Potluck Discussion: Ideal Mental States, Mixing Energy Systems, and Memorable Failures

Our hosts continue their potluck discussion and talk about what’s the ideal mental state for performance, whether we should be consistent with our intervals or not, and why failure is so important for an athlete to experience.

Behind the scenes with coach Grant Holicky

Welcome to another “potluck discussion” with coach Trevor Connor, coach Grant Holicky, and physiologist Rob Pickels. In these discussions, we pick topics we find interesting, but don’t deserve a full episode. Our three experts will break them apart using a mix of science, humor, and their own coaching experience.   

Is there an ideal mental state?   

Coach Holicky asks if there is an ideal mental state – whether it be anger, joy, or nerves – for racing. As you might expect, the answer is – it depends, but there are still good guides for what does and doesn’t work for athletes as we prepare mentally for a big event.  

Should we be consistent with our intervals or mix up our energy systems?  

There are two questions on this topic that were raised by coach Connor. First, should athletes keep doing the same intervals for four to eight weeks, or should they constantly change them up? Second, is it good to mix energy systems, or should interval work really target one system at a time? Both coach Connor and coach Holicky have very different responses, but ultimately agree that it’s about finding what works best for each athlete.  

What we learned from our memorable moments of failure 

Failure gets a bad rap. Some top athletes would tell you that they truly only learn from failure and then therefore win as a result of that learning. To put it in simpler terms, we can’t win until we’ve failed. Pickels asks the team to recount some memorable failures in their careers and what they learned from the experience.  

We’re sure that all of you have had your moments of failure as well. If you have a minute, share with us your memorable failure and what you learned on our forum at: https://forums.fasttalklabs.com/t/episode-223-share-your-stories-of-failure/7894 

Get ready for some exciting conversation and let’s make you fast! 

*In this episode, words are expressed about the complexity of Trevor’s podcast set-up. We added a picture for reference, but jump to 49:10 to hear the full conversation.

Episode Transcript

Trevor Connor  00:04

Hello and welcome to another episode of Fast Talk. I am going to try to do the intro without reading it because I never do this.


Rob Pickels  00:13

I think that is the rough intro. Hello and welcome to Fast Talk – potluck edition.


Trevor Connor  00:18

Because what do we say? It’s your source for the science of endurance? Except no, we can’t do science twice.


Rob Pickels  00:24

Your source for the-


Grant Holicky  00:27

Watching you struggle through your own intro is pretty fantastic.


Trevor Connor  00:30

I never read the intro.


Grant Holicky  00:32

But you have literally sat through that probably 300 times.


Rob Pickels  00:36

No 220.


Trevor Connor  00:37

I always record it afterwards. Chris used to come down here by himself. So I’ve literally never heard the intro


Grant Holicky  00:44

That makes way more sense that Chris recorded it by Hello and welcome to Fast Talk.


Trevor Connor  00:49

So I’m Chris came to the countdown here and Rob’s like Trevor do the intro. Like I don’t know what I’m doing.


Grant Holicky  00:55

Hello, I’m Chris case. That’s all you need to say. We should just have that somewhere in the beginning of every episode. Hello, I’m Chris case.


Trevor Connor  01:03

All right. As you can tell, we are off to a wonderful start. This is a potluck episode. Unscripted, I have not brought research I’m still terrified. So we are here with Rob pickles and grant colicky and yeah Can we get this train back on the


Grant Holicky  01:19

track? No probably not. It is my happy place this is like I come down here for regular episode. I’m getting a hard time and I have notes. I don’t have a computer. I don’t have all this stuff. I’m watching pickles closes laptop right now. I feel so just content.


Rob Pickels  01:36

Let’s do this. Let’s dance.


Trevor Connor  01:39

I have the odd man out because I actually prepared for this last night he walks in. He’s like, What are we talking about? Again,


Rob Pickels  01:45

I didn’t even know what the questions were supposed to be so


Trevor Connor  01:54

everyone, this is Coach Connor fast talk labs just released the newest module from the craft of coaching with Joe Friel. As a module I’m particularly excited about. We’ve called it assembling a winning roster, managing athletes and service providers. And it is all about how coaches can better support their athletes. When I was actively coaching, I would take my athletes to University of Colorado sports medicine facility for testing and services that I could not provide. Now you can do that too through fast talk laboratories. Contact us to learn more at coaches at fast talk labs.com.

Well, let’s start with grants. Do you remember your question? Or what do you like to talk about?


Grant Holicky  02:36

I do remember my question. So my question is to everybody here. And I think this is really relevant to all you out there. Because let me start with this one of my favorite, or least favorite, depending on how I look at it. sports moments is NBC Sports during the Olympics, when Michael Phelps was Michael Phelps always used to show Phelps in the ready room for swim meets with the Phelps face on right. He just looked angry at the world. He’d have his headphones on he had that look on his face became a meme for a while. And he just looked angry. And I remember all of my swimmers after that, trying to do that before they raced, right? They’d be in the corner, they’d be listening to Metallica, and they’d have their face all screwed up. And some of them went up performed beautifully. And some of them were terrible. They were an absolute disaster. So my question to you guys is, what is your perfect prerace? mentality? What’s your optimal place? And we can get into the science of this. And trust me, I love that. But how is it for you guys? What do you need to be? Do you need to be happy? Do you need to be excited? Do you need to be angry?


