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Finding Zen in Movement: The Unexpected Benefits of Endurance Training
Episode 2913th June 2024 • The Athlete's Compass • Athletica
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Join us for an inspiring conversation with Phil Becker, an everyday endurance athlete from New Zealand, as he shares his passion for adventure, mountain biking, and sea swimming. Discover how he balances training with work and family life, the mental strategies he uses to push through challenges, and the unexpected rewards he's found in endurance sports. Phil also discusses his training routine, nutrition approach, and the importance of goal setting and adaptability. This episode is packed with valuable insights and inspiration for anyone looking to embark on their own endurance journey.

Key Episode Takeaways:

  • Find your why: Identify your motivations for pursuing endurance sports.
  • Balance is key: Prioritize family, work, and training to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  • Flexibility and adaptability: Be prepared to adjust your training based on life's demands.
  • Mental resilience: Develop self-talk and strategies to overcome challenges.
  • Enjoy the journey: Embrace the experiences and personal growth that come with endurance sports.
  • Fuel your body: Prioritize a natural, whole foods diet with a focus on protein.
  • Set realistic goals: Focus on finishing and improving over time, rather than fixating on specific outcomes.
  • The power of the mind: Cultivate mental clarity and focus through movement and exercise.
  • Embrace the outdoors: Seek adventure and connection with nature through your training.

Transcripts

Paul Warloski (:

Hello and welcome to the Athletes Compass podcast where we navigate training, fitness and health to help everyday endurance athletes perform their best. Today we have a special guest, Phil Becker from New Zealand and it's part of our series on the podcast where we get to talk with everyday endurance athletes who have done some amazing adventures, accomplished some significant goals. We want to hear about their training, nutrition.

the life of these athletes to share their why so that others can be inspired for their own adventures. So Phil, welcome. Tell us a little bit about your athletic background and initially what got you into endurance sports.

Phil Becker (:

I never knew what endurance sports were initially, but as a kid growing up here in New Zealand, we just ran around. We were just active kids. We did like, I suppose, track and field, just running races basically down at the local park, organized after school and early evenings. But then through school, I was always active, not necessarily in team sports, but I loved getting out running and biking. And that's just evolved over the years into using it as a way.

using biking, swimming and running I guess, as a way to just get away. Get away into my own space, into my own headspace and out into the natural environment.

Marjaana Rakai (:

So what does your typical week of training look like now? Could you walk us through your training routine?

Phil Becker (:

Yeah, so a bit of a sell point for Athletica, of course. Yeah, like it's, I've been with Athletica now for a couple of years, I think, and just with trying to manage life and my ambitions, ambitions around training and a couple of events. So it's the long events that I've got a couple each year, and I use Athletica to

organize my training and that's largely so like today will be a 30 30 just when I get off here and there'll be a couple of long rides I want a recovery week this week but generally it's a it's a week that's organized around zone a large volume of zone two training but peppered with some decent intensity in there as well and living where I live there's plenty of hills involved in the latter as well.

Paul Warloski (:

So roughly how many hours a week are you training?

Phil Becker (:

Well, anywhere between 9 to 15, I guess, depending on schedule and prescription.

Paul Warloski (:

Okay, that's.

So you mentioned trying to balance training. I mean, how do you as an everyday athlete balance that training with other commitments in your life like work or family or social activities? How do you keep all those balls in the air juggling in them?

Phil Becker (:

I'd like to say that I do it well, but that is a challenge. So yeah, like the day sees me out early for a starter, you know, so I want my dog pretty much every day. And that can be a 4 a starter or this morning was a 5 a just to get things done. It has a knock -on effect, of course, at the back end of the day where I do have to be in bed early as well. So...

I've got a reasonably demanding job as many of us have so if I look at the priorities I sometimes can make training a priority but oftentimes that will be the thing that I will need to let it slip.

Marjaana Rakai (:

So it sounds like time management is the biggest challenge in your training journey.

Phil Becker (:

That along with the expectations management as well, because I think the two travel together in a way where you have expectations or you place expectations on yourself as to what you might achieve. And in doing that, that would necessarily require time on, in my case, on the bike. But how that actually eventuates the realities of life.

that changes that landscape frequently. So yeah, it's being flexible and adaptable.

