Welcome to another potluck conversation with regulars Grant Holicky, Trevor Connor, and Rob Pickels. In these discussions, we pick topics that we find interesting and break them apart using a mix of science, humor, and our own experience. In this show, we discuss the following:
Was There a Moment in Our Lives That Changed Us as Coaches?
Everyone has defining moments that can guide and redirect their lives and careers. As three experienced coaches, Grant Holicky wanted to know what big moments in our lives have sent us down our individual coaching paths. Whether luck, fate, or a big realization, our team has followed unique routes to realizing our coaching journeys. Do any of these journeys resonate with your life experiences?
Why Do We Put Out More Power on Climbs?
Coach Connor has been fascinated with this question for years. At almost any given heart rate, a cyclist can put out more power on a climb than on the flats. There is science showing that a rider’s pedal stroke is different on a climb and may be more efficient. That said, Connor noticed when cyclists get on Zwift, they still seem to be able to put out better power on a climb despite their body and bike not changing angles. So, is there a mental side to this question as well?
What Do We Do When Faced with Something We Fear Like Heat or a Tricky Decent?
Whether we’re racing, in a group ride, or doing a Gran Fondo, we all eventually have to face the things we fear. What if you’re doing 100 miles in 100-degree heat? What if your big race is in the rain and you fear wet roads? Rob Pickels asks the team what athletes can do when they face these fear-inducing moments.
Get ready for another potluck and let’s make you fast!
Trevor Connor 00:04
Welcome to Fast Talk, your source for the science of endurance sports training. Rob, did I get that?
Rob Pickels 00:10
Nope. I think that you’re starting it off with not so Fast Talk by flubbing it every time but next week, Trevor maybe you’ll get it right?
Trevor Connor 00:17
Well, we edit that so they don’t need to know that was my fourth try.
Rob Pickels 00:19
Well, maybe we’ll edit this or maybe we won’t. Listeners, if you hear this, then you know how truthful we are, and if you don’t hear it, you know we’re a bunch of liars. But they’ll never know.
Grant Holicky 00:28
Yeah, but that’s not your real voice Rob.
Rob Pickels 00:30
It’s not my real voice?
Grant Holicky 00:31
That’s your intro “Welcome to Fast Talk” voice.
Rob Pickels 00:33
It is funny. My intro read voice is different than my real life voice I think. Is it better or is it worse?
Trevor Connor 00:42
It’s just different.
Grant Holicky 00:44
It’s better for the intro to Fast Talk. But if you talk to me like that, hey, Grant. Yeah.
Rob Pickels 00:50
Hey, Grant. I’m glad to be sitting here with you getting beers. Lovely day outside, isn’t it? How have your kids been
Grant Holicky 00:57
fantastic. Thank you for asking.
Rob Pickels 01:01
Hey, you must be a potluck. Because, you know,
Trevor Connor 01:05
Because that’s how we started. Grant. You are joining us from Montana. This time around. You’re sitting on a bed right? This
Rob Pickels 01:11
he’s joining us from the abyss.
Grant Holicky 01:13
I’m sitting in a chair, but my setup is on a bed. So the microphone is on a bed and the cameras on the bed. It looks really good. Yeah,
Rob Pickels 01:21
I think that’s pretty professional. Like it’s what damping? All the sounds right. There’s no anything that’s getting Yeah, nice and clean signal.
Grant Holicky 01:32
It’s like being in an echo chamber. Yeah. Bit of an echo chamber.
Rob Pickels 01:35
Your video looks like a potato right now. So you know, internet quality’s
Grant Holicky 01:39
greatest, but no, it is Montana.
Rob Pickels 01:43
smoke signals are traveling relatively quickly. I’m surprised.
Grant Holicky 01:47
You’re lucky. I’m not using this just going to translate my smoke signals. Yeah. All right.
Trevor Connor 01:51
We are off to a productive start here.
Rob Pickels 01:56
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Trevor Connor 02:28
Grant? Oh, it goes first grant, you want to ask us a question.
Grant Holicky 02:31
I’d love to ask you a question. So here’s my question. And what I’m curious about is what was a defining moment in your guy’s professional career. So Trevor, as a coach, or Rob, as a sports scientist, and the coach, and I’m not looking for that, oh, I made a difference in this person’s life. And it really did. But what was that moment that you realize that you wanted to go all in on this thing? This is what I want to do. This is my calling, so to speak. And if you can think of it What was that moment? And why did it influence you that way?
Rob Pickels 03:14
You sure you don’t want us eating spicy hot wings when you ask us this question.
Grant Holicky 03:19
I know this is deep, right? This is deep. It’s deep.
Rob Pickels 03:23
I think that I’ve had more than one defining moment in my life, the first one that comes to mind and grant I don’t know that it is completely in line with the question that you’re asking, but I’m going to go with it as a defining moment anyway. And that was I’ve shared this story before, if anybody listened to our Paul Larsen episode, and we were fortunate bolts to do an episode about the research that Paul Larsen did, and an episode with Paul Larsen, actually on it, there was one day when I was at CU sports medicine, it was during the training peaks, I don’t know, endurance coaching summit, I believe they called it. And we were doing kind of like a, like a tour of the CU sports medicine facility, because that’s where the conference was held. Anyway, I was giving kind of like a practical overview of lab and how lactate information and subsequently carbohydrate and fat oxidation rates, how we can essentially get a better understanding about endurance athletes and then make some recommendations out of that. And Indigo, Sam, Milan, was the lab director at the time. And, you know, here I am, you know, groups of people are coming through the lab, you know, eight groups a day. And in one of the groups, there was a guy that had questions, and he didn’t have normal questions he had, he knows what he’s talking about questions. And I had, like, am I defending a dissertation sort of, you know, toe to toe with him. And it turned out it was Paul Larsen, you know, super, super nice guy, but at times, you know, at times he had me on The ropes. And that was a defining moment for me because, you know, I really had to think about my answers. I wasn’t giving the same sort of structured answers that you give to all the other common questions. And it was a bit of a test and a bit of a challenge. And it felt good to be able to think outside the box a little bit based on on what he was saying. And so for me, that was really defining because I think oftentimes, as a coach and as a physiologist, you’re working with very similar people over time, the athletes have the same questions, the medical patients have the same issues. And you ultimately end up falling into a rut, for lack of a better term where it feels like you’re oftentimes just reciting the same information. So this was defining for me in that it was a big, big challenge, man, he was asking some bangers without question. So, you know, Trevor, you want to throw one in there? And then maybe I’ll try to think of one that that is more in line with Grant’s original question.
