Gear & Technology, Health & Injuries, Podcast, Training

David Lipman | EP#414

 October 30, 2023

By  Bernardo Gonçalves

LISTEN TO THE EPISODE HERE:

David Lipman - That Triathlon Show

David Lipman works in sports technology and has a particular interest in the intersection of health and performance. He has degrees in medicine and exercise science, a background in coaching, and a strong understanding of both endurance sports and strength and conditioning.

In this episode you'll learn about:

  • The evolution of world-class endurance training (a discussion about a recent publication)
  • Dave's perspectives on triathlon training - are there things that we could do better when looking at the way triathletes typically train?
  • Finding your balance of health and performance
  • How to approach new technology in sports in a smart way
  • Navigating information in an age of information overload
  • Weight and its nonlinear and unpredictable relationship with performance
  • Trends in strength and conditioning for runners and endurance athletes

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Shownotes

David's background

02:29 -

  • I started in exercise physiology, earning a degree in that field, and later pursued podiatry alongside coaching. 
  • Coaching has been a significant part of my journey, starting at 17. 
  • Eventually, I transitioned into medicine with a focus on sports medicine. 
  • After working as a doctor for a while, I relocated for my wife's sake, leading me to my current residence in London.
  • Despite my accent, I now call London home. I'm involved in the tech industry and also host podcasts. I consider myself a specialist generalist, bridging health and performance. 
  • My current role is with Supersapiens, a company specialising in continuous glucose monitoring for athletes. I host their podcasts and collaborate on a running-focused podcast called Pro Running News with Matt Fox from Sweat Elite. 
  • Additionally, I have a project in the works, set to be unveiled in December.
  • As for my athletic background, I initially pursued track and field in high school, gravitating towards middle-distance running. While I enjoyed it, I wasn't particularly exceptional. 
  • After school, I transitioned into strength and Conditioning, exploring weightlifting and powerlifting. 
  • Eventually, I circled back to running, delving into longer distances like half marathons and marathons. 
  • While in Australia, I was drawn to trail running, while in the Netherlands, I shifted towards road running. I've even tackled major marathons like Boston, Berlin, and London. 
  • Now that I'm in London, I aim to rekindle my passion for trail running and push myself to get faster.
  • Regarding my medical background, while I'm a qualified medical doctor, I chose to veer towards tech and related fields rather than traditional clinical practice. 
  • This trajectory began in performance coaching, where I received valuable advice about becoming indispensable in community-level sports. 
  • This led me to explore first aid and sports medicine, eventually guiding me into medical practice.
  • While working clinically, I maintained a keen interest in coaching, even crafting my training programs. 
  • Despite being primarily self-coached, I remained dedicated to my medical and coaching pursuits. When I moved to the Netherlands, I could continue practising medicine, but language barriers posed a challenge. 
  • This prompted me to re-immerse myself in coaching and explore opportunities in the tech industry.
  • In coaching, my passion lies in problem-solving. I enjoy designing training programs and finding solutions to challenges. 
  • However, when it comes to executing these programs and providing continuous support, I might not be as dedicated. 
  • Building a solid coaching relationship requires a significant commitment, and I'm not able to offer that level of support at the moment. I recognise that some coaches might be better suited for this aspect.
  • Nonetheless, I'm always eager to share my thoughts, offer advice, and engage in consultations with individuals who seek guidance. 
  • Solving problems and providing solutions is where I find my excitement. 
  • As for hands-on coaching in the gym, I enjoy the personal interactions, but the mechanical aspects are less stimulating compared to program design.
  • I do provide input to a select group of friends and individuals who seek my guidance. 
  • For example, I have a friend who recently started half-marathon training, and I've offered general recommendations and answered his occasional questions. 
  • He knows exercise physiology, so his needs are relatively low, and he simply requires running-specific advice.
  • Additionally, you and I have discussed some training-related topics off-air, and I've shared my thoughts and insights. 
  • However, I don't claim credit for your success; your achievements are impressive and are not solely attributed to my advice.
  • For self-coached people, I recommend having a group of trusted individuals with whom you can exchange ideas and seek advice. 
  • Support and collaboration can be precious in your training journey, whether you're a coach or an athlete.

