Welcome to the final installment in this eight-part series covering the 115 things you need to know as a Primal Endurance athlete.
In the previous seven shows, we discussed aerobic training and how to build your aerobic base, using the method of periodization to minimize the overall stress load on your body, how to escape Active Couch Potato Syndrome, and more, and in this episode, it’s all about recovery. Tune in if you want to learn about the most effective methods for recovery—what to do, what not to do, what speeds up recovery, how to know when to rest, how to ensure your muscles recover quickly, how to engage in cold therapy appropriately, and more!
You must build that aerobic conditioning base in order to reach your potential in endurance sport. [01:18]
Periodization is dividing your training into period where you emphasize different types of workouts. [02:03]
Primal eating means to escape from the trap of carb dependency. [04:51]
Strength training and sprint make a huge contribution to the improvement of endurance athletes. [05:48]
Sleep, walking, moving frequently, and lifting heavy things are all lifestyle practices that improve your all-around fitness. [07:01]
There are many activities that aid in your recovery. Cold therapy is one that should have a place in the regimen of a hard-training athlete. [09:41]
The old injury treatment of RICE is being replaced by ECM which means elevate, compress, and move. We now find that icing of injuries can retard the natural healing process. [14:44]
The overall recovery for both mind and body works better at a leisurely pace. [18:24]
Compression wraps or garments act like pumps to squeeze blood vessels open with force, allowing more blood and oxygen into the area. [21:06]
Get your replenishment going as soon as your workout is over. Be sure to hydrate with a bit of salt. [22:13]
Movement is also an important element of recovery. [25:56]
For your post-workout refueling, focus on getting wholesome nutritious food. [28:56]
Using rollers or balls can apply deep pressure to trigger points that represent the origination of stiffness and mobility problems. [30:23]
If you are in the fight or flight state during a workout with increased heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, you will want begin chilling out. Focus on your breath. [34:56]
Release your attachment to the outcome. Relax, be patient with the process of fitness.
Take what your body gives you each day and nothing more. [38:18]
Heart rate variability is an excellent method of monitoring your state of stress and recovery. [43:39]
A metronomic heartbeat is a sign of overstress and more variation indicates that you are fit, healthy and well balanced. [52:12]
- Primal Endurance Mastery course (FREE bag of Whey Protein Superfuel if you sign up for the full course, just email us!)
- Brad Kearns.com
- Brad’s Shopping page
- Brad’s Cold Exposure
- Move Your DNA
- Oxygen Advantage
- BradBeat HRV
- Primal Endurance
Welcome to the Return of the Primal Endurance Podcast. This is your host, Brad Kearns, and we are going on a journey to a kinder, gentler, smarter, more fun, more effective way to train for ambitious endurance goals. Visit Primal endurance.fit to join the community and enroll in our free video course.
Hello listeners, thank you for hanging in all the way to the final, in the series of eight episodes, covering the 115 things you need to know as a primal endurance athlete. It’s been great fun to cover the many, many insights in six different categories. And now we hit the final category, which is recovery. So for a quick recap, since this is the final show, the six categories were aerobic training, periodization, primal eating, strength and sprint training, complimentary movement and lifestyle practices. And finally, recovery. So the insights presented in each of the categories adds up in total to 115. So we’re gonna hit that number today as we cover numerous recovery insights.
But in the first category, aerobic training, that’s where we present the compelling argument that’s been widely validated by the leading elite endurance athletes in every sport for at least the past 60 years, that you must build that aerobic conditioning base in order to reach your potential in the endurance sport. So you have to become competent, traveling along whatever you’re doing, pedaling swimming, running at a comfortable aerobic pace where you’re burning predominantly fat and minimize the anaerobic stimulation and the glucose burning that happens as you increase your pace. Basically the 180 minus age heart rate and beats per minute, and all the commentary surrounding the importance of building aerobic base.
The next category where we had a dozen or so insights, the number varied between each category that we covered. The next category was periodization. So that is the concept of dividing your training season, the calendar year, whatever it is, dividing your training into periods where you emphasize different types of workouts. And this is to minimize the overall stress load on the body where you’re trying to accomplish everything all the time. And it’s funny, but this is kind of the template training approach for the vast majority of endurance athletes and fitness enthusiasts in general, where somehow we’ve been programmed to think that a good training week represents a little bit of speed work, some tempo, of course, the long endurance workout on the weekend, you know, that classic pattern that we’ve been socialized to think represents the best approach. Periodization argues differently, again, validated by the performances of the elite athletes in every endurance sport for many decades, where you have a traditional base building period to begin the year, most importantly. And during that base building period, you refrain from high intensity exercise of any kind. Of course there is some variation here where people like to get in the weight room and work on their functional weaknesses and muscle imbalances, but generally, that aerobic base building period where you focus on going slow and getting strong before you start going faster. And when you do introduce speed, high intensity exercise for the endurance athlete, it’s best to perform those in shorter duration periods that are broken up by a recovery period. And so we have a major recovery period of an off-season every year where it’s a good idea to just back off from your obsession and your high energy output, uh, during your typical weekly pattern of workouts.