Trevor Connor 06:06
Oh, Grant, let me ask you a question. Are you talking about how we got into coaching specifically? Or was there big life changing moments in general?
Grant Holicky 06:15
No, I think more of the mindset of like, everybody gets into coaching for interesting reasons. And I think so many of us got thrusted into coaching, because we didn’t know what else to do. And that’s not how I got into coaching. But it’s almost I think people almost fall bass ackwards into coaching for lack of a better way to put it, but I’m more like along the way, what happened along the way that really maybe influenced how you coach or made you make a shift in your coaching or just in philosophy along the way.
Trevor Connor 06:47
Okay. Yeah. Because that’s, that’s a little different. I mean, to go to the question of what got me into coaching, I think we use this on the podcast a few episodes ago, but there is a quote, The Life is what happens when you’re making plans. That’s pretty much how I got into coaching, it was kind of a opportunities jumped up, and I kind of went, Hey, let’s see what happens with this. I’ll do it for a few months. And it just kind of kept going that way. So that’s how I ended up as a coach. But yeah, big moment, in my coaching, I started you I’ve said this before, on the show, I started at the National Center up in British Columbia, almost by accident, working with all the development athletes. So the start of my coaching was was really development. And I didn’t work with any other type of athlete for several years. And I remember the first time working with a couple of masters athletes, I nearly killed them, like I kind of want to go back and find them. I go, here’s all your money back. I’m sorry. Because I tried to coach him like pros, not understanding there were different ways they were pros
Rob Pickels 07:59
in their own mind, Trevor, it’s fine.
Trevor Connor 08:03
Sure. That was very life changing. Because you know, everybody talks about you need to personalize you need to know the athlete. And I thought I did. But I was working in very small nuances with a very particular type of athlete. And that was my experience of Oh, no, there’s big differences. And having to make that shift and have discovered since then, it is very hard, in my opinion, to be a really good coach with all types of athletes. Because I have noticed now that I mostly work with Masters athletes, you take a different approach, take a different mindset, when they’re struggling and life is getting in the way and work is busy and all that sort of stuff. You go, Hey, take a break. Take it easy. When you got somebody who’s trying to be pro on the go life gets in the way he goes, suck it up, sunshine, get out there and do your ride. So yeah,
Grant Holicky 08:55
it’s definitely hard to be in a place where you have to be able to make that mental shift over and over again, between groups of athletes, because you’re right, it is such a different just protocol to work with different people at different times in their lives with different priorities. Yeah,
Rob Pickels 09:11
Grant, if you talk about was there a moment how did you know that this is what you wanted to do? For me, it’s, you know, always trying to find value in things. And there was one particular athlete that I worked with in the lab at Boulder Center for Sports Medicine, and I won’t go into depth kind of on on what was happening with his athlete, but, but basically we’ll just say that there was a dysregulation between perception and metabolism. And this athlete was passing out regularly during races and during training. And his parents visited us he his family, I should say, visited us from California to try to figure out what the heck was going on with this individual. And we were able through, you know, various physical metabolic testing, lab testing, and we were able to get a sense of it. I don’t know if we had a true diagnosis, right. But we were able to get a good sense of what was going on inside of this person. And Adam St. Pierre, who I think listeners of the show is probably familiar with, he’s been on on the show a couple times. And he’s a dear friend, ultimately ended up coaching this individual who went on to be a fairly successful cross country and endurance runner. And I don’t think that he ever had an episode again, after working with us. And those moments are the ones that really truly bring value, in my opinion, to the things that I can do with individuals. You know, looking back at that it’s the summation of those sort of individual times that come together, that lead me, I think, down this road of the value and the worth and the happiness that I can bring into sort of sports science here.
Grant Holicky 10:48
Yeah, I think that one is terribly relevant. I mean, for me, I guess what got me going on this question was years ago, when I was coaching, swimming. And then I had gone through a little bit of this along the way I got thrust into, like, I want to say big time. NASM was a big time coaching, but it wasn’t summer league swimming anymore. I was coaching national caliber athletes, all of a sudden, and expect it to try to keep it up. And I pulled it off and made that work and moved on. But what really triggered it was there was this moment, like 2010, somewhere in that area when a woman came to me who was working her way up the ranks and open water swimming, and she wanted to move home to Boulder. And she had swum for a rival team when she was young. And she, somebody suggest that she worked with me. And she walked in my door and said, I’m trying to make the Olympics and open water. And I had never coached open water before. But think of it this way that the highest has this inside coach in the pool was the mile. And this was 10k. And she later competed in the 25k world championships. So it’s a totally different feeling. And at the time, I was scared to death. And on the outside, I said, Oh, yeah, I can do that. Absolutely, let’s, let’s help you out, let’s figure it out. And what really shifted for me in that moment was this feeling that if I really put the time and effort into it, and listen to the athlete, I could coach anything with the athlete as a partner instead of as a subordinate, so to speak, right. And it started to change my approach to coaching from purely here’s the physical training to, here’s the support structure, here’s the mental performance pieces, here’s the all those other pieces of the puzzle that come in, that contribute to coaching holistically. That’s really what trying to change the direction of what I was doing. And it led to me going to grad school led to me getting my CNPC led to so many of those other pieces of the puzzle for me as a coach. So that was that kind of I don’t know if it was defining, but it was really this huge shift for me and coaching that led me to go, oh, wow, there’s so much more to this than I thought there was. But it took this huge risk that I had to be put in a really uncomfortable spot in order to try to do it.
