How to increase an athlete's power output by 30% in just three months
Developing winning form and a winning attitude for the April 2017 World Masters Games Mountain Bike Championships and the June 2017 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships
Image: Gary celebrating his World Masters Games Gold Medal
Winning gold at the 2017 World Masters Games was great fun and the win against very tough competition was not unexpected. I'll tell you why...
Because I had the numbers to support the prediction of a win:
Nobody in New Zealand or Australia, over the age of 60, has beaten me in the last four years and I hold the 60+ best times for every race contested in both those countries. Of course, in these international age group races, you never know who is going to turn 60 on the day and who is going to turn up. I had something extra to support my confidence. Read on....
Have a look at the three screen shots below from my Strava pages. These are my estimated power sessions that were used to monitor the final months of preparing for winning the World Masters Games Mountain Bike Championships. The actual race was on 24th April. Start at the bottom (number 62) and read your way to the top.
What these figures mean to me
By repeating the exact power workout, as weeks turned into months, I was able to accurately monitor and guide the final stages of preparation with regards to deciding on the type of workout and also to determine my recovery requirements. It also served to show any direct gains from dietary manipulation, such as measures to assist buffering and quickly clearing lactate.
What you can see here is I have dramatically reduced the time it takes to complete each burst of action over the given distance with proportional gains in estimated power as measured in Watts.
From March 2017 to early April, the time to cover the distance reduced from one minute to around 42 seconds.
Watts increased from about 199 to more than 300. i'm not sure how accurate that actual wattage estimate is, but the percent change is accurate.
Of equal, if not greater importance is the fact that, by April, I could do 10 blistering repeats and not tire by even a second. At the beginning of the year, the drop-off in performance began after just two bursts. This is the confidence-booster.
Image: Gary well in the lead with just 200 meters to go to take the win
(Photo by Graham Singer)
Why these figures gave me confidence for winning the World Masters Games
They showed that I am still improving despite my age (63) - and considerably so. I have already been winning my age group races for the last four years. Few, if any highly conditioned athletes can improve from 60 onwards, the vast majority are either static, or in gradual decline. So, I assumed that, if anything, the margin between me and other 60 year olds should have improved in my favour, no matter who they may be and no matter how much they might have trained.
I felt I had as much stamina as anybody in my age group and for good reasons. Have look at this and you will understand why: http://www.garymoller.com/single-post/2017/04/10/An-Epic-164-Km-Mountain-Bike-Ride
My race weakness, despite being able to win, has always been lack of power which meant quite slow starts and also poor acceleration during a race. This was no longer the case, according to the figures above.
I knew I could now handle at least 10 withering, gut-wrenching sprints without any loss of performance, whereas I expected most of my competitors would be going cross-eyed by 4-5 of these!
How the race actually panned out
The course was a mix of long climbs up and down forestry roads and sections of non-technical winding downhill and uphill single track - about 50/50 road vs single track. As such, the race was going to favour the road cyclist with a good set of bike handling skills, more so than the specialist mountain biker. I was the specialist mountainbiker.
Further adding to the challenge was the fact that my race was in waves of 5 minutes with the 50 year olds starting first, the 55's 5 minutes later, then all the 60 and 25 year olds. This meant about 100 riders in front that I would somehow have to pass without mishap, if I was to gather the lead over the other 60 year olds and hold this to the finish.
As expected, it was all on at the start with a furious, gut wrenching sprint and tussle up the first section of road. The favourite six or so riders were quickly sorted out and the tactic of the day was soon obvious which was to be in front of me before we entered any single track. This continued for half the race - furious drag races up the roads, then an all out effort for someone to duck in front at the entrance to the single track.
I was quite comfortable with this happening, although the single track was proving rather frustratingly slow with being stuck behind other riders. I really wanted to bomb my way down those flowing downhill sections but couldn't. However, I was confident that my opponents would eventually tire and consequently fall back, or make mistakes. It was just a matter of time. You can tell how hard a person is working when they are next to you. They were fit, skilled and very determined, but I sensed they were working as hard as me, hopefully much harder.
By half way all but one rider had been shaken off and he so graciously let me through by way of an unintended close inspection of the dirt on one corner! That gave me five seconds and the lead on the single track which was all I needed and I rode off to a very pleasing win just over two minutes ahead of 2nd. Two minutes is a very long way on a bike, so I could not have been more pleased.
Everyone was incredibly gracious in defeat afterwards, which I appreciated enormously because it was a tough, aggressive, take no prisoners kind of race and I doubt if any of those lead riders were used to losing and they had prepared long and hard for this one event. There was never going to be more than one winner and I wasn't the only one who had every intention of being the first to cross that finish line!
Image: Gary crossing the line to take the win
What is my winning formula? What are your training secrets, Gary?
