Full Podcast Transcription - Episode 10
THE XTERRA PODCAST
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The XTERRA Podcast: Episode #10 – Carrie Jackson-Cheadle and Llewellyn Holmes
Simon - Male Host (00:00:00):
Welcome to the XTERRA Podcast. I'm your host, Dr. Simon Marshall, a performance psychologist and I'm here with my co-host and pint-sized wife, Lesley Paterson. A professional triathlete with five world titles to her name.
Lesley - Female Host (00:00:12):
Hey, wait a minute. How come you get to do the intro?
Simon - Male Host (00:00:14):
Well, it's just that you're kind of hard to understand sometimes.
Lesley - Female Host (00:00:17):
What? Because I'm Scottish?
Simon - Male Host (00:00:18):
Well, yeah. Sort of.
Lesley - Female Host (00:00:20):
That is so typical of the bloody English. Oh, whatever man. So, wherever you're from, if you're a fan of outdoor, endurance, adventure, sports, you've come to the right place. We talk everything from training your body and mind for outdoor shenanigans, to gear, expeditions, travel and culture.
Simon - Male Host (00:00:38):
Let's get started.
Lesley - Female Host (00:00:41):
Hey, guys. It is awesome to have you back with the XTERRA Podcast. This month, we are going to talk about the intriguing subject matter of injury. And it may seem a strange one to jump into at this point, but there's a reason for that-
Simon - Male Host (00:00:58):
Is that because you're always injured?
Lesley - Female Host (00:00:59):
That's because I'm always injured, but we'll get into that later. But the reason we wanted to jump into the topic of injury is because it's been a very strange year where there's been no races. And as a consequence, we have found there's been kind of two camps, right? There's been the camp that have over-trained, because there's been no races to taper for, and probably haven't taken care of their bodies, because there's not been therapists around. They've kind of lost that motivation to do the little things. And then, there's been the athletes that have kind of lost motivation in general, and maybe just not trained at all. And now, we're going to have next year, of course, for sure racing, I would imagine from the summer, at least, onwards. And athletes are going to jump in there, full of excitement, full of vigor, jump back into their training and-
Simon - Male Host (00:01:48):
Register for everything possible.
Lesley - Female Host (00:01:48):
Simon - Male Host (00:01:50):
Be racing every week.
Lesley - Female Host (00:01:51):
Be super excited. And then of course, our bodies are not going to be able to handle it. And that's when injury is going to set in. And for those of you guys out there that know me, of course, I have a massive injury history. Years and years.
Simon - Male Host (00:02:06):
And she's held together by duct tape, I think-
Lesley - Female Host (00:02:08):
Simon - Male Host (00:02:09):
... is the medical phrase for it. Lesley has quite a long and... It's also that you've been in the sport for so long. I think-
Lesley - Female Host (00:02:15):
A long time. Since I was very, very young. And a lot of wear and tear on the body. But-
Simon - Male Host (00:02:19):
You're known as a high volume athlete. So you do a lot of training.
Lesley - Female Host (00:02:22):
Right. But when I have been injured... I have some chronic injuries that are ongoing, but when I've been severely injured, to lose the thing that is your therapy, that is part of your soul, is your passion, a huge part of your identity, it tears you apart. So we wanted to do this podcast to kind of delve into some of those mental aspects of how do you deal with an injury but also, some stuff to do with injury prevention. But also, just to educate you guys on how best to set yourself up so that this doesn't happen.
Simon - Male Host (00:03:03):
And we've got some experts on the podcast today. We've got-
Lesley - Female Host (00:03:09):
Strength and conditioning guru, Llewellyn Holmes, who is himself, an XTERRA professional athlete, has been in the past. I'm sure you guys know of him. The stealth Welsh.
Simon - Male Host (00:03:20):
The Welsh Wonder.
Lesley - Female Host (00:03:20):
Simon - Male Host (00:03:21):
And then we have a mental performance coach, Carrie Cheadle Jackson, who focuses on the psychology of injury, and has a whole practice devoted to helping athletes resolve, help, and manage the emotional roller coaster that is injury. So I'm looking forward to speaking to both of them podcast.
Lesley - Female Host (00:03:40):
She also has a podcast just-
Simon - Male Host (00:03:41):
She has a podcast just on injury and we'll be talking about her later on. But I think a good starting point is to talk about you. She doesn't know what's coming here. To talk about you, Les. Because I think your injury history is long. We don't need to go into all the deals. Maybe you could give a little bit of a recap, but also what it's like to live with somebody who is injured if you're a non-athlete or you're just an athlete, but you're a supportive partner of someone who takes it more seriously than you, you'll know that this is an emotional roller coaster for yourself. I mean, the number of times that I have to keep my inside voice, my inside voice because I'm sick and tired of hearing about A, B, C, D, but wanting to be supportive. And even though I do this for a living, it's really hard to cope with someone who's mopey, grumpy, psychopathic at times.
Lesley - Female Host (00:04:36):
But I mean, I think one of my hardest times ever, and I've continued to have this injury, really, for about the last eight, nine years was after I had probably the best season I ever had 2012, 2013 and the body, I pushed it too hard. I wasn't paying attention. I got too lean, too skinny, things fell apart and I dealt with kind of what I refer to as my butt pain. Which is a combination of hamstring [crosstalk 00:05:07] pain in the arse, my arse pain.
Lesley - Female Host (00:05:11):
But more importantly, I think just fallen off of that precipice of just being on top of the world, loving my sport, feeling like I had achieved what I never thought was possible and then having it all taken away from me. And not just dealing with an injury where I couldn't do my sport, literally at all, I was in pain 24/7. I could not even sit down in a chair. I had to lie down. I had to get people to drive me places. So you go from this kind of specimen of an athlete, so to speak, to just not even being able to function. And what that did to my psyche was unbelievable.
Simon - Male Host (00:05:52):
And the challenge of, I think, for you is that when you come off, and other athletes might have it, is you have a great season. Everything goes fantastically, you're firing on all cylinders, October, November, whenever your season ends comes around. And there's a tendency to get a little bit greedy. Hand in the cookie jar. We call it or in my world, in sort of helping the psychological components of it is delusion funnels. Is a one word for it. Is that you don't sort of pick up on the cues or the signs that things are not all going well. And you also want to start the next season. Oh my God, I could start base training or start the next season with more fitness than I did last season. So your off season gets a bit shorter and shorter. You probably do a bit more intensity than you should do. And lo and behold, your big injury started within the first sort of two months of the season starting because of the winter that you sort of pushed a bit too hard.
Lesley - Female Host (00:06:44):
No, absolutely. Absolutely. You get addicted to that sensation of feeling fast and fit and lean and all of those kinds of things that we all strive for. And usually it's difficult to hold back. It is something I still struggle with big time. But what's most interesting is mentally, what goes on in your brain when you're dealing with an injury, the different responses. And that's something that you taught me sort of looking at the grief response versus appraisal response. Some of the things that we actually talk about in our book. But this was a big light bulb moment for me.
Simon - Male Host (00:07:23):
And some of the early research, if you're not familiar with this, they found that the emotional and psychological responses that athletes go through when they get something fairly traumatic happen to them like an injury. And obviously the more severe injury, usually, the more severe the response. But they likened it because it looked a lot like the grief response. Some of you might have heard of this. About Elisabeth Kübler-Ross' sort of studies that found that people who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness and they go through these five stages, the classic denial and anger and so on and acceptance. And some athletes do actually go through those processes. But the more recent research is just that the majority athletes don't do that largely because; A, you're not dying in most instances. And I think the other thing is because the reaction is a bit messier than that.
Simon - Male Host (00:08:12):
You don't go for... You probably do have experiences of being very angry and frustrated, and the bargaining where you're trying to cut deals with yourself or with doctor shopping or therapist shopping to get the answer that you want. But for the most part, it's not a linear response. And so it's been a shift in probably, I mean, this is not that recent in the last sort of 15 years or so 20 years, in fact, to this cognitive appraisal approach. And that kind of appraisal in psychology is just a fancy way of saying your response to it really depends on what the injury means to you, right? How you appraise or evaluate it depends on what it means to you. So this is a case for saying, just because you may not be performing at a very high level, and it might look a fairly trivial or small injury, but so why are you reacting as though the world's going to end is because what that injury means to you is pretty significant.
Simon - Male Host (00:09:04):
And likewise, you can have an injury that can be really catastrophic. And the one that comes to mind is with Tim Don prior to Kona, when he had an awful accident. He was in that sort of halo for a while. And then some people's... I'm not talking about... This isn't specific to Tim's or reactions here. But you can have a very serious reaction and an injury. And some people are just, they take it in their stride. And so why is there such big differences in the way people respond it's because what it means to you. And you're, I think, a good example of that.
Lesley - Female Host (00:09:35):
I mean, honestly, what it means to me is pretty huge, not just from a professional level, right? It's my job. But I think what it means to me in my soul. I have literally gone out and run up a mountain, climbed up a mountain, been out in the mud ever since I was three, four years old, right? So it's almost like brushing my teeth. It's something that is a part of my life every day. So forget the racing, forget the performance aspect, just to be out in nature and moving through space is what drives me and it always has. And that's maybe why I've gotten as good as I have because I was able to focus on process, not outcome because I absolutely love the process.
Simon - Male Host (00:10:18):
So maybe this is a good idea. So I can talk about your injury and then look at it through this cognitive appraisal framework and more importantly, and where rubber hits the road of course is what can I actually do about it? Are there things that we can actually physically do? And I think Carrie Cheadle'll talk a little bit more about this in a moment. But the first part with this appraisal is that we know that there's what we call a primary appraisal process that happens when you actually get injured. And all this means is the injury itself. What is wrong with me? What happened? How much does it hurt? The implications, not necessarily the implications, but the actual injury itself. And so that's where you are actually quite different than many athletes is that Lesley and she calls it her investigative health hustle, try saying that when you've had a few pints. But it's really the motivation and the fired intensity with which she trains, she's that same person when it comes to injury. And not all athletes are like that.
Simon - Male Host (00:11:17):
Some athletes take this sort of passive patient syndrome, right? And we have plenty of athletes like that. Hope they're not listening. That you become... You're motivated and goal-oriented, and driven and disciplined. The moment you get injured, all of that hustle and drive and discipline disappears. You just kind of wait for things to heal, or you wait for the doctor to tell you what's wrong and you do. And you're not really acting or doing things a bit more proactively so that, I'm not talking about cutting corners, but just making sure that you're managing that process effectively, getting back as quickly as you can safely, of course. And your health hustle, I don't know where it came from.
Lesley - Female Host (00:11:53):
Its just... I don't know. I think it's just maybe self-awareness or... Well, I think it's just drive, right? It's just drive, absolute drive. And I've had that in my belly since, again, I was born. But for me, it's really educating myself on what has happened to my body, where do I feel the pain, Why has this injury occurred. Certainly if it's a chronic injury or an overuse injury, really getting to the nitty gritty of not just the symptoms, but also the cause. And we're going to talk a lot to Llewellyn about understanding the body and how it functions and you guys are going to dig what he has to say. But educating yourself on that so that you can get a strategic plan to getting better, getting fixed and not having it come back.
