This is a re-post from the Point1 Facebook page; because frankly Facebook is a horrible medium for longer, dribbling narrative! Enjoy.
So, to carry on from Friday’s yip-yap on Posture and Technique…
One of the relationships (some were trade-offs) listed was
The first term above being a misnomer – deliberate at the time. The correct term in fact would be, I think,
Prospective. Prospective control.
And as is becoming very clear in my own development as a coach, the relationship of qualities, traits and sub-systems within the athlete (rider) is of utmost importance, this must be respected & understood.
Relational thinking TRUMPS categorical thinking….always. When we speak about performance improvement at least.
“Prospective control refers to the means by which actors (read: rider in our case) adapt behaviour in advance to the constraints and behavioral opportunities afforded in/by the environment” ~ Fajen, Riley, Turvey; 2009
Prospective control is thus ESSENTIAL for the emergence of skilled actions. Without it all you would do is react to what the trail/race-track is giving you. But as we all know, reaction is after the fact, it is, no matter how “fast” too late. Too late for you the rider to successfully navigate each distinct section of trail in such a way as too link up distinct sections into fast, flowing, effective riding.
So when you see your favourite, rider, athlete or celebrity carry out some reactive “eye-hand” co-ordination drill in the gym, remember that reaction is too slow; and regardless most of the “reactions” we make, when riding an MTB well, are somatic reflexes, not reactions…and once that gym “drill” is learned then it would be the prospective control of posture, position that would allow for faster “reaction” to emerge. So again, full circle, relational thinking; reaction to a stimulus is much faster with better prospective control!
So in the immediate term what does this mean for you if the whole notion of prospective control is new too you?
– Posture = Prizes; the whole reason the “attack-position” bares so many hallmarks and similarities (attractors if you know Dynamical Systems) among good riders is. That that position/posture allows for joint angles, muscle length~tension relationships, peripheral nervous system function, afferent control & force production to operate within an optimal bandwidth to deliver the required technique on trail in the fastest way possible. Prospective control of posture given the trail affordances means “skill” emerges to perfectly match speed. This in essence is “trail efficiency”!
So what can we do to improve our potential to always display usable posture regardless of the trail demands? A shortlist only below….
1. Cultivate & Maintain adequate control, mobility, proprioception, strength and stability through all joints and movement patterns.
2. Develop adequate and ever evolving strength of your “hip hinge”; both eccentric and concentric muscle action, with a stable spine achieved through excellent function of all torso musculature from hip to shoulder (and likely more)!
3. Identify “rate-limiters” to postural maintenance and re-setting. These could be anything from foundational physiological qualities like aerobic metabolism to very specific characteristic qualities like your interaction with a particular size bike, with a certain tyre pressure on certain gradient of terrain!
4. Given the minute detail of the last point above it becomes clear that developing, year on year, season on season, a large physical/physiological buffer of foundational qualities that support good posture on trail will reduce the likely hood of poor mechanics or characteristic rate limiters cropping up under duress/fatigue or emotionally demanding situations.
5. True sport form and improvement in Prime Postures can only be viewed, refined, quantified and understood if enough training takes place in the environments you race in...so that means shredding your bike like fuck in the mountains, up the mountains, down the mountains etc… sounds like fun!
To wrap up a quite abstract post; prospective posture allows for prospective position on trail and that allows for fast, smooth, efficient technique application on trail; which will look to the observer like skill. This is basically all we want as a rider – as skillful navigation of long sections of trail reward us with a sensory and neuro-endocrine response that trumps many experiences in life.
Do this often enough and you get that “flow” feeling…and that leads to intrinsic motivation to shred, removing the space for strange extrinsic motivators like health, weight-loss or victory and in there you find endless drive to improve and a near total lack of anxiety.
So as I said above – relationships of qualities; not categories of qualities please!
Friday Freebie at it’s finest! Here’s a simple, fast and tasty recipe to have in the “recipe bank”. Perfect carbohydrate packed bars to bring on rides or snack on about 1hr pre-training if it’s gonna be a tough one!
As always the recipe can be modified based on needs and availability of ingredients, but sticking give or take to teh ratio of “wet” to “dry” ingredients is important.
Bananas and figs make this one nutrient dense and taste filled. So you’ll have no issues with hammering all ride long and longer term health and robustness will be taken care of a little with all the minerals, vitamins and trace elements packed into this package!