Rob Pickels  03:45

Yeah. For me while grant basically hearing this question for the first time. And as you’re talking. I was literally going through a mental catalogue of how I felt and different performances, right. And no, for me, a lot of that was track and field to put this into context. That means as a sprinter or hurdler, a jumper, all of my events were very short. And I’m giving that as the caveat to it might be a little bit different from somebody who had a longer event that they did. For me though some of my worst performances came when I was nervous, right. I remember in high school and when I first state championship or I was a shoo in to win, I was so nervous because I had to step up and I had to I had to knock that out of the park. And I almost changed everything I did because I was nervous before the race. And I sort of flubbed it a little bit. Not too bad. I’ll say I still like placed on the podium or whatever. But my coach beforehand said to me, he’s like, I knew you weren’t going to run a personal best today because I saw how different you were treating this race because you were nervous because it mattered because you had these expectations to live up to. And that really helped me understand my performance situation moving forward. But what it took was years for me to work on the ability to change my mindset and to reframe that nervousness out really into a positive place positive self talk all of these things grant that you’re so good at. You know, for me, it’s cool, calm, collected, confident, a little bit excited, you’re ready, you want to go, you’re excited to get out there. But not that like pit in your stomach, which I know can motivate fear, motivate some people, but for me, it really turns everything off.


Grant Holicky  05:21

But then that’s really interesting of what you bring up and how you remember it. And what you look at the way that research is done on this topic is to have people remember their best performances and then go back and say, Okay, what was your mood state. So very qualitative, not perfect, necessarily, because our brains aren’t perfect. But what athletes can start to do is cumulate, a catalogue of good performances, bad performances and start to have this idea of where you perform well. So for you, it’s cool, calm and collected, but so much goes into play on that have to be confident in my ability to do what I need to do. Do you talk yourself through that?


Rob Pickels  06:03

Mental talk all the time? Yeah. But what’s interesting for me, I completely lack the ability to visualize things. I’m one of like, a small percent of people, I cannot form a visual image in my mind. So everything that happens in my mind, and I thought this was normal, everything is self talk. I have conversations with myself. Maybe that’s a little schizophrenic. I don’t know. So yeah, talking is a huge part of that.


Grant Holicky  06:25

Yeah. And that, I mean, we can do a whole episode on self talk. That would be wildly interesting. But the self talk comes into play on this too. We’ll come back to that. What’s your ideal mental still


Trevor Connor  06:36

see if you can guess mine, this was literally part of my pre race routine for races that I care about. I would walk around the start line looking for somebody that I don’t like. And I would go talk with them until they really forgive my language pissed me off.


Rob Pickels  06:57

Get this Oh, my God, get


Trevor Connor  06:59

on my bike. Just go out that guy. They just complain in my head about him. And that got me in the right


Grant Holicky  07:05

state. That is so funny.


Rob Pickels  07:07

performance in this company has really been elevated since I joined.


Trevor Connor  07:12

That’s a good point.


Rob Pickels  07:13

He’s like, I’m gonna hire Rob, because I hate that guy. Yeah, this is why


Trevor Connor  07:17

like every hour to when I’m starting to feel like my productivity is going around like, Hey, Rob, let’s talk for a second.


Grant Holicky  07:24

So So Trevor, you’re the Michael Jordan of bike racing, because Jordan used to look for people that disrespected him, right? If you ever watched that the documentary on Jordan, it became a meme in and of itself. And I felt personally disrespected by that was what Jordan would say all the time, then you’d go out and score 100 points, do whatever you would do.


Rob Pickels  07:46

So this is interesting, actually, because other competitors never ever, ever, ever played into my mind. Like, for me when I’m competing, it’s all myopic. I guess it was all about me and me doing my personal best. The other people almost didn’t even exists.


Grant Holicky  08:00

Well, I don’t know that that’s necessarily different. But whatever. Somebody needs to trigger that desire to go deep, right? So for me, it’s, I’m on opposite ends of the spectrum. I’m Joy. I am all about happiness and joy. So when I you know, you talk about reframe that


Trevor Connor  08:17

pisses me off. Oh, want to raise your picture, Grant, talk to you. So


Grant Holicky  08:24

here’s what we’re gonna do. If Trevor and I are on the same team, I’m gonna roll up to Trevor middle the race. Isn’t this fun? Are we having fun? This is fantastic. Trevor, go attack. Yeah. So I used to reframe, you know, my nerves if I visualize the start line. And I actually chose to start doing this pretty regularly because my anxiety on the start line was overwhelming. So I would visualize the start of a race, yet that pit in my stomach, get the butterflies that would come. And then I forced myself to picture some of my friends on that start line. Doing something that was made me laugh, made me smile. And that brought me back into that whole place of this is joyous for me, this is why I do this because I’m 49 in a couple of weeks. I don’t need to do this, right? Like it hurts cross hurts. Sure does. So what do we want to find? If you want to find some of the research on this? It’s called eyes off individualized zone of optimal functioning individual zone of optimal functioning. And it’s really some interesting stuff of what it takes for certain people. But Trevor is in a minority, but there I you are in a minority with that, but it’s it’s a significant minority that like anger.


Trevor Connor  09:39

You ever see the movie? Conan the Barbarian? Yes. What is the meaning of life? Do you remember that scene? Yes. I have that memorized. Because it is my motivator.


Rob Pickels  09:49

I don’t can you go through it for


Trevor Connor  09:50

me? The crush your enemies, see them driven before you and to hear the lamentation and I’ll end there because it’s really politically incorrect.


Grant Holicky  10:01

Well, I think this is a really interesting topic just in general, because everybody is different, right? And what they’re gonna play into and what they need. But that’s interesting to hear your anger.


