1 Recipe – 2 types of protein packed snack block; multiple uses!
Snack, Travel, extra calories
Recover and Re-Build
The Base Recipe
65g whey isolate protein powder (flavour of choice)
100g ground almond meal
35g desiccated coconut
95-125ml milk of choice (unsweetened almond or hazelnut or cow’s milk)
The add-ons, add-ins and changes for your needs
Recovery Bar: So if you want a recovery bar substitute the Whey Powder for a Whey based recovery powder! The chocolate bars pictured used High5 Recovery Protein Powder. If you need or want even more carbohydrate in the mix then add some honey, maple syrup or break all the rules and sprinkle in some cane-sugar!
Orange/Chocolate Bar:I’ve added cocoa powder (the real deal) and orange zest, then substituted some of the milk with fresh squeezed orange juice to make an unreal tangy block! Chocolate-Orange with all of the gainzzz!
Vegan bar: For those who ain’t keen on tasty animal products then you can easily substitute the Whey for a Rice or Hemp Protein! Job done!
Travel Bar: If you want these guys to pack an even bigger nutritional punch or need them to be even more satiating for travel then add in some chopped goji berries, chia seeds and nuts of choice like brazil and walnuts! You’l have to adjust liquid to dry ingredient ratios though!
Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl
Measure out or weigh your milk of choice
add a little liquid and start to mix, things will seem very dry at first but the dry ingredients will absorb the liquid slowly and start to bind
have patience, adding and mixing slowly
you should get a pretty workable and dry mixture after a couple of minutes
roll the mixture into a log, sprinkle with almond meal so it is easy work
roll it out and cut into discs; shape those discs into blocks as pictured
refrigerate for up to 1 hr
they are ready to roll at any time, but once out of the fridge you can coat with dark chocolate or a chocolate and yogurt mix and it will set fast
The base recipe is key – you can go wild with modifications to suit your needs
This recipe makes about 6 to 7 blocs – double or triple as needed!
Freeze, refrigerate for up to 1 week! These go great as a quality snack after training with a coffee, in the back pack for the long missions or rides (perfect after the 3hr mark) or as a travel stop-gap when jammed with seeds and nuts!
For the past 18 months or so I’ve wound my way around a slippy path of discovery. All to do with motor learning and how we acquire, learn, solidify and modify “skill”. Traditional theories (linear) versus non-linear theories!
Now skill is essentially the application of technique in the task environment; the constraints created by that environment lead to affordances or “relation between us and object in environment that allows actions to help achieve our task goal – e.g. pull versus push door handle” that allows us the rider to make decisions on the best course of action to successfully complete our task (getting bike and rider to another point on the hill)! That last sentence has all the hallmarks of the thoughts of someone who has read and attempted to apply to their sport, the theories of ecological psychology and dynamic systems to the perception-action model! All separate but now converging ways of theorising and modeling learning and doing.
Before I continue there is one thing you need to keep in mind; theories, even if widely accepted are not perfect nor correct and as for models, some may be very useful, but NONE are perfect.
Traditional theories (schema, top down) hold the central command centre of the brain on a pedestal as chief decision maker; we get info in from our senses, make a decision then act. The Ecological approach peppered with some dynamic systems modeling downplays the importance of our brains and instead takes the organism (rider) and the environments interaction as key. Rider perceives (searches for) info on trail and the action needed to complete the task is created not just by the brain but by the whole system.
So if you have got this far reading, what I’m going to waffle on about next is my very simplistic take on how some of these models and theories converge & can possibly be applied to getting better at riding your bike and how they may or may not work together to explain why you find improvement hard or not! This will be a lot briefer than it could be, mainly because I’m very very under-educated in motor-learning….for now!
“Skills” training on your bike must have clear intention. Designed in such a way as to increase your map of potential pathways to your destination. These “maps” though are not rigid set actions controlled by the brain and CNS, they are more so experiences banked so deep they become intrinsic, made up of knowledge of affordances (stuff we know the value or utility of in relation to our own physical abilities) that link together to make actions purposeful and successful.
The Intention – action model applied in relation to how we learn motor skills is useful. By in large our intentions are often similar; aiming to get to a certain point on a trail as fast and efficiency as possible. Linking up these points to the finish line or trail end. These intentions lead to the search for movement solutions to our problem of getting form A to B!
By increasing your experience of technique application you create more usable and adaptable road maps to successful completion of a task. In essence a wider or more complete map of possible movement solutions to these problems. These solutions become “stable” when they are transferred to our hard disk of learned skills. But unlike in top down theory of motor learning and control, this hard disk storage does not mean we have to apply rigid solutions to each technique application problem, but instead we have stable solutions that then allows the body/organism freedom to make very fine necessary changes to posture, control and technique application without consulting some sort of master plan maker in the brain! “Preflex” control is how it is termed in Dynamical Systems thinking.