2 cups of rolled oats
2 tbsp ground flax and/or chia seed
1/2 + cup chopped figs
2 very ripe mashed large bananas
1/4 cup honey or maple syrup/honey mix
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or real vanilla pods
1 teaspoon cinnamon/nutmeg mixed
1/2 teaspoon salt
Mix all your dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Add your honey, mashed/blended banana and finely chopped figs to saucepan.
Heat over a low heat, stirring regularly until everything is nice and runny and gooey, you may have to presoak the figs or even blend and heat separately if you want a very smooth texture.
Be careful not to burn the honey/banana as it won’t taste so good if you do.
Once happy with your texture transfer the wet to the dry, mix well to combine.
Transfer the mixture a baking paper lined oven-tray.
Pat it down using extra baking paper or a large, flat spatula! The thicker you lay the mixture the chewier and softer your bars will be; too thin and you’ll have rock hard bars. not ideal for the trial.
Bake in a pre heated fan-oven at 180c for 18 to 20 min
I started this post as a draft while traveling back from a training camp in Lanzarote last February, I’m actually quite surprised that by in large my HRV “thoughts” have stayed the same. Why? Well because I think the principles applying HRV data to how we monitor or adapt training have stayed the same. Principles I suppose are just that, pretty solid!
Having toyed with a longwinded, in-depth, referenced blog about the science, theory and application behind using a HRV monitoring system with your training. I’ve decided instead to keep it practical.
HRV or Heart rate variability is the time between the distinct beats of your heart, controlled or regulated by the vagal nerve, via one “side” – parasympathetic- of the bodies automatic control system or autonomic nervous system.
With the phone application based system we use (ithlete) it is the Root mean squared of the successive R-R intervals (gap between peaks) of your heartbeat that is used and this is the “metric” (read: measurement) used to give a window into the current state of activation of your Autonomic Nervous system (ANS).
If your body is stressed the sympathetic side of the ANS will be more prominent and will reduce HRV, that stress can be lifestyle related, travel, training, sickness or anything of the sort, if you are relaxed, rested and in good health then the para-sympathetic side of your ANS will be more prominent and this will show in your HRV reading. – In lay-mans terms this is “fight or flight” vs. “rest and digest”.
So by taking a Heart rate based reading each morning you can get a window into your health, fitness, readiness to train and overall well-being. By taking these readings consistently you can first set a baseline and then see trends, patterns and gain insight into what makes or creates success or failure in your own training, riding and lifestyle.
I’ve been using the ithlete HRV system for over 2 years now and many Point1 Athletes are also using it to monitor their daily training status but more importantly to fine tune sleep, lifestyle and other factors that affect adaptation to training and most importantly the ability to apply consistent training load.
What we’ve learned so far?
The how to: the ithlete system uses a 60 sec reading – unlike a hospital medical grade HRV reading of 5min +, but it doesn’t matter, it’s convenient and works exceptionally well (validated by numerous research papers). The key is to respect the process; do the job right! Basically stick to the same routine, take your readings each morning, similar time, standing or seated, consistent breathing pattern, no water or major activity before and a minimum of 2 minutes relaxation if not taking it as soon as you wake. As long as you stick to a repeatable and reliable routine the readings will consistent, relevant and useable in tracking and changing training.
Lifestyle matters: and matters a lot. Time and again lifestyle factors, like the food you eat, the rest you take between training and the quality of this rest, caffeine and alcohol intake, dance floor intervals until 4 a.m., bedtime routine. They all confound to make clear differences in not only your recovery from but your adaptation to training. Like I tell all of my athletes – Process is king! – If you don’t have the lifestyle factors on point you’ll never get on top of the gainz train and that is something we’ve seen time and again with athletes HRV readings. Travel to a race, long haul, trans-Atlantic, 9 time zone changes coupled with average food, mediocre hydration etc.. will always lead to a large drop in HRV. Likewise an athlete not really grasping the eat quality whole foods, rest well, make your easy rides EASY etc… does not see the same steady increase in HRV scores over a 6 week Aerobic focused training cycle as the lifestyle savvy, process focused athlete. In a nutshell monitoring HRV is scientific collection of data that gives a window into complex biological processes that are hugely affected by every decision we make….this means unavoidable accountability for the athlete. Actions = Outcomes. Cause & Effect!
