The Importance of Adaptations, with George Bennett

There’s a critical distinction between adaptation and recovery. Today, we focus on adaptations—what causes them and how to aid them.

Woman doing running drills on a beach

Recovery, recovery, recovery… you’ve heard us talk about it before. You’ve heard a lot of our guests preach about its importance. We’ve emphasized again and again how one of the biggest mistakes athletes make is to not get enough recovery.

Well, now let’s confuse you a bit. The ultimate goal of training is, of course, to adapt. And there’s a critical distinction between adaptation and recovery. They are not the same thing. In fact, sometimes what helps one, hurts the other. Recovery is about doing what you can so the legs are ready for your next workout. Adaptation is about the body repairing the damage caused by training—if the training provides enough stress, it will repair the system to come back stronger. But what’s good for that repair process may have you feeling less than perfect on the bike the next day.

Today, we’re going to dive into these differences and focus on the importance of adaptations—what causes them and how to aid them. We’ll talk about:

  • The difference between recovery and adaptation.
  • How the immune system is intimately involved in both, and why we’ve come to the realization in recent years that reducing inflammation can be counterproductive.
  • The three stages of repair. It’s during the repair process that we get stronger, and the immune system is the repair man. Much like the local cable guy, the immune system is going to work at its own pace regardless of what you do or say.
  • How there’s a delicate balance between damage and repair, and when you get out of balance by doing too much training, it starts a vicious cycle that prevents further adaptations and leads to burnout.
  • We speak with George Bennett, who put in a fantastic Tour de France performance, helping his GC leader, Steven Kruijswijk, land on the podium. George discusses what he does to aid adaptations.
  • We finish with a conversation about the things that do help adaptations and the things that hurt it, despite the fact that a lot of endurance athletes do them.

Our primary guest today is George Bennett, member of the Jumbo-Visma WorldTour team. George joins us for part of the episode—we spared a rider of his caliber from having to sit through Trevor’s initial lecture on immunology. We also hear from Joe Friel, author of The Cyclist’s Training Bible. In the most recent edition of his book, Joe makes the important distinction between recovery and adaptations.

Next, we talk with Brent Bookwalter of Mitchelton-Scott. In order to adapt, we have to first do damage. Brent talks with us about the important balance between damage and repair. Then we catch up with Boulder-based coach extraordinaire Colby Pearce. And finally, we talk with Paulo Saldanha, the owner of PowerWatts. Paulo talks about ways to find the right amount of damage, and why we should rethink taking antioxidants.

Let’s make you fast!

Primary Guest George Bennett: Pro cyclist with Jumbo-Visma
Secondary Guests Joe Friel: Legendary coach and book author Colby Pearce: Coach and bike fitter Brent Bookwalter: Pro cyclist with Mitchelton-Scott Paulo Saldanha: Owner of PowerWatts

Episode Transcript


Welcome to Fast Talk the Vela news podcast and everything you need to know to write a press.

Chris Case  00:09

Hello, and welcome to Fast Talk. I’m your host Chris case managing editor of velonews joined as always by a guy who plays immunologist in his spare time, Coach Trevor Connor. recovery, recovery, recovery. You’ve heard us talk about it before, you’ve heard a lot of our guests preach about its importance. We’ve emphasized again and again how one of the biggest mistakes athletes make is to not get enough recovery. Well, now we’re going to confuse you a bit. The ultimate goal of training is, of course to adapt, and there’s a critical distinction between adaptation and recovery are not the same thing. In fact, sometimes what helps one hurts the other. Recovery is about doing what you can so the legs are ready for your next workout. adaptation is about the body repairing the damage caused by training. If the training provides enough stress, it will repair the system to come back stronger. But what’s good for that repair process may have you feeling less than perfect on the bike the next day. Today, we’re going to dive into this important difference and focus on adaptations, what causes them and how to aid them. We’ll talk about first the difference between recovery and adaptation. Second, how the immune system is intimately involved in both and why we’ve come to the realization in recent years that reducing inflammation can be counterproductive. Next, we’ll talk about the three stages of repair. Remember that training does damage were weaker after hard rides, it’s during the repair process that we get stronger, and the immune system is the repairman here. Much like the local cable guy, the immune system is going to work at its own pace, regardless of what you do or say. Next, we discuss how there’s a delicate balance between damage and repair. And when you get out of balance by doing too much training, it starts a vicious cycle that prevents further adaptations and leads to burnout. We’ll talk with George Bennett who put it in a fantastic Tour de France performance helping you as GC leader Steven creswick. land on the podium. George discusses what he does to aid adaptations. Finally, we’ll finish with a conversation about the things that do help adaptations and the things that hurt them despite the fact that a lot of endurance athletes still do them. Our primary guest today is George Bennett, member of the Jambo visma World Tour team. George joins us for part of the episode we spare a rider of his caliber from having to sit through Trevor’s initial lecture on immunology. We hope that you will. It’s fascinating stuff. We also hear from Joe Friel, author of the cyclist training Bible. In the most recent edition of his book, Joe makes the important distinction between recovery and adaptation. Next, we talk with Brent bookwalter of mitchelton Scott. In order to adapt, we have to first do damage. Brent talks with us about the important balance between damage and repair. As an aside, don’t forget his charity ride the Buckwalter binge is coming up soon. Then we catch up with boulder based Coach extraordinare, one of our favorite guests, Coby Pierce. And finally we talk with Paolo Saldana, the owner of power watts power talks about ways to find the right amount of damage and why we should rethink taking antioxidants. One quick note, we recorded the part of the episode with George right after we had moved offices and we’re setting up our new studio. there were still some bugs in the system at the time. We apologize for any strange sounds you might hear. With that.




let’s make you fast.

Chris Case  03:46

This is a special episode brought to you by normatec. We thank them for bringing a normatec sponsored athlete of George’s caliber onto the show. Several years ago, Coach Connor did a deep dive into the research on both recovery and adaptations and how the immune system is involved. That research really changed his opinion. The conclusion he made was that we mostly should get out of the way of our bodies or find tools that aid the adaptation process. The thing that consistently showed benefits as we’ll explain in this episode is compression, which includes massage, foam rolling and pneumatic devices like normatec. It was because of that research that we reached out to Norma tech to be part of fast doc. There are many pneumatic compression devices. But normal Tech’s patented compression technology delivers the most advanced recovery for your body. You can process in stages working with the direction of your blood flow. We’ve seen pros like Tom Taylor Finney, Rowan Dennis using the Norma tech boots normatec recovery massage increases circulation rejuvenates muscles and reduces soreness so you can train harder and race faster.

Chris Case  05:00

Well, I know you’re looking forward to this one, Trevor, because we start off with an atomic nuclear nerd bomb.

Trevor Connor  05:11

We’ve actually had a couple episodes now where we’ve been like, this is the nerdiest bomb Trevor’s ever going to do and we just keep one up in ourselves.

Chris Case  05:18

You keep one up, think yourself.

Trevor Connor  05:21

We’re talking about immunology today. This is as nerdy in the physiology world as you can


get. And my job once again, to control you.

Trevor Connor  05:31

Yeah, I came in, I showed Chris all my notes. And then Chris is like, Yeah, no, I’m gonna stop.

Chris Case  05:38

And you gave me permission to do what?

Trevor Connor  05:41

To stop me


and tell you to do what?


Don’t be a dork. Was that your wording?


You said tell you to shut up if I needed you to if I needed to.

Trevor Connor  05:52

Yes. Okay. So Chris tells me to shut up. He is not being a jerk. This is he has a bowl permettere mission.

Chris Case  06:00

Yes. Can’t wait. So, Trevor, there’s this overarching theme to this episode. Let’s get right into it. The difference between recovery and adaptation?

Trevor Connor  06:14

Yeah, and I’m going to first full disclosure full credit. This was a conversation we have with Joe Friel. Joe Friel actually has this in the newest edition of the cyclist training Bible, and chapter about this whole chapter, it’s at the back. And we’ll, you know, we’re gonna put in an excerpt in the show where he talks about why it’s at the back, and the difference, but I definitely want to give him the credit that he really pointed out, there is a difference between these two, recovery and adaptation are not the same thing. Recovery is what you’re trying to do. If you just let’s say, you’re in a race, you had a really hard ride, and it’s a stage race, you got to be ready for the next day. Recovery focuses on getting you ready so that you can go hard again, the next day adaptation is about you’ve done a bunch of training. Now you want that to turn into improve strength. And I think we often see those two things as the same thing. But as we’re going to show in this episode, they’re not quite the same thing. And actually, what aids one might actually hurt the other,

Chris Case  07:19

right? It’s an interesting balance between the two of them, right? There’s not even a balance to just this fine line distinction that should be made between them and just start a button here. But recovery is not exclusive to the racing world. And adaptation is more exclusive to the training world, but not always.

