The Balance of Race Experience, Scientific Knowledge, and Coaching with Julie Young

We explore why it's important for athletes, coaches, and self-coached athletes to balance science, racing, and coaching.

One of the themes of the Fast Talk podcast is the important balance of science and experience. Experience as competitive athletes and as coaches. Neither science nor race experience nor coaching experience is sufficient on its own. To be truly guided as athletes, we need to blend science and experience.

While we at Fast Talk love reading new research studies, we know that research does not cover all the complexities of training. Research sometimes neglects to consider the sport-life balance that athletes must find.

And we know that even the best educated coaches might build the perfect training approach and plan, but does this mean they can truly guide an athlete through a difficult workout if they haven’t experienced that workout themselves?

Athletes, too, need a background in science. Even a 20-year racing veteran will benefit from an understanding of the physiology underlying his or her training plan.

Our guest on this episode brings science, racing, and coaching experience to the conversation. Julie Young started as a top professional cyclist racing in Europe. After retiring, she earned her Master’s in Sports Science and Human Performance. Now, Coach Young runs her own coaching business and works as a sport scientist at the Kaiser Sports Medicine Endurance Lab.

We talk with Julie about the importance and role of these three elements: race experience, a science background, and coaching experience. We pull no punches!

And before you fire off any emails to us, know that we get a little contrarian with Coach Young in order to challenge one another’s positions. No, I don’t truly believe that all interval work produces the same games, but it was fun making the argument.

So with that, grab every little bit of scientific knowledge and race experience you have, and let’s make you fast!

Episode Transcript

Unknown Speaker 0:04
Hello and Welcome to Fast doc your source for the science of endurance performance. I’m your host Trevor Connor here, as always with my co host, Rob pickles. A theme that has always been part of fast talk is the important balance between science and experience. Both experiences competitive athletes and as coaches is been a driving belief of the show that none of these are sufficient on their own. And it’s only on the combination that we can be truly guided as athletes. As much as many of us here love to sit by a roaring fire and read the newest research study. Yeah, that is our idea of fun. Research can’t cover all the complexities of training nor can and empathize with the light balance that athletes have to find. Likewise, a coach can be educated and build a perfect training plan, but can they truly guide an athlete without experiencing the pain of a heart interval session? Or the mental struggle of a hard race? And of course, can an athlete with 20 years of race experience truly individualize a training plan without an understanding of the physiology? Our guest today brings all three pieces to the table. Julian started a career as a top professional cyclist racing in Europe. After she retired, she got her master’s in sports science and human performance. She now has her own coaching business and works as a sports scientist at the Kaiser sports medicine endurance lab. With her extensive background, we use the opportunity to talk with Julie about the importance and role of these three elements. Race experience, a science background and coaching experience. We pull no punches and just to warn you before you fire off any emails to us. We at times get a little contrarian and black and white and our points in order to challenge one another’s positions. No, I don’t truly believe that all interval work produces the same games, but it was fun making the argument. So with that, grab every little bit of scientific knowledge and race experience you have, and let’s make it fast.

Unknown Speaker 1:51
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Unknown Speaker 2:23
Well, Julie, it is a pleasure having you back on the show. It’s always a joy having you join us. And we’re addressing kind of an interesting one here. It’s actually one that I couldn’t do any research for, because that’s kind of the point of this episode, we are going to talk about that balance, which is something you have really struck between to be an effective coach, how much do you need that experience as a racer? How much do you need that science background? And then how much does just the experience as a coach play into your ability as a coach, so we want to look at all three of these and how important each one of them is. So Julie, let’s kick it off a little bit. With just throwing that at you, we’ll start kind of big picture and then see where this conversation goes. As a coach as a physiologist and an ex pro athlete, how important Have you found these different aspects to your career? Now? I guess, you know, I think it’s like any, any professional career, you know, you really you evolve and you continue to evolve. And, you know, my, my primary introduction or my first introduction to cycling was, you know, racing racing with the national team and racing with proteins, primarily in Europe, and, you know, really relished that experience. And I felt like that probably planted a bunch of seeds for me in terms of, you know, working with prominent physiologist and biomechanics, and you know, like Dr. Pruitt and, you know, just learning from the very best But you do realize like you’re applying all this knowledge in the science but it’s, it’s really a study of one and then when I you know, phased out of of cycling and became interested in kind of the other side of it and coaching and then running some physiology and biomechanics labs and such, you realize you just can’t base your practice on your own experience, you know, you just have to have wider scope and depth of education. And, you know, for me, like I’ve, I’ve always been super hungry to keep, like learning and improving. And so I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity, post athletic career to invest heavily in like, continuing education, like consistent continuing education. I think for me, like, I want to give the best information I can to my athletes, and I’m just I’m not good at I don’t want to guess nor am I good at guessing and I don’t want to speculate and I just really want to provide the best information that I can find. So for me, it’s been a really fun journey to you know, again, invest in that

