Opening up the professional cycling and sports world.

Finding Your Potential and Letting it Go

Are you beginning to wonder what lies ahead in your physical future. I mean are your best days really behind you? Or is there something beyond 40 waiting for you? We are going to meet someone on the other side of 40 who’s on a mission to find his version 2.0.


Episode transcript

 Damian: Hi! I’m Damian Ruse and as I’m get older, nudging 40, I’m beginning to wonder what lies ahead in my physical future. I mean are my best days really behind me? Or is there something beyond 40 waiting for me? But this isn’t a navel gazing exercise. We are going to meet someone on the other side of 40 who’s on a mission to find his version 2.0. Meet Rasmus - A regular guy with a... Rasmus: ...very demanding full time job Damian: that struggles with how to balance a busy working week with family and two kids who love sport too. Rasmus is dedicating 365 days to return and beat his best and is planning to go all in... Rasmus: [0:19:14 ] So so I’d like to see where that can bring me. I get dropped all the young kids still that's fine, but still I mean. I'm not done yet. So I want to see if I can catch up a little bit. [0:19:30] Damian: He’s not new to cycling having ridden for some 25 plus years and he’s not new to challenges like the Cent Col (100 Climbs) Challenge - completing the 100 mountain passes in 10 days on 3 separate occasions. But this is a step up of sorts and includes something unimaginable to many - a year without beer, and other sacrifices…and from someone who openly admits that he can’t stay away from things like wine and white bread for more than a couple of days. Damian: From VirtuGO this is INSIDE - Opening up the professional cycling and sports world...and this week…the story of one mid-life rider and their hunt for the form of their life, which also raises the idea of when is the right time to let go of your athletic identity and what comes after. We talk to an ex-pro that has just transitioned through retirement and has some great advice when making the call to quit and surviving the change. Damian: For me, this is all about trying to find a balance in the reality of an established life with family, job, friends, personal development and cycling ambitions. It’s a struggle. Cycling towards something – rather than away from it, is a good starting point. Wise words written by Rasmus in an article about his experience preparing for events like the Cent Cols Challange. Daniel Healy our Sports Scientist here at VirtuGO sat down with Rasmus to go over some of the basics, starting with the new goal for this 2.0 project. Rasmus: [0:19:30] So yeah, I used to be in like three 330 340 FTP. Okay. I'm 71 kilos something like this. Okay, so not not. I mean just I mean but for a normal mature in the Copenhagen are it's good, but but now so I want to get to that level somehow, of course. Damian: OK, so the plan is to get back to an FTP of 340 watts. A good performance goal, easily measured and tested. What about an output goal? You don’t always need an event as a goal then you certainly will appreciate the motivation an event goal provides for those long weekend rides and those hard midweek workouts. Pointing toward an event focuses the mind, and that may be the best excuse for setting an output goal. Rasmus: [7:51] I'm in the process of building a very detailed plan for next year. I'm not done with it because I have to fixing dates and these things but but definitely my [00:08:00] plan is to do at least minimum one big one each month. Yeah, then because up to the next and build up to the next exam gold and September next year to really have the big. Well, if the end I kind of this at the end, I was going to be September next year. The big... Damian: The big one! It’s not set, yet. Like I said in the intro - Rasmus is no stranger to big ones. And the Cent Cols Challenge is definitely something of note. Here’s what Rasmus wrote about his experience in the 3 editions of the Challenge. “With fear of sounding religious, I would say the Cent Cols Challenge changed my outlook on life. My perspective of what is hard and possible to achieve changed. I learned a lot about myself during the events.” So whatever the goal is - it will probably be something big. But for now he no real goal which is OK this for time of year. I’ll come back to why this is OK in just a moment. First, though, I want share a bit of sly wisdom from Rasmus when it comes to choosing an event as a goal. It’s a little sneaky and I’m certainly saying you should do it - but it opens up your options... Daniel: There can be any number of events out there. Do you do? Gran fondos, do you do mountain bike [00:05:00] races? What's the typical thing that you aim for? Rasmus: I did a lot of pro fondos and 11 months in the past not so much anymore because I'm or join doing it after the day before or the day after but there's no traffic or no. OK no fuss because everyone was did little more recently knows that it's if you're not in the front group, then it's it's not safe and it's not. I don't enjoy. So so lonely I do the same route or the same events, but just on different times Damian: My only comment is cheeky. (cheeky from a spoonful of sugar). I’ll leave what you do with that info up to