Smart Athlete Podcast Episode 1 - Ryan Ross - Motivation is Everything Part 2 of 3

You know, it's, I hang out in various, like triathlon forums and kind of see, you know what people are asking about and different things. And often I see beginners say, “Okay, I have this 12 week training plan that I found on X,Y, Z site like, is this a good training plan?

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JESSE: You know, it's, I hang out in various, like triathlon forums and kind of see, you know what people are asking about and different things. And often I see beginners say, “Okay, I have this 12 week training plan that I found on X,Y, Z site like, is this a good training plan?” And so I think the question comes back to that you probably have to answer all the time, why do I even need a coach, if, you know, all these training plans are available? RYAN: Well, let me say for us that coaches love it when we hear our athletes on social media sites related to triathlon. And we just love them going out there hearing about how everyone else is doing more than them and all of that. We just love that, coaches love that. Yeah. In fact, I put it in especially for you know, like Iron Man has, like, every event has like an event page. Like, for example, like certain point three, Chattanooga, there's an event page. And the athletes will go on there and they'll read about all this stuff other athletes are doing. Oh my gosh, that person did a 70 mile ride in a 10 mile. I mean, what why am I not doing as much? And oh, my gosh, and then they're hearing things about the event. Oh, this road, it has a pot-- And yeah, I think that gets it… You know, I tell people especially leading up to Iron Man events, I'm like, no social media site, you say off the events page. If you need to learn something important about the event that's that pertinent, they will email you and tell you. You need to be trolling every website because it gets up here, for sure. So, why don't need a coach? Well, the accountability structure for one that I already talked about. Like, I have a questionnaire like if I have a new athlete, I'll have these questionnaire I'll send. And one of the things in there is what are the three biggest things you want from your coach. And I don't think I've ever got one back that didn't say accountability. It says accountability every time. And if you pull in-- You know what, I'm sure because I'm a big believer in that training for a big triathlon, it's like making a pizza. You can make a pizza a lot of different ways in a lot of different styles and get a good pizza. A training plan can be the same. There's no best one, there's no exact right way to do it, you can have a great race based upon different methodologies. The problem with downloading one off the internet is, in my opinion, is there might not be calibrated for you appropriately. If you have questions, you're not going to get answers. You have the accountability piece, people following you up asking how a workout went, adjusting future workouts, what do I do if I get sick? You know, how do I incorporate a training race for my big race, all that kinds of stuff. So, there's a lot of important stuff out there that can be put in like that, that you're not going to get with the download. I mean, I have certainly created many, many of basically downloanable type programs and people will come to me, and I'll make them up 12 weeks, send it on, that's great. I mean, people are saving money because they're not paying me a ton to do that. Obviously, if you're getting stuff for free, you're not paying anything. But it's just some people just want and frankly, need that look over their shoulder multiple times per week, reviewing the workouts, you know. And if you have a bad week, chances are even if you have a well written program you download, like you said a 12 week program. If in week five, you have a bad week, maybe something in week six, if that program is progressing, needs to be adjusted and done differently, you know. So, there's a lot of things that the coach can provide, that you're not going to get just by downloading a program. JESSE: You haven’t quite touched on this, but like, I know, for me, on top of what, at least you know, the stuff that you provide for me, I'm not an expert in cycling. Like, I can ride all the running workouts, no problem. I have a deep background there. Whereas like average ?? 4:22> may not. But I know like you fill in a lot of gaps that I don't know about first of all. But, you know, maybe this doesn't happen with your other athletes, but I find more often it's like, having kind of a mental check, you know, instead of being able to second guess yourself. Like having somebody to bounce, you know, your kind of ideas and struggles off of rather than just saying, you know, I'm doing this today. And then it's like, was it too much? Is it not enough? Is it like How is it? Is it just right? And then questioning yourself. Like for me, a coach is almost, you know, helping the mental game more so than just the, you know, the physical aspect. RYAN: No, I get it. Yeah, I mean, I can definitely see that. Because, I mean, having a sounding board is nice. And when you have an athlete, and you're very good about this as an athlete is this explaining how or even workout comment saying how something felt, how it went? Because that helps the coach a lot. I mean, if that workout is, you know, maybe the workouts on a specific progression, well, the feedback you give might lead to an adjustment in the future week - workout go better now. You know, maybe adjusting recovery intervals up or downing the power or whatever it might be. So yeah. And you have to realize like for something like your experience, super experience with running, and some people come into this with no experience in anything at all. So, it's like providing that feedback to the coach so they can make adjustments to those kind of things. I mean, that's