Unknown Speaker 5:00
Continuing Education and what I found is really fun is like so many things that I experienced as an athlete, like, I’m able to then connect the dots, like, to the the underlying scientific concepts, and that’s been just like, such a fun journey of discovery. So, I don’t know, my opinion, then, you know, obviously, it’s then just putting it all into practice, and, you know, kind of blending those two of, you know, my experience, and then the science that I’ve had the opportunity to, to learn and, you know, really blending those and, and understanding like, there’s really never an absolute and being very sensitive to that. And, yeah, I just I just think it’s just again, you continue to evolve and balancing those two, you know, it’s never really based on experience. It’s never fully based on the science, but it’s just a blend of the two. Yeah, Julian, I’m so excited to have you on today. Because I think that you bring something that’s really unique, you race and you raced at a high level right on the road. And on the mountain bike, if I’m not wrong, you’re educated, you run a sports science lab, you coach, you have so many different experiences, not just say, in cycling, or in science, but in multiple aspects of both of those things, which really creates you being a very well rounded person. But hearing your intro hearing what you just led off with, the most exciting thing is the evolution that you’re talking about, right? You have changed as a person with every single thing that you’ve done, you’ve you’ve approached things with a very inquisitive nature. And I love that in people because I think that something like that helps make people very, very effective in everything they do. And I agree, like, it’s truly I think, as you said, it’s inquisitive, or the curiosity, you know, I always want to understand why, like, I just don’t want to just say it. And I want to really understand why I’m telling my clients what I’m telling them. And again, like I just I always want to be evolving. I don’t want just to stagnate, I don’t want to just stay where I am. And I think it’s a love the mindset of knowing like each and every day I can learn and improve. And that’s what excites me in this profession. Something I want to go back to that you said early on that something is always concerned me as I became a coach. And well, this is particularly relevant to coaches, I think anybody who ends up in that mentoring role or is helping out teammates, this is a really important question, which is that, and one question. So you have a lot of pros who then get into mentoring or get into coaching. And really all they’ve learned is what works for them, and then end up becoming that type of coach that basically coaches all their athletes the way that works best for them, but may not work best for their athlete, that was actually such a concern for me, I was actually very hesitant as a coach to say, Yeah, I used to race pretty competitively, because I didn’t want to be put into that that box of Oh, you’re just coaching me the way you trained. So, you know, how much can you take? And I have some thoughts on this, but how much can you take what you did as an athlete and apply that to others? I mean, I, I think, as you have said on this podcast, and and I believe it, you know, there’s so many different ways to get from point A to point B, I think it is just having that good system, but also, you know, having a good basis for that system. And I mean, I think, you know, one athletes like experience in that that base experience could act as kind of, like the fundamental for for the training program. But one thing that I’ve found interesting is, you know, kind of the transitioning from that elite athlete, where it’s a very unique lifestyle, and then working more, you know, the majority of my clients are either really busy professionals, families and finite time, or, like you 23 athletes, again, finite time and, and you really have to understand the demands of those lives. And that’s to me, a really important part about tailoring the training program is is really just better understanding the demands of each individual’s life. And like I think, for me, that’s really helped me as a coach become a better coach is just understanding those demands and, you know, again, very different from, from the life I lead is as a professional athlete, where, you know, it was basically eat, trained sleep, maybe train again, you know, it’s just so controlled. So anyway, I just, that’s for me been a big part of, you know, how I think it’s that that has helped me evolve as a coach away from you know, that just my experience and understanding in my experience may have created like a fundamental piece of the way I train plants, but it’s also just tailoring it to the individual’s circumstances, if that makes sense. Yeah, no, that’s actually what I was wondering about. Because here’s the thing that’s been really interesting for me, as I said, when I

Unknown Speaker 10:00
started coaching. I was very concerned about that. I’m just coaching every athlete that the way I learned to train, something I have found very interesting just talking with different coaches talking with far better coaches and myself, I’ll give you two examples. We’ve had Jim Miller on the show, who is the basically the head coach for USA Cycling. And we recently actually had Dean goalless write a piece for us talking about his training plan. And when we interviewed Jim, we were talking about base training at the time, I said, How do you tailor this to different athlete types, and he goes, I don’t in the bases, and I basically train everybody the same way. And I was a little bit surprised by that. I admit, I kind of have the same approach. But then dean Goldrich, when he submitted the training plan for us, as part of this article, we asked him similar questions. And he basically said, Look, I train everybody kind of the same way, you know, I have one approach. And I’ll get to that in a minute. I think that’s a bit of a simplification. But when it comes to the training plan, I don’t think there’s a world champion or an Olympian in the US in the cycling world that wasn’t touched by one of these two coaches. So it really was interesting to me to hear them basically say, I kind of have one basic approach when it comes to the training plan. So what I heard from them, what I’m hearing from you right now, as well, which is where I have landed is the training plan doesn’t have to be dramatically unique physiology is physiology, more where the individualization comes in, is factoring in the individual, what makes them tick, what do they have going on in life? Do they have a family? Do they have a job? What’s their bandwidth? That’s where the individualization comes in. I totally agree with that. I mean, because like you said, the principles are the principles. And of course, you want to make them relative to each individual, like where they are with their fitness and obviously goals and demands those goals. But yeah, I agree, really, is pretty much the same training. But again, I always want to make sure the training plan is flexing to the individual. And it’s not this, you know, trying to cram the square peg into the round hole. Yeah, if I can hop in here, I think that at this point in the conversation, we’re discussing training plans that are well written, that are well researched, that are good training plans, right. And, and they’re going to be altered, say, based on hours for the individual. You know, those are all of sort of the assumptions that we know, I don’t think that we’re discussing, every base week has to be 20 to 22 hours for the athlete no matter who they are, right. But a thing that I always struggle with, whenever conversations like this come up, is that aspect that we’re talking about appropriate training. I do believe that there are a lot of athletes who became high level athletes, not because they had appropriate training, but because they were maybe responders, right, we just know that we have physiological responders who are out there. Often times they find their way to the front of the peloton, they find their way to the podium, despite the training that they did. And I do think that we need to be careful when we’re athletes, evaluating coaches, whom have had this experience to make sure that the foundation of the training is the solid training plan. Like we’re talking about these other high level coaches enacting I have heard training that people have done that would kill the common mortal. And somehow they ended up being very successful with that. And then also watched the same people prescribe that training to other people, because it worked for them. So I don’t know if I’m standing opposite of you guys. I don’t know if I’m agreeing with you guys. But it’s just sort of my perspective, you know, as somebody who really hasn’t been a high level athlete to tell you the truth, maybe track and field back in the day for me, but definitely not was cycling. So my approach is, is maybe a little bit different. I don’t know. Well, I’m going to continue with that. I’m going to throw out something that both of you might go oh my god, Trevor, how could you say that and kind of hope you do spark some good conversation here. But here’s my take on it, I used to be very much of the mindset of where you need to focus your attention as a coach, or as even as an athlete as finding that perfect interval workout. If you do this intervals versus that intervals, you’re going to be winning races instead of off the back. Over the years, I’ve become more and more of the opinion of there’s a whole lot of different ways to get to the same place. And I actually don’t I mean, obviously, there’s a difference between doing sprint workouts and doing threshold. And the general category you have to pay attention to but when you get into the particular workouts, I just don’t think it matters all that much. To me, it’s kind of what you’re saying, which is, see how they respond to it. If you send an athlete out to do a workout and they hate every time they do it, and they’re complaining about in their reports, and you go well, that’s the wrong workout for you. Not for physiological reasons, just because you hate doing it. If you hate doing it, you’re not going to do it. So I look for more things like that, as opposed to saying, Well, this is the perfect workout to produce this sort of response.

