[00:00:00] It was definitely not planned. So I run. It was my thing. That’s what I grew up wanting to do, be a runner. And that’s obviously why I went to school, like to continue to stay competitive post-high school. And after college I had been dealing with some injuries. I was trying to stay competitive and keep competing on the track, started dabbling in some road races but strained my calf really bad and I had a bit of a background in cycling and that following college when I graduated, I did a bicycle trip across the country.
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Jesse: [00:01:25] Welcome to the Smart Athlete Podcast. I’m your host Jesse Funk. My guest today is a former Division 1 runner, also a former Cat 2 cyclist. Two very difficult things to do and the crossover is not always terribly easy for many people. So very impressive there. He’s a running coach. He has his doctorate in physical therapy. You can find him on Instagram at @redefinephysio. Welcome to the show, Jimmy Picard.
Jimmy: [00:01:53] Thanks for having me, Jesse. Great being here.
Jesse: [00:01:55] Yeah, absolutely. And so. Well, like I’ve said in the intro that I know some people make the crossover from running to cycling. And I’m thinking of a friend of a friend of mine who lives in Cleveland who I think has somewhat of a similar story. You kind of had some injury issues with running and then took up cycling, and then somehow you kind of rose up through the categories relatively quickly. So I guess, can we start there and can you talk to me about. How do you go from like D1 runner, which is a dream to many people who run competitively to let’s ditch that and go to cycling? Can you tell me about that kind of story or part in your life?
Jimmy: [00:02:42] Yeah, for sure. It’s so. It was definitely not planned. So I. Running was my thing. That’s what I grew up wanting to do. Be a runner. And that’s obviously why I went to school. Like to continue to stay competitive post-high school. And after college I had been dealing with some injuries. I was trying to stay competitive and keep competing on the track, started dabbling in some road races but strained my calf really bad and I had a bit of a background in cycling and that following college when I graduated, I did a bicycle trip across the country leisurely or fairly leisurely.
[00:03:26] So I had experience on the bike but was not at all a competitive cyclist would just ride around town and then did that trip. But it was about three years after graduating college training for Marathon and just strained my calf really bad and forced me to be sidelined from running for about three months. And during that time I had a friend that was racing cyclocross and he encouraged me to try it out.
[00:04:00] I was working at a running shoe store that also had a bike component or a bike side to it. And so they lent me a cyclocross bike and I hopped in my first cyclocross race and I had been training a lot on running, and so I was coming off of running like 90-mile weeks. I was fit.
[00:04:20] And during that first cyclocross race, I remember sitting at the starting line and looking over to the guy next to me and just like asking him “What exactly we’re supposed to do?” Because I had no idea, like how this, how the races worked. It was like a lap thing where you not really clear how many laps you’re doing until a couple of laps into it. Then they tell you and I just didn’t know what was going on.
[00:04:42] So I look over at the guy and try to get him to explain that to me, but I ended up winning that race despite crashing probably three times per lap. Luckily. Luckily it was grass, so soft, but that was my first experience with it and I fell in love with it. Cyclocross is really fun because the races are under an hour, very intense. I feel like most runners were used to going hard for about an hour, so it fit well with my fitness and then from there I just continued to keep riding. I was in PT school and I had a lot of extra time and so I was able to just start cycling a lot.
Jesse: [00:05:27] So I’m going to back up a little bit because from your perspective. I think it’s like it’s kind of like a funny anecdote, like you’re at the starting line going like, what? Like what are we doing? But I feel like from the other guy’s perspective, it’s got to be pretty disheartening to be like this guy who didn’t even know what’s going on, like, ends up winning. Like, was he just, you know, like, it almost seems like you’re just, like, hustling and, like, what are we doing here? You know, I don’t know —
Jimmy: [00:05:56] Probably. But then you also have to keep in mind that cycling races aren’t like running races where it’s I was in the Cat 5 race. Right? These are mostly folks that are newer to cycling. So —
Jesse: [00:06:07] That’s,fair.
Jimmy: [00:06:07] For me. To win was not really a big deal because, like, you’re competing against people who are less fit.
Jesse: [00:06:15] Right. Right now, I. I always forget that it’s that kind of like whereas running you don’t have the categories and then like. The race is almost still to themselves out like, you know, just as an easy one for everybody although this is obviously not the be all but like Boston’s going to be more competitive than like your local race so the categories kind of sort themselves out in their own way.
Jimmy: [00:06:41] Yeah.
Jesse: [00:06:41] There’s no official hierarchy. So, for the listener, can you, two things, 1) describe the format of cyclocross a little bit more and 2) describe the process of going through the categories because it’s not as I recall, you’ll correct me, it’s not quite as easy as just being like, I’m great at Cat 5, so I’m just going to go race Cat 2, right?