Rob Pickels  10:11

Greg, can you actually I mean, you’re the expert in this area. Can you describe some other strategies or mental states maybe that people are in just just so that listeners can have the breadth beyond just the three of us? Yeah, well, guy,


Trevor Connor  10:23

I also have a second question before we get to off topic, because here’s what I want to ask. Like, I’d love to race and join it being joyful like you, but I can’t rise above myself, I find the reason I go for anger is when there’s somebody that I just like, I have to beat that guy. I can go deeper into that pain cave, I can push myself further that can’t when I’m just having fun and enjoying it. So I’m interested in hearing also your thoughts on that.


Grant Holicky  10:52

But don’t get me wrong. I mean, I am hugely motivated by that piece of the puzzle. Like I can go out and race and goat just whatever happens, do not lose the pickles. So I could fly, I could fall off my bike, I could break a leg, I’m gonna finish that race to beat pickles or beat whomever. And as a friend of mine once joked that we all have three people in every race, we have the guy we know we should be, we have the person that they’ll they’ll beat us, we’ll beat them. And then we have that person, just man, if we beat them. We’ve had a killer race. And we know we have, but what we’re talking about more than anything else is prerace. What’s that place that you can be that allows you to go to the line, as Rob was saying cool, calm and collected, with your eyes on your target, so that all of those mental states that I kind of mentioned, excitement can be one, Happiness can be one, anger can be one. And they’re more scientifically delineated, and that this isn’t one of those episodes, but we could pull the research out and go through those categories one by one. But I think the main thing is that everybody is very individual with this, hence why it’s called individual zone of optimal functioning, because it could be a combination of multiple things, you can be really excited to raise, but at the same time, derive your motivation to hurt from beating people


Rob Pickels  12:14

grin as you’re talking through this, it reminded me of someone and that’s Usain Bolt. I don’t know if you guys have ever seen it. But he’s somewhat famous for how he interacts with the people that hold the basket that he puts his clothes and shoes into, before he gets in the starting blocks of the Olympics, or world championships or anything else. And he’s always joking with them. He’s high fiving with them, he’s smiling. He’s laughing, the fastest man in the world, in the most intense event you could ever possibly dream of. And he’s just like, chillin on the start line. And it’s so awesome to watch,


Grant Holicky  12:47

right? And what we’re trying to do when we work with athletes on eyes off and getting them to theirs is where do we get you to be autonomic? Where do we get you to be in a place where you’re not having to think actively about what you’re about to go to this little point of training, right? Can we make what we’re going to do really autonomic. And so for some people like a Usain Bolt, that is, I’m going to enjoy, I’m gonna take in this moment, I know what I need to do. I’ve got this down. And maybe they have a very quick mindful switch of five seconds that goes, Okay, now I’m going to let it all come in. And I had an athlete, very, very good swimmer, that when she was young, she used that as one of her friends to come to the blocks and tell her jokes. And she would tell her jokes, and then they blow the whistle, she’d get up on the blokes, that was her frame, and she could zero in on it, and then she’d go swim great. But the second that frame changed, she was in trouble, because she didn’t have other strategies that play so if they, somebody fall started, there was a Twitch, there was a noise and they brought people down. I remember being by the pool vividly out of big meat looking at it and they brought everybody off the blocks and I just put my head in my hands and a couple other swimmers went why, like just watch and she had a terrible race. So understanding a what is your optimal zone of functioning and be how do I then come back out of that and CO pack into that kind of as needed and that’s where the mental training really comes into play. You have to work that the way you’d work intervals so the way you’d work strength work.


Rob Pickels  14:23

Now grid I know that you said this is very individual, a part of the name of the system. Do you though see any trends across sports across a power sports endurance sports skill based sports? It does the dark player who has a beer beforehand, does that actually help?


Grant Holicky  14:42

There is some really interesting research about power sports and short duration high intensity, but they did most of that on grip strength. So anger comes into a better play and grip strength tests. Swearing actually helps in grip strength tests. Put the right person in front of Trevor and his grip strength is gonna go through the roof.


Trevor Connor  15:03

What I’m saying.


Rob Pickels  15:05

So if I yell out I love carrots as I like, deadlift, it’s not going to help me


Grant Holicky  15:10

not as much as I leap and like


Trevor Connor  15:15

what has anybody ever yelled? I love carrots.


Grant Holicky  15:19

Oh, you know, Bugs Bunny, man. You’re doing it wrong. Okay, maybe that’s right, you can’t deadlift I have to cut that. Sorry.


Rob Pickels  15:31

Well, if you heard episode 204 That you’re definitely not offended by seeing it over here. So


Grant Holicky  15:37

thanks. I really enjoy that. And again, part of the whole idea of potluck is to get you guys thinking about this and talking about this. So there’s the starting point for this week. Well, it’s


Trevor Connor  15:47

a good conversation so we dive into mine. Yeah, let’s do it. Do you have no idea how much I struggled last night? I wanted to grab the studies Oh, and to get my research.


Grant Holicky  15:56

Well, you got three screens.


Rob Pickels  15:57

Can you talk yourself out of


Trevor Connor  16:00

the dot here but though I mean, this is this is gonna be hard this is yeah, I’m hurting without my research. I just


Grant Holicky  16:08

got up and walked around and looked at his screen so many words all the word if I had my computer just be pictures.


Trevor Connor  16:16

So what you can’t see here is this this this is my new toy. I just got it last night. It’s a extended monitor for my computer but it latches onto your computer it’s two screens on either side. I look like I’m trying to take over the world it looks really cool


Rob Pickels  16:30

right? I think there was some nuclear codes somewhere hidden in that contraption probably a lot of fun.


Trevor Connor  16:35

So they might not work but they’re in there any of it because we said we wouldn’t do this. This is good to be so here’s getting angry. Okay, this is going to be a battle between granted I Right, right.