Paul Laursen (:

so what do you, you know, how do you sort of position it, the whole situation in your head? Like do you, do you take like, I've got an objective. I need to hit my 30 30 at least once this week. And that's kind of, you know, and I can see a gap opening up here after I've, you know, I've completed X task in your demanding job. So how do you, how do you kind of go about it?

Phil Becker (:

So going back to the expectations management, there was a time in my life where...

albeit I'm one of those everyday athletes, not a professional, but the way I used to prioritise life, I probably placed a greater emphasis on the training and the goals such that there was a kick -on effect of stressors in your life and that had an intervention effect where I just couldn't manage it.

all the demands that I was placing on myself around those expectations. So while now I'm far better at managing those expectations, I prioritize the things I need to prioritize. And there'll be no surprises in this. It's family, the ability to create an income to live, and training often comes at the back end of that in terms of time. So managing priorities within that expectation envelope, I think, is really important.

Yeah, especially given that training is not my job.

Marjaana Rakai (:

of mindset reset there as well, I hear How does training change for you then if you compare

training life compared to what you do now?

Phil Becker (:

more relaxed about it, Marjaana I think I'm more relaxed about not hitting a training outcome or goal. Look, I listened to, his name was Jim Vance, he was being interviewed the other day by Simon Ward, I listened to it, it was really interesting. And he was, Jim Vance, well -renowned coach, even way over here, I've heard of him prior.

but he was very strong on getting athletes to align in a really good head space. And if I take that principle into my life, like your head space is really important. So while you might get your training, deliver your training objectives as they may be laid out on a weekly monthly basis, if the rest of your life has fallen away, then really you're not achieving what you're trying to achieve, I think. Yeah, I think you're sort of kidding yourself a bit. So balancing those.

Paul Warloski (:

Hmm.

Phil Becker (:

Managing priorities and managing expectations is really important.

Paul Laursen (:

How does it still, like, why does training still reach the, you know, the priority hierarchy? Like, what do you, what do you see? Like, so for example, right now I'm reading Peter Tia's Outlive, right? And there's a lot of different reasons why we would kind of do training, right? And I just got back from my ride and, you know, I was, I was thinking about, you know, being hungry on that ride and the other.

various different aspects that were kind of coming into it. And I know that I'm going to be getting health and longevity benefits from it. So I'm just kind of, and that's why, you know, and I'm feeling a whole lot better. So where, where do you, I'm just kind of interested where, where all those sorts of things line up for you when you place your training in the hierarchy of your, of all the tasks you've got to, you've got to accomplish.

Phil Becker (:

Absolutely that training or movement is a part of my life from a health benefit and a health outcome. I look around me, so I'm 63 and I look at many of my peers and I would argue that I've got a 10 year head start. Biologically I think I've got a 10 year head start on a lot of them and I think that the work, if you like, the...

the hours that I've put in, the effort that I've put in over the years is paying dividends, you know, and it's not until you find a place in your life that you can look around at your peers of similar birth age and just see and mentally note the differences between how we live and I think that the payoff, the ROI on the time I've spent on my feet and my bike and my bum.

There's paying off.

Paul Laursen (:

Yeah, no, I couldn't agree more, man. Sometimes I think for me, for certain, I just accidentally fell into this, but man, am I sure lucky that I fell into this hole of exercise and making it my career because it's, yeah, I think a lot of us, we can look around and see peers, people from our graduation class and those sorts of things, right? Like, yeah, there's...

Yeah, there's definitely something there in terms of the exercise and keeping that consistent and prioritizing that consistently throughout your life.

Phil Becker (:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, the immobility that comes with immobility, I think, is a, you know, it's, you see that gradual decline disproportionately, I think, and, you know, in the, say, 50 onwards, you see people that haven't had an active life compare them to people with an active life and they're worlds apart, and I think the health outcomes.

speak for itself.

Paul Laursen (:

one last one to close the loop. I will like just the mental health aspect for me. And you mentioned movement, like for whatever reason, I get this big buzz just out of moving my body, right? Like, like when I see the, the landscape in front of me on my bike, just passing around me, like it just clears my mind. I don't know what it is, whether it doesn't matter whether in the forest or the road, whatever, but I just, I get this huge, you know,

mental clarity eventually from it. So it's not talked about much, but it's there for me.