Rob Pickels 13:15
You know, granted, it’s interesting, because I remember this athlete of yours. And at the time, I don’t think that I would have known or realized that it was this monumentous shift for you both in terms of athlete but then also in terms of, you know, your coaching process and how you view yourself and how it solidified aspects of your coaching style to this day. And it’s just interesting to look at that from an outward perspective and outward point of view, because, gosh, this was, what 1015 years ago, maybe in that timeframe, if 15 years 50 Exactly. God damn, we’ve known each other for a long time.
Grant Holicky 13:58
We knew each other a lot longer
Rob Pickels 14:00
God 15 years ago, just feels like it was forever ago. But that’s but that is the culmination of life. Right? That’s who makes us who we are and why we’re better today than we were 15 years ago.
Trevor Connor 14:10
Granted, I also think you touched on and really important shift that you’re seeing in coaching. You talked about realizing that coaching is a partnership. I do think that old school model of coaching of do as I say and shut up, it might still exist at the high school level. But I think with experienced higher level good coaches, you’re seeing more and more of that shift of No, this is a partnership. This is a conversation.
Grant Holicky 14:33
Well, I think we’re starting to see it too in this. I mean, last week, two major college coaches at Northwestern were both let go. And both of those situations were built around a culture of bullying or a culture of hazing are these things that really are this top down aspect of coaching, right. That was as you alluded to Trevor that the norm for so many years, and it’s we’re starting to see that change At least a little bit.
Rob Pickels 15:01
Yeah, I’m interested in grant because you know, we’re local to Boulder. And everybody is very excited about the CU Boulder, the buffs football team this year because Deion Sanders coach prime has come in to coach the buffaloes. And I know I’m excited to see how they do, even though I’m not the world’s biggest fan of football, but he has a style that is very old school, and maybe that works in football, and maybe that works with those individuals, maybe that works for him, or maybe it doesn’t. But in all of the conversations that we have, it feels like coaching is going in a very different direction than the style that coach prime has, which is a very top down my way or the highway, you know, I know what I’m doing. And I’m, you know, sort of the gift to see you to turn this program around. And part of me wants him to be extremely successful, right, I want to see him turn this football program around. Part of me doesn’t want to see that be at the expense of athletes and psyche. And I think that we see coaches like this where the people that can manage the situation, they rise to the top and everyone else gets spit out. And if you got enough people enough rise to the top in it. And then there’s some success there. But for me, this is like one giant experiment observational experiment that I’m watching from the outside.
Trevor Connor 16:16
Interestingly, coaching in cycling, and a lot of these endurance sports is actually different from coaching in these more team based sports. I do think the closer equivalent to a football team coach is the team manager like at the Tour de France is sitting in the in the car at the back, not the individual coaches for the athletes. And I still think even they’re like you listen to the radio at the Tour de France, Team Manager is a little more of that. I’ve got to have a team all working in the same direction. So it’s do as I say, I’m going to tell you what to do, and you got to follow it.
Grant Holicky 16:53
I do think one thing that’s unique about prime and yes, I think it is a bit of an old school model. But what he is building, wherever he goes is a true an absolute belief in the culture and the program that he’s created by his players. So what we’re really seeing right now is the desire by him to have his guys in there. And those people that really believe in Him and believe in the program and believe in the approach. And so there is that element of old school. But they’re also there’s that big element of new school, whereas the culture is defining the how things happen. And when you have the right culture, you have the right environment, then people are willingly going into these things. They know what they’re getting into, they know what they want to do, and they’re going to go and they’re going to participate in that culture. And the coach can direct that culture, but it’s really up to the athletes at whether they buy into that culture. And I think that’s why it’s so important for him to have just his people in there because not going to work with anybody else.
Trevor Connor 17:57
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Rob Pickels 18:50
So you’re doing it in a potluck when we’re not prepared? Yes, God.
