Archive for May, 2011

6:00-7:00 – Reading todays news. It was big overnight with the death of Bin Laden. Love the approach of the Navy SEAL’s, and actually use some of their core principles for our athlete training, primarily organization and mindset. They are an incredible group. Broke out this book, and am going to read it again.

Keep this book above my desk at work. Seemed appropriate this morning. Good stuff.

7:00 – 7:30 – Handful of walnuts, some blackberries (the ones you eat), and some Macadamia nuts. 2 Bottles of Dasani water, one with Nuun electrolyte replacement tab. Feeling a bit dehydrated.
Walk into work with intermediate stop at Starbucks for grande red-eye.

8:00 -10:30 Mondays are debrief day. This is by far the busiest day of the week for me. The primary objective of Debrief Monday is to carefully analyze data from the weekend’s races, the good and most importantly the bad. You learn from the bad, so it’s not bad. This data includes, overhead high-definition video cameras, helmet monitored cameras, “eye in the sky” video and sometimes heart rate data. Data may also include more subjective observations from crew chiefs, drivers etc. My first primary job is getting the video into the system and this can take a while. If we had particular problems from the weekend, we analyze them quickly so they can get into performance meeting at 10 am, otherwise we get preliminary times from stops and a preliminary practice plan for week is developed. A more complete analysis of stops will then be performed. This includes timing of over 20 movement segments. (We time from time car stops to when jack drops as total time, but an example of a timed segment is time when car stops to when tire changer hits first lug nut, time from last lug hit on right side of car to first lug hit on left side) This is a long process and can take up to 2 days. This is critical data that will be used in identifying the multiple small gains that go into a sub 13.

My office on Debrief Monday. I have a great set-up.

We are at the point in the modern pit stop where times are gained by small changes. These may not just be related to the actual stop, but possibly in preparation and with components as simple as sleep and recovery. The motor skill required to hit 5 lug nuts in less than a second is right up there with hitting a 90 mph fastball!

I also put on my amateur meteorologist hat and look at the 7 day projected weather. We are a dry weather sport and planning practices around possible inclement weather is critical. We do not have an indoor facility at JGR, and moving practice times to beat the weather often necessary. I use the following apps to help me plan and predict.

I use all of these weather apps to help me with practice planning and at the race track.

10:30 -12:00 – Reports on injuries etc from our medical staff and plans of treatment. Matching film up with our race engineer’s reports and other things I can’t mention. Hey, I can’t give away our competitive edge.

12:00-1:00 – Working on some new training and recovery systems.

1:00-2:00 – Home for lunch – Some scrambled eggs with fresh spinach integrated, guacamole and some bacon and for desert blueberries in coconut milk.

2:00-3:00 – Worked on some administrative and personnel issues. I usually take this time to analyze scouting information on other athletes and review Nationwide series data. This is usually the time I find out if any teams have or may be going to release people.

Last year, many became aware of the “crew swaps” on the 29 and 48 during the Chase. Many people have expressed opinions on this philosophy and whether this is fair or acceptable. My opinion: Yes it is. It is the hardest part of what I do, but being on a pit crew is professional athletics and no different from a pro ball player. Professional athletics are high risk/reward and totally performance based. 400 peoples livelihoods are dependent on the performance of our race teams each week. Pulling someone or releasing someone is part of professional athletics and you hope it can be done without embarrassing someone, but in this intense media era, that’s hard to do.

With that said and on a positive note, I often hope to pick up someone for our teams via these unofficial “waiver” periods. Sometimes guys struggle because of a system or just plain bad chemistry on their teams. All coaches believe their system is the best. We have to. I love it when we can take a “released” athlete and bring him back to life on one of our teams.

3:30 -5:30 – Team film review, sometimes practice if we find something on film we need to work on, recovery protocols, visits with our athletic trainer if needed, strength and cardio workouts.

6:00 – Done early. Walked home.

7:00-11:00 – Caught up on DVR, made some notes, read some inspiring stuff.