Trevor Connor  07:40

Right. People will still say you go to a hard training ride and go, I need to recover. How do I get ready. Certainly, when you’re doing a hard training block, you want to be recovered to go hard the next day. a really interesting thing that’s still very new in the research, when you’re looking at this difference between recovery and adaptations, is read a couple studies that showed that recovery may be central, where adaptation is peripheral. So what I mean by that is when you’re talking about periphery, you’re talking about the muscles, the limbs, when you’re talking about Central, you’re talking about the nervous system. And there was some really interesting studies that showed that recovery, your ability to go, you know, add your maximal wattage, again, as soon as possible, actually didn’t correlate very well with what was going on at the muscle level. But it did correlate well with it EMG activity, and found that actually, when you really do some damage when you really hurt yourself, like you do a hard race. After that you essentially get this neurosis suppression. And that recovery correlated very well with the return of fully EMG activity. And for those who don’t know what EMG EMG is just like measuring the electrical activity. So focusing on the muscles when you say I need to recover and get in the ice bath are doing all these things at the muscle level to get you ready for the next day. What’s the size the same as that might not be fully looking at the right thing? Mm adaptation. You’ve done some muscle damage. Now those muscles need to be repaired that’s a little more peripheral. And again, that’s just an idea. That’s some pretty recent research. That’s certainly not conclusive. I certainly it’s not black and white. But it is another interesting distinction between adaptation and recovery. We really have to give credit to Joe Friel, for raising this question of adaptation versus recovery. That’s the theme of this entire podcast. But here’s five minutes ago, given a great summary.

Joe Friel  09:43

Late in the book I talked about, I actually kind of throw in a curveball there, based on what we just talked about. And that was discussion about recovery versus adaptation, in that they’re not the same thing. And that’s sometimes it’s better for an answer. To be very open ended about there about the recovery process which now being taken to mean to include a deputation. And sometimes plans don’t do that sometimes athletes don’t know how they’re going to feel when they get to a certain point in the season is they haven’t experienced what they’re planning to do. And when they get there, they discover the load is much greater than they thought it was going to be. Now, what do they do? Do they continue on to the press ahead with the same plan? Or do they make changes to it because of what they’re experiencing. And my point in this in that later chapter, where I talk about recovery adaptation, is that the most important things that that patient is not recovering the most important things that deputation that’s the reason why we train is to adapt, if you didn’t adapt what the hell would be the reason for going out there doing workouts, and to express to explain that, for example, the difference between a recovered adaptation, there’s lots of research showing that hot and cold alternating inversions or bas, speed up recovery, there’s not a single research study that shows it speeds up adaptations. So you may feel like you’re recovered, because you’ve done certain things you’ve used when you got a massage, or you’re doing all these things we all know about. But that doesn’t mean you’re adapted your body. We don’t know right now, we don’t know of any way to speed up the adaptive process. It’s a biological phenomenon, which, which is really beyond what we know about SPORT SCIENCE right now. But it’s at the heart of what we’re talking about here. And so the issue is that you’ve got to be able to differentiate these two terms, you’ve covered reputation, and not be focused just on recovery, but also realize you’ve got to give your body a chance to, to adapt. And so what does that mean? Well, that means, especially sleep, which is when hormones kick in, and the body actually goes through the process of becoming stronger, if you will. And so even though I’ve talked about having a plan, I’m now at toward the end of both talking about how you’ve got to be ready to deviate from that plan, because of the need to, to adapt, as opposed to simply recover. So I tried to do I tried to sneak that in toward the end, because I wanted to push the athlete reader to understand that all these other things are important, but this now because we’re the most important things you have to also give consideration to how are you adapting?

Trevor Connor  12:22

So I actually wrote an article a couple years ago on recovery modalities, I think it’s probably the most boring article I ever wrote. Because you look at the most recent research and really where they seem to be heading is the the things that make you feel better like ice baths and ibuprofen. And a lot of these things people use to recover, they blocked the inflammation, which is what causes pain, so you feel better, but we actually need that inflammation for the adaptation. So they show that you know, I’ve seen in these things can actually slow down the adaptation process, right. And basically, the the gist of my whole article was, get out of your body’s way, let it sit, let it do its thing.

Joe Friel  13:00

Yeah, you really can’t You can’t rush a deputation. It’s got to process it has to go through, we can screw it up or more easily than we can can we can rush it. So it’s a huge challenge right now. And it’s really on the on the cutting edge, I would say of sports sciences. Was the deputation all about? And, you know, how can we make sure we’re doing it correctly? That’s, that’s on the leading edge of where we are right now. And I by no means have the answer to that question. I’m just posing another issue for the athlete to consider that adaptation is every bit as important as recovery as In fact, much more so. And it’s the reason we do all this training. Your your point is well taken that ibuprofen and even even vitamins have been shown to, to screw up the adaptive process. And so we sometimes get in our own way by doing things like that, because we think it’s going to be good for us, it has just the opposite effect on us.

Chris Case  13:54

Is that is that why the fact that this is there’s a lot of unknowns here about adaptation is at an emerging component to training is that why it ended up so far back in the book, it sounds like you’re well aware of its importance to the overall process of training. But it sounds like you You know, you use the words nip snuck it in at the end it sounds that contradicts itself a little bit.

Joe Friel  14:19

Yes. As I snuck it in because I, I really can’t give answers. I can only ask questions when it comes to that that issue, and rather confused people during the process of how do you decide which presentation plan is best for you, which is when a chapter early in the book is all about and muddy the waters within that chapter. I decided to hold on to too late in the book where I could discuss it as a topic of its own within the context of the of the Table of Contents I created back in 1996. And so that’s how it got there. It would have been confusing I think to put it in right in with all the other stuff. But at some point the issue needed to be raised. Hmm.

Trevor Connor  15:04

Let’s get back to the show and talk about the repair process is so critical that patients,

Chris Case  15:09

okay, I think it’s, it’s probably helpful for you to explain this process, so that we have an understanding of the different components of the process, as well as how they work and how they can be hindered by certain things that people might do.

Trevor Connor  15:28

So we’ve talked about this a bunch of times on the show, and it’s really important to remember, throughout the rest of this conversation, that training does damage, when you go do some really hard intervals, you don’t come back from those intervals stronger, you actually come back from those intervals, weaker, if you there’s muscle tearing, there’s a lot of things that are going on that are actually damaging your body, your body then tries to repair that damage. And if you do sufficient damage, your body says, Okay, I don’t like this, I don’t like how much damage you’ve done. So not only am I going to repair that damage, I’m actually going to repair you stronger, and more durable. So the next time you put me through this, I can handle it. That’s basically what trading is all about. So we’re talking about adaptations getting stronger, we’re really talking about that repair process. So you’re gonna hear me use adaptations and repair pretty interchangeably. Now, another really neat concept here, I was my thesis advisor, Dr. Loren cordain. This is one of his favorite expressions. That I think really applies to this, as he says, nature never gives up a good idea. And one of the examples that he’s actually been looking into lately that I really love is melatonin. Melatonin was invented by the who say invented evolved. Yeah, you can’t say by first aerobic cells soon after the earth developed atmosphere to deal with all the damage from oxidative metabolism. So it was our first antioxidant. And that’s what it was designed for. But nature then said, Boy, this is really cool. I like this melatonin thing, we can use it for a lot of other things. So now it regulates sleep and has actually a lot of roles in our body. So nature is great when we evolve something, invent something, whatever you want to call it, and say, this is pretty cool. Let’s see how we can use this. our immune system is probably one of the most advanced systems in our body, it is highly energy demanding. So when you have something that that’s that important, a part of your body that requires that much energy, nature is going to say, well, let’s just use it for one thing. Mm hmm. They’re just gonna say, let’s figure out how many things we can use it


for. So maximize the return

Trevor Connor  17:53

maximize the return Exactly. So we always think of our immune system, you get sick, the immune system jumps in and takes care of things. Via system does a lot more than that. And one of the other things that does is repair. Mm hmm. So the immune system is actually responsible for making a stronger it is responsible for our adaptations, which to me is really, really cool. And that’s something that was for a long time misunderstood, because we knew that when you go out and do training, when you do a hard race, you get inflammation. And everybody went well. inflammation is what you get when you get sick. So that’s a bad thing. We don’t want inflammation. So a lot of the old research on recovery on training adaptations focused on the inflammation but focused on it as a bad thing. You want to reduce inflammation. So So take your your anti inflammatories, do icing anything you can to reduce that inflammation that has been flipped. And that’s what we’re going to get into because that inflammation is necessary the inflammation is is basically the immune system being activated. It’s obviously good to say this now. So Chris doesn’t tell me to shut up. But we’re talking about the immune system. Everything I’m talking about from this point forward is going to be a dramatic simplification, because you could take any little bit about the immune system and spend hours diving into how complex it is. So all this is simplification. So I’m going to start with my first big simplification. When you are talking about inflammation, you’re basically just talking about the activation of the immune system. So if the immune system is responsible for muscle repair, we need inflammation. You don’t want to stop it. And that’s really important when you’re thinking about recovery. That’s really important. Also, when you’re thinking about adaptations, and there have been studies where they took people took athletes had one had both groups do the same amount of training. One group took a an anti inflammatory afterwards, the other group didn’t and you were seen. I think in one study you saw 50% less gains in the group. Those taking the anti inflammatory. Wow. It’s pretty dramatic

Chris Case  20:03

that is very dramatic.

Trevor Connor  20:05

So this repair process. There are two key players in it two key immune cells, you have your macrophages, and you have your neutrophils. And if you remember your high school biology, those two cells are two of the key players in what’s called your innate immune system, the immune system that doesn’t adapt to particular viruses, it’s just the immune system. That’s your first responder. It comes in, think of it every time I learned about immunology, that we talked about it like an army in each of the different types of immune cells that was equivalent to a different type of soldier. And so your macrophages and neutrophils are kind of your your scouts. They’re the first ones there to check out what’s going on and they’re going to mount the initial defense while the real army gets ready and moves in which is your adaptive immune system when you’re dealing with a virus. That’s what’s happening. But when you’re talking about muscle repair, it’s really just that innate immune system that comes in and does the work there are three stages is repair process, and I’m just going to run through them really quickly. Please do. Yes. just told me to shut up. Yeah,

Chris Case  21:17

well, you’ve been you’ve been pretty succinct so far.

