and other soldiers would run. And they would do a lot more endurance oriented activities, if they could, the base was small enough, they just be on the treadmill, but I was strictly like a weights guy. And most of the guys I trained with was.

Rocco Orlando 28:50
So when I got out of the military, I was struggling to find what the hell first I wanted to do in my life. And then second was the only way I could stay positive was through these workouts. Right? And the strength training wasn’t enough anymore after the military. And so I could, and it’s interesting. I ran in the military and in the military ruined running for me. Because it’s the slow, really long jogs, usually, as a huge group, and

Colby Pearce 29:26
With gear

Rocco Orlando 29:27
Yeah, and it just sucks and where I want to run by myself with music and yeah, so I, when I got out, you know, I struggled with finding an activity that would get me amped up.

Rocco Orlando 29:39
So fast forward a couple years, I’d already been out of military. I had a breakdown living in downtown Los Angeles surrounded by buildings, somehow I thought that I was gonna be the corporate guy. And I freaked out. And like on a whim, I had never spent time in Colorado, kay? I briefly come through Denver. And I say on a whim I closed shop in Los Angeles, put everything in my car and rented a like ski in ski out apartment for the winter in Breckenridge. And I felt like I was going to become an alpinist. I was going to learn to climb and in the meantime, I might as well just live on a ski resort and ski when I’m not climbing. And so I got into ski mountaineering. And this is coming from a zero endurance background. But I liked longer slugs of exercise, right? I wasn’t the short interval guy, right? Because you can’t get the endorphins going. You need something, you know, at least 90 minutes. Yeah. And so and skiing the resort that got boring really quickly. I mean, those runs how many times can you do them if you live on them? So what got exciting was the schema had a danger aspect to it because I would go at night. I lived on the resort. I bought all the lightweight schema kit, right? It’s very similar to cycling as far as it’s very kit driven, right? Carbon fiber boots, carbon fiber skis, carbon fiber poles

Colby Pearce 31:06
You can dork out on that stuff

Rocco Orlando 31:08
You could spend like 50 grand, right? And not even put a dent into the sport. So that attracted me was the science kind of behind that. And then I loved putting skins on and going up a mountain by myself in an element where, yeah, it’s a resort, but it’s pitch black. It’s four in the morning, and it’s minus 22. And there’s like 60 mile an hour headwinds the whole time. And you’re wearing this tiny little skin suit. Because after 30 seconds of going up, right, your body’s on fire. Yeah, it’s just like, “Whoa,” this is – and that’s at 11,000 feet going to 13,000 feet, right. So I would go to the summit, peak 8, every morning, right? And I had to be the first one on the mountain. There were other crazy people that would go at like, you know, six in the morning when the sun’s not going to be up for probably another hour and a half. And they think they’re badass, and I’m like “I’ve been here for two hours, bro.”

Rocco Orlando 32:05
So that was pretty extreme. Because if something happened, if God forbid I hurt myself, it’s pitch black out there. They’re not going to find me till the morning when someone from Texas is on their first powder run and they see me you know as icicle laid out.

Rocco Orlando 32:22
But then guess what happens in winter? Winter ends and summer begins. And I’m going through this right now this transition between seasons. So then it was the same thing I’m dealing with now with dealing with winter was dealing with summer. And the snow was melting, and I mean, it’s summer till May, right, but in two weeks, there’s no spring,

Colby Pearce 32:42
Winter tomix

Rocco Orlando 32:43
Yeah, winter tomix. There’s two weeks where it goes from an all white Alpine environment to an all green Alpine environment. And it’s like, what happened to spring? I thought we were gonna like, you know, it would be a little warmer, but the snow would stay. Nope. So I was seriously considering, I was like, “Well, my apartments up. I think we should move to Chile, because it’s winter there.”

Colby Pearce 33:08
To stay on the winter train.

Rocco Orlando 33:09
And I literally went to a mountain sports store somewhere in Summit County and was like interested in selling some of this expensive kit I just bought to generate some cash to go to Chile. Because I didn’t want to bring all this kit and pay, you know, I was like I’ll just get a new kit when I get there.

Rocco Orlando 33:26
And I saw this red shiny, red cervello I think it was a s3. And I was like, “Ooo what’s that?” And I’m always been fascinated with cycling. I watched all the Lance’s tours that got me into the sport. But never ever rode a road bike. It just it never worked out, right? And so I saw this thing. I bought it. And in the first two weeks, I did a thousand miles. A thousand miles all in Summit County. So I was doing rides from Breck going all the way around Frisco going to Leadville, yeah, and then riding back up the hill, descending like an animal and coming back to Breck. That was all in two weeks.

Rocco Orlando 34:08
My group of friends were all schema guys. So they were all endurance guys. And they’re like you should get a coach. And is that the two week mark. So I get a coach. And I’m training now on a bike that I’ve only clipped into two weeks prior. And at the four week mark I was racing. I was doing cat five crits which is really scary, but I wasn’t the only one. And immediately, my life changed because I could get even more endorphins because not only is it rigorous, it’s the speed and that sensation. I could get it descending on my little schema skis, but this is just like I felt like I was, I had a plug, I put it into this device and it was giving me all of this extra juice on life. So I took cycling head on and I started racing and training. And because I had this, all this winner volume of schema, when I transitioned to cycling, I was actually pretty good compared to all of my peers who had just started, actually a lot better.

Colby Pearce 35:17
You had really good aerobic conditioning from all that

Rocco Orlando 35:19
It was bonkers. And this was the first time in my life that I had this. Go ahead.

Colby Pearce 35:25
Well, just to paint the picture in case people don’t, aren’t familiar with schema. You put skins on your skis, which means they grip going uphill, you basically walk or hike kind of slash run if you’re racing up to the top of the peak. Then you take the skins off and you ski back down.

Rocco Orlando 35:39
Yeah, it’s cross country skiing up a mountain.

Colby Pearce 35:41
Up a mountian, right. So it’s very, you’re at super high altitude, you’re gaining a ton of vertical gain. So it’s a very aerobically taxing system. And then you’ve got a lot of balance and coordination to get down on these cross country skis, not like alpine skiing downhill, right. So you’re really in shape, basically.

Rocco Orlando 35:58
Yeah. And I had that experience of descending on much smaller skis makes you a much better skier which directly translates into descending on a bike because of the lines you choose through corners, the apex, and then the motion, and then the ability to process at a high speed making those decisions, right? So that was great.

Rocco Orlando 36:24
So I trained all through that summer. And then another winter came. And I did schema again for another winter. But I was miserable this time. All of a sudden, instead of enjoying the storms, and enjoying descending at night, and what I had just gone through the previous season, I just wanted to be spring and summer, so I could start riding the bike again.

Rocco Orlando 36:48
And so by February of that following year, I was already over winter. And my girlfriend was over me complaining even though she lived in a different state. And she’s like, why don’t you just go to Majorca. You keep reading about it. You want to ride your bike, I was building a house at the time. And they wanted me to get out of there anyways, because I was telling them what to do every single day. So on a whim, I brought two bikes to my Orca, and I train there for 90 days. And that’s, I don’t know if you looked up that data, but that’s the other thing is, I’ve been doing this with a professional since week two. So I have all this data to show people like what actually happens when you overtrain because this is an extreme case.