Simon - Male Host (00:12:44):
I will say this, you might be thinking, well, I'm not injured now so this isn't really that applicable to me. But here's a crazy thing about some of this research is that your ability to cope with injury affects your likelihood of getting injured. That's bonkers. If you can wrap your head around that statement. So my ability to process, effectively manage my emotional life with the reaction to injury, how I set goals in my rehabilitation and the mindset without using some self-talk and social support and these other things, my ability to use those tools, even if you don't need them yet, your ability to have those tools, know what they are, how to use them affects your susceptibility to injury.
Simon - Male Host (00:13:24):
So you can almost preemptively reduce your injury likelihood by having some of these tools ahead of time. And now, again, these are evidence-based statements we now know. And it might be to do with things like if you can help manage stress. And Carrie'll talk a little bit about this later. If you're a good stress manager, you're likely to actually recover better, you're likely to actually not be or avoid situations that can lead to injury. How you process things, how you concentrate and focus on what you need to be focused on rather than things that might distract you or get you injured in the first place.
Lesley - Female Host (00:13:58):
But I also think as well, educating yourself on how the body works can make you a better performer, because you're going to have that mind, body connection. You're going to feel things as they come along, you're going to understand how your body is not functioning. We all have little, whether it's a tweak in the calf or a little bit of a sore hip sometimes. There's a reason for that. Your mechanics or something out, there's something not functioning. There's something not strong enough, something too tight. Whatever it might be, if you can really get to the bottom of that, not only is it injury prevention, but it's about performance enhancement. And that's what we're all looking for. So if we can function effectively through space, we're going to be a lot better performers.
Simon - Male Host (00:14:39):
And of course not all injuries are created equal. So if you have sort of blunt trauma injuries or acute injuries, you break your collarbone or you break your leg or you break your wrists in Lesley's case, both of them at the same time, we cope with those quite differently than we do with chronic injuries or overuse injuries or ones that are really hard to diagnose. And the reason for this and this hints back to some of the other things that we've spoken about in the past is how the brain processes uncertainty. When you have acute injury, you often know what the sort of prognosis is, right? I'm going to be in a cast for this long and then my rehab. And then my return to play is eight weeks, seven weeks. It's pretty clearly clinically, certainly laid out. There are some implications like slight differences that can sort of send that astray, but we know what's head.
Simon - Male Host (00:15:24):
And they're often far easier to deal with, bone breaks and the like, than chronic injuries, because there's so much uncertainty. And as we know, your brain hates uncertainty. It will crap the bed if it's under conditions of uncertainty for too long. And so this is why one of the first questions that we ask athletes, and you should be asking if you have a niggle or an injury at the moment, this is the first question that you should be able to answer is, do you know what's wrong with you? Do you know the nature of the injury? And I don't just mean, yes, I've got a sore knee or I've got a bad hamstring. I mean, I'm talking about what has a doctor, a physical therapist or someone who you've gone, medical professional has told you that's wrong. And it's incredible how many people, they don't see either a doctor, a sport doctor or a physical... They don't. They're just like, well, it might clear up in a few days and weeks and months go by.
Lesley - Female Host (00:16:11):
Or they see one person and only one person. Maybe they're not getting better from an injury and they don't think that not everyone is created equal or a knowledge base of one therapist is very different from another. So again, sort of having a little team of people or having some different opinions is really critical to getting to the bottom of why injuries are happening and what you can do about it.
Simon - Male Host (00:16:32):
Of course. And of course the injury site itself, a pulled calf where many doctors, and obviously if you go to a non-sport doctor or someone who doesn't have training in biomechanics or a physical therapist who works mainly with athletes, they'll treat the site, the localized site, which is, I'm not disputing that. I'm just saying what caused the injury? What sort of biomechanics patterns are leading-
Lesley - Female Host (00:16:54):
It could be up on your left shoulder, if it's your right calf.
Simon - Male Host (00:16:56):
Posterior chain problems. Exactly.
Lesley - Female Host (00:16:58):
It can be a bunch of different things. And again, we'll chat to Llewellyn about some of those classic signs that he sees in his clinic, Studio Base. But what I find really critical to helping cope with injury is actually understanding what is it that I can do to both maintain fitness and maintain my mental health during the time that I'm injured. So for me, I've got this classic story. You're going to die at this one. We were in Italy and I was training for XTERRA Italy. And I had a duff hip. I couldn't run it, but I could cycle without pain. So there was no gyms around, didn't have access to anything like an elliptical or any sort of non-weight bearing exercise other than biking.
Lesley - Female Host (00:17:47):
So what I did was in the living room, we had a stationary trainer, we got the bike and I put a chair each side so that I was holding on to the chair and standing upright, like in a running motion, but pedaling. So it was kind of half weight bearing, half not, and it didn't hurt, but it was most like running. And I remember I did it for like an hour and a half.
Simon - Male Host (00:18:09):
I don't think you racing then. And that was in Italy-
Lesley - Female Host (00:18:11):
I was. It was in prep for a race. So it goes to show you [crosstalk 00:18:14] my point is, is figuring out what you can do that does not make the injury worse, that does not cause you pain, but can maintain your fitness like Melanie [inaudible 00:18:23]. We've got an example in our book about what she focused... she focused on her swim training.
Simon - Male Host (00:18:28):
On overhauling her run by mechanics. She always struggled or didn't feel that was one of her weakest disciplines, got injured and then did this incredible... and it's a fantastic case study about the mindset and what you can do in a proactive, in control making. We often talk about the goal is not to reduce or remedy a deficit, get back to where you were. It's actually to build you back to a better athlete than you were before. So the version 2.0 of yourself. And that shift in mindset is pretty important.
Lesley - Female Host (00:18:56):
Oh yeah, definitely. I mean, another story that was when I couldn't run and bike leading into cross world championships and so I literally swam or did upper body work for five hours a day.
Simon - Male Host (00:19:10):
So this primary appraisal mechanism, what's wrong with me, many of us, and we often refer to them as gremlins because they're little bugs hidden in our... They're not. Obviously, this is a metaphor. Bugs hidden in our Professor brain and our Chimp brain that sort of derail us. They sort of tell us a few lies. They rationalize, they justify. And one of those is not knowing what's wrong with you. And here's a challenge. Like I said, can you write down a statement that would be clinically accurate about what's... If you can't do that, we're not talking about these very difficult to diagnose injuries, but because you haven't seen a professional. That's a problem. That's a gremlin in your primary appraisal mechanism. I'll tell you another one, which is actually, you've been a little bit guilty of this, but we know lots of athletes is what we call these delusion funnels.
Simon - Male Host (00:19:57):
So delusion funnels are the signs have been there for a long time, is that you've chosen to ignore them. And a classic one in runners is that, can you run without pain? Yes, I can. But then you find out they're actually requiring ibuprofen or some sort of painkillers over the counter painkillers to actually be able to run or do long runs or so on. But they have conveniently sort of forgotten or not don't consider, well, I can still run. Oh, but I have to take painkillers. That's not right. So that's an example of a gremlin in this sort of delusion funnel. We funnel ourselves down and convince ourselves that things are all right when they're actually not. And so again, so a good way, a remedy for this is obviously to keep a journal of how things feel any given time and what you're taking, if anything, and critically share that with your coach.
Simon - Male Host (00:20:47):
And if you can't share with your coach, share it with your partner or sharing with a training buddy. So you're having some third party look over some of this stuff to say, now you've said, now you've had heel pain or pain in your foot when you got out of bed in the morning, three days in a row. And no, it can't be plantar fasciitis, or I don't think it's there. So I'll be fine. It goes away. It's okay when I'm running. But really forgetting the fact that this is now a recurring theme. And it's only when you write things down like this, that you probably even notice it.
Lesley - Female Host (00:21:16):
And so you've talked about primary appraisal things, what about secondary and what's the difference?
Simon - Male Host (00:21:22):
So primary appraisal is really the way that we think and proactively take charge of what the injury is, what's wrong with me and what I can do about it, right? So this is now getting to the stuff that Lesley likes. Having second opinions, knowing what's wrong with you, not having this delusion funnel so what led to it in the first place so it doesn't happen again. The secondary appraisal mechanism that kicks in after the first is really now the implications of the injury. What does this mean for my season, for my next few months? And this is where many athletes start to get really sort of nervous and anxious. Is this over for me? Not just is my season over, is my career over? And so how you manage that secondary appraisal is... There's a couple of gremlins in there too, but you can talk a little bit about how you... In fact, a good example of this for you is Lesley in her primary appraisal, she turns into this focused, disciplined, demon. Like she's in training, right?
Simon - Male Host (00:22:23):
If she trains for 25 hours a week, she'll spend 25 hours a week focusing, thinking about, researching, seeing about dealing with the injury itself. And for me as a scientist and as a coach, as well as a psychologist, it was like, Oh my God, here we go. I'm very alert to people who are sort of doctor shopping. You wait until you get the medical opinion that you agree with and you keep doing that or so on. It's like, just let it heal, time, enough, just calm down. And what I didn't realize at the time, and I should have done is that Lesley having taken control over that process was really helping her secondary appraisal mechanisms. So in other words, I want to think, or Lesley needs to think that I've done everything in my power to get myself back as healthily and safely and as quickly as possible. But that comes out as this big hustle, which to me saw, oh my God, addiction, alarm bells, over... All the stuff that got you in this place to begin with, I see that again.
Simon - Male Host (00:23:24):
But that was really a way that you coped in the second. And so I pivoted, or I started to change my approach. I started to say, my job here is to hopefully help you weed out the quacks and the sort of the pseudo scientific remedies. And there's been plenty of... Lesley's tried plenty of those too. The quackery. Kind of keep her on track and make sure that it's financially viable as well as expensive. When you start to see a lot more therapists, a lot more treatments. And sort of manage that process, but not try and point fingers say, this is a sign that you are going overboard. You're getting obsessive about it. And that was really... Because if I'd have taken that away, guess what happens? Your secondary appraisal mechanism, how am I going to cope with this now going forward, would have fallen apart. I haven't done everything I can, I might feel depressed and so on.
Lesley - Female Host (00:24:12):
And then also as well, you've helped me a lot just understanding what I can do, again, in that secondary appraisal. Getting to the point where, what exercise can I do? What does the rest of season look like? Or is it next year? Or is it long-term? So usually helped with sort of goal-setting in that regard to keep me positive and on track and feeling like I'm achieving something that is worth something. And then the other piece for me is having something else to go to. We have a career in film, we write together, we do all that. So that creative outlet, having other things in your life so that your identity isn't completely wrapped up just in sport so that you can fulfill other needs of your being.
