Who Can You Trust for Training Advice?

We are joined by pro cyclist Sepp Kuss and the founder of FasCat coaching, Frank Overton, to dig into dealing with contradictory advice.

Bearded cyclist resting inside a velodrome

Who should you trust? How can you verify? There’s a lot of training advice out there, often contradictory, so what’s the best way for an athlete figure out what to do? We are joined by pro cyclist Sepp Kuss and the founder of FasCat coaching, Frank Overton, to dig into dealing with contradictory advice.

Episode Transcript


Welcome to Fast Talk, the news podcast and everything you need to know to run like a pro.



Alright, Trevor, you’re in town here. You’re in Colorado for about a week and a half. I happen to know that you went to a bicycle race on Sunday. How did that bicycle race go for you?


Trevor Connor  00:23

I was fighting a bit of a plague. So not my best, not your best.



That’s okay though, because you can still use that race and that race result even though it was not a particularly good one. To get a better rate on life insurance from health IQ. All you got to do is head to health iq.com slash velonews. And then you can upload your race results from USA cycling. You can upload your Strava as we said earlier in the show, and you can get a better rate on your life insurance because you, Trevor, despite the fact that you were racing with a plague on Sunday, all right, fit individual. Welcome back, everybody to another episode of Fast Talk. I am Kaylee frets. While we have a lot of people actually around the table today, Trevor Trevor you’re always here. Trevor’s here again Coach Trevor Connor.


Trevor Connor  01:08

Sorry, you can’t get rid of me.



Nope. Travis back Kosovars back we also have Melanie’s managing editor Chris case here. And two special guests. Returning alumni of the podcast friend of the podcast Frank Overton, a coach for 15 years current head of fast cat coaching. Welcome back, Frank. Thank you. And Sep coos a pro cyclist with rally Pro Cycling top 10 on the Mount Baldy stage at tour California this year, and recently sixth at the Colorado classic welcome set.



Thanks for having me.


Trevor Connor  01:38

Keep an eye on the magazine because in our January issue where we have an article where CEP is going to destroy Chris and I.



I’m very much looking forward to that one. The topic of conversation today. And the reason why we have so many people in the room is dealing with contradictory training advice. And I think anybody who has been riding a bike for any period of time has been through this. We have certainly we’ve had coaches in this very room that have offered contradictory training advice and argued about it. That is sort of the nature of the beast in a lot of these things. Because the science is always evolving. Our understanding is always evolving. And frankly, there’s just there’s controversy sometimes. So Trevor, today’s topic was motivated by a listener question. What was that question to us?


Trevor Connor  02:26

Yeah, and this was a great question. So let’s start by reading it. This listener said, I don’t know if it’s possible to address. But one of the things I get confounded by is how to handle contradictory advice or data. Well, there’s plenty of agreement between different coaches and nutritionists out there. I feel like there’s also quite a bit of contradictory beliefs and advice that Cushing came to us for Nicholas haq at California State University. I actually loved this question because this has been one of our philosophies at Fast Talk. The one thing when killing I started this out, we said, the one thing we don’t want this to be is just me sitting here telling you everything I say is right. That’s why we try to bring in a lot of guests. That’s why every episode we put in excerpts of other people offering their opinion, I will tell you every time we have somebody say something that contradicts what I was saying in the podcast, actually make sure to put that in because you do get different opinions. And Frank from remember this I mean, one of my favorite things in coaching science right now is this whole sweetspot versus polarized training, because you read the philosophy behind them, they’re fundamentally opposite. Yet I’ve seen both be incredibly successful. And I once took it on a long time ago with Frank and an article thinking at the end of this article, I’m gonna have a clear answer at the end of Article I’m like, I am more confused than I was before. So I think it’s a fantastic question, why there is so much contradictory advice.



I think there’s a lot of conflicting advice in cycling, because cyclists want to help other cyclists. So they’re always willing to give you advice. And that’s like the fundamentals of a group ride, or mentors, or teammates, and now coaches and directors. And there’s also more than one way to skin a cat as they say, you can reach your goal with two different paths. So you can get two different advices and still hit your goal. So there’s a lot of right ways to give advice. And I think, as a, as a cyclist, if you’re talking about contradictory advice, you have to look at who’s giving it to you, or if you’re actually asking for it. That puts the advice into context. If you’re asking for it, you can research who you’re asking a great example, if you’re on like a protein, and you get advice from your director about your bike, about like, fixing it. There’s that piece of advice, and then you could get advice from the actual mechanic on what to do. And you just look at their credentials director, mechanic mechanic has expertise director has expertise in something he’s not



elsewhere, yes, expertise elsewhere.



So you can only go with the mechanic, right. And same way with a teammate, you know, versus a director or, or a coach, you know, teammates often times have a special perspective on you, your riding buddies, versus a coach or director who may not know that you broke up with your girlfriend, you know, a week ago, or know that you suck in cornering and, and need to work on that. Where’s your teammate, he’s on your wheel, he sees it. He’s scared to death. So yeah, I think Yeah, you know, credentials, education. Is this person giving you advice? Do they have a history of being right? Or a history of being wrong? That just like maybe some testimonials? But yeah, I mean, just look at their credentials.


Chris Case  06:05

In that same vein, I wonder if you could speak to how marketing plays a role in all of this? Yeah, marketing of like yourself, or have a business, a business pitching a particular method or product versus another, that might have a completely different take on what that will do?



Yeah, you have to kind of read between the lines, when you get advice and look at their motives of why they’re giving you advice. You know, if you get nutritional advice from someone selling nutrition, reading between the lines, they might be trying to sell you their product, same way with coaches, you know, they may try to coach you, or have you paid them to tell you what to do,


Trevor Connor  06:48




or things like that, like, whereas a teammate, maybe they’re more objective, more altruistic, and that they don’t have anything to gain from giving you the advice, and therefore it’s more pure. However, you know, they may not even have expertise in that topic, they just generally, genuinely want to help you.