Trevor Connor  21:19

Thank you. I appreciate this. You should see the Delta This is giving

Chris Case  21:24

me I’m used to this so some people out there might be snoring at this point. We’ll see some feedback.

Trevor Connor  21:30

That’s my goal is to take all those things that you used to learn in high school go oh my god, that’s so boring. I’d be like wow, I never knew it could be interesting because that’s that’s that’s how I go to sleep at night.

Chris Case  21:43

Some people take melatonin supplements to go to sleep at night other people listen to Fast Talk to go to sleep better you go I just play

Trevor Connor  21:49

recordings of myself.

Joe Friel  21:53

Okay, just go away that cold

Trevor Connor  21:59

Ah, that’s actually not how I go to sleep. And actually go to sleep watching action movies. I went to sleep last night watching true was true. Lies True Lies. Deep down. I don’t know why that puts me to sleep. But yeah, action movies. I love them. That’s

Chris Case  22:15

an old one. How did you land upon that?

Joe Friel  22:18

I love that movie.

Chris Case  22:19

He loved that movie.

Trevor Connor  22:25

Okay, three stages of the repair process



Trevor Connor  22:32

Arnold Schwarzenegger wise and newish. I could do that accept because it’d be so fun to describe these three stages and an Arnold Swartz and Egger. As a combat dead kill everything,

Chris Case  22:42

maybe we should get him on the show. To do a, you know, like an episode on weightlifting, yeah, we

Trevor Connor  22:51

can talk about the whole data process. Yeah, you take steroids.



Joe Friel  22:57

Lots of

Chris Case  22:58

you just stick the needle in. Oh, I’ve

Trevor Connor  23:01

got to learn how to do accents. We get so much for fun. You can


do a Canadian accent pretty well. No, I can’t do that. Oh, that’s your Yeah, I suppose you’re right.

Trevor Connor  23:09

It’s actually made me sad. When I moved back to Toronto. Everybody was there was like, Oh, you’re from the States, right? Like, no, I’m Canadian. Can you hear it?


I can.


Yeah, nobody else does.

Chris Case  23:21

Ah, the three stages of the immune repair process.

Trevor Connor  23:26

The first stage is the pro inflammatory stage. And this happens pretty immediately. So you’ve just had a really hard training ride, you’ve done damage in your muscles. When you have damage, that means that you’re going to have some necrosis, you’re going to have some breakdown of tissues. So the immune system needs to come in and clear out that dead tissue. So the first cells that arrived are your macrophages that are really good at phagocytosis, which is like the look I just got from Chris said that, basically breaking down dead cells breaking down dead tissue. The other cells that come in are neutrophils, and they are cytotoxic. They release chemicals that help with the macrophages to break down that damaged tissue. So this causes inflammation. This causes soreness, this causes weakness, this causes all the things that you think of as I don’t want these, but it’s unnecessary. First, you have to get rid of all that dead damaged tissue. The second stage, which is somewhere around 3648 hours later, is you see the macrofossils basically switch phenotypes, they switch their role and they now actually start promoting an anti inflammatory environment. They said we Okay, we’ve cleared all that out that dead tissue. Now we need to start the repair process. So they switch over and they become anti inflammatory, they reduce the inflammation. Then the third stage is when you feel Finally, and this is about 48 hours later, is when you start seeing all the repair process, you see a rebuild an extracellular matrix, and all these things that hopefully, if you’ve done your training right are gonna be built back bigger, stronger and better than you were before.

Chris Case  25:18

It’s like a coastal town that gets hit by a hurricane. And then crews Come in, come in, clean up all the debris, sweep the get all the sand off the streets, all that junk out of the way, and then they rebuild the houses, but they put them up on stilts, or they make them stronger, or they put them back, quote better. So that’s

Trevor Connor  25:39

actually the very closest example I always use, I always use the example of the house. And what I tell people is, so this is a you need to do damage and then repair. So the analogy I always ask people, so if you’re talking about a house, you want to build a house better, bigger. What is training, people always go trainees, the repairman I go wrong. Training is a storm that comes in and damages the house. And then the repairman when you’re resting comes out and repairs the damage before the next storm, right. And so the expression I always tell my athletes is don’t rip roof panels off. This is why I’m against that kind of in between sort of hard training, that feels really good. Because Think of it like a repairman if a moderate storm comes in and just rips a few roof panels off. Repair man’s lazy, our immune system is lazy, it does want to have to do more than than it should. So it’s going to come out. And as he said, it’s going to first clear the debris. That’s the inflammatory stage, but it’s good to go. That storm just ripped off a few roof panels attack back on a few more roof panels, and we’re gonna have the exact same house we had before. So I always tell my athletes, if you want to get stronger, don’t rip roof panels off, rip the roof off. Because the repair bad’s gonna come out and go, that’s really bad. I don’t like my roof being ripped off. So I’m not going to build back the same roof we had before. I’m going to build a better roof.


Just don’t burn your house down.

Trevor Connor  27:08

That’s burnout.

Chris Case  27:11

There we go.

Trevor Connor  27:11

This is also why rest is very important. Because if you continue with the analogy, if all you are ever doing is storm after storm after storm and never give that sunshine for the repairman to come out and do repair, the house is just going to get beat up. And that repairman is going to do exactly what your body does, which is try during these storms or in between these storms to just keep the house from falling over right. And that’s burnout. The other really important thing to point out about these three stages is the timing is critical. And you can’t really influence the timing. And there are plenty of studies showing that if you delay those stages, make them take longer than they should or even actually try to speed them up. You get fibrosis and you get scarring.

Chris Case  28:00

can’t rush this thing,

Trevor Connor  28:01

right? It’s going to take the length of time it’s going to take so a lot of the research is now saying for adaptation, the best thing to do. And I think by now we’ve actually played that clip from Joe Friel. He even says this, best thing to do is

Chris Case  28:17

get out of the way. Mm hmm. Let your body do what it wants to do, you know time course that it wants to do it in.

Trevor Connor  28:23

Chris and I use this analogy of training being like a storm and resting being like a repair person who comes out and fixes the damage. The Art of training is figuring out how to do enough damage and balance it with the repair steps that we just described. I talked to a seasoned pro Brent bookwalter Mitchell and Scott who feels that balance is the true art of training. And one of the hardest balances defined. Have you ever found that when you’re training really hard, you notice any sort of immune response? Do you notice any sort of inflammation? Do you noticed any sort of symptoms of being sick when you know, you don’t have a virus or?


Yeah, yeah, I


think from my experience of applying heavy loads of training to the body, whether it be in training or in racing is that the immune system is deeply deeply rooted and in that process and that response? And you know, without a doubt, there’s this breakdown and vulnerability that I feel like does a cure occur with the immune system and, and often during those periods of heavy race or training load, it’s like we’re, I’m really riding that razor wire of being so close to being sick are falling apart, but also just about in really, really good condition really in top form. And I think the the signals and signs, you know can be confusing, I think if I just look at my one of the most recent races, I’ve done the spring and train ride radico that was the first that was without a doubt, you know, the biggest load that I’ve had in my body up to this point in the year. And by the end of the race it if I felt like I was almost getting sick. It was muscle soreness that was so much more intense, I was a little achy, my stomach was kind of acidic and heartburn II and not really working right, but didn’t really feel like I was sick. And then, you know, do the travel home getting the airport expose myself to who knows what viruses and bacteria on the way home. And then the next day, you know, full blown gastro bug puking and aching, just really a mess. So I think that’s a good example of it. And we see that see that time and time again. And it’s something that needs to be definitely respected in the process. And you know, another reason to have a coach and a pilot and someone that’s going to oversee your progression. So you can control the controllables as much as you can during those training phases.

Trevor Connor  30:44

So you’re saying often they go hand in hand where you’re coming into really good form, and you feel those symptoms of being sick? Do you find there’s a line? Do you know when to say okay, I’ve done enough? I don’t I shouldn’t do any more here? Yeah, it’s


a fine line. Like I said, it is there’s a line. But it’s, oh, it’s blurry. And it’s vague and gray and confusing. I think, you know, most of us as athletes, we’re, we’re committed and we’re focused, and we’re ambitious. And the last thing you want to do is void or stop that progression. It’s almost like an addiction you get, you get into a training cycle, and you’re just sort of, you know, manically just chewing through the training and look into the next day, look into the next day, look into the next day, the worst thing that I can fathom is stopping that progression or having a little hiccup or road bump. And, you know, if I usually if I get a little perspective, from someone outside the situation, they’ll be like, Well, of course, like, you know, take ran it back a day, let’s pull it in, take a day easy, what are you going to lose in a day? And, and logically and methodically, it makes a lot of sense. But the component of us of an athlete that that makes us get a lot of times is that same one that helps us or, you know, prohibits us from from letting go and detaching and sort of stopping that. So there’s a line and finding that is a bit of the art, I guess, of training in the art of staying health and, and finding that sort of, you know, magical peak condition that we’re always looking for.

