Transcript of Audio
JESSE: 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?
RYAN: Man, I think that this topic has been really, really blowing up. I mean, I think it’s gotten– Is there an absolute perfect way to run? Probably not. And I think that’s been proven because there’s been a really high level runners who aren’t doing things quote-unquote, “perfect”. You would look at some runners and the absolute best example is the women’s marathon, world record holder, Paula Radcliffe.
I mean, her form is not anything close to what they put in the books, you know, it’s not even close. And I think sometimes, you know, the mind is the biggest obstacle to efficient movement. [??? 1:22] are thinking about everything. I guarantee you, Paula Radcliffe’s not out there thinking about everything when she’s [??? 1:28] marathon world record.
Now, some athletes are I mean, some runners, and most high level runners do kind of check the boxes on, you know, their foot strike, their cadence, how they swing their arms, they are checking all the boxes on there. But a lot of them are not. And then we have the topic of is there an injury risk for making major modifications?
I think the one thing I would look at with any runner is it’s kind of a two part thing is cadence, I think is very important. There isn’t any high level runners with slow cadences. Whether it’s a marathon runner, or the hundred meter sprint. There’s no such thing as any of them running a slow cadence. So, I do think there is a lot to be said for cadence, and training cadence.
And also, I think it’s well proven the training your cadence is not an injury risk, you know, learning set the feedback down a little bit sooner, it’s just not an injury risk at all.
Now, there’s an adjustment period and I think there’s a right way to do it. But some of the things, you know, for example, like heel striking, gets a horrible, has a horrible reputation. You know, Bobby McGee, who’s one of the most famous running coaches in the world will tell you, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a heel strike, as long as your cadence is good. Because what happens is, when the canes is good, your foot is falling underneath the center gravity.
So, if you’re running with a 70 cadence, and landing out front, you’re probably, you know, jarring– the brakes are on while you run and you have that injury risk. But if you’re striking with the heel first at a almost 90 cadence, that foot now is striking underneath the body, there’s not as much braking mechanism, and there is not an injury risk.
So, when I work with someone and talk about running technique, I pretty much focus on the cadence aspect is my big thing. If the arms are crossing the body, yeah, we’re going to fix that. If the heads bobbing up and down a lot, we’re going to talk about that. If they look like they’re sitting in a chair, we’re going to talk about the mobility of their hips a lot when they run.
But I have definitely found that by training the cadence properly, it allows everything else to kind of fall into place, sort of, hmm. And also the body’s ability to be strong and mobile is very important to having an efficient running form as well.
So it gets into, you know, our hips, you know, are we strong, where we need to be? Are we flexible, where we need to be? What’s our mobility like? And if those things are really good, you have a much better chance of having a really efficient running gait.
JESSE: So I was thinking about like, it’s this phrase in my head, I don’t know where it came from is “flexibility is strength”. Like increasing your flexibility increases your push off power, increases, you know, how fast you’re going to be able to go because everything is more mobile.
RYAN: Absolutely. Mobility is everything. Yeah, and for injuries as well. If the hips are locked up and tight, I mean, you can’t get into a good a good running cadence. It’s just, it’s just not going to allow it at all. That’s why I have a– I mean, my athletes, we, you know, I advise them on mobility type work, even if it’s just a few minutes, you know, with every run that they do, you know, just working on that aspect.
Another thing I would say is a lot of times, people who struggle with running cadence is they’re never doing they’re only doing easy paced running. And they’re never, you know, doing things like strides, which I know it, you know, doing strides and doing interval type training is going to help bring cadence up as well.
Because if you’re constantly running slow, every single workout, it’s going to bring cadence down, you’re not going to have as natural as high cadence. It’s the same thing with cycling. You get a lot of people come in, and they’re mashers.
You know, I’ll read a data file on a ride or a workout and average cadence, 78. Well, it’s like, That’s such a slow cadence. It’s the same thing. So, you do like things like fast pedal drills and stuff like that. You learn to turn the feet over more rapidly even if that means selecting easier gears, your a more efficient cyclist. So it’s the same thing in running.