Simon - Male Host (00:24:58):
So to deal with those gremlins and that secondary appraisal, how I'm going to cope with going forward, a couple of-
PART 1 OF 4 ENDS [00:25:04]
Simon - Male Host (00:25:03):
...those gremlins in that secondary appraisal, how I'm going to cope with going forward. A couple of quick things you can do, not quick things, a couple of strategies that are really helpful. One, is learn how to manage your emotional states. And it's usually negative emotions. It'll be a roller coaster and anyone who knows who's lived with an injured athlete, you go on this roller coaster with them. Tears one moment, they forget about it and then there's tears again, or anger or frustration and so on.
Simon - Male Host (00:25:23):
So managing negative emotions. And one of the best techniques that you can use for this, we use it for stress management, chimp urge, right? The theory is that in your limbic system, your chimp brain, where all of our urges, our emotions come from, they're so strong. Our limbic system is five times quicker and five times stronger than our analytical prefrontal cortex and the front of our brain, the smart us, that trying to sort of arm wrestle it back with facts and logic doesn't work.
Simon - Male Host (00:25:51):
It's just too strong and there are evolutionary reasons why that is. And so what we have to do is give it a chance to vent and let things out. But we often don't do that because we're told to always see the positive side or always stay positive, but really we just want to kick and scream and get angry or so on. And so the chimp urge is letting those things come out. And even if you give yourself, you're not doing this all the time, but you might even designate periods of your worry period or pissy period, or you just sit down and for 10 minutes, you just rant and rave and let it go.
Simon - Male Host (00:26:24):
And interesting things happen in the brain when you let, this is not just for injury, for any negative emotions. If you let things out without interjecting or trying to stop it or rationalize it, it's nonsense. So some of it is nonsense it's coming out. Some of it is quite hard to hear. You can do it in private or write it down. But blood flow to your limbic system goes down or some of our stress hormones, our cortisol drops, and some of our other neurotransmitters that make us feel good, start to go up. So having that out, and if you try and always sort of squish it down, it will come out eventually. And there's a great example of you remember leading up to Worlds when you got a stress fracture in your hip?
Lesley - Female Host (00:27:00):
Yeah. By five weeks from Worlds, things were going great. And I got a stress fracture in my head which was devastating again. And we actually went to the movies to try and distract my... [crosstalk 00:27:13]
Simon - Male Host (00:27:13):
That was my cunning plan. Take you to the movies. You won't think about it. [crosstalk 00:27:17] The tears will go.
Lesley - Female Host (00:27:16):
...to distract me. And it did work for a bit. And then of course, walking back from the movies to the car, of course I felt my hip and that was it. I just lost the plot. And I sat on the ground in the middle of the mall and balled my ever loving eyes out. And that for me was that purge. Right? And I didn't quite realize it at the time, but literally I probably had about two days of various outbursts and then Sy literally was like, "okay, enough's enough. You've had your moment. Let's move on". And that was it. I moved on.
Simon - Male Host (00:27:48):
And this is the, as Carrie will talk about flipping the script or flicking the switch, is to say, okay, I'm going to give myself a period of being pissy and angry, but I'm going to have a date and a time, and I can even put it in my diary, where you know what? Enough. Time to move on. And even if you're still feeling some of those things inside, you can still have behaviors that are... You can fake being positive and optimistic and so on. And I think that really does help for you, right? [crosstalk 00:28:16] I mean, I think one of those strategies to let that stuff out and say, okay, Thursday at noon, this is over, you get this worry time. And that's a really handy strategy for letting go of some of that negative emotion.
Lesley - Female Host (00:28:27):
So our first guest is Llewellyn Holmes. Llewellyn was a professional exterior racer. He is also top strength and conditioning coach, and he owns a new facility in Bristol, in the United Kingdom called Studio Base. They do amazing personal training sessions and custom plans for athletes, injury assessments, as well as... He is an absolute specialist in bodywork massage. The whole thing. He really is amazing. Llewellyn it's been a long time since I've seen you, unfortunately, but we met through the exterior pro circuit. So I just kind of wanted to jump in and find out about your background. So obviously you've been a professional exterior racer, but you are a guru when it comes to strength and conditioning, hands-on body work, you are actually the best massage I've ever had. So let's kick it off with that.
Llewellyn - First Guest (00:29:29):
Hi Lesley, hi Simon. Wow, great intro. Thanks for that compliment. I suppose I've only learned it from working with athletes and having the feedback from people like yourself. So as a background, yes, I've come from racing, elite exterior, but that came from racing elite mountain biking, but also working with athletes from rugby, Paralympics, right through to more specific things like dance and currently working with the Olympic synchronized swimming team. So it's a fine balance between strength or injury prevention, but also getting pure power out of a functioning body, because you can get pure power out of a non-functioning body, which usually results in injury or results in muscle bulk. Which most of us athletes spend a lot trying to avoid. So elegant power is probably what we work with.
Simon - Male Host (00:30:27):
Oh, I like that.
Lesley - Female Host (00:30:27):
Oh, I love that.
Simon - Male Host (00:30:28):
Elegant power. I'll just settle for one of those two [crosstalk 00:30:32] but if I could have both of them, that's a win.
Lesley - Female Host (00:30:34):
I go for elegant. [crosstalk 00:30:37]
Llewellyn - First Guest (00:30:36):
Yeah. They're doing sport. You don't want be that bruiser.
Lesley - Female Host (00:30:40):
That's right. Last year [inaudible 00:30:43]
Simon - Male Host (00:30:43):
Where are you in the world? You're in the UK, but where?
Llewellyn - First Guest (00:30:46):
So I'm in Bristol. In the corner of Bristol, South Bristol, but with modern world, I can sort of be anywhere chatting to you guys. So we've got clients all over the world, but I am based in... physical in Bristol.
Lesley - Female Host (00:31:00):
Nice. And you have your own facility. Now tell us a little bit by your journey. Some of your background training, how you got into this kind of therapy and strength work and what it's looking like for you right now?
Llewellyn - First Guest (00:31:15):
Well I started the usual path, chose a degree that could kind of facilitate my own sport. So I did sports science and anatomy, but from there just as soon as I started to work in the real world, I found out that humans are actually human. So you need psychology. And that was different to what they taught me in school. It wasn't some bloke feeding his dogs. It's actually getting to know people as people. And then I started working in rugby, which was fun but hard, heavy work. But then alongside my sport, I kind of fell into triathlon because it's the easy, direct option. But when you work in strength and conditioning, you should be able to work on any sport, because you should be able to understand the backgrounds. Like playing a new instrument, the fundamentals are the same, but you would take it to whoever they are.
Llewellyn - First Guest (00:32:08):
So finally, I've got my own place with... So I've worked in a lot of different gyms, a lot of different locations, but this current place is just your typical big warehouse space. But the whole aim is to make a family. So we've got a picnic bench in the middle. So when you arrive, you can hang out, bring food, chat to your mates sit on top of it [inaudible 00:32:30] So far, we've got dart boards. We got every game you can imagine. So you're not allowed to sit still when you arrive. So wake your senses up and that all gets incorporated into your training. So to make you feel alive and feel like friends, family, they all become part of the same with the training.
Lesley - Female Host (00:32:50):
That's cool. Because one of the biggest things that I've garnered from working with you is the fact that you really try and teach your athletes what's going on. What is wrong with their bodies? How can they better improve it? So you are teaching them to be their own car mechanic. And that's essentially what Simon and I try and do with our athletes and their brains specifically. But can you talk us through why that is important?
Llewellyn - First Guest (00:33:16):
Well I think for me, it would be really important. So a lot of my learning is the same as being the athlete and then flipping the other way around. You need to buy into what you're doing. If you're going to put your whole heart and soul into it, you need to believe it. If you don't believe it, you might give 80%. You might try that. Doubt is always going to be playing on your mind. Having an educational process, it means you understand that you're going to ache even more from it, but you'll probably also sleep better at night, knowing that what you've done is exactly what you need to do.
Llewellyn - First Guest (00:33:49):
And that whole process, that whole holistic feel of wellbeing, of feeling and knowing deep down that everything's right, is for me the key to preventing injury and success. Because a lot of people might think I'm talking outside the conventional box, but if you're not happy with what you're doing that deep down gut feeling... I hear things like go with your gut, go with other things, that will affect things from your sleep, your digestive pattern, And then obviously those two elements, you're not never going to recover. So you can go smashing weights and do whatever you want, but unless the whole inside holistic is working well, you can forget about it.
Simon - Male Host (00:34:30):
And I think that sort of parallels in with the athlete's perspective as well. They have to know that you believe it or believe that you believe it, because the moment there's some element of distrust, but I get a sense that they're not really, and this might be tone and tempo of how you talk, not just of what you're saying and what you're doing, but I think the athlete's buying into the fact that their physical therapist or their body worker is actually knowing and loving and enjoying and is passionate about what they're doing. That plays a big role in the process, I think.
Lesley - Female Host (00:35:04):
Big time. And again, that's something I've experienced with you is just like your vast knowledge, but you're always wanting to learn more. And you like to be challenged by your athletes. Questioning you or trying to understand more, or if something isn't working, you're going to dig and dig. And I find in my experience, a lot of people that I've worked with, they have their stock freeze or they have their go to's. And if you don't fit within that parameter, you're kind of screwed. And that seems to be a common trait with a lot of people that I've worked with in the past.
Llewellyn - First Guest (00:35:39):
Yeah. I definitely agree. And a lot of people come to me with a preempted idea of what they want me to do and they'll come in with a sore knee or whatever, and they want me just to rub their knee and when I start talking about anything else apart from their knee, you can see them backing off a little bit. But bottom line is they came to me to fix their knee. So we need to talk about everything right? From what's going on with their happiness with their other coaches, the happiness what's going on at home, also their full strength plan, were they're just trying to beat themselves up?
Llewellyn - First Guest (00:36:18):
And that can range right through from picking their bike fit or just getting some pure truth out of them. So you need that trust bond relationship, which I think it comes with the location that you're in. See, a lot of people that come in they're immediately intimidated. They'll never open up. They'll never tell the whole truth. So when you said about the space that I've created here, its a space that people can come and feel like they can be relaxed and be honest.
Simon - Male Host (00:36:48):
Do you notice there are any differences, whether it's sort of in temperament or how athletes approach or talk to you about what's wrong with them and how they're improving based on their sports? So are endurance athletes, do they present sort of differently than sort of team sport athletes or artistic sport athletes? Or it's all versions of the same stuff in many ways?
Llewellyn - First Guest (00:37:11):
Yeah. It's versions of the same stuff, but I would say there's common traits, because there's certain aspects to sport that affected how you win. So for example, I train El Shorbagy, he's the world squash number one. So squash is very [inaudible 00:37:30] you in a little box with your opponent and if you show any sign of weakness, they're going to jump on it. And the way the scoring system is, it's a direct score. It's not like tennis where you get juice and you get to drop back. You make them stay, come out, capitalize on it.