Okay, some of you sent me some questions, so here goes:

When trying to lose weight & build muscle what do you think is the best approach? (i.e. 3 days weights/3 cardio or 4 weights/3 cardio)

Above is most common question I have been asked. Here are some points:

• Age. For example, most people start losing muscle tissue at varying rates in their late 30’s, so more strength training, as you get older is prudent. So, weight training and gaining muscle tissue – lift heavy 2 x per week at the most. High repetition is your enemy. 3 sets of 8-10 rep max, in other words, a weight you can lift 10 times to fatigue. You should have no more than 8 exercises that emphasize large muscle groups. You can’t spot reduce; so don’t waste your time on small muscle groups. There is little return for the time invested to strength train everyday. Doing upper and lower body days is not conducive to weight loss. You are making your body go “anaerobic” to many days of the week.

• Chronic cardio is counterproductive to weight loss. I said it, and I am a cardiovascular physiologist. I used to wonder why clients would go to spin class 6 days per week and not only not lose weight very quickly, but actually lower their resting metabolic weight. 2 interval cardio sessions per week, and those should be no longer than 30 minutes. One or 2 easy cardio day with your heart rate no higher than 60% max.

• Losing weight with exercise alone is very difficult. I recommend a low glycemic/slow glycemic type diet. No grains. Sorry.

• Ideal week: Day 1= hard strength train. Day 2 = Easy cardio Day 3 = Cardio Intervals Day 4 = Off or easy cardio Day 5 = Circuit (hard) strength. Day 6 = Easy cardio. Day 7 = Off or play – Long walk – explore

What is the best time to exercise?
It is best to exercise when you feel like you will be able to put in your best effort and are completely recovered from a previous hard session. I know that is vague, but by taking the approach of getting the greatest return with the least amount of effort (I know you did not ask that, but it’s I have been for 30 years), your training must be done precisely to get it to “absorb”. This may mean delaying a training session from morning to evening. There is no evidence that training is better morning, noon or night, but if you get up at 4 am to go to the gym on Monday after a hard weekend, you are much better off sleeping in. The training will produce a “micro over trained” state, and will not be effective.

Do you often find yourself hitting plateaus? How do you deal with them?
Yes, but most plateaus are from poor training plans and overtraining. Athletes reach plateaus almost always from doing too much vs. too little. When you are dealing with biology, plateaus will occur, but I find they can me minimized by proper training plans and periodization of both nutrition and exercise. I will completely change my training modalities (if using elliptical, I will go to steep grade walking on treadmill or use the rowing machine) if using free weights, I will shift to the TRX trainer. But, most often, I will take time off. That’s right, do less and pay attention to my recovery modalities. Plateau ends.

Hey coach, you have all these gadgets to help get you fit, I don’t have access to them. How can I possibly lose weight?
Rule of thumb: Equipment does not help you lose weight and get fit, you do. Period. I am a big believer in self-experimentation and quantification. I want to know if there are tools that can be used to speed the process. These tools simple provide data and information. Now, that said, most of what I have access to is less than $500. That is less than a yearly gym membership. In and upcoming blog, I am going to demonstrate and document all of the technology I am using and prioritize which I think can be useful on your journey.

The above answered every question I got! So. Above is workout plan I am going to follow. Each Monday, I will publish my schedule and show you how to fill in the blanks. What things can you do for hard cardio? What is hard strength training? Circuit training? iPhone video in hand, I will take you along. Stay tuned.


During most of the season, recovery from races is on Mondays, and when you see how Mondays go, you will see how that is difficult to do. Since we raced on Saturday night, despite getting home at 2 in the morning, Sunday is not a day of recreation for me, but a day of recovery and restoration. I believe that the person who recovers most effectively from periods of high intensity (hard days at work, heavy training sessions and periods of high stress whether predictable or otherwise), will lead more healthy, productive and energy charged lives. Recovery does not happen by accident. It must be planned for just as prudently as training. There are many techniques that will promote recovery, but most people do not allow for it. The “racer” mentality actually discourages it.

One of the primary benefits of performance enhancing drugs is to shorten recovery cycles and allow more high intensity training to be performed. Have you noticed that many athletes that were suspected PED users had their careers shortened? Our bodies can only take so much. PED’s are not just abused by athletes. I know some business people and some stay at home moms who take their children’s ADD medicine, some actually get their personal physicians to prescribe it for them. They love the “boost” and the energy they get from this acceptable “speed”. They “perform” better.  Ultimately, the body will fail. You can’t cheat recovery and restoration. Never.

