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Final Surge Podcast

In the Final Surge Podcast, we interview coaches, athletes authors, and endurance industry experts to help you train with a purpose.
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Jun 21, 2018

Welcome to episode 87 of the Final Surge podcast where today we welcome Dr. Justin Ross to the show. Justin specializes in sports performance and has a practice called Mind-Body Health in Denver Colorado. Dr. Ross combined his love for endurance sports with his love for psychology to put together a practice that helps his patients perform their best on race day. We talk about getting ready for the big race and why the mind game is so important to perform your best. Dr. Ross see's patients both in person and online. Feel free to connect to him about what you may be struggling with.

 

I know you got started later in life in endurance sports and not in high school like many of our guests, can you tell us how you got your start?

  • First marathon when 29
  • Got me hooked on running and triathlons

What are you doing now?

  • Raced a few 70.3 triathlons
  • Just raced 8th marathon which has been the focus of the last three years

You are a psychologist now a specializing in sports performance. Was there a moment, something specific that happened that made you decide I want to go in this direction?

  • In college thought it would be physical therapy or athletic training
  • Took psychology classes and got interested
  • Interested in the overlap of how mind and body relate

So walk me through how this works with you. Someone contacts you and says I need help, can you walk us through the whole process of how you get started with them?

  • Often it is not an issue but staying ahead of a problem
  • Regardless of ability level, they know it is going to hurt and how to deal with it better when it comes

What are the most common issues that you hear from endurance athletes about mental?

  • How to deal with the perceived effort
  • Learn how to deal with discomfort

Navy Seals talk about dealing with this a lot in their training. They say when you think you are done your body has 60% left to give still so how can you work on changing the perception of effort?

  • Endurance athletes train so much that you need to learn how to deal with them in your training cycle
  • How you deal with it while training is how you will deal with it while racing

What is the big difference between working on them on race day and in training?

  • Key in on things in training so you are ready to go there on race day
  • A difference could be the pressure that you put on yourself on race day

How often do you have someone come to you and say my 5k workouts are getting better and I am improving month over month but on race day I'm not improving?

  • It's almost always something going on mentally
  • Need to work to figure out what that psychological barrier is

How do you pinpoint what that might be?

  • Asking the right questions
  • Looking at training and races and discuss what is happening when

Are your patients in person or virtual?

  • Both, do webinars too
  • Denver and Boulder is a hotbed, but Internet opens it up to more

A college coach contacts you and says my team is doing great but year over year we cannot put it together on race day for our Championship race. What sort of general advice would you have for them?

  • If contacting me with just a couple weeks, it is too late. You need to work on this for months like training
  • Learn to bring this into the process of training every day

When you say put yourself into these situations are you talking about getting to the point of fatigue like you would be in a race and then putting yourself in certain situations, or what are you working on?

  • We cannot change what we are not aware of
  • The first week pay close attention to your thoughts while training
  • What do you tell yourself when things get challenging
  • Training logs are a great place to put these notes in

Inner Game of Tennis teaches that self-talk doesn't work, you need to just do the reps so many times that you just go there, do you teach self-talk?

  • Everyone does self-talk, tennis, golf and such are start and stop sports not always action like endurance sports so they are different
  • Endurance sports self-talk is critical when you are spending 3-4 hours on a course

This year's Boston was interesting because Desi said she wasn't even going to be finishing the race and told Flannagan that she was willing to help her in any way. Then an hour and a half later she is competing to win, what lessons can we take from that?

  • We perform better when we are surrounded by people
  • When we are there to help others it can change how we feel

What about goals, are goals part of what you do and if so how important are they?

  • Two things we are working on is the perception of effort and tolerating discomfort
  • Stronger your goal and more meaningful, the more likely you can call upon that to change your perception of effort

How do you work to set goals with clients?

  • Individually driven
  • What do you want to do, is it a certain time or about getting back to enjoyment?
  • Numbers are great, but we can live and die by them

We hear a lot about the placebo effect, and it seems to be a real thing, can you tell us how we think things are working and maybe they are not? Like KT tape or compression sleeves, we hear people who swear by them and others who show research that they are doing nothing. Can you talk about it?

  • Placebo is a sugar pill that cannot do anything, but you think it does
  • Cognitive Bias effect is when it could be helpful but the research is not there so if they believe it helps them
  • Research shows that these things can change performance by like 1%

On race day someone is going for heir BQ and maybe this is their last shot to get it, how can they use their mind to push through?

  • Anyone thinking about BQ'ing you need to work on your mind several months ahead of time
  • Be aware, keep a log of thinking
  • Cognitive appraisal - How are you paying attention to how you feel and what you are thinking
  • Thoughts are modifiable, if aware you can shift thinking
  • Be calm in your mind

We talk about doing this a lot during training, but what about meditation?

  • Meditation is fantastic at calming down the nervous system
  • A lot of benefits to help learn how to shift focus

Final Surge 5 questions in under a minute
Favorite endurance/running book? - Endure
Current trainers you are wearing? - Newton Distance Elite
Favorite race? - Light At End of Tunnel in Washington
Favorite recovery meal or recovery drink? - Coconut Water
Your favorite workout - Tempo Runs

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