Jimmy: [00:07:06] Yeah. So cyclocross is really fun. It’s kind of like you can I used to think about it as like cross country is to track cyclocross is to road racing or track racing. So it’s primarily on soft surfaces, grass and mud, stuff like that because it’s typically a little bit of road in there. But more technical, the courses often have obstacles in them, whether it’s sandpits or barriers that you have to jump over staircases, that you have to hop off your bike, carry your bike up the stairs, hop back on the bike.
[00:07:47] So there’s a lot more to it than just riding your bike. Hence why I crashed so much during that first race. But then the process for moving up the categories is pretty. It’s pretty fun and unique compared to running. ‘Cause in running, you can toe the line and be next to like the fastest guy or the guy that’s going to win the race. Even if you are very, very slow and it’s your first race.
[00:08:13] In cycling, you have to start at the bottom and kind of prove that you are fit enough to move up to the next level. And you do that by getting points in each race. So each place is given a different point. And if once you get X amount of points, you can apply to move up to the next category. But it’s very official. You have to go through application and prove that you have the results that warrant you moving up to the next level. It is funny though because Cat 1’s the best. Cat 5 is the worst or I guess pro is the best. It’s a process.
Jesse: [00:08:51] The one thing I feel like to me, it seems like you just points and you move up, but I think maybe I have this wrong. I heard sometimes there’s like a time component, like you have to wait so much time between categories or is it just points related?
Jimmy: [00:09:08] Back when I raised, it may have changed. I do not believe that’s true because I think I moved up to Cat 1 or to Cat 2 within like less than a year. Or maybe right about a year. Yeah.
Jesse: [00:09:26] Okay. So I just like. It’s not my world so that I just don’t it doesn’t get ingrained in my head quite as well.
Jimmy: [00:09:35] For sure.
Jesse: [00:09:35] And then, yes, because I talk about endurance stuff, sometimes I get asked these questions and I’m like, I don’t, I don’t know. I don’t know. Ask Jimmy. Jimmy would know. Don’t ask me. So then you’re doing this for a while. Is it purely out of a, you just want to compete, or are you trying to get to the Cat 1 pro level or is it just like I’m having a good time? I’m just doing it because I like doing it.
Jimmy: [00:10:03] Yeah. At that time I was in PT school, I was taking school very seriously back then. But this is just a way for me to compete and spend my weekends having fun traveling around. I was on a few teams and so most of my friends are on these teams and it’s just a way to hang out with people and compete.
Jesse: [00:10:26] I think that’s like. In many ways it’s almost like the purest continuation of, I think, early days of running for most runners. I could be wrong. I think you kind of touch on this on a blog post from your website. For you, the listeners, redefine-pt.com. Thinking, talking about like, see if I can remember this, right? Like, just like the simple joys of running, like before technology gets involved. And we’re so data-focused and just being obsessed with, like, all the kind of granular nuggets of training and stuff.
[00:11:08] It seems like, obviously, cyclocross, not running, but just taking it from like I’m going out to enjoy it. Standpoint. If you can maintain that, like a place of Zen. Maybe that’s the one I’m looking for because I have, like, a hyper-competitive nature. It seems like a good place to live if you can stay there.
Jimmy: [00:11:31] Yeah, and honestly, that’s. That was one of the reasons I started to really like it, because I was coming out of this, like, years of being competitive on the running scene and battling injuries, being frustrated with that, and then also being at an age where I was beginning to accept that I was not going to continue to improve. And so cycling was a chance for me to kind of reset and go back to no expectations, just being out there having fun.
[00:12:05] However, I will say it quickly is like with success, it quickly became something that I did get competitive with. I never had any aspirations of being pro or anything like that, but I did take it seriously and seriously enough where at some point I needed to step away from that because I thought it was not helpful for me anymore.
Jesse: [00:12:29] Yeah. I wonder. And this is me. This is a projection entirely I wonder about. I often ask former pros or former collegiate athletes. And just again, searching for maybe an answer for myself. Just like, how do you walk away from competitiveness? Because we spend so much we spend so much time and effort and mental energy and just like. Like I know as an example, I’ve been working. We’ll talk more about this in a minute, but I’ve been working on making my long runs slower.
[00:13:09] Because my tendency is if I feel a little discomfort, like lean into that, like just lean a little bit harder, go a little bit faster. And I’m not like crushing my long runs. But just again, we’ll talk about something, but just like that’s. That’s my inborn tendency to be competitive, to go faster, to want to do that. So like but I also have a friend who’s in his I guess he’s approaching 70 now who’s just like, you need to learn about just doing it for health and, you know. I don’t know how to do that, I guess, it’s the short version. So can you walk me through it? How, like, lead me to the promised land, Jimmy, help me get there.