JESSE: Yeah, I feel like when I started triathlon, I definitely matched the years more when I was racing. But as I was racing, I was like, looking at the guys that were passing me, and then watching like, trying to figure out what they were doing; how are they shifting? How are they pedaling? It was like the slow learning curve. You know, because at that, I think, I’m trying to remember how many years I raced before we started working together.
I mean, you know, you bar was right in the swim workouts, but I think I had at least four, maybe five years without anybody like really looking at what am I doing on the bike and that kind of stuff. So, I think that matching comes from like, it feels like you’re doing more work.
RYAN: It does. Absolutely, it does. I mean, because it’s like those cadences are like hill climbing cadences for a lot of people. It makes you feel like you’re pushing and doing work. But what’s actually happening at the end of the day is you’re destroying your legs for running. Because our heart and lungs have a much higher potential and are much more– they’re unlimited, to where our muscles are our weakness.
So with a lot of triathletes, it’s the body it’s that’s the more of the limiter than the heart and the lungs. So, when we select an easier gear on the bike and turn a higher cadence, we’re saving our legs for running. We’re asking more out of our cardiovascular system and less out of our muscular system so it spares the legs for running.
But our heart and lungs as training triathletes are so advanced that it doesn’t dig into our resources, like climbing up a hill for 56 miles would do on the bike, which is essentially what a lot of people will do with those really low cadences.
And again, the best way I’ve seen it improve is number one is by doing more cycling, is definitely a large part of it because again, a lot of people come to triathlon with very little cycling experience. And then the drills like on the train are doing like the fast pedal drills and single leg. And I have athletes do long spins around 100 cadence, you know, 5-10 minutes, fast pedal drills, 115 or so on the cadence to learn to really turn the feet over.
JESSE: One thing I want to talk about before you run out of time is I want to talk a little bit about Sean, and how you kind of like, got working with her and her story a little bit. Because although I know personally, your effectiveness, I think it gives kind of credence to your training methods that you’ve worked with somebody at such a high level. So, kind of I guess, tell us a little bit about how you met Sean, kind of her story and kind of how that developed.
RYAN: Well, I met Sean, and for those who don’t know, Sean is a female athlete, it’s a female Sean. So, I was at a clinic in Colorado Springs and there was a gentleman also attending the clinic I knew He was from this area originally, but now he lives out in Colorado, and he works for USA cycling.
And I attended the clinic with him. And then about a month after the clinic, he called me and said that he had– He ran the para-athlete team for USA cycling. And he called me up and said, “We have an athlete who’s pretty close to you, who we think has talent, and would you be interested in meeting her, talking to her about her cycling, you know, reviewing what she’s done thus far?”
And I was like, you know, yeah, I mean, I would definitely be interested. And so that’s how I first met her. So, I went to my very first meeting with her. We sit down at a – and I met with Sean for about kind of little under an hour. Not super long. And in that hour, Sean never even looked at me like in the eyes. Like there was no I contact for an hour.
And there was a lady who did some coaching with me. She was with me at the meeting, she came along. And after the meeting, she said to me, “How are you going to coach her? She won’t even look at you.” I was like, “No, but I’m super intrigued.” And I remember the meaning all Sean would really say is, the only thing I could get out of it was, and you have to remember this as a para-athlete. I know we’ll talk about the para aspect. Only thing she really ever said is, “I really love to ride my bike. I don’t really know what I’m doing.” Basically, what she said that whole hour.
So, it started there. And when I met her she weighed like, she was a big athlete, she was probably 200 pounds, about my high 5”8-5”9. She was big. I mean she was, did not have the body of elite cyclists, I can assure you. But that’s how I met her originally is just I had that connection. So, we sat down and met. And that was 2011 because it was five years before she was in the Rio Paralympics. So that’s how I met her. That’s how we got started.
JESSE: And you know, you have to correct me but Sean was in the Army or what?