Trevor Connor  32:13

But you’re saying there’s no magical formula for finding that balance. And it’s sometimes hard for athletes to recognize it because the nature of being a good athlete makes you want to push through it. Is that that accurate? Yeah, most


definitely. Yeah, there’s, there’s no, there’s no magic formula. And I don’t believe there’s any training graph number that can tell you that I think like I said that it really is. That is the that is sort of the art and the mastery of training and the pursuit of performance excellence. That’s, that’s something I’ve been doing this for a long time. Now. This is my 12th year racing as a professional, and I still don’t have this mastered. And this is something I’m doing full time every day. It’s it’s part of that pursuit. And that that, yeah, pursuit of mastery in the training in the preparation and execution of performance. That is just something that has to be continually worked on and honed in as best you can.

Trevor Connor  33:10

Let’s get back to the show and talk about when the repair process doesn’t function optimally.

Chris Case  33:15

So it comes back to that, that point we made right at the start, which is that it’s all about balance between recovery and repair, between adaptation and recovery, however you want to phrase it. And if you go too far in one direction, it can lead to burnout. But what about in the other direction? Is there anything you could do there?

Trevor Connor  33:36

Yeah, actually, so there is, oh, by the way, something that’s really interesting here that I forgot to mention, is that imbalance the other way, one of the things that gets out of balance, and I’m not gonna go too deep into this at all, but there is a balance between what are called th one and th two cells. And I think it was th one is responsible for dealing with allergies. So if you are doing too much training stress, if you are getting out of balance and you push the the imbalance towards th one. This is one of the reasons why a lot of cyclists are training really hard say developing allergy. Yeah, yeah. And they always wonder why and some of that’s an indicator that you’re a little out of balance. But, yes, there is one thing that you can do that, again, relates to getting a little bit out of balance. As I mentioned, those neutrophils come in in that first stage with the macrophages and their cytotoxic they release some chemicals that help to break down the dead tissue. That’s good in moderation. But if you are out of balance, if you’re doing too much damage, if you’re not getting enough recovery, you can have too much of elevation of those those neutrophils and then you start getting what’s called secondary damage. Or if you did a really really hard training ride or really, really hard race You get secondary damage. And right now what I’ve read in the research is they’re looking for is there a purpose that secondary damage? Generally conclusions are no, you’re just out of balance that secondary damage is bad. A lot of the way the secondary damage is produced is neutrophils release, reactive oxygen species. So we’ve all heard about oxidative damage is kind of a buzz term. Well, this is actually a place where it occurs, it releases to one is superoxide dismutase. And the other one is hydrogen peroxide, and they can both be very damaging. This you don’t want this can be beneficial to prevent. That said, and we’ll cover this later, don’t start taking antioxidants. Mm hmm. Part of the way of addressing this is training. That’s really fascinating studies where they take amateur cyclists compared to pro cyclists. And what you see with amateur cyclists is when they do really hard training, the the Ross gets way out of balance. With pros, you see their natural antioxidant defense systems really ramp up. And what’s absolutely amazing as a pro is like when you take a tour de france level pro oxidative damage actually goes down because even though they’re producing tons and tons of these oxidants, their natural antioxidant defense system ramps up even more, and you see a reduction. So this is why if you ever read a pros training plan and go, I want to try that, don’t Hmm. Because if you don’t have that defense, which takes years to develop, you’re just going to get a huge overdevelopment of Ross that your body can’t handle. And what happens when the Ross becomes excessive. So there’s oxidative damage becomes excessive, it actually shuts down your immune system, then you become immunocompromised and you can get sick, right? ever go right back to the beginning of what we were talking about. The immune system is responsible for adaptations. So if you shut your immune system by down by training too hard, then you’ve done a ton of damage. And you’re not actually going to get any stronger because you just shut down the system that’s supposed to do the adaptations, right.

Chris Case  37:13

And you just spiral downward, upward, vicious cycle.

Trevor Connor  37:17

And this is why people when they’re burnout, there’s have training really hard, but I don’t seem to be getting any stronger. And I just feel kind of flat and I’m getting sick all the time. This is what’s happening huge build up this Ross Hill huge build up the secondary damage, get immunocompromised, your body can’t repair and you’re just on a downward cycle.

Chris Case  37:36

Going back to the pros and their ability to to cope with this. Are you saying? Or is the research saying that the amount of training that they do and have done over over their careers and so many years, slowly builds up a better and better Yes, defense system. So remember, this

Trevor Connor  37:58

is what’s amazing about the adaptive processes in our bodies, we adapt to almost anything. And one of the things we adapt to is oxidative stress. So we produce oxidative stress or body’s ramp up our natural antioxidant system. This is why I was saying you don’t want to start taking antioxidants because if you take antioxidant body’s going to go well why would I ramp up and natural defenses you’re giving it to me exotic exotic?

Chris Case  38:21

exotic, Leslie.

Trevor Connor  38:22

Thank you.


Yeah, okay.

Trevor Connor  38:27

I can’t do a German accent or Austrian accent I also can’t talk in English. Yeah, moving on.

Chris Case  38:37

That’s like that’s true of a lot of things, though. You supplementation often leads to your body, saying, Man, well, if you’re going to just give it to me, then I’m not going to do it myself.

Trevor Connor  38:46

So that analogy we’re talking about remember the repair bands lazy. So apparently it goes well, if you’re going to give it to me, why would I bother

Chris Case  38:53

if you’re going to repair it yours? Yeah, yeah, exactly.

Trevor Connor  38:55

So we want a little oxidative damage. It gives a really bad name. But actually we want a little Ross is actually also a signaling molecule. And it’s important in that adaptive process to if we produce a little Ross, that actually promotes the immune system to repair. So again, if you take antioxidants that shuts down that communication signal, and you don’t get it, you don’t get adaptations. So be careful about taking lots and lots of antioxidants.

Chris Case  39:25

Sorry, I just think that this is so true of so many of these complex processes that are in the human body is that I don’t know if it’s media or popular. Just something out there some trend takes it in the wrong direction. And then it takes a really long time for people to relinquish that. Like lactic acid is a bad thing or oxidation is a bad thing. It’s it’s a it’s part of a process or it’s a byproduct or it’s something that’s naturally In your body, all of these things, and yeah, if it’s auto totally out of whack, then it becomes something to pay attention to because there can’t have negative repercussions. But a lot of times, it’s just like, no, that’s supposed to happen. That’s a process that’s taking place in your body. Don’t try to influence it because your body actually knows what it’s doing.

Trevor Connor  40:22

The more I’ve studied physiology, the more I’ve studied, particularly exercise physiology, the more I have learned that our bodies are so much more complex than any machine that we have ever designed. And so sophisticated, the best thing you can do is just let it do its thing is actually remarkably good at doing its thing when you try to get in the way. And there are a couple rare exceptions that are a little things that you can do to help we just talked about the secondary damage. There are things you can do to reduce that secondary damage, but for the most part, get out of the way, let the body do its thing. Mm hmm. And supplement industry hates to hear us say that because they want to say you take all this and you’re going to be stronger and better and everything else and I just rarely see that play out.

Chris Case  41:06

The best supplements are that are good food. Right? But we

Trevor Connor  41:10

that’s another episode that is a completely another episode. So we need inflammation and we need to do damage. But one avoid that vicious cycle. We talked about with Colby peers about how to know when you’re imbalanced and when you’re going down that bad path. zil? Explain. It’s not easy to quantify, but there are good science is doing some damage, and fatiguing yourself important to improve? Are you just pushing burnout?

Colby Pearce  41:37

Yeah, in order to improve, you have to do damage, I would I would say that said, it’s again, it’s always about context of the athlete. Because if you have that type a chronic over trainer who’s barely above water the whole time, and then you try to add load on top of that, then the result will be too much load. And they’ll get really they will get burned out or they get injured or they get sick or they’ll just the system will become unresponsive. And they’ll flatline I’ll get to that point where they have no legs. And they’re pounding themselves and nothing’s happening. You have to have the right relationship with the body and ask it to do things with the right load at the right time.

Trevor Connor  42:11

How do you with your athletes know when to say okay, you’ve done the right amount of damage. Now we need to recover?

Colby Pearce  42:17

Yeah, great question. That’s it’s so nuanced. Because of course, we have power files, we have timing zones, we have training, stress score, and we have heart rate. And we have all those responses that we see from training, we have the load, the power and the response and the heart rate. And then we have what’s really most important, in my opinion, is the athlete comments. So I really hear from athletes make comments. And I use training peaks as a platform. It’s it’s not perfect, but it’s great in a lot of ways. And one of the best ways is that we can go back and forth on a particular day in a training fine, I got asked a question and they get an email and then they get an email and respond, etc. And that dialogue back and forth is one of the most essential points because you have to have a pulse on what’s happening with the athletes. So it’s real simple. You just look at their comments in a binary format, you know, and a one is a positive and is zeros and negative and the negative can be external or internal. If the negatives internal zero, a negative external would be three flat tires got bitten by dogs, okay, well, then we know we need to send you to look after that dog bite to make sure you don’t have gangrene or whatever. But the negative internals are heavy legs, sluggish. felt tired. Couldn’t, you know power sucked felt like crap, right? You get a few days of those in a row two or three days in a row. It’s like, Okay, we got to look at this What’s going on? And then you start dissecting? So it’s even in the way they describe things. Yes. They just changed the wording a bit. Yep. That’s the most important part. Because in my view, looking at I never, I don’t say never I almost never make decisions based solely on numbers. Numbers support the conversation number support, the relationship and number support the relative perceived exertion of the athlete, what is power? What is heart rate, they’re their boys in an ocean. that help us tell us tell us where the athlete actually is what’s actually happening with the athlete. Those are just two data points that help us figure out to triangulate their position in the sea, the stormy sea of training in life, right? And, and that ocean has good days and bad days, calm days and stormy days. And so you have to use those numbers to help you figure it out. But the single most important metric you get from any athlete is always their perceived exertion in any given point in any given day. Like we’re floating, average day par, or where’s the tree stump you attached to my bike?