Rocco Orlando’s extreme case of overtraining

Rocco Orlando 37:33
And when I got to Majorca, I mean the first day I did a 333 TSS ride, and felt fine. And that was my first time back on a bike after an entire winter. So there was no like build up. And I just had that volume in my legs from the schema and I was able to do these huge rides.

Rocco Orlando 37:54
So in Majorca, I thought that a hard day, I still am addicted to this TSS number, would be anything over 200 and that between 100 and 200 is more like a recovery ride. And then a big ride would be something over 300 TSS. So I was doing two 300 TSS rides a week, and probably three 150 to 200 TSS. So these are all big rides. And the reason being the stimulation. You get to Majorca, it’s ocean, it’s volcanic rock and it’s beautiful mountains. And Colorado is great. But the ocean is pretty freakin powerful. And when you’ve got mountains and oceans, it’s pretty phenomenal. So this was like a buffet for my brain. Right? This was like endorphins, right? The pain killing and metabolites right -What are they?

Colby Pearce 38:52
The catecholamines?

Rocco Orlando 38:53
Catecholamines. That’s what was getting me through each ride. And I wasn’t, there were plenty of red flag markers, like my knees had to be iced, pretty much after every ride, but I thought, Oh, well, if I’m icing them and I’m good the next day, then it’s not really a problem. And it became this need, that the distance became more and more important because it meant I was out there longer getting more and more of these endorphins. And I think the issue that I have is, and I think a lot of athletes deal with this and I think this is why a lot of guys and women get into endurance sports is, once you you deal with that most of us who do, who go to the extreme are trying to essentially block out what’s going on in our head. Right? All that emotional pain that of losing my mother, of the poor relationships I have in my family, the tough relationship I have with my father, being a veteran of two really long 15 month deployments, right? Apending almost three years in a combat zone, like, there’s a lot of shit there. And what cycling does is it takes physical pain, which is the more in the moment kind of pain, and it blocks out all that emotional stuff. So and it’s doing this subconsciously, a lot of times, you don’t even realize what you’re doing.

Colby Pearce 40:21
Well said.

Rocco Orlando 40:22
So I had about 90 days in Majorca of just, I think, when, I was running on a weekly TSS of 130.

Colby Pearce 40:33
Daily you mean?

Rocco Orlando 40:33
I mean daily, excues me. And I didn’t break down. And so when I left and went back to Breckenridge to the high altitude environment, it translated very well. I was obviously at a far lower wattage because of the altitude, but I was leaps and bounds beyond, and there’s not a lot of cyclists up in Summit County, but the ones that are they’re pretty strong, but I was right there for a guy that now had only been in months terms been riding a bike for about six months, right. And then I got into the racing. And that became everything.

Rocco Orlando 41:14
I had taken a year off of work. So I became a full time athlete, masters athlete. And I got a new coach. And this is when things get kind of dicey because I didn’t have the distraction of work. I had all the time in the world to worry about my body and my training and winning. And it- there was nothing else to care about other than the two dogs that I had, right? So it’s very, you could say it was a very selfish lifestyle. And it was also pretty reckless. Because after the second season of racing, everything in my life emotionally was just a total mess.

Rocco Orlando 42:01
I wasn’t sleeping. And the biggest issue I wasn’t sleeping was because of the training. And I already struggled with sleep, right? So it’s something that’s already a tremendous obstacle that I’m constantly battling with only getting four to five to six hours and then having these massive training loads. So it was a recipe for disaster. And that’s how that the downward spiral began was with this lack of sleep.

Colby Pearce 42:32
And so what season was this for context, what year?

Rocco Orlando 42:36
This is 2018. This is 2018 going into 2019.

Colby Pearce 42:41
So you’re in Majorca in the spring of 2018?

Rocco Orlando 42:43
I was in Majorca, the spring of 2017 and the spring of 2018. So I could come back, raced, got through the summer and now we’re going you know, into November, which is my birthday. And when I was in Majorca, I met with my father on my birthday, or a few days before I should say, and we had just this epic fight. And so I spent my birthday solo in his town in Spain by myself because we had this huge fight. So when I came back, I was extra motivated for that springs racing. And I made a little vow to myself, I was like do whatever it takes. You’re gonna lose weight, which I was already ridiculously lean but I’m talking about starvation now, and you’re just going to start doing like crazy crazy crazy volume. Because I had free reign from my coach at the time because the season was over it was like just do the riding you enjoy which for me was going up to peak to peak.

Rocco Orlando 43:46
And so I was doing these peak to peak rides in the cold with just sketchy, super sketchy conditions. So these are like six hour rides, 100 miles, 10,000 feet of climbing, 12,000 feet of climbing, and I would come back and then I would starve myself. I would eat like 500 calories, maybe 1000 at the most. I would eat whatever I wanted on the bike to get me through that ride but then when I came back I wouldn’t do like these big recovery meals or anything. So I’m naturally more built guy, I have a thicker torso. I’ve got big legs and so my fighting weight is like 170 and I got down to 148 in three months. And the whole time I’m not sleeping. Because I’m not sleeping I’m drinking at night, alcohol, because it settles the anxiety so you can at least try and put your head on the pillow. Because the sleeping was so bad Colby that I got anxiety around four or five o’clock because I was like, “Oh shit, not another night, not another night” And it was always a battle in the morning to get your kit on because you just hadn’t slept.

Rocco Orlando 45:04
But because of that fall out with my father, I was on this extremely motivated trend that if I can pedal the bike, I’m not, I’m okay. There’s there’s nothing wrong. And there were all these markers. I mean, now I had a complete loss of appetite because I had just lost so much weight so quickly. I would go into the cycling labs, indoor training cycling labs, like December, January, and everyone in the labs like “Dude, you like you need to stop whatever it is you’re doing.” And I would be lik “What are you talking about?” And my bibs wouldn’t fit anymore around my shoulders. So indoors, the sweatbox, everyone takes kind of the shirt off, girls are in their sports bras. So, you know, I take my top off and the straps just fall off my shoulders. That’s how much weight and that’s how quickly it was.

Rocco Orlando 45:59
And so then it really started to go downhill. I wasn’t thinking straight really about anything in my life. Whether it be professionally, financially, my relationship with my ex girlfriend at that time. So I decided, I think by January, I was so down in the drain, one night I was gonna kill myself and was in a tub and just texted a girl I knew in town that she knew where I live. And she knew my boys. I was like, just get my dogs in the morning. She didn’t read it till like the next morning and freaked out. But I sat there in a tub and I had a knife that my friend from 10 Special Forces gave me for Christmas and it’s like a Norwegian Special Forces knife made out of this ridiculous steel. And I tried cutting my forearms up, right? Like I found the vein went up and I thought I was pressing crazy, crazy hard. But clearly in my subconscious I didn’t want to go because I just had these cuts, but they didn’t require stitches. It looked like someone had taken a you know, and scraped really, really hard.

Colby Pearce 47:16
Like a cat or something?

Rocco Orlando 47:17
Yeah, exactly. I look like I got mauled is what it looked like. So I made it through that night. But that was probably like super, obviously a super low point. And then I’m not thinking I’m in sympathetic overdrive and that my body won’t turn off and that’s why I’m paranoid and I just want to end things. No, I’m just thinking this is it. I’m in the gutter, right?