Llewellyn - First Guest (00:37:43):
So they really learn to hold their emotions back to hide everything. So as they go in and almost put this big show on. So you can really find when you work with athletes like that, soon as they start coming to you, there's this big show. The more you can pick it out and then you join their team, then you can get inside it and you can actually use that show and you can develop with that so we can work out strengths and weaknesses into it. So their movement pattern. So a lot of the athletes we're working with its actually to make the movements look easy or actually make them easy. So rather than trying to be strong, its just being able to float through different movement patterns. And it almost upsets the athlete.
Lesley - Female Host (00:38:31):
So you're knowledge of every sport must be pretty extreme then from a psychological perspective, as well as a physical one. Right? I mean, because you're talking about really understanding the demands of an athlete mentally, as well as physically in order to understand how to really get to them. Get into them, have them divulge things, really work with them through different aspects. For example, in working with me, I'm kind of a head case. And so I like to really commit to something if I'm going to do it and you've really helped me buy into it by giving me a lot of stuff. Is going to make me better, not worse, not overdoing it, but really giving me stretch goals and because that's something I need from a psychological perspective. So it's kind of interesting to see you work with different styles of athletes for sure.
Llewellyn - First Guest (00:39:28):
Yeah there's different styles. I mean, is a pleasure to work with someone like you because it's a black and white binary game of, [crosstalk 00:39:38] [inaudible 00:39:40] I know we'll get done. Sometimes I be careful that I don't say too much because then, if for example I make a typo, like we all do and write a 300 watt instead of a 200 watt and they'll go out and try and push the 300 watts because they just so blink it. And they haven't got any process or any understanding of what's of going on. So with those, you kind of got to be a bit careful. The typical people, if you set a four hour bike ride and they did three hours 15, they'd probably go on the car park for 10 minutes. [inaudible 00:40:16] Yeah.
Simon - Male Host (00:40:17):
Well, I think that's a good entry point into my world anyway. Well Lesley's too, but mine professionally in the psychology of it. Generally endurance athletes, and this is obviously bikers and swimmers and multi- sport athletes like triathletes, they tend to be higher in trait anxiety. A little bit more neurotic, a little bit more anxious. And what's interesting is that most of the research says that the sport doesn't turn them into that they're attracted to those sorts of activities.
Simon - Male Host (00:40:43):
So our personalities and temperaments gravitate to probably activities that let that shine a bit more. And so you'll probably get a little bit more of the going around the block to make it, to round it up to 50 miles or to three hours or something, in those sorts of athletes. Versus if you're a soccer player and saying my 60 minute session, it doesn't matter if it's 58 or 104 or something like that.
Lesley - Female Host (00:41:07):
But that's also what makes it really hard for endurance athletes, right? And myself included, is that because you have that constant drive and that constant desire, you're going to find any way to kind of keep going no matter what. And so what we find with our athletes and a lot of friends that we know, is they'll continue with all those niggles and pains and they'll never acknowledge them or address them until it's too late and they have a big injury and it really takes them out. Is that something that you sort of tend to notice in endurance athletes as well?
Llewellyn - First Guest (00:41:40):
Yeah, massively. They'll push on and especially triathletes because you've got three sports. So it's usually this breakdown process of my foot hurts. So I'll just jump on the bike and I'll do that until my knee hurts. And then I'll go down the pool. And when I can't do that, I'll do some [inaudible 00:41:57] running and then I'll go jump on a treadmill. That's going to take some of my body weight off in and see how I can kind of wangle a way around it. You tell him, hang on a minute, you need to stop and spend some of that time on rehab, work on massage on soft tissue on anything else. They won't. And they'll kind of ask a few other people. It's very typical. And the person that says, "yes you can go running", that's the new guru. That's the person.
Llewellyn - First Guest (00:42:22):
So having the confidence to tell someone straight in the face that, "you need to stop", is I think for me, that's a higher level coach. Someone who's not scared to just tell the absolute truth. But then that person needs to back it up and they need to really understand. Because it's very common. Certain therapists would just go, "yeah take four months off. Stop running", which is a very easy method to fix something. It's just tell someone to stop, but it's ultimately going to come back and there's so many other things you can do to help someone somewhere recover. So for example, I had a client, really high-level mountain and ski a skater. He went out to France and he broke his leg on the first day. So came straight back to England gutted, but we had him back on the slopes and five weeks skiing.
Lesley - Female Host (00:43:14):
Llewellyn - First Guest (00:43:18):
So the process of it, first thing we need to do was to get his head straight. So he could just come and control. There are lots of breathing, a lot of oxygen work to get the whole system aligned. Breathing might be what people might associate with different... I don't know if there's a lot of breathing gurus at the moment. Most [inaudible 00:43:40] are quite aggressive. There's no correlation between the breathing and what you're trying to achieve. They're just using the breathing for barriers, to be able to get into cold water or to be able to forget about some past issues that happened. Quite high intensity. There's no thinking. So actually being able to be aware of the option coming [inaudible 00:44:00] where it goes, how your lungs feel, the difference in your brain. As you go through, people might associate with yoga or meditation or the rest of it wherever you want to call it.
Llewellyn - First Guest (00:44:10):
Just the awareness with the two. So with him, we did a lot of breath work, a lot of acceptance that he's injured. You need to stop. Your leg is broken mate. You're not you're going skiing, but you will go skiing as soon as we can. And then from there we go onto the hormonal effect. So you need growth hormone, you need testosterone, you need all these other things to get things fixed quickly. So we did a lot of bench press, a lot of pull-ups, but really heavy, maximum loading.
Llewellyn - First Guest (00:44:39):
So his initial thing was, can I go on the ski machine and just use my arms banging it out? Well yeah, you'll get fit but that's absolutely pointless because your leg's still broken. So the heavy weight that breaks muscle tissue down and that produces a higher testosterone, high growth hormone environment, which will then flood around your whole system, which then aids the bone recovery also [inaudible 00:45:02] cast off, you've got a higher... A better system working for those leg muscles to recover.
Llewellyn - First Guest (00:45:07):
So then when we get on the leg press, when we get on the bike to get your leg back better, it's quicker. Whereas if you notice a typical endurance athlete, you lose a lot of that. So you'll have a great aerobic component, but the ability to build muscle will be greatly reduced. So with him when we first started to work, long story short, is that mental aspect to stop. Saying look, we are going to bulk your top body up and you are a mountaineer. You do want to be thin up top, but for now we're going big. That thing that affects your leg is a different [crosstalk 00:45:41] And then he went back skiing. So week six he's back in the mountains.
Lesley - Female Host (00:45:43):
Wow. That's exactly why I like working with you because you do think outside the box and that makes absolute perfect sense as to why you would have had that protocol in place. And I think that's one of the hardest things when somebody gets injured is they just don't know where to start. They don't know who to go to. They often just want to treat the symptoms. Especially, I'm not talking if you've broken your leg for example we know what's happened, but if it's an overuse injury or a chronic injury, why is this continuing to happen? And again, I think that's where knowledge of how the body works is absolutely key. Not just obviously for your therapist. So understanding that the demands of a body, how everything interacts right down to things like fascia.
Lesley - Female Host (00:46:31):
And I'll get you to talk a little bit about that because I find that fascinating, but also, just kind of how getting to the basics of why it happened and people don't educate themselves enough on that. And one of the first things that I do when I feel an ache or a pain is I visualize where that is and I actually get my computer and I get all of the models, all of the sort of the body models that you can get. And I look at the muscles or tendons and nerves all around that area. And I try and visualize it and understand where am I feeling the pain. And obviously I have some understanding of what might have caused it to begin with. But talk a little bit about this sort of chain of events that can cause maybe certain injuries or certain patterns that you see and why it's really important to understand the why behind it.
Llewellyn - First Guest (00:47:21):
Well there's very, very common injury patterns which we see daily. A big one is calf muscles. That's calf achilles is kind of bread and butter. But if the main problem, every time someone comes with a calf injury, they seem to have been sent somewhere. And someone's told them to do, for example, [inaudible 00:47:44] on the step and slowly reduce your foot down and pop it back up. Which for me is just getting straight down to the actual problem. You're just trying to strengthen your calf, trying to strengthen your achilles. Occasionally that could be weak, but in the most majority of people that absolutely never going to be the case. Your calf muscle is such a low driver in the whole chain of movement. You should have come off your hamstring, your glute, your quad, your shoulder.
Llewellyn - First Guest (00:48:09):
The whole body's moving together. So it's pinpointed down to one tiny little aspect. It's very far-fetched in my eyes. And then people will spend all that time trying to strengthen it. So it's a bit like you're just trying to tighten up that one bit and then you go back and load it back through. So what we'd like to do is unpack the whole thing and try and share the load a little bit. And that could all stand down to things like shoulder tensions. Your shoulder is not rolling around.
Llewellyn - First Guest (00:48:39):
And the problem with triathletes is you could go round this loop for ever and ever because your shoulders could be the problem and then you go to your swim coach and they say that your shoulders aren't moving in a certain way or your swimming is not very good. So to cut a long story short, I think I've left your point a little bit, but the whole thing is, your body is one unit. It's fascia. It's working together. And if anyone doesn't believe me on that, just put your hands on your back and go for a run and see how you get on.
Simon - Male Host (00:49:12):
I suppose, for many athletes that's the challenge, right? Because they come in and they experience injury in a very localized way, right? This is hurting here and precise. We have athletes send us little pictures of a sharpie with a cross and two millimeters to the left and another arrow and then coming in and then say, "okay, we're going to fix your shoulders or your hips or your glute engagement".
That's a paradigm shift for athletes. They're not used to thinking like this. So to what extent do you kind of... Have you got your sort of process you go through to talk about and educate about kinetic chains or the roles of different muscle groups and what they're actually doing? Time is money as well, right? You can't have people in there for 90 minutes just talking through what's happened. How do you balance that between education and...
PART 2 OF 4 ENDS [00:50:04]
Simon - Male Host (00:50:03):
... talking through what's happened. I mean, how do you balance that between education and actually doing the therapeutic work itself?
Llewellyn - First Guest (00:50:06):
Well, I think the key is actually to listen, which sounds really dumb and really obvious, but...
Simon - Male Host (00:50:13):
Not to me, it doesn't. That sounds like a great...
Llewellyn - First Guest (00:50:16):
Yeah. You will be surprised. I think it's very easy to go into an assessment, we've all had an assessment and then you feel like the therapist has got this key set way they want to do things. They want to either stand you on the scale with one foot on the other and measure things. They want to stand you in front of the check box and have a look that everything's symmetrical. But I think the key thing is actually listen, acknowledge that you've understood the client's pain, what effect that's having on their life in terms of has it stopped them running and all the rest of it. And immediately, I reckon you could fix 50% of things if you started to put up a program of action in before you even got hands on. Like, "I accept you're injured, we're going to have to stop running, but we can do all this other stuff for you."
