Don’t be a weekend (only) warrior

“Jump in the shower

And the blood starts pumpin’

Out on the streets

The traffic starts jumpin’

With folks like me on the job from 9 to 5”

I bet you’re singing along in your head with Dolly as you read.

At the time Dolly was starring in the film 9-5 office working hours for many were morphing into 8-6 and beyond.

And, at the same time, we were seeing the start of the first real fitness boom. (Funnily enough helped along by her fellow star Jane Fonda.)

But with time through the week in short supply more and more people started to double up at the weekend. 

And the idea of the weekend warrior was spawned.

Unfortunately throwing the kitchen sink at the weekend and trying to cram all your activity into two days is a bad idea. 

One that is likely to set you on the path to injury.

So I had to laugh when I saw a piece in Runner’s World about “crash training”.

Crash training has its roots in cycling and is where you do 2 or 3 days of harder than normal training.

This can mean longer or harder sessions or longer AND harder. The idea is to do more than normal for a very short period of time.

But this is done off an already solid base of work. 

And every now and then it wouldn’t be the worst idea I’ve heard.

Yet the article was talking about it being a good idea if you have a job that makes big time demands on you.

That chucking in a couple of big days at the weekend to make up for doing nothing through the week.

And it’s one of the more stupid things I’ve heard. 

It’s a terrible idea for anyone in that situation.

The last thing you need if you’re putting in long hours is a crazy hard weekend of activity.

Far better would be to “Micro-Dose” your training across the week.

If you are time poor through the week I’d much prefer you did daily short sessions with a little bit more at the weekend.

Cut things right back.

And, ideally, get the sessions in before work.

If you’re lifting pick 2 big movements, 1 lower body and 1 upper body, and do some solid but not hard work.

Conditioning? A 30 min easy run before work and you’re done.

Then at the weekend, you can put in a single bigger session if you want to…

Or you can relax with your family knowing you’ve hit the bases through the week.

How Ray-Bans can help your training

I hope you’ve all been enjoying the lovely sunny weather recently.

Annoyingly I’ve discovered I’d lost my sunglasses.

So I thought I might treat myself to a pair of Ray-Bans and Ray-Ban Aviators in particular.

The iconic Aviators have been around since 1937 and, as the name suggests, were designed specifically for pilots. 

The lenses are deliberately large and curved to cover the whole field of vision to keep the sun out of the pilots’ eyes.  

But aside from the inferred coolness of being designed for pilots and them being Ray-Bans.

Ray-Ban Aviators are cool for another reason…

They use science.

By applying a chemical filter to the glass the original Aviators filtered out the blue light. 

The process massively cuts down the amount of light reaching the eye and helps maintain a sharp image.

Then later they introduced a polarised lens that prevents all the horizontal light from reaching the eye.

And this polarising effect isn’t restricted to just your sunnies.

You can apply it to your training.

The idea being that you have a big contrast between your training sessions.

Where polarised sunglasses will cut the light that reaches your eyes in half we want to go further with your training.

And have more of an 80/20 split.

Something that all elite athletes do but is perhaps easiest to see with elite runners.

They stay away from the middle ground. Making sure that each and every session is either hard or easy. 

With the biggest chunk being easy. 

To determine what actually is easy or hard is simple.

Easy =  a Zone 2 heart rate throughout the run.

Hard = either a Zone 4 or 5 Heart rate depending on the type of session.

If they tried to run the way most everyday runners do there’s no way they could clock up 100+ miles a week.

Fail to apply this simple concept and you’ll be plagued with aches and pains…

Regularly injured…

And constantly fail to achieve their goals.

So as an Everyday Athlete this is one of the few times you want to copy what the elites do in their training.

Where normally this would be madness…

A  fast track to injury and the treatment room.

By applying this idea of polarising your training you ensure the complete opposite.

It’s got a proven track record for getting the most out of our training especially if you want to…

Avoid injuries…

See consistent results…

And enjoy your training more…

Because it makes it easier to recover.

And it doesn’t make any difference what type of training you’re doing.

Lifting in the gym?

You need to limit those sessions where you’re hitting weights in the 85%+ range.

So NO maxing out every week.

You can even apply it to something like BJJ.

When you’re rolling aim for 1 hard, evenly matched battle, out of every 5. 

The others can be easier, more technique-based.

You’ll recover more easily between sessions and improve faster too.

So take inspiration from your sunnies and apply it to your training and watch your performance take off.