Sleep has no equal: I always knew that sleep was a key “training process variable” but long term HRV monitoring of athletes and my own self drove this point home so hard that it is burnt into my mind as the first variable I consider when an athlete falls sick, complains of soreness, or doesn’t hit training targets. Poor quality sleep or less than 7+ hours, whether it’s because of caffeine, stress, poor environment or anything else will invariable lead to a lower HRV score. Some athletes will get away with 1 nights poor sleep, maybe two if all their other ducks are lined up but no-one and I mean no-one gets away with 3 in a row or more. Counting your winks is the biggest un-drummed variable in your health and performance! Simple training with, quality nutrition, adequate water and many hours of blissful sleep will get you so toward your goals it is scary! But I suppose it makes perfect sense as quality sleep restores the immune and endocrine systems and helps “repay” the metabolic cost of living and training!
Not all athletes are created equal: Some people are just more damn robust than others and robustness is something with many intangibles. But although some robustness factors are genetic, much of it comes, I feel, from 3 areas and I think my assumptions are in part clearly backed up by the HRV readings of my athletes. 1) aerobic endurance/capacity/capabilities – a complete, powerful aerobic metabolic foundation both peripherally and centrally will lead to a foundation of resilience not possible to garner through other means, 2) Strength, from joint health, connective tissue strength, elasticity and quality right through to force production potential and fibre type; large strength reserves time and again mean athletes recovery faster, adapted better and get less sore than their less strong peers, 3) experience; doing the right thing, in the right quantities at the right time! Not having to listen to coach to make a clever call on training durations, meals, or recovery modalities needed, the guy and girls with lateral thought capacity and a few years/decades experience under the belt time and again have less poor readings but more importantly can dial in a simple strategy to make the positive changes needed to head back to the GREEN!
Training mode: Certain training modes and means seem to affect HRV response more than others. Basic Strength training focused on muscle mass increase (hypertrophy), relative strength or strength maintenance as-well as some “special-strength” means have little effect in single bouts on HRV. Likewise moderate intensity cycling training leads to little changes in HRV in trained athletes when lifestyle factors are dialled.
What does effect HRV scores, first “negatively” – not necessarily a bad thing, is high intensity work, Extensive anaerobic type intervals, long days of Enduro type riding, “high intensity metabolic conditioning” in the gym etc.… will all, if carried out to correct intensity and in appropriate volume, lead to some major reductions in HRV. That is though the desired outcome, adequate stress to stimulate adaptation.
Next “positively” – moderate intensity aerobically focused, low impact type activities across a pretty wide bandwidth, promote, via processes not fully understood, improvements in HRV when used as regeneration during periods of more high intensity focused work or even during periods of increased non-training related stress. Again this is across a range and specific to individuals. But needless to say monitoring HRV has allowed us to fine tune regeneration modalities, volumes and planning for athletes. With abrupt cessations of training or post-race being swiftly replaced with moderate days of activity based on what HRV has told us.
The above situations are where HRV is used for day to day decision making into what training type is best or in our case at Point1 to help guide or totally change the planned training in a micro-cycle.
That is acute changes in light of the chronic rolling change in HRV, a key to using HRV in your training monitoring and decision making is Context. What is the minimum meaningful change in HRV in context of weekly, monthly and overall chronic change? What did we want, what did we get, why and how? Many aspects of these questions can be answered with better insight via smart use of HRV monitoring. Most certainly questions relating to aerobic characteristic fitness variables.
Now while the exact mechanisms behind why improvements in aerobic fitness are reflected in HRV readings are not fully understood, there is some research out there that does a good job elucidating to the how behind it. With clarity in mind though, I thought it better to give you a more anecdotal account of how improvements in HRV score reflected real improvements in the lab and on the bike.
The below graph is from a Point1 athletes ithelte HRV dashboard. It shows over a 10 point increase in HRV scoring average over a one month period. It also shows “response” to training stimuli with the saw tooth profile of green and red daily scores. The blue trend line is climbing and that’s what I expected as coach given the training focus. Near the end of February the athlete in question returns to a laboratory for a Vo2 Max test amongst other tests.
The Results? – A 10% increase in Vo2 Max since testing in late 2014. An increase of 25w in 15sec MPO and a small increase in power at Lactate Threshold or OBLA and maybe most marked was the increase in power output at FatMax which gave the athlete a 40w growth in metabolic flexibility!
All of the above lab results showing marked improvements in central and peripheral adaptations to training.
All of the above reflected in a considerably higher baseline HRV.
Well I will certainly continue to use HRV monitoring with ithlete for daily training changes and longer term insight into training, racing and lifestyle factors that matter most to Point1 athletes.