Phil Becker (:

No, I couldn't agree more. Yep. That's, yeah, the difference between the difference between the leaving the door of work, for example, and hitting the door at home and whether it's a 30 minute short route home or the hour longer route home, they both have a positive spin off, even despite the traffic and so forth that you need to navigate on the way home.

I think the upside is still there.

Marjaana Rakai (:

So are you biking to work?

Phil Becker (:

Yes, I am Marjaana Yep. I try to do my training. I try to fit my training and commute in together. Yeah. Yep. So I've got some, yeah, I've got some great routes pretty much out the door that I can do that. I can do that with my, my strength endurance rides on a, on a Thursday. I've got a hill around the corner that I can bash myself on there on the way to work. So I just up and down that a few times and,

Yeah, and then get them to work pretty paced. So it's like, so being able to combine, I suppose that comes back to the earlier questions around combining life and training. That is one of the ways I do that. Yeah.

Marjaana Rakai (:

Yeah, totally. Like you spoke about flexibility in training and life, and that's a perfect example, like how you can stay creative and get those workouts done. And if you happen to live in somewhere amazing, where it's hills and mountains, what a better way to do that. Like I used to use kids' playground time to do some strength work or run around.

playground, like in loops. You just have to kind of stay creative. I hear that you're doing something cool with this 100k mountain bike race called Waka. Can you tell us more about that?

Phil Becker (:

Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Yeah, yeah, I can tell you for a fact that about the 60k mark, it's anything but cool, but it's pretty good when you've done it, that's for sure. Yeah, look, I'd say, I think the billet is the toughest mountain bike marathon in the southern hemisphere. Notwithstanding that, yeah, so it's the mountain bike park up in Rotorua here in the North Island. It's got...

Paul Warloski (:

Hahaha.

Phil Becker (:

huge number of tracks of all sorts of varieties and so yeah it's a hundred it's a hundred K so I haven't I haven't got to the point where I could have the confidence of doing the hundred and sixty K or the hundred miler but there is one there as the as the goal maybe one day but yeah so at the moment I'll look at the hundred K this year anyway yeah with it with a longer one maybe next year so it's a look it's a fantastic day.

It's really hard. It speaks for itself 100k's. There's three and a half thousand meters of ascent and it's a mix of grade three, four, five, sorry, grade three and four trails. So...

And you know, like 100 Ks on the road is reasonably, you know, you can knock that out reasonably comfortably, but you take that into this mountain bike environment and these tracks and that, and at the end of it, you're absolutely punished. It really deals to your upper body as well as your whole body, not just your legs and your cardiovascular, for example. Yeah. So she's a great day out.

Paul Laursen (:

Totally. Yeah. And I know those trails quite well. Having spent some time in New Zealand and racing around the road of Vegas, it's awesome there. So it's like one of the pinnacle kind of mountain bike centers of the world is Rotorua. So yeah, that's awesome, Phil. I had two buddies that did that race too. And yeah, it's...

Phil Becker (:

Yeah.

for sure. Yeah.

Paul Laursen (:

Hard yucca.

Paul Warloski (:

What Phil is leaving out here too, is that there's 3 ,200 meters of climbing in this particular race, in 60 miles. And then, I mean, that is a lot of climbing on a...

Paul Laursen (:

Yeah, big time.

Phil Becker (:

Yeah, you know, you absolutely feel it. I think it's about the 80k mark, so it's at 50 miles. There's a climb and there's a competition that are the fastest to the top of this piece. And for most of us, for me, it's all I can do to get to the top by that stage. But then from there, you've got a 5k downhill grade three as well. And that's...

At the end of that, that is the point where you know you've done a ride. Yeah, yeah, that's that. So the climb up is pretty challenging, but it's that long, long run down back into the rest of the forest that really, that really beats you up.

Paul Laursen (:

Yeah. And people that don't mountain bike a lot, they sort of, they're not really, they wouldn't kind of expect it's as taxing as it is for the descents, but you know, arms and like, you know, you're on the brakes or, you know, cause you have to be in stuff, right? So the wrists and whatnot. Marjaana, we mountain biked, right? When we were over here in, you know, in BC and you were feeling it there on that descent, but yeah, so it can be very taxing.

Marjaana Rakai (:

Yeah.