So we’re talking about macro periods like the base building period, the recovery period at the end of the season, and then we have inside those mini periods where you’re doing, for example, a high intensity block that should last a maximum of six weeks. We talk about all this in detail in the prime endurance online course and book. Uh, and after these blocks of high intensity emphasis, you go into a mini period of rest and recovery. Maybe it’s a one week or a couple weeks. And so, you’re always contemplating your training within this, uh, philosophy of practicing periodization. So you’re in some kind of period all the time, whether it’s an off season, a base building or middle competitive season where you have some races, events on the calendar. Uh, you’re gonna plan, uh, some downtime after a binge of two or three events. That’s the concepts we covered in the periodization category.
Next we go to primal eating. And the big picture insight here is to escape from that trap of carbohydrate dependency, which is driven by ill-advised training methods, particularly training frequently in that medium to difficult zone where you’re outside of the aerobic limit and you’re engaging glucose burning anaerobic metabolism. And that happens frequently, uh, interspersed here and there during your workouts, uh, throughout the week. And so when you’re in that sugar burning training pattern, that chronic training pattern that drives carbohydrate dependency eating patterns. So we talk about cleaning up the diet, and the big insight is getting rid of that junk food and eating nutrient dense, nutritious foods, uh, as your baseline, and then training correctly so that your appetite hormones and your, say tidy hormones are get in check and are are also optimized.
Then we talk about strength training and sprinting. And these can make a huge contribution to the improvement of the endurance athlete. Even when you’re going for races that are an hour long, two hours long, six hours long, that intensity can really prompt breakthroughs in your overall fitness competency, your resiliency, your resiliency against fatigue. So when you hit mile 20 on the marathon course and your low back goes and your hip flexors go and your hamstrings start to go you can combat that with an appropriate strength training and sprinting protocol where you are training those high intensity fast twitch muscle fibers that are called into duty when the slow twitch fibers start to become exhausted at the end of long endurance events. So it has a definitely an important and appropriate place in the training program of a endurance athlete, but you must do these workouts properly because they, uh, also have a high risk of burnout injury, overstress patterns, so high return on investment, but also high risk so that, those insights covered how to do it right.
Then we get to complimentary movement and lifestyle practices. That was the fifth of the six categories. This is where we talk about the importance of emphasizing sleep, walking and moving frequently in everyday life to escape from that disastrous pattern known as the active couch potato syndrome, whereby hard training athletes who are putting in, let’s say 10 or 12 or 15 or 20 hours a week of training, otherwise sit around all day long. And this is a scientifically validated medical risk factor called the Active Couch potato Syndrome, whereby people who adhere to a devoted fitness regimen but otherwise have strong sedentary patterns in their life. So this is the runner running 50 miles a week and then taking the subway for 45 minutes, sitting on a, in a desk for eight hours, taking the subway back, driving, commuting back, whatever, sitting around for evening leisure entertainment.
Even someone who has that amazing devotion to fitness still reveals metabolic risk factors associated with sedentary living. So the devotion to the gym or to the roads for those sliver of time every week, 10 hours, 12 hours, whatever, folded in with huge sedentary patterns will still drive the same disease risk factors. That’s an amazing insight that we really all have to reflect upon and strive to move more in everyday life, particularly because recovery is facilitated by gentle and general movement. So, this is also amazing insight because back in my day when I was really hard training as a triathlete and putting a lot of hours out there on the road and in the water, I generally thought that the best way to recover was to plant myself on that couch, eat a bunch of food, watch a bunch of rental videos, and then get back on the bike, whatever two days later.
And now the emerging exercise physiology science reveals that actual movement, getting up and walking and doing gentle stretching or getting into the gym and doing things like casual pedaling,, non-impact elliptical or exercise bike. These will speed recovery in comparison to pure rest. And so we have to get up and move. Maybe you might not feel like it after you do a really hard morning session, but that’s the best way is leash up that dog in the evening, get some strolling in, and your muscles will recover faster. Amazing. We also talk about the importance of, of napping in this prac in this chapter, in this section, and then we get to the sixth and final category of recovery.
Let’s dive in. And the first insight on the list, we have 13 left, so that’s gonna get us to 115 or 1 0 2. Let’s, let’s, let’s knock this thing outta the park. Number one, insight on the list cold therapy. As you know from listening to the show, I’m a huge fan, and I feel it has a really important place in the regimen of a hard training athlete. But again, we have to do this correctly to obtain the benefits, and we don’t want to go too hardcore into a cold therapy practice and combine that with a hard training regimen because of course, cold therapy is still a stressor to the body. But when you can engage with it appropriately and find that sweet spot of frequency and duration of cold exposure, which is not much, you will then derive all the amazing hormonal, metabolic and psychological benefits without risking the downside of stressing yourself out with too many biohacking practices. So the insight reads, cold therapy can help speed recovery by delivering a refreshing psychological sensation and recalibrating the central nervous system and muscle metabolic activity back to calm, cool, resting levels.
This insight is especially important if you are exercising in hot temperatures. So if it’s that time of year or you’re out there pedaling the bike or running, and when I say hot, I’m not talking about a hundred, I’m talking about anything, perhaps over 72 degrees. Of course, we have wind chill factors and things like that to put into the mix also. But when your body temperature is elevated from an ambitious workout, whether it’s long duration, whether it’s going out in hot temperatures, or whether you worked yourself really hard such that you elevated your body temperature, even on a cool day from doing sprinting or something, for example, your body has to work hard to get back to homeostasis. And so when these homeostatic mechanisms can be boosted, helped out a bit by jumping into the cold tub, that’s when you can kind of take advantage of the cold therapy session doing some of the work for you.
