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Podcast Episode 02 Transcription

Dave Scott: Today on the second podcast we're gonna address two days before your big train event of race. And Davis , obviously, with your experience, you can provide a plethora of information for us. I have a few questions I'm going to throw at you and we can see if we can answer some of your questions about training and nutrition and preparing for that race two days outside of it. So day two and day one. On the following week we're going to talk about race day. And then race day recovery on the fourth podcast.

So Davis … The first question I have for you is: Day two, two days outside of your big event, regarding your event, what exercise regime would you suggest for endurance athletes to train. Do they do intensity? Do they just sit around on the couch listening to Barney tapes? What do you suggest as far as exercise?

Davis Finny: Well Barney, I don't know. But what really Dave, what helped me was to take the two days before as my primary rest day and make sure I had absolutely recovered from any hard train I had done in the last few days building up to the main event. And then at the day before as more of like, putting a little punch in [and] open things up. But it was that two days before where I was absolutely hoping to rest. Not be spending the day in an airplane, not traveling and just get a total recovery and rest day. So I was really fresh going into the event.

DS: That's really common. I know a lot of endurance athletes do exactly what you said and if you'd said something I disagreed with, I'd be jumping all over you, but…

DF: Then I'd have to leave

[Both laugh]

DS: Actually, I agree with you. Two days before the event, that's a great day to just be idle and to let yourself almost get hungry for the event. . I think endurance athletes are always sort of amped up and it allows you that day before, which we will talk about in a second, to do a little bit of exercise. And then you've got one day before the event and you're ready to rip.

DF: What's very hard, I think psychologically, for endurance based athletes, is you're so used to being active and if you're on site at the event, especially a triathlon, and everyone's just running around. Or if its building up to a bike race and everyone's going on rides, it's so easy to sort of get secluded into going, “Well… Maybe I should just go out.” And you go out with someone who's going a little harder [and you think} “I can keep up with this guy.” You have to fight the urge. Your innate nature to train, train, train… Make sure you're keeping your eye on the day of the race. And forty-eight hours back is the time you just close the shade. Barney is ok, but I can think of more entertaining things to watch.

Stay away from the whole energy of the event if you can. And just be really low key.

DS: I was in Kona [ Hawaii ] for the IronMan race and of course I'm now and sitting in a nice air conditioned van, but I remember two days before the event. And looking at Alehe Drive , which is the main strip where everyone is running, and I was commenting to a friend of mine and we said, “Look at this guy. He's probably running a 530 pace down Alehe Drive.” And I said, “What is he doing that for? We're two days outside the event. The guy should be relaxing. And he's certainly not going to be running 530 on race day.” It was just nonsense, but I think athletes, as you said, are a bit overzealous, anticipating the race.

Once of the things to just remind athletes… Two days before the race: if you are a heavy sweater, and we're sort of predefined by our sweat, basically because of our environment and also our genetic pool. I can take two athletes and have them do a training run or a training ride and you can see one that is totally saturated at the end and one who is pretty dry.

But a couple things to do before the race is that you can sort of pre-load on your sodium. And that sodium is the key electrolyte that you really need to maintain muscle function on race day. So two days outside of the race, if you load up on sodium and also possibly increase your fluid replacement drink, and one of the important things with the fluid replacement drink is that over the last five years we have found there is a synergistic effect between carbohydrates and proteins. So if you're selecting a fluid replacement drink, make sure that you have a drink that has at least a hundred and twenty milligrams [120mg] per twelve ounce [12oz] and also has a four to one carbohydrate to protein. So that is something you might want to consider if you have a high sweat rate, two days outside.

Davis, here a second question for you: Are there any nutritional considerations that you considered going into the race. Either two days out or one day before the race? Increasing your carbs… Increasing your protein…. Eating a big fat laden dessert?

DF: Well again, often times when you're going into an event, you're out of your comfort zone. You're away from home, you're in a place where you're going out to dinner or if you're fortunate you have a condominium or something you can cook. So it's important not to get sort of sidetracked by eating a heavy meal or an overly fat meal. And it's done when you go to mainstream American restaurants. Again it's staying consistent with your approach as you've done throughout the year towards a good hard training effort, or local events when you're building up for… If we're talking about national events, if you're building up for a, if we're talking about a national class or and IronMan or a big bike race and assuming you've traveled there and prepared well for this race, you just have to focus on eating consistently well, and reasonably light.

I think one thing a lot of people do is they psychologically think they have to overeat, going into a big event. And your point about fluid replacement, that's probably more important. If you've done things right and you've had… Say your race is on Sunday and if you've done things right and you've had a good hard effort Tuesday or Wednesday, you travel Thursday and Friday's your day off, then that is your replacement day. It's almost more important to replace fluid and you get quite a bit of carbohydrates through fluid and really start building up the glycogen in your muscles at that point, than the day before when you're just trying to stuff yourself full. And on race day you feel like a log in the water.