Jimmy: [00:13:57] I think this is pretty funny that you’re asking me that because this is not a joke. This week I Googled that exact question. I was like, “There’s got to be a book I can read about this” So for me, what happens?
Jesse: [00:14:10] Maybe we should write a book. Maybe we should just go around interviewing people and write a book about this.
Jimmy: [00:14:14] I often talk about this with colleagues. It’s like, how do we evolve as competitive athletes as we age? Because we have to evolve. We have to change our relationship to the sport. And so for me, what has ended up happening was it started with high school, then college, then trying to be competitive after college, then switching to switching sports entirely to cycling than my path. I transitioned from that to getting into strength training pretty heavily and seeing like just another way I could be competitive and push my body.
[00:14:54] Then from there, once I moved out here to Salt Lake, I took a trail running and it started all over again where it’s like now I’m getting competitive and thinking about wanting to be at that elite level. But it’s funny because here I am, 37 years old, married with two kids, and it’s like very unrealistic for me to continue to hold on to those dreams.
Jesse: [00:15:18] Yeah.
Jimmy: [00:15:19] That doesn’t mean I can’t go out and push myself and train really hard, but I think the evolution has to occur internally with, like I said, like your relationship to the sport and what success means. So for me, what I’ve been trying to work on is just like enjoying being outside, running, being in the mountains out here, coming home and seeing my kids right when they wake up right after that run when I’m feeling good.
[00:15:48] And then also with being a coach, I can kind of take all the things that I’ve learned, all my experience and help athletes from the beginning and have this relationship a better relationship to the sport so that their identity isn’t wrapped up in the sport like mine was. And that’s been really helpful. I don’t want to say living vicariously through my athletes at all, but helping them learn from the mistakes that I made.
Jesse: [00:16:20] I think you kind of touched on, what I think is a crux of the transformation that has to take place. And admittedly, given what I’ve already said, it’s not that I have come to the mountain top and I’m here to tell you the good news and show you how enlightened I am. But just these are my thoughts on where I think maybe the road leads. And that’s like starting with redefining success, right?
[00:16:50] Whereas like maybe previously for me that that shiny glory thing was like trying to get that pro card in triathlon or in college, trying to for me it was breaking 16 and then in the 5K, which I did and then trying to get then the next artificial barrier. Okay, let’s go 15:45, let’s go 15, on and on. So there’s always that thing.
[00:17:16] But then getting older and was like, what is success look like for me at the moment would be just getting back to normal running. I’ve been dealing with Achilles Tendinopathy this year, so I’m getting close in the next. I think in the next two months I’ll be fully pain-free. But I think that’s the crux of changing the relationship right is allowing the success to be not so centered on “Did I run a new lifetime fastest time?” Because, I mean, no matter who you are, eventually you just can’t anymore. Like, we all deal with that.
Jimmy: [00:17:59] And it’s a hard, hard thing or hard pill for most people to swallow. If you’ve had success, if you again, if that’s if the sport becomes your identity, who you are, and that is it, then it can be very hard to do that. And like you said, it sounds like we’ve both been there. And it’s hard because we love running and it is a healthy thing for us to do. It’s great for the body, it’s great for our minds. But yeah, like you said, just redefining what success is.
Jesse: [00:18:35] I think what I struggle with and I don’t know whether this will resonate with you, is it like I — so I changed focus. So I, we were talking about company. We’re here mostly talking about you. It’s like I have my company or companies now and I kind of shift away from like, okay, let’s spend more time on this because this is a more long-term trajectory. And I began to spend more time on music stuff. I play an instrument and write music and that kind of thing. And those are things that I can take with me much longer into life than like high-end athletic performance, which has a very short shelf life as far as lifespans go.
[00:19:13] I think the thing I struggle with. Is like. When I have like maybe sparks of a good day. And I go, you know, you remember you go, oh, like I remember what I could do, such and such. Maybe I could do it again. Like, let’s could we put together a schedule like we can we start thinking about like it’s just the wheels start turning from just the smallest thing. That’s the thing that I struggle with.
Jimmy: [00:19:43] Yeah, it’s a slippery slope for sure. It’s like. So I was doing a track. I did a track workout two days ago is my repeats with very short rest like cruise intervals and. Because of having two kids. I was out at the track before 6 a.m., but I finished the workout. I felt great, got home, looked at my splits, and I was like, well, so the wheel like you said, the wheels start turning and you’re like, “Oh, maybe I can get back in shape, I can start getting good.”
[00:20:12] But then I look at my pace and I’m like, this was would have been an easy run back when I was in college. And so that was just a big slap on the face. It’s like, you know, at some point you just it just becomes you’re not going to be what you were back in college.
