How Do You Stay Fast After 50?

Advice from Legendary Coach Joe Friel

screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-3-02-03-pmIs it possible to stay fast or even increase your speed or fitness after turning 50? America’s leading endurance coach, Joe Friel, has a book out that answers that question with a resounding yes. The way you go about it though may surprise you.

Drawing from the most current research on aging and sports performance, Friel shows how athletes can race strong and stay healthy well past age 50.

Friel’s latest book, Fast After 50: How to Race Strong for the Rest of Your Life, synthesis what Friel has learned over the past 50+ years as an athlete and a coach. “The book came out of my personal experience. It was me trying to give myself a birthday present, trying to understand what happens when you turn 50 or more, what happens in your life athletically. So the book was a birthday present to me and ended up being, as far as I know, the only book written on this topic based on the research.”

The book, published by VeloPress, presents guidelines for high-intensity workouts, focused strength training, recovery, cross-training, and nutrition for high performance:

  • How the body’s response to training changes with age
  • How to adapt your training plan and avoid overtraining
  • How to shed body fat and regain muscle density
  • How to create a progressive plan for training, recovery and competition
  • Workout guidelines, field tests, and intensity measurement

More Recovery

“Probably the first thing the aging athlete discovers is the fact that they don’t recover as fast as they did when they were younger. There is something about my body that is not responding like it did a few years ago. So, that’s the starting point for most athletes in understanding that they are becoming old is they just don’t bounce back anymore.”

“The older you get the more you have to focus your whole concept of training around recovery instead of focusing more on high quality workouts which is going to be done anyway. You need to give a lot of thought on how am I going to make sure I will recover so that I can do the next hard work out after this one. In the book I offer suggestions for the athlete to start including more recovery days between hard workouts as opposed to just one.”

More Sleep

“Another one of the key issues that I had with my clients was that typically none were getting enough sleep. How I determine if you get enough sleep is if you use an alarm to wake up in the morning. It’s an artificial waking mechanism which means you just interrupted your sleep and we need to get to the point where you don’t have alarms. The key point is when you go to bed not when you wake up. Sleep is recovery so as you get older sleep becomes more and more important.”

What Do You Eat

“Nutrition can become somewhat like religion. We have these strong beliefs because it has been beaten in to us since late 1970s that you need to eat a high carbohydrate diet. Otherwise you you won’t be able to train hard and are going to die of heart disease and cancer and all these other problems. That’s just the way we’re supposed to do it.  It is kind of ordained that we are supposed to eat a high carb diet.”

“Only in the last, 5 or 8 years has it been questioned, so now we’re starting to see more research on the topic. We’re starting to see good athletes who are abandoning the concept of eating constant carbohydrates and are depending more on fat and protein. If you’re in your 50’s and you weigh more than you think you should weigh or want to weigh, its likely you have some insulin resistance and if you do have that then you probably shouldn’t be eating many carbs.”

Friel actually wrote a book about this with Professor Loren Cordain called The Paleo Diet for Athletes. There is also more information on this in an earlier post called Why Do We Get Fat As We Get Older?

Less Time Off

Finally, between finishing the book and the publication at age 70, Joe had a nasty training accident. Joe was not able to train for an extended period of time and learned a new lesson: “What I discovered was basically that the older you are the less you can afford to miss training for long periods of time. You lose fitness very rapidly at this age and take much longer to come back.”

Joe Friel

Joe Friel has trained endurance athletes since 1980. His clients are elite amateur and professional road cyclists, mountain bikers, triathletes, and duathletes. They come from all corners of the globe and include American and foreign national champions, world championship competitors, and an Olympian. Friel is also still a competitive age-group athlete in his 70s.

He is the author of ten books on training for endurance athletes including the popular and best-selling Training Bible book series. He holds a masters degree in exercise science, is a USA Triathlon and USA Cycling certified Elite-level coach, and is a founder and past Chairman of the USA Triathlon National Coaching Commission.

Friel has also been active in business as a founder of Training Peaks (www.trainingpeaks.com), a web-based software company, and TrainingBible Coaching (www.trainingbible.com)

What’s Next for Joe?

“I’m still writing, I just finished totally rewriting one of the first books I wrote back in the nineties which was called “The Triathletes Training Bible.” I came to realize that in the 17 years since I wrote that book it has become outdated. I threw the entire manuscript away and just rewrote the entire book from scratch and that will be out this fall (2016).”

Boomerangfit interviewed Joe Friel via Skype from his home in the McDowell Mountains in Scottsdale, AZ.

Guaranteed Way to Succeed

It is simple but not easy!

Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 10.28.14 AMThere is a Japanese proverb that states “Fall down seven times, stand up eight.”