Rocco Orlando 47:39
Somehow thought that moving back to California and Los Angeles would somehow change everything overnight, but that time bomb clock had already started. That was when it started was that attempted suicide. So that was end of January going into February of 2019.

Rocco Orlando 48:02
So I close shop in Boulder literally overnight, I sell everything. I’m just not thinking at all. Sell all my belongings which is all beautiful stuff I’ve accumulated, I don’t have junk. It’s just all nice things that could have been put into storage. Nope. I wanted to get out within 48 hours. So literally called like an estate company that deals with you know, someone who dies suddenly right? You need to sell their stuff. I had them sell my stuff. Took that money and the money I had left in savings moved to California and got a cabin in Malibu. I didn’t even know there was like this area of Malibu where there’s a lake right next to my school that I went to college at Pepperdine because the riding there’s just phenomenal. There’s canyons, it’s next to Latigo and all those famous descents…

Rocco Orlando 48:54
But this cabin was really like a forest and this was really was like a Friday the 13th type cabin. So I wasn’t thinking and I’m already in sympathetic overdrive, right? That’s why I’m not sleeping. Right? Um, the loss in weight my body’s just, it’s in shock. And the first – I didn’t think things through, got it, saw it, saw this amazing Malibu forest and like oh my god, the oceans like as a crow flies like three miles that way. This is going to be great. First night, total freaking meltdown because it’s pitch black-

Colby Pearce 49:34
And silent

Rocco Orlando 49:35
And silent. And it took me right back to Afghanistan. I felt like I was on mission. And I was so afraid from the overtraining that the noises I would hear like a cat going through grass or something. I would think it was a mountain lion. And the cabin had glass but it’s so black, people could see you if I had a light on, but I couldn’t see out. So obviously now I’m in this phase where I can’t sleep regardless, even if I was staying at the Ritz right with the security guard outside and 100 milligrams Ambien; Imagine now you’re like, literally feel like it’s life and death. So I didn’t last week in this cabin. I end up in a rehab facility in Georgia, because that was the only place I could get in where insurance would actually pay for me to – my whole thing was to get sleep, but I was addicted to alcohol. I was literally- it was alcohol every night now to try and sleep. And I needed help. I had like, very little in my bank account. And my family, they didn’t know what was going on, they just thought that I needed to figure things out, right? They didn’t understand or have any knowledge of just how bad things were, like-

Colby Pearce 50:58
They didn’t understand the gravity of where you were

Rocco Orlando 50:59
No, and luckily, I had had a doctor in LA who used to be a resident of my brother who’s a surgeon, and he’s a homeopathic doctor, okay, but he’s still a doctor, you can still prescribe meds. I went in his office like scared shitless the day before I went to Georgia, and that’s how he got me to Georgia. He’s like, call my brother and said, he said he’s got about 72 hours, and it’s life and death. And he’s got about 48 hours before he loses his mind. Because he says you’re already in psychosis.

Rocco Orlando 51:32
By this the grace of God, I gone into this facility. It wasn’t for the five alcohol anonymous meetings a day that I had to go to. It was they got me off all these drugs, you know, that sleeping drugs that I was trying that weren’t working that were in the system. They rolled me off all that. Yhe problem is with these facilities is they just put you on other drugs. But what they did help with is they at least got me on something that was not toxic. That could get me to sleep. And that kind of helped.

Rocco Orlando 52:08
But when I came back, you just, you can’t imagine like, how broken I was. It was, it’s hard for me to talk about because it was just so, I just figured I’m good for dead. But the sleep helped me kind of crawl back out of the hole. But then the ultimate physical crash, the emotional crash was done. I’m getting sleep. I’m kind of back on a ramp, but I’m not cycling, so I’m not getting those neurotransmitters that I need the serotonin boosts, you know. And so I get out of there. And at least I’m on sleep. But I’m not riding. And I know I need riding. And that meant, hey, this little la experiment, it’s over. You got to go back to Boulder. Okay, you need to ride your bike every day, not doing what you did before. But you need to be outside and you need to be with like minded people who can you ride with and socialize with. And it’s not going to work out with the ex girlfriend. And that was a big reality check. But the minute I made that decision, and when I got to Boulder, things changed on the mental front.

Rocco Orlando 53:30
On the physical front, now, after this crash of emotions and this drain, and I mean, I didn’t even get into like what the study showed I can talk about that, but the the brain mapping and the adrenal fatigue and like just imagine a body on empty, total empty. And when I came back, I started writing I got about a month and I could not believe in the peak I had was when I got to LA that was my absolute peak fitness before this crash, where like I was I had filled diamond times in Malibu, right and I am not a pro athlete, but I was 148 and you know, a 300 FTP plus you I go to sea level. So it’s at like, what 330 340 and 148 pounds like that’s, that’s fast. That’s gonna be pretty decent for a civilian as well an amateur athlete. So when I got back to Boulder and I started going on these brotha rides, I was getting dropped on a fucking Rafa ride. And it was just, it was awful. It was just, but I’m like, that’s my penance. That’s my fucking penance. That’s what happens. And you’re lucky that you’re just getting dropped. You’re lucky you can ride, you’re on a bike right now. Yeah, the fact that your vertical is a miracle. And I knew that. I’m getting goosebumps talking about it. I rode for a month. I just Just started to gain some fitness. And I had a horrific crash come down sunshine where I had a, let’s just say a bike failure, okay. I can’t even talk about what it was anymore, but just a failure on the bike and I went straight into the ground instead of losing speed in a slide. I was over sunshine where it’s that really awful washboard and the bike snapped in half, essentially.

Colby Pearce 55:31
This is a dirt descent just for context.

Rocco Orlando 55:33
It’s a dirt descent, probably I had just started, so I was probably at 25 miles an hour, if I, because that was the only speed he could go on those bumps and that was miserable. Had I been going what I normally go, which is around 50-55, I’d be dead. There’s no doubt about it. But the force of the impact was so great. I landed on my left shoulder, and the shockwave went across the top of the collarbone, and blew out my right shoulder and just blew it out into pieces, and shattered the glenoid, which is the socket that the bone actually sits in. And I want to get back on the bike. And then I realized I was like it was so dislocated, it was bulging out of my deltoid wasn’t compound or anything, but it was nice and pretty. And by the grace of God, I got to an emergency room.

Rocco Orlando 56:20
It was a Sunday up there. So I don’t know if anyone you know who’s ever listening, Gold Hill is pretty up there. It’s remote. And if it’s not the summer, you’re not going to find a car up there for hours. And luckily, it was summer and a gentleman was gracious enough to take me down, put my bike in his back truck…but that then proceeded to me having surgery. And having just come back from the sympathetic crash, and adrenals are down, your fatigue is high, now there’s the shock of surgery. The accident, I was riding for two weeks after the accident until I had the surgery. I actually asked the doctor, this sounds sick, he goes you’re gonna be out about six weeks. And I know you’re going to try and get on a bike in two, if you can make it to three, Tthat’ll be fine. Like three weeks?! So I asked him, I go, this is October, I go, can we like wait till the first of the year, so I can get some more riding in. And so like the snow is packed, and then I can have the surgery. He said no, if you were to fall on this again, I wouldn’t be able to rebuild it. And that scared me.

Rocco Orlando 57:39
I have the surgery. I wait a month, I get on the bike. And it’s like I had never ridden a bike. And I stayed fit. I did Stairmaster, I did the treadmill, I did everything this doctor would allow me to do which was pretty much everything. He was very gracious and he knew I needed the exercise.

