The Importance of PMA

I first saw the acronym PMA on Cap City Cyclocross’s Web Site when I was looking for races to put on my schedule.  Here is how they describe PMA:

Positive Mental Attitude. Racing is hard. Winning is great. Having fun is even better. We’ve all been there; the post race blues due to a mechanical, fatigue or lack of fitness. While we 100% believe that racing is fun and competition is great, walking away with a positive experience is as much on the racer as it is the race director.

I always thought that it was maybe a little corny, but they were trying to keep the series fun and not super serious, but what if PMA is the key to reaching a higher level of performance?  What if the best way to win is PMA?  That’s exactly what the science is saying.

Endure by Alex HutchinsonEndure by Alex Hutchinson is a new best seller about how the mind regulates the body, and it is PMA that allows athletes to go beyond their limits.

We’ve all heard those stories of people lifting cars to free their trapped child or pro athletes playing through a broken bone.  We know from the 40% rule that when the mind is saying “we’re done, that’s all we got”, we’re only about 40% done and the mind is holding back the reserves in case we need to sprint away from a lion or bear.

The key to getting more from the brain than that 40% is to convince it, through PMA, that we’re not really working that hard.  When you’re at the end of a long race and your mind is telling you that you’re just cooked and you got nothing left, smile and tell your mind “we got this!”.  You are only 40% cooked and yes, you can do a finishing sprint.

We see the high performing athletes around us, and usually they have a PMA about them.  They seem to be having fun and smiling even though they’re legs are screaming and they are suffering through a tough race.

Before the race starts, if you’re feeling nervous, that’s good.  Turn that nervousness to excitement, smile, and channel it to PMA.  Tell yourself you can do so much more than what your brain allows.

Advertisements

What If You Didn’t Need a Rest Day?

A lot of endurance athletes want to train as often as they can so that they can get as fit as they can, but we all know that STRESS + REST = GROWTH.  That REST part of the equation is the toughest part for some athletes because they just want to train all the time.

Let’s look at that equation for a second.  The STRESS part is easy, when you put stress on your muscles by riding and training, you are breaking down the muscles with micro-tears, and the body needs time to repair.

The REST part is simply removing all STRESS so that the body can focus on the rebuilding process.  Limit all work the body has to do so that it can focus on the rebuilding process.

Here are some tips to maximize REST and RECOVERY as a lifestyle so that dedicating an entire day to it might be unnecessary.

De-Stress Your Mind

Today everything is fast-paced and everyone is in a hurry.  We’re sitting in rush-hour traffic and yelling at the other drivers so that we can get to work and rush to meet a deadline so the boss doesn’t yell at us.  Then we get home and argue with our kids and spouses.  Life is too stressful and this has an affect on us.  It takes away from our recovery.  It causes us to be in a constant fight or flight situation that prevents the full relaxation we are looking for.

I’m not going to tell you how to fix all of these things, that’s for each of us to figure out for ourselves.  Each of us has a unique situation that we need to handle in our own way.  The stress of our modern high-pressure world is taking away from our recovery, and we need to tune that down a little at a time.

Sleep Better

De-stress completely before bed.  Eliminate distractions.  Try to stay calm in the hour leading up to bed time.  Go to bed earlier, get 9 hours of sleep if possible.

Nutrition

Eat and drink things that have a low impact on your digestive system.  When you’re in deep recovery, you don’t want to eat a Thanksgiving dinner and force your entire body to focus on digesting a big meal, right?  Do the opposite.  Eat small meals.  Have a protein smoothie.  Chop up the food so that it’s simple to digest.

Athletes need energy and protein to recover.  Eat foods high in nutrients.  Avoid processed foods.  Limit alcohol.  Alcohol stresses the body.  The liver has to stop what it is doing so that it can filter the alcohol from the blood.  Alcohol can de-hydrate the body.  Drink Green Tea instead.

Read this book: Thrive, 10th Anniversary Edition: The Plant-Based Whole Foods Way to Staying Healthy for Life by Brendan Brazier.  It’s been a game changer for me on this subject.

Active Recovery

Spending the entire day on the sofa is not possible for a lot of people, or even ideal.  We need to keep the blood flowing so that the body can get those toxins out.

Go for a walk or a hike, do some light yoga, do some stretching, go for a swim, go for an easy bike ride with the family.  The idea is to be active without stressing your aerobic system or your muscles.

Massage

Try a massage.  Relaxation massages are good to just de-stress from everything and relax.  Sports massages are another option for people with stubborn muscles or injuries that won’t seem to go away.