To me this probably the key to accomplishing anything. Some people might use a different saying such as “If at first, you don’t succeed, try try again.”

Either way, the point is don’t give up. The problem here is that this is a lot harder than it looks for two main reasons in my view:

One: giving up is harder than not giving up. Not giving up requires gumption or stick-to-itiveness or sisu (if you are Finnish) or Grit or whatever you want to call it. There is a great book out on this subject called Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth that is definitely worth a read or a listen if you want to understand how to get better at not giving up.

Two: the other aspect of giving up refers to what you are not giving up on. At some point it might be worth giving up on a secondary goal or a “means” goal in order to continue being focused on a primary goal or an “end” goal. For example, if my end goal is to travel more, I could get there in many different ways. I could become a travel agent. I could create a job for myself that allows me to be paid to travel like a travel writer or I could build something and sell it for a great value and then travel whenever I want. Each of these means goals gets me to the same end of traveling more. However, I may want to give up on becoming a travel agent someday if I come across a great opportunity to be a travel writer now but I would never give up on the goal of traveling more. Does this make sense? It is also very important to pick the right end goals based on your own vision. There is a great book that walks you through this process called The Code of the Extraordinary Mind: 10 Unconventional Laws to Redefine Your Life and Succeed On Your Own Terms by Vishen Lakhiani.

So, what do you need to know to succeed at any goal.

  1. Pick an End Goal that is meaningful and aligned with your passion, principles and vision and never give up on this.
  2. Pick a Means Goal to get you to the End goal. These can change based on experience and circumstances.
  3. Figure out what you need to do every day to reach the above goals.
  4. Do these things every day.
  5. Don’t stop!

What kind of experiences have you have with goals and not giving up?

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Book Review: The Natural Method Translated by Philippe Til

Georges Hébert's Practical Guide to Physical Education

“Being Strong to Be Useful.”

The Natural Method

This is the motto of Georges Hébert. Hébert was a French Naval Officer before the First World War. In 1902, he was stationed in St. Pierre, Martinique when the island was hit by a disastrous volcanic eruption. Although Hébert managed to help hundreds of people survive, he was struck by how many people died needlessly because they were not physically fit enough to escape. 

Upon returning to France, Hébert convinced the French Navy the allow him to teach French recruits a more natural method of physical fitness so that they could be more fit for the purpose of their jobs. Hébert later wrote down his Natural Method. For those of us who don’t read French, these writings have been translated by Philippe Til, a French personal trainer and fitness entrepreneur based in Los Angeles as The Natural Method, George’s Hébert’s Practical Guide to Physical Education.  

Hébert has also been very influential on more modern training modalities such as Parkour and Erwin Le Corre’s MovNat.  One could also argue that the recent sport of Obstacle Course Racing like Spartan Race is based on the teachings of Hébert.  Hébert is also mentioned in Christopher McDougall’s new book Natural Born Heroes: How a Daring Band of Misfits Mastered the Lost Secrets of Strength and Endurance. This book is also worth a read and will be reviewed here soon. 

Get Off the Couch and Move

The gist of of the book is that the due to the “advent of technological comforts, an increasingly sedentary lifestyle resulting in a regression of our physical fitness paired with the removal of humans from the food chain, the need for fitness on a daily basis is gone.” Scary considering that this was written 100 years ago and the problems seem the same. Hébert basically goes on to say that you don’t need to join a gym or buy a device or DVD from a TV commercial to get fit. You just need to move naturally, walk, run, swim, climb, throw things, lift heavy things occasionally and learn how to defend yourself. 

The Fitness Pyramid

Fitness is a essentially a pyramid. At the base is breathing and circulation. Hébert refers to the Hygienic Effect that is “produced more specifically by the exercises that activate breathing and circulation.” This seems to be similar to the focus on breathing in many fitness systems such as yoga and kettle bell programs such as StrongFirst

The next level of the pyramid is the “Aesthetic Effect…produced by the exercises that develop the muscular system, which remedy poor shoulder position, expand the rib cage and bring the spinal curve back to its optimal alignment.” This is essentially a focus on what we might call mobility and alignment and is in response to all of the time modern man spends sitting on their butts. This is where the Functional Movement System (FMS) would play today. On this level, you focus on basic body movements such as the movements that can be found in Original Strength, as well as balance and hanging. 

The next level up on the pyramid would be the Functional Aspect where the functional movements of marching, walking, running, swimming, climbing, lifting, throwing and defensive tactics come into play.  You don’t need to go to the gym however. Go for a run or walk, do body weight exercises like push ups, pull ups, burpees, lunges and squats. Jump up onto things. Hang from bars on the local playground. Get out of the gym with their machines and limited movement and return to the movement your body has always been programmed to enjoy. 