Llewellyn - First Guest (00:51:02):
And then you've kind of calmed the whole room down. Whereas if you just went, "Ooh, you're injured, no I seen this before. That's a typical..." Or what the English, where they call classic, "Oh, that's classic tendonitis, ooh classic. Grade 2." What is classic? Come on. So yeah. And then I also do believe that that human touch is key. So there's a lot of machines out there. Yeah. Great. I'm pretty sure they work very well, but I think if someone's injured, that injury does need hands-on. So if you have got sore knee, yes, you do need to be physically touching and get in there. Just the blood flow around the area, just bring in some kind of care into it and then acknowledging it going through the whole body. And I think it really helps if you, if you want to show, say, an athlete that their foot is sore, that that links all the way through the rest of their body.
Llewellyn - First Guest (00:52:00):
If you go through each piece and you physically touch and show them that, look, you can feel the calf here that doesn't work quite right. You can feel the inside of your thigh, that links it through. Here's your pelvis, this is where it should be to actually physically on, which is very, very different in my eyes to showing someone their pelvis buying on a picture in front of a chalkboard, because it's quite nerve wracking going to someone's therapy room. And if you told me to stand in front of a picture, I'd be like, "Ooh, yeah, that's great." Or walk down the line in front of me. You're going to walk funny aren't you? Because someone's watching.
Lesley - Female Host (00:52:33):
Because they're nervous.
Llewellyn - First Guest (00:52:35):
Yeah, so [inaudible 00:52:35]
Lesley - Female Host (00:52:39):
Yeah. So sorry, dear, I was just going to say that's one of the thing I love is the fact that not only your knowledge base about how bodies function and everything being interconnected, but the fact that the way that you feel tissue is pretty profound. And that combination of being able to feel those patterns throughout our client's body, as well as see them, as well as hear them, given the information they've given you about their history, and then to put a course of action in place, which includes body work and releasing certain areas and whatnot, but also the strength component in terms of getting the body patterns moving in the right way again. So it's like this full comprehensive thing, but coming back to the body touch, tell me a little bit about the training that you've had and the body work, because I find this quite fascinating, too.
Llewellyn - First Guest (00:53:35):
So having the degree with anatomy is a huge foundation because you just understand, so your underneath the skin, you know what's underneath there. What on paper, if you like. And then when I was in Boulder, I did a course, myoskeletal alignment therapy, that's with Eric Dalton. He's one of their head people in this area. And he really opened up my eyes to how the skeletal system works with the muscles that if your skeleton was just on its own, you didn't have any muscles, it's a pile of bones on the floor. So those muscles pick it up. And then another key point, if you are under general anesthetic, you're completely flexible, so you can be folded any way you want, same as if you're jog paralytic, you're just completely foldable. And then when you wake up, it's all back stiff where it is, so you've got your tight left hamstring, and then you go on an anesthetic and they can fold you up and it's not tight anymore.
Llewellyn - First Guest (00:54:33):
And you'd wake up and suddenly it's tight. And then someone's telling me that your hamstring is the only problem linked in to it, and it's got nothing to do with the rest of your body and nothing to do with your brain. I'm a little confused with that so... [inaudible 00:54:48] For me. So to take in that study and linking that into humans and looking at different all the therapies and getting a full understanding of those and then learning enough to understand them to pull in. So for example, you could go to hypnotherapists and they could pretty much talk you into a whole new foldable, flexible person by taking you back through different areas of trauma in your life. So a lot of your trauma that you hold that goes into you, so that brings tension and injury with you. So being able to understand that, yeah,.
Lesley - Female Host (00:55:26):
That's fascinating. Cause that's a huge piece of obviously Simon's work in terms of the neurochemistry, right?
Simon - Male Host (00:55:33):
Well more on the role of human touch, right? And so... And these are all the intangibles that you have in training and even in sort of physical therapy focused training, there's really not that much attention paid to the role of human touch in terms of how that impacts your thinking and feeling. And the relationship between touch and mood is quite impressive. And we, one of the... Some of the studies that we often cite or tell athletes about the role of massage, most athletes are used to thinking of massage as sort of finger punchy, hurty, bite down on leather strap because they're... The role of massage for an athlete is often different, but soft therapeutic massages improve brain chemistry. There's a couple of studies show that dopamine and serotonin go up by about 30% after just like Swedish type of massages, soft touch massages.
Simon - Male Host (00:56:25):
And so having the role of, even just as you're palpating injuries, where someone might be standing back and looking at it and describing it and pointing versus physically manipulating, I think that's a big piece of that therapeutic process. But again, you may have found it intuitively by your training as well, but another people's personalities aren't like... And there are some athletes who just don't like to be physically touched, but for the majority of us, it feels nice. And that improves your ability to cope emotionally with injuries.
Lesley - Female Host (00:56:54):
Well, what's really interesting though, again, is working with someone like Llewellyn and having, I don't even, I like to call it body work because massage suggests just kind of generic stuff, but the way that you feel tissue and the way that you release, whether it's muscle or fascia, like all of that, or the trigger points or the sort of the noodle connection is very, very different than anything that I've experienced before. Yeah. And I think that's testament to the training that you've had, but when athletes, right, they're looking for people to work with, that's one of the hardest things, right? I've kind of gone through a lot of different people in my time and had a lot of different experiences. It's my job to be in the best shape possible, but for your every man, your every woman, finding the right people to work with is a real, real challenge.
Simon - Male Host (00:57:48):
It's a real challenge. So in terms of the endurance athletes, and maybe this is specific to the runners or triathletes, what are some of the most common injuries that you find yourself dealing with? Are they foot injuries? Are they overuse injuries among the... In the endurance community?
Llewellyn - First Guest (00:58:07):
And then can... I would say the most common stem from what we call, I call, central collapse. So you've got your center lines. If you look at your body as a front and a back, so front lines, that's all their show muscles in the front, so your chest, your neck, your jaw, all the way down. Main, main issue right down through the middle of your stomach muscles. So that's the big show piece, six pack. The one that on... Once that down the line into your quads, that center collapse is what catches you and protects you. So if you were trying to protect yourself, you'd hold yourself into here. If any danger or threat, any collapse, you jumped or something, you'd land more to there. So all those central collapse muscles, they lead into the injury. So yeah, whether it wants to end up into something like Achilles or pelvis or hip issues are quite common, it's usually that athlete just repeatedly landing and they start to get sore.
Llewellyn - First Guest (00:59:02):
And then those muscles pull them down even further when most endurance athletes need that freedom. So when they're running that big open, so as you hit the floor, you're hitting the floor and opening, not hitting the floor and protected. So whether an injury manifests itself in your feet or your knees, or your shoulder, your pelvis, I would say 80 to 90% is that [crosstalk 00:59:26]. A lot of it does come from humans, as in chest muscles, stomach muscles, all these stuff in that kind of primal way is what people want. If you look at a bloke, they want their pecs, they want this, this big sort of show. They're going to go to the gym. It's the ones you can see in the mirror. It's the mountain of female traffic to ask me things, "I want a six pack. I want to look like Jess Ennis. I want to have..."
Llewellyn - First Guest (00:59:51):
Great, but that's pretty much going to end you in a lot of hard work. So I would say most of the treatments I do do involve diaphragm massage, stomach muscle massage. So that's the main rectus massage activating the deep inner core muscles in a way they should be used, not activated in a hollow, rammy sammy, tight sort of way. So I would say, yeah, 90% of the time it's actually opening up the pecs. So people have sore necks or shoulders. And we've got to open, just create some space and some breathing and [inaudible 01:00:28] there.
Lesley - Female Host (01:00:29):
Hmm. And in terms of the strength work, it seems like a lot... If you're kind of in this constant sort of protective state, especially a lot of people sitting and stuff like that, that posterior chain is super neglected as well, and doesn't want to activate. And certainly I've done a lot of that stuff with you.
Llewellyn - First Guest (01:00:48):
Yeah. Yeah. A hundred percent that posterior chain is pretty much the most neglected. If you look the way we sit, where you ride bikes, it's always forward, it's always over. You know, if I want us to save the world of injury, I would just advise people to learn deadlift in school and every day do 10 dead lifts. And I swear, 90% of the problems will be gone because deadlift for me, that's free speed, that's easy, easy. If you're going [inaudible 01:01:14] go heavy, don't go light. If you go heavy, deadlift six times six reps. That's the only strength conditioning you ever did, you'd never, ever have a problem again. So deadlift is going to your posterior chain, which is going to take away all those injury problems, 90% of those injuries. It is going to produce all the growth hormone you need, all that testosterone, all those other funky things that you need, male or female.
Llewellyn - First Guest (01:01:37):
It's your growth, it's there. It's going to hold your head up, which aligns your eyes. It's going to open your diaphragm, which gives you a bigger VO2 max. It's going to sit your rib cage in the correct position, so the weight over your calves, over your feet is better. So it's going to put you on that forefoot, which everyone wants to run on the forefoot, because it looks better. I mean, the list is endless. So six times six reps when you deadlift maximum, two to three minutes rest and that two to three minutes rest, just chill out, go on your phone, do whatever you want. It's quite frowned upon these days to go on your phone in the gym, but actually you need to rest. [inaudible 01:02:12] athletes they go to the gym and [inaudible 01:02:14]. And if you can lift another six within two minutes of your previous six, it's not heavy enough and you need to crank that bar right up. So...
Lesley - Female Host (01:02:22):
So... And the dead lifts with just a regular bar or hex bar, or what do you recommend? Anything in particular?
Llewellyn - First Guest (01:02:29):
Well, whatever's not going to put too much strain on your back, but if you can't do it with a regular bar, then your goal should be to do it with the regular bar. That's kind of my thing. Your goal would be to do those six dead lifts without any pain or any problems. And that could be a posture assessment as well. So it can be a self posture assessment. If you go to that bar and you think, "Ooh, this hurts," then go see someone. Go get someone to sort it all out until you can do it, and when you can do it, you can go on that bar without warm-up, without any problems, then you have nothing you need to worry about and that can save you. That's yourself [inaudible 00:13:03].
Lesley - Female Host (01:03:04):
It's a great tool.
Simon - Male Host (01:03:05):
Yeah, that's a great tool.
Lesley - Female Host (01:03:06):
And so you, I mean, you do... Obviously you're based in Bristol in the UK, but you do a bunch of zoom calls with athletes all over the world, right? You actually take them through programs and what have you and assessments as well, right?
Llewellyn - First Guest (01:03:21):
Yeah, yeah, exactly. So with zoom, we can do online, phone, WhatsApp. I mean, I've got athletes in Cairo at the moment playing squash and we do the warm-up. I mean, the warm-up was on the TV, on Euro sport, and they were warming up, getting filmed with me in the gym doing it. So it was a lovely three [inaudible 01:03:41] loop, but I think it's really important for athletes to have that connection, so you can be anywhere. I work with [inaudible 01:03:50] athletes at the moment. She's always fun to see that. There's so many different ways, but obviously you can't have the hands on touch, but we can get as close to as we need to. Mostly it's reassurance.