Yeah, I was surprised how like full body workout it is.

Paul Laursen (:

It is. Yeah.

Phil Becker (:

Yeah, you can see the gurus that do a lot of mountain bike riding because technique plays a real role in it as well. So just being cardiovascularly fit and legs strong, for example, that's sort of like hygiene factors. But the technique that you can bring to it as well is really important. Staying loose and calm on the bike while you're doing that is really important.

Paul Laursen (:

I'll tell you a story, because going back to those two buddies that were doing the Oaxaca, one was Dan Plews, who you probably have heard of, and he's one of the fittest guys you'll ever come across. And then my other buddy, who is more of a mountain biker, and they sort of had a bit of a competition. And I can tell you that even though my buddy had the good experience in downhill, Dan's engine went out.

significantly over that. And you might imagine too, right? Because you know how hard it is, right? You probably still want the V8 engine over the incredible technique and stuff. So yeah.

Phil Becker (:

Totally.

Yeah. Yeah.

bring on that point, I was talking to a young woman that had at the end of the last event and she was a road rider. She had hardly done any mountain biking, but I can't remember her placing, but she was well up within the top 10 females. And I say she was like, she was a machine. Yeah. So I took my hat off to her. It was awesomely for her part.

Paul Laursen (:

in the field.

Yeah, for sure.

Paul Warloski (:

You know, that brings me to the question of like, you know, Phil, what's your why? I mean, why are you choosing to do this really challenging race and other, you know, big events that you're doing?

Phil Becker (:

so being out in the natural environment is really important to me and moving in that environment. But being able to do that with an adventure attached to it. And one of the things that, one of my core values if you like is a level of autonomy, a level of self actualization and those sorts of events.

bring about the need to be self -reliant, being able to go into a head space that manages you through some pretty dark and hairy times in your head when you're really, when you're really smoked but you've still got 20 Ks to go. So just those internal challenges, being out in a natural environment in an adventure type setting, they all come together to

keep me going around these types of events. Yeah, and so the organized events are really good, but I've also done, you know, just a bunch of mates heading off into the hills and doing some stuff as well. So they all feed into each other with the why, I guess.

Marjaana Rakai (:

you mentioned that the Waka 100, it starts to get really intense after 60Ks. So let's talk about your self -talk. What are you telling yourself when it gets really hard and you're looking for those excuses to quit? Because we all know we're mentally looking for excuses to quit when it gets really, really hard. So what's your self -talk like then?

Phil Becker (:

Yeah, look, I'm getting, I suppose, picking up again on that self -actualization or autonomy, there's a dose of ego in there too, a bit of pride. So like I'll draw on that. The first, was the first or second time I did the Waka, I got up to 50 Ks, I was full of cramp and I just lay down on the ground and it was all I could do to get me backside onto that bike again.

after about 20 minutes, I was nearly ready to pull the pin there. Because the legs just weren't working as well with it. So it was a full dose of cramp from about my stomach down pretty much. And yeah, so that's self -talk around not quitting, a bit of ego, but also just chunking it up into 10 Ks.

I'll get through the next 10 K's which are actually only 10 times 1 K. So chunking it down like that is another tool I use.

But I'm happy to admit and put my hand up to the use of ego and pride and so forth when that gets really hard. Yep. Knowing that others around me are suffering as well.

Marjaana Rakai (:

Let's have some.

Yeah.

Yeah, yeah, I can relate to that. After Iron Man Texas, I just on the run, I was just thinking getting myself to the next aid station and, you know, have a drink of Coke and orange and keep going. Yeah.

Phil Becker (:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Great effort on that one, by the way. Yeah, that's huge. Yeah.

Marjaana Rakai (:

Yeah, I think. Yeah.

Paul Warloski (:

So you were talking before about managing expectations. Do you set goals for events like the WACA or milestones in your fitness?

Phil Becker (:

Yes, so certainly, so for the likes of the waka, my first hygiene factor, I feel like, goal is to finish it. So, and then finish it within a particular timeframe. And that timeframe I'm hoping to bring down. Now I've been more consistent with my training this time round. So, so.