Unknown Speaker 15:00
So here’s the thing, both of you respond to this, you know, I was trying to build some of these top in there, you know, the ability to jump for a minute or respond to attack, there’s there’s probably 20 different interval workouts I could give them, they’re all gonna get them to the same place. But they’re all focused on the same adaptations. They’re all focused on the energy system, and whatever else, right, somewhat, but I mean, I have seen and I’ve seen this in the research too, people do threshold intervals and improve their one minute jump. I’ve seen people do Sprint’s and improve their endurance does certainly, yeah. But when you’re looking at that, I think that if you’re looking at the magnitude of change, there are some things that are more or less important, right? If we’re targeting energy systems, regardless of whether or not that interval and this is where I agree with you. And it’s hilarious because I coach exactly one person in the world and it’s my wife, and we’re very different.

Unknown Speaker 15:51
You know, she’s, she’s a stickler, you know, to tell you the truth, I’ll talk about a year, she knows this, she’ll run the exact same route every single day, because it’s a known entity to her, she knows exactly how long it takes. And I’m very much the opposite of that, right? Like, I love new adventure. And if it took me five minutes longer than my prescribed workout, great, if it took me 20 minutes longer, that’s probably okay, too. You know, but it’s the same thing with intervals for me, I can write, you know, a five minute interval for her, she will find a way to make that damn thing five minutes, exactly, she will not stop at 501, she will not stop at 458 it is five minutes, where for me, I have the understanding. And I think this is totally in line with you, Trevor, the spirit of that is work that energy system for about this time and about this total duration in a session. And if you’re doing intervals that are five seconds longer than prescribed, so be it who really cares. So I’m embarrassed to admit that I had one time I was doing my five by five minute intervals, and the trainer gave out on me like it stopped giving resistance seven seconds before the end of the interval. And I got the trainer fixed. And then did those seven seconds just to feel like I did my

Unknown Speaker 17:03
Oh, wow, I did a ride that was like 99.8 miles and people on Strava berated me for not riding two tenths of a mile to make it an even 100. I was like, who cares? My nephew used to do that he would ride in our driveway to get those extra two tenths of a mile. Julie, you’re on my side with this right? We’re together or no? Well, so I was thinking, Rob, when you were kind of using the pro athlete that did tons of volume as the example. You know, I feel like I’ve seen training plans written by the person who has more the exclusive like scientific background. And that, you know, they know, like they’ve learned by textbook, and they don’t really have much the experience in some of those training plans. I’m thinking to myself, Oh my gosh, like, I did not train this hard. When I was training for elite World Championships, you know, and for me, like, I really take exception with that, because that’s where I feel like this blend is so valuable is understanding the emotional demand of training and the emotional demand of racing. And that, okay, maybe that’s the ideal to achieve some physiologic adaptation, but is it tolerable? And kind of to Trevor’s point, like is the athlete mentally going to dig into that and mentally like believe and to me, so that’s an I really agree with what Trevor said, too, is like, you don’t just continue, like throwing this kind of work at the athlete, you that’s where the relationship part comes in, and the communication and understanding that athlete and not just, you know, relying on that data, but relying on that feedback to understand like, Okay, this isn’t working. But I do think like, as an athlete, you do create, like, like, again, that kind of base formula that has, you know, has worked for you. So like, Heck, okay, it’s worked, but I’m not gonna just implement it in an absolute but I am going to use it kind of as the basis. I don’t even know what to say right now. Because you just you, you, you wrote my entire world. You know, Julie, it’s a super interesting point, right? Where, you know, maybe as a scientist in this conversation, I’m often of the viewpoint of all those experience only people there, Baba, how do they Ba ba ba, old GRUMPY MAN, speak your old now you’re in your 40s I’m going great. Right? I can help you with the grumpy sad. Fortunately, nobody can see it because we’re not doing video.