Jesse: [00:20:30] Right.
Jimmy: [00:20:30] And it’s accepting that. And that’s totally fine because like you said, we evolve, we change, we get other priorities. The music thing, the businesses, those –.
Jesse: [00:20:40] Kids.
Jimmy: [00:20:41] Kids, yes. All that stuff takes over and that’s all great. And it’s just the new chapter. So that’s where that evolution comes in. You have to accept it and go with it. And the problem is, like, we all start fighting it. Like you said, you get that little feeling of like the fitness coming back and you push into it.
Jesse: [00:21:04] Right. And I think it also not touch about touch on this. I don’t know how many number of times because it seems like a bottomless well of a topic. But you’re talking about figuring out how to not to define yourself entirely by the sport. You know, and I think. I think it’s difficult to do when you are so successful and or competitive because by its nature, like the amount of training it’s consuming.
[00:21:41] So like it’s you wake up thinking about like, did I get enough rest, what I need to eat, got to eat by such and such time to get ready to run. Then I got to run. Then I have to recover from it. And just like it consumes your entire clock. I mean, I’ve talked about this before. I don’t know how many Christmases of my life like people had to wait on opening gifts because I was out for a long run.
Jimmy: [00:22:07] And that’s the thing that like when you look back on those things, you can kind of realize how selfish it makes you. And if you want to be successful and you want to be at the top of your game and in a way you do have to be very selfish. And I think for me, having children now, what I’ve learned is that having kids just, like, shines a spotlight on all of your selfish tendencies. Right? It really highlights them. And it can be a rude awakening when you see them.
Jesse: [00:22:35] Yeah.
Jimmy: [00:22:37] But at the same time, it’s like, I want to show my kids that you can have a healthy relationship with these.
Jesse: [00:22:42] That’s exactly what I was going to ask about because it’s because you don’t want to — Okay, so here’s my theory. As a dad of six weeks now, let me dispense my eternal wisdom. I mean my — your kids don’t need to follow in your footsteps. You don’t need to project and push them and make them mini versions of you. I don’t think that is what I’m after, but. How? I mean, how many times do you have people that are like, “Oh, what are your parents like? What are they? What are their interests?” And it’s just like, “I don’t know anything about my parents. They don’t do anything.”
[00:23:25] And I understand that parents, by their nature, are going to end up time-wise, energy-wise, resources-wise, devoting a lot of that to their kids. That’s just how the relationship goes. But I contend, I think. This is my, I guess, theory. You should be able to, I guess, help children grow up to be more adjusted adults when you still maintain something, some kind of interest of your own, where you’re maintaining your own sense of, I guess, identity outside of just being a dad or just being a mom.
[00:24:13] It’s the same, in a different light, it almost seems like the same problem as being consumed by the identity of I’m just a runner, this is all that I do. And then just transferring that over to like, I’m just a dad. That’s all that I do. Well, then. Not that it stops, but kids leave home eventually. Well, now what? Are you an empty shell.?
[00:24:36] And then is that what you’re modeling for your kids? Like, if they want to have kids, that’s all they can do. It’s a balance, obviously. There are some people in, he’s retired now, but former pro triathlete Jesse Thomas, founder/co-founder of Picky Bars. So shout out to them. He was racing and they had kids. And I was just like, I have no idea how that man is racing professionally at that level and having just. But I think it was probably great for his kids as young as they were to be able to see him still doing his thing. So, I don’t know. I’ll love your thoughts on that.
Jimmy: [00:25:17] Yeah. So a couple of things. One, on the flip side, like, I don’t want my kids to — when somebody asks them, what’s your dad like? I don’t want them thinking like, “Oh, I have to wait to open my Christmas presents on Christmas because my dad’s out running. Right? But at the same time, I want him well, I want them two boys to see that I can have a healthier relationship with athletics.
[00:25:47] And that it is a part of my life and it’s a big part of my life, but that they come first, family comes first, business work, running are there. But they don’t take priority. The kids, the family takes priority. But I have my own life and I do these things because I love there’s nothing better than finishing a race, crossing the finish line and seeing your kid right there. Right? So it’s amazing. And showing them that what people what we can do, that we can push ourselves really hard and complete.
[00:26:22] For me right now, like it’s doing like ultramarathons and stuff like that, but it’s being an example to show them that these things are doable. But then it’s also other things like I play the guitar too, and it’s like, I’ll sit there and play the guitar with my son, with him sitting in my lap and he loves that. And it’s like, like I force any of this stuff on him, but I must show him that we can have a healthy relationship with all of these things.
Jesse: [00:26:48] I’m going to jump ship a little bit here and make a hard transition. So I want to ask a little bit about how you get into physical therapy. Is it the genesis, the history of injuries or in particular, anything in particular? Or is it just like you wanting to continue a kind of parallel track of being in the sport world yet not being like a pro in anything.