I have a question for Seth, actually. So we were talking before we turn the mics on here. And you mentioned that you’re self coached, which I think is actually pretty fascinating for for a guy at your level. In particular, I wonder where you get your advice from these days, and sort of where it comes from where your background? Where your background lies, and then sort of why you feel confident with with that particular decision to sort of like, lead yourself, basically.



Yeah, I mean, kind of going off of what a Frank was saying, you know, with writers giving advice, I think I can draw a lot from my teammates, you know, rally doesn’t have a collective team coach, per se. So, you know, I think we get a lot of, for me personally, you know, get a lot of different advice from, you know, say guys like Rob Britain, who’s super experienced, or Danny pate, who’s seen a lot of different scenarios. So I think, yeah, there’s a lot of different riders that give different advice. And, yeah, from the inside of my team, pretty much all of us train very differently. So Rob, for example, is doing six hours motor pacing climbs before and after. And then for a guy like me, I’m there’s no way I’m going to be doing that. I mean, I’m only 22. You know, I can’t handle that, you know, sort of workload. So for guys, like Rob and I, we kind of have this back and forth, like, oh, for example, for me, it’s like, oh, I’ll ride like, easy all day, and then just do the intervals that I feel I need in my lower zones or whatever. And then, whereas Rob will just be on the pedals all day. And you know, sometimes it works out to some real similar result, and sometimes it doesn’t. So,



do you ever take what you’re doing? And then and then sort of, like bounce it off of people? For example? I mean, do you ever go to rob and say, Hey, what do you think about what I’m doing? Or is it pretty much? You know, you’re sort of analyzing just yourself?



Yeah, I think I keep most of it to myself. I mean, if I’m really training, I prefer to do it. Totally solo. I think that’s where it’s kind of funny in our training camps, because everybody’s has a different agenda training agenda. So yeah, I definitely bounce ideas off. But you know, I have a pretty good idea of what, what I need to prepare for race, which is usually more more intensity, lower volume, kind of similar to I wouldn’t say it like a mountain bike style training, but definitely emphasis on intensity over just smashing myself for six hours, which doesn’t work for you doesn’t work. You’ve had coaches in the past though, right?



So you come from a cross country skiing background mountain biking background, I’m assuming you’ve you’ve had coaches on the bike as well. You must take things from those experiences, right? I mean, yeah, absolutely. I learned things from those people learn things from those people.



Yeah, there’s a lot of things that you know, I think a lot of methods that work but I think the big thing for me is what works for me mentally you know what stimulating for me mentally what’s, you know, you can have a super hard workout that’s really gonna work for you. But you know, if you do it, Time after time, it’s like, oh, man, you got it. You got to have a rest after that. Like Just to be able to do that consistently throughout the season. So for me, a lot of what I do is all all the power numbers I set for myself are pretty reachable, pretty repeatable. So you know, I can be consistent throughout the season. Yeah.



So I think that fundamentally, here we’re talking about a couple different things. And I think it’s important to differentiate between different philosophies as you put it, Trevor, and just straight up bad advice.


Trevor Connor  10:28

So I love what Frank said earlier about, there’s a lot of different ways to skin a cat. Something I like to say a lot to athletes is there’s a lot of different ways to skin a cat. But if you try them all, you’re gonna end up with a very butchered cat. My apologies to any cat lovers out there.



It’s kind of a Crow’s image. It’s pretty gruesome right there.


Trevor Connor  10:48

Yes, I am staying with Chris’s cat. I know, early in my cycling career, I really focused on listening. Anybody who was willing to talk to me who seemed more experienced, it seemed better than me, I wanted to hear what they had to say. And I would get all the bits of advice that I could and you would get a lot of conflicting advice, you would hear a lot of different things. And my approach to it was, try it. But when you try something, give it some time to see if it works for you. And don’t try everything under the sun all at once. Try one or two things, see how they work for you decide if it works for you, and then move on to the next things. That’s at least what I found worked for me and some things didn’t work, some things did. There were things that worked might not even work for me, but work for a lot of people that that were, you know, the differences, as you said, were more philosophical versus they’re just some things out there that you go, Oh, that’s bad advice. And we certainly had people come in here where they’ve given advice, and I’ve gone I don’t, that’s not what I would advise, but nothing wrong with it. It’s just a different approach. Versus I’ve heard us and coaches say things athletes, we just go, oh, man, what do you what do you think it mean, Frank, I’m sure using a lot of that stuff. I’m sure you’ve seen some of that, how can you differentiate different philosophies versus you know, steer clear of that?



The science, for starters, your own personal experience, success of using that advice in the past with with other athletes. I mean, you know, a big thing these days, getting on nutrition is like ketosis, and then there’s Dr. googly his way. And it’s working for some and it’s not for others. And I think the person receiving the advices ultimately, the, they’re responsible for their own performance on the bike. A lot of people think, Oh, you know, I get this advice. I’m a heart coach, I’m a go to this team, I’m gonna do this race, and they’re guaranteed some sort of result. And because they’ve done what they’ve asked or been told, or the training plan, but at the end of the day, it’s the athlete that’s pulling the bag, it’s the result is their own, not the advice they’re given. That’s making any sense. And so they have to pick and choose wisely. And I think when you ask for advice, because it is subjects that usually aren’t clear, you have to take advice from people that you trust. And with trust, that’s a huge subject, like I did a Google search on how to how do you know when you can trust someone before it came in? And everything that comes up is like relationship stuff? How do you know if your boyfriend is the real deal? Stuff like that. But it’s the heart of the matter is trust. And in it, if you, if you trust someone, you definitely need to vet them, ask for testimonials, see what their past is like their education experience, all that ulterior motives, marketing, if it’s genuine, so forth. And at some point, you just need to trust wonderful philosophy. If you if you mix philosophies, then you don’t know what worked, then you have a multi skin cat. That’s right. Maybe trust philosophy philosophies, and it doesn’t work, you know, necessarily know why. So go with one or the other for a person you trust. And because you’re the athlete is the one that ultimately is responsible. If that’s not working, then learn from that and use that experience to maybe go to the other philosophy and figure it out on your own.