Unknown Speaker 19:31
May digress, you know, but Julie, I hate you for it. Maybe I love you for it. You can do the opposite. You can write something on paper. That is the most perfect thing in the world that all the research says and well if this interval is good, then adding this thing on top is even better. Right? And I guess you’re right. And maybe I’m reluctant to admit it. You do need to have the human element in there, right? Because Because science can go in the opposite direction too far as well. Well, so look at my

Unknown Speaker 20:00
My response to that is this is one of those places where I think experiences is really valuable because as a coach, or somebody helping out an athlete, if you’ve had experience with something, if you’ve had experience with those workouts, your ability to advise to empathize is so much higher. So I’ll give you an example. I’ve always had this rule of I’ve never given interval workout to an athlete unless I’ve done it myself, because I can’t really explain it. I can’t really figure out what is the right amount to give somebody until I’ve had the experience. And I actually broke that rule last year, because I was coaching an athlete. We’re in the middle of the spring, we had actually just done an interview with Neil Henderson and asked him to give us one of his favorite workouts which he described. Oh, no show. Oh, Trevor. And so two days later, I’m talking with my athlete and he goes, I’m kind of getting bored of this workout. Can you give me something new and different? And I just went, Well, Neil just gave us this crazy workout. That sounds like fun. So I’ll give it to him. So first time I’ve ever done this, and I gave him Neil’s workout was this this pyramid workout? Are you do like 55 seconds hard or was it was like five seconds hard. 55 seconds, not hard than 10 seconds. I’ve done I’ve done that. And then you do 20 minutes a threshold. So I gave him this workout. And I let him do it for two weeks before I finally got on the trainer. And when I’ve got to obey my rules, I’ve got to try this. I tried the workout and like before I’ve even done my cooldown, I got off of the bike text and I’m like, stop doing this.

Unknown Speaker 21:34
Oh.

Unknown Speaker 21:37
Because it about killed me and I was gonna have him do it for like six weeks and like this will destroy him. It burn him out it about killed you. It’s the total opposite of everything you are as a cyclist though, though, that’s like telling somebody who’s gluten free to, you know, go down to the Italian place and do some carb loading.

Unknown Speaker 21:58
But doing the workout, what I realized is this can really bring around some form. But I wouldn’t give this to an athlete for more than a couple of weeks. Because it is not a workout that you could sustain twice a week for a long period of time without really starting to feel some negative effects. And I was giving it to him early in the spring. So that’s that experience thing I was able to do the workout and go great workout to do to kind of top you off before we’re getting to the you know, trying to get on peak form, not a good six day week workout. Julie, can I ask you something that this really makes me think of when you say experience? What is it that you’re talking about? Is it the experience like Trevor is talking about here where you’re literally doing the exact same thing as the athlete, maybe your training plan doesn’t mirror there is but but you have physical experience doing the thing? Is it being an athlete in sport in general, so you know what it feels like to suffer to work hard, you know, to, to feel that agony? Is it to be at a high level so that you know what it feels like to travel and to make your life you know all about this and you’re focused on eating and massages and everything else? What experience level does it take to be this well rounded coach that can be effective for the athletes they’re working with? Yeah, I don’t know, if there’s, you know, this level, I think, you know, everybody has to start somewhere. And so for me, like when I say experience, just based on my personal situation, you know, for me, it is kind of what Trevor said, like, I basically will not give an athlete anything that I haven’t done myself, like, and that’s, you know, kind of go through the whole, like, the way the week is sequence, the workouts, that sort of thing. And again, so I understand kind of the emotional and physical demand of the training. But it’s also I feel like, it’s super important for coaches to have some sort of competitive experience, you know, whatever that is, because it’s just so interesting, like you can’t possibly understand kind of the minute by minute situation and races, and just the demand of that and how kind of crazy and gnarly and like mentally demanding it can be like, I just remember, like stage racing in Europe, and I just felt sometimes like, I was in the fight of my life, like, literally and just felt so wrung out at the end of those races just mentally. And so I think it’s not that I’m saying every athlete is going to do that kind of racing. But I do feel like it is important, like there’s so many subtleties in a race that you can’t possibly you can’t possibly learn it in a book. And I do feel like it allows the coach to be more credible but also relate so much better to the athlete and kind of again, what they’re going through and, and I do feel like for myself, like I still like to race I like I mean because of the community but also just to stay in touch with what it is like emotionally and mentally like the demands of racing and just to be able to relate better to my athletes. And then the last part of that is

Unknown Speaker 25:00
The experience of just implementing at all, as, as a coach, you know, I know like, again, we talked about evolution, but gosh, I’m probably such a different coach, I’m sure I am from when I first started to now. And it’s just that that accrual of of experience and that perspective. So I think it’s for me, it’s kind of all those bits. Yeah, I couldn’t agree with you more, I think just you need the experience of the struggle that it takes. I mean, when I talk with athletes, and they start giving me the, well, if I just train hard and give it 110% In the race, I’m gonna win every race. And, you know, when you start hearing that talk, you go, you just You’ve watched too many movies and Nike commercials, that’s not chariots of fire starts playing in the background. Yeah. Yeah, I mean, I love Rocky movies. But in real life, you don’t do a 10 minute montage of hard training, and then go and beat up on somebody, it’s just not the way it works. And so Julie, I don’t even need to tell you, if this is what you do, in particularly, if you hit those higher levels, it ain’t like that. There’s a whole lot of failure, there’s a whole lot of struggle, there’s a whole lot of questioning, there’s a whole lot of you put a ton of energy and effort into getting to a race, like I remember going to Canadian nationals in 2011, possibly the best form of my life, and a guy fell over on top of me five minutes into the race. And that was the end of my race, you know, all those sorts of things. And you can’t really understand those sorts of things until you’ve experienced it in all of this gets back to just being a holistic coach, right? Because we’re talking about a lot more than just eliciting a physiological adaptation. And that’s one small part of what a coach does. an athlete’s performance is the holistic combination of everything, of mental of motivation, of recovery, of physiological adaptation, of nutrition of all of that, and I can definitely see this experience, you know, playing in here. What I’m wondering is, maybe I need to fire my wife as an athlete, because she’s a runner. And if you guys know anything about me, I am not a runner, I was a hurdler. And that is very different. But I will never once ever, never, ever, ever do a workout that I prescribed for her. I’d be laying on the ground, there’s no way I could pull that off. So what I’m hearing from you is I now have a reason to kick her to the curb, or to start running. No, Julie? No, no, no, you know how much fun bike riding is