The evolution of endurance training

09:32 -

  • It's fascinating to gather insights from a diverse group of sports scientists and coaches to discern trends in the industry over the past decade or so. 
  • This collaborative approach helps sift through the noise and identify commonalities and disparities. 
    1. Enhanced Understanding of Sports-Specific Demands: This involves tailoring training programs to align closely with the specific demands of the sport. This concept particularly resonates with you as an Australian conditioning coach.
    2. Improved Competition Execution: This encompasses a multifaceted approach, factoring in elements like travel constraints and the unique challenges of different events, especially in multi-day competitions like the Olympics.
    3. Larger, More Targeted Training Loads: This aligns with the Norwegian training system, emphasising the need to increase and better quantify training loads to optimise performance.
    4. Heightened Focus on Training Quality: This is contingent on a deep understanding of the desired outcomes, suggesting that a clear understanding of training goals is crucial for improvement.
    5. Emphasis on a Professional, Healthier Lifestyle: This trend underscores the evolving shift towards a more holistic approach to athlete well-being, focusing on nutrition, sleep, and overall lifestyle choices.
  • However, it's worth noting that there might be a plateau in pursuing a professional, healthier lifestyle. 
  • Balancing the demands of high-performance training with maintaining overall health can sometimes lead to practices that aren't universally considered healthy. 
  • For instance, athletes may need to adopt specialised diets that, while necessary for their training, may not be considered healthy in a broader context.
  • It's not necessarily about training harder or doing more intervals; it's more about understanding the goals and striving for consistently sustainable training. 
  • This concept is exemplified by the Norwegian system, which focuses on specific intensity levels, allowing athletes to maintain high-quality training over extended periods with substantial volume. 
  • For instance, they emphasise training within the threshold zone between LT1 and LT2.
  • This approach is especially relevant in long-distance triathlon, as it aligns with the race-specific demands of these events. 
  • In the case of Ironman, half Ironman, or Olympic distance, training typically occurs in the LT1 to LT2 intensity range. 
  • It's important to note that not all endurance events follow this pattern, as shorter track and swimming distances have different requirements.
  • One significant development in recent years is the influence of technology, particularly GPS watches. 
  • These devices have become ubiquitous since around 2008, allowing athletes to quantify their training better. 
  • This technology helps them understand their runs' distances, paces, and heart rate data, among other things. 
  • Even hobbyist athletes often use these tools, which can enhance motivation and provide critical insights into training loads.
  • Additionally, it's essential to consider areas like sleep and other aspects of an athlete's overall health. 
  • While top-tier athletes may already excel in these areas, those slightly below the elite level might exhibit more significant discrepancies. In the future, as sports science and understanding of athlete well-being continue to progress, we may see more consistency among athletes at various levels. 
  • It's like a trickle-down effect, similar to how Formula 1 innovations can eventually benefit everyday drivers.
  • Podcasts and other forms of media, like the one we're discussing, play a significant role in disseminating knowledge and research findings. 
  • They bridge the gap between researchers and the general public, making valuable information accessible to athletes and coaches alike.
  • It's essential to acknowledge that part of the evolution in sports is the ability to share information, learn from each other, and even learn from others' mistakes. 
  • This iterative process allows us to progress more rapidly. I've observed this trend in various levels of sports.
  • In the early stages of a sport, talent often prevails because training methods are not yet well-established. 
  • Then comes a period of professionalisation, where those who train better start to dominate. 
  • However, as training methods become more standardised and widely adopted, the playing field levels out, and it may once again become a matter of talent or inherent genetic advantages.
  • This dynamic is particularly evident in physiologically based sports, such as endurance sports, where the physical capabilities of the athlete play a significant role. In contrast, team sports often emphasise tactical and technical aspects, making the talent vs training balance slightly different.
  • The evolution of sports is a complex interplay between training, talent, and the collective learning and sharing of knowledge within the sporting community.