you. Now back to not having an output goal. It’s also OK because if your listening thinking about your goals for next year, if you’re going to go for something new, the habits you build are actually more important and locking these down with process goals - becomes very important. When Rasmus was first pushing his riding into a new, higher place, it was all about the process and the Cent Cols Challenge came after. And right now, I get this, and this is how he works. It’s all about the process for him. A process that includes using indoor training when the weather turns bad. To back up a little here - I first came across Rasmus on Instagram when I saw his beautiful indoor cycling set up, but in the comments he wrote this - what you do indoors lets you ride outdoors. This is something that sticks with me and when Rasmus talks about taking the fitness from riding indoors to the outside he really means it. And that’s where VirtuGO comes into the picture. Daniel and VirtuGO are helping Rasmus with his training. So it’s interesting to capture Daniel’s first thoughts around training and where he would start Rasmus. But not after sorting out how to train for climbing when Denmark has no mountains. Daniel: I did Park on question just before which is. What type of Rider do you think you are what I like doing the most and mostly enjoy the world seems to be honest living in Denmark. Yeah, that's great. That's perfect. So, I think the highest hill here is local areas like a climber 30 meter. Several compacts and that's excluding those. Yeah, I gotta go shopping down up and down. Yeah. So the I mean that's little [00:09:00] bit the controversy of it. But no I enjoyed that the most to be honest, which is why I seek out those event that in the past would you know what? It's my belief and I've been testing our transitions lat so much so that I'm having a rest of today and it's my belief after. Taking some of the information from the road and dropping it into this platform and sitting on a flat static bike that you can train for the hills. Yes experience. Yeah, exactly and in some cases maybe a little bit more specific than on the road. Yeah because you're holding that constant water you just there's no little Corners as a little dips in the road. If it's seven minutes, you know Big Year. It's absolutely certain - yes. Yeah. It's like to my experiences as your experience. Yes. Absolutely. Okay, good. Good good. So we've got you climbing come. Damian: It was long before Daniel had… Daniel: ...a template in mind. You need to have a big Zone 3 hit we call them engine builders. They only get lots of work in that zone for sure and we have that already set up. There's some climbing efforts and then you have to get [00:10:00] used to changing Pace while you're on the clients and instantly one training session that comes to mind is why clients? So you do 10 minutes or 15 minutes. I had a really steady. High Tempo Tempo is house on three that is the in terms of yes, and then every five minutes or so you interrupt that steady state with an acceleration. Okay, and that's going to be up to high VO2. It could even be anaerobic and then you come back down and get straight back on that climbing place again. Okay, so you can see the saw tooth profile of that particular item and that that. Race situation where you're in that lie group and you're writing just below your limit and then someone goes out and you have to be able to go with them or you're the person that goes yeah and in a 15-minute period if you do that three times indoors, it's challenging, but that bills are real-life competency on Heels so I can receive the template is right. We're going to work from Zone 3. Straight into threshold then up to zone 5 and maybe even a little bit of zone 6. Okay, and then in between there on those days when you're not working so [00:11:00] hard and they're covering the still need to ride want to work on pedalling speed. Yes, as if all of this can be done pretty high Cadence. Yeah in you delay that point at which you fatigue. Okay, so that's kind of the blend. I'm just paraphrasing for our we would give a pro Rider and all of us in there worry, let's choose that. We've got shoes that work out. I'll send you a Texas go bang bang bang his three options for you today. I think I need I need that structure. Damian: This is the start of the process, and there’s not really a lot more to report on. I will be checking in Rasmus over the course of the year and dig into the weeds a little more when he is fully up and running. But this whole process got me thinking about something which is relevant to older riders, and it’s not aimed at you Rasmus. It’s the idea of that at some point you have to let go of your athletic identity, even as an amatuer cyclist. I immediately had someone in mind when I was thinking about this process of letting go and so I jumped on the phone with this guy… Mick: Hey Damian Australian ex-professional cyclist and VirtuGO CEO - Mick Rogers. It’s been 2 and half years since he called it quits on professional cycling and went straight into something completely different - the business world. I know that you might be thinking that retiring from professional sport is not the same as letting go of your athletic identity as an older rider but I think there