We are framing the discussion on endurance training recovery around Paul Chek’s, Six Foundational principles: sleeping, breathing, eating, thinking, drinking, and moving.
There are many things we can do to facilitate the recovery of our muscles. Some popular techniques include massage. cryotube therapy, Norma Tech compression, ice baths, inversion table hanging, electromagnetic pulses, etc., but none are more effective than the basics.
Matt Maruka and the Light Diet: https://chekinstitute.com/podcast-episode-notes/ep-99-matt-maruca/
Soma breath: https://home.somabreath.com/lessons/day-1-correct-your-breathing/
NOTE: Follow with each subsequent day [7 days total.] To find the link for the subsequent day, you must page all the way down to the bottom [past the comments] and you will see days 2-7.
Paleo Diet for Athletes: https://thepaleodiet.com/lifestyle/for-athletes
Belissa Vranich: https://www.thebreathingclass.com/breathe-usa
Metabolic Typing Diet: http://www.metabolictyping.com
Welcome to the Cycling and Alignment podcast, an examination of cycling as a practice and dialogue about the integration of sport right relationship to your life.
Colby Pearce 00:25
Hello there, travelers of the internet. I suppose you can, you can travel anywhere your little mind takes you. Today I’m going to share some thoughts on recovery with you. This is a topic that one of my listeners thought I might go over that my audience might benefit from. I’m hoping we won’t have any technical difficulties today, we did during the last solo pod, and Jenna uses some expletives when she was editing. We had to chop some stuff out, so I think I got it all ironed out, and we’ll see what happens. We’ll see what the technology Gods offer, how much guidance they give us. I’m going to frame the discussion on recovery, around Paul Chek’s six foundational principles. If you’ve been listening to my pod for a while, you’ll know what these are. If you haven’t, I’m going to ask you to guess, and if you have, I suggest that you recite them right now, I’m going to give you a pop quiz. What are Paul Chek’s six foundational principles? These are really essential to leading a healthy life and following your dream core objective, and I’m going to answer the quiz and pretend that you got it right. Because that’s how I roll.
Paul Chek’s Six Foundational Principles of Recovery
Colby Pearce 01:46
So we have sleeping, breathing, eating, thinking, drinking, and moving. Sounds pretty basic. Correct. it’s a perfect framework to discuss the essence of recovery. That is to say, the things I think athletes will benefit from focusing on when they are trying to maximize recovery from hard training, whether that training is through strength and conditioning methods, or cross-country skiing, or running up a mountain, or riding your bike a lot, or racing a stage race, etc. So, let’s get to it.
Principle of Sleeping
Colby Pearce 02:28
The first one on our list is sleeping, and sleeping is like Nacho or really like REM Seuss. Sleeping is number one. What do I mean by that? I mean, it’s the most important recovery modality.
Sleeping Is the Most Important Recovering Modality
Colby Pearce 02:43
There are lots of things we can do to facilitate recovery of our muscles, we can get a massage, we can jump on a Cryo tube, we can use Normatec, we can use compression, we can do ice baths, we can hang upside down on an inversion table, we can use a pulsed electromagnetic field device, we can use a muscle stimulating device like a 10s machine, and all the various contractions, all the bits, but sleep will trump all of these. The reason is simply that your body has a natural rhythm and cycle, and I’ve talked many times about the rhythm of nature, and since you are a body in nature, you are subject to these laws. That means sleep is your best bet. When you go out and do all the things, ride all the bikes, pedal all the watts, the best way to counteract this is to rest and let your body reset, reset the hormonal cycle. Particular cortisol is one that gets pretty revved up from training, and ideally, cortisol rises and sets with the sun, meaning it gets up in the morning and peaks, peaks, peaks, and then as the day goes on, it kind of slows down. You can disrupt this by afternoon or evening training, you can disrupt this by having a coffee after 3 pm. Remember, the half-life of caffeine is about six hours, so if you have 100 milligrams of caffeine at 4 pm, at 10 o’clock at night, you still have 50 milligrams in your system, and hopefully, not a lot of you are thinking, “well I have two or three coffees a day or maybe more, and so I’m really desensitized to it so it doesn’t matter.” And this argument doesn’t really hold any weight, you’re still having an impact from that habit. The caffeine is still impacting your system negatively. It’s just that you’re feeling the effects, less over time. There are some aspects of health that will talk more loudly, namely the pain teacher. The more you neglect a knee injury, for example, to pick an easy example the louder the pain teacher will talk to you, and the pain teacher is here to teach you a lesson. But there are other aspects of biology that curiously tend to become quieter over time, but just like the saying, emotions buried alive never die, well bad health choices never just fade away into the ether. You can choose to gorge on chocolate chip cookies, fried potatoes, and hamburgers, fast food, junk food, all you want and think that you’re fine. But there will be a consequence, there is an additive effect to these choices, I’m here to tell you.