Future trends in endurance training

18:40 -

  • The future of sports will involve more advanced technological monitoring, and we may already be heading in that direction for many athletes. 
  • This will likely include the integration of AI, which some coaches might find intimidating, but I think it will ultimately enhance coaching by providing more data. The art and soft science of coaching will improve as a result.
  • Additionally, I anticipate advancements in utilising heat and altitude for training. We will see a more precise and individualised approach driven by better tracking and the analysis of big data. 
  • This will involve not only improving training techniques but also understanding how individual athletes respond to different conditions. 
  • Consumer-based blood tests are becoming more accessible and affordable, enabling individuals to better understand and apply scientific findings to their unique circumstances.
  • Understanding the interaction between athletes and their equipment will also continue to improve. 
  • For instance, we'll gain a deeper understanding of factors like aerodynamic positions for cyclists and the effects of carbon shoes on performance. The goal is to move beyond population-level data to assess how specific equipment affects individual athletes.
  • Furthermore, there will be a greater emphasis on preventing injuries and illnesses. Success in sports is often closely linked to staying injury-free over the medium to long term. 
  • Athletes must prioritise injury prevention and overall health. I'm personally risk-averse regarding my training because avoiding injuries is a critical factor in achieving success. 
  • While success can be challenging to quantify in the short term, failure often equates to injury.
  • We may see advancements in sports science that involve integrating gait data, kinematics, and kinetic data, using big data models to assess the risk of musculoskeletal injuries. 
  • This kind of technology is foreseeable, and there might already be companies working on it. It's about extracting valuable insights from the wealth of data that these technologies can provide.
  • Additionally, it's essential for athletes to not only receive advice but to act on it. There's often a discrepancy between what healthcare professionals recommend and what athletes do, as we've seen on social media where runners ignore medical advice. 
  • It's crucial to take action based on professional guidance.
  • Moreover, the field of sports science is evolving, and sports science programs at universities need to keep up. The traditional focus on theory and rote learning of facts is becoming less relevant in an age where information is readily available on our phones. 
  • Instead, the emphasis should shift towards the practical application of knowledge, critical thinking, and data analysis skills. 
  • Sports science programs should incorporate more technology and practical experience to prepare students for the real-world challenges they'll face.
  • It's worth noting that some universities have already been incorporating advanced technology like force plates in their programs. 
  • The trend is towards making such technology more accessible and consumer-friendly, which is a positive development.

Changes that David would do in "typical triathlon training"

24:50 -

  • I've also had the opportunity to be friends with triathletes during my time at university. Many of my friends were part of podiatry programs, and some were runners or triathletes. From my perspective, as someone with a background in strength and Conditioning, I often approach training by considering the end goals and working backwards from there. 
  • I've noticed that some endurance coaches tend to start with the current level of the athlete and then build a program from there. 
  • My approach has been the opposite, focusing on where we need to get to and then designing a program to achieve those specific goals.
  • Not all coaches follow the same approach, and the field is evolving. 
  • However, using a SWOT analysis or weak point analysis can be valuable. 
  • In triathlons of all levels, many athletes consistently find running off the bike one of the most challenging parts of the race. It can feel strange and difficult to get going. Given this, I've been trying to understand the high volume of cycling training for Olympic distance races, which typically involve only a 40-kilometer bike leg. 
  • It is counterintuitive that athletes aren't incorporating more run segments into their training, especially considering their difficulties when transitioning from the bike to the run. 
  • Including run segments in training, even as short as a kilometre immediately after cycling, could greatly benefit triathletes. 
  • Although logistics and other factors may play a role, the lack of these "brick" sessions has always surprised me, even in long-distance triathlons where running off the bike can be particularly challenging.
  • When it comes to endurance sports, many tend to focus primarily on physiology. While that's undoubtedly a significant aspect, we shouldn't overlook the importance of skill. Viewing triathlons through a skill-based lens brings attention to elements like transitions. 
  • Transitions are often referred to as the "third leg" in triathlon, and now, nutrition is recognised as a fourth. 
  • But there's also the consideration of specifics in running off the bike. What does that transition entail for you? Do you need to be prepared to run barefoot on concrete or sand? 
  • These seemingly minor details might not be a big deal for the average athlete, but for those aiming for the top or dealing with cutoff times, they can make a substantial difference.
  • Take, for example, the Ironman World Championship in Kona. The transition from T1 to T2 involves quite a long run, and being unprepared for that could impact your performance later in the run, especially if you've had to run barefoot for an extended period.
  • Adopting this skill-focused perspective can alter how you approach things. It shifts the question from "Can I run a marathon?" to "Can I run a marathon after biking and swimming?" 
  • This changes the focus to issues like potentially over-biking, which are crucial from a physiological standpoint—approaching it as a skill challenge provides a different angle on the problem.

Mikael's view on "brick sessions"