Trevor Connor  14:25

So you’re talking cycling about trust the plan? Yeah, that’s exactly what you’re talking about. Because you’re not going to see benefits of a new approach to training in a week or two. You have to give it the time. And so those months where you are seeing no improvement, sometimes even it can be a year or two. When I’m going to the center in Victoria, Canada, houzhang, the head coach said, so you’re here for two years, right? And when I don’t know and it’s like, well, the first year is gonna be a waste. You’re not gonna see anything until the second year and I was all upset about that. So prove them wrong and no, I didn’t prove them wrong. A great second year, first year. wasn’t so good.



Yeah, so there trust the process, you



have to trust the process. And you have to be willing to trust it when you’re not initially seeing the results, which means you have to trust where the process is coming from, which I think is exactly what you were talking about earlier, trusting the person that it’s coming from, and therefore trusting the process. Does there have to be a willingness to experiment a bit too, or is that best left to others? You know, as an athlete, I think experimentation can be a little bit scary. And we were just talking about how you do have to sort of trust the plan that’s put in front of you, which might mean, not so much experimentation. But because there are all these different philosophies out there. I mean, is it a good recommendation to your average athlete to just try things and give it some time? And if it doesn’t work? Try again? Yes, you’ve got your hedging over there, Frank.



I know maybe depends. I mean, like, takes up, for example, you know, top 10 and Baldy crushed stone. So you take what work there and know what to do. But if I know you, you want to do better. So you’re gonna experiment and tweak and say, How can I make this better? And that’s the experiment. And that’s his self advice, presumably, I mean, a good coach athlete relationship is experimentation and reviewing and monitoring, the training and saying, Oh, you know, we got a top 10 here. Next year, we want a podium, how do we do that? We take everything that worked, discard what didn’t work, don’t make the same mistakes twice. And here’s the here’s the plan. And we trust that that process, in a good coach athlete relationship is two ways athletes, like what about this? coach says, Yeah, let’s try that. It’s a collaborative relationship, which is experimentation,



less less, having done a whole new path, and more just tweaking the direction that you’re going,



Yeah, you don’t want to start ketosis. Three weeks before your a race. Yeah. And then also, experimentation also relates to how long your game is, you know, you’re 22, you’re gonna Yeah, like 1012 more years ahead of you, if you want, you know, you’re gonna make mistakes along the way. So you, when you’re experimenting, you could be experimenting for like a year or two, like you’re the center two years, you didn’t know if it’s gonna work out, but you trusted the process, and you went for it. And that’s sometimes sort of the decisions you need to make in cycling.


Trevor Connor  17:20

So I actually thought about turning those into an article that I kind of divided a cyclist career or any athletes career into four stages. I don’t know if you’ll agree with there’s not but I’ll quickly get through the first two, because really, what we’re talking about here is what I consider the third stage. So the first stage is when you get introduced to the sport, it is the most fun stage because you can train like an idiot, you can do everything wrong, you get stronger, you get addicted to the sport, it’s fun. You’re tearing apart the the local training rides you’re hanging on but loving it. It’s a great stage. You get a once in



your life. Yes, once you switch sports.


Trevor Connor  17:57

And unfortunately, there’s a lot of people keep trying to repeat that that phase. And I can’t tell you how many of athletes have told me about their first year and they’re like, why can’t it be like that anymore? And I’m not sure I have an answer, except it just isn’t. It never is for anybody. second phase is this. It’s more a mental one. It’s where you are exposed to a level of competition, or whatever the challenge is for you. That’s above your level, and you basically get beat up. And then you decide, do I want to do this or not? And actually, a lot of people say no, see you later. I’m not interested. If you say yes, I want to rise to the challenge, then you hit this third phase, which I consider the the longest, and it’s one that never really ends and the most important phase. And that’s where I call it’s learning to race and train more perfectly. Knowing that that’s bad grammar, because that’s the point. It’s never perfect. But you start with a foundation, you have, by this point, figured out some things that work for you, you start with that foundation and you start perfecting it, you start figuring out, what can I do a little bit better over here? What can I do a little bit better over there, and you keep perfecting it. And successfully getting through this stage is really reaching the point where you understand yourself and your training so well. You know exactly how to execute your training. The way I see people fail this stage is every year, these guys would come out every year ago. I’ve got this whole new training technique this year, I’m doing this you go, you’re going right back to the beginning, you’ve thrown out, you’ve thrown out things that don’t work for you. But you’ve also thrown out all the things that do work for you. And you’re starting over and if you keep doing that you’re never going to be able to perfect and find the routine that works for you. It sounds like you did this very early on where you had that foundation and and I’m really impressed by 22 you’ve reached the level you’ve reached, but had really figured yourself out over the years and how did you go about doing that.



I think honestly, I’m still, I still feel like I’m in that that first stage, I’m still pretty young. So, you know, I think physiologically every year, I’m just going to improve until I reach whatever plateau and coming from a not entirely different sport, but a mountain bike background, you know, and this is my second year on the road bike. So, training wise and racing wise, everything feels like I’m getting exponentially better. So yeah, I think I think it depends on when you when you come into a sport or when you come into a different training system or scenario, I don’t think it’s the same for everybody. For for me, a young guy I have a lot more to experiment with and you know, even get away with and, you know, not not getting stuck in a rut, I think there are a lot of examples of young people getting stuck in a rut of training, maybe from doing too much too soon,



you’d kind of had the advantage of having come from other aerobics sports and been able to sort of figure out the ways you get yourself fit. And then you get to actually go back to Trevor’s sort of stage one with your switch to road racing and sort of make it new, exciting again. So that’s actually kind of a cool place to be, I think, when you’ve already figured out the the self coaching side and figured out how to do it, and then you get to go and essentially, use all those concepts you figured out in a basically a new sport, it’s gonna be pretty fun.