Lesley - Female Host (01:04:05):
Well, I think for me as an athlete, it's that feeling like I have a team around me so that I can create the best version of myself. And it doesn't matter what level of athlete that you are, right? You want to be functioning effectively. So that one, you're efficient, you're more powerful that makes you faster. But also consistency and training is what's going to make you a better athlete. And most athletes can't be consistent because they get injured and they're not prepared to spend the time to really figure it out. So not only does this kind of work that you do, it makes you faster just by making you more powerful and efficient, but it prevents you from getting injured so that you can be consistent. Also, it gives you knowledge about what's going on in your body, so that you're connected, your mind, your body is connected when you're doing your activities, you understand what should be functioning and where, and that kind of connection automatically makes you faster and quicker. No doubt.
Llewellyn - First Guest (01:05:04):
Yeah, no, a hundred percent. And it's, for me, it's massive that connection that thing you said about me feeling when I massage you. I think that's the key and that's one of my key things when we do strength and conditioning is actually how does it feel? How does that weight feel? How does it feel in your hands? You know, heavy, cold, light, whatever it is. And being able to connect with that and connect with yourself. So you actually stopping and thinking about it. I mean, a great example, the other day I was working with a real top athlete and she real stodgy, really strong, but struggles with breaking down. So as soon as it starts to get tiring, her body drops, she drops and the whole posture drops, and then she starts to get angry and you go through waves of losing concentration and onto that.
Llewellyn - First Guest (01:05:53):
So, well, I've got a dart board in the gym. So I set a really dirty circuit up, cleaning press, loads of obstacles, basically a horrendous three-minute lap. And I gave her one dart and said, "Right, you do one lap, so the three minute circuit. And you got to throw a bullseye. If you miss the bullseye, you go back and start the lap again." And I thought she were going to tell me to do one, but no, she took it on because she's that... She's like you, right? It's told, it's done, it's done. So I gave her the dart, set off on the circuit.
Llewellyn - First Guest (01:06:26):
Hour and a half later, we were still there, but I'd have the camera out without her knowing, so just had the GoPro in the corner. She didn't know it. And she went through the whole cycle of everything that goes on during competition. So the self doubt, the can't do it, the swearing at yourself, the strength, the different posture, the lifting in a mess, the cleaning press in a mess, the circuit. Then going through, "No, no, come on, I can do this. I can really, I can sort this out. I can get there." The lifting much, much better to going on through. Eventually, hour and 45 minutes later, we got bullseye. Boom. Job done. So that's it. Strength and conditioning.
Simon - Male Host (01:07:07):
One dart, man, that's cold.
Llewellyn - First Guest (01:07:10):
Not having three, one. One. You only got one chance in sport. Only one chance. You got to hit that one chance, you don't get three.
Simon - Male Host (01:07:17):
Well, I love the fact that you can simulate as well, sort of that emotional roller coaster, mental roller coaster that you go on, self-loathing and anger. And you have to get back out there in the moment. That's a little hack. Although now that you've revealed that trick, so that may have ruined that exercise for you forever. If they listened, they listened to this podcast.
Lesley - Female Host (01:07:36):
Yeah. Now I'm going to know when I come see you, damn it. Oh man. Do we have any more? [crosstalk 01:07:42] That's right. Do we have any more questions for Llewellyn?
Simon - Male Host (01:07:43):
We've got lots more, but I think that his time's valuable. He's got to get back to work.
Lesley - Female Host (01:07:47):
Oh, [inaudible 01:07:47] awesome. Yeah. So hopefully we can get some more people through this podcast to come and see you. Especially me.
Simon - Male Host (01:07:55):
So our next guest is Carrie Jackson Cheadle. She's a mental performance consultant in the Bay area in Northern California. She's been in the field for many years and she's worked with athletes of all levels from recreation athletes, right up to top international professionals. She's the author of two books. The first one is "On Top of Your Game; Mental Skills to Maximize Your Athletic Performance." And more recently, the co-author of "Rebound; Train Your Mind to Bounce Back Stronger from Sports Injuries." And she has a podcast about injury called "The Injured Athletes Club." And she's been an expert, my go-to gal for injury related site questions. So I think you'll enjoy this too. And Carrie, welcome to the XTERRA podcast.
Carrie - Second Guest (01:08:42):
Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Simon - Male Host (01:08:43):
Now, well, listen, one of the first questions that I'd love to ask you, and this is one of your areas of specialty, which is so nice. I can no doubt as a sport psychology person with someone who not only as a fellow, one of us, but you focus as well on helping athletes cope with injuries. And so one of my questions that I have for you is that, do you think that there are, in your experience, you found that some athletes have... There are some characteristics or temperaments of some athletes that seem to sort of either predict who's likely to get injured or who copes better with injury, rehabilitation from their injuries?
Carrie - Second Guest (01:09:18):
Yeah, it's really interesting actually. So there's one personality construct that stands out above all the rest and it actually affects both. It affects both whether athletes have a higher predisposition for getting injured, as well as predicts a better success outcomes from injury. And so that has to do with the personality trait of hardiness. So hardiness is made up of three different personality traits. So it's commitment, control, and challenge. So those three things together create this personality construct of hardiness, and athletes that are higher in hardiness are more likely to... They're better at dealing with stress overall. So they're more likely to be resilient through the injury process. They're also more likely to experience trauma related growth, which means they're more likely to experience a challenge and grow from it, if you're higher in hardiness. And we also see that athletes are higher in hardiness are less likely to get injured, because we know through research that athletes that are experiencing higher life stress have an increased risk of injury.
Carrie - Second Guest (01:10:27):
So the better you are at dealing with stress, the less likely you are to get injured. Therefore, that's why we see athletes higher in hardiness also get injured less. So those three, the way that the three breakdown, commitment is, "Are you able to put one foot in front of the other in the face of a challenge? Can you persevere?" Control is, "Do you believe that you still have some influence over the aspects of your recovery or the things that are happening to you?" So you kind of have a good sense of what's in your control and out of your control and believe that there are still some things in your control. And then challenges, "Do you see the stressor in front of you as just another sort of normal part of life?" Like, "This happens to be the challenge that I'm dealing with right now," so instead of sort of over personalizing or catastrophizing, the stressor, it's, "Oh, the stress is part of life and what do I need to do about it?" So those are the three things that make up hardiness.
Simon - Male Host (01:11:21):
Lesley - Female Host (01:11:22):
How do you explain me?
Simon - Male Host (01:11:23):
I try not to explain you.
Lesley - Female Host (01:11:25):
I'm hardy, but I always get bloody injured cause I push too hard.
Simon - Male Host (01:11:28):
Well, you do, but you also [crosstalk 00:21: 29].
Carrie - Second Guest (01:11:30):
Right, so it's not always mental is what the answer is there.
Simon - Male Host (01:11:35):
But what about some of the... So when we think about stress, sort of how an athlete's ability to cope with stress generally, or just the amount of stress that they might be under, what sort of reasons why that might lead to either poor outcomes or even susceptibility, is it like they're not paying attention to things or do we have any idea about why that is the mechanism for why that might be?
Carrie - Second Guest (01:11:58):
Yeah, that's part of it so that... It's not still, with the research, we can't definitively say it's because of X, but we do have a greater understanding of what we think it probably is. And so one of the things is during recovery. So this is, you're already injured, and now we're talking about sort of recovery. Higher stress compromises your immune system, so it's going to have an impact over your ability to recover. But when we pull back a little bit and look at what then causes injury, that is part of it. We have a tendency under stress to lose our peripheral vision. And a lot of times we're internal, right? Our focus is inside. We're worried about... Thinking about our to-do list, thinking about the things on our plates and not then having your focus external, where maybe you are going to be able to see something that's coming at you or make a last minute decision that's going to prevent you from getting injured. So there's a couple of different things that we think lead to that.
Simon - Male Host (01:12:55):
Yeah, fascinating, so biology and a bit of psychology as well. That's interesting.
Lesley - Female Host (01:12:58):
What have you noticed during this last year, given sort of COVID and lockdown, no races, have you noticed any trends? Is there more injury, less injury? What are you seeing out there?
Carrie - Second Guest (01:13:11):
Yeah, there is some research that has come out recently that's looking at younger athletes that when their sports are starting back up, but they haven't been training. They're seeing some injuries that are happening because of that, because the athletes aren't training at the same level of intensity that they're usually training at. But they're coming back in and then they're like excited and ready to go and hitting it to the same intensity that they would before they stopped training. So not really recognizing that they need to kind of ramp their fitness back up. So we are seeing some of that. So I've seen, oh man, I've seen the gamut. It's been really fascinating to see how athletes are dealing with this time. I'm seeing athletes that are totally over training cause they're like, "Awesome. I don't have to work. Like I'm going to go, you know, what else can I do? I'm going to go train." And then I see some that are really struggling with their motivation and not getting the training in at all. So I've seen every iteration. And then specific challenges with athletes that are injured, not being able to get treatment in the same way at the beginning, but also seeing some of my athletes that are super grateful for things being postponed. Because you're like, "Awesome. I'm going to let my body recover. And I probably prevented an injury right there." And so it's really run the gamut of... I've seen every, every... People being really grateful for it and then people really struggling.
Simon - Male Host (01:14:32):
I didn't even think about that, actually, about the fact that the therapy or the therapeutic services, PT, and even massage haven't been as available. I didn't... I know that because Leslie hasn't had been able to have them, but as a contributor to potential injury... Oh, that's interesting.
Lesley - Female Host (01:14:46):
I think one of my biggest things with, certainly our athletes, people I talk to and whatnot is getting them motivated to do injury prevention work. Because most folks can't be bothered. And yet when it comes around, they are injured it's absolutely devastating...
PART 3 OF 4 ENDS [01:15:04]
Lesley - Female Host (01:15:03):
When it comes around, they are injured, it's absolutely devastating to them. And it's almost like you want them to imagine what that's going to feel like in order to try and motivate them to do things. What are your suggestions for that?
Carrie - Second Guest (01:15:13):
It's tough. It's such a great question because I will say, there's just some of my athletes that, they're not going to get it until they get it, right? They're not going to be bothered until they're bothered, and then that's when they realize, "Oh man, I really should have prevented this." Sometimes, you just don't get it until you experience it and realize. I have so many of my athletes that, it's not until they've become injured, that they learn more about their body and understand the stress-recovery balance. And then, they buy into it because they get it, and they feel it and they see the feedback from it. Sometimes they're just not going to get it.
Carrie - Second Guest (01:15:48):
But then other times, that's a big part of the conversation. And one of the big things I'll tell, especially my elite athletes, I'll tell them, "We know you can push through. There's no doubt that you can push through. For you, your mental toughness isn't pushing through, it's holding back." It's, "Can I make a different decision that's the best decision for my body when everything in me is screaming me to just do this training day?" When the best thing for you is probably not to do that training day. Your mental toughness isn't pushing through, it's making a different decision. And it's really, really hard. It's really hard for those athletes. But a lot of it's education around that stress-recovery balance and trusting that. Trusting that, it's just really hard to wrap your head around sometimes that, "Backing off might be the best thing for me to get better outcomes."