27:15 -

  • Running off the bike isn't generally considered hard for most experienced triathletes, as difficulties often arise from pacing, nutrition, or hydration issues.
  • For beginners, practising runs off the bike is essential to assess pacing, nutrition, and hydration, as well as to train in biomechanical and physical aspects.
  • However, some coaches emphasise running off the bike and have reported stress fractures, especially hip ones, in athletes following this approach.
  • Running off the bike often results in a glycogen-depleted state, affecting bone health.
  • The primary reason people avoid running off the bike is injury prevention.
  • Short runs off the bike don't constitute a proper training session, and a more structured running session can be more beneficial.
  • Running off the bike can help triathletes identify issues, including potential bike fit problems.
  • In the case of a struggle with running off the bike, it's advisable to practice and improve that specific skill or aspect.
  • In triathlon, especially for age groupers like myself, transitions play a significant role. 
  • These moments can make a massive difference in our overall race times. Many of us have put in years of hard training, and making significant improvements in our race times becomes increasingly challenging. 
  • For instance, reducing five minutes off your half Ironman time takes dedicated and practical training and execution. 
  • However, it's surprising how many athletes overlook transitions. Some may give up several minutes in each transition without a second thought. 
  • In some cases, I've seen people spend five, six, seven, or even eight minutes in just one transition when it could be done in two and a half to three minutes.
  • Ironman transitions for age groupers tend to be longer due to the number of participants. 
  • While they might not be as fast as the 30-second transitions seen at the world triathlon level, there's still room for improvement. 
  • The skill aspect in transitions is often underestimated. Similarly, managing your bike and nutrition can make a substantial difference. Have you practised accessing your nutrition behind your saddle, or do you lose time fumbling with it during the race? Using a Camelback in your tri-suit for continuous drinking could be more efficient. 
  • There are excellent two-litre Camelbacks available that can go a long way in improving your race performance.
  • Triathlon is not just about physiology; it's about mastering various skills. These aspects are often overlooked in favour of focusing solely on training and physical Conditioning. 

Race nutrition

35:10 -

  • One approach to race nutrition is planning what you'll have available on the course, which is a wise strategy. 
  • Another approach is to build personal resilience so you don't rely on external sources of nutrition. Creating anti-fragility or robustness in this aspect is valuable.
  • Personal experiences in trail running have taught me the significance of decision-making. For example, not stopping to refill a water bottle or not carrying extra fuel can lead to mistakes and energy depletion. 
  • These events occurred relatively recently, emphasising the importance of sound decision-making.
  • In the context of elite events like UTMB (now owned by Ironman), aid station times used to be much longer, with some athletes spending 10-15 minutes. 
  • However, top performers now breeze through in less than three minutes. Age groupers can benefit from taking an extra minute at the transition to ensure comfort and prevent issues like blisters.
  • Jim Walmsley's success at UTMB highlights the impact of efficient transitions. 
  • He practised transition procedures with his support crew, making a significant difference. Sometimes, seemingly minor improvements can lead to substantial gains.
  • The key is finding the right balance between speed and comfort. Always ensure you're comfortable and avoid unnecessary delays, but also recognise when small changes can make a big difference.

Mikael's view on potential performance gains

37:20 -

  • When considering improvements in triathlon performance, it's crucial to evaluate the return on investment in terms of both time and resources. This means weighing the potential gains against what you need to put in. 
  • For instance, focusing on transitions can yield significant time savings with relatively minimal effort. By dedicating a few sessions to practising transitions in the weeks leading up to a race, you could save valuable minutes. 
  • While you may not achieve elite-level transitions, you can still make substantial beginner-level improvements.
  • On the other hand, if you're looking to shave off several minutes from your run time, it might involve increasing your running volume. 
  • However, this approach could come with higher injury risks or time constraints. It's essential to carefully balance the investment required with the potential gains.
  • Consider this scenario: If you could take an hour from your bike time and allocate it to two half-hour transition sessions spread across the week, it might be a favourable trade-off. 
  • In a substantial training week of, say, 15+ hours, taking an hour from the bike might not noticeably impact race day performance, but optimising transition times could make a significant difference. 
  • It's about the strategic allocation of resources to maximise overall performance.

Swimming

40:06 -

  • I've been intrigued by swim training and how it's often broken into shorter, sprint-like intervals of a hundred meters. 
  • People are not doing longer swims, like 400 meters or more, and aren't taking advantage of open water opportunities. 
  • This is quite different from cycling or running training, where longer blocks of work are standard.
  • Historically, Australians exposed to open water conditions and waves have excelled in swimming. It's interesting to think about how sea swimming could impact performance. 
  • Even among athletes with swimming backgrounds, those who have experience with open water tend to have an advantage. 
  • For age group athletes, the difference can be significant, as they often spend most of their time in the pool, so the gains from open-water training can be substantial.