There is no winning formula and there are no great secrets. While there are some rules of thumb that can be applied to everyone, the key to success comes from careful tailoring of training and nutrition to the unique needs of you as a very special person, as well as having the right mental attitude.
Here are some great things you can do right away:
Train the Lydiard Way
Go and learn all about the training methods of coaching legend, the late Arthur Lydiard. Do a Lydiard Foundation coaching certification course and participate in regular refreshing and updating by the Foundation.
During his time, Lydiard, directly and indirectly, produced more Olympic Gold medal winners than any other coach in the history of the Olympic Games. While he was a running coach, few sports did not benefit from applying his systematic coaching methods. One of his favourites was horse racing!
When you come to think about it, riding a bike is basically running while sitting down.
Image: Lorraine presenting during a Lydiard Foundation Coaching Certification Course
I used to race 3,000m steeplechase on the track rather badly many years ago. The gun would go and I'd wave the rest of the runners goodbye with the my most desperate goal being not to come dead last! Such was the abundant talent during the 1970's. I think of short course mountain biking as being cycling's equivalent to track's steeplechase event. In the lead up to the World Masters Games, I trained the Lydiard way for the steeples, but on a bike. I applied the same Lydiard principles as for running and it worked brilliantly for the intense rough-and-tumble on a mountain bike.
You can see, from the Strava readouts above, how well I responded to this systematic training once I moved into the power training phase. If you are really serious about developing your fitness, or that of others, there is no better place to begin than the Lydiard Foundation.
It just so happens that my sister, Lorraine, is one of the founders of the Lydiard Foundation. She will look after you. Follow this link to learn more:
Image: Rod Dixon: all concentration and determination!
(Photo by Graham Singer)
Channel your heros
The heros I channeled for these races are multiple Olympians and running legends, Rod Dixon and my sister, Lorraine. Several years ago, when I first had the kernel of an idea of winning the age group world championships, I set out to answer the question: "How would Lorraine and Rod be preparing to win a world championship?"
Fortunately, my entire life has been surrounded by high-achievers like Rod and Lorraine, so answering this question was quite easy. What is not so easy is the implementation. Hey - if it was so easy, everyone would be Olympians!
I'm very proud of my two brothers and three sisters. They have all set the bar high for me to emulate.
Take my youngest sister, Delwyn, for example:
Yes I have plenty of experts in the family to turn to when trying to get to the root of the matter. This includes a brother and a sister who are respected engineers, and a brother and sister who are skilleed and experienced dental professionals. With a family name that sounds a lot like "molar", who better to turn to when identifying the root cause of a problem?
Video: Our family had a great time at the World Masters Games - Two gold medals and one silver
As you might gather, there's a rather high standard being expected of me. In the nicest of ways - or course!
Image: A young Lorraine Moller racing at the Edinburgh Commonwealth Games 1986
Rowing Home Expedition
It is almost a year now and I'm the nutrition adviser to Kiwi adventurer, Grant (Axe) Rawlinson, and his team. Grant is in the midst of using human power to travel from Singapore to his home in New Zealand. This involved rowing for three months from Singapore to Darwin (now completed), then Grant will ride a bike across Australia, then he will row, with a team mate, across the Tasman to arrive in New Zealand. I'm the expedition's nutrition adviser, as well as helping out here and there, where I can with any health and training issues - and even bike preparation.
Despite the profuse fungal infections and the constant loss of electrolytes from 24/7 sweating, both looked in better shape than before they left. Whatever we had done, it seemed to be working.
Image: Grant and Charlie rowing all the way from Singapore to Australia
Rowing Home Expedition website: https://axeoneverest.com/
Please support this amazing challenge by subscribing to Grant's newsletter and Facebook updates.
Attention to detail and meticulous planning
Please take a few minutes to watch this video below and then the rest in the series when you have time. What you will learn from these videos is the success of this awesome expedition is going to be assured not just by sheer human effort and determination, but by meticulous planning and attention to detail. Thanks for the constant reminders about this, Grant. You may not realise it, but you have been press-ganged into my support team.
Grant's extreme, life-threatening exploits are being used by me as inspiration and motivation to get outside and do the hard training, including doing some all-day 160+ Km mountain bike rides. If Grant has been rowing 4hrs on, 4hrs off 24hrs a day for three months, how can I be complaining about my piddly little rides?
He is also a constant reminder of the importance of meticulous planning and preparation, as well as teamwork.
Here is a summary of what I have learned from observing life's high achievers such as Delwyn, Lorraine, Allison Roe, Rod Dixon, Axe and others:
These seasoned champions plan at least four years ahead of time, with big goals, such as a satellite launch, the Olympics or New York Marathon, always on the horizon.