Unknown Speaker 27:30
running actually, what I got from this is I’m going to cut out that little clip of just rob saying, I have a reason to kick my wife to the curb, and just send her that. That’s fine, Trevor, it’s cool. I might not come to work ever again after that. But maybe maybe you don’t maybe you don’t need me anymore. Well, no. I mean, in all seriousness, you have been a competitive athlete. So well, you can’t do as you said the exact workouts that she does you have that ability to empathize. Oh, yeah, no, without without question. And I do understand that. And fortunately for me, I do have a lot of experience in track and field. And she’s a 10,000 meter runner, right. And so we have shared many laps around the track like that. And so, ya know, as much as I’m joking about not being able to share this experience, it actually I do have a lot in it, it is very, very beneficial in helping her understand and tailoring things to her and understanding all of these things. And, you know, just sort of the struggle of running a track race at 10 o’clock at night, you know that that’s a whole different ballgame. When you spend your time training in the middle of the day after work or whatever else, there are just so many considerations that experience is real helpful to consider. So if we take that learning aspect of it, and we put that in the context of being a well rounded coach, you know, formal education is something that you mentioned, what is it that science and education can teach us that maybe you can’t get out on the road? What what are the best things to be learning from a book? Well, I think there’s just the, you know, the principles and there has to be a basis and like a system, a methodology, you know, based on principles. And so, you know, as opposed to, like, just basing everything on what we think to be true, or speculate, or guess, like to have some, again, some backbone to to the training program, and I think that’s like what the science can provide. I do think like, in some respects, science can be confusing because the, you know, the studies are, they’re very controlled, they have to be because they’re controlling for say, one, one variable and controlling the others, which is not reality. So in that case, I think we need to be critical when we read the studies and understand who they were testing, you know, the factors that sort of thing. So we, you know, understand context and we understand relevancy and, and to me, that’s where I think people can kind of go sideways with the

Unknown Speaker 30:00
sciences tried to, you know, they read, read one study and then they’re going to, you know, implement those those findings in absolutes and still, you know, science we still need to be critical in the way we’re thinking about it and make sure does it actually apply to what we’re trying to do? And I think, you know, just because it’s there doesn’t mean we should use it, you know, we just first need to make sure is it relevant?

Unknown Speaker 30:26
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Unknown Speaker 31:12
So let’s shift gears here. We’ve talked about the importance of experience, Julie, what about the importance of knowing the science, both for a coach and an athlete? I think again, it just goes back to having some you know, having that basis, the principles behind like, the reason why you’re making decisions in the training plan in for me, it’s funny, I always have this internal conversation with myself, like, when I’m plugging in a workout, like I asked myself, Why am I doing this, and I typically have three good reasons. And, you know, maybe one has a physiologic basis, you know, maybe one mechanical and one, maybe emotional. But, you know, I think it’s just it gives you again, that that reasoning as to why you’re doing things. And in my my opinion, like you really want to be a thinker, you don’t want to be just like, oh, let’s just throw that spaghetti on the wall and see if it sticks. And so like in my situation, that that’s why I like it again, like I always want to understand why I’m doing something for the athlete. And I think it is important, in my opinion, to really educate the athletes as to and I think every athlete, again, is different in this respect, like how much they really want to know. But I do feel like it is important that that athlete understands why they’re doing particular workouts and how it relates to their goal. Because otherwise, I think in that, you know, in that case, when they understand they’re going to bring more like more intention, more purpose to that workout. And it’s going to be like 10 times more effective, versus just like getting through the time or taking off the box. So, in my opinion, it is really important to educate the athlete again, you know, don’t have to go super deep into the science, but just how it connects like to their goals. Yeah, Julie at the thing you said at the very end, started to answer a question. And that was, how much information are you sharing? Are we talking biochemical changes with the athlete? What level of depth or knowledge do you think is useful and beneficial for all of the things you described? I mean, again, I think it really depends on the athlete, just, you know, if they are educated in that kind of world, and maybe go a little bit deeper. But, you know, for example, like long endurance, like, I don’t know, I don’t know how you guys feel, but I think that’s a tough sell for a lot of athletes. And so really emphasizing the importance of of that training and the adaptations that are occurring, you know, whether that’s, you know, the capillaries, the mitochondria, the the shuttle, like, all those things to help them really, like be disciplined and diligent about training in that zone, you know, helping them understand like, Hey, this is all that’s happening, when you’re training in that long endurance is really creating that platform, and allowing you to, you know, do the hard work and reach that higher peak performance. And so I don’t think it has to be again, I think it really depends on the individual. But I think it’s just kind of more of that big picture. And again, how it’s at then relates to their long term goals. I think something that’s been really effective to use science has been post testing results after a period of training, maybe an athlete comes in and they do some lactate testing. And then you prescribe a particular series of workouts, oftentimes more low intensity riding at something that’s actually low intensity, and you can see in their eyes and sometimes hear in their voice, they don’t necessarily think that’s going to work. Yes. And then they come back three months later, six months later, whatever it is, and you retest after that training, and there’s the proof positive, right that the science the very hard, you know, numbers in front of them say, hey, look, we had exactly the response that we were looking for. That alone has been really powerful for me in my career of consulting people, you know, through lab based testing. Do you experience that do