Health vs performance

42:47 -

  • I often discuss with people the idea of a spectrum for making decisions. This spectrum considers where you stand in terms of prioritising performance versus health. 
  • Elite athletes typically lean toward the extreme of the performance spectrum, where they are willing to make decisions that might compromise their health. 
  • They might even consider taking performance-enhancing measures that could have long-term health consequences.
  • Understanding where you fall on this spectrum is crucial. Are you balanced at 50-50 between performance and health, or are you more like 60-40, prioritising one over the other? 
  • This perspective acts as a lens through which you make your decisions.
  • For instance, I'll use my situation as an example. I've had a decent marathon performance, but to improve, I might need to make choices. 
  • One option is to increase training volume, and another is to reduce upper body strength training. 
  • However, I value my overall health, including bone health, so I'm unwilling to compromise my upper-body strength training. I lean towards the health side, maybe even at a 70-30 balance. 
  • This decision influenced me to keep the upper body gym volume instead of cutting it.
  • This perspective on the performance-health spectrum is essential for older age group athletes, especially those with limited training hours. 
  • If you have only a few hours per week for training and your main focus is being the best athlete, it might seem that dedicating time to strength training is not the most efficient choice. 
  • However, I often advise that strength training is valuable for health, particularly as athletes age, so it can be a compromise with triathlon performance.
  • Life factors also come into play, such as work, family, and other obligations. These affect your priorities and lead to trade-offs. 
  • Being clear about where your priorities lie helps you make informed decisions that extend to areas like diet, training methods, and more.
  • For example, some athletes might be concerned about the impact of gels on their teeth. It's a valid discussion, but for optimal performance, you may need to incorporate gels into your training to become accustomed to them for race day. 
  • You might need more natural fuel sources like bananas during intense training sessions.
  • It's also worth considering the potential impact of prolonged mouth breathing during endurance training on oral health. 
  • You might conclude that minimising open-mouth breathing is a reasonable decision to protect your teeth.
  • Ultimately, the key is to stay informed, be clear about your priorities, and make decisions aligned with your chosen perspective on the performance-health spectrum. Your unique circumstances and goals will dictate the right balance for you.

Sports nutrition

46:49 -

  • Many questions are circulating regarding the long-term health of athletes, particularly concerning carbohydrate consumption and the potential risks of metabolic health issues. I find this discussion quite intriguing. 
  • A recent study looked at continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) in athletes and their risk of developing diabetes, especially in endurance athletes who switched to a higher-fat diet. 
  • One of the most captivating findings in this study was the shift in the crossover point between carbohydrate and fat utilisation, occurring at around 85% of VO2 max. 
  • This is a significant departure from our previous understanding.
  • The critical question from this research is whether athletes are willing to compromise their performance for their long-term health. It's not my place to take sides in this debate. Instead, I aim to encourage informed decision-making. 
  • If you are compromising your health by consuming high levels of carbohydrates during training, you should consider whether you are comfortable with that trade-off. 
  • Would you be willing to adopt a lower carbohydrate approach, even if it means sacrificing some performance? I won't assert what's right or wrong in this matter. 
  • I pose the "what if" scenario – if this situation is a potential reality, how do we make the most informed decisions? 
  • Are we making conscious choices or just blindly assuming that consuming many gels is a healthy practice, akin to having a bowl of gels for breakfast? 
  • These are essential considerations in the ongoing discussion about athletes' health and performance.

Heart health

48:27 -

  • I recently attended a conference presentation on a topic I'm considering within my context. It pertains to the relationship between endurance training, particularly in triathlon, and heart health. 
  • Notably, the case of Tim O'Donnell, who suffered a heart attack but has since returned to racing, has prompted my interest in this area.
  • The key takeaway is that both atrial fibrillation and heart disease share similar implications when it comes to excessive endurance training. 
  • Training over 10 hours a week with considerable intensity might be a rough threshold to consider. 
  • Beyond this point, the benefits of training start to diminish, although at a different rate than they increase up to this point. 
  • So, there's still some benefit, just less.
  • A significant challenge in this context is presented by taking away certain forms of exercise. 
  • The idea is, if we take away, for instance, marathon running, will individuals maintain a similar level of training but with reduced intensity or different activities? 
  • The binary choice is often between training to a degree that might be slightly detrimental versus not training enough to maximise health benefits, and it's a complex decision.
  • My discussion with a cardiologist emphasised that despite the increased risk, individuals who engage in substantial endurance training will still likely be in a better overall health position than those who don't exercise enough. 
  • In the next five to ten years, we may gain a deeper understanding of these dynamics, improve our capacity to treat and intervene and develop better methods for tracking and managing athlete risk.
  • It's essential to consider this context, especially since many individuals initially enter the triathlon world to improve their health. 
  • However, this initial desire for better health can quickly lead to pursuing higher and higher performance goals, never quite achieving a sense of fulfilment, as there always seems to be another goal to pursue. 
  • This understanding should be helpful for people who find themselves perpetually striving for that next goal.
  • My reference to 10 hours as a rough threshold is not an exact marker. It's more about the idea that after a certain point, the rate of improvement in overall health starts to slow down. 
  • You reach a plateau where further training doesn't produce the same benefit level, but it doesn't suddenly become detrimental. 
  • It could have been more beneficial than it was at the optimum point. 
  • If, for instance, at 10 hours you're starting to plateau, at 15 hours, you won't be at the same level as you were at 5 hours, but it's more like you might be at 9 hours or 9 hours 30 minutes. 
  • The rate of decrease is lower than the initial increase.
  • This understanding is related to the risk of all-cause mortality, which includes death from various causes, like accidents. It follows a U-shaped curve. 
  • The risk decreases up to a certain point, then starts to increase, particularly concerning cardiac problems, as well as other potential risks related to excessive training. 
  • For example, the more time you spend on activities like cycling, the greater the exposure to risks unrelated to heart health, such as the chance of accidents. 
  • This is an "area under the curve" problem where prolonged exposure leads to more potential risks.