Rob Pickels  16:51

For many of us in North America, the road racing season is winding down, you can test your end of Season fitness with fast talk labs just scheduling inside Advanced Test with us here inside test results will reveal your VO two Max up to date training zones, anaerobic threshold, carb Max fat Max VLA Max, then it’ll suggest a path forward for better training and fitness. Learn more at fast talk labs.com.


Trevor Connor  17:22

So the thing I want to talk about, I am a little Nazi ish with my athletes in terms of sticking to one energy system like so when I build a plan for my athletes. I give them one workout, maybe two, we’re talking about intervals. And they do that same workout for 468 weeks before I give them their next workout. I know with your athletes, it kind of changes up I think some days you might just kind of make it up as you’re writing it.


Grant Holicky  17:52

I don’t know if I’d go that far. But no, I do love to mix energy systems.


Trevor Connor  17:58

So let’s talk about this edits. It’s both mixing energy systems and should you be repeating the same work like we trade up the same? Really, I will give my athletes interval routine Yes.


Rob Pickels  18:13

Is there any joy in your life at all? Just you just pound your head against the same wall. Oh, the teeth are gritting this is working.


Trevor Connor  18:20

I’ve just tried to get angry with people. I get angry with the workouts the same damn workout as last.


Rob Pickels  18:27

I’m gonna crush it.


Grant Holicky  18:31

I don’t even know where to go with this.


Trevor Connor  18:33

I’m actually wondering what this is saying about my life. So far, we’ve covered the fact that I’m weird because I get motivated by anger. We know we have a strange computer setup and I’m boring with my workouts.


Grant Holicky  18:45

This speaks to your methodical illness that a word Yeah, okay.


Trevor Connor  18:50

maniacally not actually the way I would think of myself. But you’re right. I’m getting that picture though, if


Grant Holicky  18:56

you are methodical and I but this even comes back to a little bit of what we’re talking about my question, everybody has a different way to go through how they’re arranged thoughts in their head or how they’d go down the tunnel, right? This is not the only place I get a hard time being on my wife. We’ve been together a long time and she still looks at me and thinks I’m just a train wreck. underprepared. You know, I think she sees me as Pigpen walking through the world with the cloud of dust coming up behind me stuff all over the place. But to me, some of that disorder is how I find my order. And if I write things down, I feel like I get too married to it, I get too committed to it. And so a big part of where I go with my training method is I personally really worry about overdoing the periodization putting it too far out because things change so dramatically in people’s lives or in their training or in their recovery or in all those pieces. And for me, if I lay it all out that much, I won’t leave it I have a really hard time then going, this isn’t working, we need to move. And so that is part of why I like to keep things kind of mixed up. I also, personally, and this is a total side note why you need to find that coach that works specifically for you. Because I coach the way I would want to be coached. If I did the same workout too many times in a row, I’d probably take my bike and hook it off something really tall to


Trevor Connor  20:29

do I have an athlete who I coach who doesn’t like it when I change up his workouts and he said this, yeah, one, but it changes where I’m like, like, why are you changing? Like, you’ve been doing that last one for seven weeks? He must be getting bored. He’s like, No, it gives me comfort.


Grant Holicky  20:42

Yeah. Yeah.


Rob Pickels  20:43

Well, hold on that that word, though. Comfort is perfect. I mean, that’s a perfect description of what’s going on here. Right. And for me, when we begin discussing this, these are sort of the intangibles, right? Where I don’t care what research says, I’m worried about the athlete as a holistic being right? And is one better than the other? Sure, there might be research that says exactly this periodization is exactly the right thing to do. But if the athlete mentally can’t find comfort, if they can’t be okay with that, it throws him for a loop every single time that athlete is not going to adapt and perform like they should


Grant Holicky  21:16

well, and vice versa. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s that athlete that you’re talking about that doesn’t want things to change, because this is comfortable. This makes sense. This is what I can do. And that’s why there’s a spectrum of coaches, right? We’ve talked about this, you have a purely anecdotal coach on one end of the spectrum, who’s only just learned by being in the sport and coaching in sport. And on the other end of the spectrum, you have the pure sport scientist, I think this Dr. Sylar brings this up, that coaches are learning in the field, what sports scientists are learning in labs, where do you fall on that spectrum? And I know that I come from that spectrum from the anecdotal side. And I’ve learned the science and taught myself those things as I’ve gone through, and other coaches coming from a very different angle. Well, let’s


Trevor Connor  22:06

go a little bit into the science even though I don’t have my research. What about the argument that


Grant Holicky  22:14

if I’m Pigpen, your Linus and researches your blank area


Trevor Connor  22:17

I actually have I love peanuts as a kid. And Linus was definitely my favorite. Alright, I actually dressed up as him for multiple Halloween. So on to something here, which is really hard to do, because he’s just a kid. So really, all I did was walk around with a blanket, it was a great costume. I tried. Okay,


Rob Pickels  22:35

sweet. You’re not successful at


Grant Holicky  22:41

that. Some people rough childhood, he had a really high bad band I coordination. That’s where we need video.


Trevor Connor  22:53

So what about this idea that it’s additive, that you don’t get the benefits necessarily from one workout, but you need to keep hitting that system over and over again, to really see the benefits. And if you’re hitting multiple systems, you’re doing a little bit of damage to each but maybe not enough to adapt. What’s your thoughts on that?