I don't necessarily try to achieve on like an hours by hours per week basis, other than what I'm prescribed with an athletic. And for example, I don't use, I don't use FTP nor VO2 max or whatever. Notwithstanding that I don't have an ability to really accurately measure those, but at the same time, I can work out how I'm feeling based on riding a hill hard, a local hill hard. You know, if I repeat that over a period of months and just.

check in how I'm feeling and what my time might be when I do that. And so I do build up an innate sense of how my fitness and strength is building, and it is. It's definitely working. So then, of course, when you go into an event, there are so many other variables that can play a role that despite how you might have gone.

Training wise and whatever indices you use around that, the day will determine what the outcome is in a lot of ways. So going into it and trying to control many variables that will play a part as part of setting yourself up for one of these events.

Marjaana Rakai (:

How does nutrition play in your training schedule? Do you follow a specific diet or guidelines?

Phil Becker (:

Thank you.

It's a natural food diet, if you want to call it that. I'm generally protein -lead. A typical diet. So I like to have a typical meal. So breakfast is generally eggs, sardines and kraut, or versions of that. Dinner will be some sort of meat and heaps of veggies. And then lunch will be whatever I can scrounge around town.

close to work often or if I get motivated I'll take something as well, but generally that is a protein lead. I always anchor my meals around my protein first and being an older guy I know that's really important.

Marjaana Rakai (:

How about racing?

Phil Becker (:

Racing, yeah, it's a mixed bag and that's a hard one. I go in with the best of intentions to be quite disciplined. I am disciplined. I'll generally run on cliff shot blocks.

Yeah, on a timed basis, I've been prescriptive. I'm targeting around 60 grams of carbs per hour. I've played around a little with it, increasing it, but I haven't found that that has been one, a huge benefit, but two, maybe it's because I'm not doing the training of the gut, which I don't really.

align with myself, but the training of the gut stuff prior to with carb ingestion. So I don't want to further on anti -carb or anything like that. That's not me, but I think there are other alternatives that personally, I'd rather eat a natural whole foods diet and try and include that in when I'm racing as well. But generally the foundation of my energy intake when I'm in these events.

will be cliff shot blocks and I feel, you know, I have a gut response to them and so forth. Yeah.

Paul Laursen (:

Cool.

Paul Warloski (:

So Phil, let's talk about, you know, you mentioned some of the things that you've done with the WACA, but what are some, what would you consider some of the highlights of your athletic career? What are some of the best moments you've experienced?

Phil Becker (:

there was an impromptu opportunity for me to do the Fault Line Challenge, which is another 100K mountain bike event that was just late April. And so like I'm not training for, I haven't been training for that, but I've been training steadily. So I thought, great, I'll give that a go and just see how I go. It was, it was awesome because.

it got us up onto a ridge line where I was able to look down. This is right in the early part of it. The dawn was just breaking and being up so high that the morning sunlight was coming in. So I could see out down into Wellington Harbour and out into the Tasman Sea on the other side of this ridge line. There were others riding around me racing and that, but I took the opportunity just buddy to zine out a little bit given the environment that I was in.

and seeing my home and everything basically down on one side and then out to sea towards Australia on the other side. So those sort of inner experiential moments are probably the things that I never set out to achieve doing this stuff, but I do like to take the opportunity to experience them when it's available. We had a group of us that used to run

doing these long sort of two to three day runs. Mostly it was, you know, we'd jog for half an hour, then walk for 10 and so forth, just to, so we could last a couple of days. And one of them, we were up in the alpine environment in the southern Alps, which is a spine along the South Island of New Zealand. And we crossed the Alps and, you know, we were in snow.

We were actually in the snow, jogging along in the snow and there were hanging glaciers up in the peaks beside us. And we camped in a corrugated iron hut with sacking on these old bunks overnight. It was freezing cold and we were traveling in light, but it was just an absolutely amazing experience because of the environment that we were able to be in.

Paul Warloski (:

Wow.

Phil Becker (:

while moving or training or whatever. Like moving or training wasn't part of the narrative. It was like just being out in these absolutely awesome outdoor environments.

Marjaana Rakai (:

Sounds like living the dream.

Paul Warloski (:

Wow, that's amazing. Did you have any swimming adventures that you can think of that you did?

Phil Becker (:

I'm going to go.

Yeah.