Resetting the Clock and Rebalancing Hormones
Colby Pearce 05:30
So, sleep is how we reset the clock and rebalance the hormones, and it’s when all the brain repair occurs, and most of the muscle repair occurs. You must protect your sleep, and on weeks or days when you are completely hosed from your training efforts, totally flogged, and you’re really feeling as though you need an extra boost, the simplest solution is to simply go to bed earlier, try to get in bed a half an hour earlier an hour earlier, and even if you don’t fall asleep right away, the act of getting in bed will help to facilitate better sleep throughout that evening. Also, on the topic of defending sleep hygiene, I recommend being aggressive about minimizing blue light, especially after the sun goes down. There’s a little bit of conflicting science on this, but as far as I’ve seen, most of it supports that blasting your eyeballs your retinas with a bunch of blue light will cause problems and potentially disrupt melatonin cycles and sleep cycles. And if you’re looking at a computer, especially the more high definition and the more fancy pants it is as far as the display, the more blue light it has. Apple and everybody else who makes displays seem to think that everyone wants the blackest blacks, and the sharpest definition, and the coolest colors for all their Avengers Infinity War movies, and of course, we all like to be entertained from time to time. I watched Thanos just as most other people have, but when we see this super high def, extremely stimulating action movies, these types of films, and the blue light spectrum is amplified, it can cause you big problems. If you want to learn more about this, you can check out Paul’s podcast, with Matt Maruka. We’ll put a link to this in the show notes. And Matt is the founder of Raw Optics, and he’s pretty much a complete science dork on this topic of light, all things light, including blue light, and how it impacts your circadian rhythms and how full-spectrum light is healthier for your eyes for a whole variety of reasons. So if you’re interested in that topic, I recommend diving deep into it. But this is one of the critical things that we can do to help ensure a better night’s sleep. I will also add that watching stimulating TV even if you get clever and add your blue-blocking glasses on or using a filter on your laptop still has an impact on sleep, you know, it’s easy to assume that we can just turn off our action film and then roll over and pass out. Some of you may argue that that is the case, but when that is the case, most of the time, it’s because you’re so smoked from being running the engine hot all the time, that you crash and it’s not a fully rejuvenative sleep, it is more of an emergency Band-Aid sleep. When you get to the point where you can feel the difference, you’ll know exactly what I mean. So, by protecting the input that comes into your, your ocular vision, that didn’t make any sense, all vision is ocular, when you protect the stimulus that comes into your brain in the evening, meaning you guard yourself against the stuff that is too crazy, too violent, too much action, too stressful, too many people get flung off a cliff or jumping out of cars or whatever you name it, then you increase the likelihood of a good arrest cycle. So the week of your peak event, and the week or two before, if you are lifting training to get that ultimate stimulus and that super-compensation, these are times to really be conscious of not just the stimulus on your bike, but the stimulus off the bike. Watching Game of Thrones, bingeing on Game of Thrones, the week of your peak race will probably set you up for a little bit of a blunted cortisol response the day of your race. What you want is a strong heart rate variability, you want a good response, you want your system, your nervous system and your hormones to be primed and ready, and every time you listen to super obnoxious, intense music, like really deep, angry rap, or super gnarly heavy metal, or industrial, or whatever you’re into, or even really jarring house or techno music, or dubstep, these types of beats will really impact your brainwaves and your system, and can kind of run you down. I figured this out when I was a junior even, and I used to have quite an affinity for 80s hard industrial rock, we’re talking Nine Inch Nails, Ministry, Pailhead, Lard, be curious to see how many of you know these groups. I mean, everybody knows who Nine Inch Nails is, and listen to that stuff, or here’s one that no one’s heard of, I guarantee it. If anyone’s heard of this, send me a note, Lead Into Gold. Who knows this group? Most of obtuse, random stuff ever, Nitzer Ebb? This is like literally banging your head against a pail and shouting type of stuff, and I found it very rhythmic, I identified with it, and helped me ride my bike. But when you play that stuff too long, it really drove you into holes like running a Dremel tool on the side of your head, actually, the ultimate example of that is a group called the Revolting Cocks. These guys made, it was like the predecessor to house music, but it was like house and industrial had a baby, but a dark baby, it was a Darkspawn.
Protecting Your Sleep
Colby Pearce 11:40
We’re turning in some tea tonight, what are we having, we’re having Tulsi, honey, and Chamomile, recording this in the evening. So, that was a totally random tangent on the Pailhead and Ministry. But the point I’m trying to get at is you need to protect your sleep, also, in case you don’t know, probably many of my audience, my audience members will know this already, but you don’t want little LEDs in your room. You want your room to be as dark as possible, it should be like a safe dark cave, it should be a little bit cool, and preferably quiet, white noise is fine if that works for you. Sleep is the most important. These are all important recovery modalities and important things to consider in your recovery process, but man, sleep is key. And the other thing I’ll say is the week of your peak event, and the week of your largest training block, or maybe it’s not a week, maybe it’s a 10-day block, or 3-day block, whatever it is. These are both excellent times to pile on the sleep as much as possible, the last week before your season-long goal, is the week to sneak in a nap when you can, go to bed earlier when you can, not set an alarm if you can. I mean, it’s COVID, so we can all not set alarms, right? In theory, I know it’s not true, but many people’s work schedules have become disrupted, and we work from home and we can, you know, do our Vimeo calls with a tie on the top and our underwear on the bottom so that that allows some flexibility in sleep schedule, and many people are not commuting to work. I have some athletes who have personally benefit from this, when you’re not spending 30-60 minutes in the car each way to work, the smartest way to spend that extra time or to utilize that extra time I’ll say is sleeping, because how can you ever have time if you do not take time?
Principle of Breathing
Colby Pearce 13:41
The second one is breathing. This is a foundational principle in Paul’s model of how one comes to express their dream goal or objective. What he’s saying is, if you’re breathing incorrectly, you won’t reach your potential. Now if you haven’t checked it out, there are some really good breathing resources you can venture into, I have previously listed a free seven days, Soma breath course, which is a really excellent portal into exploring breathwork. If you would like to check it out, I’ll put the link into this pod as well.
Breathing Patterns and Stress Response
Colby Pearce 14:25
For someone who’s never done any breathwork or just wants to review basics, it’s really outstanding. The teacher in Iraj does, it’s breathwork but not unnecessarily in a Wim Hof style, it’s breathing in beats. So, you breathe, inhale and exhale on beats, and this coordinates the breath and the heart rate ultimately with the rhythm of the music. It’s very structured and purposeful, and It’s designed to bring about certain states. By controlling the length of your inhale and exhale, you can have a direct impact on your nervous system, and this is why breath is so powerful in regulating recovery, because if you do a really hard workout, and then you roll in the driveway and decide to mow the lawn, and take out the trash, and scoop the litter, and do your taxes, and do the dishes, and get on three phone calls, and put out some work emails, email fires, and asteroids, and then you’re chasing the kids around the yard, and then you’re fixing the broken fence, for the rest of your Saturday, and you’re going, go, go, your system is in, it’s a continuation effectively of that workload on the bike, but not in a constructive way.