I mean, I think when I was younger, I would play hockey and Nordic ski. So during the winter, I would go from Nordic practice, straight to hockey practice. So right there, you have like one of the hardest, you know, endurance sports, in Nordic skiing, and then you go straight to hockey practice, where you’re just like, anaerobic for 30 seconds, and then you hop back on the bench, and, you know, go through a shift and then get back out there. So yeah, I think being able to draw on those two things is,



so that’s your secret.



All day, you just need one of those, you know, curve nozzle water bottles that you can squirt through the hockey helmet. Just spin on the ice and ready to go again.


Chris Case  22:05

I like it, when you started talking about phase one. And it being super exciting for people that are new to the sport. I always feel like it’s, that’s also the time when people can start to look at people they aspire to be or heroes in the sport for lack of a better term. And they start latching on to things that maybe aren’t right for them to advance for them. Don’t apply to them, you know, like Take, for example, marginal gains, Team Sky that all these catch phrases that are associated with that team and their practices. And people start looking at them thinking, Man, they’re so good, I should do what they do and just sort of blindly following their lead, doing the things that they do. And in the process, Destroying Themselves



forgetting forgetting that the reason why this guy does marginal gains is because they’ve already got all the maximal ones. Right. And most of us are not that way.


Trevor Connor  22:57

That’s kind of what I was talking about. Yeah, that you start with that foundation, that small gear training and all the then it’s chipping away at the fine tuning or sanding or whatever you want to consider the edges.


Chris Case  23:09

Yeah, it’s just you know, my point is kind of, if you’re going to start if you’re you’re young, or you’re early in a cycling career, and you’re starting to train you just, I think something that’s very crucial is listening to your body listening to your your own common sense. And don’t overdo it by just falling into the trap of



the copycat trap.


Chris Case  23:33

Yeah, be cat trap, where the marketing pitch or the something that leads you astray.



Yeah. Yeah. I mean, that’s actually what I’m, I’m, I’m very impressed with Seth over here and that you have not done that.



I mean, it’s hard as an advertising major.


Chris Case  23:47

Marketing. No, you know what advertising is really about.



It can be hard, though. And I remember being a young bike racer, and getting pulled to and fro, by by the things that you would read and the things that you would see pros doing and the things that you felt like you should be doing. And I will, you know, to be perfectly honest, the thing that stopped me doing that was actually starting to get coached by Trevor. So that that worked out pretty well for both of us in the end. It is it’s exceptionally difficult not to, to not be taken in by those things. I think.


Trevor Connor  24:19

I’m also just looking at it as most of us in this table are in our 40s at the end of this, hey,



at the end of this 2020 step,


Trevor Connor  24:30

can you give us some advice?


Chris Case  24:34

I’m I mean, this might not fit in well, but I’m curious if you ever wonder step, man, if I get I’m doing this on my own, and I’m fairly confident in my skills, but yeah, what if I got the right coach and they clicked in it?



Yeah. It’s just been a matter of finding the right one and I haven’t quite I think for me, it’s a matter of, of Yeah, trust is huge. And it’s, you know, if a coach has a general philosophy, and if you don’t Buy into certain parts of that. And it’s hard to trust in the process, as you might say. So



absolutely, you got to connect with that person and have belief share the similar beliefs and philosophies. And it comes down to your gut. And your instinct is like, Can I trust this person, and you said, there was four phases of your cycling, there’s this, it’s kind of goes that way, with training, too, you know, you start off rotten and just smashing yourself and you get faster. And then you may upgrade a category and get your teeth kicked in, and are like, do something about this, maybe I’ll double down on my training. And you might try that. It’s like one of your phases. And then you realize, Oh, that’s not working, I’ll get a coach. And then that works a lot. And then you may plateau out because they’re not innovative, or you’re just not evolving with that person. And then I think one of the fourth phases of coach athlete is the athlete goes off on their own, and self coaches, which I think is a very important discovery phase, because you are responsible on your own and no one else is for your performance. And that’s kind of like where you’re at. And you’ll perhaps maybe get to a point in your career, like Chris is pointing out where you do meet the right person, right, and click with them, and you’re like, I’m in. And that’ll be your own tear your fourth phase? Yeah,



a lot of it’s just, you know, continuingly, continually, kind of busting through plateaus, right? Yeah, finding a plateau, figure out how to get past it over and over and over again, that seems to be the stages of coaching, that was at stages about an athlete really a better description of my phases


Trevor Connor  26:35

than what I gave. And the fourth phase, because I didn’t say before is the champion phase, when you have just gotten everything to the point that you have it dialed in, and you’re getting the results. And some people never get there, some people never get there, and some people get there, and then they go all the way back to stage to take on a higher level, get the teeth kicked in and go through the whole thing all over again.



Some people get there and don’t realize it, because as it compares to them personal improvement, they’re at the height of their personal improvement. They’re the best they’ve ever been. But because you compare each other to the competition, and the competition is just better. And so they may not be winning or putting meaning, but they’re writing better than ever. And I think that’s important for amateurs to realize when that’s happening, it’s like never written better. And, and be satisfied with that.



Yeah, never compare yourself to other people.