You can try self massage.  Here’s a good article for that: http://www.coach-hughes.com/resources/massage.html

Meditation

There are apps that can help with this.  I used Headspace for a month, and I learned some meditation techniques that I use from time to time.  Just taking some time out of the day to focus on yourself might be a big step toward relaxation for a lot of people.  Being mindful of the body and listening to what it’s saying can help us know what it needs from us.  Meditation helps to be more in-tune with the body.

Recovery Systems/Devices

There are a lot of devices that want people to spend a lot of money for recovery.  There’s recovery sleepwear, recovery leg compression sleeves, and other things that cost a lot and promise recovery.  Some of them may work great, but the cheap and free things on this list will work better.  Humans have been around for a long time without technology, and we respond best to the simple things.  Don’t depend on the gadgets, but if you want to use them to help, then that’s great.

One device that everyone seems to agree works is the foam roller.  It’s a good way to get a deep tissue massage for cheap.

Conclusion

You don’t have to spend a lot of money.  Lower the stress in your life, meditate, foam roll your sore muscles, eat right and drink a smoothie.

Do you have to do all of these everyday?  No, do what works for you.  Think about recovery every day.  Build recovery into your daily routine, and maybe you can workout more and get stronger.  Always listen to your body and when it’s feeling run-down, maybe sometimes you will need to take a whole day off from workouts!

Stryd Run Power Meter

Earlier, I posted about Run Power.  The idea was so cool, I had to get one of these so that I could start designing training plans for them, not to mention it could take my own training to another level.

I got my Stryd Run Power meter in the mail and set it up to go for a run.  Setup was pretty easy.  It was already fully charged when I checked.  I had to install an IQ app (Stryd Power) on a Garmin 935.  Then I setup a run screen to show watts and average pace.  I’ll probably adjust the screen and add elapsed time or something.

TrainingPeaks Run Stats
Run Stats from TrainingPeaks workout

Then I just clipped the Stryd pod onto my laces and went for a 2.4 mile run on a jogging path.  I didn’t have any goals for this run, I just wanted to check out the power meter.

Run power meters show higher watts than cycling power meters.  In case you were thinking this wasn’t an easy run because the average power is 225, that is supposed to be low for a run.  I believe I need to average 280 in order to have a moderate to hard run.

Garmin 935 Run Watch Showing Watts and Average Pace
Garmin 935 Run Watch Showing Watts and Average Pace at the start of the run.

I’m really excited that this will allow me to train better.  I already have power based workouts (speed and speed & strength) for running and I’m ready for the power training to begin, since I’ll be training for a half marathon and a half IRONMAN coming up in the new few months.

Hit me up if you have any Stryd tips or if you have questions.  I’ll be following up with updates on how the training is going and how it’s helping me progress and get more fit!

Garmin Connect Chart with Power, Pace and Heart Rate
Garmin Connect Chart with Power, Pace and Heart Rate

Power Meters for Running???

Power meters are old news. Everyone knows they’re great for cycling training. But now they have them for running. Garmin makes running dynamics pods that give you a lot of data on your running technique, but there are devices now that give you a whole lot more data… even watts.

Check out what Stryd is making.  This is a foot pod that gives you a power reading while you’re running, displayed on your GPS watch.  Then you can use this to calculate running intensity and Training Stress Score (TSS) after your run.  This is a much more accurate way to track intensity than heart rate and pace.  Heart rate lags behind effort and can be affected by other factors.  Pace can be affected by wind and terrain.  Power is the magic metric, just like cycling.

This technology can allow an athlete to pace themselves a lot better over a long race.  It can also help coaches track an athlete’s fitness and plan workouts better.  I’m pretty excited about this, and I can’t wait to get my hands on one of these run power meters.

If you want to check out one of the first power based Running plans available, here’s a link to my 6 week Speed and Strength plan: https://www.trainingpeaks.com/training-plans/running/5km/tp-139145/six-week-speed-and-strength-training-power-based-beginner-intermediate-6-week-5k

Get it 50% off with coupon code GOWARPSPEED

Mohican 100 Mountain Bike Training Plan

The Mohican Mountain Bike Race is in 12 weeks.  If you want to be Fast AF with only this short window of training, then you’re going to need this training plan.  Use Coupon Code GOWARPSPEED to get 50% off.

https://www.trainingpeaks.com/training-plans/cycling/mountain-biking/tp-139066/mohican-100-kilometer-intermediate

Photo Credit: Butch Phillips.