For us the MTB rider it makes perfect sense! Very conscious deliberate technique application takes time, often feels cumbersome and even if it leads to successful outcomes often does not leave the learner satisfied! This comes back to coaching also, repetitive reinforcement of internal cues, telling a rider to get that foot down or elbow up etc… leads to often quick but very short lived or limited retention of proficient. Instead letting the rider learn that their technique in switchbacks is developing well by how much exit speed they carry is far more successful, sure it may take some direct internal cues at first, but true mastery will only come if the organism/rider can be left enough time to self organise and eliminate shitty solutions to the motor problem on their own.
Basically give yourself some building blocks of what the solution may be but then go wild with attempting the different solutions until brain and body gel with the environment. After all all task are environment specific.
Repetitive non characteristic technique training (car-park and cones) serves purpose only for beginners. Removing yourself from the task environment (mountains and dirt and rocks and the like) means little opportunity to pave new roads or improve the surface and width of existing ones. You want to immerse yourself in the environment of your sport so you can build a bigger more robust network of potential choices of action (solutions) for you to use to achieve the task goal at progressively increasing speeds.
Your body and brain as a dynamic system will decide based on current physiological state and past experiences of similar tasks in that environment whether you have the required capacities to safely achieve the movement intention. If you’ve not developed prior successful completion of such a task then aiming to complete it at speed is not going to happen.
Thus progressive overload of technique application in the task environment is the most efficient way to improve “skill”. At first “overload” will be expensive, physically and metabolically, but economic learning will lead to a large reduction in cost once we’ve banked up some technique application experience!
Start small and slow but aim to do so in your characteristic sporting environment. In our case that’s the woods, hills, mountains, forest and wilderness of MTB. If a solution to a movement problem (lets say hopping onto a slippy bank to rail a left hander with more exit speed) requires a very basic technique like lateral balance & a bunny hop then these can be developed short term outside of the environment but need to be swiftly applied to the task environment if you are going to solidify that movement solution and bank it deep as a permanent solution!
No coach or friend would need to tell you how good your bunny hop is if the bank you hop onto is high enough; as the end result dictates that you have indeed mastered bunny-hops because otherwise you would not have made it up onto that bank!
Another example; Freezing up on steep muddy terrain and sliding to a stop on your bum just means that your brain and body have decided that you do not poses the required physical and movement skills to reach your “destinations” so playing/riding in the mud; progressively adding in more and more contextual challenges is the only option to improvement. Or at least riding in loose slippy terrain. For weather it’s sand or mud many of the solutions and self organization that occurs to be proficient in these environments are highly transferable!
Likewise a longitudinal analysis of whether you have any physiological or bio-mechanical limitations that reduce your ability to maintain the postures and limb positions needed to apply technique is needed for many. Off and on the bike training can serve the purpose of improvement in this area!
So to sum up for now on what will hopefully be an evolving blog topic
Whole Practice always – Part Practice Seldom
Discipline Characteristics matter when elite performance is desired.
Gross technique mastery first but swiftly applied to various task environments.
Unfamiliar links between sensory perceptions and motor skill lead to acquisition of new skill – as-long as system perceives task and environmental constraints as achievable given current physiological state!
Core Movement patterns, Core Techniques and adequate basic motor skill (balance etc..) are fundamental to improvement on the bike & can be trained both on and off the bike to a finite point when looking for improvement.
New techniques can be introduced outside of the task environment but cannot ever be mastered anywhere but the task environment.
Although visually and perceptually similar, core techniques like cornering must be applied in all environments under all constraints encountered for it to become a universal “skill”. Berms vs flat turns, mud versus gravel etc..
Knowledge of your performance is not as effective as knowledge of your results. Think “ohh coach said my elbow was in a good position for cornering” vs. “I slayed that turn and carried huge exit speed out – 4km/h faster than before”
Think about “overloading” your skill training with more varite of terrain and possible task solutions over more repetition. Slamming the same turn 100 times will never be as useful as slamming 100 different turns.
If you are bad at riding in a particular environment, ride in it more.
If you can’t bunny hop because of poor ankle mobility, fix the mobility off the bike, but don’t wait to apply technique when new found ankle mobility occurs….it goes hand in hand. As you will not see linear, step-wise improvements in either quality.
Improving your riding is a constant renovation; not a 1 time re-build.
The gym can be used to improve technique application but only if movement patterns, muscle action and intentions carry over to your on the bike movement.
Provide yourself with variety in your task environment to achieve meaningful improvements in performance. But avoid part practice when doing so.
Variation in technique application via varied environment constraints = robustness and less fragility in skilled movement.
Getting better is fun because it requires riding often, in varied terrain in various conditions under a variety of physical, ecological, meteorological and psychological conditions!
Currently learning a little but making a conscious effort to apply and above all “concrete” fresh ideas, concepts and thinking I’ve learned in the last 3 months (there has been alot of self-led learning lately). Application of knowledge is the best part of coaching, the most, maybe only essential part of coaching and at times the most taxing…at least for me.
For applying new ideas to real world situation and real people (athletes) sets them and ultimately me up for failures. As absolutes don’t exist in sports performance I’ve only got principles to guide me so as long as the application of new “things” is underpinned at all times by principle then, well, then we should all be OK!