So that’s number one. And then number two, still talking about cold full body immersion into water in a temperature range, typically of, you know, just above freezing up to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, that’s 15 degrees Celsius. A lot of people prefer somewhere in the range of 40 to 60 and 60 appears to be kind of the cutoff where if the water’s warmer than 60, you can’t really call it a legit cold session. Yes, I know the water’s still cold, and if you stay in water long enough, you’re gonna get cold anyway. And that includes 84 degree ocean water. If you’re out there surfing for three or four hours, there’s a point where your body’s actually gonna get cold, even in really balmy water. But it’s all about duration. And when I do cold exposure, my goal and my belief system is such that I want to maximize the shock response, have the, the lowest temperature possible that I can handle, and that my hands and feet can handle, and therefore spend as minimal time as possible to get all the hormonal immune boosting, psychological and recovery benefits.
So I put my plunge tub at 38 degrees Fahrenheit, that’s the lowest the setting will go. And that’s, that’s my recommendation. And then I’m only spending nowadays one and a half to two and a half minutes in there. I used to spend, uh, much more time in the, uh, the still water of the chest freezer. But now with the circulating filtered water in the plunge tub when the water’s moving and or when your body is moving, the cold intensity experience is vastly increased. So if you’re sitting frozen in still water, as I used to do in my chest freezer, Mr.stoic in there trying to be a badass, and see how long I could last, now I jump into the plunge tub. I gently move my legs back and forth in the tub as well as my hands. I’m just kind of keeping the water and keeping the body moving.
And then the tub is also has jets circulating the water through it. So the intensity, when you’re engaged in moving water is much more significant than still water. If you were to stand in a river, a flowing river, uh, yeah, feels a lot colder at the same temperature than going into, uh, a water that’s not moving. So, we are just talking about the differences in intensity and the recommendations, but basically, you gotta find a protocol that works for you. And if you want to get started in a graceful, gradual level, you go for the cold shower. So the next time you’re in the shower, just crank that handle over to cold. Hopefully it’s your location and time of year will afford water coming out at around 60 degrees or lower, but that’s often not the case, especially in the summertime. So try to get a cold session in and, and see how you like it.
Now, number three insight is that the old injury treatment protocol of RICE that stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation is being replaced in the eyes of many experts with a new protocol called E C M: Elevate, Compress and Move. In fact, icing of injuries can retard the natural healing process. So this is the breakthrough in physical therapy exercise physiology, where we, we turn an ankle or strain a hamstring, and you just put that puppy up on your pillows, ice it plenty, um, and it elevate it and don’t move. <laugh> don’t exercise until it feels better. And what’s happening with this ideology of resting until you’re better and then getting back out there is it’s very easy to get injured again because you haven’t dealt with the problem, the imbalance, the weaknesses and so forth.
And so now to heal and injury optimally, you want to work around the pain, of course. So you don’t want to introduce additional pain to the injury, but you wanna get those other muscles, connective tissue, things that help with your balance, mobility, flexibility, strength while you’re injured, because then you can come back with a more resilient body to minimize the chances of injury when you return to action. So even with an acute injury, of course, in the immediate hours following the injury, ice is called for because it will contain the damage to a smaller area, that strained hamstring that turned ankle, whatever. But after, let’s say the first 24 hours is some of the information I’ve heard, you wanna put the ice away and actually let the inflammatory processes play out. So as I’m recovering from my heel surgery over the last several months, uh, it’s fascinating to me how I go into the gym and they work the crap outta me to the point where I’m kind of sore and burning in the surgically repaired area.
And I have to constantly ask my therapist, Jonathan, are you sure this is okay? Are you sure? He goes, yeah, 20 more explosive vertical jumps. We gotta get those tendons strong so you can get back out there, <laugh>. So even for me, it’s been a reeducation in recent times because we tend to wanna baby our injuries and not kind of, uh, feel, uh, you know, uh, uh, uncomfortable or stiff when we’re, uh, trying to move. But it’s never gonna get better if you just rest retreat and then come back at it. Actually, I’ve known this a long time ago when I dealt with my nagging condition of plantar fascitis, and I was so tired of the, you know, the constant annoyance in the heel there, especially waking up in the morning and having to limp over to the jacuzzi in order to put weight on my foot.
And this was for years. Mind you during my triathlon career, that one time in the winter, I decided, you know what? I’m gonna get rid of this thing once and for all. So during the off-season, I’m gonna take six weeks and just rest anyway, but also whatever exercise I was only gonna do swimming and biking and just let that foot rest for six weeks. Well, guess what happened when I took my first steps running after the long rest period? That’s right. It got worse than ever because of the atrophy of the muscles, connective tissue, the lack of blood flow. And that’s when I realized, okay, you gotta work through injuries, work around injuries, and get stronger while you are recovering. So that’s insight number three.