Colby Pearce 15:41
So there’s a time and a place to work out and push the body and make that Yang energy, focus on the doing, the dividing, the conquering, and then there’s a time to begin rejuvenation. And by working with breath, and understanding breath, and witnessing our own breath patterns, we can have greater control over our own response to stress, and also recognize when our stress train is running on the tracks way too fast, and we need to slow it down and eventually bring it to a stop. The real nuts and bolts are, make you exhale longer than your inhale, and you will up-regulate parasympathetic nervous activity. Remember, to use our colloquial definitions, sympathetic is fight or flight, and parasympathetic is rest or digest. So, a great time to use this is when you’re feeling anxious, three hours before your start time. Or maybe when you arrive at the start of a race, and you’re like, “man, I feel unprepared,” or you’ve got negative thoughts running through your head, or you see the competition and their legs look super ripped, or they’ve got the new Amazing Race wheels, or whatever. So, you can use breath as a window into the sympathetic or parasympathetic nervous system. So just outline them briefly, you know, we have lots of nervous system activities that happen all day long, and most of them happen without conscious thought or control. Your heart beats, you breathe, your blood coursing through your veins, your blood vessels, and arteries, contract or expand based on different things that are happening, right? This is why when you ride after about 10 minutes, most of the time you tighten down your shoes a little bit because the blood flow changes your body and starts to go more towards your muscles, and your feet get a little bit smaller until it’s a hot summer day, and then they get a little bit bigger, etc. All these things are happening all the time, your pupils dilate. Most of us don’t have conscious control of the size of our pupils, you can influence it by looking at a light or looking at a dark thing, but we can’t consciously make our pupils get bigger or smaller.
Breathing as a Tool
Colby Pearce 17:56
This is one small example of things that we probably cannot control that our body regulates on its own. Our breath is a window into that world, so when you’re feeling anxious, or out of control, or stressed about something, when you use breath, if you utilize breath as a tool, you can begin to have some direction or some influence on that response. And over time, with enough practice, you can even learn to control or direct, I’ll say, that response. What do I mean by that? Well, it’s pretty simple, longer exhale than inhaling. That’s the most important part, but a really simple protocol would be six breaths, six seconds in, eight seconds out, and you don’t have to look at a watch to count, you can just count in your head. So, when you’re feeling stressed out, try this, and maybe it doesn’t work for you, maybe these breaths are too long. So, reduce the intervals. Start with two seconds in, four seconds out, then maybe work to four, six, or four, eight, and then work to a longer exhale.
Colby Pearce 19:19
And if you notice your breathing pattern throughout the day, if you check in with yourself, give yourself a pop quiz while you’re standing in line at the supermarket, or waiting in a stoplight, in the middle of answering an email, in the middle of making dinner, and check-in with your breath rate. Are you breathing very shallow? Are you taking little, quick breaths in your chest? Or are you breathing diaphragmatically? When you inhale, your diaphragm should contract and push your viscera out, giving you that nice healthy Buddha belly, and I’ve talked about this in other episodes as well, but if when you inhale, your belly does not expand, you have a reversed, or inverted breathing pattern, or chest breathing pattern, we can call it a few different things. I’m not here to prescribe or diagnose on a podcast when I’ve never met you before, or maybe I’ve met you but not seeing you, etc., but you get the point, you can start to dig into this. Some really great resources, there’s a book called Breathe by Belisa Vranich. There is also a book by Patrick McGowan, called The Oxygen Advantage. These are both excellent starting points to get into breathwork, and understand the ramifications of breath, proper breathing technique, etc. So breathing is a critical part of recovery, and the reason it’s a critical part of recovery is because if you do a super hard workout, and then your breath rate is increased for hours and hours afterward, especially when you add in the demands of regular life, then the sympathetic train keeps ongoing. So breathwork can help slow and stop that train.
Colby Pearce 21:13
One last technique, I’ll mention is box breathing. Box breathing is like our six, eight-count breathing, that’s six seconds, inhale and eight-second exhale, but you breathe in a box. So, you might start with inhaling for a count of four, holding at the top of the breath for a count of four, exhaling for a count of four, and then holding at the bottom of the breath, for a count of four, and repeat. So, you can see you’re making a box. If you want to see how good you are at breathing, go for a slow walk sometime with your dog or by yourself, and try some box breathing. This is a really effective recovery modality, and it’s active, but it’s not really Yang, it’s more regenerative. One caveat with box breathing is I found that when people get to be too structured about it, and they try to push the envelope and go to 8,8,8,8, or whatever, you can turn the corner and actually turn it into a Yang to do list activity. That’s not the objective, the objective of all recovery activities is really to maximize Yin energy. Remember, just as review, Yin is multiplying, Yin is rejuvenative. So fundamentally, recovery is about pushing on the Yin lever and letting go of the Yang lever. The Yang lever is intervals, it is kilometers, it’s watts per kilo, it is doing dividing, conquering, achieving man stuff to assign a gender to it. Yen is definitely more feminine Yang is definitely more masculine. And just to throw a totally random tangent in there, if you conceive of God as a man, think about what I just said and understand why that makes no sense, because if God birthed the universe, how could God be a man? Meditate on that. Okay, there’s me trying to be deep for the night. Time for some more tea.
Principle of Eating
Colby Pearce 23:41
The next one is eating. Eating, of course, plays an important role in our recovery from hard training, or hard races. Allen Lim taught me this years ago, he basically said I went to him and was confused, because you know, in the last 30 years, we’ve seen the demonization of various different macronutrients, and who doesn’t want to demonize a macronutrient? I do. I mean, those damn things, they just piss me off. What am I talking about? I’m talking about how in the 80s, fat was evil, and that’s because we had a fourth-grade mentality about it. If you ate fat, you got fat, and of course, that is ridiculous nonsense. It’s oversimplification by a factor of a million, to speak in hyperbole, and it’s really not a constructive way to look at any macronutrient. Then in the 90s, it was protein, especially red meat, red meat was the devil because when you ate steak, you got a heart attack. I mean, how brainwashed have we been to believe that statistic? And wow, is there a pile of science on the other side of that discussion? Holy crap. I’m not even going to broach that topic on this podcast, and I like that expression, broach that topic, I’m not even sure I’m saying that right. What kind of colloquialism is that? I’ll look it up later. Anyway, I’m not going to address that topic. I’m not wearing a brooch, what am I a grandma? No, not yet. But I’m not going to approach the topic of how red meat does or does not give you heart disease. I will say this, it is one of the most separately dogmatic topics you can approach in the world of diet nutrition. You know, the overtones are, well, vaccines and race. Those are hot topics right now. But you want to get someone really fired up? Go find someone who’s been a doctor for about 30 years and walk up to him and tell him that red meat does not cause a heart attack and watch what happens. Anyway, so that was the 90s.