Yep, so we're really fortunate to be so close to the sea here. We're surrounded by the sea, the capital of New Zealand, and we've got sea on pretty much all sides of us. Our summer revolves around my daughter's safe life saving. So we're sea or marine based in that sense. But we used to do, or I used to do,

sea swimming on a daily basis and as part of that there were, we have several competitions here in the Wellington Harbour and so there's a three and a half k swim that's run each year plus others as well. So while I never competed to compete, I competed to participate.

Sorry, I was just saying, my daughter. Yeah, yeah, she's off to school.

Paul Laursen (:

She's off to practice.

Phil Becker (:

Yeah, she's got run and swim training tonight. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, so the swim, the swimming was fantastic. It was a mental health thing as well. I think one of the awesome, because we would swim most of the time, we would swim daily pretty much at lunchtime at work and we would, a group of us would just head out. We'd...

Paul Laursen (:

Nice.

Phil Becker (:

just wear Speedos and then cross the street and get into the harbor, in the Wellington Harbor, all through the year, including in the winter when the water does get down to about nine degrees C, and then would swim for 30 or 40 minutes in there to get out, be mildly hypothermic, but you learn that that's actually...

Not a bad thing, but because of the endorphins that you get afterwards was just fantastic. And the great thing about swimming is that all you can really focus on is your breath, because if you stop breathing, obviously you've got problems. And there is no opportunity for anyone to hassle you through the day or there are no stresses. So swimming, I think, is one of the, especially in a sea environment, is one of the

amazing opportunities for mental health and general well -being.

Paul Laursen (:

Yeah, I've been playing around with just the.

Phil Becker (:

except when you swim into a jellyfish.

Paul Laursen (:

Yeah, yeah. I've just been playing around with the cold water immersion stuff. Not as long, not 30 minutes in nine degrees, but I've been doing sub four degrees for 10 minutes. I think you probably get a similar effect, not swimming, but just cold water immersion. Like you said, the endorphins that you get thereafter, and it sticks around for the rest of the day. It's just amazing.

Phil Becker (:

Yeah.

Paul Laursen (:

And yeah, really hard to kind of when you're going through it, but man, you get a great bang for buck thereafter, eh?

Phil Becker (:

Yeah, totally cool. Yeah, yeah. I have a role now that prevents me from doing that. But it was a couple of years pretty much consistently that I was able to do it. And it was a great part of my life, I suppose you could say. But we'd have to walk across this concrete bridge.

and to get to the water and when the southerly is beating in here, if it's a really dirty southerly day and beating in and your feet are like ice by the time you get to the water's edge anyway so yeah like the mental air, the conversations that you have in your head to get yourself into the water at times is pretty interesting but yeah man, once you're there you're there.

Paul Laursen (:

Yeah.

yeah.

Paul Warloski (:

All right. So Phil, we're coming close to the end of our talk and we would like to be able to offer you any assistance and guidance that we might be able to. What questions do you have about your training and how could we help?

Phil Becker (:

Yeah, okay, so I've talked about it. I'm training for these cross -country marathons, the mountain bike marathon. One of my observations about my capacity to ride the event comfortably within a timeframe that's acceptable to me, which is I'm...

I'm trying to get there between nine and nine and a half hours. I'm sort of, I'm sitting around that 10 to 10 and a half hours. So I'm looking to knock an hour off it. But the challenge that I've got is that I can go, I feel like I can go all day at a particular speed and level of effort, but to take, to move up that effort curve that will get me to that nine to nine and a half hours, I fall off a cliff. So there's,

So I presume that there's something in there around my ability to train harder for longer. But the question then comes, so what would that approach be? Yeah, so like I think I'm pretty comfortable that I'm in the diesel engine space. I can go for a long time at a particular level, but lifting that ability to...

to go harder longer is something that I'm pretty keen on working on. Yeah.

Paul Laursen (:

How long have you been with Athletica? Yeah, well, just back to Phil. Just let us know, how long have you been with Athletica? Phil, like, you know, because I'm probably going to recommend a few of the sessions.

Paul Warloski (:

Paul, where would you start?

Phil Becker (:

Yeah, look a couple of years now, Paul. Yeah, I look at the performance management chart, but I don't necessarily use that to guide me too much. I don't know whether that's a good thing or not. I enjoy that and I'm starting to learn about the power profile. That's really interesting. After my last...

