Exercise

Movement

Close friends and family know that I’m a much happier person, and a great deal more pleasant to be around, after I’ve exercised. This is especially true following longer duration sessions, whether that be biking, running, swimming, or downhill skiing. The reason for the increase in affability is multifold. In her book, “Joy of Movement”, Kelly McGonigal does a science-based deep dive into the health-enhancing and life-extending benefits of exercise and movement. The underlying mechanisms may surprise you, they did me. Without question, exercise helps create happiness, meaning, and connection! ❝ McGonigal draws on insights from neuroscience, psychology, anthropology, and

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Consistency & Volume

In Stephen Seiler PhD’s lecture “Intensify or Extend? Balancing Training Prescription across the Endurance Duration Range” he makes clear that the key to athletic improvement is to favour adaptation over stress. Via consistent volume over time, most of which is easy, we utilise minuscule positive changes to our advantage. ❝ By shifting the fulcrum (balance point between Adaptive Stimulus and Stress) just a little bit towards adaptation then, over the long haul, we win.❞ ~Stephen Seiler PhD Dr Seiler uses an example of an athlete with 250 training sessions in a year. He asks the question, “If every workout gave

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Decade & A Year

I don’t usually reflect on my training and racing through total duration and distance. Instead, I pay more attention to the patterns within the days, weeks, and months. But when I was asked, it seemed interesting to have a look. It’s been a tumultuous year that included a chronic health issue with roots reaching back to my infancy: it’s played an increasing role throughout my life, culminating to a peak this spring. Since then a lot has been learned and major strides have been made towards what is now the best health of my life. This decade has been a

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Leaning In

The most efficient running occurs when the person stands tall and leans forward, as a whole, from the ankles and up through the pelvis and torso. Gravity does the work of pulling us along while we move within it. What’s required from the athlete is a stable, yet relaxed, frame that can support the skeleton and the joints in movement with the least amount of resistance possible. In order for this to occur, muscle strength must be developed and kinaesthetic awareness in space cultivated. This is where the bulk of the work happens. Through patience, we spend the time necessary

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Super-Compensation

❝Gluttony does not produce hunger.❞~Matt Dixon In his groundbreaking book The Science of Winning, Jan Olbrecht PhD defines and illuminates the principle of super-compensation. It is the part of the adaptation phenomenon where physical performance increases above the initial level, which is the goal at the end of a training block and before starting the next cycle. It occurs because the body’s rebuilding efforts continue for a short time after returning to baseline to better equip itself for future stress. But if we get greedy and overextend ourselves then recovery time must be extended thereby diminishing opportunities for super-compensation. Dr

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Stress…Response

Within minutes of the sun rising over Mauna Kea the air temperature noticeably rises. Today’s ride was done and dusted before sweltering temps and trade winds could overly impact my workout. This is in contrast to a ride last week when temps were 10°C warmer and my heart rate was upwards of 30 beats per minute higher. Both environments are useful, but it’s important that the body and mind are prepared for the differing stressors—that workouts and recovery are coordinated to allow for healthy development. The goal of all training is to provide the body with adaptation stimuli. The goal

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Capacity & Power

“Most triathletes are doing too much [high-intensity work]. You don’t need more than 1 HIT session per week.” ~Jan Olbrecht PhD “Many recreational athletes are scared [that they’re] not training hard enough. What they need to be thinking about is training easy enough, and long enough in the low-intensity sessions to build biological durability so that the high-intensity sessions really can be developmental.” ~Dr. Stephen Seiler Dr’s Olbrecht & Seiler, two highly respected leading sport scientists, are very clear that most people place too much emphasis on high-intensity training (HIT). Let’s take a look at the reasoning. The physiological engine

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Endurance Training

❝What is very clear is that the best athletes in endurance sport spend ~90% of the time below the first lactate turn-point.❞ ~Stephen Seiler, PhD & Dean, Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences and Nutrition, Universitetet i Agder, Kristiansand, Norway Building fitness takes work. A very important part of it is knowing how hard, how much, how often, and why. The last one—why—affects everything else. The reason for doing something changes so it’s important to continually revisit the question. It can empower you to healthy excellence or lead to disease. It can build you up or provoke injury. The first

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Prep & Base Training

Prep & Base

In my post entitled Off-Season, I quickly summarised the most important phase of the year, off-season, for recovery of the mind and body. In this post, I’ll outline the next two phases. The point of sharing this information is to help facilitate the process of learning, and to help athletes avoid some of the pitfalls or at least lessen their time in them. The two meso-phases after Off-season are Preparation and Base training. The underlying foci in both are the accumulation of training volume, building strength and improvement in technique (form). The base phase consists of three micro-phases, each with small

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Downtime

Off-Season

It took me many years to learn the importance of downtime. This year, I finally headed advice from Alan Couzens and took an entire month of complete rest. Alan, Mike James, and many others know the importance of enjoying another 4-6 weeks, after the complete rest period, for really light, even unplanned exercise. This is sometimes known as the Transition phase. Between time off and ‘soft’ month that’s 8 weeks of no training!! It’s been an incredible experience for me these last 7 weeks to watch the progression in my mind and body as structures heal, the mind recharges, and

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2nd Place Overall

Endurance Insights

One of the overarching reflections I have of racing Ultraman Canada 2019 can be summarised as, “Where did that performance output come from?!” In one regard, I wouldn’t have extrapolated my prior data and experience to predict the achieved results. On the other hand, there are clues to be found in the methodology and mindset. I entered the event believing in the possibility of achieving excellence. This is fundamental because without a positive mental attitude a low ceiling is already cemented into place. Removing perceived boundaries provides room for potential to express itself in extraordinary ways. Keep in mind, however,

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Alignment

“Beyond the very extreme of fatigue and distress, we may find amounts of ease and power we never dreamed ourselves to own; sources of strength never taxed at all because we never push through the obstruction.” ~William James In October 2012 I suffered a pylon fracture of my right ankle, an injury that two surgeons said was the end of impact sports for me. Fortunately, in the dark and painful moments in the ER, my best friend was there to help turn on the light switch. A mantra began to sprout, Always Believe. Before surgery, I spoke with the surgeon

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Messy

You’ve probably heard it before.Perhaps, like me, you’ve resisted the message.Even so, it’s true;equally as much for athletics as for recovery. “Progress is not linear.” The look of joy as health returns. AthleticsThis year has been far less about my physical fitness progression and much more about spiritual and mental development. This was not by design. For the first time, I’ve struggled with a physical injury and blood markers that have hampered my training. Fortunately, I’ve also been living much closer to nature thereby supporting inquiry. I’ve spent a lot of time getting clear about my ikigai (reason for being)

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Dark Night

I’ve made it through another dark night. While I can’t say for certain that it’s over, it does feel like I’ve stepped through a door. And on this side of the threshold, I can see two things that have helped me reach this point. Consistent, healthy routinesDuring this difficult time, I’ve relied on practices that support my wellbeing. Over time I’ve learned that there are six keystones to my health: sleep, good nutrition, community (support and connection**), time in nature, regular exercise, and daily meditation. I’m constantly tuning each of these but they have all proven to be essential. Thanks

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Injury

It’s taken me four days to acknowledge my situation enough to write about it. Injury isn’t easy for anyone to accept. As an athlete in preparation for scheduled races, being side-lined in any way causes frustration on at least two levels. I want to exercise because it’s a big part of my physical and mental health. Also, I’m not moving forward as planned or as desired. Put another way, I’m not meeting my expectations. Anyone who has done relationship work may recognise the keyword—expectations—as a major hindrance to conversation and connection. It is equally destructive in athletics. First, what did

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