Simon - Male Host (01:16:38):
Right. And in your practice, athletes come to you, are they usually injured and saying, "Help, I'm not coping." Or are they doing it as a preventative measure? "Is there anything I can do to improve my chances of not getting injured?" What kind of people come to you? What kind of athletes are coming to you?
Carrie - Second Guest (01:16:57):
I run the gamut. With my injured athletes, it's mostly people that are injured and are struggling to come back. They have fears of reinjury, they don't trust their body. They're worried that they're not going to be the same athlete that they were before getting injured. Those are the ones that I get that I get the most. In the Injured Athletes Club, I have an Injured Athletes Club support group on Facebook. There, I get all of it. I get people that are looking to prevent injury, I would get people that were injured a long time ago, know how hard it was, and just want to be a part of that community. And then I get people that are right in the middle of it, but for my individual athletes, like my clients, I do, with some of the teams that I work with, I might be working with our staff. Yesterday, I worked with the New York Mets staff that work with the injured athletes, to give them information on both how to help their athletes through injury, the injury recovery process, as well as prevention.
Carrie - Second Guest (01:17:54):
But my individual athletes, they're the ones that are like, "I'm not dealing with this very well, and I need some help."
Simon - Male Host (01:18:00):
Yeah, yeah. That's so great you have a Facebook group for injured athletes. I mean, do they have to be your clients to do that? Or can any athletes... And so how do they sign up, or get part of that?
Carrie - Second Guest (01:18:12):
If you go to the website, injuredathletesclub.com, we have all kinds of resources there. And on there, you can connect to the Facebook group. And you just have to request, so it's a private group. I try to really protect... Because sometimes it's like, "Oh my gosh, there's my target market. I'm going to come in and I'm going to sell them all kinds of stuff," right?
Simon - Male Host (01:18:29):
Carrie - Second Guest (01:18:29):
So we are very protective about, there's a whole process of getting included into the group. But if you're an injured athlete and you're struggling, you will 100% be accepted into the group.
Simon - Male Host (01:18:39):
Carrie - Second Guest (01:18:39):
So you just have to click the link and ask to join.
Simon - Male Host (01:18:42):
And you have a podcast as well about all injury and athlete related?
Carrie - Second Guest (01:18:47):
Yes, yeah. That's also The Injured Athletes Club. In the podcast, we get the opportunity to interview different athletes from all different sports, all different levels, about their injury process, and the things that they struggled with, and the ways that they were able to bounce back. I think it's really powerful. And one of the things that athletes struggle with is feeling isolated when they're injured. And so to be able to hear other athletes stories, and be a part of the Facebook group, so they know, even if maybe none of your teammates, or there's no one around you that's injured, you're not alone. And just hearing those stories can be really, really powerful.
Simon - Male Host (01:19:24):
Yeah, that's really cathartic. And I know when you've been injured, you found that.
Lesley - Female Host (01:19:26):
Yeah. Very motivational, or very, just to see that other people are going through maybe some of the trauma that you are. Because I think, certainly when it comes to endurance sport, a lot of us use the sport as our therapy. So when it's gone, what do we replace that with?
Carrie - Second Guest (01:19:43):
Yeah, absolutely. My endurance athletes really struggle because it's not just what you do, it's who you are. And so for a lot of people, it's their stress outlet, it's their social outlet.
Simon - Male Host (01:19:55):
Carrie - Second Guest (01:19:56):
And so there's so many things that you feel like you're losing when you're not able to do your sport. So then to be able to be surrounded by other people that get it, and get how meaningful this is to you, your sport, and get how devastating it might be to not be able to do it, is just, man, the amount of emotional support they give each other in that group is really amazing.
Simon - Male Host (01:20:16):
And also for partners, right? And listen, I live with an injured athlete. I have lived with an injured athlete many times, and it's, all of your professional stuff sort of goes out the window and you're like, this is this person that you love and how can I help you? And it's the most frustrating thing, but also the most heartbreaking thing because you can see how much this means. You're worried about saying the wrong thing. And so is there any advice that you can give to, before we talk about advice for athletes, but partners or family members of athletes? Well, what shouldn't I say, maybe that might be the...
Carrie - Second Guest (01:20:47):
That's such a great question. I've had some partners read The Rebound, so that they have some language to use, and an understanding what their partner's going through. Especially if your partner is someone that maybe isn't an athlete, or isn't an endurance athlete, and just to a certain degree, they're not going to understand, maybe exactly what you're going through. And so they get the book to help wrap their heads around, "What is my partner going through?" But another great book is a book called There Is No Good Card for This. And the book is all about how to have hard conversations, because there are certain things that partners might be saying that are inadvertently stressful to their partner, or hurtful. And so asking, "How are you?" can be very overwhelming.
Carrie - Second Guest (01:21:36):
And so sometimes, just even changing that to, "Well, how are you doing today? How are you feeling about your recovery today?" Just making it something that's more specific, can feel less stressful. But just being able to be there as a source of support. And when we talk about this is actually, there's a whole chapter in the book about building your team, because getting support is such a huge part of the recovery process for athletes. There's definitely things that both the athlete can do to build that team, as well as things that they might need to communicate to their partners in order to help get the right support at the right time.
Lesley - Female Host (01:22:18):
That is so true.
Simon - Male Host (01:22:19):
Carrie - Second Guest (01:22:20):
That's one of the biggest stressors, yes.
Lesley - Female Host (01:22:20):
Yeah, I think as well, setting that team up early, right? Before you're injured, hopefully they can help you with injury prevention, but also just knowing you have this group of specialists, people that you trust in, or that understand you, that you can go to in your moments of need. Because I think a lot of athletes just don't have that sort of awareness of what's going on in their body, and they maybe need to outsource that to other people. Whether that's a coach, or a therapist, or a body worker that's feeling different things, because often, an athlete will get injured. You'll speak to them and they'll say, "Hey, yeah," and I'll say something like, "Did you notice your calf was tight leading up to this?" "Oh yeah, yeah. No, I've been running on it for three weeks and it's been really tight," and you're just like, "Oh my goodness."
Simon - Male Host (01:23:11):
Lesley - Female Host (01:23:11):
I guess it's just that sort of awareness piece, and outsourcing that is a handy thing.
Simon - Male Host (01:23:15):
But the teams important because it stops also all going to your wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend.
Carrie - Second Guest (01:23:22):
Simon - Male Host (01:23:22):
Because we need a break too, right?
Carrie - Second Guest (01:23:24):
Simon - Male Host (01:23:24):
From the [inaudible 01:23:27]. And I think that my tendency has often been, because it's on the forefront of Lesley's mind, a foot, a hip, or something. And after while, in my internal voice who's like, "Oh my God, will you shut up about your Achilles? I've heard it three times a day." And of course, "No, use your outside voice, don't say that." But I think for Lesley, having a team around her where she can also talk about it, it means actually that our conversations aren't always dominated by injury talk.
Lesley - Female Host (01:23:50):
Loaded by that. So that I can be Lesley the wife, not just Lesley the athlete. I mean, [crosstalk 01:23:56].
Simon - Male Host (01:23:55):
Back to your domesticated chores.
Lesley - Female Host (01:23:57):
That's right, that's right. Yeah, oi.
Carrie - Second Guest (01:23:59):
That comes up in the Facebook group a lot too, where sometimes people come to the group because they're like, "I know, I can feel that my spouse can't talk about this anymore. And I still need to talk about it." And so they get a place to be able to do that.
Simon - Male Host (01:24:11):
Carrie - Second Guest (01:24:11):
But it's so stressful because it's stressful on both parts, right? It's stressful for the spouse, or the partner that's like, "I really want to help you, and I'm clearly not helping you. And I don't know what to do." And then the athlete's like, "What the hell, man? I need some help, and you're not freaking helping me."
Simon - Male Host (01:24:26):
Carrie - Second Guest (01:24:26):
And it's just stressful on both parts. And I think one of the biggest myths with this idea of building your team is, sometimes we feel like, "Well, if you really cared about me, you would know the exact kind of support I need, in the exact moment that I need it." And so one of the big things I'm doing with my athletes is helping to empower them to both recognize what kind of support do I need, and then ask for that support. And hitting the four, there's four different categories of support. And also recognizing, we all have our own strengths in terms of how we provide support, and sometimes you might be looking for a certain kind of support from someone that's just not capable.
Simon - Male Host (01:25:02):
[crosstalk 01:25:02] What kinds of support? You talked about four kinds, or what kinds of things are they?
Carrie - Second Guest (01:25:06):
There's emotional support. Emotional support is having somebody to talk to, that's not judgemental, that can kind of hold the space, and you just get that emotional support. Informational support is, that's what you're getting maybe from your healthcare providers, or your coaches. "I need information about what to do to help with my rehabilitation, and get my body back to where I want it to be." Tangible support is the actual, physical, " I need somebody to pick up groceries for me, or drive me to the doctor." Actual, tangible support. And then motivational support, which are your cheerleaders, and people are like, "I know you can do this. I know it's hard, but I believe in you." And those are all really distinct types of support that we need. And a big stressor for athletes is when they aren't getting the support they need in the moment that they need it.
Carrie - Second Guest (01:25:54):
And sometimes, the athlete doesn't recognize that, or they're just reaching out to a different person. With my healthcare providers, one of the things I'm telling them is, obviously, this is an informational support kind of relationship. But sometimes when they walk into your office, what they need more than anything is emotional support. So before you start any conversations, "I know this is upsetting and I know you wish you'd prefer not to be injured, but we're going to figure this out together." And just the amount of relief instead of looking at your x-ray and going, "I don't know if you're ever going to run again," which is the more common thing that you hear.
Lesley - Female Host (01:26:29):
Yeah, totally. [crosstalk 01:26:30] Totally, I've run the gamut with what I've experienced.
Simon - Male Host (01:26:32):
I think we might need you, Carrie, to move into our house with us, as in the second bedroom, because you would be a fantastic [crosstalk 01:26:40].
Carrie - Second Guest (01:26:39):
I'll need a translator.
Simon - Male Host (01:26:40):
That's right, that's right.
Lesley - Female Host (01:26:42):
[inaudible 01:26:42] what I find really helpful actually for myself, because I've been through many, many injuries is, to play that role for someone else. Because you really learn, right? It's same as coaching, right? I learn through coaching what I should be doing with myself. And it's a way for me to give back because I've been through so much with injury. And I think that your team doesn't have to be specialists. You don't have to have your own sports psychologist, or this or that. It might just be some friends around you that can play each of those roles. Identifying those people, and that's where the social aspect of sport is so critical, right? You have those people around you that could provide that team for you, and you equally can provide that for them.
Simon - Male Host (01:27:26):
And perhaps not looking to one person to be everything.