Excepting success graciously and failure willingly and learning from either is after all key to growth!
Growth for the athletes I coach, myself as a coach or rider and growth in general is all about MINDSET – some even call it Growth Mindset and you’ll see plenty of sweet wee info-graphics out there with all sorts of “people with a growth mindset don’t watch TV” type think on the go out there! Lovely stuff!
So yes, I am all about the growth mindset, but I don’t think it something best actively cultivated more something that is made obligatory for you by your approach to your environment.
So Step 1 would be make sure your environment is pretty good. If it’s not change it or if that’s not possible….deal with it! Don’t have access to a sweet gym with Olympic bars and coloured plates? Only got too dumbbells and 5 X 5m sq. to train in – fine shut up and get to it…..but of your goals or needs involve increasing max strength or re-habing from injury then maybe seeking out the fancy gym or making your will have to happen. That’s environment management in a nutshell – deal with it or change it!
Anyway I’ll get to the point; Discipline = Freedom or Discipline creates Freedom. A guy called Jocko Willink said that. He was a military man where discipline keeps you alive in the country you’re invading for no good reason.
But the discipline he’s on about isn’t in relation to conduct in the presence of superiors. It’s self-discipline and that’s where it relates or transfer to all things coaching and performance. The key common trait in people that perform consistently is discipline and as I’ve said 100000 times consistency is King when it comes to progress. So where does the freedom come in you ask? Well everywhere. FREEDDDOOOMMMM! 😉
When you are disciplined daily then freedom happens. It may seem paradoxical…but it’s not. It’s freedom in light of your goals, wants, needs and desires. For example, self-discipline removes doubt, removes internal ego struggle and get’s ride of ineffective and incessant daily micro-management. All of the above suck time out of day and reduce your freedom. Not it may feel like sticking to your 6;00 a.m turbo session removes freedom, but all it does is create it.
When it’s done it’s done. Add into that the fact that you know after a hard turbo session you needs 60g of Carbs, 30g Protein and some fats, along with the fact you know you’ll be hunger again at 10 a.m. due to EPOC and BMR effects. So your A.M snack is sorted. Homemade muffin, a banana, 1 yogurt and some coffee anyone?
Discipline in daily choices creates simplicity in subsequent choices and that frees up all the space in your head to think and do much more, frees up all the hours outside of training or work or chores, job done!
No micromanagement means you not worrying about every wee detail….you’re not guilty about missing your morning training, you’re not wondering if you deserve that snack, your not wondering if you’ve eaten the correct thing before training this evening, your not wondering if 45 min between the end of work and picking the kids up is enough to warm-up, Mobile, foam roll, train, cool-down, yoga and then eat your Paleo brownies while praying to the high fat gods. All that micro management bullshit is finished with. Results happen because your discipline leads to consistency and that consistency frees up your life for anything and everything else!
Sounds to simple maybe? But the whole idea has it’s own built in safety net and back door. If you’re consistently disciplined and achieving your goals but not happy or not achieving your goals then those goals aren’t for you. Move on, next chapter, new focus!
For the coaches out there reading this you may be wondering how that relates to the you? Well discipline in your approach to everything you do with athletes you train gives them a solid framework, a system almost that they grow to understand and love, they will, if you do your job right preempt you in many of your choices and decisions, meaning that they to now have more freedom and that empowers to “buy-in” to your training philosophy. The athlete will know the goal of a session, understand the intention and desired out come and as such have the freedom to almost build their own training around the key outcome goals. They won’t be doing anything for coach it will all be for them!
The final anecdote is a classic – the coach, athlete or exerciser, perceived by friends, acquaintances and family as the fitness fanatic. In reality they are just the disciplined and it’s easy, why? Because it works!
There’s a party or social gathering and you the “fanatic” refuse alcohol or the pre-dinner nibbles or whatever other processed filth is circulating the room. Some frown upon your “arrogance” or “impoliteness” others marvel at your self-discipline commenting about how it must be so hard!? But the discipline =freedom; freedom to know you ain’t missing out on anything by avoiding the pringles, freedom to eat plenty of extra meat and veg at dinner, freedom to know that there is no “catch-up” HIIT to “endure” because of your il-discipline one night, Freedom to eat the dessert; why? Because you know discipline works, discipline is easy, discipline creates freedom and freedom = fun!
It’s the sporadic jump on a training plan, juice diet, boot camp loving, yo-yo dieting self loather that goes on a fitness binge or dry January that then must reward their “discipline” with something “forbidden” that never gets results, never tastes true freedom and never, ever has any real fun!
The disciplined has all the freedom; freedom to know that shredding 5 days in the Alps won’t kill them, freedom to eat that extra dessert, freedom to choose a road ride over MTB or freedom to just sit and enjoy a coffee with friends knowing the work got done, gets done and will again and again, get done!
The discipline to do the simple important stuff always has a knock on effect everywhere else in your life! Simples…freedom!