Trevor Connor 18:54
Yes, we are. And it’s going to be fun. So this is something I have been fascinated by I discovered a long time ago. And grant I’m sure you’ve seen this both in my own training and with the athletes I coach that if I’m let’s him given them threshold work, and they do it on the flats. And then they do it on a climb, they can put out higher wattage on a climb. To the point that I would always have to get my athletes power wise to threshold range. So it’d be same heart rate. But power wise give them two ranges, one for climbing one for the flats, and there are studies on it. And I can certainly bring some of that up. And I was convinced 510 years ago that okay, there’s just biomechanical differences. But here’s why I’m rephrasing the question. I see the same thing on Zwift both with my athletes and with myself. Where if you’re doing a climb on Zwift you can put out more power if you’re doing thresholds on the flats on Zwift you can’t put out quite as much but Physiol logically biomechanically there is nothing different. The only thing that’s different is that what’s on your screen, you’re still sitting on a trainer in the exact same position. So it’s led me to believe maybe there’s something mental here, too, or maybe it’s all mental before we get to
Rob Pickels 20:17
the mental side, and we let Grant be all mental. You know, I do think, Trevor, that there is there are some physical differences, right? If we look at this on the trainer, granted, your position isn’t changing, meaning you’re not changing your torso angle, you’re not changing your relative application of force in regard to the normalized force, direction, and vectors, so on and so forth. But how the trainer itself because when we talk about Zwift, we’re talking about smart trainers, how the trainer itself responds, especially if you’re not in ERG mode, and you’re able to shift, right, that is changing between flats and between climbing. And so I think that that difference does carry over from the real world. And for me, I do think because I’m a hard science, not a soft science guy like Grant. I’m a hard science guy. And you know, I do think that the physics of this are still different when you think about inertia and the application of power through the pedals, the impulse, how much power is being applied for how long, you know, with the constant need for re acceleration and any type of inclined cycling. I think that that stuff does carry over steal from Zwift. Now, if you take this and put in an erg mode, maybe that’s a different thing, but you’re raising the finger so what counterpoint would you like to make so this is an animal one, which is always dangerous. Now, it’s the most dangerous but my especially if you’re the end, then it’s actually whatever Trevor says flip it around backward. And that applies to everyone else.
Trevor Connor 21:51
My first four years on Swift I was on a dumb trainer, dum dum dum dum don’t so swift couldn’t control it. So I thought the same thing maybe Swift is controlling that or the the control the trainer, adding that resistance is is simulating what you have on a climb. Or in the flats. The trainer isn’t providing as much resistance. But I was expecting this on a dumb trainer, where Zwift couldn’t control it. Yeah, but
Rob Pickels 22:15
for I’m going fine. I’m going mental on this one and your your whole psyche, Trevor is about overcoming adversity. And when you’re going up a hill is an adverse opponent. And so you’re doubling down my man that goes
Trevor Connor 22:29
to the mental side. So maybe this is more mental than biomechanical.
Rob Pickels 22:33
Great. Would you like to therapy? Wise, Trevor?
Grant Holicky 22:36
Oh, I don’t have the time, the energy the effort the
Rob Pickels 22:40
Trevor doesn’t have.
Trevor Connor 22:43
That might be I’ve gotten in a while. What’s the worst insult you could get is going to a therapist and having therapist say, I can’t help you.
Rob Pickels 22:55
Not that you don’t have a problem, I can help you.
Trevor Connor 22:59
Like, I’m a professional at this. I am trained. You’re beyond my skill set?
Grant Holicky 23:05
Well, you know, I will say this, that if you really, really wanted to put the time and the effort into it, I would I would take on the test case for for No, no doubt at all. But I back to the question at hand, not Trevor’s psyche. I will say that I think there is hard science to this, in that there’s a lot to be said about riding in the small ring versus riding in the big ring, the difference that that creates for athletes with with torque and with how the power distribution goes. And, and I’m sure that some of that’s covered in the studies that that Trevor’s alluding to, and I think we can get into that. But one of the things that I will say is that probably for the past 10 years, I have really been adamant with my athletes that we’re not going to do our intervals on climbs anymore, that maybe we’re going to do some intervals on climbs late in a set. And we’ve always just referred to it as free watts. And you know, separate from Trevor’s discussion because I’ve experienced this and I certainly have been in a place where I watch the screen go uphill, and I find myself riding harder even when I’m an erg mode I’m pushing the top end of the zone right and it’s that idea of like you know what you’re seeing on the screen your mind believes and so it’s going to do and so you see that and you put a little bit more effort in you put a little more time into it there’s no doubt about that. But we’ve really moved towards this idea of we’re going to do these on the flats are at least the moderate and clients of the some of the roads out here like Neva, Nelson hygiene and St. Frane. Because it forces this idea of you have to be the one that creates the power. The other thing that I’m really adamant about and this is true of the cyclocross athletes but all the athletes is that that ability to push a really, really big gear at a really really high cadence is important. And I think we lose that when we’re doing all our intervals on climbs. So while there is some hard science to it, I am at the point now, Trevor, believe it or not, that I feel more comfortable laying down power on a flat, or a one or 2% grade than I do on four to 8% grade. Now, when I get above 8%, more like 1012, or something along those lines, yeah, no problem. Yeah, I my carcass, I’m just dragging a large carcass up that hill. And you have to put the effort into that. And so the Watts come out the other side. But if I’m gonna go do an interval, a 2% grade is my ideal, a 567 percent grade for me is miserable. And part of that is I’m in the small ring. But part of that’s just what I’m comfortable with
Trevor Connor 25:48