Rocco Orlando 58:03
And then I hired you. And it was a blessing in disguise because now I see as I gain this fitness back, and now it’s real gains, because I had that schema build up. It wasn’t sustainable. You know, you don’t, you can’t just go from schema and then all of a sudden you have this 300 watt FTP and think that you can do five hour rides four days a week, like that’s just not possible. And it was humbling. And I want people who are listening to this to know what’s going to happen if you keep doing it.

Rocco Orlando 58:46
And I forgot to mention that part of that rehab was what really helped me and the reason I – she helped me with sleep and she helped me see what I had just done to my body. She was an addictionologist and an endocrinologist. And she’s like I deal with, this is Atlanta, Georgia, she’s like, I deal with a half dozen cyclists a week. You all come into my office, the same freaking story: trauma, emotional background, lots of stories, endurance sports, they go hand in hand, right? Because you’re out there seeking to block this pain with something else. And she said –

Colby Pearce 59:32
What are you running from?

Rocco Orlando 59:33
Exactly. And that’s actually what she asked me. Now she wanted to know what the source of the fuel was to drive me to do something like this to myself. So she helped me realize what you’re helping me realize is like that stuff’s not attainable, you know, or sustainable, I should say. And so now the gains we’re making are actually real gains, where if I had another accident, I’m probably not going to lose as much as I did, you know, having been flying so close to the sun for so long, and then just get totally burned

Colby Pearce 1:00:09
Thank you, Rocco, for sharing all that I know that’s, some of that stuff is really hard for you to talk about and I really appreciate you opening up to everyone into the audience that’s valuable, not only for you, I think it’s important for you to get it out and talk about it and it takes takes bravery to do that, so I appreciate that, but also it’ll – I think other people hearing this, it’ll really help them with their process wherever they are in their struggle.

Rocco Orlando 1:00:32
Yeah, and I want people who are listening because, cyclists are, obviously, we’re a special group and we’re special breed, but we’re, I think we’d like to consider ourselves educated and up to speed on not just current events, but their body, fitness, nutrition, but endurance sports, it, for some reason, we would block a lot of that the common sense out that somehow common sense is weakness. That’s what I associated with. Whenever I have doubt, I think doubt is weakness. I don’t think that’s, hey, somewhere in my head, it’s telling me, you know, we just went through this, you know, maybe you don’t need to go to peak to peak today for six hours. Because it’s, you know-

Colby Pearce 1:01:16
It’s listening to the mind versus listening to the body, right? Some days, your body’s telling you like, I’m smashed, my legs are trashed. I’ve done all this load. I’m not recovered yet. But the mind says, that’s weakness. That’s your body being weak. Today, our job is to go ride up to peak to peak highway or go to 100K harder. 100 miles harder, whatever. Right?

Rocco Orlando 1:01:38
Absolutely. And, you know, especially from the military background, it’s your “sleep whe your dead, Orlando.” Right? “Pain is just weakness leaving the body.” So that’s what I would tell myself. That’s what I was trained to think. Right? Because it’s do or die. Yeah. And that’s a really reckless mentality.

Colby Pearce 1:02:04
Interesting. So, obviously, this is a story as much about cycling and overtraining and how that played a role in some other, many other factors you had happening that precipitated this, this system collapse for you, right?

Rocco Orlando 1:02:19

Colby Pearce 1:02:19
And as you mentioned, now, we’re working on making sustainable gains, we’re working on building you from the ground up with a solid foundation of aerobic fitness, and life fitness. I also think that you’re dead on when you say that endurance athletes have a tendency to want to bury their problems with their exercise, or, as I refer to it, this is a term I stole from Dr. Scott Storri, one of my other podcast guests, exorcising your demons, as opposed to exercising, right? Meaning, we’re trying so hard to either pile more physical pain on as you mentioned, to distract us from the emotional pain. Or we’re literally running from, we’re activating the sympathetic mode to physically express that turmoil, the paradigm of stress and response, the fear or the anger or the pain that we’re suffering, mentally, we’re physically expressing that and that is relieving in the moment, because it helps us embody that sensation. But I believe, and I’m not a therapist so at risk of speaking out of my area of expertise, but philosophically, I believe that ultimately, the only way to heal pain is to look directly at it. To confront it, to understand it, to view it, to make peace with it, and then to release it. That’s my perspective. Maybe everyone’s not capable of that. Maybe there are other techniques that could work for other people. I’m not saying that the end all, but that’s my experience. When I become conscious of something that’s painful in my life, or attention, I try to sit with it. I try to be the rock. Just weather the storm.

Trevor Connor 1:04:08
I would say one of the important things that you really hear in your story, which when we talked with Dr. Seiler about overtraining he brought this up, which is it’s actually really hard to overtrain just with training. That usually there are other factors. And you brought up these other factors. You were having problems sleeping, so the emotional sides. Normally that is part of the story when somebody experiences overtraining.

Colby Pearce 1:04:36
True overtraining.

Trevor Connor 1:04:37

Colby Pearce 1:04:38
Yeah. Yeah. And clearly, I mean, the sleeping is the first big flag, right? I mean, Trevor, you can speak to this do the science clearly points towards there are lots of recovery modalities. There are lots of ways our body can rejuvenate or a lot of ways we can adopt more yin practice or energy in our lives, but sleep is number one by far and away and if you’re not sleeping, that’s the go to, the first alarm bell. Agreed?

Trevor Connor 1:05:01
You take every other recovery modality put them all together, they still don’t compare to a good night of sleep.

Colby Pearce 1:05:07
Yeah, yeah. And in the final week, or 10 days when someone’s tapering before their peak race of the year. To that end, I usually ask them, this is the week where you put aside as many things as you can, you’re not taking your dog to the groomer, you’re not dealing with that old project, you’re not going to stain your deck, you’re not going to do these things, you’re going to train less, and you’re going to sleep more. That’s the way, that’s one of the simplest pathways to help increase the likelihood of success during that peak event.

Trevor Connor 1:05:38
So the one thing to be careful of what you brought up is, sleep can become a stressor itself. And you were getting to that five o’clock in the evening, I had the same thing when I was suffering from insomnia, which was part of my overtraining as well, was sleep became something that you really stress about.

Colby Pearce 1:05:56
It was anxiety producing,

Trevor Connor 1:05:58
Right. And when that happens, you don’t sleep. And actually, one of the things that I learned to overcome the insomnia was just not to worry so much about sleep.

Colby Pearce 1:06:12
Well sleep is, on a very fundamental level, sleep is about release. It’s about letting go. So the more you add sleep to a to do list, or the more you try to embrace sleep, or grasp it or make it happen, the further it can be from happening. You agree with that?

Trevor Connor 1:06:28

Colby Pearce 1:06:29
That’s my experience.

Trevor Connor 1:06:30
Yep. No, you need that you need to find that ability to just kind of relax, let the mind shut down. And then you’re able to sleep.