are some parallels. For starters it’s mostly about accepting a decline in physical performance. Something Mick or any professional athlete is not immune from, which we’ll get to in a moment but I want to start with some wise words from Mick on where you can make changes to hold onto your performance if you are not performing at your best. According to Mick there…. Mick: ...there are a couple of things you can do if you’re not keeping up in the can play around with right.Damian: In other words, to flip this around, health, training or weight are also three performance factors that could determine your ability to continue in sport and maintain your athletic ability. So when Mick formally retired it was ultimately his health in the form of a slow degradation of a heart valve that made him question his performance. And even then, though it was as simple or obvious as you might think. Mick: I’d planned to retire at the end of 2016... that’s when I knew it was time to stop Damian: At any level, doubts about your ability make it very hard to perform - and doubts about permanent damage are probably at the top of that list. But what other factors make it easier to walk away from your athletic identity? Another thing I got from Mick was taking stock of your achievements both in a performance sense and your results. Something Mick was well aware of…. Mick: Yes, yea yeah, I mean I was very would of been a lot alot harder if I hadn’t done that. Damian: OK so you had a good hard look at your life, your performance, your results and you have decided to quit - what comes next? What’s different as when you aren’t an ‘athlete’ anymore? Here is where Mick talks about the transition period of before and after retirement. He points out something that is obvious in hindsight but something he’d never given much consideration to... Mick: It’s, it’s kind of this interesting period in your life….stopping Damian: This concept of measuring daily performance is easy in the athletic world when it’s thing like numbers but what’s the replacement, what has Mick replaced it with? Mick: End result... Damian: Well now Mick is filling his days with meetings and product design...but what’s next for you once you let go of your athletic identity when it comes to riding your bike? If you’re not a pro cyclist then you will have other areas of your life that I’m sure could easily take over the extra time left from stopping a sport. But I’m actually not proposing you stop cycling altogether - that is, if you love it. What’s left if you want to maintain longevity for your riding? Where do you get your satisfaction on the bike and how can you enjoy your riding for as long as possible? Here’s where I want to make a clear distinction between before and after letting go - athletic identity is sometimes wrapped up in results but always wrapped up in performance. Measuring your output is a key indication that you’re focussed on improving performance. So what’s the alternative? I know that some of you listening might be shrugging your shoulders and saying “Just get out on the bike, it’s easy to keep riding!” But riding is wrapped in so much more than just getting out on the bike. Sustaining anything over the long term - I’m talking real sustainability and finding longevity in cycling is not easy after coming down off the buzz of racing - and training. It takes a shift away from, potentially, all you’ve known about how you relate to the sport. Clip (Taylor): I started riding and racing really before I understood what the bike did for me How winning made me feel. That’s pro cyclist Taylor Phinney talking about his shift in mindset after his potentially career-threatening injury sustained in a crash at the 2014 USA National Road Race Championships. He is talking in terms of longevity within the sport, but also I’d guess how to stay in the pro ranks - and finding the connection with the bike has no doubt helped him do that. So this is exactly where I would start. Instead of why do I ride, ask, how does the bike make me feel? Satisfaction is a word that springs to mind when I think about how the bike makes me feel. Deep satisfaction when I’m swapping off turns in the sun, pushing hard without the fear of getting dropped :/ Deep satisfaction at the end of a hard ride that comes with a still mind and an all consuming pleasurable body ache. Answering this question will help you to define what feeling you’re chasing on the bike outside of performance, and in turn, help you know what to do next - or will it? What I would’ve normally done here was set a goal, find a big event and work backwards. But, goals aren’t always the answer to longevity. At least not strict outcome goals. Rasmus has already shown that. The type of people that set a goal, find some other people to train with and when the goal is done, move onto the next thing. Now, the type of motivation you need to ride with an outcome goal is definitely hard to just conjure up. What is does show is that goals aren’t necessarily part of getting you to keep riding. The trouble is, that a lot of people approach their cycling with a binary approach - meaning if they aren’t training for something and doing it right, then they don’t want to do it at all. This mostly means though that people will come in and out of cycling when