Paul Laursen (:

Yeah.

Phil Becker (:

Walker, I corresponded with you. Your observation was that get a cheap bike and get a power meter. And so that has definitely been a turning point. So while I've got a good history of heart rate recording, I've got about a year of, not quite, but close to a year of power meter on the bike. And that is...

It has definitely made a big difference. The observation that I'd make about that is I still, like there's quite a gap between my power meter to the pound and my heart rate. So I still struggle to bring my heart rate up into a comparable zone, if you like, to what my power meter is. So the consistent feedback from Athletica is that my power meter to heart rate ratio is quite high. And I don't know whether that's a good thing or not so good thing.

Paul Laursen (:

Yeah, I mean, you've got, I'm just on your power profile right now. It's actually quite impressive. So yeah, like when you look at what your critical power number is pretty up there. But it does look like, and I'm not sure if that is your true power or whatnot with the...

you know, over 10 minutes, but it's pretty high. And then, but it looks like it comes down in the latter half. So just to your point, right? Like it looks like the power kind of fades away. So yeah. And if you're a diesel engine, just a shout out for, we've got a free course actually. It's called athleteprofilingprimer .com. You can go in there, five day free course.

And you can learn all about the different, you know, whether you are, as Phil mentions, a diesel engine, or if you're more of a twitchy, or if you're more of a hybrid athlete. And what it winds up being is that, you know, you wind up having, you know, there's better training for you depending on what you are. So in Phil's case, if he thinks he's kind of a diesel engine, he might benefit more from long intervals, actually.

because diesel engines have a lot of slow twitch muscle fibers and they recover fast between efforts. Whereas twitchy athletes, those with more fast twitch fibers, they tend to benefit more from the short intervals because it's not as long under this high power outputs and it winds up being less fatiguing for them. So maybe if you wanted to mix things up a little bit, Phil, if you're not already, you might want to start.

potentially shifting over to a few more of the longer intervals. When we talk about long intervals, this is classic hit science, is like between two minutes and five minutes at your VO2 max power output with two to four minutes of recovery between those boats. And that's, again,

Remember that Phil, and all the listeners, you're an N of one, you're an individual, it's all about you and what works best for you. So Phil's trying to figure out his performance puzzle. And yeah, it's just, that might be one thing you could potentially experiment with because you've ultimately, you're probably gonna have to do that during the walkout as well, right? There's gonna be these periods of time where you're under high red zone tension for...

between two and five minutes, right? There'll be pinch points in that race where you want to have that pinch point covered. And maybe 30 -30 isn't doing that enough. So I would consider trying to see if you can shuffle the workout wizard a bit and find kind of your two to five minute sort of sessions in there. And maybe instead of doing a 30 -30, try to progress in those ones instead.

Phil Becker (:

Okay, yeah, that sounds interesting. So, sort of coupled with that in...

Yeah, so getting my heart rate up to the prescribed zones, that can be challenging. So when I was training with just heart rate, I would try and hit those heart rates. But what I ended up doing, because I didn't have a power meter, so what I ended up doing was cocking myself over a couple of weeks. So it was just too intense for my level of fitness back then because I was chasing...

Right at the, so like I might have a set of intervals and I'll be trying to hit my target heart rate right at the outset of the interval and hold that all the way through the session, which as I think I've learned now, that's like, there's a recipe for something down the end track. So yeah, I didn't burn out so much, but I was definitely not working for me. So.

And so that's where the power made the difference.

Paul Laursen (:

Yeah. And that's of course, because of just for the listener, the reason your heart rate won't go to your target heart rate right off the bat is because there's a lag time in the heart rate response, right? The heart just doesn't work that way. It's slow to kind of turn on and get up to those maximal heart rate time. So we need, we need periods of time at high red zone power to before the, the heart rate actually gets up to that. So Phil discovered that, you know,

His power could be up there, but his heart rate was slow to kind of creep up and get to the same sort of level. So that's just a natural phenomenon. You're never going to beat that. That's how the heart responds, right? So because yeah, you're covering all of the anaerobic or you're covering all of the high power energy anaerobically and the heart rate doesn't need to respond initially in that outset and start of your session. So.

Phil Becker (:

Yeah.

Paul Laursen (:

But that's awesome that you got a power meter now, Phil, and yeah.