Trevor Connor  44:26

Right? So the athlete who doesn’t have a coach needs to be very aware of those sensations. Yes,

Colby Pearce  44:30

we all do. And that’s ultimately that’s what makes cycling I mean, if any listeners are out there, and they want to dig deeper on that and they have not read the rider, by Tim crabby, they’ll get some because that book dives exactly into the essence of how a cyclist thinks how they gauge their own effort. And it’s just good reading on top of that. Okay,

Trevor Connor  44:51

so On the flip side, your riders now done some good damage. They’re in that repair mode. How do you know a that they are going in the right direction and be how do you know when they are ready to get back to training?

Colby Pearce  45:05

So Well, again, that’s when I hammer them with an opportunity to maximize recovery modalities, right? If you’ve got that damage, you want a hormetic response to exercise load to a degree, but then there’s a point when you need when the body sort of has momentum, like a train, and it just sort of keeps going, right, you have to stop the train. So we do that with our various different recovery modalities. So I invite them to use those. And then one of the ways that I’ve been using is actually HRV, that’s a great recovery score is a perfect way to look into that it’s one of the few windows we have into how recovered the central nervous system is. And because that is influenced by the global stress level of the cyclist, and it’s a good insight into, it’s one of the ways one of the few ways we can quantify that. So I’m pretty happy about that technology. But for athletes who don’t have access to HRV, or aren’t using it, then you’re Reliant a little bit on their Subjective Sensations, you’re relying on their feelings of sluggishness versus not, and then you can see it in their numbers to, you know, if you’re looking closely at their profiles, you haven’t do a few test efforts, you can see when things get Sparky, and one of the clearest ways was, okay, so the cycling version of a keyboard tap test, you want to do a simple central nervous system test time how many times someone can push a single letter on a keyboard in one minute. And when they’re tired, they’ll get a given number. And when they’re awake, and their body is responsive, they can type many more letter ELLs, right? So what’s the cycling equivalent of that? It’s a five second sprint, just have somebody rip off a five second sprint as fast as they can have do two or three of them. Look at the peak power, it’s pretty simple. And you just tell him to go for it. And when they’re fatigue, their five second power will suck. And when they get fresher, it just goes up and up and up. So that’s one little trick we can use to help see how recovered someone is

Trevor Connor  46:46

I do something similar where when a athletes in a Recovery Week and they’re starting to come out of it, I’ll have them do a couple easy rides, but the first structure ride won’t be intervals. Do neuromuscular. Yeah. And sometimes they’ll say, Oh, I think I’m fine. I’m ready to go. That is a neuromuscular work. And it’s a suction. You know, you’re not recovered.

Colby Pearce  47:04

You need some more sleep. Yeah.

Trevor Connor  47:07

Let’s get back to the show and talk with our primary guests, George Bennett. So we’re going to talk a little bit about those few things that you can do. And a lot of those things you can’t do, but maybe this is a good time to bring in George.

Chris Case  47:20

Yeah. Yeah, we sat down with George Bennett. He had just come off the Tour de France had an exceptional ride there. At one point was sitting in fourth place overall, working for his teammate, Stevie creswick, who ended up third. George, you know, had a few incidents in the in the last week of the race had some crashes. I think he actually got a little bit sick. You might mention that in the interview. But yeah, we were talking to him as he’s coming off one grand tour and leading straight into the welter.

Trevor Connor  47:53

So he was going to a another stage race. Right, and then go into the vault. Yeah,

Chris Case  47:57

yeah. Just, uh, you know, something normal humans don’t want to do. This is for professionals only.


Yeah, that’s building a lot of Ross.

Chris Case  48:07

Yeah, exactly.



Chris Case  48:09

So it was a great in a sense, you know, it was a great time to talk about him, because he was really walking this tightrope coming off one grand tour, building for another, another one. How much does he need to recover? How much did he come out of that tour, adapting from the hit that he just took? How much did he need to do to prepare for the world? So it was a really interesting time in his in his season.

Trevor Connor  48:37

So you think you’d be ready? Ready to go for the?


I don’t know, it’s really hard to tell, you know, like, you could go either way. I mean, like, you’ve just done the hardest three week training you could do, you could be absolutely flying or your body’s just so punished that you could just create. So I think the next two weeks are pretty crucial. But I’m optimistic. I think I can I think I can be ready. Have you ever done this combination before? Yep. Yeah, I have. And I’ve done it twice, actually. And then the first time it worked really well for me. I was ended up tense in the welder first time was in the top 10 in the Grand Tour. I even had the tour the next weekend at a San Sebastian and the next weekend I did Olympics. I came home from Rio, the two training rides went to the welter, and then I was tense. And I was like, Wow, that was amazing. And then the next year

Chris Case  49:29

yeah, that is pretty nice.


Yeah. But then the next year I was like Rondo did a similar thing. Went to the tour, had a great tour, until about three days to go and I got super sick, didn’t finish. And then I was just so crook and tried to go to the welter went home after about four or five days. I just got a screenshot from my director when I got onto the bus that was just a screenshot of flights back to trona. So he was like right in time to get home so they sent me home because I was just creeping and then So that didn’t work out. Well, for me it also, so done it twice. And I’m hoping I can replicate the first time. Absolutely. Well, I’m

Trevor Connor  50:07

glad we have you on an episode where we’re gonna be talking about the importance of rest because you seem to do none of us.


Learning fast.

Chris Case  50:17

So fresh off of the tour and prepping for the Vuelta. The fun never ends for George Bennett. Welcome to the show, George. Thanks.


Thanks for having me. Yeah, exactly. straight back into it.

Chris Case  50:28

Yeah. And it’s, it’s great that we have you on the show to talk about rest and recovery and adaptation. Because as a pro, you’ve got to find ways to make this happen. There’s a lot of things that we want to talk about today where you can get off track and hurt yourself by doing the wrong thing. And in some of the stuff is seems counterintuitive. So broadly, what what are the things that you actually try to avoid in terms of getting the best out of the adaptation process?


Yeah, like he says, It’s wrist is one of the most essential things for us, and especially at a time, like now, you know, I’ve just done the tour. And I’ve got the welter coming up, and you’re sort of working, walking the tightrope between recovering from the tour, which doesn’t happen in a week, and, and then maintaining the fitness for the welter. And so there’s a lot of a lot of things that go into sort of balancing that. Yeah, touching on the the recovery, I guess that you, there’s a lot of things, you were doing a race that you wouldn’t do in training, because in a race your focuses the next day, you just want to be good The next day, and there’s no sort of, you don’t have an eye on a goal to sort of improve your performance by a certain time, you just want to suffer less than the next day and arrive a little bit fresher and a little bit better than everybody else. So you’re kind of trying to limit the damage. And, and by limiting the damage, I guess we’ll call it damage or or stimulus, you do limit the stimulus and you make less adaptions at a cellular level. And so I guess, in training, the whole idea of training is to get the maximum amount of adaptations out of your training. And so you won’t get home from training, for example, into an ice bath. Because which there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence. And there’s only anecdotal I guess, that that works. And in racing to make you feel better the next day, and same with taking things like antioxidants, which will lower the stress that will also inhibit, you know, mitochondrial adaptations, which kind of just takes away the point of training, the main focus for me is to get home and nutrition is the biggest thing I think you can do for recovery. And then when you get into races, you know, you bring in a lot of other little things.

Trevor Connor  52:48

So you’re really talking here about the fact and we addressed this before we brought you on that there’s a difference between recovery or focusing on recovery and focusing on adaptations. So from that practical standpoint, you’ve already talked about in a race, you might take some antioxidants, you might take a nice bath, that’s not the sort of things you would do to maximize adaptations. What are some of the what is some of the things that you do to aid the adaptations that just get out of the way and don’t take anything? Or you mentioned nutrition? What do you do in your nutrition?


I mean, there’s a number of things. I mean, one of the main things I mean away from nutrition, as you’re looking at it, for example, hate in a race and a hot race weekend. And we have you know, ice gels straightaway internal cooling with an ice vest on for on the rollers, we get in the bus have a cold shower, it’s all about getting the core temperature down. Whereas in training, you know, you want that he that he adaptation, I mean, there’s a lot of evidence to say that he did a patient is more effective than altitude training. There’s even I mean, I don’t personally do this, but there’s this I know guys that will get in from training and even have a hot bath or sauna or something, which you know, can make you feel rubbish the next day. But it does give you a massive, it’s a massive stimulus for your body to to make those changes and terms of nutrition. I guess I approach pretty pretty, you know, from race from race day in from training, and I approach them pretty simple, pretty much the same. I mean, the first thing you do is I get in the door and I use a as an excuse to dispatch a block of chocolate in a bag of Haribo. So just quick sugars and I think that’s a lot of guys do that. And I guess it comes in different forms and in a race, you know, there’s a recovery shake this sort of customized with the right ratios and the right amounts per rider per weight. Whereas at home, I’m a little bit more relaxed about things and I just smash what I like. And then obviously you know, protein is pretty key and then a big carb meal. But you know, again, it is slightly different I mean in a race you might do low salt for example. If you if it’s not super hot, because there’s some people find this well up but they have a lot of Salt, eating gels and bars all day, and drink much, which does have a lot of salt in it. Whereas in training you’re eating banana cake can and Baka Diaz in Spain.