Grant Holicky  23:13

No, I think there’s value in that. But I also think there’s no such thing as hitting one system, right? I mean, you can go out and do the perfect lactate workout, and you’re still getting something for every energy system, right? This is something that we kind of talk about a lot. That’s a misconception that I’m training this energy system, you’re training all your energy systems, but you’re primarily focused on this one. So my take on that part is, that’s one piece of it, right? That we’re always training a little bit of everything. Second piece of it is for me and the majority of the people that I coach, this is particularly true for cyclocross in every race in one energy system, your race and all over the board. And I do think there’s a lot of value. I will say this, that as we go into, say, mountain bike nationals, and the US mountain bike nationals course has sustained climbs, it’s good old fashioned us mountain biking, sustain fireroad, climbing, the training for those people that are going to that race is altered pretty dramatically. We’re going to focus on that specific energy system, we’re going to see that repeated. If somebody’s going and doing a stage race with a lot of climbing, we’re going to see that type of energy system repeated. So I will do that. I’m not going to go down that road and say I won’t do it. What I will try to do is have four separate workouts that all train the same energy system that are enough different that it keeps it interesting because again, that was that would be what I would want


Rob Pickels  24:46

grant I can’t tell if I agree or disagree with you, which is maybe allegory for our life. We have known each other the beginning of what you said I was like this guy is off his rocker but then you’d like one at it halfway through that out. And I thought I was gonna stand to pose to you when I say that, you know, Trevor, I think that you and I are perhaps a little bit more on the same page where I kind of agree when we’re talking about a stimulus for adaptation that we can be a bit more focused, working on different intensities or interval durations to really try to upregulate some certain things within our body. But then grant, I also kind of agree with you toward the end there, where, which matters. What do you do when all of that has to do with the goal and the purpose of what you’re doing? What do you need to be good at to perform well, so I don’t know, I think that we’re actually all in kind of the same PH that if you focus on one type of workout, then you’re gonna get the maximum benefit of that.


Trevor Connor  25:41

What motivated me to make this my topic point is exactly that is I mean, I certainly have my bias here. And I do some of what you do as well, like so if I get my athletes anaerobic capacity work, I give them three options. I go, I’ll pick one, whichever one feels best that day. Yeah, yeah. But they all work. Looking at the research. And I didn’t bring the research here. But I was actually looking at some research that motivated me to go here’s what I want to talk about. Because I’ve seen it go both ways and the research. Here’s the best example I can give you as Dr. Steven Siler published that study where it’s by memory, I’m not looking at it. Yeah. Published,


Rob Pickels  26:18

tattooed on his left for


Trevor Connor  26:21

doing different periodization of four by fours, four by eights, four by 16. Right. Yep. And he had one group that went up. So fours than eights and 16 is another group that went down. So sixteenths eights fours, in other group where they could pick every time they worked out which one they want to do, and just mix it up. And the group that saw the least gains was the group that mixed it up. So the while the other two groups were pretty similar, yep. So that was his conclusion of that study. It’s that mixing it up doesn’t work as well. But then we’ve had Dr. Siler on the show, say, it’s really about just doing time and intensity, they all work through the same pathway, so it doesn’t matter. So here’s even one researcher who’s proved both points.


Grant Holicky  27:04

Well, and that’s kind of why I chuckled when you brought up Sylar because I mean, that’s the thing. This is a little bit with research. I mean, if you do enough research, you’re gonna contradict your own research. And I, there’s something to that, too. I don’t want anybody to get me wrong here. I’m not like, you know, putting a blindfold on and hugging a dart at the wall. And that’s the workout. I just like variety. But I do feel like there is that value in that workout, whatever that workout is. And for certain athletes, they will do that workout once a month. Because they derive comfort from it. They derive fitness that like, this is my marker. This is where I know I am. But there are plenty people out there. I mean, I remember talking to a Pro Tour rider who does only do three workouts. And this is where I do them. That’s it. That’s all he does. Now, granted, this guy has been down the road a bit. He knows exactly what he needs. And he’s playing through those depending on what race is coming up and how


Rob Pickels  28:07

I want to go back to Dr. Sylar real quick and maybe not as a response specifically to that. But when we’re discussing changes that are occurring, and effects that training or supplements or anything has right, something to always remember about research is at what point does it become significant enough to matter practically, right? And we can say, time and zone is going to get you the majority of the way there. And for a lot of people, that’s enough, but maybe you get another few percent by doing it exactly in this order. For some people, that’s very important. But for other people, that’s not important at all. And so it comes down to the individual nature of it


Grant Holicky  28:46

always I’ve been having this conversation with some of my riders on the Cross team that I run. One of the writers was asking us, I can’t remember what it was, but it was very much in that realm of the INEOS, marginal gains, and we were looking at him and went, dude, you don’t need marginal gains, you need maximum gains true. And with so many of the athletes that we’re talking about, what are the maximal gains? How do I get them to just do threshold stuff? That’s usually not the bow. Let’s be honest. How do I get you to do really high end work? How do I get you to do cadence work? How do I get you to do these things that are really important in the big picture, but I don’t feel important.


Trevor Connor  29:29

There is one workout I’ve given to every single one of my athletes. I’ve explained to them the benefits of it I have yet to have a single athlete actually do it. Because it was impossible or big. It’s actually really easy. It’s Kate’s pyramids on rollers. Oh yeah them after they’re done with a ride to just hop on the rollers and do a cadence pyramid and they call it a day and they’d never do it.


Grant Holicky  29:50

Oh, yeah, I figured out how to get people to start doing Kayden stuff on a regular basis but it was a battle and but I will tell you this I love love the idea of people going out doing to hours coming inside getting on the trainer getting on the rollers and knocking out their intervals. I love that. Theoretically, it’s fantastic. Andy Pruitt always used to talk about how great it is to do stuff on the copy trainers that the trainers because you can go so deep that you could black out and fall off your bike and it wouldn’t hurt. And there’s something to


Trevor Connor  30:22

that kind of contradicts itself. If you’re blacking out, there’s probably pain involved. At some point.