Jimmy: [00:27:19] Yeah. So I think so. It’s a great question. I wish I had a good answer. I’d say like I graduated from college. I had a one track mind I was running. That’s all I cared about. So I graduated and I started working at running shoe store and continued to try to compete. Very quickly, I realized that you do not make a lot of money doing that.
Jesse: [00:27:41] No, you don’t.
Jimmy: [00:27:43] And very quickly, I also realized that I was not going to become a professional runner. So then I started looking at what options did I have? I had a degree in kinesiology, and for me I was looking at various career paths in the medical field, and physical therapy just seemed kind of like what you’re saying seemed like the right fit where I could stay involved with running and sports and athletes and also make a career out of that. And so I applied for school and then just the rest is history.
Jesse: [00:28:23] Do — So I mean, you’re coaching and doing the physical therapy stuff, so. This is the I feel like the million dollar question and I ask anytime I’m talking to anybody like physio related, whether it’s directly physical therapy or it’s like a podiatrist to just the whole realm. I always like to ask about preventive maintenance and how do you get people to do it? Because one of the things I hear consistently is somebody gets injured. They go through the process, they get healthy and then maintenance drops off because they feel good. They’re good to go. I am guilty as charged in this scenario as well. How do you get it to stick? Do. Can you get it to stick?
Jimmy: [00:29:17] So you’re talking from the coaching side?
Jesse: [00:29:22] Right. Coaching, how you approach it.
Jimmy: [00:29:25] Yeah. So if working with a runner in a coach-athlete relationship, I always kind of stress upfront and it’s all of my athletes like you’re going to have a strength routine that I issue you based on deficits and strength and such that I see on our evaluation. So all of my runners, like we do, some sort of evaluation of physical assessment based on that, we create a strength program.
[00:29:52] So I just started from day one and say, like, this is part of the plan, right? This is just as important as the runs that you do. This is going to be on your schedule two days a week and you do that. If you have an injury, if come in with an injury, then you’ll probably have a list of PT style exercises that again gets put into the mix. And so when I’m programing weeks, I just put that on their schedule. So it’s there.
[00:30:18] And yeah, some people slack off and they’ll admit it later. And often that’s when the injury comes back or something is bothering them and they’re like, Yes, I should have been doing that. I stopped doing it. It’s hard. But I think the easiest way to do it is to try to make it fun, get a partner. So I do a lot of like group strength training here. So I’ll have athletes that come in, they bring a friend and it just becomes a part of their routine.
[00:30:45] It’s always better when you have somebody to do it with and then when you have when you can come someplace and somebody is working with you. Yeah, it’s I’d say that’s really hard even for me personally. Like when training goes up or life gets busy, it’s often the first thing that goes.
Jesse: [00:31:05] Well, I think part of it is just like pain’s a big motivator, right? So it’s like. Like, in my case, it’s obviously been getting much better, but you get up and it just hurts to walk because your Achilles is messed up. Well, that’s obviously a motivator. Like, I hate this. Let’s do something right. And then you get back to the healthy place for like, “Oh, I’m pain-free.” There’s no, like, reminder of it going, “Hey, that hurts because it doesn’t hurt.” So then you don’t do the like. So it seems like. Pain’s a motivator, but then you have to, like, figure out how to make it into the habit if you don’t have a coach.
Jimmy: [00:31:44] Yeah. So you’re right. Definitely. Like when I see patients, like, they’re often very motivated and they’re going to stick with the routine initially. And as soon as that pain goes away, most people are ditching the plan. But that’s where I think you have to have some sort of the plan has to evolve. You can’t just be doing PT exercises a year down the road that needs to evolve into some sort of strength program.
[00:32:08] So I’m a huge fan of lifting weights and all of my runners are doing squats and deadlifts with heavy weights or doing single leg work with heavy weight. And I think most people. They learn to like that just as much as they do. And I think it’s just it’s a little bit intimidating for a lot of runners, especially to be asked to do a deadlift or a squat with a barbell.
[00:32:35] And I think initially, like, if you have some coaching and you can learn how to do these movements and you can start doing them. Almost everyone like appreciates how they feel. Your body just feels way better. And if you like right now you’re probably doing like calf raises and things like that.
Jesse: [00:32:53] Yeah. Eccentric calf drops with weight.
Jimmy: [00:32:55] Yeah. And so it’s like you’re. That’s the perfect introduction to starting a strength routine, right? So from we take what you’re doing right now and then we just like slowly build on it because you’re in a routine now and then we — you’re probably doing that almost daily, I would guess.