Trevor Connor  27:30

So I will tell you going back to this trust, and I would love to hear from you guys on what you would look for to trust somebody. But a really big one for me. And this one, I got this from an athlete, and it was a big moment for me. were one of my athletes told me he trusted me. Why is that? Why? Why do necessarily those of you who might be like going to go and is that a good thing? And he I think it was that I used to say do not sprint in the offseason. And then I did a lot of research on the neuromuscular side and doing short sprints in the offseason can actually be beneficial. So I did an about face on that. And that’s it. He pointed out he said, You aren’t worried about admitting when you are wrong and changing something. And Frank, I remember the first time I interviewed you, I mean, you you have years, decades of experience. And we talked about that sweet spot polarized debate, you still had that open mind and thought about that or thought about this. And that to me, I’m instantly went, this guy’s a really good coach. And I would say but I would say actually be hesitant to trust anybody that is absolutely certain. And just unwilling to look at other sides, I would say if you’re looking for a coach or a scientist or nutritionist or anybody to trust, somebody has an open mind. To me, that means that that they are looking at the different sides and constantly evolving.



I agree with all that. And as a coach, when you work with an athlete, one of the first and foremost things that you’re trying to establish is trust. And sometimes it takes time. And sometimes the advice that you want to give the athlete may not be ready to hear it yet, because you’re not exactly sure if they trust you yet. Because if you give them that advice before they trust you, they may be put off and run away, because it’s hard to hear. However, once that relationship evolves, and you’ve gained that trust, then they’re ready to hear some hard truths, maybe for example, or you may just be able to deliver a level of advice that takes it to the next level. But as a coach, I’m always trying to establish trust and you you can read all sorts of things how you do that, but a lot of it’s just do what you say. Look after their best interests, always, whenever some athlete uploads a power file where I know where they just smashed themselves. I’m not gonna let that sit out there for 36 hours. Like if they do a field test tomorrow morning. I’m gonna go look at it tomorrow afternoon because they poured their heart and soul out of it. And I think that helps establish trust, things like that.



Trust, I think it basically all comes back to that right. But basically that is the answer to our original question, which is how do you deal with contradictory advice? Go with the side that you trust, do some self experimentation and and see where you end up?






Are you a Strava? Guy?


Trevor Connor  30:28

Absolutely. Well, you got me into it, you shoot swearing cursing you for all you’ve done to me?



I did I knew that you would be into Strava. Well, you can actually use Strava and your addiction to Strava to your benefit now. Because if you head over to health iq.com slash velonews Health IQ, which is a company that provides life insurance for fit folks like us, you know, cyclists, runners, swimmers, vegans, whatever, whatever makes you fit, you can now use your Strava, upload your Strava to health IQ, and use that to get a discount on life insurance. All you got to do is head to health iq.com slash velonews.


Trevor Connor  31:12

Do they provide for Canadians? Well, they just laugh at me?



No Canadians a lot. Sorry. The other thing that we wanted to talk about here is the science. And you mentioned that early on in your answer there. I mean, there is there is the fact that a lot of the science is not yet resolved. So how does how does the average of signs is


Trevor Connor  31:33




Some of the signs are bad or gets proven wrong later? I mean, that is that’s what science is. Right? It’s a the scientific process. How does the average bike racer or even someone like that who’s training himself as at a pro level? How do you how do they wade through that? To figure out what exactly they should be paying attention to? That’s a really big question. I apologize.



wade through the science



you like like, wow, like, how do you so you know, like you said, you’re self coached. But you are do training with power meter and stuff like that. You’re not reading scientific papers? Like these guys probably?



Maybe like to read some Yeah, yeah.



So do you have like a physiology background?



No, not at all. But you need to but I didn’t want to deal with.



But you pay attention. That’s why Yeah,



I think it’s really fun to read. Yeah.



So it’s like, how do you figure out? I mean, what’s the process like there where you’re figuring out what what looks like? What what you think will work for you, and what you think will work for you? And what you think is bogus? and what isn’t?



Yeah, I think a lot of it comes down to the individual like, like Frank mentioned, the diet stuff, I think that’s a really good example of things that you can take too far, based on evidence that you may read, or what people may tell you, you know, I have teammates that are like, full on full aboard the the keto train or whatever, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen them, you know, carbohydrate. And that’s, that freaks me out. I like my comfort foods now, my pasta, my rice and all that. So, but they do that, and they’re successful, you know, they’ll maybe have an off day that, you know, you could attribute to lack of glycogen. But I’m fully on board the eat as much as you can carbohydrate. And so maybe I even take that too far as an individual. But yeah, I think it’s wading through the evidence cmac and the anecdotal things that you might hear from your teammates, or coaches or whatever, and then using it in moderation, or, you know, just being smart about what you’re doing.


Trevor Connor  33:39

I think that’s one of the places people can get off track is you feel that something was published in the research, and therefore, it must be right, you can even always trust that. So I also work in the nutrition world. And that’s a great example of where you have to be careful the science because more than any other field, I’ve seen people come into the nutrition world with a belief. It’s either I’m a vegetarian, I’m going to prove that vegetarianism is right, or I hunt every weekend. So I’m going to prove that all we need to eat is protein. People come in with their bias and try to prove it. And it’s actually amazing how easy it is, especially with certain types of studies to prove what you want to prove. And there’s a great example right now of a couple studies that just came out showing that low salt diets are bad for you. And we should all be eating twice or more than the recommended daily, or the daily recommendations. That research was faulty. And there was a later study published showing the fault in that study. The studies showing eat a high salt diet got all sorts of press, the one that said there’s a fault in that and no actually low salt diets are better for you know, press. There was a bias there.



Yeah, and there’s also a storyline to sell more magazines or more internet hits you You’re not gonna get it with a



more Pringle



flashy headline.


Trevor Connor  35:06

And likewise in science and cycling research, you’re limited by the fact that most studies can only last a month or two, they all have to be done in a lab on a trainer. So the let’s test, doing six hour rides like route Britain does really hard to do in a lab. So already, there’s a bit of a built in bias and the cycling research just because of what’s what they’re capable of doing.