DS: You know, they used to have all those carbohydrate dinners, and they'd always have those two days before the event. I'd see my competitors go in there and there'd be a buffet table of all sorts of food and desserts. People would plow through these things and I'd say, “That guy's gonna be so puffy by the time the gun goes off, he's not a concern. “ But I think it's good advice.

One thing that athletes need to be aware of is when we talk about fluid replacement, the carbohydrate/protein fluid replacement drinks is the real plus, but we want to make sure that the athletes don't over-drink in water. If you're going into a hot environment there's a concern with athletes, initially, is that you have to hyper-hydrate before the actual event to get your water stores up. Well, humans aren't camels. We can't store an infinite amount of fluid. And if you do that, you can actually lower the blood sodium levels and set yourself up for a condition called hyponatremia. So if you're loading up with fluids, make sure that, again, if you have a high sweat rate, that you're taking in the fluid replacement drink and not just water. And let your thirst mechanism, two days out and one day outside of that race, really dictate your thirst. You don't really need to hyper-hydrate.

Another question I get all the time, I'm going to have you wrestle with this one: People are concerned about getting adequate sleep, two days and one day before the race. How is sleep and how does it effect your performance? And what do you do and what do you recommend?

DF: Well I was always very organic. I never took sleeping pills or anything like that. But you can define your own ways of relaxing. I always felt that if I got I got a decent sleep two nights out, then no matter what happened the night before the race I was going to be ok. And that's frequently, the night before your race, you're nervous, you've got your food sitting in your stomach and you're thinking about all these things. So you don't necessarily have a good sleep. But honestly, the great thing about having that day off two days before is it gives a day to organize everything. I always felt that if I was completely organized… if I had my race kit, my number, everything laid out… Every eventuality thought out about what I would need. Clothing, food during the race, nutrition requirements, re-hydration, everything through the race. If that was organized two days before, then I could rest pretty easily the night before. And that sort of took a weight off me. And could really just focus on what I wanted to do on the race. See it and try to live it the next day.

But the day before you're running around, you're not organized… ya know, Things aren't falling into place, then that just adds to your stress level. Honestly. If you can use the two days out day as a good organizing and relax day and get a good sleep, you should be ok.

DS: Yeah, I think that day before the race and that night before the race, I think we're all having thoughts and some second thoughts about how we're going to perform and what's really going to happen when the gun goes off. And we're nervous. We have anxiety going into the race. And that nervous energy is ok. I complete agree with you. If you can back on two days before and get a good rest, that would be great.

I just have a real quick store…I had a friend who would follow me over to the IronMan for year and year and year, and he was very meticulous about the race day. And he'd meet me at certain point and also about the night before. And he had about four or five alarm clocks set and his wrist watch.

DF: [Laughs] I can see where this is going.

DS: I had another friend staying in and an ascent apartment. Well my friend came in from California and he never reset his clock. So he was three hours earlier than Hawaii Time. He got up at twelve o'clock, thinking it was four o'clock in the morning. Had his normal breakfast, came over and walked into our dark apartment and said, “Hey.. What are you guys doing?” Of course my friend yells over and says, “You knucklehead!' We're trying to sleep and this guy already had breakfast and was ready to go. Of course he went back to bed and he was wiped out when he had to get up a couple hours later.

DF: [Laughing] That's part of being organized.

DS: One other thing, just about eating…. Quite often, the event or big days take place early in the morning. And if you travel different time zones, it can be a lot earlier than your normal time clock. I've always found, in just advising my athletes, two day, one day before a race, if they could back up their dinner so you can have a ten hour transit time before you have breakfast again. So for example: if you finish dinner at six o'clock and you're getting up at four o'clock the next morning to have breakfast, you have ten hours . if you have an 8:30- nine o'clock dinner, and you're up at four, you don't really feel like eating. Nor is your digestive system able to handle that food and fluid and consequently you go to the starting line feeling kinda bloated think, “Oh wow. I could use a pit stop early on. “

DF: And that's the point. If you have the luxury, like in bike racing, so much in bike racing is stage races, so you're racing day after day after day. But if you're just doing a one day event, a triathlon, marathon or a one day bike race for the endurance category there are a lot of other events out there. But I'll stick to those because I'm most familiar with those. But that's definitely the advice: To give yourself enough time to digest.

It's funny… The old school bike racing was you'd get up and you'd eat three hours before. You'd eat a steak or eat pasta or rice. When we first went to Europe , we were like, “Oh man!” You can't imagine how unappetizing a big steak slapped on your table at four in the morning in France and it's raining outside and you're going “Oh man this is not where I want to be. “ But interestingly, one thing we did was, because we came from a different background and we weren't raised int hat culture with that world methodology, we progressively changed the way everybody does things now and my team, 7 Eleven team, back in the day, twenty years ago, we got a chef for the Tour De France. And he followed us and he provided us with much more of what we needed in the timeframe we needed. He, in fact worked for Lance {Armstrong] up until last year. Willie Beaumont. And that was really helpful…

DS: Yeah, wouldn't we all like a chef…. We give good advice here. Go get our own chef.