Trevor Connor  55:10

So what else do you do to promote adaptation? And let’s actually kind of, there’s two sides adaptations, obviously, First, you need a stimulus from which to adapt, you’re not going to adapt if you’re just sitting there on the couch. So when you’re going out and doing your training, how do you know when I’ve done enough damage that I’m going to get an adaptation out of this? What are the things that you look for and what are also the clues that boy, I’ve done too much. Now,


it is, notice there’s not assign I have where I can now, you just look at the workload that you’re doing, you say this is this is, you know, if I’m doing a 30 hour week, and pushing hard up hills, I mean, it’s a lot easier to know, when you’ve gone the other way, when you’ve done too much. And you just get the sale feeling in your legs and your electric every time you stand up, and you just struggling to get out of bed in the morning. I mean, that’s when you know, you’ve done too much. I mean, there’s, there’s sort of some vital signs. Also, you can look at your heart rate, if it’s elevated in the morning and not going up on the bike. And they’re all your key signs. But it’s not I guess, training, I trained quite differently, I guess to a lot of guys, that I look for the stimulus being a massive insurance stimulus, I don’t long hours and then try and do as much altitude as possible and doing nonsterile intervals. But But riding hard up high, because you know, that gives a massive stimulus for your body to, you know, thinks what the hell’s this, there’s not enough oxygen going on it forces it forces them adaption. And same with the heat, you know, if you can write in the heat, it doesn’t feel great, but it does force your body to make those changes. And then you also have to allow your body to facilitate the changes by phasing it enough and living recover enough because there’s no good having the stimulus, you can prove the stimulus you like, but if you don’t allow your body the resources or the time to, to make those adaptions, then, you know, you’ve just suffered for nothing.

Chris Case  56:59

How much does mood play a part in where you are on that balance between overreaching and fully overtraining? Yeah,


I mean, I guess I’m pretty fortunate in the fact that I, I love riding my bike, you know, I genuinely enjoy going out for a ride, especially long rides, and I’m fortunate enough to live either, you know, an endora, where it’s just beautiful training. Same with Drona, and Simon, New Zealand. So I think if I was in Belgium, or you know, I would somewhere you know, where it’s hard to get out, I think, yeah, I would, I think it would be a huge factor where, how you are day to day, but you know, I just had a week off after the tour. And I was really sick and everything like that, but also looking forward to going out for a long road.

Trevor Connor  57:46

When you are training or when you’re in training mode, and you’re really trying to build is there? Is it just I’m training hard all the time? Or are you trying to do a certain amount of work and then say, Okay, now it’s time to take a couple days rest? Let all that adaptation happen? And then I’m going to hit again, or is it just constant constant training?


No, no, I definitely, I make myself to do really big works, you know, I might be a block of sort of two, three, like, I mean, I’m a guy that doesn’t race so much, I can train myself really, really well in the form, like I didn’t race between California and the tour. So you know, after Kelly, I really had some time off. And then I got stuck into some work, some insurance stuff, and came to endora, and did a really big shift, it pulled some couple of really big weeks. And then, but I wasn’t doing intervals, I was just writing. And then, you know, sort of got closer to the tour. And I did need to do specific stuff, not high intensity, but just, you know, maybe some strength work and things like that. And before I did that, I needed to feel good. So I took two, three days, really easy. Let the insurance kinda soakin. And the inside of the next block where I did sort of specific stuff, where I was willing to bet for sure. And then again, after that, I only did one intensity session before the tour. But before that intensity session, I had three days really easy. So I almost tapered for the intensity session, so I could get the most out of that one session.

Trevor Connor  59:08

So on those couple days, when you’re you’re resting, what are you focusing on? What are you doing during those couple days?


To be honest, I’m looking after a bit of mental health. I’m not really worrying too much about riding my bike. I mean, I do I do make a conscious effort. Like before the tour, there’s a really important race to stay off my feet because that does seem to give me this really bad heavy sensation in my legs. If I’ve been standing up and running around. Monday, I had a nice race day and Endor and risk day for me was was down at the mountain bike park, doing shuttle runs on a mountain bike and you know we’re in for lunch and just just try and break up the monotony of monotony. Not that it is, you know, sort of monotonous, monotonous, but it does. It does have a long term effect where if you live like a monk, a monk for months on end, it can catch up with you. So you do try and Don’t just want to be in the middle day, sort of in a dark room and watching bike racing or anything like that, because by the end of the day, you start feeling a bit shady.

Trevor Connor  1:00:08

So it sounds like during those couple days, when you’re just letting it settle in, when you’re letting it adapt, it’s mostly just get out of the way, let your let your body do its thing. It doesn’t, you haven’t really brought up any big techniques to


recover. In terms of things, I focus on this, there’s nothing I mean, I do make sure you’re doing to look at nutrition on those days. And obviously, there are great days to do to do the, you know, I still go through a routine in terms of a bit of stretching, I always check the normal tech boots on actually. But I do that after every every state every training day as well. Like today, I just went out in the TT bike, come home, had lunch, put the boots on, watch the racing and or whatever’s on the last for the tour, it was the Cricket World Cup that was every day. But you know, and risk days, I think you need to make sure you eat enough. Because there’s a tendency for cyclins to think I’m not training today, and they need to sell it for lunch and sell for dinner. And they don’t really recover. So I think that that’s a key factor. And I like riding my bike on the day off. Because as much as is. There’s this active recovery. And there’s pros and cons of that. But I think more than anything, it’s about getting out and enjoying a nice day and an easy ride with friends, stop for coffee, and just enjoy the fact that someone’s paying you to ride your bike on a rest day the same as they did the day before when you suffered for six hours doing intervals. So I gotta ask, did you just say cricket? cricket? Yeah, yeah, that’ll help anybody. Remember by putting them to sleep? It’s the civilized form of baseball, the skill form of baseball.

Trevor Connor  1:01:47

This is how Canadian Am I am I was on my high school cricket team. Really? Yes, we actually play it in Canada, you better or Ebola. I was a batter, I had this big, heavy fat that I actually before I got into cycling, I was much heavier. And so I had this big, heavy bat that nobody else in my team could really use. And I could just wail the sixes. And now that was all I was good for.


What was I bowling at? Yeah, in Canada, medium me ice,

Trevor Connor  1:02:15

we all suck. So basically, the reason I get six is just because it was brute force. None of us had any skill whatsoever. So it was fun. And basically everybody listening to this podcast is just like, What the hell are you talking about? This is true. Even though guy sitting in the same room with you, Trevor, you kind of have a sport where they have a position that’s actually called silly. Yeah, some sums it up throwing it off, you brought up normatec. And so you know, we have said from the outset, they are sponsoring this episode, but we brought them on because as we’re showing with the science, the one thing that really has been proven time and time again to help with with recovery is compression. You know, that’s one of the big things, but right now we’re talking about adaptation. That was the question we’re going to ask you are the normatec something that you’ve just used in a race to help you recover day to day? Or do you find there, there’s an adaptive No,


I put something like normal tick. in the same category as massage, it’s not an inhibitor of a stimulus, it just allows you to go good the next day. It’s not that you listen training a fix by by using it, but like, like, I often have a lot of trouble with, like swelling up my legs, if when I’m damaged, they really float with water and things like that. And you know, that is one one effect but but you know, it’s the same with with massage, I mean, I get a massage daily and training, training camps, we always have a massage. And that’s, that’s largely to, to help with injury prevention is one thing but also just, you know, getting getting your muscles flushing your legs out. Because you do build up a lot of is the evidence is shaky in terms of it’s very hard to conduct an experiment where you can say look, you have less sort of toxins or whatever in your, in your legs after using the normatec or having a massage or something. But you I have to go with anecdotal evidence and I always feel a lot better after being on a boat or having a massage or, you know, just a good flush out. But like I say it’s not it’s not an inhibitor of a stimulus, like say, taking a few thousand milligrams of vitamin C might be. So actually, it’s great that you brought that up. We were actually talking about this before we brought you on the show when you when you’re looking at that adaptive process.

Trevor Connor  1:04:40

The first stage is where you actually have an inflammatory response and the immune system comes in and clears out all the dead tissue. There’s a particular type of immune cell that gets involved called neutrophils, that right now even the research is questionable that that how important a role the neutrophils play, and when you have too many of them Then you get an over inflammatory response. And the neutrophils actually cause damage that’s unnecessary. And there have been some very recent studies with massage and compression, showing that they change that inflammatory profile, and they might actually reduce that unnecessary secondary damage and that reduce the neutrophils, so there actually is not. Okay. Some true evidence for what you’re saying. Like just the


raw. Okay, yeah. Okay. So it’s, I guess I’m not keeping fully up to speed with the latest, you know, I sort of go on a policy of what works for me what feels good and things like that. But I do have a lot of trouble, especially in Grand tours where I just gain huge amounts of weight. And it’s, it’s impossible for it to be fat because it doesn’t add up, you know, you’re not eating 7000 calories extra a week, then you’re then you’re putting out to gain three kilos. So yeah, it’s it is a tool I use a lot that that does go a long way to helping me and I wonder if it is like you say that it could be sort of stopping this overload of caused by these rogue neutrophils?