Rocco Orlando 1:06:38
And, you know, I had asked physicians, many times during kind of this meltdown, and even before, just like, how am I able to ride my bike for six hours if I can’t sleep for three? And I did that for years. And the answer I always got was, well, you did 10 years in the military in a high speed unit, where you were trained not to sleep, then you were trained that two hours, every eight hours is plenty. So and it’s, that’s just so dead wrong. And now the military is actually going about these training methods differently. Because of just how awful and archaic of an approach that is to, you know, to being an effective soldier, or sailor or marine. But that’s if people are like wondering, well, how the hell did he do it if he’s only sleeping like three to six hours a night? That’s why. Obviously not sustainable. I just was able to probably go farther than your average Joe, just because I had that background.

Trevor Connor’s lesson from overtraining

Colby Pearce 1:07:51
Trevor, do you want to tell us your story?

Trevor Connor 1:07:53
Well, certainly doesn’t compare to that. But yeah, happy to. So mine was late 90s, I love it. So which which here was it that you were at Killington? Was that 96 or 97?

Colby Pearce 1:08:07
It was 98 actually.

Trevor Connor 1:08:08
98, okay.

Colby Pearce 1:08:12
I may have raced it the other years, but the year I was referring to was 98 when I had the colossal, or the bonk.

Trevor Connor 1:08:17
It actually is the same year. So the Killington 98 when you were up there duking it out in the breakaway, in the crit, I was somewhere away behind you breaking my collarbone. That’s where I had my collarbone break. Crashed in the crit, guy rode over top of me. Which it was the following year, so 99 that, I was living in Boston, had my bout with overtraining. And it started the previous year, apart from that story at Killington, I was having a great year. I was on the podium at almost every race that I was in so starting to go, Okay, I can do something with the cycling. I’m excited about this and did what a lot of athletes did/do and say, Okay, next year is gonna be my year.

Colby Pearce 1:09:09
So contextually, how many years were you in when you had this good year?

Trevor Connor 1:09:13
Racing, not many. A racing officially, I should say. I had lived for several years before that in Ithaca, New York. Ithaca, New York has a really strong race scene, but you’ve probably heard his joke about the fact that we don’t even put handlebar tape on our bikes. The other thing is we don’t, there’s a lot of racing there, but a lot of it isn’t official. So I had raced a ton, but my first uscf race, so it was uscf back then, my first uscf race was either 96 or 97.

Trevor Connor 1:09:51
So I hadn’t been officially racing for a bit and so similar to you I got into racing with already a huge amount of fitness in my legs, having done a whole ton of unofficial racing, so I was doing these cat five races and just riding away from the field and upgrading really rapidly. So just loving it, loving racing, got to 99 and just said this is my year. And didn’t have a coach, had no clue how to train, and took the mentality of more is better and just started training a ton. I didn’t know anything about nutrition. So I was eating horribly. I started having insomnia issues. And it was the same sort of thing, just continuing to push myself even though I was dramatically fatigued. I was having those experiences of going out and doing intervals and they just felt wrong. I was having a hard time executing them. And of course, my answer was, well, that’s just weakness and I’ve got to learn how to push through this.

Trevor Connor 1:10:56
The first time I noticed something was wrong was there was a, I think it was a Wednesday, it was Tuesday or Wednesday night there was a race that started out near Newton. And I’m trying to remember the name of it, but it was an evening just race I did every week for training.

Colby Pearce 1:11:17
A criterium or?

Trevor Connor 1:11:18
No, it was group ride insanity, we blew through red lights, ran cars off the road did all these things that we shouldn’t have done, was probably not a good thing to attend. But it was about the race itself, the racing portion lasted a little over an hour. And same thing, feeling awful, just waiting to finally feel good on the bike again, was getting angry. And I just remember in the race and “Okay, I’m going to prove that I’m back, I’m going to prove that I can be strong.” There was this short climb coming up. That’s about a minute. Now, so you wanted me to mention this, and I’ll talk more about this in a minute, but this overtraining changed me as a rider. Before that I was actually a classic flatlander with a good sprint. I love the one minute climb. I was that sort of Big Short power type rider. So this 10% grade, one minute climb was a dream for me. And we were coming up on one and I was just going to attack the hell out of this field and get away.

Colby Pearce 1:12:29
You were licking your chops.

Trevor Connor 1:12:30
I was licking my chops. Then I looked around and realize we were about 40 minutes past that climb. And I spent the rest of the race trying to remember even a moment of that 40 minutes.

Colby Pearce 1:12:46
You were just zoned out in the peloton.

Trevor Connor 1:12:50
So i’ve never been somebody who’s ever blacked out from from drinking, but that was a true blackout. I had 40 minutes of my life that I will and I have never been able to remember. And it was kind of a scary experience. Like I’ve had times where I’ve zoned out in races and kind of gone “ehhh I wasn’t paying attention too much.” But you were aware of what was going on. This was truly a, I just there’s 40 minutes of my life I can’t account for here. Then it started affecting me off the bike. It was a couple days later, I got into my car to drive somewhere and I couldn’t because my foot was shaking so badly I couldn’t control the car. So it was these things that I went okay, something’s wrong.

Colby Pearce 1:13:41
So, Trevor, for context, how many months do you think you kind of been, e’ll say training really hard to the point where you start to see these things this Wednesday night ride blackout?

Trevor Connor 1:13:50
You know, the previous year even when I was riding and racing well, I was probably doing too much. I just hadn’t been, I didn’t start training too much until it was well into the season. And I believed in that “take a break in the fall” so I took a break in the fall and probably avoided it then, but got back to hard training in the winter. And everything I’m telling you about all these symptoms popped up late summer so this was probably August. So it was basically a probably February to August of just training way too hard. Always do an intensity. Why would you ever do a recovery ride?

Colby Pearce 1:14:33
So about six months of just going going going, always trying to push more,more is better. Sorry, just to interrupt. What are we talking lots of long hilly rides, are we talking intervals, all the above, group rides?

Trevor Connor 1:14:46
I mean I was your classic flatlander intensity. I was on my way to being a good crit rider, so I don’t remember doing a lot of long rides. And one of the issues is this is the 90s I didn’t have any certain thing that I could download.

Colby Pearce 1:14:59
So you don’t really know

Trevor Connor 1:15:00
Yeah, Chris was asked me this is like, how many hours are you doing? And you show me your data. I’m like, I don’t have any data. I wrote on a sheet of paper, which I can’t find at the end of every ride just here was the length of my ride, here was the average speed, and later on my average heart rate once I finally got a heart rate monitor, but like that was all the data I ever had for any ride.

Colby Pearce 1:15:21
So maybe a lot of three hour rides with hard intervals and group-

Trevor Connor 1:15:25
More kind of hour and a half, two hour rides. I think on the weekend, I would get a longer ride but you know, even that there was the wheel works ride, which was a group ride. I was racing every weekend. So there was no real just go out and do an easy long ride. No real recovery rides. It was okay, just go out, go hard. So it wasn’t big volume. I probably actually doing bigger volume now.

Colby Pearce 1:15:51
That was kind of what I was getting at, wanted to just paint the picture a little bit.

Trevor Connor 1:15:54
It was combination of training really wrong. Too much intensity. Not eating right, not sleeping right, not recovering right. So again, it’s also what you’re doing off the bike.

Colby Pearce 1:16:07
Muliple factors. What was your diet like then? Were you like I don’t eat, only white chicken breast, no fat pizza.

Trevor Connor 1:16:14
I did not eat nearly enough protein. So I had basically heard about the whole unique carbohydrates thing. So it was eating crappy carbohydrates. So like, not only would I buy Clif Bars and things like that, but I figured, well, that’s the food you should eat. So I should just eat those all the time. Dinner was passed every single night.