Jesse: [00:33:13] Yeah, the PT is twice a day it takes all of 5 minutes or whatever. And I have, we have strength regularly, twice a week already. So it’s just. Yeah.
Jimmy: [00:33:24] Perfect. So it’d be like yeah. But with a patient it’d be like trying to transition like, “Hey, you’ve already made this habit of doing these exercises. Let’s decrease how often you do them. Make it the routine a little bit bigger, but you just kind of transition the routine in that way.” And like I said, almost everyone starts to love the way that they feel when you’re just running like it doesn’t take long for your body just to not feel great if you’re running a lot. And so a little bit of strength, I think people just respond well and they feel good with it.
Jesse: [00:33:57] I kind of wonder if this is just me being […] advocate, because obviously I agree with the strength program. But do you get — you ever get any pushback from people with the weights, especially, as you mentioned, lifting heavy weights to go, “Oh, I’m going to gain weight” or like “I’m going to get slow” like any of that. Do you get that pushback or am I just making that up?
Jimmy: [00:34:21] No, I feel like that’s a big thing with a lot of runners. It’s funny because most of the people that say that are the ones that are on the higher level, like elite level, and they’re the last ones that are going to get big because they’re running so much.
Jesse: [00:34:37] Yeah.
Jimmy: [00:34:38] And so it’s like it’s easy to — So I work with a couple or work with a couple of professional women runners here in town. And these are some of the smallest people I know, but they lift way more weight and they’re like they’re squatting and deadlifting heavier than most anyone else, and they are not putting on any weight, not gaining muscle.
[00:34:59] So it’s easy for me to just point to them and say, “Hey,” like “this person is lifting two times the amount of weight as you consistently two times a week and not getting bigger.” But yeah, that’s, that’s kind of like old school. And then you see people doing really silly things or like the runners who do end up doing some strength often they’re doing something like, I don’t know, three sets of 20 of something with a very light weight. That’s really not that’s not strength training. So just trying to educate them on that, too.
Jesse: [00:35:30] Yeah, I definitely feel like my coach and I do stuff not that he’s evolved or I mean, I’m sure he has, but just like the stuff that we work on nowadays is definitely different than like stuff we did in college. I definitely felt like that, especially in high school. The little strength training we did in high school was kind of that vein like lightweight, high reps, thinking like, “Oh, you’re an endurance athlete, so you don’t want to get big, so you just do it.”
[00:36:01] It’s like, well, as we know, there are other physiological adaptations that can take place that are useful when you increase the load. Gosh, this is the second, second episode I’m recording. I cannot remember this man’s name. It’s going to take me a minute. But speaking to this gentleman, this is back like episode 30 ish of the podcast.
[00:36:27] So I’ll get his name as I talk here, but he does research on like tendon adaptation and loading and how to optimize loading on tendons so that you get maximum power while reducing injuries and that kind of stuff. Where is it? Maybe I’m not going to find it. In any case. And the way he approaches that, I’m sure I’ll misquote him. So. Sorry. Sorry I have. I have to go back and look at that episode. So I think it’s like off the top of my head, maybe episode 36.
[00:37:06] But anyway started out like very low rep like three, maybe five and then just high weight to get that tendon adaptation so that you don’t have tendon problems as your muscles get stronger, you don’t have them like peel away from each other, which is obviously problematic. You’re trying to do anything. And just that approach I think, would be difficult fo, like, most kind of like low weight, high rep, classic approach to it.
Jimmy: [00:37:40] It’s funny because if you look up in the literature like what do bodybuilders do? What do? Like how do we actually stimulate muscle growth and hypertrophy? It’s with moderate loads for 8 to 12 reps, which is what most runners like gravitate towards. Whereas if we’re trying to improve performance in running or reduce injury risk by strengthening tendons and such, then you want to lift heavy and low reps. So most, most of the runners I’m working with, we’re doing some sort of scheme that finishes with two sets of six heavy and that’s it. So we’re not we’re going to build strength. We’re going to get those tendons loaded and get those adaptations without any sort of hypertrophy.
Jesse: [00:38:27] Yeah. I did finally find Dr. Keith Barr, Episode 30 I knew it was 30 something. That’s been several years ago since I’ve talked to Dr. Barr. So just, just took me a minute as I was telling Jimmy before we got recording, my brain just can’t quite keep track of all 160 episodes anymore. They kind of get lost inside my brain. But there are tidbits rattling around.
[00:38:53] I do want to talk to you, as I mentioned earlier, a little bit about easy pace, which I feel like is a struggle for many, many people, myself included. Recently I have gone to just use a heart rate monitor basically to say, like, this is my top line, like don’t go above it. And then figuring out where that groove is, because I’m a big fan of rate of perceived exertion.