Trevor Connor  1:06:13

Well, so if you have a huge inflammatory response, often you you can have a fluid buildup. So that’s fascinating. When you say you’re doing the tour, you’re putting on weight. And as you said, it’s obviously probably all or mostly water. How much weight do you put on over the course? Well,


I’m in my first year. Oh, and in the welter last year, actually, like there might have been my record. I started I think I was about four kilos heavier at the end of the world. So that’s, you know, that’s crazy. I mean, my numbers, I was creeping by the last week I started off great. But I had a really bad last sort of eight days. And I think a lot of that was from weight gain. Because you know, you do the math, if you’re doing six watts per kilo, you then have to check out another 24 watts. If you four kilos heavy. I mean, 24 watts is massive train a lifetime to get 24 watts, on your on your threshold or in. So yeah, it’s it’s big. But actually in the tour this year, we It was a lot more manageable. I almost didn’t gain weight at all. Well, I mean, there was days I was up and down. But overall, you know, we were using the boots and things like that. And then on the you know, we would on transfers, we would use the boots. And every night, I would use the post before bid. And I think that helped a lot. How much


time? On average? Are you using the boots at a race like the tour and then in training?


Because I always have a message I’m doing about 30 minutes a day. And training I can go up to an hour depending on fall asleep.


Yeah, sounds about right.

Trevor Connor  1:07:48

I’ve actually staying at Chris’s place. I’ve seen Chris basically do boots on turns on the TV and just falls asleep. Yeah, see, I put the boots on and then I sit there and read about neutrophils and th 17. And nobody else in the world was


right? Yeah, no, we I don’t delve into the holes at th 11

Trevor Connor  1:08:09

th 17 which actually isn’t related to this, I just, I always bring that one up because that was the focus of my, my thesis. So it’s just always at the back of my head. In this case, we’re talking about neutrophils talking about macrophages. We’re talking about aisle six and please tell me to shut up right? But no, I have seen what you’re talking about, which is when I do a big training block. I will notice by the end of that blog I actually really struggled to get my shoes on I get so much swelling and the same thing I put on the weight and I have noticed during those big training blocks if I’m pretty religious and use the boots every day I get less of that a demon my feet and that’s sounds like that’s what you’re experiencing at a much higher love.


Yeah, I mean, there’s there’s a number of obvious causes for I mean, it can even be like if I do a low carb training and and push it a bit hard and hunger bonk, the next day, I can often be heavier, I guess it’s some kind of massive stress response from your body where it’s sort of survival going hard on this on that food or there’s not enough water going around. And when you do get it sort of, I guess the water or at least or could be you know, obviously inflammation because you’ve just damaged the cells and haven’t given yourself the the necessary nutrition to repair them and it’s just But yeah, I do notice when I when I’ve pushed it a bit far on low carb or something like that I do get a response that is a bit heavier. Whereas when I take a few days easy I often return to normal weight. If you know that this is what I was sort of experiencing last year, but like you say with the boots, I guess it just it helps flush all that all that stuff out and it’s been fabulous this year.

Chris Case  1:09:58

So we just heard from George about how For him, the Norma Tech’s are helping him, flush out his legs, get that stuff, all that waste material out of his legs. Are there other things that you can do to aid in this, this process? And yeah, tell us, Trevor, what about normal Tech’s? Are they doing what they’re supposed to be doing?

Trevor Connor  1:10:23

So maybe before we go to what works? quickly touch on what doesn’t work. Okay. Yeah. So we were talking about the, the the three steps and how you don’t you know, that is inflammatory, that inflammation is necessary for adaptations and muscle repair. And you mostly want to get out of the way of that process. You don’t want to do anything that reduces inflammation. Mm hmm. And again, this is where recovery and adaptation can be a little bit different. Because if you’re trying to recover for the next day, you don’t want to be sore, you don’t want to have five extra pounds of water in your legs, or whatever it is, your feet unable to fit in your shoes. So that’s where you say, I’m going to reduce the inflammation. I don’t care that my adaptations aren’t going to be as good.

Chris Case  1:11:06

I care about the results tomorrow, right? You sacrifice a bit on the adaptation side to improve performance because of recovery run between stages or, or what may what, whatever the case may be,

Trevor Connor  1:11:18

right? So that’s recovery, and recovery. Yes, sometimes reduce inflammation is good. But when we’re talking about adaptations, you don’t want anything that reduces inflammation. So I see taking anti inflammatory medication, these are the things you want to avoid. Yes, they might make you feel a little bit better, but you’re going to be weaker for it. And there is evidence there is research to show that. So the question is what we’re saying, mostly just get out of the way to let your body do its thing, is there anything that’s beneficial. And where we can jump back to is we’re talking about that secondary damage. The one thing that seems to have no benefit is when neutrophils go overboard, you get a lot of secondary damage, and then your body also has to repair that and that’s not adaptive damage. Mm hmm. There are things that can help that. The other thing is making sure you have the right inflammatory profile, there’s a lot of what are called cytokines that are involved in the whole inflammation, inflammatory process, some are more damaging and inflammatory than others actually promote repair and and reduce ultimately, inflammation in a good way. They spent years studying massage, Mm hmm. I kept saying it doesn’t benefit. But what they were doing with massage was trying to see if we give you a massage, and then you do a time trial the next day if you’re strong if you’re faster.

Chris Case  1:12:45

Yeah, it was it was they were looking at performance and not adaptation or not recovery. And then

Trevor Connor  1:12:49

they started looking at does massage help with Dom’s? Mm hmm. But going back to some of that research I talked about at the beginning of this episode that some of this recovery process might be central, then really massage isn’t going to help you very much Sure. There’s been some really cool studies recently, where they looked at massage and inflammation, the inflammatory effects on the inflammatory profile, they looked at massage and its effect on this whole repair process. And that’s been expanded to so massage is part of a series of tools called compression. So massage is part of that sort of the normal text, anything that basically puts literally what it says it compresses the muscles foam rolling foam rolling out as well. And what they are finding more and more is both in aiding with recovery. There’s several, there’s a lot of things that can help you get ready for the next day. mm compression is one of them. But there’s other things like we said that can help with recovery. But when you’re talking about adaptation, the only thing that they’ve really seen that helps is compression. Mm hm. Again, without diving into the different types of cytokines, they found it alters the cytokine profile. And that seems to be a a the stages be reduced a lot of that secondary damage that we were talking about. It also seems to help reduce the secondary damage by so I’m looking right at this one study that says benefits of compression include decreasing the potential space available for swelling by creating an external pressure gradient and thus reducing secondary inflammation. So you need that space to cause all that inflammation and cause that damage. So if you reduce that space, then you’re you’re still going to see a lot of that repair process a lot of the information that’s needed to go through these three stages, but there says passively isn’t the room to do a lot of extra secondary damage. also aid in blood flow. Low, which you see what compression because after you do a really hard training writer, you do a race, you can get blood pooling and your legs, right, you need both the blood to be flowing both to get all that damaged tissue material out, to clear it out. Also to help the flow, the help immune cells get to write a damage. And that, again, is something that compression really helps with

Chris Case  1:15:26

helps move the conveyor belt in both directions get stuff out, that’s not wanted and get stuff in that is wanted, right?

Trevor Connor  1:15:33

So this is a case where you’re not hindering the inflammation. You’re not hindering the process compression seems to actually aid. Yeah, a this these stages. So we said get out of the way of your body. But if there is a way to help the body do what it’s going to do, then that’s a good thing. And that’s what compression does. And this is I think I’ve said this in a previous episode, I had to eat a lot of crow on this because

Chris Case  1:16:03

what does that mean, eating crow? I mean, I know what it means. But where did that phrase come from? I

Trevor Connor  1:16:08

have no idea.

Chris Case  1:16:10

We’ll Google that after the show.

Trevor Connor  1:16:13

That’s really cool. That’s a good question. So I eat a lot of crow because I 10 years ago, I had read a lot of the previous research on on recovery. And my opinion at the time was compression, it’s kind of useless. And I will tell you most of the compression socks a cost 30 bucks are kind of useless, right? They just are not tight enough. If you’re going to use compression socks, they need to a hurt like hell be you need to they need to be so tight that it takes a couple of you to put them on. Yeah, yeah. So if you want to avoid that again, that’s why we’ve kind of gravitated towards companies like Norma tech, because they’re creating something that is, even though I used to say compression is bad for you. It’s completely I’ve completely flipped my opinion. That’s really the one thing that can help you massage is great. But we can all afford massage and get a massage every day. Mm hmm. So this is kind of the next best thing you can carry with you and get every day. Right. So we’ve talked a lot about things you can do to hurt or to help adaptations. However, we still need to address the question of how do you know you’ve done enough damage? So you’re not just ripping off roof panels? To answer that question, we caught up with palo Saldana, a top Canadian coach and physiologist at McGill University. He had a lot of great advice. But we do have to give one big warning. Michael refers to us as athlete Michael woods, who is a podium finisher at Worlds in a grand tour rider. He describes Michael’s routine, which is fine for someone who does three weeks stage races, but most of us in the burnout box. How do you know when you’ve a done enough damage and be done the right type of damage to say, Now if I rest, I’m going to get that adaptation? I’m going to get that bump?