Rob Pickels  30:28

Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.


Grant Holicky  30:31

For what he meant was you can go really deep on heart intervals and not have to worry about looking at the road. Yes. But getting somebody to come inside and get on a train or after riding outside.


Trevor Connor  30:43

Little tough little tough little tough. Yep. So I think before we leave my topic, I’m not sure we concluded anything. I’ve got to go back to this calling me methodical. So I’ve got to say what I could still consider the best compliment I’ve ever gotten in my life, which I am 100% Certain was not meant as a compliment. Was from Peter Reid, who told me that I was the most tenacious and stubborn athlete he had ever met. And what a world Ironman champion says you are the most tenacious.


Grant Holicky  31:15

that’s saying something.


Trevor Connor  31:16

And you’re calling me really methodical. I’m trying to get this picture of myself and I’m not sure I like this as my three monitor deaths.


Grant Holicky  31:24

said, Listen, man, I was not calling you methodical as a insult. I look at methodical people. The way you’re methodical. And I wish my mind worked like that, because I think it I don’t know, man, I feel like it should be easier to be that way. God no. Next up


Rob Pickels  31:43

the I love you, bro. Just think about


Trevor Connor  31:46

what it takes to carry this around with you.


Grant Holicky  31:49

All right, that’s fair. I walked in here with a phone. Flip Flops.


Trevor Connor  31:57

Listeners, as the cycling season starts to wind down your data is important as ever. We know sifting through those numbers can feel daunting. Good news. We have over 30 years of coaching and data analysis experience. You go race, leave the analysis to us. Book your data analysis session today at fast talk labs.com/solutions.


Trevor Connor  32:23

All right, Rob, what do you have for us?


Rob Pickels  32:25

I have a story. As always, this one does not involve Honey, what the last one did. Okay. poohbear. I know I was thinking that when you guys were saying lioness and Pigpen over there, I was like on Pooh Bear. And that’s just a totally different comic strip.


Grant Holicky  32:40

That’s fine. You’re still wearing the half shirt.


Rob Pickels  32:43

Okay, so let’s set the stage for this one. Because ultimately, I think the context is important. I ran track and field in high school, it was very important to me important to me enough to the point that I didn’t get my driver’s license on time, because I would have had to have missed track practice to do Driver’s Ed and all of those things. It was important to me enough that I did not go to high school graduation, I went to the New England’s track me instead. And at that New England’s track meet, I was doing well. I was winning to the last hurdle. I was going to win the championship on the day that I skipped my high school graduation. And that last hurdle was wood. And when I was a little bit too close, I was a half step too close and I came up my spike stuck into the wood. Oh, my lead leg stopped. But my body kept going and I could break something I face planted on that ground so hard. And in my desperation to cross the finish line. I didn’t get up I just flopped like a fish. I’m not joking. As everyone ran past me. And it’s the first and maybe only time in my life that I got a pity cloud from everybody in the stands. And so my question to you is what big failure or what big thing didn’t go right. And how did it shape you moving forward?


Grant Holicky  34:03

Mine was pretty simple. And it wasn’t a singular event. I can’t point to the moment my cleats hit the hurdle. This was a swimming thing for me. You know, I played three sports growing up, I played soccer, which I kind of liked. I played baseball, which I adored, and I swam, and I was a very good swimmer. I was probably a little bit of a better baseball player, but the timing of it didn’t pan out. But my problem with swimming, and this really extended when I became a triathlete was I would get so focused on whatever that time was, whatever that result was, and would just chronically fall short. In high school, the school record was one or 214 and I went 102 36 You know, in college, going under a minute and the 100 breaststroke was the ticket to d3 nationals and I went one double Oh One twice. I mean, I vividly remember being in the locker room at DePaul University and hooking the metal of winning the event against the wall and breaking it in 15,000 pieces because I didn’t care if I won, I care if I may nationals. So for me, it very much became this repetitive thing of I was so focused on what that result was going to be that I couldn’t deal with the process that carried into triathlon. When I was racing, triathlon air, quote, professionally, I made a grand total of $1,500 in my entire professional triathlon career. But I was categorized as a pro you were, and I really wasn’t able to start changing it till I started racing bikes as a Master’s athlete. And I think that struggled pushed me towards sports psychology as mental performance as a coach before I even went school for it. And I spent a ton of time looking at human behavior, spent a ton of time looking at what other people did, and it drove me to go to grad school, Trevor,


Trevor Connor  36:02

talk about failures that I remember, kind of overwhelmed with all the options here to talk about running over my own bike with my car at a stage race that I was winning. Woohoo. How’s it go? One? That was a pretty good one. I can keep going.


Rob Pickels  36:17

I taught him to look in his mirrors.


Trevor Connor  36:21

Yeah, actually what you just had, I’ll share my story in a minute. But what you just got me thinking about is I had an interesting experience. I was just home visiting my family. And we were I was talking with my parents about all my racing and shared a couple good moments. And they commented, Oh, we didn’t know that. And they brought up the fact that the whole time I was racing, all it was ever tell him about was the things that went wrong. And here’s the thing, a lot does go wrong. There are a lot of failures. And it’s very easy to miss all your successes, because you’re so caught up in all the things that didn’t work out. And I definitely did a lot of that during my career. I was always and I wish I could go back and fix this. I was never celebrating my successes, because I was always looking at the next thing that I hadn’t accomplished. Yeah.