Number four, true R and R for both body and mind is often overlooked as an element of a successful stress balanced endurance training program, resist the temptation to apply an overly competitive compulsive time hurried approach to training and all other areas of life. Make your workout logistics and your mindset more chill, slow down to appreciate the social aspects of training and don’t get stressed by poor workouts or missed workouts. And I learned this one when I first would travel to gather with the other leading triathletes in the world who trained in large groups, uh, based in San Diego, California, Boulder, Colorado. And the, the workouts were conducted, or, or the, the daily pattern of workouts was conducted at a really chill pace with a more chill disposition than I was used to coming from my background of squeezing workouts in around my studies at UC Santa Barbara, or even when I became a professional triathlete, was able to train all day, I’d still try to like, get the workout done as quickly as possible, move on to the next agenda item in my busy day, might be the next workout, or running errands around town or what have you.
But when I realized how the, how the gang did it down in San Diego where it was truly a lifestyle. And so we’d go, uh, swimming at the famous noontime swim at UC San Diego, and then everyone would retire over to the jacuzzi and spend 30 or 40 minutes in there just chilling and talking trash and having fun and relaxing. And then we would go and pedal a little bit and sit down to have lunch and then pedal for an hour or two more in the afternoon. So a tremendous volume of training was accomplished over the course of the day, but none of it was, you know, squeezing in and cramming things in around an already busy schedule. And I realize that is one of the major differences between the amateur recreational enthusiast and someone performing at the elite level, is that lower overall life stress factor, because the training day and the overall schedule is happening at a much more leisurely pace. So slow down, appreciate the social aspects of training, and even if that, that means you reduce the volume of your overall training load because you take some extra time to warm up, cool down, socialize, just, you know, transition time before you head back to the desk and flip open your computer screen and start grinding away, that’s gonna be a big help.
So number five, compression wraps or garments act like pumps to squeeze blood vessels open with force, allowing more blood and oxygen into the area, and improving removal of waste products. And excess fluid studies suggest reduced muscle soreness and improved performance using compression garments, especially those knee length socks that are very popular now for long distance runners. And you are also minimizing the impact trauma because you are providing support every time your foot strikes the ground. So fun thing to go and test out. And I would purchase the, the compression socks with the highest pressure rating. So you can actually see if you’re shopping on Amazon, have a rating score, a lot of times you see a 20 or a 30 sock or maybe a a 10 sock. So try to get a really tight one where it’s really hard to put on, takes a long time to put on, and that’s gonna give you maximum compression and maximum benefits.
Number six, post-exercise hydration is essential to ensuring that assorted recovery mechanisms work without interference from the immediate urgency of needing to rehydrate. So all that means is, you know, get your, uh, get your replenishment going as soon as the workout’s over, and that’ll minimize the stress impact of the workout. Sometimes you hear talk about fasting after exercise to increase the flow of adaptive hormones in the bloodstream, but all this does is increase the stress impact of the workout because your body’s already depleted, and now you’re not going to refuel right away.
So it has to accelerate the fight or flight mechanisms such as, gluconeogenesis, breaking down lean muscle tissue and converting it into glucose to meet your constant need for a balanced blood glucose levels. So when you get done get right into some easy to digest nutritious food and especially, uh, hydration. Now when it comes to hydration, realize that if you just slam a large volume of water after you finish your hot, sweaty run, it’s going to be less effective than sipping a beverage with optimal osmoality in the hours that follow the workout. Osmoality is the rate of emptying, uh, that the fluid can leave the intestinal tract and go and support, uh, organs and tissues throughout the body. And it’s, uh, known with, research proven that the osmoality is increased when you actually have, um, electrolytes and a bit of glucose or some type of, um, sugar in the fluid, so you have an excuse to drink something with a little bit of fluid after the workout.
And that pretty much was the flagship message from Gatorade that this stuff is gonna rehydrate you better than water. And now we have all these disgustingly sweetened beverages that if the glucose content is too high, I believe it’s over 7% solution, it’s going to delay your hydration because the body needs to work to process the calories. So you wanna find a sweet spot with a lightly sweetened drink, and also make sure, in particular sodium that you are getting a good hydration balance. Because if you slam a bunch of water without the sodium content, you’re going to basically change the sodium level in the blood such that because your body is constantly regulating the sodium, sodium to fluid balance, you’re just gonna pee out a lot of the water that you slammed after the workout.
So each time you drink, for example, eight ounces of water, it should come with a pinch of high quality salt. That’s why L M N T element, the electrolyte hydration packets and many other packets like it have been a huge hit, uh, especially for athletes working out in hot temperatures who lose electrolytes, lose fluid is when you get that sodium in with your fluid, then it will hydrate the muscles and tissues much more effectively. The simple takeaway is you make sure you get a pinch of salt every time you drink a cup of water, and then you’ll have a much better chance of holding onto it rather than peeing it out when you overhydrate and particularly over- hydrate quickly. So start sipping on your rehydration beverage, uh, as soon as you’re done exercising, and then, you know, continue sipping to rehydrate over a longer period of time than just banging a gallon of water jug.
Okay? Number seven, movement is also an important element of recovery. Athletes should refrain from prolonged stillness periods after workouts and throughout the day. So you gotta keep moving throughout the day if you want to optimize your athletic and your fitness experience. And this is where we have to get out of what Katy Bowman calls quote, the lazy athlete mentality. She is the author of Move Your DNA and many other bestselling books and advocating a movement-based lifestyle, not necessarily an athletic lifestyle. So we’re kind of seeing this as two separate objectives where you have your fitness goals and your training regimen. And that’s wonderful. And like I said, you’re training for 10 hours a week, that’s so, so awesome. But you have to strive to increase all forms of general everyday movement to be as healthy as possible, and also to support your performance and recoveries.