That’s a really good question. And it’s one that I don’t think anybody has a complete answer for. And there’s a lot of markers that one can look at, to look at muscle damage. But, you know, it’s not always a practical thing to do on a regular basis. So what what I think is important for coaches to understand is that there’s a lot of trial and error that goes on with stimulating yourself as stimulating athletes, and even yourself as an athlete to see what causes the greatest amount of stimulus with the most appropriate amount of recovery with the greatest amount of rebound. You know, and and I’ll give you an example. When I was first working with Mike, I took a more conservative approach. In the very beginning, even though we were very quality based, I said, Okay, what we’re going to do, because we want to try and have your peripheral system adapt to the cycling movement, the muscular system needs to become you know, used to it, we’re going to play with a rotating process of stimulation. So what we’re going to do is we’re going to do an intensity based session that’s very high in intensity, very high. And then we’re going to see, based on your perception, based on your ability to ride again and do a little bit of effort, the next day or two, when you feel recovered. And it’s all about those subjective measures, because there are many different markers in physiology that you can look at, but subjectively, to me, that’s what really counts, you know. So with a guy like Mike, what we would do is we would we would do an intensity day and then an easy day and then an aerobic day, and then another intensity day, and we went through that pattern. But what I realized was that it’s not enough stimulus after a few weeks of that it’s not enough stimulus. So then we said, okay, now we’re going to give you one less day in between, and we tried that pattern a little bit and that ended up being a little bit harder. Then we said, okay, now I’m going to glue back to back intensity days together. And I got to the point where I was actually able to glue, a triple intensity day pattern with Mike. So I would do one day intensity one day recovery, two days intensity, one day recovery, three days intensity, three days recovery. So that process is what I call hyper stimulation. We know that we’re that we’re impacting all these changes, and we’re causing muscles to break down, we’re stressing the system significantly. And the only question was, how do we know how much to give. And the only way I found that out is trial and error is through the progressive introduction of these, these training sessions that really led me to understand that this athlete can handle this. And I know that he’s recovering, because he’s more than able to perform on a fairly regular basis in training, and it’s shown up in his racing. Now, when he goes to a race, there’s many races that he’s told me, Paolo, he said, That was nothing that was way easier than those two sessions we did the other day, that race. So, and the other pieces, I mean, I’m not going too much into the detail of the problem with with introducing muscle damage. But I will say that, I think athletes should be careful. A lot of them. You know, there’s some interesting ideas out there. But I think a lot of athletes do take a sort of antioxidants, you know, and, you know, there’s a lot of oxidative damage that goes on in the system, when you actually stimulate it to that level. And my question to you guys, is, why is that bad? In fact, genetics dictates that we adapt to damage, we adapt to damage by making ourselves better, whether it’s layering more fibers, whether it’s, you know, increasing the neurotransmitters, for a particular type of fiber, that’s, that’s more power based or oxygen, more glyco politically based, rather than more oxidatively based. So there’s a lot of different things that that we stimulate when we’re over stimulating a muscle. And when athletes take antioxidants. My question is, Are you are you are you mitigating to a degree, some of the stimulus that you’re trying to get? Are you buffering your body’s capacity to make itself better by doing that,

Trevor Connor  1:22:26

but part of the adaptation is our bodies build their own antioxidants actually just read a fascinating study where they looked at oxidative stress in elite cyclists versus recreational and show that in the elite cyclists, when they were training hard, the net balance between oxidative stress and natural antioxidants improved when they trained hard, it didn’t get worse.


Yeah, which is, you know, things like superoxide dismutase, I, you know, that they’re highly damaging in there. And so for sure, that’s one of the one of the reasons I mentioned, you know, do you want athletes taking antioxidants, if what you’re trying to do is induce cellular changes that are a response to the damage you’ve created? You know, and if your body’s natural capacity is to do that, by itself, are you are you hurting it? By trying to add elements? to combat that, that damage, you understand what I’m saying? I

Trevor Connor  1:23:19

agree with you completely, your body is not going to produce adaptations, and its own antioxidant defense system, if you’re providing it with exogenous sources.


Exactly. It’s, it’s like the old days when they used to do, I guess, testosterone 25 years ago, when it was a big drug and professional cycling, you basically drain your body’s ability to produce your own when you take exogenous sources, it’s the same thing with other stuff. So you know, the whole package is so important when it comes to exercise immunity. And, and and, you know, I work with Nigel from from the ef drapac. Team on Mike a lot. And he comes up with some great strategies. And he also is a really important piece of the nutritional element of how Mike did worlds this last year and will continue to be so in the future.

Trevor Connor  1:24:07

Let’s get back to my favorite part. The one minutes.


All right, Trevor, you know what time it is.


One minutes time for your one minutes and I’m going to let you go first. You realize we forgot to ask George to admit it for this episode. Well,

Chris Case  1:24:21

I know that’s because you’re now you’re going to go first and you’re going to go third. And when you go third, you’re going to do it with a New Zealand accent. In the body of 110 pound Grand Tour writer.

Trevor Connor  1:24:35

Did you just hear my Australian New Zealand accent sounds like

Chris Case  1:24:39

it’s not Australian, and it’s not British? Yeah, you’re gonna do,

Trevor Connor  1:24:43

I’m gonna give it to you in Canadian English and then you can.

Chris Case  1:24:47

Alright, well, we’ll put the filter we’ll put the filter. in post. Okay, on on the voice comes out. All right. 60 seconds. Ready, Set.

Trevor Connor  1:24:58

Go. So my 62nd is inflammation, the right type of inflammation is good. That is a reversal of the way we used to think. And it’s a really important way to think about things. So you don’t want to keep doing these things after your training rides that reduce inflammation, because you’re just hurting your adaptive process. For the most part, as we talked about, our bodies are amazing at this whole process. So get out of the way, there’s a couple things we talked about compression that can aid it, but you want to aid the body and what it’s doing, you don’t want to fight the body what it’s doing. The last point that I’m going to make with all this is there is a balance here. And if you get out of balance in that damage side, without enough time for the repair process, you get in this vicious cycle where you start causing lots of secondary damage, you start over producing Ross, Ross and shuts down your immune system, your immune system is what handles the repair process. So now you can’t repair that damage. And you’re just doing more damage more Ross and you burnout. So training, as we’ve always been talking about is about finding that balance between stress and recovery. That’s how you adapt. Chris?

Chris Case  1:26:16

Well, I would reiterate something I said in the episode, I think it’s important enough to state a couple times. And that is your body does things for a reason. And it knows what it’s doing so to speak. So I think that before you start popping pills or doing interesting things, to try to aid this and aid that after the after a long training ride or after a race, you should take a step back and say, Well, my body really does know how to take care of itself if I get out of the way. So maybe I shouldn’t be doing that. Maybe I should instead be letting it. run its course. And with the information in this episode, of course, you know what processes taking place and you know now, what you shouldn’t do, what few things you can do to supplement what your body’s already naturally doing. And I think you’ll be better off for having done it that way. And if you just start throwing everything at it that you know some brand out there tells you you should be doing

Trevor Connor  1:27:28

like it. So now Georgia’s George.

Chris Case  1:27:31

All right, Go ahead, George.

Trevor Connor  1:27:33

I gotta try. So I’m certain George’s one minute here is on July 12, when he was setting forth of the Tour de France. Mm hmm. Chris and I went in time trial to climb called Superman here in Boulder, which is a category to climb. And we both beat George and he has so I’m certain George’s one minute is the strongest he is boy he wishes he was like us.

Chris Case  1:27:59

Oh, yeah.

Trevor Connor  1:28:00

Right. And we’re gonna ignore facts. He’s he had his heart rate if he Yes, he averaged a 138 heart rate up that climb. But we know for certain his max heart rate is 140


Uh huh.

Trevor Connor  1:28:10

Uh huh. Wasn’t that he was going easy.

Chris Case  1:28:13


Trevor Connor  1:28:14

What do you think was that? Would that be his one minute? Uh,


yeah, probably. I think you’re right. You

Trevor Connor  1:28:18

want to add to that?


something useful?

Chris Case  1:28:22

I think that George would say, huh, would George say two grand tours in a year is really hard to do.

Trevor Connor  1:28:31

Especially what the stagers are doing,

Chris Case  1:28:32

especially with racing in between, but it can be done if I don’t know why. You get lucky. No, if you take a look. In the episode, he’s done it multiple times. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. This is all garbage. I think he wouldn’t say any of this. We should cut all of this out

Trevor Connor  1:28:55

Well, I think what he would say to this is that balance that we were talking about gets really tricky. Yeah. And even at a good guy at his level. As he said, sometimes it works and he gets 10th of the volta other times he doesn’t even finish. Yeah, it’s a fine

Chris Case  1:29:09


Trevor Connor  1:29:10

That’s how easy it is to get out of that balance. And once you get in that vicious cycle, you’re done. Mm hmm.

Chris Case  1:29:18

Yeah. That was another episode of Fast Talk. As always, we love your feedback. Email us at Fast Talk Advil Subscribe to Fast Talk on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, SoundCloud and Google Play. Be sure to leave us a rating and a comment. Become a fan of fast dock on slash velonews. And on slash velonews. Fast dock is a joint production between velonews and Connor coaching the thoughts and opinions expressed on phastar are those of the individual for George Bennett Joe Friel. Brent bookwalter. Global peers, Paolo, so Donna and Trevor Connor. I’m Chris case. Thanks for listening.