DF: Yeah, go get your own chef. No, but it's just controlling your environment. And that's the point. As much as you can control your environment, and to some degree, you have to go with the flow. If you're doing the Birkebeiner ski race in Hayward , Wisconsin , ya know.. fifty-three kilometers [53 km], you're not necessarily going to get organic whole foods material at the local store. You might, but I don't think it's changed that much up there.

DS: We don't want to insult our Wisconsin listeners. I know they have organic food now.

DF: Exactly… So you have to be adaptive…. Is that a word?

DS: Yes, that's good.

DF: You need to be able to adapt to your environment to a certain degree, but you also want to have some foresight and control. And that doesn't necessarily mean living on nutritional bars three days out, but you know…. Whatever you can do to manage your food levels.

DS: Question Davis , coming back to the first one I asked you: The day before the race…. You eluded that they should be exercising. What is your advice for any endurance athlete, as far as the day before the activity, the big race; what should they do exercise-wise? Maybe intensity? Volume?

DF: No volume. I think…. Your training is done and that's the other thing. You just gotta remind yourself, “I'm done. I'm not training anymore.” So all you really want to do is…. I like to go out and open up the engine a bit. Press down the throttle. For not an overly long time, but enough to feel like, “OK.. I'm rested… I'm ready… and now I just want to punch it to make sure everything's prime.”

DS: So when you'd do this, you'd just do shorter pick ups?

DF: That's right… Pick ups, get up to race pace… Not trying to get anaerobic, but I am trying to get up to the top of my aerobic level for a couple minutes.. Two or three or four times. I really depend. When I had traveled a lot before-hand, and my legs would be heavy, as you say in cycling, where is didn't feel at opened up, then I would ride enough and do enough of an effort to feel like I lost the jetlag. I've lost the day off yesterday. Sometimes when you're really training quite a bit and racing quite a bit you take a day off, your body really fills up, like you said. So you wanna sluff some of that off without taking the overall energy out of your system. You wanna burn off some of the excess stuff that has filled up your body and you feel like you're ready. So when the gun goes off the following morning [Snaps fingers] you are ready to go.

DS: That stuff you talk about… We do retain some water as you increase your carbohydrate intake and reduce some of your train you're naturally going to be a bit water. So for every gram of carbohydrate you take in, you'll retain three grams of water.

So after a weekend of travel or where you're reducing your training for an event, you can be water retentive. So that sluffing off, I totally agree with you a hundred percent.

Just one more question Davis …. You were brilliant at doing this. You raced hundreds and hundreds of times. Did back to back race. And for people that are peaking for a particular training day that is earmarked as one of their target days, or a race… how did you mentally prepare yourself to race well on that day?

DF: Well that's probably key to the kingdom. Honestly, for me, if I was focused on an event for the season, then I would be backing it up for an inordinate amount of time. And part of that is picking your goals and having close –in goals and then far-out goals. And one some of the days when I was just out training when nobody else was going out, and everyone was saying, “You'd have to be an idiot to go out and train today.” Well no. I'm going out to train, because I have that day that's months ahead where I can muse about the reason I'm out here today is this. And I'd sort of build a mental profile based on experience, based on information… Based on whatever I could get of what could potentially transpire in the event that I was approaching. And the closer it got, the more I would put the puzzle pieces together so I was looking at a fairly complete picture in the week building up to it. And I would just not let myself get derailed. And even on race day when thing didn't necessarily go right, a lot of times I could pull them back into place just because my mind was so strong seeing whatever it was I wanted to have happen. And also creating an expectation for myself. You know this really well because you were the king of this…. Two months before IronMan, no matter what else had happened, you would hone in on what you wanted to do. And whatever happened during the day in Hawaii , you know, you were able to pull it all and gel it into place. And it's almost at that point, it's in your head because everybody's well trained… Everybody's fit… Everybody's ready. So it's what your mind says you can transcend and overcome and really see that picture through.

DS: I think dealing with variables out there is really key. And as you said, you don't really know what's going to happen on race day. Anything that's thrown at you, you have to maintain that confidence based on your training, you can deal with adversity. And when you've dealt with that adversity, you don't dwell on it, you look ahead. So if you feel tired on a climb, you say, “My legs will come around,” they'll come about. You don't think back, “Well they were a little flat right there,” you keep looking ahead. Being able to project is part of that mental tenacity you need to develop in your training. And see yourself, visualize, as you were talking about, why you're on the course.

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