First, read this post by Vern Gambetta:
While I might not totally agree with how he applies it, the concept of taking complex things and making them simple is one that hits home.
Before I headed out to Virginia, I spent two days with the man I think is the best track and field coach of all time, Tom Tellez. We discussed all things track, training, mechanics, you name it. One of the main things that came up is making things more complex than they should be, which is the exact opposite of what you want in coaching. As an example, I’m convinced that the genius of Coach Tellez is that he takes very complex movement patterns in running, throwing, and jumping and makes it understandable for any athlete or coach. He takes all the stretch reflex mechanisms, stretch shortening cycle, elastic energy return of the tendons, etc. and simplifies it into easily understandable cues that athletes can actually use. In essence, he knows the complexity of the human body, but takes that complex concept and makes it into an easier digestible form. Complex to simple.
There seems to be a large portion of coaches, athletes, trainers, etc. who do the opposite. They take things that might already be complex and make them even more complex. The biggest tip off for guys like this are the ones who use big complex words, or even invents complex words, and talks in vague “guru” like talk. It’s tempting to fall into the trap of automatically thinking this guy knows the way. It’s actually the initial human reaction because if someone talks in complexities that are seemingly sound but above our head so that we don’t understand, we automatically assume that the person must know what they are talking about. I’m not naming names, but there are some prominent track coaches out there who have a decent following who do this. Just because you use big complex words does not mean you know how to apply what you are talking about or that it even translates to your sport. Most of the time, if you take time to digest and think about what these people say, you’ll see that it’s just a bunch of complex talk that is ambiguous and actually says nothing at all. The lesson is BE CAREFUL, think critically and don’t just accept things because they are over you head and are seemingly complex.
It should be said that I know the human body is incredibly complex. It’s good to talk about the complexities. Heck, I do it all the time on this blog. But the key is when applying those concepts you have to break it down into an easier paradigm. It has to be useable.
On a seemingly unrelated topic, a visiting professor for one of my grad school classes is a world expert on Doping and performance enhancing drug use. Yesterday was our first class, so I’m sure I’ll be updating the blog with insights learned each week. In fact, in several weeks he is going to take us through the doping of past Tour de France champ Michael Rasmussen, as he is writing a book on the topic and has all the doping schedules and such of Rasmussen. Should be very entertaining! For now, here are some interesting things he brought up:
-When the Tour de France started, doping was acceptable. The mindset was that it was a superhuman type of ride, so cyclists required extra things to get them through. So it wasn’t unusual for riders to use cocaine, amphetamines, chloroform, strychnine, and many others.
-In the early and late 90’s in cycling, with most using EPO, you would see lights come on at random times in the middle of the night. The reason? EPO increases hematocrit. Hematocrit up to about 50 is safe, but once you get higher than that the blood is so thick that it’s essentially sludge like. It slows the heart rate down a lot and you can die from it (it happened with several cyclists). Well, it got so competitive that cyclists were pushing the envelope of how much epo they could take to raise their Hemoglobin and Hematocrit. At levels slightly above 50, cyclists would take aspirin to act as a blood thinner to hopefully keep things okay. But as the push for more and more EPO happened, cyclists had to wear heart rate monitors when sleeping so that if their Heart Rate got below 30 an alarm would go off to wake them. They’d then have to cycle for 30min. Thus why you’d see people up at random times at night for about 30min…
-There’s a new product out there that is better than EPO and has no test. What does the product do? It’s a drug that inhibits the bodies EPO regulator. So essentially it shuts down the bodies mechanism that stops or controls EPO production. Do that and the body keeps producing EPO. So, you basically increase your bodies own production of EPO. It’s also rumored that the discovery of this drug is what brought a certain American cyclists back to competition…Anyways, it’s scary to think that once this drug gets around in track, things could be bleak.