Defining Your Diet and Metabolic Type
Colby Pearce 25:55
Now, what’s the evil at the moment? Well, carbs. Carbs are just evil. I mean, let’s get real people, it’s just like that scene and stepbrothers, the evil brother Brennan, “I haven’t had a carb since 2009.” Now, carbohydrates are potentially complicating to some aspects of health, when you eat large quantities of sugary carbohydrates off the bike, or I should say, carbohydrates that will raise blood sugar quickly, you can have an insulin response, and when you repeat that cycle over and over again, the common cause can be weight gain, and or adult-onset diabetes, if you really take it to an extreme perspective. That’s clearly not where we want people to end up, but I think demonization of any macronutrient is looking at things from, I’ll say a playground. it’s really asking the wrong question. The question isn’t how many grams of carbs, protein, or fat should I eat? This is far too general, and this is not phrasing things from the right lens. I prefer to look at eating in terms of first defining it by your metabolic type, and we want to check out the metabolic typing diet, I’ll put a link to that in the show notes. It’s a simple quiz you can take, and it will give you a starting point from whence to proceed. This is really just a platform for you to begin to really become in tune, and finally, attentive to your body’s needs, and what your body tells you. If you’re plowing through life, ignoring symbols all over the place, you’re gonna have a hard time understanding what your body needs and doesn’t, but if you listen and pay attention, it will tell you. It’s just that in our Western culture right now, many people tend to disassociate from those pains, and I’ll throw most Western doctors under the bus for a moment broadly, while I’m at it, and just say that, as a general concept, most Western allopathic treatments tend to teach us to disassociate from our bodies, not integrate and become more attuned to our bodies. That was a little bit of a noncongruent sentence, but I’m sure you understood exactly what I meant.
Listening to Your Body
Colby Pearce 28:27
So for me, you know, I said this in the past, exercise is about connecting with nature and connection with self. I’m always seeking to look inward, and see what’s happening in my own body, to have sensation, to have accurate truth, to illuminate the truth within myself. Did I annihilate myself in that workout and go way too deep? Or was it just the right load? Or was it not enough load? Did I eat something that did not agree with me? I’d like to know about it, I don’t want to camouflage it with Tums, or some other random creation that will Band-Aid over my symptoms because I don’t like the way I feel. For me, feeling is always the authentic choice. Even if those feelings are uncomfortable, or sucky, or make me grumpy, and I just have to process that and accept the choices that I made. If I eat crappy food, I want to know about it. Camouflaging that food with all kinds of drugs or digestive aids is only going to complicate things later. It’s not like that just makes it go away. So, I think I just one of the world’s longest tangents, but Allen Lim taught me years ago to pad my hard training with carbohydrates, a pretty simple philosophy.
Colby Pearce 29:52
This is really basic logic, but it makes perfect sense. You should eat some carbohydrates before you’re really hard rides, because you’ve got to make sure your glycogen tank is relatively fueled. And no matter what anyone is brainwashing you with about Keto, if you are a bike racer, and you’re doing anything other than the world’s longest bike race, and I’m talking like 1000-kilometer bike races and longer, anything other than that, you need carbohydrates. Anytime you are above functional threshold power, you burn exclusively carbs, this is just science. So, anyone who’s telling you, you can go win a really hard road race eating avocados and sardines, is not selling you the whole picture. Everyone needs carbohydrates, it’s not a tough guy situation. Some people need more than others depending on their fiber type, but everyone needs them.
Pad Hard Training With Carbohydrates
Colby Pearce 30:46
So Allen’s advice is, pad you’re training, hard training with carbohydrates, have some carbs before your training. That means if you’re doing a massive riding, not going to eat that much in the morning, or a really long race and you know, you won’t be able to eat much in the morning, your dinner the night before should have a healthy portion of carbohydrates. And whether or not those carbs are glutinous or not, that’s up to you. If you’ve got Italian bloodlines, and you’re used to eating a lot of gluten and you have no inflammation, then maybe it’s okay, but if you are anyone else in the universe, go see my podcast with Trevor Connor about all the things that gluten does to you, for a deep dive on that topic, including a lot of nerdy science. Thank you, Trevor. So, you should also have carbohydrates during your hard training or hard race, and I’ll tell you that that particular topic has sort of blown up a little bit recently in the sports nutrition world. Once a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, people used to think that 60 or 70 grams of carbs per hour, maybe 80 was about the maximum, now there are riders up to 120 grams of carbs per hour. The line of thought from the people I’ve studied or listened to thus far tends to lean towards the more carbs you can get in your mouth, the faster you will go. The rate-limiting factor is how much the athlete’s gut can handle that load of carbs, and when you get to that amount of carbs per hour, I mean, this is like four bagels an hour, like a rough estimate, right? That’s an insane amount of food. So, imagine going hard during a race eating four bagels. Can you do that? I don’t think I can do that. So, we have to be a little bit creative about how we get the carbs in. Anyway, without getting all nerded out on that stuff. This is the line of thought, and then after the race, assuming you have depleted your glycogen or hard workout, you need to pad with carbs. So, the meal after your hard workout array should contain some carbohydrates. That doesn’t mean it is only carbs, it can also contain some fat and protein, and that’s where the metabolic type, diet comes in really handy because you understand those ratios a little better. This is also where the Paleo Diet for athletes comes in pretty handy. If you want a good-structured baseline for what to eat, that is a great resource, in my opinion, for people to go check out, Paleo Diet for Athletes, I read that book in college. It’s a classic, it’s right here on my bookshelf next to Nietzsche.
Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants
Colby Pearce 33:24
So, we’ll put a note to that one in the old show notes, a linkypoo, technical jargon for an interweb link, I don’t think it’s a real word, I think it’s just something people say. The other thing that Allen gave me, the sage piece of advice that Dr. Lim gave me was when I asked him, “Allen, what do we eat?” His response was really eloquent and simple, and this is why I love Allen, because he’s got this thing down. He said, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” And that is actually brilliant advice, if you apply that to most meals, most of the time, you’re going to be fine. Eat food, not too much, mostly plants. What is he saying? He’s saying you got to eat regularly, don’t starve yourself all the time. He’s saying don’t overdo it, have moderate amounts of food, which I would interpret as listen to your body. When you eat slowly and chew your food slowly, and you give your satiation signals time to catch up with the amount of food in your stomach. When you cram food down your gaping mall-like Homer Simpson, you tend to overeat. When you’re eating unconsciously in front of the television, it’s easy to overeat. When you destroy everything with barbecue sauce and sugar and salt, it’s easy to overeat, because who doesn’t like sugar and salt, we are programmed to hunt that stuff down, genetically, but now it’s around way too much. You don’t find Snickers bars in the forest man. So, there’s some really simple advice for you on food. Eat food, not too much. Not too much is also a nod to the concept of calories in, calories out. Some dietitians and athletes focus very, very exclusively on this concept. How many calories did you burn, versus how many did you intake? How many KJ’s did you make on your ride, plus your basal metabolic rate, don’t forget to take out the time from your basal metabolic rate that you were riding for the day, because you’re otherwise you’re double-counting, double-dipping. Then add all that up, and then add the number of calories you took in for the day, and the simple mathematical equation equals, did you lose weight or gain weight? And this is also a merry-go-round level way of looking at the playground, this is baby talk, or elementary talk. There is some truth to calories in, calories out. But a calorie is not a calorie, and that is one of the sayings that people like to say, who are on that side of the fence, a calorie is a calorie, and I’m just going to call it out as total bullshit. Your body perceives food as information, energy, and information, and I know this is a bit esoteric, but just hear me out. Bodies don’t just ingest calories, this is the entire problem with Soylent, which is one of the absolute biggest disasters I’ve ever encountered. It’s also the problem with the Wonder Burger, and all these meatless burgers, without going down the debate of veganism and environmentalism, and all these issues, there’s a certain rhythm to all humans and a certain natural need to consume foods that are found in nature. We do not find Impossible Burgers in a forest this is intuitively obvious. If you can’t see this, you are, in my opinion, barking down the wrong path, you are trying to polish a rock into a diamond, you’re justifying, an end by manipulating the means, I don’t know if that makes sense, but I’ll say that calories in calories out plays a role in diet and weight loss, but it is definitely not everything. I’ll leave it at that.
Colby Pearce 37:51
There are multiple factors that also play into whether or not an athlete is going to lose or gain weight. Some of it is hormonal balance, it’s the timing of the meals, it is the content of the meals, it is the happiness of the athlete. Yes, it’s the training load, it’s also sleeping, it’s all these things. This is a spider web, and every strand of that web pulls on everything else. This is how complex humans are. So, when you are looking selectively at only one aspect of how calories or macronutrients play a role in diet, you’re just not seeing the whole picture. It’s a big topic, and I realized that some people can get quite lost in what to eat, and the timing of how to eat, and once things become derailed and you gain weight or lose weight, it can become quite challenging to get back on track. But keep digging look for the best experts you can, look for the best information you can, and you will find your way back to optimal health. That’s always the goal. I mean, it has to be what else is there? If you’re getting paid hundreds of thousands of euros to ride your bike, then you can arguably put some of your short-term health to the side at certain points of your season career, because you’ve got a massive reward waiting and by definition, a professional athlete has to be myopic, and swing out of balance. That is the definition of what an elite athlete is, a world-level athlete is, you swing out of balance on purpose to achieve a singular goal. That’s what makes it so amazing when athletes do it. But then there’s a price to pay, and you must swing back into balance, and to swing back into balance requires energy to bring you back to center, or you’ve got train wreck health for the rest of your life and consequences, and I’ve seen this happen many times, it’s really unfortunate. But I want you to be not confused if you are an amateur or an enthusiast, don’t assume that you should be doing what the pro athletes are, in terms of their diet or other health-oriented choices. They live in a world with different rules than you do, because of what I’ve just explained. So, they’re not people to emulate when it comes to global health, to total health. The exception being the ones who managed to walk out of the sport and return to health or mind their health during sport.
Colby Pearce 40:31
Want a good example of that? Check out Svein Tuft. The guy used to go for barefoot walks in the forest, before Giro stages, or Vuelta stages, or both. There’s a guy who doesn’t live by the regular beat of the professional drummer. I’m not saying pros are bad, I’m just explaining the paradigm. I’m not here to judge, just here to observe.
Principle of Thinking
Colby Pearce 40:56
Thinking, that’s number four. When you have a lot of negative thoughts running around in your head, especially negative self-talk, like, I suck, or I don’t belong here, I’m not good enough, or I didn’t train enough or my bikes not fast enough, or I can’t do this interval because I’m not strong enough, or oh, my legs hurt. This mental chatter is garbage. You are not your thoughts.