And this is a basic evolutionary anthropology insight that the homo sapien species is designed to be a near constant movement throughout the day, as we have been for over 2 million years until recent times, recent generations when we started <laugh>, pulling up chairs and firing up screens. And so striving to do, for example, taking a two minute movement break every hour at the minimum, perhaps five minutes or two minute movement break every 20 minutes, something that you can commit to where you’ve built movement into your day throughout the day. Cuz if you go and perform, especially something strenuous like your 6:00 AM spinning class, and then you’re sitting on your butt all day long, you can still develop these, including the cardiovascular system, cardiovascular problems, even though you’re fit, but you don’t move much. All kinds of joint dysfunction, muscle imbalances, weaknesses, uh, functional weaknesses, things that are going to impede your progress as an athlete that were created by sitting around for hours and hours without taking breaks.
Um, I kind of do this habitually because I have a hard time sitting still for a long time, but I also notice that my cognitive performance is improved when I switch things up. So I’m not grinding away for four hours straight, patting myself on the back and going out for, uh, an hour lunch. It’s more like I’m, you know, working with deep cognitive focus for 20 minutes. And then I’ll take a break, perhaps I’ll, um, sprint up the staircase or pull on the stretch cords for one minute. I’m not talking about disrupting the flow of your workday or getting eyeballs and looking at you in a group work setting. But I’m talking about little ways that you can move and get the blood flowing. And it’s as simple as walking down the hall, walking around the block, uh, every couple hours, sprinkle those in, in the name of health as well as athletic performance and recovery.
Number eight for post-workout refueling. Forget the synthetic bars, gels, beverages, and sweets. Instead, focus on getting wholesome nutritious food. Oh boy, sorry to disappoint all the manufactured foods out there. And of course, they do have a place, and I do want to congratulate the people who are putting out relatively clean and nutritious and sensible ingredients in things like bars or snacks. And so when we’re on the go for example, traveling or not able to sit down and have a delicious omelet after your morning workout or make a super duper high performance B.rad Super Fuel smoothie, guess what? You can do the best you can and try to find something to get in there. And so when I travel, I’m, you know, looking for, uh, a mini bar at the minimum, and I’ll stock that thing with, uh, with fruit, uh, with fluid.
And then I always bring my protein powder with me, cuz protein’s the most difficult one to find on the go. But when you have a high quality whey protein powder, you can mix it in water or shake it up in a, in a drink cup and get your protein needs met, even if you don’t have the opportunity to sit down and have a delicious meal. But when you’re putting those processed foods into your body in the name of health or because you’re an athlete, I contend that you can do a lot better going and looking for that nutritious meal. A after the workout, especially.
Number nine, self myofascial release, also known as foam rolling or rolling or working with the balls or, uh, vibrating uh, machines. Self myofascial release is an effective recovery technique using rollers or balls, you can apply deep pressure to trigger points that represent the origination of stiffness and mobility problems, which possibly are referring pain elsewhere. The best example is the IT band syndrome, which is that painful condition where you’re feeling on the side of your knee a pain with every step that you take or what have you. And a lot of times the tightness is running all the way up along the, where the quad inserts to the IT band. And so mobilizing up higher along the quadriceps muscle can create relief down at the place where the pain is occurring. And oh my gosh, I had this quote unquote knee injury that was nagging for around six months back in 2020. It was so, uh, it was so nagging that I thought I was facing surgery and I was actually getting on the schedule for exploratory surgery at the performance center in Lake Tahoe where they take care of the Olympic team skiers. And oh boy, it just wasn’t going away for months and months.
And I found a fantastic physical therapist at PT Revolution in Lake Tahoe who quickly realized that I had extreme muscle tightness and knotting and dysfunction up higher in the quad, which was referring the pain down to near the knee joint, but it was actually the bursa sacs below the knee joint. And as soon as they did some mobilization work, some aggressive mobilization work in that dysfunctional area of the muscle groups up higher in the quad, um, the pain subsided. So I went from being on the surgery schedule to getting nice protocol where I had to work on my weaknesses and my imbalances and then slowly returning sensibly back to running. It was amazing insight for me to realize that things like self myofascial release, as well as strengthening exercises correctly prescribed by professional, not just going on YouTube and looking for <laugh> solve knee pain, although there are some, uh, great videos on YouTube, especially from Kelly Starret, where he is telling you how to voodoo floss certain joints that are, uh, causing you pain.