anybody who has been in a climbing race. I shouldn’t say anybody. But I have heard many people say this, I’ve had this experience, which is the worst climbs are those steady five 6% climbs. Yeah, they’re hard. Yeah, you can just never really find that rhythm. They’re just a struggle. So let me throw a little bit of the science at you guys. Because like I said, I was fascinated by this, I tried to find any study, I could, and there weren’t many, but I found a few. And the theory here is that because you’re going up a hill, gravity is providing resistance. So there is resistance throughout the pedal stroke, where when you’re on the flats, there are certain points in the pedal strokes, particularly as you come into that down the bottom part of your stroke, where momentum is going to keep you going. So there really isn’t any resistance. And you literally kind of take these little micro breaks where you’re not putting out any power. And this was demonstrated in a study where they showed on a climb, the power phase of the stroke was a little longer, it started sooner, it ended later. So that’s where you get that little more power. So here, I’m going to throw a theory out to you guys that doesn’t go too deep into the recesses of my brain. So don’t get too scared. What about this? What about there is something biomechanical here, and we’ve all intuitively or just directly as I have have seen this, where hey, I can put out more power on a climb and have learned that. And so when we get on Zwift? Well, there’s no change, particularly as you said, if you’re an erg mode or on a DME trainer like me, there is a placebo effect, we have just learned that we can put out more power on a climb. So when we see the climb on Zwift, we just go
Rob Pickels 27:35
harder. Yeah, Trevor, I think that that is, you know, along the lines of what I was saying previously about the mechanical side of things, I do think that a placebo effect exists, right. And we know that if we lie to athletes, and we tell them they’re going, you know a different workload than they are we tell them their core temperature is different than it is, then you can extract that additional performance. And so that link between the mental the soft side of things, and the hard science side of things, I’m saying this just to get a rise out of grant everybody, just so the listeners so that, you know, I can see Grant Space. And I love the micro expressions that grant has. So yeah, I do think that that interconnection is, is super important. And because I think it’s super important, I’m not going to talk about it anymore. I’m gonna let grant do it. Well,
Grant Holicky 28:24
my, my micro expressions aren’t very micro sometimes. But I will say that, again, coming back to the the biomechanical piece, one of the things that you’re pointing out, Trevor, that I think is really important to this is the pedal economy. If you’re forced to have a longer power zone in on a climbing scenario, then all right, some of that inefficiency in the pedal stroke is have corrected for, you have to lay down power through some of those places where normally on a flat, you would not be forced, you can rely on momentum. This is why track cyclists are so phenomenal with their pedal stroke and so phenomenal when they translate to the road, because they’re so unbelievably economical. And they’re pedal stroke because they have to be. And it’s one of the reasons why, as a coach, I’m a huge believer in high cadence work and low cadence work and really forcing this stuff in a lot of different ways because it fills in those gaps that the climb allows you to cheat on, but from from a placebo effect. Yeah, I alluded to it earlier. I absolutely find myself when I’m in those scenarios on on Zwift. And it’s a problem in ERG mode. And I’ve watched this for years when we’ve done when we had the competency studio at Apex with Neil and all of these elements of the puzzle like you watch people ramp up their cadence and ramp up their effort as they’re coming in. into a climb or as they’re coming into an interval piece, and it actually forces the trainer to go the other way, because their cadence is so high, the trainer’s releasing resistance on it, and they get into this upward spiral, that they’re going higher cadence trying to find this effort and find this power and the trainer keeps going, Whoa, because it’s cadence combined with resistance, the same thing you see, when people get overloaded on the other direction with their mode, when they go lower cadence and the resistance comes on, and they get bogged down. So there absolutely is a placebo effect on this. And one of the one study I’ll throw out there, that’s, that’s beautiful. It’s it’s it parallels This is they did a study on athletes climbing in the draft, so to speak behind a teammate. And they found that climbing behind a teammate offered this benefit climbing behind an opponent offered zero benefit, and that the aerodynamics were negligible. So there’s this idea that we see in the tour all the time people talking about having a teammate, they’re having a teammate there. But again, we’re over 10%, how much aerodynamics are at play here? And the answer is none. It’s a mental component of what’s going on in this strength that you’re drawing from riding on your teammates wheel. So they’re all of this stuff is at play in everything we do. And this is just another great example of a way to go, Hey, man, like this soft science, this, this mental performance piece, just, it kind of just creeps into everything that we do in the cracks between the granite, so to speak.
Rob Pickels 31:38
Yeah, my wife and I have been watching the tour together in the evenings. And in this tour, often times and in the last tour, it’s oftentimes taught a sitting on the wheel of Jonas who’s sitting on the wheel of Sep, and the commentators are constantly saying that, you know, Jonas has a teammate, he has that benefit. And, you know, my wife looked at me a day or two ago and said, you know, what, what does it matter who you’re following? And I said, in some regard? It’s a great question. Actually, I didn’t say in some regard, it is a great question. And it has everything to do with if you have an ally, then you can rely and you can trust and in some regard, you can relax, or at the very least, you can focus on things that are higher priority. If you are following an enemy of combatant, then your senses are always turned up mentally, you’re doing a heck of a lot more math, you’re trying to figure things out your strategy, are they going to attack? How do I make the best of this situation? And that is all very fatiguing, and that can affect your physical fatigue, your physical performance as well.
Trevor Connor 32:43
I feel like we should have had an alarm and like lights and everything go on because grant quoted a study. It was a first and I just want to recognize that
Grant Holicky 32:58
it was a qualitative study, is that different than it was
Trevor Connor 33:02
peer reviewed research.
Grant Holicky 33:06
I have a lot of peer reviewed research. Let’s not get into that. It’s just all qualitative and soft. So
Rob Pickels 33:14
great, you’re so soft.
Trevor Connor 33:16
The other thing I have to call out here is in our parking lot. We have I think they’re gone now. But we have this woman on a very nice bike with a videographer with a very nice camera filming her. And I don’t know either of them, but they’re in our parking lot. One of them wasn’t Bryce, the videographer was not Bryce and I feel like I admit, this was my question. I should be paying attention. But I missed half of this conversation because I was thinking, I want to go get Bryce I want Rob and I to go grab our bikes. Go out there and like have a West Side Story. Throw down.
Rob Pickels 33:54
Ryan’s doing some testing. I wonder if he’s testing someone important with or someone who’s paying a videographer to be with her? I guess I guess fast talk is just the hub of of endurance sports in Boulder.