As much as possible, nothing is left to chance, so there is meticulous planning down to the tiniest of details on a day-to-day basis. 1,001 things are mentally and physically listed and ticked off, one by one, such that they are as much the masters of their own destiny as can be.
Setbacks, such as illness, injury, equipment failure, loss of form, and being beaten by others, are treated as learning experiences, and not failures and never used as excuses for giving up.
Self-doubt does exist, however there is always underlying a steadfast confidence in oneself. Confidence comes in two forms: a Fool's Confidence that comes from hype and bravado and then there is the confidence of the winners that comes from doing the work and having the numbers in their favour!
As much as possible, they eliminate distractions that may drain physical and emotional energies and waste precious training time and rest. This includes ridding negative people from their lives, so that there is an undying laser-like focus on one's short and long term goals.
Although they may be "lone" athletes, they are still team players. They understand the importance of having about them a team that includes their families, the best experts and lavish servings of positivity. Grant has most recently reminded me of the critical importance of the team around you.
Image: Allison Roe. I'm so proud to be in such great company - and with matching medals
Get onto a programme of functional nutrition balancing
Yes, this how I help people along their way to good health and great performance. When done right, these programmes are incredibly powerful, especially as one gets older (past about 28 years!).
Nutrition is so important for every one, beginning before birth and continuing throughout life's stages. Where it really comes into great importance is as we grow older. As the years pass, our biochemistry gradually falls into a state of disrepair and chaos. This is also known as 'getting old'. As this metabolic chaos progresses we become increasingly fragile and ageing-related disease take progressive control. Eventually the chaos and dysfunction is so great that we die. Here's a sad fact:
We all die - even the most famous people in history died!
Stress, poor nutrition choices, injuries, infections, medications, and toxic exposures have a huge influence on this inevitable rate of decline.
The challenge here is to determine:
What and how much of what we think of as ageing is really fully out of our control and for which nothing can be done?
How much of what we regard as getting old is actually mostly within our control and can be influenced by nutrition and lifestyle interventions?
Even where something is inevitable and the uncontrollable, what can we do to slow or even halt this decline?
My answer to these questions is that there are many things we can do to slow, halt and even reverse most of what we consider to be getting old, including most supposedly incurable age-related diseases. What has really blown me away in recent years are the breath-taking advances in nutrition science, including sophisticated testing, such as the Interclinical Laboratories Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis which I have opted to specialise in. I attend 3-4 natural health industry training courses each year and it never ceases to blow my mind the rate of discovery - it is exponential!
By the way, what does disappoint me greatly, by the way, is out of the hundred or so Practitioners that may be attending, you could count the number of doctors, mainstream nutritionists and sports exercise physiologists on just one hand. The consequences, despite speaking the same language, is there exists a virtual parallel universe in health - one being conventional, drugs-wedded medicine and the other being natural health. I've well and truly moved into the wonderful, vibrant, vital and exciting universe of natural health.
I reckon I have cracked many of the challenges surrounding healthy ageing and am doing so for hundreds of people without a single drug in sight! As an aside, the idea of "anti-ageing" is dumb and misleading. Healthy ageing is a more positive and realistic concept.
The key to healthy ageing, and the physical performance that comes with it, is using the best we know from science and the human experience for individualised nutritional balancing.
It gets exciting when we acknowledge that our bodies are genetically programmed to have an undying desire to move towards a state of good health. My job is to figure out how to supply what your body needs, in the right forms and proportions, in order for it to get on with the job. 'Body heal thyself'.
A great and enduring athlete is, first and foremost,
a very healthy person
There is no joy in being tired. There is no joy in being ill. If we do things right, we can still have a ball of a time while getting older!
Here's some thoughts:
Conventional Western medicine is very masculine in its approach to ill health as well as ageing-related ailments. Like the Nordic God, Thor, it attacks a health problem by smashing it with a huge iron hammer. Not good!
Functional Nutrition, on the other hand, is feminine in approach. It is nurturing. It is Mother Nature at her best. We care. We are gentle. We are patient. We let the patient do the healing.
For example, a Western doctor may give an ailing patient as much as 50,000 iu of synthetic vitamin D as a single horrific dose each month and nothing else; whereas a caring natural health practitioner might prescribe just 1-2,000 iu of natural vitamin D each day along with it's nutritional co-factors.
You can't beat a person into good health!
What I'm saying, and demonstrating personally by way of these sports competitions, has huge implications for the older athlete and every person who simply wants to live a long, active, enjoyable and productive life.
Here is the link to learn more:
Learn to talk to your inner genius
Let me tell you what Lorraine did for me the night before the race.
Using a technique that included a tuning fork, and reminiscent of the art of subconscious suggestion, or hypnosis, Lorraine took me through a process of getting in touch with and acknowledging my "inner genius".