I mean, Trevor, I know that when you know, when we we often go through some of science before we’ll do a podcast and a couple different times we’ve we’ve come across things that when you dug into how exactly the testing was done, the science was done, it was, you know it or bore no resemblance to anything that would happen in the real world, or some small, small, small way that the the the test was done, dramatically affected the outcome. A lot of people


Trevor Connor  35:58

don’t read the methodology. And for example, there was that study that just came out saying that EPO does not improve performance at all. And a lot of media jumped on that.



That’s exactly the one I was going to talk to you. This is right before the Tour de France, this came out. And we actually Trevor, we had you sort of dig into this one a little bit. And once we’ve really dug into it, yeah, the methodology was faulty. And that, you know, that was an example of something a test coming out or a study coming out, and the entire cycling world going, Okay, then why? Why the 90s? Like, we have a lot of anecdotal evidence that proves this or that suggest that this is wrong. What what what what exactly was wrong with the methodology? and Alan, and my


Trevor Connor  36:41

biggest issue with this was that the head researcher actually did an interview where he said, It’s too bad. They strip the titles from Lance Armstrong because eBay didn’t help him. And you kind of go Wait, what?


Chris Case  36:52

There is overstepping his bounds in terms of a conclusion there


Trevor Connor  36:56

really was, there were a set. I mean, there were actually parts of the study that were very good. The stuff they did in the lab was very good and very thorough. And the lab results showed Yes, EPO helps performance. But what they latched on to was they had the subjects do a race.



It was so much fun to read


Trevor Connor  37:16

finish with mount Vaughn to but first they did 100 kilometers of riding with was it like 6000 feet of climbing, then climbed Mount monteux. So basically, they were taking the hardest stage of the Tour de France and having them race it. Problem is, they couldn’t get any racers to participate in the study. Because if anybody takes EPO, they can’t race anymore. So they got amateur cyclists. These were cyclists. And they said this in the in the study, trained on average, five hours a week. So they hadn’t take EPO for a few weeks, continue training five hours a week, and said, Now let’s have you do a race that’s going to take you about six to seven hours more than you train in a week. That’s pretty much the hardest stage of the Tour de France and see how you perform. This wasn’t a test of performance. This was a test of grit to get to the end.



Yeah. And basically it was testing the wrong limiter, right? Because EPO. EPO is not necessarily going to help you if you are just thoroughly untrained for the task at hand.


Trevor Connor  38:20

That’s the issue, like taking people who do one mile runs, putting the money beyond and saying, Okay, let’s race a marathon. It’s not going to tell her so fundamentally



bad methodology. And unfortunately, this is it’s not common. I don’t think I mean, Trevor, you spend a lot more time with your with your nose in, in in literature than I do in science literature than I do, but it is. We do run into it occasionally. Right? Yeah.



I would not take advice from that researcher.


Chris Case  38:52

peer reviewed journals and you’re putting trust in that journal, in a sense to have reviewed it. Oh,



which journal is that? Because there’s Well, sure. more reputable journals than others. This is true. Yeah, that’s true. I


Chris Case  39:04

forget what I thought it was in. Was it in The Lancet?


Trevor Connor  39:08

Oh, you guys keep talking about all the Lancet super



prestigious and med science super prestigious, but you know, Chinese Journal of sports? No.


Trevor Connor  39:20

I’m just saying, subscribe.



But yeah, I mean, you know, was the Word, you know, done by a graduate student that the head of the labs puts name on and then he, he’s defending it, right? Yeah. Yeah. You have to, you know, interpret and look where your information is coming from. You want to get it from Fox News, or you want to get it from the New York Times. And


Chris Case  39:43

yeah, fake news or fake news.



that study was pretty incredible. Actually, I don’t know if you saw it, but I am still.


Chris Case  39:55

For some reason



I read the headlines. It popped up with like the day I got to Friday. Before the tour cuz of course, that’s when they’re going to put it out, right?



We’re just like, I was just like



there’s no way this is possible, just for the truck driver



turns part.



Journal was it in?



I mean, let’s let’s find it here.



And how did they


Chris Case  40:15

review? Yeah, just google our website. Yeah,


Trevor Connor  40:18

I’m going through my article right now. I had to put in there somewhere where



you have your article here.



Right now,



but it’s like you said earlier, Trevor, like there’s good science and bad science and Lancet. Yeah,



Lancet, Lancet hematology.


Trevor Connor  40:37

So there was actually a noble reason behind what they did what they did, which was, there’s a lot of criticism that the testing they do in lab doesn’t translate to the real world. So for example, Dr. Holly talked about that study where they just had people ride to fatigue, to test the effects of a ketogenic diet. And his point is, when have you ever done a race where they just say, everybody go until you fall over? Not a real world scenario. So they what they wanted to do with this study is simulate a real world situation, see if it would help you, in a stage of the Tour de France noble cause just poor execution, you can’t take people to train five hours a week and say, let’s put you in the toughest stage of the Tour de France and see if it helps to a different caliber,



right? I mean, even if they, if they just sent them up month on to that would have been better, right? I mean, like, that’s still an hour and a half or something like that, for your average amateur. If you’re, you know, putting out for four and a half watts per kilo or whatever, then you might have seen differences, theoretically. The


Trevor Connor  41:40

other thing that Lanza should have caught was they said, they specifically said in the study, that the EPO did not improve performance on not on two, they only race on two at the end of the study, they didn’t race before, you can’t say there was no change in performance when you don’t have a before and after.



Right, because they were just comparing the group that took EPO, the group that didn’t Right, right. And when you look


Trevor Connor  42:03

at the stats, there was a lot of evidence that the group that didn’t take a EPO was actually a little fitter to start.


Chris Case  42:09

So So in general, if a lay person is is checking out a journal article or reading some research, are there any? Are there any rules of thumb that you can give to people to say, Okay, this is good science. This is bad science, or is it a little bit more nuanced than that?



I think you can think, Okay, this looks interesting. It might be true or unhelpful, and then run it by another person and trusted.



someone you trust, email it to us, we’ll talk about them faster.