Grant Holicky 34:05
Hey, man, somebody needed to come fill that gap of Boulder Center for Sports Medicine and see your Sports Med. So now it’s fast time,
Trevor Connor 34:14
right, our parking lot. And it’s our parking, not our building. Our parking lot.
Rob Pickels 34:19
Nice. All right. All right. Good to know. A bass talk listeners. This is Rob Hybels. Wouldn’t it be cool to decide what Trevor and I are going to talk about on an upcoming show? Or how about we answer a question on polarized training you’ve been dying to know what about a 30 minute zoom? Call with me or Trevor on your favorite sports endurance topic. This is all possible when you become a fast talk Patreon member. We have four monthly memberships to fit your level of support. If you enjoy fast talk, help us stay independent and dishing out your favorite sports science topics by becoming a fast talk Patreon member today at patreon.com/fast Talk podcast.
Trevor Connor 34:59
All right Rob. Have you got a question for us?
Rob Pickels 35:01
I do have a question. It’s it’s on the coaching side of things. And it’s this, every athlete has something. Every athlete has a negative notion that unduly affects their psyche and their performance. So, for example, performance in the heat, it’s probably not as good as performance in cool weather, right? We can objectively measure that we know that that is the case. But some athletes say, ah, the heat, I can’t possibly perform well in the heat, and they lose more than what they should because of this mindset, or Ah, I’ve never won a muddy cyclocross race, I can’t possibly do a climb on the third Tuesday after the first full moon of the month. How do you work with individuals to help them get over this negative connotation that they have it knowing that yeah, hey, you have a very real and valid thought it’s hard to ride or run fast in the heat. But it shouldn’t affect you in an outsized manner.
Trevor Connor 36:12
I actually really liked this question. I was thinking about it after you’ve sent it out a couple of directions. And one of them the first one is practice, you have to practice if you’re going to do a race in the heat. You got to spend time in the heat. So the personal example I will give you is I trained for years up in Victoria, British Columbia, where it rains 250 days a year, not hot, not hot, but I’m gonna go I’m gonna go with the rain example here. You trained every day in the rain, it’s just part of what you did you got used to you had fenders that went to the ground, otherwise, you didn’t go on the rides. And I remember when I moved to Colorado, if we were doing a race, and it was raining, I would just like muah. It’s the opposite. I knew I was going to drop 80% of the riders in that race, not with strength. But because they get scared to death in the corners, because you just don’t ride and race in the rain in Colorado that often. And I was Victoria rider. This was just normal for me. 10 years later, I am the Colorado right? Don’t ride in the rain. I don’t race in the rain. So when we have those rainy days, I take the corners like a three year old. So you got to practice you got to some of the comfort is just knowing you can do it because you have done it. Sure. Grant, what are your thoughts?
Grant Holicky 37:37
I think some of the things that are really important here is there’s there’s two pieces of this puzzle for me. One is reframing and how important it is to reframe some of these things. And we’ll I’ll come back to that. But one of the things that that I really like to do is, and this is going to come out wrong, and it’s going to come out maybe a little bit harsh. But we have to look at some of those things and realize that they’re slightly irrational fears, their strike slightly irrational concerns. And what I mean by that is, it’s a little bit to what the point you’re saying, Rob that Okay, right. In the heat, yes, there’s a detriment. But what is that percentage of detriment? It’s usually smaller than what we think it is. And the limits of ourselves. They’re not as intense as maybe we see them. So what we have to do is look at actual logical facts that allow us to go out and refute some of this information. Right, so I’m gonna do it again. Sorry, Trevor, there’s another great study.
Trevor Connor 38:40
This is just the upside down world.
Rob Pickels 38:43
This is Montana grant, not Colorado, Grant grant, can
Trevor Connor 38:46
you stop coincided? Can we talk about how you feel?
Grant Holicky 38:50
feel strongly that this study is really important that what they did is they actually did work with depressives, and they took a couple angles on this, one of them was to have people tell themselves positive thoughts all the time. I’m really good. This is okay, I’m in a good mood. And the problem with that was when something happened, and that person who was depressed, was telling themselves the stuff they didn’t necessarily believe they flipped on a dime, 190 degrees the other way and said, See, I knew nothing was going right for me. But what they did with another group of people is they asked them to really embellish and celebrate any moment that felt good, anything that felt like it was a positive and really buy into that. And when things started to go sideways for him, they asked him to double down on those thoughts about that really small element of good. And I put this into practice with the swimmer years ago, we were going to a junior national championships and they’d never been there. It was one of these swimmers that developed super fast and all of a sudden they found themselves at Nationals, and they didn’t know how to deal with it. They didn’t believe they belong there. They had a little impostor syndrome. They had some of these other things going on. And so what I did is asked this athlete, you got to hold on to something that you really, really believe in. And they came into practice the next day. And they’re like, Coach, I got this. And I’m like, that was 180 degree shift what the heck happened? They said, Well, when you made Junior nationals in swimming, you got all this free gear and they went home, and they put on all the free gear. So they had on their suit, their cap, their goggles, their sweat suit, and they said, I was standing in front of the mirror and I was bucking at the mirror, like I was telling the mirror to come get me. And I felt so strong and empowered by the end of that, that I’ve just totally got, that’s, that’s what I’m going to hold on to. Nothing was real, they thought they looked really cool. And all their gear, it can be something that simple, it can be something that it may seem silly, ultimately, that it’s not a big deal. But we have to have that actual evidence of fact that we can hold on to and come back to. So I think that’s one piece of that puzzle is, you know, oh, I’m not good in the heat. Well, here is this workout. And this comes in ties in a little bit to what Trevor is saying is you have that practice in the heat. Now I can look back at that day where I practiced in the heat, and I was successful, really hold on to that. And that’s the thing that teaches me that I can be good in the heat and I can be successful in the heat. And that’s what I remember. The other thing is that piece of reframing that I was bringing up, and this is that piece that that Trevor is doing when he wakes up in the morning and sees it’s raining. Old Trevor would go, Oh, that’s awful. I don’t want to ride in the rain. But this is a huge advantage to me. How do you take one situation? Flip it, reframe it, and how does it make it good for you. And I remember the wonderful Max chance once said to me, Grant coaching ZZ, I want you to do it all the time, all you got to do is walk up to your athletes and beginning of a cross race and go, this course is perfect for you. And this is why this course is perfect for you. And you ramble off all the reasons this course is perfect for that person. He goes, I got this, I got coaching, it’s a piece of cake. I said, Max, the struggle is finding that piece of the course that actually is perfect for that person. And harping on that and getting them to believe that that is an advantage for them. That’s what coaching is. And he looked at me, he goes, Yeah, I can’t do that. So. But I do think there’s that element of how do we reframe the tough and make it, this is an advantage to me, this race is long, but you know, I have endurance, maybe I don’t have the pop, but I have the endurance, things like that.