RYAN: Yeah, she was in the military. And she was in Afghanistan and she was in multiple explosions. And last one she showed me pictures of the Humvee some years later. And basically, as a result, she had came away with a traumatic brain injury. So, she had a traumatic brain injury and part of her, the insides of her shoulder basically are like gone. And she has problems with a lot of like leg spasms, you know, and things like that.
So, she’s not an amputee, like a lot of times when we think about these, about para-athletes, we think about amputees and stuff. And sometimes people would say to me, they’d see like a picture of Sean and they’re like, “Oh, well, she looks, you know, like, sort of like a normal person.” And I say, well, would you rather have half a brain or half a leg? You know, what would you like? I mean, so her injury was very serious. And she has some partial blindness in her left eye, you know, as well.
JESSE: So, how does that and this is just something I know a little bit but not a lot. So like, how did the different classifications work with the Paralympics? Because clearly, so say you have, you know, a double amputee, like, I would think that’s going to be a different classification on the track, then, you know, somebody like Sean, who still has, you know, both of her legs?
RYAN: So, they have five classifications for para-athletes. And basically, those classifications the athletes have to go to doctors to get classified and the doctors and the specialist they set what level of classification you are.
So Sean’s level, she was a three when I met her, and then she moved to a four and five is the least amount of the disability [??? 13:20] down. And so she was like, she was a four so she was next to the least level, least disabled athlete. So, she was next level down for her. So yeah, it’s five levels that are established by doctors based upon, you know, an examination, basically of the athlete.
Those are cycling classifications, USA triathlon does it different.
JESSE: Right. Right. So, it’s kind of curious a little bit about kind of the lead up to Rio for her and the training that you guys are doing. I think you had mentioned she does a 3000, is that her track event?
RYAN: Yes, yes. So, in Rio and one of the things about her is, yeah, it was the 3000 and then the time trial out on the road. And so you know, five years before the Olympics, when I met her, you know, we didn’t really know at the time, you know, what she would be doing cycling wise. We had no idea she would be a track cyclist.
I mean, that was not even thought of at that time. So yeah, she did that she did, those were two events. You know, in the five years leading up, she had a lot of ups and downs, like really significant ups and downs. But I was so proud of the way I would say in that crucial period, from, you know, just right up to basically where you’re traveling to Rio, to about eight weeks out. I mean, what I remember most about the training is how she just freaking nailed it.
I mean, her training, like I said, she’s in this area, Jesse, but she actually, early that– I think it was around May or June of that year, she had to move. Her husband’s in the military, and he got relocated to Colorado Springs, so she actually had to move to Colorado Springs.
So she was in Colorado Springs, so we continue to work, you know, remotely. And, you know, like I said, from that crucial period, she just nailed her training, the training was phenomenal. The power numbers were right where we wanted them to be, right where we felt like, okay, you know, with an event like the 3000 and the road time trial, those are events where you can really dial in, okay, the numbers. So, you can be very high on the technology and we knew where we had to be.
She did a lot of training the altitude rooms in Colorado, so she was right, she was training at C level [??? 16:07]. And so that’s the biggest thing. I mean, she was really dialed in, but I got to tell you, you know, we’ll call them able bodied athletes, which is like the regular Olympics, okay. So, we know that those are like really popular people. They get a lot of media request, they have sponsors they have to satisfy and things like that. What people don’t realize is that with para-athletes, the media and the sponsors, they love the para-athletes because behind every para-athlete is usually a tremendous story.
So most, the able bodied athletes, let’s face it, most of the Olympians are born with it. I mean, they’re genetically blessed to where the para-athletes, I mean, it’s all work. And so she also had tons of media requests and sponsors. She was nominated for an ESPY award, which is ESPN Awards. And the ESPY Awards show was like, you know, you’re rubbing shoulders with like LeBron James, and Peyton Manning.
And it was like six weeks before the Olympics, and we had decided at about 12 weeks out, we’re like, done. There’s no training, there’s no travel, you know, there’s no multiple day sponsor this and that. No. And she’s like, yeah, we got to do this. So she didn’t even go to the ESPY that she was nominated for. Because like I said, those athletes, there’s always just a phenomenal story behind all of them. And everyone wants to hear that story and everything.