Lastly, in the pyramid of fitness comes sports specific movements such as baseball, football, soccer, ultimate frisbee or whatever strikes your fancy.  These movements are now learned on top of the base of breathing, circulation, mobility and alignment and functional strength. This means that you will be much more efficient in your sports movements and much less likely to get hurt. 

Get Outside and Enjoy

So, in the spirit of Hébert, go out for a run or a walk, jump up onto something, hang from something or lift something heavy or at least read what he has to say. Reclaim the fitness and health that you were designed to enjoy. 

Do you belong to a gym or do you find ways to exercise outside and using your body the way it was meant to work?

 

Summer Reading: 10 Books That Will Change Your Life

Palisades Run1If you seriously want to improve yourself for the better, you need to read more. So what do you read and how much? A good rule of thumb for reading should be one book per week. This can seem like a lot but it isn’t if you cut out other less important things such as TV or consuming news in general. TV doesn’t really have much worth watching (you can DVR the occasional show or movie) and consuming news in any form can be very depressing as all that is ever covered is celebrities and crime. Subscribe to a daily news feed that is focused on important news like politics and finance that can impact your life and skips the gossip, death and destruction. I read Morning Money by Politico.com but there are many others out there.

As we go into the 4th of July weekend, there are approximately 10 weeks left in the summer of 2015. Aside from having fun, if you want to improve yourself and change your life for the better, read these 10 books or just pick one and see how it goes. Enjoy the reading and come back to this post to tell us your thoughts on any of the books that you read.

1) Finding Ultra: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World’s Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself by Rich Roll, a long distance triathlete, blogger and podcaster. Rich is now a very successful blogger, podcaster and long distance athlete but he had had a very difficult road. This was the book that got me started on my path to getting back my former health and fitness. While I don’t agree with all of the conclusions he has reached, the book is very inspirational and worth the read.

2) Fitness Confidential by Vinnie Tortorich, a personal trainer and podcaster. I was first introduced to Vinnie on Rich Roll’s podcast. Vinnie and Rich Roll are friends and sometimes train together. While both into long distance cycling and extreme fitness, Vinnie has a much different view on nutrition. Vinnie can be a bit raw and profane but the book is very inspiring and again worth the read.

3) Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It by Gary Taubes, a science journalist. From a nutrition standpoint, Vinnie Tortorich is very focused on reducing sugar, bad carbohydrates, grain and processed foods in general or as he says No Sugar, No Grain or NSNG. This is a very compelling argument and mostly how I eat these days. If you want more of the science behind why this is such a smart way to eat, read this book.

4) Unbeatable Mind: Forge Resiliency and Mental Toughness to Succeed at an Elite Level (Third Edition) by Mark Divine, a former Navy SEAL Commander. Again, through Vinnie Tortorich’s podcast, I was introduce to Commander Mark Divine. As a former Navy SEAL, Divine has some very interesting ideas about mental toughness, success, physical fitness. I have found this book and his other books to be very helpful.

5) 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story by Dan Harris, the weekend morning anchor for ABC’s Good Morning America. One of the first things, Mark Divine’s books led me to was meditation and here is an easy read to give you taste of what mediation is and how it can help you. Dan Harris struggled with stress and anxiety and eventually this created a big problem for his job and his life. He sought to remedy this through meditation and this book chronicles that journey. There is increasing evidence that meditation can help improve our lives in many ways and it is worth trying.

6) Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl, a psychiatrist who survived time in a Nazi concentration camp. What Victor Frankl, saw and survived and how he explains it in this book should be a major inspiration to anyone. When you struggle with getting up early or whatever your daily struggles may be, you will be humbled by what this man endured.

7) The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance by Josh Waitzkin, a former chess prodigy who was the subject of the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer. In this book Waitzkin talks about how to learn anything from chess to the martial arts and how to apply these principles in improving your life. Waitzkin is now a performance coach for top Wall Street and Corporate executives.

8) Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck, the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. This book looks at the difference in having a fixed mindset, i.e. we are born with what we have and that is it, versus more of a growth mindset, i.e. we can improve on our lot in life with hard work. This book will cause you to look at life and learning in a much different way.

9) Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life by Eric Greitens another former Navy SEAL. In this book, Greitens has published a series of letters that he wrote to a friend who as down and out and in need of advice and motivation to repair his life. There are many great lessons in here to help you change your life and stay strong as well.

10) The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM) by Hal Elrod. Like Eric Greitens friend, Elrod was also down on his luck and has turned things using a morning ritual that sets him up for success.

What books have changed your life?

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