everything. Because I'm sure you with any running workout I give you, you know how it's supposed to feel and how it's-- I mean-- JESSE: Right. Yeah. Anytime you say we're doing this, I almost don't even go look at the watch just because I've been running for so long. I know it needs to feel like this, then we need to adjust it this way. But yeah, that's clearly not going to be, you know, the experience for everybody. I've been running since I was 12. RYAN: Yeah, and that's where the coach comes in. I mean, with a beginner, especially with beginner, a beginner is probably really excited, especially one you got to watch out for. And this was me when I came into triathlon was the athlete who you've got a new triathlete who is already advanced in one discipline. And they have good knowledge, and they don't acknowledging the others. That's usually someone who could tend to overdo things because they - fit. So you got to really fit cyclists that come into triathlon, they want to do a bunch of running, really, you can't really do that. You can't really sit on a saddle for five hours a week, in week three of becoming a cyclist. I mean, you have to build into those things. And that sounding board and I mean, that's huge for where the coach comes in. JESSE: So one of things I think we've talked about in the past, you know, I know triathlon has helped me as far as like, limiting injury, and like you mentioned earlier like that, the community is so supportive, it's ridiculous. I know, I know, growing up, cross country community was always just very generous, very nice, people helping other people like meets and stuff. And then the triathlon communities almost been kind of expansion on that, which seemed just before bonkers to me. But I think a lot of people are a little afraid of the sport because they think it's expensive. So, I want to get your thoughts kind of on, like, is triathlon expensive? And like, is there any way to mitigate the expenses? Like how would you approach it if somebody said, you know, I want to do this, but I'm on a limited budget? RYAN: I'd say let's do this. So, I do these beginner triathlon forums from time to time. And the very first thing I say is, you can get everything you need to do a triathlon at Walmart. And that is absolutely the truth. Now, is it an expensive sport? Yeah, it can be but it doesn't have to be. I mean, as I like to say, if you can pedal the bike and it moves forward, it's good to go. It's good enough. Swim goggles, I mean, you don't have to buy swim cap they give it to you, you just need some goggles, maybe a wetsuit, clothing and running shoes, I don't think all that sounds really all that expensive to me. Now, if you have the burning desire, and want to you know, compete for something. I want to go super far, long or whatever, yeah, it starts to get more expensive, but it doesn't have to be. Now unfortunately, part of the reason why we have this reputation is the different demographics of a triathlete. And the demographics of a triathlete are something to me, I just I hate the demographics of the average triathlete. It's middle age, it's white, and its upper class. JESSE: Right. It's like I think USA triathlon puts out this statistics, it's like the average triathlete household earns at least six figures. RYAN: Yeah. And I hate that. I hate that because I would like to see our sport be able to reach out to other cultures and do things to get rid of that reputation that you gotta have a bunch of money to do triathlon because you just don't. You absolutely do not. ?? 9:59> mean, if only we can get our race directors to cooperate on race entry fees, it shouldn't be that much more. It's always going to be more expensive than a sport like running because you do have to buy, entry fees are more, you got to have a helmet. But it's not as astronomically is expensive. It doesn't have to be especially for a beginner. I mean, a beginner, I'm not sure why you’d go out and spend $10,000 on stuff [??? 10:26 anyway. Yeah, no triathlon, it doesn't have to be that expensive. JESSE: Yeah, I think one time you had mentioned to me referring to triathlon as your healthy habit. I think that happens with a lot of also middle aged guys. There's a lot out there that say, okay, this is my new hobby, and then they'll go out and buy a $5,000 bike and like all this equipment, and then they're like, slow as mud. RYAN: Yeah, and you certainly don't need to spend $5,000 for a bike to create a healthy habit. Absolutely not. I mean, I have an offseason triathlon class and this year, I've got a lot of beginners. And they're in there on their indoor trainers, and their hybrid bikes with platform pedals. And they're going to start out on the cheap and they are doing it right, they're doing way they should. And they're not going to be any, from a health standpoint, they're not going to be improving-- They're going to get the same health improvements that the guy next to them with the $5,000 simalo. I mean, it's going to be the same. So no, it just doesn't have to be. Unfortunately, you know, the sport is very type A, very white collar. It's just a part of that just comes from our reputation. JESSE: So kind of along with like, like you mentioned, like, you can get the guy Ryan, the $5,000, tracker Sevilla bike, and then you can have somebody writing even a mountain bike. I actually address this in another video, like, do you need a triathlon bike to race triathlon. RYAN: Remember, if you pedal and it move forward, you're good to go. JESSE: You're good to go. So, you're clearly getting like physical benefits. But one of the things that, you know, I like to kind of research and focus on is like, the mind body connection. And I think about this a lot myself, you know, how we can debate this. But for this purpose, I'll say we are our mind, you know, whatever's going on there, and that our bodies are vehicles. So like yes, we know how to strengthen the body. But like, how would you suggest