But she was able to put all that aside, we got down to business. I’m so happy for her because it’s what she expressed that she wanted, you know, four years previous, you know. But we weren’t training for the Olympics three years out, we were just progressing. I mean, we were just progressing, but we were progressing through ups and downs and trials and tribulations and health.
And, you know, you come back from military obviously, there’s a lot of PTSD situations. So, there was a lots of downs and lots of ups. But she, you know, she was like hopefully, like we like our stock market was like, up and down but– [crosstalk] And like I told you, when I met her, she weighed at least 200 pounds. She was racing in Rio 125 or so. Most of that weight to came off in the first year, though. She was a lot of weight in that first year, and then just kind of held on to it and just maintain after that.
JESSE: So, one of the things I think you haven’t highlighted yet, was just, you know, this is what sticks in people’s minds. And I do want the you know, anybody listening to kind of think about the progression, you know, it’s a five year progression for Sean to take, you know, from starting to work with you all the way to Rio. But if I remembered correctly, Sean won her event, she was a gold medalist in her event and she broke her own world record in the event, was that correct?
RYAN: Yeah, and that’s on the track. And I think she still is the world, in her classification, has that record on the track, yeah. And she is, I’m not surprised that she was good at the track because I think she’s very well built for it. She likes the time trial aspect, she likes just putting her head down and going. And I really think especially in that crucial time period, I think I could have put anything together in a workout. I think she would have nailed anything that I would have put together for her. There’s not much doubt in my mind about that.
But she, you know, come to find out later, like we were talking about genetics and stuff like that time trial, and now she loves the track, just put your head down and go. And there’s not a lot of thinking involved, it’s just, you know, put your head down and go type thing.
JESSE: Right, right. One last question before we go. If you can only one thing for recovery for the rest of your life, what do you choose?
RYAN: Okay, so one thing for recovery. So we’re talking about, like after a workout or?
JESSE: Yeah, so you went to the track or you just, you know, busted it on the bike, whatever you did, you’re exhausted. You’ve been at it for an hour, a couple hours, you only get one thing you need.
RYAN: Okay. Now, do you want a real food answer or do you want something that’s like a product?
JESSE: Yeah, you can give me either.
RYAN: Okay. So, just full disclosure. So I do have a relationship with Hammer Nutrition. But I think Hammer Nutrition, it’s Recovery Right product is really hard to beat for recovery. And the reason why I say that it’s got that, you know, lot of times when athletes think about recovery, it’s you know, they think a lot about protein. But actually we want about a three to one, three to four to one ratio, [??? 21:10] carb and protein for perfect recovery. Because we burn through a lot of carbohydrate with what we do. So you got to have that replaced as well quickly.
So, they’ve got to have three to four, three or four to one. I think it’s about a three to one ratio, you’re getting some electrolytes, some water based products, you’re starting the rehydration process. There’s no sugars added to the product. But most importantly, I think in it, is it contains a really good mixture of L-glutamine.
And what I would say is, you know, we hear you know, we hear about there’s a magic formula is coming out all the time. I just saw one today. Marshmallow root. I saw that, marshmallow root is the next big thing you know. There’s always the next big thing. But L-glutamine is, you know, our muscles are like 60% made up of the amino acid of L-glutamine and it’s not just muscle recovery. There’s cardiovascular, there’s – benefits.
I think a product you know, I would encourage anyone L-glutamine in your day to day life even if you’re not an athlete all the benefits. But recovery as an athlete, L-glutamine has to be there and that’s in the product as well. So, I don’t know I think Hammer’s Recover Right and it tastes really good too. I think it’s tough to beat. I think the quality of it is tough to beat.
JESSE: All right. Well, let me take that. So, if people want to get in touch with you, they have questions or want to bring you on as a coach, how do they get in touch with you?
RYAN: They can email, my email address is Ryan@CoasttoCoastTriathlon.com.
JESSE: I’ll have that on the screen. You should probably be able to see that now if you’re watching on YouTube. So, thanks for coming on today coach.