[00:39:24] But as I mentioned, that tendency to try to like feel it and like push forward a little bit, it gets me into trouble sometimes. So I guess I want to ask you about finding what is actually easy pace and the importance or positive effects of doing so.
Jimmy: [00:39:47] Yeah. So there’s a bunch of different ways to find some sort of metric that will establish your easy pace. I’m like you though, where I prefer RPE and it just takes being honest with yourself, right? And that can be hard for some folks. And that’s where I do think something more black and white, like a heart rate monitor giving you a number to stay under can be helpful.
[00:40:12] But I always think, like the goal is to get away from any of that stuff as quickly as possible, to use it to learn where that limit is, to learn what that feels like, and then to stay below that. But I think like. Intuitively like if if you’re honest with yourself, you know what’s easy and you know what’s in that gray zone. Like you said, you know when it’s happening, you’re pushing it, you’re just having a good day. And that’s okay to do that from time to time.
[00:40:36] The problem is when every day becomes that, right? That’s there’s like there’s nothing wrong with going out and pushing it into that moderate zone. But if that’s every day, which for a lot of people, we gravitate towards that effort because it feels good. It feels like you’re getting a good workout in, but really you’re just you’re going fast enough or you’re not going to recover well, but slow enough that you’re not getting the benefits of fast running.
Jesse: [00:41:06] Right.
Jimmy: [00:41:06] And then that that gray zone kind of just messes up if you did your easy day in that kind of moderate zone and you have a workout the next day, now, you’re not going to be able to perform as well as you would. Have you taken that easy day? Easy.
[00:41:21] So I think one good way is to have a coach because they can hold you accountable. That’s my athletes often like joke or get mad at me because I’m always saying, “Hey, I think this run was a little fast today.” Like, what happened here, right? So if you can have a coach is looking and seeing what you’re doing and can hold you accountable to keep an easy day’s easy, that’s one way.
[00:41:44] The other way would be I like that the talk test, which is can you just have a conversation, right? Can you hold a conversation comfortably? Because there is a fine line. I think like there’s I feel like every podcast I listen to now is like or at least in the running world, people are saying, we need to take our slow two easy days, easier, easy days easier, easy days easier.
Jesse: [00:41:44] You can find articles and stuff about it for years now.
Jimmy: [00:42:11] And it’s like and I talk about it often to like I said, my athletes all know that —
Jesse: [00:42:16] But it’s just like it’s like the preventive maintenance thing. Like, you know, you need to do it.
Jimmy: [00:42:21] Yeah.
Jesse: [00:42:21] But like, so that’s —
Jimmy: [00:42:23] One thing I’ve been trying to that I’ve I was just talking to one of my runners about was I think I’m going to start implementing one day a week where you run your day, you run with no data, no GPS, no nothing, and you just go run and have fun, right? It goes back to like helping them transition to when they do have to evolve out of the sport or out of being competitive in the sport. It’s like we all got into running because we like the way it makes us feel. We like being outside, we like the wind in our face, right?
[00:42:56] So maybe that’s a way to do it is to like strip down instead of trying to add more and like look at more data to help you take your easy day, easy. It’s just get rid of the watch so that you’re not being competitive with the number. Right? And. Yeah. Just that maybe you have that specific days where you say, I’m not going to bring the watch, I’m just going to go run by feel. I’m going to have fun. That’s it.
Jesse: [00:43:24] In some ways, I kind of think it’s almost if I want to make like a general prescription or a panacea, so to speak, I almost feel like it’s like, are you having a problem with going too easy? If yes, do the opposite of what you’re doing. Because so I basically not run with a watch for the last decade and just relied on like I don’t race with the watch or just I’m very RPE focused, but I also know like over the years when I’m just running, I’ve been more injury prone.
[00:43:57] When I was doing triathlon, I think because of the mix, I didn’t have nearly as many injury issues. But now that I transition back to running, it’s just been like a build mileage up and then something a break. So I’m trying to break that cycle and that’s why I picked up the heart rate monitor and go like. You know, I know I can run easier, but I think I just get in my own head and it’s not even like Zone 3. It’s just like high zone 2. But again, it’s still too hard.
Jimmy: [00:44:27] And I think, again, the key is to have a balanced approach to it. To because it is a high zone 2, it’s totally fine. Right. There’s nothing wrong with running there. But it’s —
Jesse: [00:44:38] But it’s all the time.
Jimmy: [00:44:40] Yeah. So then it’s you just got to be. It’s easier said than done, but it’s like Monday’s my day where I just go slow as I possibly can. So I have a coach and I love this when I see my coach on some of the recovery days, he will be like, “Run as slow as you possibly can. No, pace is too slow.” And for me, that’s I get happy when I see that, right? It’s fun. It’s like I’ve learned to appreciate those days so that my hard days can be a little bit harder.