they have the time to do it right - and there’s nothing wrong with that. I do think that this is a wasted opportunity to still enjoy cycling and get all the benefits with the added bonus of not heading in a direction of burnout and having to take a break. Now, let’s get to the nuts and bolts of how to do ride forever without being goal-oriented. And it starts with setting the opposite of a goal, setting an intention. Intentions aren’t all wishing and manifestations, no woo woo here, they are your inner-relationships with yourself and others - goals are external achievements, destinations, not lived each day in the present moment. To make this a little clearer here’s a metaphor that may help make this distinction. You jump on the trainer, and before you begin to ride, you set your intention to be present to the feelings and emotions you are experiencing, the pain, the doubt, noticing the beauty in the experience - good and bad. So even if your pedalling squares, your intention to enjoy the connection to the bike and time on your own can be fulfilled. You finish not feeling victimised by not reaching having a good ride but, fulfilling your intention. So you can see, Taylor’s question - how does the bike make me feel? - is about your internal motivations for getting on the bike and looking for ways to use your answers to the question as intentions helps us focus on what is truly important to us - getting to the core of what exactly what you like and love about cycling - and getting the fulfillment on a much more regular basis. One of the great attractions of cycling is that we can do it forever - or at least for a very long time compared to other sports we just need to change the way we think about our time on the bike. There’s going all in like Rasmus and his quest for to find his physical potential - then there’s letting go of your athletic identity but holding onto your cycling by removing the external motivation and looking within to find your answers. Set your intentions and enjoy your riding every time you get on the bike. And most importantly, if you have let go of your athletic identity give yourself permission to see that there is beauty in paradox, a serious cyclist who has no desire to obsess over racing, nor think solely about time spent in their chamois. Because this is permission to simply aim to consciously enjoy every part of the cycling experience. The ChaserDamian: It’s time once again for The Chaser. The segment of the show where I talk about something that will help you chase down your goals - whether it’s a product, study or performance tip… The week - the Theragun. If you can imagine the love child of a hand drill and a hammer then you start to get a picture the Theragun. What is essentially a beefed up hand held massager - it’s doing some serious work. Take a listen to it in action… ….I’ve seen it in action so the sound isn’t so terrifying but I can image if you’ve never seen this thing and your physio gets it and turns it on, you would be scared. In all honesty it’s not that scary but what is it for and does it work - and most importantly, will it help you reach your cycling goals. To start it costs nearly $600 US. This may be only 6 or 7 massages but is it more effective than a massage? But just what does the TheraGun do that other massagers that are a fraction of the price don’t? The claim is that it’s going to help you increase your range of motion, at the same time decreasing your pain says Dr. Jason S. Wersland, a chiropractor and creator of the TheraGun, He also claims that its efficiency is higher because of the frequency and amplitude. Unfortunately for us there isn’t any real information available about the device’s real efficacy.  And being just a more sophisticated massage device, even when there is some truth that different frequencies may have different effects on how muscles heal and relax, there’s no compelling research at the moment saying that one frequency of vibration or amplitude, like that of the TheraGun, is better or more efficient than another. So I cannot give you a definitive answer on the claims but let’s break down the type of therapy it uses. It’s called percussive therapy and compared to techniques like foam rolling and massage, it works the brain-body connection to change the relationship with pain. Which apparently works when you introduce something to the body that’s higher frequency or stimulus, the body has to pay attention and do something about it. It’s a beefed up deep tissue massage that claims to speed up the process of working out muscle knots. It’s not really a self serve tool though. You cannot reach around and aim it on your back for example. Legs would be no problem, though. I honestly don’t see a need to use one over the long term. Yes if you’re training hard you might get sore, but that pain is not something can be fixed - rather than just managed. So even if this product was proven to work better and faster - I’m not sure it’s worth the price and hassle for cyclists. Damian: INSIDE is produced by VirtuGO and hosted by me, Damian Ruse. If you enjoyed this show and you want to hear more - Subscribe on Apple Podcasts of wherever you listen. And tell your riding buddies - Thank you so very much for listening and we’ll see you next episode or out on the road.