At first, I thought this was going to be a bit whacky but, as I got into it, I realised that what she was doing for me was incredibly powerful and that this really was the icing on the cake for the years of preparation that had gone into getting to this moment.
What Lorraine does establishes communication with the part of your conscious-subconscious that knows what to do to be in control. I realised that really performing well is 'getting out of your own way' and just doing what you have trained for. We are so conditioned to second-guessing ourselves and setting ourselves up with a bunch of excuses, when all the while we know exactly how to perform impeccably. Why? because the monkey mind gets in the way.
All she does is bring it to the fore in something that is akin to hypnosis but it is more of just getting an agreement between the subconscious and the conscious about what is going to happen. Then the performance happens, as it should, without risk of self-sabotage.
Yes! I realised, while in the midst of this session with Lorraine, that I had done everything and done them right. I fully acknowledged this to myself, and, with the greatest of clarity, gave myself full permission to win. I deserved to be the favourite as I placed my wheel on the Start Line, I deserved to win and it was mine for the taking - and certainly not something to give away through timidity and self-doubt!
It worked! You can do the same.
really performing well is 'getting out of your own way'
Learn to recognise and deal with the "Post-Olympics Blues"
Whether an athlete wins or loses, there is an almost inevitable post-competition period of feeling absolutely deflated, physically and emotionally.
Failure to be prepared beforehand and failure to recognise the early signs and symptoms of the post-olympics blues can result in disaster. The consequences can be things like angry alcohol-fuelled outbursts of bad and destructive behaviours, athlete/coach bust-ups, premature retirement and even suicide.
Extreme physical and emotionally driven efforts will result in extreme fatigue, combined with degrees of adrenal shut-down, popularly referred to as "adrenal fatigue". The athlete builds and builds to their ultimate peak, at which time everything is laid on the table in one supreme effort. It is only after this is over that the signal goes from the brain to the body (glands, muscles, heart etc), saying:
"Hey, you can stop furiously shovelling coal into the boilers!"
or if slaves in a Roman war galleon:
"Cease ramming speed!"
Your metabolic workers don't just stop shovelling, or rowing, they may collapse, drop-dead exhausted.
Post-Olympic Blues set in.
Coping with Post-Olympic Blues is best dealt with by a combination of:
Ongoing adrenal support.
Having a period of physical and mental rest post "peak effort".
Having pretty firm prior plans for further challenges, rather than vague ideas about what is next and, worst of all - a blank sheet of paper!
Going back to training basics with a further, gradual build-up and not trying to plunge straight back into attempting another peak performance.
Ensuring you have supportive people around you.
Ensure any exercise is fun, exhilarating and not exhausting until you are ready to put head down - tail up once again.
Go do something completely different for a short while, make sure you laugh every day. Eat healthy. Then come back fresh.
After the World Masters Games, I felt unusually tired and mentally unmotivated. This was despite the win and despite knowing that it is less than a couple of months to go before the UCI championships.
I recognised this, including the time restrictions for a further build to another peak. Rather than fight body and mind, I went with the flow for a few weeks, until, one random day, I felt my mojo return. Bring on the training and bring on the next world champs!
Some advice for those wishing to improve health and/or performance:
There are no easy routes. Those who succeed are the people who take good instruction without hesitation. They are prepared to pay good money for good service. They understand that good things do not come easy. They know to stick to the plan for however long it takes, usually years - never weeks and months. And they understand that setbacks are inevitable during this long and challenging journey, but these setbacks are never used as an excuse to give up.
By contrast, people who fail are those who dabble like binge exercisers, yo-yo dieters, or people in business who are always looking for their BIG BREAK. These do not work.
I have all the time in the world for those people who really apply themselves with an uncompromising commitment to do the best with what they've got. They are the winners, whether their goal is to enjoy good health and longevity, or whether it is to win an Olympic Gold.
Image: It took Lorraine more than 25 years of the most extreme training and racing before winning her Olympic Bronze.
Can I win the UCI Mountain Bike Masters World Championships, 20th June 2017?
I don't know, but that is the intention. There are so many things that can work against a win, such as not having the home advantage in a part of the world where the locals are cycling fanatics. So many things could go wrong, some as simple as suffering a flat tyre during the race, or sliding out. I know that I can beat any 60+ age MTB cyclist from this part of the world, but there will be many others that I have yet to come up against who will be competing at the UCi World Championships in Andorra. I am also going to be at altitude and I have never raced high before.
In my favour is the knowledge that I have trained exceptionally well. I'm used to the pressures of competition, I'm used to winning and I'll be difficult to intimidate. I am confident that my knowledge of physical conditioning and functional nutrition, as these apply to older athletes, means that I will be in the best condition I can be on the day of competition.
If I am beaten at Andorra, then I will be the first to congratulate that person. He will be fully deserving of the win. My intention is for that not to happen - of course!