Tech used in training

53:22 -

  • I have a conservative approach and use various monitoring devices mainly because I enjoy them and it's relevant to my profession.
  • I use a GPS watch that's a few years old and hasn't updated it, but some people update theirs annually.
  • I prefer external optical heart rate monitors over chest straps and believe using the watch for heart rate monitoring is less accurate.
  • I work for SuperSapiens and use a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM).
  • I also use an Oura ring to track HRV overnight and in the morning and a separate tool called Rewire Fitness to monitor neural markers of fatigue.
  • I have an eight-sleep device for monitoring sleep quality, which is beneficial since my wife and I have different temperature preferences.
  • I use a velocity-based training sensor for gym workouts, primarily for enjoyment and interest rather than performance tracking.
  • I'm open to experimenting with various monitoring tools, but I stick with those that I find enjoyable or beneficial in decision-making.
  • I have a background in sports science and have experience with lactate testing, although I currently rely more on heart rate and RPE for training intensity.
  • I believe in dialing in training intensity based on feeling and brain integration, rather than solely relying on data on race day.
  • While I have some ability to estimate pace, I find it more challenging compared to using heart rate zones for training.
  • I'm intrigued by continuous lactate monitoring but anticipate it may initially be challenging for the industry and users to adapt to the data it provides.

How to approach new technologies

58:00 -

  1. Understand the Purpose of Measurement: 
    • Before using any data or technology, it's essential to know why you're measuring specific parameters. Know what information you're seeking and how it fits into your training or decision-making process. People may use data for different purposes, such as intensity control, performance improvement, or general interest.
  2. Take Time to Observe Data: 
    • It's crucial to gather data over a period without taking immediate action to understand how the measurements change and what patterns emerge. This observational phase helps you interpret data regarding your training goals.
  3. Consider the Context of Data: 
    • Different measurements have different contexts, and it's essential to recognise that one type of measurement may not be directly comparable to another. For example, continuous lactate monitoring and capillary lactate measurement assess different aspects, and comparing them might not be meaningful.
  4. Understand the Costs and Limitations: 
    • Using technology and collecting data has associated financial and opportunity costs. Consider what you may sacrifice, like time with family or other essential activities, when collecting and interpreting data. Moreover, be aware of the limitations of the measurement methods you're using and understand what they can and cannot capture.
  5. Utilise Data Effectively: 
    • To make data and technology truly valuable, understand how they work and decide on the actions you will take based on the information provided. It's an investment that requires time and understanding to be effective.
  6. Embrace Differences in Data: 
    • Different measurements provide different data, and it's vital to appreciate these differences rather than labelling one as good or bad. Recognise that they serve unique purposes and should be used in relevant contexts.
  7. Apply Contextual Understanding: 
    • The effectiveness of data interpretation hinges on understanding the context in which it is measured. Different locations, devices, and methods can yield distinct results, and it's crucial to appreciate these variations for accurate and meaningful analysis.
  • Muscle oxygen saturation measurements are gaining popularity as a measure of internal stress, but they differ from lactate measurements and should be interpreted accordingly.
  • Understanding what is being measured and how it is interpreted is crucial, such as respiratory rate being derived from heart rate variability.
  • Different technologies measure parameters like respiration rate in distinct ways, so it's essential to consider the context, such as muscle contractions during strength training.
  • Consider where you want to be on the adoption curve when implementing new technologies. Early adoption may mean dealing with initial flaws in the product while being a late adopter might save time and resources.
  • Despite being interested in technology, you adopt new tools based on assessing their value and applicability.
  • Many people desire a comprehensive dashboard that integrates data from all their wearable devices, providing a unified view of their information.
  • Building such a dashboard is a complex task due to technical challenges and the need to collaborate with various companies.
  • Tools like TrainingPeaks and Strava attempt to serve as data aggregators to address this need.
  • However, constructing and maintaining such dashboards is expensive and challenging because they require constant updates as technology evolves.
  • Many companies are working on creating these all-in-one dashboards, but succeeding in this field is quite challenging due to the dynamic nature of the technology landscape.