See what they say. They may be like, this is awesome. They, in the case of the EPO, study be like that’s bollocks and that’s you should trust Yeah, he the thing that’s coming to mind while we talk about flood studies is do remember the researcher from Texas a&m that rationalize how Lance Armstrong improved physiologically, post cancer and Bryce published a very well



so I just wrote an article about Yes,



it was in a peer reviewed journal and it checked out it was legit and you’re like, Oh my god, you know, this is how you do it and years later you like man house.


Trevor Connor  43:22

So it showed coil studies show that all of Armstrong’s improvements from when he from I think it was a year before he won the World Championships to his fourth Tour de France when there was somewhere in that range. That is vo two max didn’t improve his lactate threshold really didn’t improve all that improved. Was his efficiency got 8% better. And he had a 7% drop in body weight. Yeah,



and they’ve done similar studies on frim to you know, all his data was exactly the same as body weight just decreased by like eight or nine kilos. So but in hindsight with arms in Armstrong’s case, you know, you know what he was on and what he did those to improve efficiency.


Trevor Connor  44:06

So I actually put this into the the article and this guy over here chopped it all


Chris Case  44:16

my reasons. You agree that it’s a better article now? Correct?


Trevor Connor  44:20

I did agree. It was a crappy article. So here’s really interest and this is not conclusive. This is just very interesting. So when they did studies on high altitude effects, they have looked a lot at your your Himalayan altitude natives and your Tibetan altitude natives. And what’s really interesting is their adaptations are different. Your Tibetans actually develop this huge vo to Max’s unbelievable ability to deliver oxygen. It’s unfortunate for them because it’s a huge strain on them and their rates of heart disease before the age of 50 is really high. You’re Himalayan, high altitude natives actually don’t have better vo two max than people that live at sea level. They develop this unbelievable efficiency. So it’s not that they get this better ability to take in oxygen. They’re just very efficient at using the oxygen that they get in studies where they looked at the effects of EPL, or sorry, in size, where they looked at the improvements of top pros over time, they showed that yes, some have improved efficiency. But what you saw is the ones who became very efficient had lower vo to Max’s the ones that had higher vo to Max’s were less efficient. So what you’re seeing is there’s this this possible two pathways of improvements when it comes to using oxygen. One is to become more efficient. One is just to improve your oxygen delivery. So again, this is just me throwing out kind of talking out loud, give me my thoughts. But when you then talk about doping, and with EPO, EPO really just improves that that oxygen delivery it raised when you take it, it just raises your hematocrit. So when you have athletes who have gold more down that path of becoming highly efficient, they are the sort of people who are could be really responsive TPL to dopey, right, the people who go down the path of naturally developing a very high vo two max but at lower efficiency, they’re not going to respond very well to dopamine. So it’s very interesting. You had this study showing Armstrong had this dramatic rise in his efficiency.



Hmm. Well,



I think we should leave the third rail behind Mr. Armstrong. But that is fascinating. It is totally fascinating. And and you know, Frank, another perfect example of how the science can be well, further down the line, we can have a little bit more context.



Sometimes the coaches are ahead of the science. And I think a lot of scientists will recognize that. And I think a really unique perspective is a scientist that is a coach like yourself, because you’re taking your practical experience. And then you’re taking your science background, you’re merging them together into the you know, the best of both worlds. Super Trevor and Dan


Trevor Connor  47:19

is a triumph for rent. On top of that I am the dumbest cyclist.



I can confirm this. Yes,



I can also confirm


Trevor Connor  47:29

the thing you’ve done on the bike, I have done it



discovery has been dumber.


Trevor Connor  47:37

so fortunate, I could have to chime in here with the dreaded correction. This is what I get for trying to cover a complex subject off memory. First of all, I got my high altitude natives mixed up a little bit. It’s actually the Tibetans and the Himalayas who seem to adapt more the efficiency side. And it’s the the Andean natives who tend to adapt more on that bio to max or hematological side. And that’s where I oversimplified and got some of the science wrong. So what I’m going to do, I’ll put references to a couple of really good studies about this up on the velonews website if you’re really interested. But what I was talking about the the issues with adapting in terms of vo two Max, it’s not the high vo two max that led to higher levels of heart disease, it’s more that the adaptations and in the andeans was more hematological meaning it was in their blood. So they develop very high somatic crits. And that has been a health issue that’s been associated with athletes who use EPO. So let me just read a couple lines out of this study that probably say better than than I will. It has been suggested that the baton Highlanders are better equipped to cope with hypoxic conditions compared with the Andean natives. Because individuals with high hematocrit values 50 to 55% are at increased risk of problems associated with high blood viscosity. The superior performance capacity at altitude of the Tibetan Sherpas is not attributed bull to an exceptional vo two max but rather better exercise economy, better lung function, higher maximal cardiac output, and better levels of blood oxygen saturation. And again, I don’t want to go too deep into this because then I have to start talking about things like hypoxic inducible factor one, to start talking about the changes in the complex for the electron transport chain to prevent the proton leakage and like said you could check out these studies that we referenced. They’re absolutely fascinating. The key message here going back to try to simplify all this is that you see this interesting divergence in the adaptation of high altitude natives where some it’s mostly hematological their their bloods ability to carry oxygen is improved. And for others is actually much more efficiency side. And this one study that I just quoted said that actually, Tibetans and andeans don’t have really higher hematocrit or EPO levels then people at sea level. So there is slightly different mechanisms causing this. But it is very interesting that there have been some studies that looked at top level endurance athletes in the long term, and showed a similar divergence where you have some that seem to improve their vo to max and you have others that don’t really improve their vo to max but become more efficient, similar to what you see with the high altitude natives and certainly a lot of the mechanisms are the same. It’s an interesting study that I’ve just quoted, these researchers also looked at the effects of taking EPO and so they stayed in the study, unlike the response to hypoxia, we have been able to measure a mean 12% increase in hemoglobin mass and associated 7% increase in vo two max when using recombinant human erythropoietin. Well, so we have really basically said you can’t trust anything.