Unknown Speaker 35:00
Do you use testing like that with your athletes? Or is the science mostly for your knowledge and education? As a coach? No, I agree with you. I think that quantitative feedback is valuable. And again, I think it really depends on the individual, like, I have some clients that I coach that really just don’t care about data. But then, of course, some that are very obsessed about it. So I think it again, depends on the individual, but I agree with you. I mean, I think that’s really black and white. I also think just like more simple terms, and I kind of, I have a, as Trevor knows, kind of a love hate with with power, because like, of course, like, it’s a great way to train. But you know, that the FTP tests, you know, I think we’ve lost a little bit of perspective on on those, but if we can keep them in perspective, you know, they do show some good, some good benchmarks, in terms of, like improvement, I think the other piece of that is just helping the athlete understand, like, that’s not going to be enough. I mean, that kind of just goes without saying it’s not going to be infinite. And we just don’t understand everything that’s like all the improvements that are occurring, just because we can’t really see under the hood. But so for sure, I think like being able to quantify the improvement is extremely beneficial. The thing I’m going to add to this as well, that you guys were kind of hinting out, I’m just going to approach it from a different direction. I think the days of that old school stereotypical coach, who’s that authoritarian type that just says, Don’t question me, do what I tell you, this is gonna work for you. I just don’t think that works anymore. I think more and more athletes are educating themselves. They’re going and reading hearing different opinions. And as a coach, if you say to an athlete, I want you to do this workout, you’re more and more getting that question of why. And you have to have some science, you have to have some background, to be able to say, here’s why I would like you to do it. Here’s the gains that it produces for you. And not just the will do it because I told you to do it. I think fewer and fewer athletes are going to accept that as an answer. And personally, as a coach, I like getting hit with that question. Because if I get asked, Why am I doing this? And I can’t answer it, that tells me I didn’t think there was a training plan. And Trevor starts rubbing his hands together. And he says, Well, let me tell you.

Unknown Speaker 37:17
Let me do some research on.

Unknown Speaker 37:20
Rob keeps asking me why I’m telling him to do two things that I want him to do. But I don’t have a good explanation. Yeah, no. I just want to watch you struggle. Pretty much. No, I agree, Trevor. And I do I think that’s like the fun part of coaching. Like you want to stay, like stimulated and challenged. Yeah, no, I agree. I love seeing a new workout or hearing about a new idea. And then diving into the science of well, why? What does this do? What do you get from this? Yeah, I think that science and thinking in that scientific mind, right, you treat everything, as you know, open minded and to discover whether or not it is good or bad. Yeah, I think that that’s a great part of the process. And you can look to research, you can look to literature, you can look to case studies, you can look to all sorts of things to maybe begin to understand that, but then you can also apply that scientific process maybe to things that are in life, let’s give it a shot. Let’s see what happens. Let’s measure some results. Let’s see if this is a worthwhile thing or not. And not to just hear about a workout and say, Oh, that’s not gonna work. That’s wrong. You know, and to be that close minded, which I think goes back to Trevor’s, you were saying before, that, you know, maybe back in the day, which was a Wednesday, if you were wondering, but back in the day coaches last Wednesday, are we going all that way back? Oh, we’re going much at least for Wednesday’s ago. I know, I can’t remember that. That was almost a year ago.

Unknown Speaker 38:45
Anyway, I think coaches back in the day, you know, when they were a little bit more do as I say, because I say, you know, anything that was put in front of them, it was a very close minded sort of approach, you know, and there was not a new or better way to go about things. I agree with you, Rob, like I think remaining really open minded is so key. And, you know, I think it’s really easy for all of us to get into ruts and routines and just you know what we know. But to me, that’s that stagnation. And it’s just like, and you know, I don’t necessarily want to be changing for the sake of change. But yeah, be open minded to better ways of doing things. I think we’re pointing out a lot of great things about experience. I think that we’re pointing out a lot of great things about education and science in the scientific process. Julie, is there an area you think, is education or science, kind of failing the coach at this point, where it’s not providing them with information they need or it’s steering them in the wrong direction? Let’s take the devil’s advocate look on this. Well, from you know, from my perspective, I don’t know if science has necessarily failed the coach. I think the coach needs to be a little bit perhaps more critical in reading the science and not necessarily