And if you do have like elbow pain right now or knee pain, just go on Google, uh, go on YouTube and, and search for voodoo floss knee, voodoo floss ankle voodoo floss, and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Um, but here’s another thing I wanna say about South myofascial release and foam rolling. Yes, it feels good. It feels good immediately because the mild pain that you experience is causing you to release endorphins, the pain killing chemicals that circulate through the bro body. So that’s why you feel so relaxed and chill after a rolling session. So all that’s great. But one thing to think about in the background is that if you are kind of, um, addicted to foam rolling myofascial release and you need it every day, <laugh> to, you know, to go from super stiff to basic functional, then we gotta look at your training program and perhaps the chronically stressful nature of that training program that’s causing this tightness and dysfunction to appear. Phil Macone says the same thing in our great series of interviews on the Primal Endurance Mastery course. So, oh my gosh, I would strongly encourage you to enroll and get access to never before seen, never elsewhere seen video interview footage with many of the great athletes of all time in the sport of triathlon like Michellie Jones, Olympic Silver Medal, Simon Whitfield Olympic Gold Medal, and many hours of exclusive footage with Dr. Maffetone. And one of the things he talks about is he’s not a big fan of stretching. He says, you shouldn’t need to stretch if your training program is sensible. Optimal. And that’s a really good point cuz I think about the times when I have been overdoing it and getting all knotted up and experiencing these dysfunctions and having to go through an elaborate protocol, for example, just to get warmed up to go do a track workout.
That’s a, a good indication that things are a bit out of balance. So we don’t want to get into this neediness of foam rolling, myofascial release, but just using it as a sensible technique to help you get over the hump, perhaps after your toughest workouts and so forth.
Insight number 10 is self myofascial release delivers the added benefit of stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, allowing you to truly unwind after workouts. And this is also a big deal, like we talked about with cold therapy. You want to get the body back to homeostasis after your workouts does kickstart the recovery process and absorb and benefit from the workout optimally. So you are desirably in a fight or fight state during the workout with increased heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, everything you’re pumped up, you wanna go get it done. And I’m talking about even a medium or an easy workout is still, still a stressful event where you’re putting in work, uh, with the body.
Now as soon as it’s over, that’s when you wanna start the process of chilling out and kicking back into, uh, parasympathetic. So the rolling, of course, the mild pain that occurs when you’re rolling through tight spots, uh, gives you that release of endorphins. And then the net effect of the entire session is to support parasympathetic function. And I also like Dr. Jannine Krause’s technique that we talked about on our interview on the B AD podcast. She calls it positional parasympathetic breathing. And this is after a strenuous workout where you take five to 10 minutes to lie on the ground, elevate your feet, and engage in some mindful, intentional, uh, diaphragmatic nasal breathing. And by doing so, uh, for all the reasons that you can learn about in the great books about breathing like Breath by James Nester and the Oxygen Advantage by Patrick McKeown. When you are breathing through your nose, only using the full inflation of your diaphragm for every breath and getting a nice full exchange of oxygen, and then striving to minimize that breathing to build up carbon dioxide tolerance in the bloodstream, you kick into parasympathetic function.
It’s a strong driver of parasympathetic function that is that intentional breathing and minimized nasal breathing. So if you can lie there for five to 10 minutes after a workout and just focus on your breath, that will be a great way to transition away from the hyped-up state that you’re in during the workout. Perhaps you can make a combination where you’re doing a little bit of rolling out, and then after you’re rolling session is done, you spend five more minutes just laying on the ground, kind of like when they finish in Shavasana in yoga. The final pose, <laugh>, the final yoga pose, the one that you are really skilled at right now, I promise you, is just lying flat on the ground and breathing a bit. And I remember going to some great yoga classes at Malibu Yoga back when I was training really hard and constantly on the edge of, you know, fatigue and trying to recover.
And we do these great classes with instructor Steve Ross. My stretching partner was John McEnroe. We’re the only males in the class of a lot of group of females. So, at the end of these classes, you would just lie on the mat and get, talk through some intentional breathing practices, and I would invariably fall asleep because I was so relaxed. And sometimes I’d look up at the clock and I’d been asleep for 40 minutes and it seemed like five or seven or 10 minutes. So it was an awesome relaxation effect to do this positional parasympathetic breathing after workouts. Try it out.
Number 11, as we’re going into deeper, deeper into the recovery mode, mind and body ,number 11, releasing your attachment to the outcome can alleviate the psychological stress of missing workouts or performing below expectations. Instead, relax, be patient with the process of fitness and focus on the enjoyment of the process. Take what your body gives you each day and nothing more. And that final sentence is one of the most profound messages that I can share with you and the most important things that I learned during my years, uh, training and performing at the elite level where I wanted so badly to win the race and achieve the glory and make the prize money and all that stuff that comes from succeeding. And so many times I was so enthusiastic and had such a high level of competitive intensity that I was willing to do whatever it took. So if I was at mile five and there was a guy on my shoulder, I was gonna blast that guy in that final mile of the 10 K run and get rid of him with sort of a life or death effort. I was very focused, intense, competitive, all that great stuff that makes for a champion athlete.
But on a day-to-day basis, these attributes, your type A driven, goal-oriented, focused, tough, strong, resilient, competitive mentality can also serve to compromise your goals as well as your enjoyment of the experience. And so telling a highly driven, high performing elite athlete or recreational athlete to relax, be patient and focus on the enjoyment of the process is a tough message to swallow, but that will help you unlock higher levels of peak performance potential. I promise you, and I had to learn this the hard way so many times where I pushed myself to hard in training and came up short on competition day because I hadn’t taken appropriate care of my body. Especially compare contrast to a true champion athlete who knows exactly what they can get outta their body and they take what their body gives them each day and nothing more. So sometimes you’re gonna have great workouts, you’re gonna have great weeks, you might have great years, and then you might have down periods too where you just have to accept it and go with the flow.