Trevor Connor 42:43
Alright, Grant enough of your silly science, I want to get back to the humanistic side of this.
Rob Pickels 42:50
I will say you know, Grant, I can’t believe that we’re going full circle back to coach prime, I didn’t really think that that was ultimately relevant to this conversation. But it turns out it was because during that you pointed out that he is creating a system of belief, right. And I think that that true honest belief as you’re bringing up now. That’s ultimately what’s important. And I think that a lot of athletes, they might recognize, oh, I have this outsized fear of the heat, and I’ll just keep using the heat as an example. Maybe they recognize it internally. Maybe their coach recognizes it. But I think that oftentimes their coping strategy is a fake it until you make it strategy. And I don’t know that they truly believe but they begin telling themselves, I’m good in the heat, they recite like a mantra, you know, the heat can’t get me or whatever else. And, and I think that that works, if you truly deep down inside of you believe it. But if it’s a very superficial thing that you don’t believe that you ultimately know, you’re just telling yourself in the hope that you believe, like you said, grant the moment something goes wrong, that immediate flip, I knew I knew it wasn’t for me, I knew I had to race in the cold. And so yeah, this is super, super interesting grant. And I love how you’re thinking about bringing that solid, true belief, pure belief to an individual. But I
Trevor Connor 44:14
think both of you are also touching on something really important, which is I think sometimes these issues like heat or rain or the cold. It’s not the issue itself that scares the athletes. Sometimes as I said, you might have athletes that are just nervous, and they’re looking for something to be nervous about. And the best example I’ve ever seen of this was a cross cyclist I was coaching, who lived in Vermont who went down to nationals in January in California. So he’d been training for two months in the snow and flipped out the night before nationals because it snowed in California. And he goes What do I do? And I go thank whoever up there did this to you because you’re raising a bunch of Californians who are wondering what this white stuff is on the ground. Yeah, but he just he was nervous about the race. Use. It wasn’t thinking, Oh, well, I know snow he was thinking, Oh, no, something went wrong. And was it just became that expression of what he was scared of.
Rob Pickels 45:10
I don’t know what to do right now grants bringing the science, Trevor’s bringing the insight I need to go get how
Trevor Connor 45:14
do you feel, Rob? How do I feel really me about how you feel pretty scared at
Rob Pickels 45:19
the moment? And I don’t really, I don’t know what to do with this. Rob, you can handle it. No, try, I can’t, you can have I can. Okay, back on track, Trevor.
Grant Holicky 45:27
If only I were next to you, I could hold
Rob Pickels 45:29
you could, in fact, and you’d be soft while you did it. I think
Grant Holicky 45:33
Trevor makes a great point.
Trevor Connor 45:34
While we are in the upside down world.
Grant Holicky 45:38
This is where it is crucial that people have the people around them for support that are able to say, hey, remember this. And that’s that personal mental skill that you can have. That is how do I bring myself back to the moment we talked about this at length in in previous podcasts is being in the moment is what’s so important. What I think people are really, really getting nervous about is the result they’re living in the future. So if this is going on, I’m worried that my result is going to fail. And so because they’re worried about that result, they’re not able to put in the effort, they’re not able to put in the power, they’re not able to put in those pieces, maybe 30 minutes in, because they’re worried about what’s going to happen three hours down the road. And all you can do is and I say this to athletes over and over and over again, come up with a plan, make sure the plan works for you. And then put the maximum effort into that plan that you can possibly put into Damn the result getting to that point that near the end, it doesn’t matter what the result is, it matters what your, your effort has been. And one thing I’ll say here, and I’ll bring this back to prime is that is something that’s been put out there. And I don’t think that we can underestimate the power it has for some of these young athletes to be coached by somebody who they feel like is like them. He looks like them. He thinks like them, he understands them. And we’ve seen this over and over in college sports, that you have an old white guy like me trying to coach underprivileged kids or kids from a rough socio economic background, or kids that just don’t they don’t understand these kids cultures at all. And they’re trying to coach them. And I think this is absolutely crucial for coaches now to look at their athletes, and under tried really, really hard to understand what is fashion, what is style, and what is culture and separate that from work ethic. And I’m sorry, I got on a high horse there and I went a little off the reservation. But I think that connection is crucial. And even the thing that you’re talking about here, Rob with this, that connection is crucial. Because you have to have an athlete believe you when you’re saying, Hey, here’s some facts that you can go to refute this concern that you have, they have to have that trust and belief that you know them, and that you can integrate that into what you’re doing with them.