The Mind Is Like a Wondering Elephant
Colby Pearce 41:29
One of my teachers recently used an analogy to describe how the mind is basically like a wandering elephant, and when you let an elephant do what it wants to do, it’ll wander into rooms, and maybe kind of through walls, and it’ll knock stuff over, and its trunk will go rummaging through your living room, and brake lamps, and scare the dog and knock over chairs, etc., and cause all kinds of problems. This is what the mind is like, but you can learn to control your wandering elephant, and it is to your benefit to do so. This is part of the practice of developing the discipline to direct your thoughts. When you see an undisciplined mind like a wandering elephant, you can cause all kinds of problems and can wander into rooms filled with old memories that you don’t really want to think about, and it can maybe have bizarrely extrapolated fantasies about death, or fire, or murder, or sex with people you shouldn’t be thinking about having sex with, or whatever. And these thoughts are potentially damaging to your psyche, potentially damage into your conscious, not to mention kind of a waste of time. So, when you train your mind and bring it back on course when you pull that elephant back into its happy elephant den, whatever those are called, elephant stable, and you feed it elephant food. I don’t even know what elephants eat, a terrible analogy, it’s a good analogy I just don’t know what elephants eat. Then, you can keep things tidy, and there’s nothing to be ashamed about in training your elephant, there’s also quite a bit of learning and self-discovery in the acceptance that your thoughts are not you, and that you can control them.
Name It, Blame It, and Tame It
Colby Pearce 43:33
The other analogy that’s really powerful is when you have a negative thought you can just let it go by like a cloud in the sky. You can observe it, witness it. By witnessing the thought, you can let it go. Or Paul would even say, you could name it, blame it, and tame it. This is his handy way to help deal with negative emotions. So, you have a though, and maybe you’re at the start of a race and you’re stressed out because you’re running a little bit late, and the line at registration was long, and then the porta potties are gross, and all the things you’ve experienced a million times at bike races. And you get back to your car, and you’re just kind of running around looking for your pump and your left glove, and you’re stressed out. Then you are slightly and inattentive because of the stress, and you slam your finger in the car door, and then you become angry. I’m just making up a story to illustrate a point here, and then you kick the car or throw the pump, or yell the F bomb, or whatever. So, you’re gonna use Paul’s technique, you can name it, and when you learn to witness that emotion, that throng in the pump, you can say, “oh, this is my angry monster. My pre-bike race stress demon.” And then you blame it. This demon is responsible for me slamming my finger in the door, because it makes me inattentive to my process, my pre-race process, that I should be calm and focused for. And then you tame it, by witnessing it and giving it responsibility, you’re effectively, it’s not a bypass, you’re owning it because it’s your monster, but you’re taming it by calling it out, and explaining to yourself that it’s okay that this happened, and in the future, you’re going to be more attentive for when this demon comes up arises within you. And this simple, name it, blame it, and tame it pattern, because it rhymes, and it’s easy, and now forever, it’s welded into your head, it’s a tool you can use. And some of Paul’s stuff is quite dorky, and it’s intentionally dorky, because dorky stuff is easy to remember. When someone is emotional, and they’re in their whatever you want to call it, reptile brain, primitive brain, we need things that are easy to remember. Complex tasks will escape us in that moment, we have to boil things down to what’s going to break the cycle. So, think about that tool and how it might apply in your own life, and these emotional moments, these outbursts, when your elephant gets out of control, and rampages through a wall, is that a pattern? And if it’s a pattern, I would encourage you to name it, blame it, and tame it. This is how we make ourselves better people. We’ve all got these patterns, don’t feel shamed about it.
Colby Pearce 46:56
So clean thinking, a clear mind. I don’t necessarily mean you have to be some Buddhist monk, but having a little bit of power in this category can really help your recovery. Because, again, if you’re thinking lots of negative thoughts all the time, it can be quite easy to carry that negativity for a few days, and then of course, you know, if you had a, an adult figure in your life as a young child, when you were a young child, and they said to you over and over again, “you are a terrible artist, you should never draw pictures. You’re never going to be a good artist,” and they repeated it over and over again, as a young child, eventually, you would probably believe them. This is just human nature, it’s not only because you’re a kid, it’s because all humans are suggestible. So, when you have a voice in your head, that’s telling you that you suck, or that you’re not fast, or that you’re not strong enough, or that you aren’t explosive enough to follow the breakaway, or you don’t have the strength to climb this hill with the lead group, and you tell yourself that over and over again, well, your focus determines your reality. Unfortunately, you can easily manifest that outcome. So, I’m not trying to get into a giant self-help hole here, but I’ll say it that way. Making a habit of protecting positive thoughts is definitely worth some time.
Legs up Method of Organizing Thoughts
Colby Pearce 48:30
Another point on thinking, I have a practice that I like to give some of my athletes, and it’s called legs up. When you’re really smoked, and you need to just calm down, I’ll have people put in headphones, you got to use a left and a right, go to your magic Spotify account, or wherever you get your tunes, and plug in Theta, or you can try 432 Hertz. You’ll get some really theoretic, slow paced hippie music, I want you to lay on a preferably a hard surface, like a hardwood floor, not rock hard but hard. Put your legs straight up the wall and put your headphones in and close your eyes for 10 or 20 minutes, and just breathe very slowly. Don’t worry about box breathing, don’t worry about counting your breathing. Most the time you come out of that, and you feel like you took the best 20-minute nap of your life. This music will help calm your thoughts. The Theta will help slow down the brainwaves. The breath will help focus or cultivate relaxation. Putting your legs at the wall, especially on the hard surface can reset your pelvis, for those of you who have a bit of pelvic obliquity, which pretty much every bike racer on the planet does, I got a newsflash for you if you think you’re special. Also, it’ll drain your legs a little bit, so it’s like a passive massage. Now, if you want to really go Ben Greenfield on this, and kill like 14 birds with one stone, take a little bit of Liposomal GABA, put on your compression tights, and then put your Normatec over your compression tights, see if you can make it 20 minutes without your feet, basically falling asleep. That is a powerful recovery modality right there. That is the super secret, triple whammy, Pat Warner, secret not secret, Normatec technique. My favorite compression leggings, while we’re on the topic, Normatec over the compression with a legs up. This is a very intense experience.