And especially when it comes to injury, illness, fatigue over training, you know, you’re gonna go out there, you’re gonna test things out, and your body’s gonna send you those important signals and messages about what you’re capable of today and when it’s time to return to running after the stress fracture. You’ll know as you walk down the street and hey, there’s no pain with walking, that might open up the potential to run someday. But if you’re, you know, limping with an injury, that’s not a good day to return to training. Pretty obvious stuff. But, uh, raise your hand if you’re listening, you’ve ever had a stress fracture, because I believe that is the dummy award of all times for endurance athletes because a stress fracture occurs from repeated over and over and over, abusing an injured area and increasing the pain, increasing it a little more, increasing it a little more.
And finally, you go from tendonitis to stress fracture. And it’s so silly because you have 107 warnings before you get officially diagnosed and have to go on the sidelines for six weeks. And I’m thinking back to my time as a collegiate runner at uc, Santa Barbara, which was just such a disaster. I was, uh, I had a good initial season right when I got to campus, coming off my own training from high school, and then I was sick or injured the five successive seasons in a row until I finally threw in the towel and decided to become a triathlete instead of an injured or sick runner. And I remember the last day of practice before I had to quit the team with my stress fracture and miss another season. I lived in the dorms about a quarter mile away from the running track where we’d meet for the workout and my hotspot on my shin aka my stress fracture was so painful that I couldn’t even jog to the track.
I had to walk to the track. And there I went and informed the coach that my shin really hurts today. You know, I don’t know what to do. And he said, okay, just do some strides on the grass and see, it’ll loosen up a bit. And then you can start in with the workout. So if you get a coach <laugh> or if there is no coach there, and you have to decide for yourself and you can’t walk without pain, that’s a time to back off and go get a bone stand bone scan and find out that you’re out for several months. And it’s just so silly to think you know that I, that I limped over to the track and then was told by the coach to run some strides on the grass. Are you kidding me? Oh, I’m a little bit of a repressed resentment from my experience at UC Santa Barbara.
Sorry everybody for the profanity. We’ll put a nice big E on this episode, <laugh> for explicit. Uh, but you know what, it led me to the sport of triathlon. So I have, uh, complete gratitude and appreciation for everything that I’ve faced in my journey that said, don’t go getting a stress fracture, even though I made something positive out of it. It was a ridiculous abuse of the body in the name of, you know, competitive intensity and peak performance and, and keeping with the protocol that the team was doing.
Okay, number 12, heart rate variability. H R V is an excellent method of monitoring your state of stress and recovery. It provides a direct window into the functional state of your autonomic nervous system that is the relative balance and harmony of the sympathetic and parasympathetic activity. H R V is a great compliment to monitoring resting heart rate for tracking recovery, and making optimal training decisions. So I’ve done entire shows on the complexity of H R V and in the ensuing years since we really start to have the ability to use mobile technology to measure H R V, uh, the casual user, it’s really grown in popularity. I know that some of the, uh, the biotech like the, the rings and the watches will have H R V calculations on there. I’m not sure how accurate they are. The person who I consider, uh, the leading expert, or at least certainly one of the world’s leading experts on H R V Joel Jameson, the, the noted trainer, especially in the mixed martial arts community, he contends with a great scientific reference that you need a chest strap to get an accurate H R V reading. And because this is pretty precise, high tech biofeedback, please if you’re interested in H R V, do it properly rather than relying upon the guesswork technology of the watches and the rings that are not actually wired up like an EKG to your actual heartbeat.
What they’re checking is your pulses rate and they’re detecting it and, and guessing it through, uh, the, the lights that you see on the back of the watch. So get a proper H R V set up, which entails a chest strap as you run with, or, you know, lay in bed with in the case of H R V and start tracking it and you can get some good, um, uh, data to reference and make good decisions. I have an app on the app store. Did you know that? It’s called BradBeat H R V So go search the app store. This is for Apple iOS only, and you can get this for it’s only 10 bucks and it’s a really nice user-friendly. I have made it a super simple interface instead of the more complex interfaces cuz uh, I got the chance to work with the designers to get it just right.
And I wanted to be simple, simple, simple. Just take a look. Don’t have to have all these bells and whistles that are gonna confuse people and then you’ll be inspired to continue to use it. So, because I’ve done entire shows on this subject, I’ll just give you a brief overview of what H R V as it sounds like heart rate variability measures the beat to beat intervals in your heartbeat. So if you’ve never heard about this concept before amazingly true, but when your heartbeat is beating at 60 beats a minute on the screen, it doesn’t actually mean that it’s beating once every second. It’s beating with slight variation in those beat to beat intervals. So maybe one of your beat intervals is 0.92, then the next one’s 1.07 seconds, then it’s 1.2 seconds, then it’s point 88, then it’s point 89.
And after a minute, guess what? You get 60 beats. But there is that variation that you will see just like an EKG readout if you, uh, choose, especially on my app, you can, uh, download an actual spreadsheet and look at every single number. However, the technology, the H R V apps will process this information. It’s called R S S D, root means square differential, something like that. And they’ll give you a score on a scale of one through a hundred. So when people are talking about their H R V on the street, yeah, my H R V’s usually around 60, oh my HVS between 72 and 75. Uh, that’s just a calculation based on the beat to beat intervals and just throwing up a number, uh, something simple for people to reference. So interestingly, so when you are in healthy parasympathetic sympathetic balance, when you are in an optimal stress state, you’re not overly stressed, exhausted, fatigued worked up, you are going to have a greater variation in beat to beat intervals than when you are in fight or flight or chronically stressful state.