Race days are extremely stressful, primarily mentally. The amount of focus and attention to multiple processes can take its toll. I covered 7 miles walking during race day. The heat of battle is taxing. My primary recovery modalities:

  • Hydration -pre, during and after
  • Sleep leading up to event and day after
  • Nutrition – proper pre-event and post
10:00 – 12:00 – Reading the Sunday news from iPad in bed
12:00 – 3:00 – caught up on DVR and napped
3:00 – 6:00 – Reviewed notes and unpacked. Starbucks red-eye.
6:00 – 7:00 – after reviewing some new cookbooks, headed to Trader Joes for some weekly groceries.
7:00 – 8:00 – Primary recovery meal – I always pay attention to nutrition on day after races – Lean meat, sautéed mixed vegetables, blue cheese slaw, guacamole, strawberries/blackberries on coconut milk.
8:00 – Made some notes and outlined tomorrows schedule.
9:00 – Midnight – Played some video games, read some magazines, tweeted.

Race days are long and busy. This is the day you get to compete and hopefully realize the benefits from all the deliberate practice and training. It’s not just the specific training over the last 4 days, but often your performance is related to preparation up to 2 years earlier. This preparation involves recruiting the right talent and making sure they mix with your current athletes. Are they coachable? By coachable, I mean, do they understand instruction and how to apply a problem solving approach to “fixing” things. Do they deal with slump properly? How do they recover from adversity? These are attributes that can be taught, good athletes often have this “hard-wired” into their circuitry. It can be taught and approved upon, but some seem to have it. This is the Athletic Mindset.

When I recruit athletes, I am not just looking for athletes with physical abilities, but with athletic mindsets. This mindset is more critical to long-term success than great physical abilities. Don’t get me wrong, physical athleticism is critical. A donkey is never going to win the Kentucky Derby.

The Athletic Mindset skills:

  • Knowing when to go hard and when to turn in back a notch. Going hard all the time is often detrimental. Working smart and not just harder.
  • Problem solving adversity and slumps – quickly. Then applying a clear plan to recover.
  • Taking complex tasks and making them simple and then applying
  • Effectively processing and dealing with adversity along with all of the mental static it can cause. Constant mental static is not conducive to skill development and successful outcomes.
  • Zone out and slow down. Great athletes see things in slow motion, but move quickly
  • Screw your negative critics. Hug your positive ones.
There are many more components of the athletic mindset. Did you know that the above can apply to your business, health and fitness/weight loss program? Absolutely they can. Slumps, adversity, complexity, mental static – they are not just unique to sport. Joe Gibbs was not a racer, but he applied many of his coaching skills to his racing business, and business ventures.
7:00 – 10:00 – Reading calming books and non-athletic type books (I try to develop a calm easy mindset on competition days. Dealt with some logistic issues related to our 30 car crew guys. – Met up with Boris and a good friend for some breakfast.
10:00 – 2:00 – Picked up some technology at the Apple Store to be used on some of our helmet cams. Nice lunch of salmon and spinach + broccoli.
2:00- 6:00 – Start working lots of checklists I use. These include checking out the pit-stalls, looking for anything that could hurt performance or possibly any competitive advantages. Below is the pit stall layout for Richmond. I study this during pre race and develop a plan for race – tracking our athletes and other teams I may be watching. I usually check with our guys for any injury issues, remind them of hydration and nutrition needs.

Pit Stall selection from Richmond with our cars highlighted with arrows. My map for the day

6:00 – 7:00 – I usually try to find a quiet place to review notes etc. I also take this time to read something motivational and calming. Often times this is something from a devotional book/or little motivational and calming stories that put things into perspective. I keep all of this on iPad.
7:00 – 10:30 – Race. I spend my time during race supporting my athletes, scouting athletes on other teams and writing tons of notes from observations.
10:30 – 11:00 – We won. The process pays off. I usually only briefly go to victory lane to congratulate my guys. Headed to hauler to get my backpack and headed to car. This is usually a long distance away and we walk out through the stands and with the fans. Last night I observed a bunch of fans heckling with horrible language and insults, a young guy with a Kyle Busch shirt on. I have never understood how a grown adult can fire off foul language in front of their children. We saw what overly zealous fans can do, but the horrible incident at the Dodgers game earlier this year. A group of fans nearly killed a San Francisco Giant supporter. Well, I had enough of it last night. I usually grab a handful of hats from victory lane and on way to parking lot target out kids to hand them out to. I had one more left, and in front of all of these hostile idiots – I awarded this poor young guy a victory lane hat. I was either going to get my ass beat or shut them off. It was the latter.