strengthening your mind so that you have like a stronger mind body connection, or you're able to, you know, withstand a tougher workout or to race harder, or you know, to get more out of yourself? RYAN: So, strengthen the mind body connection, this is the the absolute biggest thing that I would encourage someone to do is to, as we were talking about just a minute ago, we have a type A sport with that a lot of the athletes have good money. So, technology has become a part of our sport. Technology takes away from the mind body connection because we're no longer listening to our bodies. We're going to get that heart rate where it needs to be, we're going to get that power up and we're just going to go to whatever the number on the training program says. That takes away from the mind body connection. I'm big on perceived effort type training. Now, all modes have their place, perceived effort, power-- they all have places. But perceived effort was something that was obviously big at one point, not so big now because technology has become so prevalent. We still need to be spending a fair amount of time in perceived effort training in order to enhance the connection between mind and body. JESSE: So, I actually had my roommate in college, who was a walk on with the cross country team. He just had the darndest time trying to, you know, feel a pace. You know, I'd always talked to him about, you know, you need to feel this pace or feel that pace and learn, you know, what your body, you know, how everything's firing and feeling; your heart rate and your lungs to know how to kind of race to your maximum. But it just seemed like he could not get there. Have you ever had an athlete that just seems to have like no progression, no feeling at all? It’s just you know, complete disconnect between mind body? RYAN: Well, the question I would ask for that athlete is are they effort based training, but at different intensity levels? So, are they doing typical, what we commonly refer to as like zone two, aerobic and endurance building network? But are they also interval training with perceived effort? So, they're feeling like what multiple effort levels feel like. Because if you're always doing the same thing, I can definitely see where you'd have a problem with that. But I think the first thing I would do with that athlete is I would say, let's do perceived effort training, but let's do it with tempo runs, let's do it with 800 repeats, whatever it might be, to allow that athlete to really feel the difference between different levels of exertion. ?? 15:39> can do that. There's a really well known running coach, maybe you've heard of her Ginny Hatfield? JESSE: I'm not familiar with her. RYAN: So she, I'm on like her email list. And I've looked at, you know, I've seen her website before, and she's big on her, a lot of her training programs they’re effort based intensity ranges. And she has done some great writing on perceived effort training and talking about how, if you train by your effort it gives you-- you have such a higher ceiling to improve, because you're only focused on your effort. So, what’s going happened is that effort, as long as you-- let's say you have, like, she gives you like an interval set each week that's relatively similar. Well, what's happening over time is the pace is improving, and improving and improving at the same effort level. And it goes back to, you know, what we said, you know, fatigue resistance, you know, back in the beginning of this. And that's how our bodies get more efficient, is, you know, we think about speed workouts and such and that's great. But really, for an endurance athletes, speed is not near as important as how efficient we are. So that perceived effort training improves our efficiency. Where if you're constantly slaving to a pace, you're going to have days where you're off, you’re going to have days where you train too hard, maybe not train hard enough. But your perceived effort, you know, they say in like in football, defense travels, well, perceived effort travels. It doesn't matter if you're having a bad day, maybe you're getting over an illness, or what it might, you're coming back off a down period; your perceived effort is always there. And it's always ready to improve because it's an efficiency based approach. It's not a chasing a number type approach. JESSE: Right. So I mean, I guess when I talked to him, you could say partially it's a repetition thing, and then also, breaking up into different RPE’s different, you know, perceived effort ranges and really the repetition of doing that over and over, that would help him? RYAN: Yeah, definitely. And what I would do with an athlete like that is, you know, at my core, I know we have like, if you look at like training methodologies, we have like five zone systems, some coaches have seven. I personally, I personally think that if you're training off perceived effort you have three. You have an endurance zone, you have a moderate - tempo, and you have your intervals zone. And that's really, I would break it down into those three, and I would have an athlete work in knows, because that's going to allow him to feel through the different levels of exertion rather than trying to always feel the same pace all the time. I would mix it up. JESSE: Yeah, and I always feel like, you know, I think you right now we've got six zones for my bike power. But it's almost like we can knock out that bottom one because zone one is, like I might as well just be sitting here. RYAN: It’s warming up. JESSE: Right. So, it's almost like useless at that point. I do want to go back to, you’d mention how it's not just about power and speed, but efficiency. So, I think most people can agree that swimming, they're like there is a right way to swim. Like technique is so focused on in the swim. I don't find it as controversial nowadays. But do you think there is a proper way to run?

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