Beyond that, some recent research highlighting the possibility of quantifying training load and the individual cost of training sessions using relative pre and post HRV scores may open up some new avenues for more HRV use. I’ll trial run those theories before they’ll ever get to Point1 athletes. But if we can quantify the metabolic cost of a particular session consistently and then compare identical sessions and an athlete’s response to those session given their current freshness or training readiness than we can really start to get a more quantifiable view into what truly affects preparedness for competition.
If Session 1 = 55 on a Stress-Score scale to 100 when you start a training cycle but the exact same session only gives you a “stress-score” of 25 after 5 weeks of training, than it may be wise to think that the athlete has adapted to that stimulus and will need more of it to garner any further benefit! At least that’s the sort of minute detail I think we can start to gain insight to via the use of HRV if the above principles and caveats are kept in mind.
That’s the key to HRV use, mindfulness, mindfulness in collection, interpretation and application of the data. It’s the easy application of the data being the most fulfilling aspect of using the ithelte system.
Our second round of quick fire 5 questions is with another Scot, Scotty Laughland. One of the newest athletes on the Point1 roster of weapons; he’s just come off his best ever EWS result (33rd) at Tweedlove.
Mature in word, fresh in the face, downhiller turned Enduro shredder Scotty Laughland has, at 25 years young, bags of experience on a push bike, an undergraduate degree in Engineering and some serious coconut sugar based baking skills!
1) Favourite meal after a tough day of training gainzzz
Quick and easy soy sauce stir-fry with chicken or beef, rice and veg
2) The training sessions you are most and least happy to see on the weekly plan?
Most: 4 hour epic enduro session
Least: none – It’all about the gainzzz and process
3) Favourite race track/s?
Finale. Nevados de Chilean and Peebles
4) Number 1 interest away from the world of bike riding and racing?
Travel and exploration
5) Happiest when…….?
Sat at the top of a rad, loamy 1000m + descent, froth fest!!!
Energy bar, “power-bar” (that’s a Nestlé brand..be careful now), “cereal bar” (certainly not, cereal is mainly for horses), pro-bar, a serious slab of home-made awesome! Call it what you will these bars are made with a basic “corner-stone” recipe that can be modified as needed to up any particular macro nutrient content you want, cover on or off the bike micro-nutrient worries or just simply to taste awesome and cover your energy needs out on a big old ride!
Other than in a prolonged flat out race like XCO, a time-trial or similar I’m a big fan of covering your energy needs via small, frequent intake of solid food and an electrolyte or “light” energy based drink.
These bars cover all of the needed bases, taste, texture, energy, micro-nutrients, simplicity, portability!
Pretty easy to make, simple to adjust, hold together well, have plenty of carbohydrate from multi-transportable sources and don’t stick to tin foil making an uneatable mess in your pocket.
So here goes! Choc-Nut-Protein-Fruit-Energy-#Point1-Pro-Bar – Surely there is a catchier name than that?
1 cup of Medjool Dates or other re-hydrated or moist fruit
1 scoop of Chocolate or Vanilla Protein Powder
1 teaspoon of Cocoa powder (if desired, depends how “dark chocolate” you want them to taste)
Half cup of Rolled Oats
Half to 3/4 cup of Apple Sauce
1 cup of frozen Raspberries
Half cup of dried, unsweetened Coconut
5-6 tablespoons of honey
Handful of nuts of choice – I used hazelnuts only in this recipe
Texture of batter should be thick, smooth and slow running – you can add a small amount of liquid or dry ingredients to the above to achieve this texture – It all depends on your fruit “dryness” I think – But choose extra ingredients carefully – Think of Macro content!
Mix/Blitz the medjool dates with a teaspoon or two of water in a large bowl with a handheld blender – This may take a while (the dates will need to be pitted and chopped before you start)
Add all of the wet ingredients to the Dates and mix until you get a nice runny consistency – The honey may have to be heated slightly to stop it sticking. Add in your frozen Raspberries or other frozen fruit and mix well.
In another bowl thoroughly mix all of your dry ingredients – Slowly add the wet mixture to the dry until a nice smooth batter is achieved!
Poor this into a baking paper lined dish and place in a pre-heated oven at 170c – (I used a fab oven so adjust temperature accordingly)
Cook until a little crispy but not black on top – a small knife should come out clean – To get a nice texture for storage and use on the bike it’s important to use a try big enough so that the batter pours out to an even 1cm – 1.5cm while wet in the dish. After cooking this should rise to almost 2cm and be perfect to cut into consistent but moist bars.
The above recipe makes from 10-14 bars depending on how you cut them.
Please feel-free to comment on how you’ve modified the recipe or even if you like the taste or have any thoughts, tips or tricks!