Grant Holicky  37:06

And very typical of athletes. Very, very typical of athletes.


Trevor Connor  37:11

Yep. But would you sent us this topic or of the thing that just I never got over? And I’m not sure what my lesson is from this. A little bit of one. But it was Canadian nationals. 2011 previous year I’d had a good race. I miss third place by about 100 meters I was broken away solo two guys are up the road will rally and like Andrew Randall and will one but I was solo third coming into the finishing stretch. And the group behind me caught me 100 meters from the line. It hurt. But 2011 I was twice as fit feeling really good about nationals. It was in Ontario, my whole family was there watching. And it started with a bit of flats, and then a downhill. And I will admit I was struggling a bit on the flats because it was narrow road, there was no shoulder. I had just had a pretty bad crash at Northstar or whatever they called the race back then a couple of weeks before so it was a little spooked. And I knew I needed to move up. But I wasn’t and I watched Swain tuff literally go into the grass and move to the front. And he ultimately won the race. I should have followed him I didn’t does a little too far back, there was a steep descent. We went down it there was a crash, I could have completely avoided the crash. No problem. But the guy beside me he was a cat three he was flipping out. He just lost it fell over landed on me took me down with him. This was seven minutes into the race. I got him off of me and tried to get on my bike. I then solo did the biggest 30 minute wattage I’ve ever done in my life. And then I was out. That was the race. And I had been building up for that I’d put so much money into the travel and everything else for that race. And my family watched that it killed me. So I don’t know if you ask me what my biggest failure is that is it. And I don’t know what the lesson is, except what I’ve taken away from it is sometimes you have things that you really care about, you do everything right, and something that’s out of your control happens. And that’s it, and you gotta be okay with that you have to and I was never okay with it.


Rob Pickels  39:28

You know, for me it is it’s that takeaway that take home that learning ultimately that that changes these big challenges these big quote unquote failures in our life, you know, and for me, I’ll sort of wrap my story up with more of an uplifting situation where, for me maybe in the moment, I was pretty disappointed, right? Because I gave up a lot. My family wanted me why are you I want to go to your graduation or you’re gonna miss it. You’re not going to get your diploma and all of this, but what I realized after this once a day or so had gone by was that I was still okay with the decision that I made, yeah, that it wasn’t really about going there and winning this race, it was about going there and trying about going there and trying to do my best. And so I think that I could have gone one of two ways, right to be very afraid of sort of going out and taking these big risks. But really, it caused me to double down and to say, hey, you know what, these things are important to me. And I do need to recognize that and I can make decisions that make me happy, even if there’s some non traditional or quote unquote, risky sort of decisions. But I just remember that really, ever since that day, it has really reframed how I’ve looked at what quote unquote, failure is, and I’m very fortunate that I think I kind of figure that out relatively early in my life.


Grant Holicky  40:44

Well, I was about to say the fact that you figured it out in high school puts you way ahead of the curve, you know, there’s two ways to look at failure. One is as an endpoint, and one as the stimulus for growth. Yes. And for coaches, there’s two ways to address failure. One is to address it with criticism, and one is to address it with feedback. And those two words are very, very different criticism is focused on what went wrong and what the athlete did wrong. Feedback is focused on what we can improve what we can change and what we can go forward from. And so I don’t know a great athlete who I mean, there’s another Jordan quote, all the shots I’ve missed are what makes me who I am. I don’t know a great athlete who hasn’t been successful without epic failure.


Trevor Connor  41:29

What am I favorite interviews ever was with Dean gold that we were talking about success and failure and quick context, he has worked with a lot of Dean’s fantastic, yeah. And he said, you get to see all these athletes right after they win the medal and talk about their success. I get the two years before that of failure and tears and self doubt and wanting to quit. It’s like, you don’t see those in the interviews, at least. That’s the normal state the excitement after they won the medal is just a brief moment in between a whole lot of failures. And I think we we stigmatize failure. We’re so concerned about failing, but I will make the argument, we can’t progress, we can’t improve, we can’t hit a high level without failing.


Grant Holicky  42:16

When I first started trying to get into the the mind, and how the mind pertains to sport, I didn’t go and read books by great athletes I read went and read human behavior books, or human development books. And one of the big pieces they talk about. And this is a big part of growth mindset, what Carol Dweck talks about with the idea of a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset. But if you ever watch a baby learn to walk, they fall over themselves, our mind literally cannot learn from success, right? We go do something, well, it just says, Okay, we did something, well, you go make a mistake, or a failure. That’s how you learn. That’s the process of learning. Because now you have to make a correction, you have to change the habit, and then you have to move forward to have the success. So without failure, we didn’t learn. So this is one of the things that I’ll say that athletes a lot, especially swimmers that they would go out and do something epic the first time they ever did it. And I’ve literally said to a kid, that was great. You didn’t learn anything. Like what he talked about, I learned what you learned, I learned I can go that fast. Okay, well, you learn that, but you’re gonna forget that the second you go slower, because you’re going to try to figure out how in the world you ever went that fast. So those failures and that idea and coaches of young athletes, I implore you celebrate failure. Yes, celebrate risk.