He ate a whole Chihuahua!

He ate a whole chihuahua!

Well not exactly.

But first a random factoid alert…

Chihuahuas were actually bred for eating.

Anyway, I was listening to a podcast the other day and the guy was talking about how much fruit and veg he ate.

When he totted it up it came out as the equivalent of an adult chihuahua…

Or 2.5kg of fruit and veggies every day!

Now I like my fruit and veggies…

And I’m definitely an advocate of getting your 5-a-day…

But 2.5kg of fruit and veg is extreme.

And, to be fair, he did admit it wasn’t for everyone.

He also went to pains to point out that he didn’t wake up one day and start eating that amount.

He built up to it over a few months.

But the jump in, all guns blazing approach is one many adopt when they start a new programme…

And then wonder why they crash and burn.

It happens with beginners and more experienced athletes.

They’ll jump into a programme without having done the preparatory work.

Then 3-4 weeks in they find they can’t tolerate the sessions and get injured.

It’s why periods of base building are essential.

You can’t work hard all the time. 

There need to be periods of downtime.

Weeks and months dedicated to laying the foundations on which you build to a PB.

These easy periods are what allow you to run faster or lift more.

Too often runners fall into the trap of thinking it’s the intervals, tempo runs, etc that build their speed but it’s not.

Slowly building up the volume and gradually increasing the intensity IS the route to success.

As you work in tandem with your body’s ability to adapt, your ability to do more improves.

You can tolerate harder running sessions.

Add in lifting in the 80-90% range.

Perhaps start using harder, more intense plyometric drills.

Not only that but it’ll be easier to sustain.

So, like the Chihuahua muncher slowly built his veggie intake, take the time to build your base.

You’ll be surprised how much faster and stronger you get as a result of taking your time.

You can’t outrun a doughnut

Do you watch live TV anymore?

If you’re like me then it’s only the recent series of Line of Duty.

With the smorgasbord of streaming services, you can pretty much watch what you want, when you want.

And it’s great.

Nothing on TV that you want to watch tonight?

No problem, there’s bound to be something on Netflix, or Prime, or AppleTV.

All of which tends to lead to over-indulging in my experience.

Why watch one episode when you can watch four?

I mean Netflix is set up for it.

The next episode will start before the one your watching finishes.

It’s a trap we can all fall into.

And before you know it you’ve lost the whole weekend…

Ok, the last time that happened was about 8 years ago pre Andrew.

But it is easy to lose an evening to a series.

And along with the TV binging often comes a bit of extra food.

After all binge TV without some munchies?

I mean, what would the world be coming to?

And you can justify it because you went out for a run earlier.

But not so fast on playing the exercise joker.

Guidelines from the International Society of Sports Nutrition might trump that.

If all you are doing is running for 30-40 minutes 3 times a week, there is NO need to eat any more than normal.

In fact, even if you are training 5-6 times a week you only need an extra 200-400 kcals above maintenance.

And it’s only when you get into the realms of professional sport or manual labourers that you can think of adding a significant amount more.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you can’t have our treats, but you need to account for them.

So if you do grab that bag of crisps you might need to skip something much more nutritious.

And this is one of the reasons so many people don’t lose weight, and even gain weight even though they’re training regularly.

Plus activity trackers only re-enforce this. As they tend towards over-estimating the calories burnt.

So even if you’re hitting your 10,000 steps on top of your training it’s best to think of this as a basic level of activity.

Activity that might allow you to get away with a bag of crisps…

But definitely not feasting on Krispy Kreme doughnuts whilst binge-watching your fav’s on Netflix.

The art of suffering

“The life of an elite athlete is, in the end, the art of knowing how to suffer”

So says Killian Jornet.

If you don’t know who Killian is, he’s probably the best ultra runner in the world. 

And if you want to run ultra distances, knowing how to suffer is the difference between finishing and getting a DNF.

So it’s safe to say Killian is a man who has honed his ability to suffer.

But what is the “ability to suffer” and is it something you can train?

In some respects you can.

Let’s think of the ability to suffer as an override button.

One that allows you to take “manual control” of your body.

We, obviously, have a well developed system for self preservation. One that lets you know when what you are doing is jeopardising your ability to function properly.

There are times when you will automatically override this, such as if you injure yourself when running away from a  tiger.

At this point getting away from the tiger is much more important than your sore knee.

But what if there is no tiger?

If there’s no tiger, then it comes down to you deciding what you are doing is more important than your sore knee.