Unknown Speaker 40:00
Take science as gospel. And then, you know, we need to also consider like some some of the studies. Again, we spoke about this earlier, but, you know, they’re they’re very controlled. They’re they’re small sample groups in terms of who they’re testing specific sample groups, you know, untrained trained what what exactly does trained mean? You know, so I think that the coach and reading the science needs to be really critical. And in reading the those studies, and if they are, in fact, good studies, I think where people go wrong with the science is taking it out of context. I think this happens, oftentimes in like nutrition. And I think, I think generally nutrition can be one of the most confusing and seemingly complicated subjects. But oftentimes what what I’ve experienced is it’s that folks are taking these these very finite studies, and they’re applying them just broadly. And absolutely. And I think that’s where, where we run in two problems. The one thing I think’s interesting, too, is that oftentimes, practice is guiding science. So I know you, you all are Dr. Steeler fans, and he’s a contributor. And, you know, the whole idea of polarized training, for example, you know, came from the practice and came from scientists studying logs and logs of elite endurance athletes. I also think it’s, you know, listening to James Morton, who’s the was at one time, the performance nutritionist for ENEOS. And then runs like s is nutrition like, is basically the head researcher for that nutrition product, has said that the idea of, you know, fueling for the work required or otherwise known as periodized training has really, you know, kind of come from the athlete themselves, you know, basically kind of just watching what the elite athlete is doing. So, I think it’s interesting to think about it in that respect to like, it’s we’re not always just letting science guide the practice, but the practice is also informing the science of the thing I’m going to add to that, that we’ve actually talked about in a previous episode where we talked about science versus experience, that I just want to emphasize, again, science is limited experience is not, you can experience almost anything. Sometimes it’s really dumb or bad experiences, but you can experience almost anything. Science has its limits, it has its limits on what it can research, it also has its limits on how quickly you can come up with an answer. If something is novel, you have to have multiple studies before you can really say, here’s what we’ve discovered and what the science is saying on this particular subject. So science, there’s great research, great science on exercise science and endurance sports, but it has a narrow scope, it doesn’t cover everything. And that’s where experience can come in the benefit that science brings you is you can probably eventually figure out everything with experience, but you only have so much time. And if you’re constantly experimenting and making mistakes. You might have missed the peak of your career before experience has gotten you there enough or science can give you a lot of answers without having to make all those mistakes along the way. Yeah, yeah, I think that’s fair. Trevor, earlier, you you tried to throw a bomb with your sort of training, maybe the details don’t matter. I’m going to throw a bomb here. Because for me, I honestly think, and maybe this is a really bold line to draw. But I honestly think that education is failing a lot of coaches right now. And I say that because I went through an undergraduate Sports Science program. And it was a great program. I mean, I’m not knocking the program at all. My professors were incredible. I learned so many good things. But I honestly believe that there needs to be a curriculum that is more tailored to something like coaching, because you only have limited coursework. And in my opinion, in all honesty, I almost feel like the coursework that I did as a student was so broad that I walked out of an undergrad program, in all honesty, not really capable of applying that knowledge in a meaningful manner, that it took experience on top of that, to be able to utilize throughout my undergrad, you know, I learned how to learn, you know, to tell you the truth in my graduate program, then I took that really deep I learned a ton about physiology. And I continue to learn how to learn and then that inquisitiveness throughout the rest of my life for the next. I can’t even do the math, but we’ll subtract 40 from whatever, you know that many years that has brought me to where I am today. I do wish, though, that people were further along that path when they were graduating from some of these programs because I think that they automatically get credibility from people in the community. Oh, that person

Unknown Speaker 45:00
I studied physiology or sport science out of this undergrad program. They have to know everything. And it’s it’s so woefully incorrect. And I hate to say that, and I hope that these words aren’t too strong. But I just know, I felt like kind of a lost sheep in the world a little bit. You know, when I first graduated, and the experience I’ve had has, has really been important to be knowledgeable. I know, I’ve chatted with you guys about the program. I’m in the performance nutrition program. And they really their focus is that translational science. And that’s, you know, I really appreciate that. I mean, I love the way the program is, is developed is that, you know, you learn the principles, and then you translate. And I think that’s such an important piece. Obviously, if the practice, yeah, we’d need exactly more of that in the world to tell you the truth. But I’ll say you can always tell the scientists doing research in the field who don’t have experience as athletes, because I’m sure both of you can name dozens of studies like this, but you will see studies where it’s a good study design, but as an as a coach, as an experience athlete, you read it and go, no athlete would ever train this way. Yeah, completely impractical. Yeah. Yeah. And we actually, so we just did a recording with Dr. Ronstadt. And he told us about a study where they’re looking at concurrent endurance training and strength training. And describe this study where these athletes were doing was it’s they were doing intervals six days a week, and strength training five days a week. Yep. Just look at that and go. That’s, that’s bonkers. Bonkers bonkers. We should be calling Child Services on this one.

Unknown Speaker 46:54
And I do you know, I don’t think any of us are saying that we don’t need sort of these more extreme research or research for research sake, right to understand the limitation or the edges of the science. But I do think that we need a lot more practical knowledge for people that they can apply. That’s less theoretical, and more actionable.

Unknown Speaker 47:18
I mean, I do think another, obviously, value of science is that there’s, I mean, typically, I mean, maybe maybe there’s other cases, but there’s no motivation in terms of like commercial motivation, necessarily. I mean, I know some of the studies are funded by products, for example, like, whoop, or you know, or a ring or whatever the case may be. But I think generally, like there’s, there’s less like, conflict of interest in terms of what science is producing. And the information produced versus, you know, they’re not necessarily trying to sell a product. No good point. And actually, for anybody listening to this, who’s not deep into the science world, I’m just going to throw something out at you that might help you. When you go to product pages, you’ll often they’ll have that science link, where they’ll show you the science behind this, something to watch for when products, when companies go to researchers to do studies, about their product, that’s often where the head researcher is going to bring in one of his grad students have that grad student do the research, and you never get a fully published study out of it, what you end up with is just an abstract that gets presented somewhere. Because believe it or not, most of these researchers don’t want to spend their time creating research for products, they actually want to be doing good research. And it’s only generally you hope the good research is going to be published. So if you are on a product website, and you go the science tab, and they go, Oh, we’ve got research behind this, and All there is is abstracts, and you can’t find the fully published study. I hate to say it, but take it with a grain of salt. Yeah, that was that was probably a poster at a conference. Right? Yeah, I think that we’ve all we’ve all been involved in that. Definitely. And it’s not to say that it’s it’s bad science, but, you know, it was obviously, for purpose. And oftentimes, you know, depending on the lab, sometimes they reserve the right to publish no matter what. And sometimes it’s a little bit pay to play or maybe this only gets public if it’s a, you know, a worthwhile result for for the particular product. I also think though products can take sound bites out of studies, and just kind of manipulate them. Yeah, I think that’s a good point. If you want to see what the true science is behind the product, you gotta do the time and you go, gotta go and find the original research. Mm hmm. I fully agree with you. So, Julia, I’ve got one last question for us to discuss here. So we’ve now talked about experience as an athlete experience as a coach and having science and the value of having all three of these. My question is, is there a best order to all this? Do you need experience