Rob Pickels  43:37

Well, and I think that in society today, right, and this is so maybe some commentary on social media is oftentimes we only see the best of people, but we see our entire life. And the things that stick with us personally, other things that didn’t go well and I look at Grant’s Instagram and I say oh my god, grandson, these great places, he’s doing all these you know, perfect things. And you can say that about everyone out there and you think that no one else is in that same situation that you are, but everybody is in that same situation. And so when we do have these setbacks, you know what, what people say, right? Ultimately, it’s how you deal with that how you get back on your bike, and that’s why I love you know, cyclocross and coaching cyclocross, especially junior cyclocross, like you bring up because one of the things that I always told my riders is, at some point in this race, something is going to go wrong, you’re going to crash, somebody’s gonna ride you in the tape, you’re gonna roll a tubular, who knows what it is? What really matters is what you do the moment after that, that defines your race. Well, I


Grant Holicky  44:39

think there’s a great you make a great point with that. And I have two things that I really want to bring up. And this is in my wheelhouse, so I’m going to get on my soapbox a little bit. But one of those things is that this is why it’s so important to have your routine and your thing and how you want to prepare because when that thing goes wrong, then you can accept that as the blame One of the biggest struggles that Trevor’s having with his is that he didn’t really feel like he had control over that. Now I can, I can draw that out and say you have control over everything you knew you needed to move up. So ultimately, that was your lap never


Trevor Connor  45:12

gotten over. Because I was looked back and go, I saw swing go up, I knew I should have gone with them. And I was just spooked from a previous race. And I didn’t go.


Grant Holicky  45:20

But that other piece, like one of my big issues was Reno nationals. I was having an amazing year. And in 2017, I won Pan Am’s before it was Pan Am’s I have this is all Master’s stuff, but I was racing Great. went to Nationals. I raced the entire year on a PDX front and an MSP rear. So heavy tread front load tread rear, I raised the ultimate like bog races in that just because that’s what I had. And I couldn’t mess with it too much. I was worried about running the team I wasn’t I wasn’t messing with my tires. Got there how to buddies like, oh, you can ride my all I’m XP. So I did. I’m sitting in fourth running down the top three, I was gonna make the podium no problem, roll the tire. Got down with the race. Ask the dude hey, when was last time you clued these, oh, a couple of years ago, no, and just had that moment of, hey, that’s all on me, I changed my routine, I should have known what I want to go in. So going through those things, at least puts it on you. The other thing that I really want to bring up and I don’t know where we put this, and maybe it’s a standalone statement, but how we treat kids and their failures varies dramatically. And there’s research on this on how we treat girls and boys. We teach boys to fail. We do not teach girls to interesting and we don’t teach girls to fail physically. One of the things that’s super interesting as you’ve watched a boy fall down at eight. What do we say to that boy, a good false walk it off. Do this with a girl falls down at eight everybody in the building comes running over to make sure they’re okay. And we need to have that that idea of we care about you. We’re sorry, we’re hurt. You’re hurt? Are you okay? Is everything all right? Great. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off. Let’s go try it again. And not avoid it.


Trevor Connor  47:09

I think the strategy should not be helping kids to avoid any sort of failure. And sorry, this. We’re getting on. So boxes, and I apologize about that. But the whole everybody’s a winner gave everybody a medal. I hate that. Because you’re not teaching failure. The what you should be doing is allowing kids to fail, but help them help them to learn from the helping the to pick themselves back up, but get them to pick themselves. Yeah,


Grant Holicky  47:32

give them the support. Yeah, absolutely. So I, I love this question. Right. And I love this question from the context of I think everybody ought to take that minute and go, what was my failure? And what did I learn from that failure? Yeah. And as one of you guys was saying earlier, the whole idea of working from people’s strengths, what are my strengths, that I have my failures, but what did I do? Well, you were mentioned this about when you were a kid were to focus on failures. One of my big pieces of philosophy as a mental performance coach is we need to play into what your strengths are, what are we doing really, really well, we need to remind people


Rob Pickels  48:11

now, you know, Grant, I’m happy that you brought up everybody sort of thinking about this taking that minute, because I think that that’s really important. But what I’d be interested in is actually hearing and seeing what other people, what did they take away from their failures? You know, and that’s something like, you know, definitely drop us a line on Twitter or something like that, and just get that conversation out there at like, at fast talk labs would be awesome. Because I think that we can all learn from each other on this one and say, Hey, it’s okay.


Grant Holicky  48:41

And that’s the whole point of these conversations, right? I mean, we look at Trevor’s topic, what do you enjoy as an athlete? We look at my topic, what’s your ideal pre race, routine or state? We’d love to hear this stuff. And it helps us and we swore we’re not going to use research with these episodes. But in and of itself, that kind of feedback is research.


Rob Pickels  49:02

Well, guys, it’s pretty good potluck. Today, I liked our wealth of questions or a diversity that we had here. Should we do another one? I kind of like these.


Grant Holicky  49:10

But then again, you’re kind of in flip flops. So this is my, this is my MO, this is your jam. I love putting Trevor in this situation that too.


Trevor Connor  49:19

This computer setup has helped me in no way shape or form whatsoever. I am staring at all these things like I can’t use this. Why am I looking at this?


Rob Pickels  49:27

He’s got Minesweeper on one page.


Trevor Connor  49:31

I’ve got a nutrient density table over here. I’ve got clips from past episodes over here. I have – not for this episode – a bunch of research in front of me on the main screen.


Grant Holicky  49:43



Trevor Connor  49:44

And I can’t use any of it. Grant, what the hell are you doing to me?


Grant Holicky  49:48

Good things my friend, good things.


Trevor Connor  49:50

Well, this has been no fun whatsoever. Thank you very much. So this was lousy opinions, don’t listen to any of them. Check us out on the website if you haven’t been told totally ruined on our show and yeah, fasttalklabs.com.Thanks!


Rob Pickels  50:05

For the “long hair” Grant Holicky, and the “needs a haircut” Trevor Connor, and the “I just got a haircut Tuesday” Rob Pickels, thanks for listening!