You have to consciously tell yourself to “man up” and ignore the danger signals.

And it is exactly what Struan did.

Struan is a soldier and an ultra runner.

He was training for the Hardian’s Wall coast to coast ultra and had popped in a few times to keep the niggles at bay.

Race day came and I messaged him the day after to see how he got on.

“Hurt my hip at mile 15. Told myself to “man up” and get on with it. Finished in a disappointing 14hours”

 

It was a perfect example that you can develop a manual override that works just like your automatic one.

As a soldier, especially an infantry soldier like Struan, this is part and parcel of your training. 

Every single soldier I’ve worked with is able to do it.

They all have a place they can go so they can keep on trucking.

And it highlights that it is a very trainable ability.

It’s not that they don’t feel the pain, it’s that they can ignore it.

Now let me say this ignoring pain just so you can finish a race will always come with consequences.

That said…

There are lessons to be learned from what squaddies go through in their training.

You can take the general principles of their training and apply them to your own.

That is to say you make your training progressive.

The squaddies are exposed to increasing demands in ever more challenging environments.

As the demands increase so does their mental toughness and ability to switch the pain off.

For you as an everyday athlete, this still applies. 

You might not want to tackle the Hadrian’s Wall Ultra or go into battle but developing the ability to block out the pain is an asset.

One that you develop through gradually increasing the demands of your training.

It’s like the idea of boiling a frog.

If you drop a frog into boiling water it’ll jump out.

But put it in a pan of cold water and slowly heat it up…

It’ll happily sit there until it dies.

It’s why you start any programme well within your capabilities.

If you jump straight into a heavy duty programme of crazy, hard sessions you won’t last long.

Very shortly you’ll either quit because it’s way too hard or you’ll get injured.

But start off slowly and gradually build up the volume and intensity.

Until you get to the point where you’re sitting in the metaphorical pan of boiling water.

That is how you build your ability to suffer…

To tolerate long, intense runs…

To not say fxxx that to near max loads in a back squat.

And to not only tolerate them but benefit from them.

Now I’m off to do an easy session as I blasted myself with some intervals yesterday.

The Most Important 2 Minutes Of Your Day

We’ve all seen those annoying posts on Facebook or Instagram. A load of shite about morning rituals and how important they are?

That you must meditate for an hour before the sun comes up. 

And get in a killer workout before getting ready for work.

Prep all your food for the day before a bird has sung a single note.

In other words, get up before you went to bed. 

And then you realise that it’s all written by someone who doesn’t have a life. 

Don’t get me wrong, there’s value in making a point of doing all of the above…

If you can make it work.

The meditation and meal prep are big time savers, not time wasters.

And if you have the ability to train first thing in the morning then your workout is done and dusted before “the day” can de-rail it.

In fact rituals and habits play an important role in how successful we are in pretty much anything.

And your training is no exception.

Yet one of the most important habits or rituals you can have is often overlooked.

And they are, perhaps, the most important 2 minutes of your training day.

Let me explain…

You can turn your legs to jelly on hill reps…

Sweat so much on the Erg you look like you’re actually rowing on a lake..

Cranking out the reps in the gym for a burn so deep you look like the “Human Torch”…

None of it matters if you don’t get this part of the session right.

Well, I’m exaggerating a bit but it is important.

Be it a hard or an easy session the last few minutes are every bit as important as the rest of the session.

You see, once you’ve done the hard work you want to calm things down as fast as possible.

Because the good stuff, the adaptations that make you stronger, faster and generally harder to kill only happen once you’re finished.

It’s the recovery period between the sessions that you make your gains.

And we want to get into the recovery zone as fast as possible.

To do this finish your run with a couple of minutes of gentle walking.

This should see your heart rate drop below 100 bpm.

Then once you’re inside you want to lie down and pop your feet on a seat and breathe.

Nice and gently, in and out through your nose. 

Pause after the inhale and again after you exhale.

Or spend some time in the “Child’s Pose”. 

A couple of minutes spent in either of these will bring your heart rate right down.

Flipping the off switch on the production of all the hormones associated with exercise and flipping on the switch for all those that help you recover.

Give it a try after your next session it’ll help speed up your recovery.

What happened when I didn’t take my own advice

The time I didn’t take my own advice

4 years ago I hurt my hip/back. I was mucking about with some pretty aggressive mobility drills and over did it.

At first I didn’t think it was too bad.