Phil Becker (:

I don't want to overblow it, but it was somewhat life -changing, Paul Pears here.

Paul Laursen (:

Well, I think I only had to tell you maybe two or three times, so it was pretty good. I remember those emails now.

Phil Becker (:

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, that was very good.

Marjaana Rakai (:

I'm sorry.

Phil Becker (:

So yeah, I've spoken about fixable and adaptable, but at the same time, I need to apply that approach to the way I interpret and apply the plan as it were. Because I can be too prescriptive of it, because it's easy to just say, it says to do this, so I'm out the door and do it without having to think or plan too hard around changing it or adapting to it. And sometimes, you know, if you're not really ready for it, if your body's not really ready for it, if you're carrying fatigue or whatever, yeah, that can have a downside.

Paul Laursen (:

Hmm.

Phil Becker (:

by just applying or following the plan to the highest degree

Paul Laursen (:

Yeah. Well, that's, that is, I mean, I think that's what just kind of comes with, with time and, experience on Athletica. And, you know, that's, that's often a complaint with Athletica too, right? Like people want just kind of what you're saying. They want to take the absolute, they want to take the context and considerations right away. Just tell me what to do. Right. And yes, we can do that, but you still, we can't be there for every single context, just like you're mentioning.

Feel where stress and whatnot is so high, whatever it is in your life. And in reality, with experience, you start to learn, I should probably just do my lower stress L2 long day now, switching it over. And then maybe that'll help me recover for the next time, right? Like the old adage of, gigo garbage in, garbage out. If we don't have enough inputs to know that,

Athletica can't be expected to necessarily make that call. It's a great skeleton based plan, but you, the athlete, are always the driver. It's why we do this podcast. It's why it's called the Athlete Compass podcast. It's like, we're trying to give you as much ammunition to be able to do your own sort of guiding through this. And we're just sort of, we're giving you some helpful...

content and advice along the way, including this podcast right now.

Phil Becker (:

Totally, yes, totally. You may see in my profile there that we're away overseas for three weeks. So I've got no training building there, so I've deleted all my training in that three week gap. So, Athletica, I can't say that it would try to punish me, but they've definitely doubled down over these past couple of weeks, but I said, you know, like...

You're smart, you're not that smart. So I did adapt. Yeah. Yeah. I don't want to back of it. Yeah.

Paul Laursen (:

Hehehe.

Good man.

All right, we're gonna sum it up. So the key takeaways for me on this version of the Athlete Compass podcast from Phil was, first of all, establish your why. And a lot of us that are tuning in there here in Athletica, they'll relate to Phil's why. And it's around adventure, autonomy.

you know, being in a natural environment and, you know, training on Athletica enables all of this. And then we also spoke, you know, the, of the, the additional mental and physical health benefits. So lots of whys, to do this, you've, you know, and being an everyday athlete, it means that you've, you got to handle your time management. you've got to be flexible. you've got to be able to, you know, we're going to give you in Athletica where your,

some general guidelines and the right sessions, but you've got to navigate your own context. To Phil's point, a lot of this comes with experience, finding the right pieces and tools to help you navigate that context and forever learning as well. That doesn't even end today. We're going to continue on the journey. Phil's taken some more things that he's going to continue to learn on. We'll look forward to hearing from him.

in the future on how he went. And last but not least is the mental component. We spoke of loads of mental aspects. Phil does this for probably admittedly for pride and ego. That helps pushing him through the hard moments that he's about to experience again. But then he also, from this experience, he gets these incredible Zen moments that we all also appreciate. This is the beauty of.

what we are privileged to be able to do as athletes in this world, going to various different places. Marjaana, as a classic example, going to Nice, France in the very near future as well. And what will that be like, right? Yes. So those were my top threes. And Phil, just, yeah, huge thank you for sharing your time and experience.

with all of us here. It was just outstanding.

Paul Warloski (:

Thanks Phil for joining us and that's all for this week. Thank you for listening and join us next week for the Athletes Compass podcast. You can help us by asking your training questions in the comments, liking and sharing the podcast, giving us five star reviews and engaging with us on our social media. For Phil Becker, Marjaana Rakai, Dr. Paul Laursen I'm Paul Warloski and this has been the Athletes Compass podcast. Thanks for listening.

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