Unknown Speaker 50:00
And then you look into the science and then you apply that as a coach? Or do you read the science and then try it and build experience and then apply it as a coach? Is there a particular order to all this, that that’s best? Or is it just, they’re all going to be different? Each case is going to be different. I think it’s just all different. You know, and I think that then limits people like, oh, gosh, I wasn’t, I wasn’t a pro athlete. So I can’t become a coach, or, you know, I think everybody goes about it in a different way. And, you know, I just think it’s just being sincere and being willing to learn and, like Rob said, open minded, you know, just have those qualities and, and then I think it can work in any order. Yeah, I’m thinking about as many cases as I can. And the question this begs to me is, does anybody get into coaching? Who isn’t interested in sport? You know, I found my way, right. I mean, here’s the thing. I’m self serving, right? I was a track athlete throughout high school, and I wanted to be better. That’s why I was interested in Sport Science. That’s why I went to the program that I did. And I continued competing and switched from track and field to cycling thereafter, which is ultimately what gave me the experience now that’s relevant. But in what situation? Does it ever happen differently? That is maybe academic first, and people don’t pick up sport or whatever, until later in life? I don’t know. Well, I think you’re right, though, Rob, I think even folks that are like pursuing, like sports physiology, and in school, we’re probably interested in sport, you know, at some level, and I know like, for myself, like, I know, I have several clients who have made their way to fast talk labs, like website and podcast, you know, their, their athletes, they’re maybe master athletes, or dads of high school, mountain bike athletes, but but now they’re becoming interested in coaching. So I mean, I think it just can happen in many different ways. I think that you maybe inadvertently found an edge case, and that’s the parent, a lot of us are thinking about this from our perspective, right? We love sports. So we got into this, we love the activity, and then we learned about it, and that drove it was a passion based thing. But when we talk about things like the parent of the high school, mountain bike League, the parent of the high school runner, they may or may not be interested in, in sport themselves, initially, maybe they begin educating themselves to help their children as best they can. And then they find a love of sport after, I definitely know parents who have picked up cycling because their kids loved it or picked up running because they spent so much time at Cross Country races that it began looking somehow like a fun thing to do. So Julie, you know, great, great insight from you. I’m glad that you’re looking at things from a slightly different perspective. I agree with you, Rob. Just being involved with the high school mountain bike league. I love it, because it really it is a family affair. And oftentimes, as you said, it’s the kids kind of leading the parents and drawing the parents into a more active lifestyle. That’s a really good point. I’ve even thought about that. But there are a lot of people who get into this industry and actually are quite successful. Who started just as that parent. Yeah. Want to be there for their kid. Don’t we all? Yeah. Well, Julie, you know, what comes next? This is how we close out every episode. So our one minute takeaways, what is the most salient point that you want to leave our listeners with with this episode? Oh, gosh, okay. I just think it’s, it’s really gaining that perspective. And again, everyone starts somewhere, you have to start somewhere, but I think it’s it’s continuing to, you know, evolve as a coach and pursue those those different ways to evolve and kind of round out your practice, whether you’ve started like heavily as, like that athletic experience, and really complementing that experience with education. But for me, it’s just, you know, as Rob said, staying inquisitive and staying curious and always understanding why you’re doing something for the athlete and, and again, just understanding that it is like, like, there’s so many factors that contribute to performance. It’s never just training that one thing more that understanding how everything interacts. I think just you know, in giving your your athletes the best information possible so they can be effective in reaching their goals. Rob, you want to go back to you, you looking at me? I’m looking at you. I finish this one out. All right, I’m good to go here. And takeaway points from me. The biggest thing is that education and experience, create well rounded people and it creates well rounded coaches. And that can be hugely important for working with athletes, but have that education doesn’t necessarily have to be formal education. It doesn’t have to be getting a degree. Really what we’re talking about when we say education, in my opinion, is being inquisitive is always looking for new information is reading

Unknown Speaker 55:00
Things is learning from other people, right? All of those things add up. Whether you have a bachelor’s, a masters, a PhD, or whether you are an art major, I don’t know that matters. If you’re inquisitive, you can be successful. So all finished was one out was saying, This has actually been kind of a unique episode for me, because He’s normally I come with a pretty detailed outline, and we try to stick to a particular order and flow. I’m not even looking at the outline for this episode. I can tell. Yep. I think Rob was and I was driving nuts the whole way through. But I just really wanted to see where the conversation went with this one, because I was just really interested in seeing what we concluded. And I think where I ended up with this is, I think, if you want to be really good, if you want to be, you know, at your best, as a coach, whether it’s a professional coach, or you’re just helping with your kids League, I think all three are necessary. I think you need to have some experience as a coach, obviously. But you also need to have some experience as an athlete, and you have to have some science. But what I was surprised to kind of realize by the end of this episode is I don’t think it has to happen in a particular order. I don’t think you have to be that athlete who then gets an education and then becomes a coach might very well be you start as a coach and you realize you you want to go further with us. You want to be a better coach. And maybe you take up the sport just to get the experience so you can empathize with your athletes, and then go and read the signs to help you be a better coach. So there doesn’t have to be an order to it. But I do think all three are necessary. I love it. Okay, well Julie, always a pleasure to have you on the show. Thank you so much. Thank you. I’d save I always love our conversations. That was another episode of fast talk. Subscribe it fast talk wherever you prefer to find your favorite podcast. Be sure to leave us a rating and review. The thoughts and opinions expressed on fast talk are those of the individual as always we love your feedback. Join the conversation at forums dot fast talk labs.com to discuss each and every episode. Become a member of fast talk laboratories at fast talk labs.com/join To gain access to our education and coaching knowledge base for the highly experienced truly young. The mostly experience Trevor Connor, who doesn’t care about the outline because he didn’t write it. I’m the somewhat experienced Rob pickles. Thanks for listening

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