Colby Pearce 1:16:39
Toaster waffles for breakfast?

Trevor Connor 1:16:41
Pretty much. What did I have for breakfast didn’t have eggs. I think it was cereal or waffles. And for some reason I was really into cottage cheese. And I was lactose intolerant so-

Colby Pearce 1:16:56
So that went well-

Trevor Connor 1:16:56
That didn’t go well. That really didn’t go well at all. The first sign of it was actually Fitchburg that year. Mm hmm.

Colby Pearce 1:17:06
Which is a five day stage race in Massachusetts in July. It used to be right back when we had those types of races.

Trevor Connor 1:17:12
And yeah, I remember just being fatigued leading up to the race. And then I’d had a great race at Fitchburg the previous year. This year, I just kept getting dropped every day. And it was just an awful race. So it was August that it just, the wheels fell off. And I went to see the doctor and this was so part, I’m sure a lot of athletes can speak to this as well is, many doctors don’t get athlete issues. They particularly don’t get overtraining. So I explained this to this doctor, it was the first time I’d ever met her. And the whole meeting with her was 10-15 minutes. And she just latched on to not getting sleep. Talking about the you know, I’m frustrated, I’m upset. Especially I’m upset because I was a cyclist. I wanted to make this my career and I couldn’t ride my bike. But her response was you’re suffering from anxiety and depression. Not that those are symptoms of something that’s going on, but that’s the cause. Immediately put me on Zoloft. And just being very trusting and when sure okay, took it. And two nights later had for the first time ever in my life a panic attack. Like a severe I actually had my housemate drive me to the hospital, I thought I was dying. And the doctor at the hospital, his solution was “Oh, your doctor put you on the right medication you need to up your dose”,

Colby Pearce 1:18:59
Right, more is better.

Trevor Connor 1:19:01
More is better. And I then went through like, two weeks in a row of every night having one of these panic attacks.

Colby Pearce 1:19:11
It sounds miserable.

Trevor Connor 1:19:12
It was not pleasant. So I was not sleeping. I was particularly, as you were experiencing, fearful of going to sleep because not only was I not going to sleep I know I was having all my panic attacks at night in bed. So I knew I was gonna have another panic attack and it was just gonna be a miserable night. And just kept that obviously had me feeling worse and worse because I wasn’t recovering.

Trevor Connor 1:19:43
Obviously was completely off the bike by this point. I wasn’t even thinking about being a cyclist. That fall, so right around Halloween. I ended up going out to the Mayo Clinic and I was such a mess. It was interesting the two ways that went. Some doctors thought I had a some sort of neurological disease that they’re testing me for Ms for a variety of things. You could tell the doctor that was my primary at the Mayo Clinic was just, he’s a hypochondriac. He’s making all this up and just did not take me seriously at all. And I particularly remember having a meeting with a heart specialist. And he started asking me questions, and he said, we need to do some exercise testing on you. And for some reason I mentioned Well, I biked over here and went, Oh, well, how far was that? What about a mile? And he goes, Well, then you’re fine. Like, but no, I only by the mile is like, well, that’s a lot. Like, not for me. And he’s like, so then he started getting my case about that. And then he said, Well, we need to see what’s going on with your heart rate when you’re exercising and I went, Oh, well, my exercise heart rates about x. I knew what my threshold heart rate I told him that and he just looks at me, he goes, how do you know that? I went well I wear a heart rate strap. Like what’s a heart rate strap? I explained to him, this 99

Colby Pearce 1:21:10
Not really new technology.

Trevor Connor 1:21:13
But yeah, I agree for a heart specialist. So he’s, I’m explaining it to them. And he’s like, why are you wearing that? And I go, all cyclists do. And he just kind of sits down in his chair and goes, Oh, and then starts to give me the you’re hypochondriac lecture. You need to stop burning a heart rate monitor. And and stop obsessing these things. I’m like, honestly, athletes wear heart rate monitors, and he just tells me no they don’t.

Trevor Connor 1:21:50
So I got I was at the Mayo Clinic for a couple weeks and basically got the you’re a hypochondriac, go away speech. YIt wasn’t actually until I was at UVic studying, so the University of Victoria, studying exercise physiology many years later that I read a review on overtraining and went, oh, my god, that was me. Yep. Up until then, I had always told people I had had a couple years of just being really sick. I never figured out what was going on. But it seems to be behind me. And then finally read that review and overtraining went, well, that, well duh. I should have put those pieces together.

Trevor Connor 1:22:34
But it wasn’t until so that was end of 99. It wasn’t until 2002 that I was able to ride, really ride a bike again. And it really wasn’t until 2004. I did a little racing 2003. But it wasn’t until 2004 that I raced a full season. And one of the things that happened to me was even years later, so even talking 2002, 2003, 2004. When I got on a bike, I could go out and ride an hour easy. And then get off the bike and a couple hours later, it would start with uncontrollable sweating, then I would feel feverish, I would get shaky, my digestive system would fall apart, then I’d get a really bad headache and I’d be done for the rest of the day. Even just an hour easy ride. So and I couldn’t get over that. So it wasn’t really until 2004 that I said I want to be a cyclist again and just decided, sorry, I should say, I raced a little in 2002-2003, but I mean, I was getting popped. I was a cat five cycles a gang. So I hadn’t had a license in several years. And I wasn’t finishing cat five races.

Trevor Connor 1:23:58
So 2004 I just said, I don’t care, I actually move down to Florida for the winter. And just said I’m just going to ride every day and put up with it. So I rode in the afternoon, so only my evenings would be toasted. And for two months, every single ride, I would go through that experience. And then it finally started to get better. And that was my first real season back. So basically took four years. Any even then for another year or two? I was always hesitant to take more than a day off the bike because if I took two, three days off the bike, I would have a week of those symptoms again.

Colby Pearce 1:24:43
That cycle would start again.

Trevor Connor 1:24:44

Colby Pearce 1:24:46
Interesting. So it was almost like your nervous system was rebelling against that initial the change in momentum.

Trevor Connor 1:24:53
But it changed me as a cyclist. Like I said before that I was a classic flatlander I had a good one, two minute power, I had a good sprint, I was well on my way to becoming a crit rider. I love that type of racing. Another thing before this all happened was I was somebody could go out the door and be at full intensity within a minute, didn’t need a warm up, just good to go.

Colby Pearce 1:25:18
You didn’t think you needed a warm up

Trevor Connor 1:25:19
I didn’t think I needed to warm up, right, but I could go out the door and go really hard. I couldn’t do that after; I could not go hard until I had like 30 minutes of riding easy in the legs. And I became much more of a breakaway endurance style rider. I lost all that top end. Like we make fun of how bad my sprint is now which is worthy of being made fun of.

Colby Pearce 1:25:43
Too bad you didn’t have a power meter in the mid late 90s to see the changes in your mean as well power spike and be interesting to see that data.

Trevor Connor 1:25:51
I rarely break 1100 now; my guess is back then I was probably one of those guys doing 15, 1600

Colby Pearce 1:25:59
Yeah. So really a totally different athlete.

Trevor Connor 1:26:01
I am a completely different athlete from what and that’s you know, I obviously I leaned into what I discovered where my strengths after that. So I probably progress that but I am no nothing close to that athlete and never refound that top end power.

