Monday, November 24, 2014

Tales from the Front - What's the rush?

"I do not fear the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks. I fear the man who has practiced 1 kick 10,000 times."

Bruce Lee

Hey all,

So, this is post has been long in coming, but its taken me some time to read more, learn more before actually putting it all together.

For most of you, if you are an endurance athlete, this is your off season. Now, I'm not a coach who believes in periodization, as an advocate of, and coach of the Crossfit Endurance model, its been shown that a CFE trained athlete can be at 95% top form all year round and maintain it for life. It requires some lifestyle changes and some diligence, but I can attest at how beneficial it is. Therefore, I don't believe in an off season. I view it as more of a time of year to clean up your bad movement. Let me explain.

When most athletes start training for the following season, they begin to do what? Build a base. Ok, that assumes that your body has magically lost all the endurance fitness you had from the previous year. That's completely false. It takes 6 weeks of doing NOTHING, meaning being completely sedentary, for the body to lose 15% endurance. So let me present another option - skill work. In all areas.

Most endurance or sports specific athletes are very fit for that sport. But what happens when viewing their fitness as a whole? For example, what happens when watching an athlete, no matter the level, do a squat? Weak ankles, valgus knee, hip inflexibility or ridiculous tightness. Simply taking time off doesn't cure that. Working on your skills, your total fitness does. Why? Because if you squat like shit, odds are, you're running like shit, riding like shit, swimming like shit. Unstable ankles don't cure themselves. Strength, mobility, conditioning, you know, all the things we preach at INTENT is what helps your fitness quotient. If I can improve your squat, you will understand how to get glutes and hamstrings to fire, making it easier for you to learn how to run forefoot, it will prevent you from toeing down when cycling, essentially leaking all kinds of energy, it will improve dorsiflexion so when you are kicking in the water you are efficient. More miles or all that "base" work with poor movement is simply lining you up for the inevitable injury.

To add to poor movement is this need to rush through your warm up before working in any modality - swim, bike, run, strength. That is quite possibly the worst thing to do. We have everyone warm up prior to strength classes with some dynamic mobility to see where they are limited in their movement patterns. So when doing inchworm, we are looking to see if you can keep legs straight as you bring them to your hands. When you rush, all you are doing is keeping those very, very tight hamstrings locked into a position that is not going to allow you to move well. You won't be able to lift as effectively, you won't be able to perform simply body weight movements as effectively. And its why your knee starts bugging you at mile 4 of a 10 mile run, or why after a hard ride, your knees or hip flexors are torched.

Something almost as bad as rushing the warm up, is not realizing your lack of mobility. As coaches, we can talk about the need for mobility all day, I won't ever stop talking about it. But if you aren't doing something about it, then that's on you. Everything affects the other. If you still can't get your legs up to shoulder level with straight legs while doing monster walk after months of training, that should alert you to your lack of mobility. So instead of spending an extra 20 minutes of junk mileage, spend it on stretching, using a lacrosse ball or foam roller to open up those areas. Its not by coincidence that people who spend time on mobility are able to pick up POSE method running quicker.

All of the above is why we view INTENT as more than a gym, its a lab. We can diagnose your movement pattern issue, give you the prescription, then re-test. But we can't force you to practice these things at home. If your doctor prescribes something to help you, and you don't follow through, you aren't shocked that you didn't get better. Well, the same rules apply with your training. Skill work is your prescription. Then adding in strength and compound work - meaning load and intensity, will test how you much you are improving. See everyone wants to improve, but no one wants to do the little things to get there. And let me say from experience, its about the little things. Its about your warm up, your hydration, your sleep, your strength, your overall fitness that makes the difference.

To the nay sayers, who love to tell me how never in a race does a deadlift competition break out. Well, no shit. But what you learn by perfecting your deadlift will improve your bike and run. Significantly. It will help you avoid injury. And if you are serious about doing well next season, then you owe it to yourself to sweat this small stuff. If you are truly chasing performance - I mean isn't that what life is about? - then get up, take an honest, no bullshit look in the mirror, and see if you are willing to make the changes. Because its not just about the sport - its about life. Moving well in everything we do is the goal. Living pain free is the goal. That's as much about chasing performance as trying to go sub 2 hours in an Olympic distance triathlon.

Thanksgiving is this week. We all have much to be thankful for. In terms of timing, its November 24. So, what exactly are you prepared to do about it? What are you prepared to do about the holes in your fitness that stare you in the face every time you get up from a chair in pain, buy another pair of ridiculously over built running shoes with nonsensical stability, because you roll your ankles over your arch, grab for the bottle of ibuprofen after a moderate workout?

Maybe its time for a change. Food for thought.

Stay strong,