Filtering information

1:08:15 -

  • In terms of carefully navigating the topic of marketing, it's important not to approach it with a blanket negative attitude. 
  • While there is some negativity associated with marketing, it's a valuable tool that, when used effectively, can have a positive impact. 
  • Marketing involves storytelling and getting buy-in from people, which is essential for coaches. It's about convincing athletes to invest in your training program, even if they already pay. 
  • Improved buy-in can lead to significant performance enhancements, even with the same training program. 
  • Moreover, from a health perspective, if we could effectively market a healthy lifestyle involving diet and physical activity, it would benefit society.
  • However, there is a fine line, and marketing can sometimes be overdone or done questionably. 
  • To navigate this, it's essential to have a deeper understanding of marketing to see through such tactics. 
  • If you're not inclined to delve into the details, seeking information from trusted sources like experts specialising in evaluating products or technologies can be beneficial.
  • Consider the Lindy effect, which suggests that older, well-established concepts or technologies are more likely to endure and be reliable. 
  • Something with a long history, like lactate testing, is probably a robust and valuable tool. 
  • In contrast, newer ideas or technologies might not have the same staying power. This concept can help assess the potential longevity and value of a given tool or method.
  • Furthermore, it's wise to consider the consequences of being wrong in either direction. What if you don't adopt a new technology, and it turns out to be beneficial? 
  • The cost of being wrong is essentially the delay in progress. On the other hand, if you do adopt it, and it's not as helpful as expected, the cost is the price of the tool itself. 
  • This kind of cost-benefit analysis can guide decision-making.

Body weight

1:13:20 -

  • Discussing weight in the context of sports can indeed be a sensitive issue. It's essential to be mindful and sensitive when addressing this topic, whether talking on a podcast or engaging in any conversation. 
  • Weight is often wrongly associated with females alone. Still, there's a growing awareness of relative energy deficiency in men, too, which shows that it's relevant for everyone involved in endurance sports.
  • The idea that being lighter automatically translates to better performance isn't necessarily accurate. While weight and power-to-weight ratios matter to some extent, it's not a linear relationship. 
  • Athletes are complex machines, and many factors influence their performance. 
  • Mood and mental well-being are essential components of athletic success. If losing a bit of weight makes you less happy or leads to psychological stress, it might not be worth the potential small gain in performance.
  • Moreover, the endocrine system, which regulates hormones and plays a crucial role in an athlete's overall health, can be affected by significant changes in weight. 
  • This can lead to issues like disruptions in the menstrual cycle, impacting both male and female athletes. So, instead of fixating solely on losing weight, it's often wiser to focus on optimising training and diet to meet the specific needs of your sport. 
  • With the proper training regimen and balanced nutrition, the weight may naturally adjust to an ideal level for your performance and health.

Mikael's thoughts on weight

1:14:57 - 

  • It's becoming more common to hear about world-class athletes who experience growth spurts in their early twenties after stopping growing for many years. 
  • These changes often occur due to adjustments to their diets and increased nutrition.
  • In the past, we've been fixated on the idea that getting lighter would automatically lead to improved athletic performance. 
  • However, this obsession with weight reduction can sometimes result in athletes making unhealthy decisions, which raises concerns about their overall health.
  • From my coaching experience, I've observed that it's not always the case that getting lighter makes you faster. 
  • In fact, in some instances, weight gain can lead to improved performance. This concept applies to various sports, including swimming, biking, and running, and it challenges the notion that lighter is always better for athletes. 
  • While this perspective is based on my coaching experience and not direct research findings, it underscores the idea that the relationship between weight and athletic performance is more nuanced than we may think.
  • It's essential to consider the relationship between an athlete's weight and risk of injury. 
  • Many athletes might believe that they need to return to their lightest weight to replicate their past performance, but there are better approaches than this. 
  • In my coaching experience, I've observed that athletes who've been injured in the past sometimes correlate their lighter weight with their past successes.
  • However, there may be a link between getting injured and maintaining a lower weight, and it's not automatic that returning to that previous weight is the solution. 
  • Instead, the primary focus should be on staying injury-free. Staying for a healthier balance between performance and injury prevention may lead to better long-term results. 
  • As we discussed at the beginning of this podcast, injury prevention and overall well-being should take precedence.