Colby Pearce 1:26:18
That’s a fair point. When you came back you probably you were lacking that explosive power and then you that self reinforced over time. So maybe that had you been bullheaded about being a sprinter again and really worked on it for a few more years, you may have returned to at least some of where you were hypothetically.

Trevor Connor 1:26:33
Possibly. Now the only thing to that, the only counter argument is I do a ton of sprint work. And have never gotten much over 1100 watts. And at a certain point, you would go if I had that good natural sprint with amount of sprint work I’ve done, you should be able to see that.

Colby Pearce 1:26:54
Interesting, okay, thank you Trevor for sharing that story too, as well. I think that’s great context, it really reinforces a model I have in my head about cycling as a sport.

How to recognize if you’re overreaching and overtraining

Colby Pearce 1:27:06
I think cycling, perhaps more than other sports to a degree is what I would describe as a sport of momentum; meaning it’s like getting a train going on a track you kind of have to push it hard to get it going and once it’s going, it tends to want to go on its own. But if it keeps going too long as an analogy, problems happen. It’ll fall off the tracks. I guess, I don’t know if that’s a perfect analogy. But the point being is that on in some senses, we need that momentum to go well on the bike, you need to have those multi day blocks of training where you condition the body to handle the load. And you go through that process of feeling really good. And then as you said, Trevor, early, in our episode, you have athletes who train for three or four days, you give them a solid block. And then on Monday, they might feel great, but you make them cut it off, you have they have to have athletes discipline at that point, to know that they can’t just keep going forever, they can’t let the train keep going down the tracks, they cut it off, and they let the train come to a stop. It’s a similar concept on a more but on a smaller scale is that if you ride really easy or don’t ride for three days, and then try to race Saturday morning, a lot of times you’ll be just blocked, you won’t be able to express your fitness the fitness you have. If you add a tune up ride on Friday night that involves a little bit of activation a few minutes in each zone, perhaps some high cadence work, some neuromuscular work, touch vo to you know, open everything up the next morning, you’re far more likely to be able to actually race and have it be sustainable hold intensity at durations for long enough to be competitive. So in that sense, you need a little bit of getting the train going on Friday to have an effective race the next day.

Colby Pearce 1:28:44
So cycling is very momentum oriented. But the downside of that momentum is that if you just go go go go go for months on end, I think there’s sort of a magic window about six months, for most riders, I call that magic, it’s not the right adjective, but six months of really concerted training building where your your, your ramp rate is positive, you are adding load in some form. Or the analogy I use is it’s like you went for a swim and every time you train hard, you’re dunking yourself. And when you allow yourself to come up for air, you basically just come up and and then dunk immediately again. And if you kind of operate under that model, almost regardless of what your starting point is and what your finish point is, if you operate under that dunking model are that week over week positive TSS for the most part, long term gain about six months is where most athletes will start to really have some sort of Cliff or plateau or injury or consequence. And so that’s my experience. Would you agree with that from a coaching perspective, Trevor?

Trevor Connor 1:29:52
Yeah, I think I would.

Colby Pearce 1:29:55
That’s a rough guideline obviously doesn’t apply to everyone. I’m sure there are people out there who can go for eight months straight and there’s so many Depending on your your cycling age, not mean a chronological age, but how many years you’ve been in the sport, that window can be probably lengthened. Right old man strength or woman strength takes plays a role in our sport to a degree. Although now look at the Grand tours this year, that’s finally changing. But

Trevor Connor 1:30:16
Yeah no, everybody has their their length of time before you’re just gonna start

Trevor Connor 1:30:22
Melting down. Good word for it. And I think it’s very important as an athlete, particularly endurance athlete to recognize those signs. I can’t think of I race for years and years and years after that. The one thing I had going for me was I now knew what severe overtraining felt like.

Colby Pearce 1:30:22
Melting down?

Colby Pearce 1:30:43
You knew where the edge was.

Trevor Connor 1:30:44
I knew, yeah, very well within what it looked like going way over the edge. So I had that ability every season to know when to say, I’m starting to go down that road, time to take a break. And it was actually remarkable for me how consistent it was; like I could predict when it was going to hit and it was always, I was lasted about the same length of time. And it was always right about a week or two after nationals. So Canadian nationals, most nationals were end of June. And I just knew early July. I was just gonna be done.

Colby Pearce 1:31:23
You needed a break or you were done. You rounded that intuition. So going to that line helps you craft that. That knowledge that box of timeline, I guess.

Trevor Connor 1:31:33
Yep. No, you just you built around it. And that’s I’ve never had a great race cascades because I’ve always been in that box for cascades. I’ve never gone to cascades feeling good.

Colby Pearce 1:31:44
Yeah. That’s a five day stage race that used to happen in middle of July, middle of July. I’ve also gone to that race, and they completely fried.

Trevor Connor 1:31:52
I have never gone to that race feeling good. So and it’s just but if you recognize it, and you catch it, and you take that break, you can bounce back. So usually my best point in the season was September and October. Yeah. You know, I’d have that first bump, May June. Start to push, go. Okay, I’m pushing the knife’s edge going maybe a little over in July, take my break, rebuild in August and then then have that great. later part of the season.

Colby Pearce 1:32:23
So one anecdotal supply and then we’ll ask for a wrap up from you guys. Thank you for your time. Is I found that if riders train pretty consistently again with that dunking model from around January 1, clear out the holidays, they’re starting to add load. They’re not just holding even. And they’re building CTL training load over time. Around what I found is assuming there no big interruptions in the spring, like no collarbones, no big teddy flus No, something else happens, right? You hit my car, whatever. Assuming that things are relatively linear in their progression. right around the time of the summer solstice, I found that most riders are starting to get a little crispy. That’s the third week in June. And for me, the logic is, okay, you’ve already been training for six months, pretty consistently where you’re adding that load. That’s the window. But also for most riders who in a traditional road season you’re racing till Colorado doesn’t peter out around August, but normally you would race till September. July, June is the month where you can’t quite see the light at the end of the tunnel. But you’ve already been training a really long time. So psychologically speaking, you’re really deep into it, but you’ve got weeks you can’t see Killington yet are September races. Yeah, you’re like this too far away for me to think about that. It’s starting to get hot. That’s right about when the weather shifts in most parts of the US unless you’re talking Texas, Florida, So Cal. And so the change happens, that adds load to the rider, metabolic load, recovery load, sometimes you’re not sleeping as well, if you don’t have AC in the summer, etc. etc. etc. I find that I take riders bikes away for five, seven, sometimes 10 days in June, which may seem excessive to some people. But this is common practice for me. And I find that for most of my athletes, again, making the assumption that their loads been pretty linear build from about Jan one. They need that break. And then that saves the second half of their season. Yeah, for a week or two in July. They’re like trying to find their legs, maybe not always. Sometimes they come out of that eight days off breathing fire. Like you had your early example of your woman athlete you worked with you took away You said early took away her you told her to take a break for 10 or 12 days This may have been before recording and she just had the best race of her life Five days later, and then promptly told you that she was cured and then went into deep overtraining after that.