Yeah, around general takeaway pick, don’t trust anything. Just be like separate yourself.


Trevor Connor  51:31

From any one quick thing before we leave? Yeah, if you’re trying to figure out what signs of trust, they have criteria for what’s considered good research and bad research, and one of them is repeatability. So if you have a study that comes out and says something dramatic, always be skeptical until other researchers have come out, repeated the studies and been able to reproduce the results. That’s when you can start trust in the science. So if a bunch more studies come out with better study design showing that EPO has no benefits, then I might start believing it. But based on the one study, no. So if you’re wondering what to believe about the research, never trust just a single study. Fortunately, there is a type of study called a meta analysis that I love when these come out for cycling or endurance sports. Basically, this is a study where they pick a topic or an area and look back at all the existing research on the subject. And so first, they eliminate studies that aren’t of sufficient quality. And then do an analysis of what do all these studies combined, say and there’s a whole area of statistical science that allows you to combine the results of multiple different studies. I’ve have several times of this podcast reference some of these meta analysis, and they’re quite powerful. The last thing I will say about trusting the science is Be really careful about what you read in articles. And this is where we as journalists, some have to be careful and sometimes don’t fully do our job. Often we look for that really cool headline, or something really exciting in the research and make claims from science that really can’t be claimed. You certainly saw that with this study that we just talked about. Looking at EPO, and even the the researcher themselves said, well, it’s too bad they stripped Lance Armstrong because it didn’t have any effect on him. There was some good stuff in his study, he couldn’t draw that conclusion. But a lot of journalists jumped on that. I probably wrote the most boring of all the articles on the study, because I focused on the methodology. But I do think all journalists should take the time to read the methodology, which unfortunately, they don’t always do. So if you are going to trust a scientific study, to adjust what you are doing with your training, take the time to look at the actual study, take the time to look at the methodology. And make sure it’s really saying what the article you just read says that scientific study said you will be surprised how often it is either bet exaggerated or conclusions are being drawn from that study that just can’t be drawn. So, unfortunately, do your research because you don’t always know if the reporter or journalist is doing it for you. And let’s go around the table. What’s your advice for finding what’s right for you? We’re dealing with contradictory advice



coming out, since I’m a coach, if you’re hiring a coach, if you’re trying to figure out who to trust, look at their credentials, their education, how many people they’ve helped get fast in the past and then the testimonials of those athletes and what they say about the coach and you can look at That in, and then use your gut and your instinct to decide whether you should trust that



coach about you said, I



think Don’t be afraid to experiment with different things. Now, everything in moderation, you know, I think there’s a lot of things that aren’t gonna hurt you in the short term. But yeah, just to have something that you can trust and are most importantly, mentally excited about, I think there’s certain things that maybe other people say that you should buy into. But if you’re not personally mentally psyched up about it, and that’s not what’s going to get you out the door, then maybe that’s not the right route for you. So do what’s you know, really invigorating for you personally,


Chris Case  55:38

I would definitely agree with that, that point, I’ve never had a coach, I think you just have to put a lot of trust in listening to your your body, your own sensations, and you can’t be a good athlete, whether you have a coach or not, I think unless you listen to what your body is telling you. So that would be sort of my philosophy. And then exactly what Sepp said, if, if you’re not excited about it, you’re probably not going to do the training that you even you think you should do 100% if you are excited, you’re going to do exactly what you need to do and get the most out of all of your workouts, all of your training. Trevor.


Trevor Connor  56:21

So my bit of advice, which was given to me by Olympic gold medalist, she definitely was Olympic medalist in two different sports cycling and speed scanning. And she had what she called a success list, which was this little book that she took everywhere, whether so my bit of advice is buy a blank book, a small book, so you can transport it with you. And what you should do is learn yourself. So as you go to races as you do training in that book, write down what does and doesn’t work for you. And then I use a three ring binder, a little three ring binder, because I’m constantly taking pages out putting new pages in. But as you learn things about yourself, write it down and have that book evolve over the years until you eventually end up with a book that this is, this is me. So that’s that third phase of perfecting your own training and racing, get it all written down. You will forget all this stuff and have a book that you can go back and review and Chrissy talked to us about how she would sit there go into races just reading her book and how people would actually try to steal this book from and the last, that’s pretty wack. Slazenger recommended is at the end of each year have one page in that book. That’s a summary of the year right? Four or five things that you learn that year that you do not want to forget. Then make a list of 789 things that really worked for you. And you know 6789 things that didn’t work for you. It is Yeah, I have that book if my partner was on fire and I could say three things it would be one



I like that. The other two are



not your cat sorry.





Chris Case  58:09

cats at the beginning of the year you talk about not just



charity I actually like Cat Cat like you’re listening to this show. Is this me?



You can send Trevor photos Axanar Kanako, Canada,


Chris Case  58:27

Canada will find



my advice is to always listen to Fast Talk and always listen to Trevor. That was another episode of fast dock. As always we love your feedback Email us at webinars at competitor group comm you can email your cat photos specifically to web letters acapella group com. Subscribe to Fast Talk on iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud and Google Play. Be sure to leave us a rating and a comment. We really like ratings and comments. While you’re there, check out our sister podcast. The velonews podcast covers the news about the week and cycling features myself, Spencer Palisson and Fred dryer become a fan of Fast Talk on facebook@facebook.com slash velonews magazine and on twitter@twitter.com slash velonews. festac is a co production of Connor coaching and velonews. The thoughts and opinions expressed on Fast Talk are those of the individual for Frank Overton Sep coos Chris case Trevor Connor. I’m Kaylee Fred’s. Thank you for listening