Within an hour I couldn’t sit down comfortably.

It got worse as the day went on. By the following day I was sitting down on my right bum cheek and slowly lowering my left onto the seat.

It took me 8 weeks to get back to lifting in the gym to return to normal.

But it took 8 months before I was running well again.

All because I didn’t follow my own advice.

There’s a big leap going from being in pain to pain free.

A big one from pain free to regaining strength and movement.

And a bigger one from regaining strength to restoring the resiliency needed for running.

It’s NOT about doing more work but doing the right work.

It’s not about a whole bunch of different exercises but about progressing the correct ones. I stopped my progressions too early in my rehab and paid the price.

I should have been back running pain free in 3 months once I started running again not 6.  On top of not completing the rehab I rushed the return to running part too.

It’s very embarrassing.

I was out for a nice easy 30 minute run and got to the halfway point when I noticed my hip. A couple of minutes later it wasn’t a “feeling” it was pain.

Shooting pain right through my left glute.

Fan-*********-tastic I thought to myself. I tried walking for a bit then running again but it was still sore. A little less so but sore none the less.

The problem was twofold.

  1. I hadn’t followed the rehab right through to the end
  2. I had returned to continuous running too soon.

This meant I had missed out on the very important last phase.  Creating resilience.

It’s here that we bulletproof ourselves. Where the activities are demanding and ensure that we know that once complete we are good to go.

The upside of this is a return to running program I created off the back of my own, painful, experience. You can get it here if you would like it

The moral of the story is…

Just because you are pain free does not mean that you are “good to go”. 9/10 this is definitely not the case.

It doesn’t make any difference if it is your hip like me or your knee. You need to go through the full process to ensure that you are as robust as can be.

The main reason for your back pain is…

The main reason for your back pain?

There isn’t one.

Yip, you read that correctly.

In the vast majority of cases, there is no single cause for back pain.

Unless you’ve been involved in an accident of some kind there is a huge range of things that have contributed to it.

This includes those “it’s the end of the world”, cases where there is damage to a disc. Where there is some nerve impingement. Continue reading “The main reason for your back pain is…”

Homer Simpson and back pain (How back pain makes you stupid)

You might not watch The Simpsons but you will know who Homer is.

Homer the loveable but pretty stupid dad. The thing is nobody wants to be Homer. 

Bart? Maybe. He’s the anarchic wee boy all wanted to be. 

Lisa? Maybe. Intelligent and cool. 

Marge? Again, maybe but definitely not Homer.

Homer is the one out of all the characters that you don’t really want to be even if you are shouting for him

The thing is back pain turns you into Homer.

Back pain does actually make you stupid. It does this in a variety of different ways. But let’s let’s define stupidity first.

Stupidity is the overlooking or dismissing conspicuously crucial information. Back pain does make you do this.

It does it both in your day to day life and also in how you view back pain itself.

Now, this definition isn’t mine, i found it in a really interesting blog post on Farnham Street called “How not to be stupid”.

The guy writing it talks about how there are 7 factors that go into making us stupid.

  1. Being outside your normal environment or there being changes to your routine. 
  2. Being in the presence of a group
  3. Being in the presence of an expert or if you, yourself are an expert.
  4. Doing any task that requires intense focus
  5. Information overload
  6. Physical or emotional stress, fatigue
  7. Being in a hurry.

Not all of these are required for there to be an effect. Any one of them on its own will have an effect. 

In the U.S., ad the U.K, all of these are present in hospitals but I just have the figures for the U.S. In the States there are 30,000 deaths a year from car accidents.  A big number. But there are between 210,000 and 440,000 deaths in hospitals from errors in treatment!

But what does this have to do with back pain and how does back pain make you stupid?

Back pain causes physical and emotional stress. 

It causes fatigue.

It will result in information overload as you seek answers for your back pain. (I appreciate I’m not helping you here).

You might well find yourself hurrying to finish tasks so you can sit down because of the pain.

The pain itself can mean you have to focus really hard to do simple tasks.

So you can see there are all sorts of ways for back pain to make you “stupid”. 

It comes into your life and wrecks havoc. 

Disrupting sleep.

Causing physical and emotional stress. 

Destroying focus and the list goes on,

If you would like to see what a path to being more intelligent would look like all you need to do is reply to this email and we can chat about it.

You can grab a copy of our FREE Back Pain Myths Busted eBook here >>> https://www.performancesportstherapy.net/back-pain-myths-busted-ebook