Jesse: [00:45:12] I think the only trouble I have with those and I think that’s why I like turn about accountability why the heart rate monitor keeps me accountable. It’s my particular solution, at least for now, is that I think because I do so much stuff and I feel like this is maybe a general problem here in the US at least because I do so much stuff I feel rushed sometimes or like I’ve got to get to the next thing.
[00:45:39] But then and I’ve talked about this before, but like you just think about it and you go, well, if I ran a minute slower per mile, even if I’m going up for a ten-mile run, I need to leave 10 minutes earlier. Like it’s not. You know, in a minute, a minute slower. It’s pretty significant. Like you’re going much easier. So. It is this just weird psychological game I think that we play sometimes that kind of leads us to this bad place of working too hard to not hard enough to get the positive effect of hard work, but too hard to get the effect of recovery.
Jimmy: [00:46:19] Yeah, and I think things like Strava and shared workouts on social media can make it a lot more challenging. At least for me it can, because I’ve been there for sure on runs where I’m trying to it’s supposed to be my easy day. Maybe I felt good. I start going, I look at the pace and I see, “Oh, maybe this run will be a little bit faster than I think or opposite. It’s really slow.” Then I start all those negative thoughts.
Jesse: [00:46:46] Yeah.
Jimmy: [00:46:47] So-and-so is going to see this run and start making fun of me because I’m running so slow. Right? And then that will often make me run a little bit faster than I should. So that’s where I think — that’s why I think it’s good to have some no data days or no GPS days.
Jesse: [00:47:05] Yeah, I think that’s fair. And I think another strategy I use and I — not that he is perfect is nobody’s perfect, but I, my friend who’s been on the podcast a couple of times, Todd Buckingham of some three and 20 something odd early on, season 1, season 2, he just won his 16/17th national title in triathlon, amateur triathlon. And he’s a sub-32 10k guy and he’s like, “Yeah, I run my long runs in like 7 to 8 minute pace,” which is much slower than he’s capable of doing comfortably.
[00:47:49] But that’s where he is and that’s what works for him, and he still produces the results. So sometimes I think about like a moment of like, what would Todd do just to kind of keep myself in check because I have like voices of coaches and podcast guests and friends and things inside my head that try to remind me of like. Those positive traits that I’m after, like slow down or speed up or moving away from negative thoughts like that. So I think, I think having that example is helpful for me.
Jimmy: [00:48:27] Yeah. And for me recently I started coaching it, an older gentleman, he’s 60 and running. His goal is to break 2:50 in the marathon and he just ran just under 3 hours for a marathon recently. And his easy days are ten-minute pace. And it’s like crazy because like when you look at some of these people who are running much slower than a three-hour marathon and they’re easy days are significantly faster than that forcing it.
[00:48:58] So for me, it’s been cool to see that too from because I’m working with athletes, I can see like the different attitudes and approaches and this guy is just confident running that much. I also think confidence plays a big role there. It’s like often folks are just not confident enough to run. They don’t trust themselves. They don’t have the self-esteem or whatever it is to just take it easy. They have to force it. They’re trying to like milk everything out of their training.
[00:49:25] And you see it a lot. When people taper too for a race, some people have to like they can’t taper. I call it self-sabotaging like two weeks before the race, they’re like, “Oh, I just got to do this last long run.” And they do that. And then they just empty the tank in that workout because they’re trying to get more confidence. But really they should have just trusted in their fitness and wrote it like let the taper happen.
Jesse: [00:49:48] Yeah. As we always say, “hay is in the barn.”
Jimmy: [00:49:52] Yes.
Jesse: [00:49:52] Don’t, don’t, don’t try it anymore. Jimmy, as we’re winding it on time, each season, I ask every guest the same question. Each season has a different question, but within a season it’s the same. So I’ll ask you the question for this year, and that question is how do you celebrate your wins?
Jimmy: [00:50:15] So that’s a good question. So I think a good thing for me recently is as I evolving as a runner kind of changing gears a little bit and putting myself and my family first in front of a lot of things. I think for me it’s celebrating with them and having them become a part of it and whatever that looks like, maybe it’s grabbing dinner with my wife or just hanging out with the family.
Jesse: [00:50:53] Solid answer. Jimmy, if people want to get in touch with what you’re up to, get coaching advice, any of that kind of stuff. Where can they find you?
Jimmy: [00:51:03] So best place is Instagram, which is redefinephysio or just emailing me, which is firstname.lastname@example.org Those are the two best spots and then my website has all my information on it too.
Jesse: [00:51:20] Awesome. Jimmy, thanks for hanging out with me today.
Jimmy: [00:51:22] Awesome. Appreciate it, Jesse.