Lesley - Female Host (01:27:28):
No, because they cannot be thinking.
Simon - Male Host (01:27:30):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. In terms of strategies, we've got athletes who are injured all over the globe, or worried about getting injured, are there things that you can recommend? I mean, this is a big question. And so it's kind of hard to distill this down, but are there some key skills that you would recommend to help bounce-back-ability, once we're injured that athletes can actually start doing, or learning about tomorrow?
Carrie - Second Guest (01:27:55):
Yeah. There's like 50 different mental training drills in the book, and they're all designed to help an athlete increase their feelings of hardiness. Everything in there, is in there for a really specific purpose. It is, partly what I would recommend, might depend on where someone's at in their recovery, but there definitely are some that come up again and again, with my athletes, that are, if you're going to focus on anything pure, the heavy hitters, here are the ones that are really, really critical. One is, the building your team. That's a really big one. One of the most fascinating pieces of research I read as I was writing the book was that perceived support had an even greater impact on being a buffer against stress, than actual received support.
Llewellyn - First Guest (01:28:47):
Carrie - Second Guest (01:28:48):
Just believing that if the support is there for you, if you ask for it, had a bigger impact than actually getting the support, which was really mind blowing for me. That goes back to your point, Lesley, about it doesn't make sense to maybe have that team in place ahead of time, because if you believe, "If anything happens, I'm going to be okay because I've got that support," oh my gosh, it's huge. So that, building your team, and understanding what kind of support you need, and being proactive about building that, is huge. We know that social support is a significant buffer against stress, and anything we can do to help manage stress during the recovery processes is really important for the athletes. That one's a big one. Another one that I'll talk about with my athletes is how to flip the script.
Carrie - Second Guest (01:29:35):
And what I mean by that is, a stressor that athletes have sometimes when they're injured is, people always asking them about their injury story, and having to always talk about your injury and your injury stories. Someone's like, "Oh my gosh, what happened?" Especially if you have a visible injury where it's very clear, you can see something on you, you're going to get asked by friends, by strangers, by fans, what happened. Or just people checking in on you and like, "How's it going? Are you better yet?" People are wanting to know, and they're trying to be helpful, but that can be a stressor, it can be a trigger. And so thinking about all my athletes, we'll write out a script. You get two different scripts, how do you want to answer to people that you just, you want to give them a quick answer. You don't need to elaborate, and then what's your script for someone that maybe you're closer to, that you can talk to about it.
Carrie - Second Guest (01:30:29):
But when they do that, we're always ending it with something that helps them feel resilient because a lot of times, the person that you're talking to, they're trying to be helpful, but sometimes their reactions aren't helpful, and we tend to be sort of emotional sponges. So if someone's like, "Oh my gosh. Oh wow. That sucks, what a bummer." And that's not the sort of energy space you want, there's ways that we can create that script so that the athlete feels good after the conversation, instead of feeling like, "Oh my God, another person's asking me." You're taking control of the narrative.
Simon - Male Host (01:31:05):
Are there any examples that you could give or what kinds of things can you use to flip that script?
Carrie - Second Guest (01:31:11):
Yeah, sometimes if it's somebody... Or you're in a difficult emotional space that you don't have the bandwidth to get into a conversation, you'd be like, "Oh yeah, it's been challenging. But every day I'm getting better and I'm looking forward to when I can be back out there." But it's something that you have in your mind that's already there, so you don't have to take [crosstalk 01:31:36].
Simon - Male Host (01:31:35):
Oh, that's great. That's really good advice.
Lesley - Female Host (01:31:38):
Yeah, I've totally done that, probably intuitively. It's almost like you just put on this other character. "Yeah, I'm working on it, I'm getting through it," and inside you're like, "Oh, okay." But it's almost like that mask that you just put on just to keep things at bay and not be too effected by everyone's comments.
Simon - Male Host (01:31:54):
Yeah. And what about when you're away from others? I mean, things that you can do on your own mental skills, or tactics that you can try?
Carrie - Second Guest (01:32:01):
A couple big ones, one, is actually going through the process of deliberately adjusting your goals. Sometimes what we'll do is, when we've been injured, we're still sort of emotionally and psychologically holding on to those original expectations, and goals we had. Actually being very deliberate and intentional about putting pen to paper and, "Okay, now here are my goals. And here are my recovery goals," because you have to shift how you're defining success. And if you don't do that process, you're still gauging everything based on that original expectation of... So instead of looking at like, "Oh wow, I can see my progress and this feels amazing," you're like, "yeah, but I'm not back out on the field" or, "I'm not back racing yet." Actually, deliberately, doing that for yourself, and I'll have my athletes create a training plan.
Carrie - Second Guest (01:32:50):
They're used to that format, so now we're plugging that into your rehab. What's your training plan? Let's see what... And sometimes I'll work with their their PT, or their medical team, to help create that as well. But the athlete's taking ownership over it, because that helps them be able to focus on something, they have something to commit to, and they're able to shift their perception of control. That's a really big one. And then, breathing is another one that I'll do. Especially, we have natural spikes where we see negative emotions that athletes will experience during the injury recovery process. So we want to have things to relax the body in order to relax the mind, and then also relax the mind to relax the body.
Carrie - Second Guest (01:33:34):
And so a big one is, breathing and making sure that we're using that to help regulate what's happening physiologically, when you're in a situation that you're potentially going to be triggering your stress response. You're doing a new rehab skill that maybe you're not quite.. And you feel like you don't know that you're ready for, or you just got cleared for a higher intensity training. So there's just these natural places where we tend to have negative emotions again, during that time. And so knowing how to both regulate physiologically as well as psychologically.
Lesley - Female Host (01:34:10):
Yeah, super helpful.
Simon - Male Host (01:34:11):
There's some fantastic strategies. And we talked to early on in our podcast about your book. And athletes, if you haven't got this, this is such a great tool. It's called Rebound, and it's filled with practical strategies and tips, about how to help recover from injury, written by Carrie Jackson Cheadle, and also Cindy Kuzma, her co-author. And it's really great because in our book, The Brave Athlete, we devote just the one chapter. And this is one of the questions that we get asked a lot about injury, and your book, I think is one of those few, if not the only book, that is written for athletes. It's not written [inaudible 01:34:46] for academic sports science students, it's practical, and so it's fantastic. I hope our listeners think about, whether you're injured or not, it's a good preplan as well for that. So Carrie, we can't thank you enough for jumping on with us and chatting all things injury.
Lesley - Female Host (01:35:02):
Carrie - Second Guest (01:35:02):
Yes, absolutely. My pleasure. Thanks for helping to take care of injured athletes.
Lesley - Female Host (01:35:07):
So I hope you enjoyed both of those interviews. There was so much great information there. And most importantly, there was great action items, both physically and mentally, to make sure that this coming season is going to be incredible for you.
Simon - Male Host (01:35:21):
And the goal of course is to be healthy and happy. We hoped you've enjoyed our little dive into the psychology and the physiology some injury.
Lesley - Female Host (01:35:33):
We hope you enjoyed today's podcast. And if you like what you heard, be sure to subscribe.
Simon - Male Host (01:35:37):
If you want to learn more head over to xterraplanet.com. There you can register for your next off-road race, learn more about this podcast, and find some amazing gear. If you have questions or comments, you can email us podcast [at] xterraplanet.com.
Lesley - Female Host (01:35:54):
And if you're interested in learning more about how to master your brain for endurance sports, we've written a book.
Simon - Male Host (01:35:58):
It's called The Brave Athlete, and is available everywhere they sell books.
Lesley - Female Host (01:36:02):
And we even have an audio book. In fact, we narrate it.
Simon - Male Host (01:36:06):
Yes, that's not exactly a great selling point.
PART 4 OF 4 ENDS [01:36:11]
ABOUT THE GUESTS
Carrie Jackson Cheadle
Carrie Jackson Cheadle is a Certified Mental Performance Consultant in Northern California and has been a professional in the field since 2002. Carrie has worked with athletes and performers of all ages and at every level, from recreational athletes to elite and professional athletes competing at national and international levels. She is author of the book On Top of Your Game: Mental Skills to Maximize Your Athletic Performance and co-author of Rebound: Train Your Mind to Bounce Back Stronger from Sports Injuries, as well as the co-host of the podcast The Injured Athletes Club. She has been interviewed as an expert resource for articles that have appeared in publications such as New York Times, Huffington Post, US News and World Report, Outside Magazine, Shape Magazine, Men’s Fitness, Women’s Health, Runner’s World, and Women’s Running Magazine.
Llewellyn Holmes is a professional XTERRA athlete, myoskeletal soft tissue specialist, and strength and conditioning coach. He began competing as an elite mountain bike athlete at age 19 before transitioning to triathlon where he has competed professionally for 12 years. Llewellyn holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sports Science and Anatomy from the University of Swansea and currently does strength and conditioning, and injury rehabilitation for Swansea Neath Ospreys professional rugby team, the Wales international hockey squad, GB Paralympic athletics, World Champion triathletes, as well as numerous elderly clients to help them stay mobile, active, and movement-happy. Llewellyn is owner/operator of Studio Base, a strength and conditioning facility in Bath, UK where he continues to train and help rehabilitate world class elite athletes and squads, including the British Olympic Synchronized Swimming team, the current male World Champion squash player, professional cyclists, and elite long-distance swimmers.
ABOUT THE PODCAST
Hosted by five-time off-road triathlon world champion Lesley Paterson and her husband Dr. Simon Marshall, the new XTERRA Podcast explores the stories and science behind the quest to Live More. The XTERRA Podcast will feature guests who live, work, and play off the beaten path, share first-person accounts of epic outdoor adventures, and provide valuable tips from industry leaders in the physical and mental health industries.
Find The XTERRA Podcast on major platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher, and iHeartRadio. You can always look here as well to use our embedded player to listen to every episode.
Learn more about the podcast here: xterraplanet.com/podcast
Lesley Paterson & Simon Marshall
Lesley Paterson is a five-time world champion triathlete, professional mountain biker, coach, motivational speaker, reluctant fitness model, and foul-mouthed Scotts lassie. Growing up in Scotland, Lesley was the only girl who played rugby on an all-boys team. When boobs appeared she was banned from playing with the boys so she started competing in running and triathlon. Lesley went on to become a national champion in cross country and an international triathlete.
Dr. Simon Marshall grew up in Africa and the UK. He spent his childhood playing rugby, soccer and tennis before finding competitive cycling. He started training and racing at age 12 and hasn't stopped. Simon has a bachelor’s degree in Sports Science, a master’s degree in Kinesiology, and a PhD in Sport and Exercise psychology. He is a former Professor of Sport and Exercise Psychology at San Diego State University and Professor of Behavioral Medicine at the University of California, San Diego.
Simon and Lesley own Braveheart Coaching – a San Diego based company that trains endurance athletes to be faster and happier. Together they wrote the best-selling book, The Brave Athlete - Calm the F*ck Down and Rise to the Occasion (VeloPress, 2017).