So when your heart is beating like a metronome that is associated with overstress pattern, and you think about this when you get fired up to participate in the race and you’re called to the starting line and your heart’s beating out of your chest, it’s beating in a very rhythmic and powerful manner, which is desirable for peak performance. But in a day-to-day basis, we wanna have the parasympathetic and the sympathetic influencing those heartbeats such that when you inhale, you’re activating sympathetic, and when you exhale, you’re activating parasympathetic. Hey, that sounds familiar. Remember all the expertss recommending to calm down, instantly calm down, you can take some prolonged exhaled breaths and that will stimulate parasympathetic function. In contrast, on the other end of the spectrum, imagine taking, uh, short, shallow panting breasts with your mouth open and using only the top part of your lungs.
So you’re stressed and you’re breathing in a rapid pattern that is going to result in a more metronomic heartbeat and more stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system. So a high H R V score suggests a greater variation in beat to beat intervals and is also indicative of stress balance as well as a healthy and strong cardiovascular system. So someone who is out of shape, in poor cardiovascular condition is going to have a metronomic heartbeat with minimal variation and a low H R V score. Now here’s what you do. You start measuring your H R V every single day when you’re in a relaxed state in the morning before getting out of bed or after getting up and peeing and then getting back in bed and trying to relax. And so you establish a baseline range for your H R V. Yes, a higher score is better, but this is highly individualized.
So you’ll hear some people bragging about their 83 H R V and that’s great for them. But the most important thing is to just track your numbers over time to observe times when you are, uh, below baseline as an indication of overstress. That is the short version of the H R V story. But it does add another layer of, of complexity and precision to the routine tracking of morning heart rate to determine if one is recovered or not. And there’s some nuances here that I certainly could get into when I had a show dedicated to it. But with resting heart rate, sometimes that can fool you because if you have a low resting heart rate, which is always agreed as the thumbs up and you’re getting in shape and your heart rate’s dropping, sometimes an abnormally low resting heart rate can be indicative of exhaustion where the heart is just tired.
And I had to learn that the hard way myself. And similarly, a higher than normal H R V score could be indicative of parasympathetic dominance because your sympathetic nervous system is exhausted and you are in extreme recovery mode. So that helped me a lot navigate through all this H R V data. I, devotedly measured my H R V every single day for three years and compiled all the data and learned about it and developed the app. I don’t do it every day anymore. But it’s very interesting to note that these days where you get put up a big number and think, wow, I’m super rested and recovered, I can go kick some butt again. It could be indicative of that you are so bombed out that now your body, uh, can’t get that normal sympathetic response. Same with cortisol. We’re always talking about cortisol, uh, as the evil stress hormone that we produce too much of, but we need an appropriate amount of cortisol to get up and feel alert and energized in the morning. So, a low cortisol level could be indicative of burnout rather than just your super chill <laugh>. Okay, you get the difference there. I think that’s enough on H R V.
And then last but not least, number 115 on the list of 115 things you need to know as an endurance athlete is more details on the H R V, which I already pretty much talked about. So, um, it measuring the fluctuation, realizing that a metronomic heartbeat is a sign of overstress and more variation indicates that you are, uh, fit, healthy and stress balanced. So there we go. Thank you so much for listening to the whole series. You can also go to primal endurance.fit and sign up for a free mini course. That’s a series of I believe eight videos giving you a good indication of what the Mastery course is all about. And it’s a great experience just to go through those videos, you know, grasp a lot of these concepts, put ’em into play.
But the ultimate is to participate in what is widely regarded as the most comprehensive course on endurance training and racing ever developed. It’s all in one portal. It’s super well organized. You can sort the videos by the, the subject so you can go in an alphabetical order of all the people that I traveled all around North America to interview. There’s great written material download, uh, the Primal Endurance book as well as a bunch of others. We threw everything into the mix there to help you with a complete resource guide to do this stuff the right way rather than the typical approach of struggle and suffer and become exhausted and be carbohydrate dependent. So big plug for the Primal endurance.fit free mini course and mastery course. Thanks for listening to the podcast.
I hope you enjoy this episode and encourage you to check out the Primal Endurance Mastery course at primalendurance.fit. This is the ultimate online educational experience where you can learn from the world’s great coaches and trainers diet, peak performance and recovery experts, as well as lengthy one-on-one interviews from several of the greatest endurance athletes of all time, not published anywhere else. It’s a major educational experience with hundreds of videos, but you can get free access to a mini course with an e-book summary of the Primal Endurance approach and nine step-by-step videos on how to become a primal endurance athlete. This mini course will help you develop a strong, basic understanding of this all-encompassing approach to endurance training that includes primal aligned eating to escape carbohydrate dependency and enhanced fat metabolism, building an aerobic base with comfortably paced workouts, strategically introducing high intensity strength and sprint workouts, emphasizing rest, recovery, and annual periodization. And finally, cultivating an intuitive approach to training. Instead of the usual robotic approach of fixed weekly workout schedules, just head over to Primalendurance.fit and learn all about the course and how we can help you go faster and preserve your health while you’re at it.