Organizing Thoughts With Gentle Motion
Colby Pearce 50:48
Another simple method to help organize your thoughts is with gentle motion. Paul would call these exercises working in, not working out. So, any work in exercise is that you must be able to do it with a full stomach. It’s very gentle, you can do it with your mouth closed, and that means that it’s not very intense. You can do gentle breathing squats, for example, whenever you’re doing a work in exercise, one key aspect is you always exhale as you approach the fetal position, and inhale as you expand away from the fetal position. This is probably backwards from what your breathing pattern has been typically when doing squats in the gym. If you load the bar up for a back squat, and put the bar on your back, and you descend, a lot of times you’ll, sometimes you’ll breathe in and you’ll breathe out on the exhale on the way up. But during all breathing in exercises, you want to exhale as you approach the fetal position, so that would be as you descend in the squat, the eccentric load of the squat. There are lots of other breathing in exercises that Paul has recommended. I’m quite certain he’s got several blogs on that out there, so I’ll let you go forth and consult the search engines if you’re interested.
Colby Pearce 52:13
But another really powerful way to do this is simply do Tai Chi, learn Tai Chi. It’s a perfect gateway into meditation, and it’s a really good way for us as lifelong athletes to learn to slow down, and coordinate breath with movement instead of just going all the time, going, going, going as fast as we can.
Principle of Drinking
Colby Pearce 52:46
Drinking. This one’s pretty simple. If you’re not hydrating regularly, throughout the day with really clean water, first Choice is always local spring water, that’s tested for all kinds of impurities and negative crappiness we don’t want in our fluids. If you’re doing that on a regular basis, then you’re going to be in good shape. If you’re the type of person will only drinks, soda, tea, coffee, and what whatever else lattes, then you’re probably running around with chronically dehydrated fascia, and tissue, muscular tissue, connective tissue. This eventually leads to limitations in range of motion, and really tight spots in your body. This is highly problematic for an athlete, or anyone who wants to be a functional human being. There are people who walk their whole lives on the earth being pretty much I would argue chronically dehydrated. Remember, your fascia is basically like a system of really, really tiny straws, and when that fascia is hydrated, it works well and it’s open and fluid and responds to movement well, whether that movement is Eldoa, or stretching, or hard intervals. I mean, that’s what the expression “move fluidly” means, you’ve got to have hydration in your tissues if you’re going to move fluidly. And do you want a fluid supple pedal stroke? Well, if you’re listening to me this far to this podcast, I would argue you probably do.
Creating a Habit of Staying Hydrated
Colby Pearce 54:27
Water is life, and humans are between 55-70% water. Think about that for a moment, you’re basically a hairy bag of water, and you came from the ocean. So, when you’re running around dehydrating yourself, especially if you’re riding your bike a lot at altitude all day long, I mean pretty much every exhale at altitude, in a low humidity environment, you’re expelling moisture in the air on every exhale. It’s like leaving the refrigerator open and trying to cool your whole house, that’s what you’re doing with the environment, you’re constantly bleeding hydration, water vapor out of your lungs constantly. So, the first thing I do every morning is drink a fair amount of water, I start off with 12 or 16 ounces with some minerals in it. Sometimes I’ll use a squeeze lemon to help give the liver a little, a little kickstart. Then I’m hydrated throughout the day, And the better I am with that, the more acutely aware I become of my hydration patterns. A lot of people just get frustrated when I talk about this, because they feel like they just break the habit, they don’t have a good habit of hydration, and it’s pretty simple. Just have an armada of glass bottles around, carry one with you, give it a little home in your backpack or your commuter bag or whatever you’ve got, and it’s your thing, you take it to work, you refill, you go here, you go there, you have access to good water, and it’s just something you have pay attention to, but keeping a vessel or it really you need a series of vessels for this water, and my first choice is always glass. Yeah, there’s PVC free this and that and whatever, but energy is highly sensitive to sorry, water is highly sensitive to energy. Also, keep it away from your computer and your phone, picks up stuff. If you want to learn more about that Paul’s got a lot of great blogs on water, and how significant it is. This is a key aspect of recovery. If you’re getting massage, and you’re doing all this myofascial release, and your system is not hydrated, you should be ice skating uphill. When you start to know what you look like when you are hydrated, you can see it in people’s face. And you see people who are chronic endurance athletes, training, training, training, addicted to aerobic load, chronic cardio, and they’re always dehydrated, you start to be able to pick them out pretty quickly. I’ll give you one little tool you can use this is a pretty simple one, just pinch the skin on the back of your hand between your wrist and your knuckles, pull it up and let it go. When you’re really dehydrated, it will take a while for that skin to return to the way it looked before you pinched it. If you’re quite hydrated, it takes about one second for your skin to look normal. When you’re dehydrated, it’ll kind of stay there, kind of pitches this little tent, this little pinch tip. That’s your quick and dirty self-hydration check.
Principle of Movement
Colby Pearce 57:42
Last one is movement, and I touched a bit on this when I got into the thinking area. Paul would say that working in is one of the best ways to facilitate movement during recovery. I want to pick apart the nuance here a little bit. How do you know when you should take a complete day off, versus when you should go for an easy ride?