Trevor Connor 1:34:44
This is a woman, and there’s another kind of sad story about that, she was a very capable marathon runner with a potential for a good professional career. But she was early and she got hold of the training plan of a woman who had been to the Olympics, I think metal that the Olympics. So it was a plan that she might have been ready for in a couple years. But it was way too much for her where she was at. And she came to me when she said- it was starting to go over the knife’s edge. You know, she couldn’t do intervals. She kept having to cut workout short and she’s like, I’m few weeks away from my target event. What do I do? And recognizing when she described me like that, that’s your, your overreached, and possibly pushing overtraining. So recognizing that right away, I said, You’re not going to like what I’m about to tell you. But here’s what you need to do. You need to take a week completely off. She’s like, so no intervals, but long runs and like-

Colby Pearce 1:35:44
No off. No running.

Trevor Connor 1:35:47
And you just see the look of horror interface of wait a week of no training. A week off. She’s like, but then I get back to intervals next week. And like, no, the next week, you get back to running but short and easy. And she was just like, you could see the all the gear, every gear in her brain churning trying to figure out the argument against this. To her credit, she did it. And then she went to the race and set a PR. Because it was probably the first marathon she had ever raced rested. And came back to me said, Thank you so much, I’m cured. That’s all I need from you went back to doing that plan that was way above her level. And ended her career Two months later, I can’t remember what specifically she was diagnosed with. But she had basically damaged permanently damaged her thyroid. And that was it.

Colby Pearce 1:36:47
That’s unfortunate. That’s a really unfortunate story. And I think that gets to the heart of it right here. For everyone is that model of the more is better. But also there’s a keeping up with the Joneses mentality that we fall into, which is when we have a period of time when we’re not actively gaining. We tend to think we’re falling behind.

Colby Pearce 1:37:07
Do you agree with that Rocco?

Rocco Orlando 1:37:08
Absolutely. I mean, I struggle with it now. I’ll, that’s the other thing here. That’s what I wanted to tell everyone is, this isn’t over. This is a lifelong battle. Right? Just like alcoholism is it’s like, I will always struggle with you telling me No. It is what it is. I think I am more receptive to that word. No, I don’t like that word, anywhere in my life.

Colby Pearce 1:37:37
I actually try not to use that but-

Rocco Orlando 1:37:40
But I think with me, you’re going to have to a case in point. So I think that, you know, those who are listening, it’s these red flags are not screaming at you. You really have to stop and look at yourself literally in the mirror and go this month. Am I overtraining this month in might do I want this more than anyone else wants for me. Right? The job of a good coach is to protect the athlete from themselves. But at the end of the day, it’s our decision. So making that decision and knowing when to make that decision is is just as important as knowing there’s a problem

Colby Pearce 1:38:25
Agreed. Interesting. That’s a great statement, the job of the coach is to protect the athlete from themselves. I would expand on that statement and say, that is one end of the spectrum of the coach athlete relationship. The other end of the coach athlete relationship is for the coach, the job of the coach is to get out of the way of the athlete to let them express their highest potential. And that’s probably it’s a spectrum of where the athlete is and the relationship of the coach and the development of the athlete. What we want to do is get you towards the other end of the spectrum so I can get less I can be out of the way more and let you become the fastest, Rocco possible. Right? Win all the races, do all the things be in balance, have tagline, right relationship with sport, right.

Trevor Connor 1:39:15
But that guidance is critical. I have a friend who keeps, I self coached myself, or I’m self coached. And I have a friend who keeps telling me Trevor, heart Surgeons don’t do heart surgery on themselves. And I have rarely, you know, at the end of every year, I look back and analyze my season for what I can learn for the next year. And I’ve rarely had a season where I haven’t looked at one stretch of my own training and go if one of my athletes who I’m coaching did that. I would be screaming at them. Interesting. It’s hard to see yourself doing these things. And I look back at my whole experience with overtraining and my solution was go The medical world that had no idea what overtraining was couldn’t help me took me down a worse path. Having that guidance, I mean, that person that can call you out when you need to be called out, recognize what’s going on, is invaluable.

Colby Pearce 1:40:16
That’s the best role a coach can play, I think.

Trevor Connor 1:40:18
Yep. Yeah.


Colby Pearce 1:40:20
Interesting. Well, guys, I want to thank you very much for your time today. Rocco, if you had to bottom line it for us. Maybe you can give us I’ll say, three, one sentence takeaways that you would like the audience to assimilate or digest frrom your experiences? What would you say that is?

Rocco Orlando 1:40:43
First and foremost, the biggest would be listen to your body. That sounds so simple. But I’m really good at not listening to my body, because I put weakness in there, right? And if my legs are screaming at me, it’s because I’m being a wimp, right? It’s not because I just did a six and a half hour day, the day before. And so maybe you shouldn’t do another six hour day today, even though it’s Sunday, and it’s 70 degrees out gorgeous. So two would be if athletes or have coaches, then the second one would be really easy. start listening to your coach, and don’t lie to your coach.

Trevor Connor 1:41:27
Mm hmm.

Rocco Orlando 1:41:28
How many of us turn our our power meter off for 20 minutes, and then turn it back on? I was just taking a break, you know, but I just added like 20 minutes, you know, balls to the wall, 20/40 or something? I haven’t done that yet Colby, dont worry.

Colby Pearce 1:41:46
I’m already thinking about the gaps in some of those files I’ve seen. i’m gonna start putting, what’s the thing that you put in the avalanche helmet, the red dot tracker. But I can see you I can see you going back and forth on the road, while your power meters off.

Rocco Orlando 1:42:05
The third, I think you mentioned it before, it’s a really good question to ask yourself is why are you doing this? It’s a beautiful sport. But it can be a really reckless sport. And it’s sometimes hard to be good and not reckless, at least we think that way, where I think you can be better if I think you’re losing out, if you’re constantly worried about not doing too much, right? So I think it’s, you know, a combo of why am I pushing myself this way. And if I want this result, then maybe I should do the right thing and listen to my body and listen to my coach and listen to myself, instead of blocking all that crap out and then going out doing another ridiculous workout that right you necessarily don’t need. Because if the end result is to, to win, or to be the best that you possibly could be not the best of the rest, but just the best you can be Guess what? It’s going to take some discipline, and it’s going to take some fortitude. And you’re gonna have to bite your tongue a lot

Colby Pearce 1:43:14
Patience as well.

Rocco Orlando 1:43:15
Well, there it is it for me the reason I struggle, delayed gratification if I want something I want now, right? I don’t want to wait. Well, you need a budget, but no, no, I’ll borrow against it or whatever, I haven’t have it. Now. It’s the same thing in sport. So if we can have some patience, which is that word is hard for me to even come out of my mouth. Then I think that I think those three things right there would actually set somebody up for success. Whatever sport they’re into.

Colby Pearce 1:43:43
The expression is writing checks you’re ass can’t cash, right.

Rocco Orlando 1:43:46
And that’s it.

Colby Pearce 1:43:48
Great. Thank you very much, guys. I really appreciate taking time out of your day. I know everyone’s busy. We all have things to do so thank you so much.

Colby Pearce 1:44:03
It is with much gratitude that I recognize that you made it to the end of this episode of cycling in alignment. Hopefully, you found Trevor and Rocco’s insights useful and our discussion and dialogue around the concepts of overtraining and overreaching to be something that you can have actionable takeaways from in your own cycling practice. As always, if you have comments or suggestions or you think that what I do needs improvement, I’m open to discussion, comments, criticisms, good, bad or otherwise, go to your computing device and enter in a new email address. That’s