Trevor Connor 48:06
Grant, it’s good. You went on your high horse there because Rob just went, we’re back to back to normal. God That
Rob Pickels 48:13
felt so good, good to listen to you.
Trevor Connor 48:16
My man. Research says
Rob Pickels 48:20
research says grant Holic. That’s what research says,
Trevor Connor 48:25
I’m gonna throw out two other quick tactics for dealing with these things. And this kind of follows from what Grant was saying earlier. One is when athletes are getting nervous about this herself, something I like to have them do is create a list of what they control and what they don’t control, you don’t control the heat, you do control your hydration. So focus on that. The reason this is important, you talked about the results grant, something that always goes on the list of what you don’t control is results. You control your performance, you don’t control the result. So the important thing to always remember, because that’s something not to get nervous about. You don’t control it. Another thing that sometimes help particularly for example, now when I go on a race in the rain, I’m not using it as a surrogate for something else I’m nervous about I’m just nervous about crashing in the rain. So something that can help is sometimes to just go make a make a list or think about what’s the worst that can happen. So for example, you’re going to event and it’s in the heat, what’s the worst that can happen? Well, you don’t take care of your hydration, you start to go into heat stress. You pull out of the race, you get the follow vehicle, and unfortunately you don’t finish but you probably paid $50 for the event. It was still probably fun. You had an experience, you would have been spending the day sitting on the couch watching TV if you hadn’t done this. It’s just not that big a deal.
Grant Holicky 49:42
Yeah. And to come off of that. I think that you know, another way to look at it is that this isn’t the biggest endpoint moment. You know, maybe there are there going to be those races where somebody’s doing the Olympics and they know they’re going to retire after the Olympics. So they’re doing their last road race and they know they’re going to retire after this road. risk. But 99.9% of the time, this is just a waypoint on the journey towards our endpoint. And what can we learn from it? What can we take from it? And I think you make a great point, Trevor in that, so many people get into these things, and they’re caught up in the result. And it’s a failure. Well, it’s a failure. God, you want to beat myself up over this failure, instead of understanding that man? Okay. Yeah, I failed at that. What did I learn? How do we make it better? The next time I’m gonna go out, I have more information, I have more tactics, I have more tools that go out into this thing and be better and move forward. And I will say the one last thing I’m going to say about all this, this entire episode is I feel and I’m very proud and I have this warm glow in my heart. I feel like I’m rubbing off a little bit. And that just makes me feel warm inside and fuzzy. And just such a American Canadian moment of coming together. It’s just fantastic to stay up
Trevor Connor 51:02
in Montana, as matter of fact, go further north. A little further north. We can rub off and so remember, you are way up in the northern state. If you go further north, you’re in one of the most southern parts of my country.
Rob Pickels 51:16
Yeah, America’s hat.
Grant Holicky 51:17
I know. I know it. Let’s never forget. It’s just hands across. Niagara Falls is what we were when we were young. Yeah, dude, we were right there. We were so close. And
Trevor Connor 51:27
Niagara Falls three weeks ago. And I forgot to stop at the gift shop and buy something really cheesy.
Grant Holicky 51:32
You were in the tropics of Canada. It was in the great white north of the United States. Yeah,
Trevor Connor 51:37
there we go. I do have one addendum to my what’s the worst that can happen scenario. Yeah, there are certain addendums if you are listening to this if you are a skydiver, and you are worried about your parachute, not opening it. What is the worst that can happen? This is not going to help you. You should be nervous about your parachute not opening.
Grant Holicky 52:04
Get off the plane.
Rob Pickels 52:08
Well, guys, I think that this was another episode of fast talk.
Trevor Connor 52:12
Keep going, Rob.
Grant Holicky 52:13
Don’t stop now.
Trevor Connor 52:14
I love that Rob doesn’t even bring his computer, his tablet anything to the potluck, so he can’t even read the outro now,
Grant Holicky 52:21
I’m rubbing off on everybody.
Rob Pickels 52:24
on everybody. That was another episode of fast talk, be sure to subscribe to fast talk wherever you’re listening to your favorite podcast. The thoughts and opinions expressed on this episode are not worthwhile for anybody to listen to and definitely belong to Trevor and grant respectively. Because all of my thoughts were terrific. Be sure to follow us on Twitter at voice again, be sure to check us out on the forums and for grant Holic II and Trevor Connor. I’m Rob pickles.
Trevor Connor 52:52
That was surprisingly okay. Now I worked. You didn’t mention any of our what’s our Twitter handle? What’s our
Rob Pickels 52:59
if people don’t know it by now, come on media telling them again. It doesn’t matter. Just go to Twitter people. Anybody
Trevor Connor 53:06
is even listening at this point. Do you think anybody listens to that? Outro
Rob Pickels 53:11
I hate to say it every time I record it, I do wonder if anybody listens to it. So let us know. In fact, forget the rest of the episode if you can still hear us. Tweet at us at at fast talk labs because you might not actually know what
Trevor Connor 53:24
if I was a mean person. This is the point where I’d be like making fun of our listeners because I know that nobody’s gonna hear this but I’m just not that person.
Rob Pickels 53:32
Are you though?
Trevor Connor 53:33
Oh boy. Anybody who’s still listening to this kudos to you. We appreciate you. Thank you so much.
Rob Pickels 53:43
You should have given up a long time ago but you have grit.
Trevor Connor 53:46
This is like the Marvel movie where you go through the whole end credits to get that little things
Rob Pickels 53:50
The one nugget.
Trevor Connor 53:51
– and it’s not there. I’m sorry, we gave you nothing.