How To Know When To Take a Day Off, Versus When To Go for an Easy Ride
Colby Pearce 58:08
This might depend a little bit on the type of fatigue you have. Example, if you do a hard ride with a lot of climbing and a lot of intensity, we will say high zone three, or race pace, you know, zone four efforts fast as you can. Maybe you do an hour worth of work and a three-or-four-hour ride or something, and assuming that ride is within your wheelhouse of training, the TSS wasn’t off the charts relative to what you’ve been doing, then you might recover okay from that ride, you might be tired, and your muscles might have some soreness, but you’re not obliterated. And if this is the case, an easy ride can help flush your legs, build some gentle circulation and help loosen up the muscles. Sometimes the next day you get up in the muscles are very, they’re just tight, they’re kind of welded together. So, we’re going to let those muscles be supple. So, assuming you did all the things on the list above this, you slept well, you had good breathing patterns after your ride, you ate well and replenished yourself with carbohydrates after the ride, you didn’t have a bunch of negative thoughts, you didn’t have a lot of bad dreams, you didn’t carry a lot of negative stress with you throughout the afternoon after the workout the day before, you’re hydrated, you’ve been consuming fluids, your system is is fluid filled. Remember, also in order to store carbohydrates, you need water. That’s how muscles refuel glycogen storage, and the liver storage glycogen, you consume carbohydrates, but that carbohydrate is consumed and stored with water. So, if you don’t hydrate you cannot you’ve literally physically cannot store the molecules of glycogen in your muscles and liver. So, assuming you’ve been doing all those things, then an easy ride might benefit you, but sometimes you go so deep, or your nervous system is fried. Now, there are two different types of fatigue we can highlight here. One is more muscular, glycogen depletion muscle soreness. This is where muscle fibers are tired, this is when your quads and hopefully your hamstrings and glutes and calves, if your bike is set up right, all are sore, maybe even your triceps and some of your intercostals get sore when you do a really long ride or a big ride. If that’s the case, that’s probably more muscular soreness and glycogen depletion, also muscle damage. And so, in these cases, an easy ride can sometimes help because they loosen the muscle fibers and facilitate circulation, and so too much stagnation can kind of almost prevent the recovery process, you might do just as well, to go for an easy walk and practice in box breathing. On this recovery ride, I would suggest nasal breathing, that’s ideal, that governs intensity and also forces you to work on breath technique a little bit. This is one of my favorite recovery techniques, exclusively breathing through the nose. But if your nervous system is completely fried, which is probably experienced by most athletes as more of a general sense of fatigue, that is a little bit of almost trouble concentrating, a little bit of attention challenge, and perhaps inability to do things like simple tasks, like maybe dropping forks when you’re in the kitchen, maybe catching your toe on the stairs when you’re going upstairs, these types of things, this is can be indicative of nervous system fatigue. If you want a couple really good tests for that, you can search for the keyboard tap test, which is a quick way to check your nervous system. If you’re using a Whoop, that is a device that ties directly into Nervous System fatigue by registering HRV, or an Aura Ring. I think there are a few other HRV devices out there. There’s also HRV for training, an app that you use. There’s lots of other tools you can try there, but another one is one of Paul Chek’s tests is go find your stability ball, and kneel on your stability ball, set a timer for one minute, and keep track of how many times you fall off that ball. When your nervous system is fresh, you can sit there welded to that thing for a minute straight, no problem. And by kneel on it, what I mean is put your knees on the ball, feet hanging off the back, pelvis is straight above the knees, shoulders or straight above the pelvis, and just balance. If you’re falling off that ball 2,3,4 times, that’s probably middle ground. If it’s more than three or four, there’s a good chance your nervous system is really cooked, and you definitely want no business training hard that day. Training hard or strength conditioning, challenging strength and conditioning, are just going to be not fruitful. You need another night of sleep, another day of relaxation, and another night asleep before you’re going to try and train hard again.
Checking In on Your Recovery
Colby Pearce 1:03:30
So there’s a tip on checking in with your recovery. There are lots of methods you can use to check that out. Classic heart rate isn’t the best, because it doesn’t really give you an insight into nervous system response, unless you take the delta between laying and standing, that can maybe give you an insight? But HRV is a far more advanced method. Although That said, there are some coaches and people out there who don’t believe that the HRV measuring method is all that good. In my experience, you’ve got to try it out for yourself, I’ve seen athletes I’ve had good results with it, I’ve seen other athletes where it just didn’t seem to work.
Fine Line Between Adding More Stress and Facilitating Recovery
Colby Pearce 1:04:05
So, these are my thoughts on recovery. You’re probably expecting all kinds of scientific analyses on Cryo Chambers and stuff. One last note I’ll make you can go nuts with a lot of things like that, including ice baths, that’s a great example. You go to a Cryo tube or an ice bath. Should you do these things? Well, just like anything, I think there’s a fine line between adding more stress and facilitating recovery. So, if you’re going into an ice bath and you’re literally freaking out and breathing like I don’t know, a stressed-out muskrat, I want to say, getting into that ice bath is probably causing you more stress than it is alleviating. It’s probably up regulating sympathetic tone, and is that the goal? Well, maybe it is temporarily, assuming you have a parasympathetic response, but if it just sends you into a big fight or flight cascade, and your hormones get jacked to the moon, then that probably wasn’t constructive. I do think there are athletes who in 2020, or 2021, will run around filling their day with recovery modalities, massage, Cryo tubes, acupuncture, Craniosacral, Cairo, Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy, whatever else you can think of. And if you think about that, if every one of those requires a trip in the car and traffic and sitting and getting in and out of the car, and negotiating the appointment, or paying for the appointment, that’s a lot of Yang, that’s a lot of doing. So how much doing are we offsetting with our super expensive recovery modality, and I’m not saying don’t do these things, they have their place. But the end barometer, the final yardstick of measuring whether a device or an activity, such as that will really benefit you probably comes down to the total Yang versus Yin load, that is associated with doing that activity, you have to take that into context. So, if you literally have the whole day to do nothing, but lay on the couch and read a book, and then in the afternoon, you’re going to go to a cryotube session? Sure, sounds like it would work. But if you’re sprinting to hit that cryo tube session between for other appointments, and dropping your bike off at the mechanic, maybe not the best use of your time, you might just go do legs up somewhere in the shade.
Colby Pearce 1:06:59
I have much gratitude for my audience, and I’m really happy you made it to this point. If you have feedback, questions, or comments, as always, please head to the Fast Talk Labs forum. We will make a page specifically for this podcast, and you can go forth there and reach out. This is so that multiple people can benefit from your question and my answer. Comments are fine there to be sure and at me in the forum, which ensures that I get the proper notification that you spoke out. With that, I will say good night and I hope everyone gets a good night of sleep this evening. Thanks for listening.
Colby Pearce 1:07:46
Attention, Space Monkeys, public service announcement, really, technically, it’s a disclaimer, you already know this, but I’m going to remind you that I’m not a lawyer and I’m not a doctor. So don’t think anything on this podcast to constitute lawyerly or doctorly advice, I don’t play any of those characters on the internet. Also, we talk about lots of things, and that means we have opinions. My guest’s opinions are not necessarily reflective of the opinions of anyone who is employed by or works at Fast Talk Labs. Also, if you want to reach out, talk to me about things, feedback on the podcast, good, bad, or otherwise, may do so, at the following email address firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s all spelled just If it sounds. Gratitude.