David's anecdotal weight experience

1:16:30 -

  • Weight fluctuations are common for athletes, and it's essential to recognise that the body changes over time due to training and ageing.
  • The scale is a primary tool and may not provide a complete picture of an athlete's health or performance.
  • Tracking weight daily can be informative, but it's advised to focus on monthly averages to account for natural fluctuations.
  • For endurance athletes, it's crucial to consider factors like training schedules, glycogen levels, and rest days when interpreting weight data.
  • Body composition, including muscle mass, is a significant factor that the scale may not reflect accurately.
  • In an ideal scenario, athletes would be weighed daily, but the data would only be used to track broader trends rather than focusing on day-to-day fluctuations. This would also involve considering muscle mass changes.
  • There's a positive adaptation when you're under-fueling, which is part of the problem we see with Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S). 
  • There's a period where you can perform better as your body composition changes due to under-fueling, and you can excel for a time. 
  • This makes sense from an evolutionary perspective because, in times of low food availability, you need to be able to perform. 
  • However, this can lead to injuries in the long run, which is precisely what we observe. You experience some initial benefits, but then you encounter issues like bone stress injuries requiring time off. 
  • The recovery from such injuries can be challenging, involving psychological and emotional aspects and rebuilding trust in your body. 
  • It's crucial to keep in mind the context of your training goals. For most people, health is a fundamental objective, and being under-fueled doesn't contribute to overall health.

Strength & Conditioning for endurance athletes

1:22:30 -

  • The role of strength training in the future of running may not be as prominent as it has been in the past. It's somewhat disheartening for me to say this because I enjoy spending time in the gym with a barbell, and I firmly believe in the benefits of strength training. 
  • However, when I consider the current trends and emerging information, it appears that runners are finding success with less emphasis on traditional strength training.
  • Looking ahead, I think the future of running will likely involve more plyometrics and isometrics. 
  • We can already observe a shift towards greater emphasis on plyometrics, although there is still a place for heavy strength training. 
  • Isometrics, especially run-specific isometrics, are gaining attention for their unique benefits. These exercises focus on training not just the muscles but also the tendons, which play a crucial role in running. 
  • Isometrics and plyometrics align well with the structural demands of running and are often less physically taxing, allowing for easier recovery.
  • Isometrics are likely a significant component of running training. 
  • This isn't about simply holding a static position; it involves pushing as hard as possible against an immovable object, which can be quite different from what people are accustomed to in traditional strength training.
  • Additionally, I believe that we will see an increase in the use of blood flow restriction training in the future. While the research in this area is still relatively new, it holds promise for athletes. 
  • Initially, blood flow restriction training may be used for injury rehabilitation. 
  • However, in the medium to long term, there could be a role for low-intensity training with blood flow restriction to induce peripheral adaptations that might not be achieved through conventional training methods. 
  • This approach could benefit individuals who are transitioning between sports or those who have specific limitations in their peripheral systems and need to focus on central adaptations like VO2 max while improving their economy.

Rapid-Fire Questions

1:24:53 -

What's your favourite book or resource related to endurance sports?

 The Perfect Mile by Neal Bascomb, and Supertraining by Yuri Verkhoshansky and Mel Siff

What's an important habit you've benefited from athletically, professionally or personally?

Discipline and consistency are the key attributes that have significantly benefitted me athletically, professionally, and personally. My meticulous approach to loading and maintaining a consistent regimen has been pivotal.

Who's somebody that you look up to or that has inspired you?

I draw inspiration from Bruce Lee, particularly his philosophy of "absorb what's useful, discard what's not, and make it uniquely your own." This resonates with my coaching approach. Kilian Jornet also inspires me for his self-experimentation and deep involvement in his training. As a coach, I appreciate the dedication and the focus on understanding one's body, which aligns with my approach to learning and sharing knowledge with others.

LINKS AND RESOURCES:


Bernardo Gonçalves

Bernardo is a Portuguese elite cyclist and co-founder of SpeedEdge Performance, a company focused on optimising cycling and triathlon performance. He writes the shownotes for That Triathlon Show, and also produces social media content for each new episode.

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