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What You Need to Know About High Performance and the Science of Success

 

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Dreams alone never took anyone anywhere. Dreams require massive action in order to become success stories.
I am counting down to my third Ironman Triathlon. With just a few hours left before the race, what matters most now is the work I have put in for the past year to prepare. There are no shortcuts to high performance. There is no cramming for this physical, mental and spiritual test.
Fitness is a science, not an art. Nutrition is a science, not an art. They can be precisely measured, calculated, adjusted and improved. Research, data and strategy can be applied to optimize training and maximize power, performance and results.
The most important measures of athletic performance can easily be tracked — things like VO2 max: the measure of the maximum volume of oxygen an athlete can use, or your lactic threshold: how hard your body can work before it starts producing lactic acid. You can measure your body’s limits and set goals to improve.
Measuring base units of production for the purpose of elevating performance is key not only in sports, but also in business. What gets measured gets managed. What gets reported, improves. Success, too, should be approached as a science — it can be studied and advanced.
Here are some strategies, cool bio-hacks and tech I have discovered that have helped me optimize my own performance and Ironman training:
Nutritional Ketosis — Timothy Noakes, M.D., professor in the Division of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine at the University of Cape Town, teaches athletes to train their bodies to burn fat as a primary fuel source, a physiological process known as ketosis. His teaching is gaining traction around the world. The biggest change I have made in my training regimen for my third ironman is how I refuel. This time around, I have altered my body to burn fat instead of carbs — based on research by Noakes and doctors Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney. Modeling the diet and training of Bevan McKinnon, I have increased my intake of coconut oil, fish oils, avocados and olives while reducing carb intake. This has allowed my body to become fat-adapted and access a source of fuel that is exponentially more available and sustainable than the common practice of carb-loading and sugar burning. An aerobic metabolic assessment can measure your breath to calculate how much fat you are burning versus how many carbohydrates in order to design an endurance performance plan that burns 50/50 fat and carbs during racing.  Ben Greenfield also touts nutritional ketosis for endurance racing since fat is a much cleaner fuel for the human body to burn and it burns longer, more efficiently and with less waste left over. Nutritional ketosis is the future of all endurance sports.
23andMe & DNAFit  — There has been a significant amount of research done that confirms the influence of genes on human physical performance and athletic ability. Through 23andMe, you can have your saliva tested to learn your genetic makeup. It gives incredible insights into your genetic ancestry as it relates to fitness, diet and sport. The DNAFit test goes one step further to tell you if your genetic makeup is better served by power workouts or endurance workouts. By understanding your genetic predispositions, you can optimize your workout and increase your performance gains exponentially. Based on my DNAFit assessment, I am 37.5 percent power, 62.5 percent endurance — and that has very real implications on how I train.
Tanita RD-901 Body Composition Monitor This is one of the most advanced tools to measure changes in your body composition — including important metrics like total body water, metabolic age, muscle mass and muscle quality. I love this thing and closely monitor my water intake and the affect it has on body fat and muscle mass.
Garmin Fenix3 HR Watch — This is the coolest and most versatile watch! At home, in the gym or at the office, I can monitor all my important metrics and activities — including triathlon, swimming, cycling, running, climbing, skiing, hiking, rowing and even golf. I can keep track of all my health stats, including heart rate throughout the day, VO2, LT and activity including sleep patterns. It syncs up with the Garmin app, which includes even more rich details to totally geek out on!
Wahoo Kickr & Peloton Indoor Bike Trainer  — After factoring in traffic and road conditions, I found I could get a significantly stronger workout cycling indoors as opposed to outdoors. Wahoo Kickr was one of the most amazing tools for indoor cycling — that was until my wife got the Peloton indoor bike. This is a game-changer. Peloton not only tracks your performance with advanced metrics like cadence, resistance and output for each ride; it also allows you to compete against yourself, set new PR’s, follow other riders, and send and check social media status updates and data from other riders. It allows you to push yourself by “competing” with other riders on Peloton. Having a social network of high performance athletes is a great support system. It keeps you sharp, accountable and striving for greater performance.
Cryotherapy  This is serious stuff. And it has the serious benefit of instantaneously removing most or all of the aches, pains and soreness that come from overdoing it with your training program. Crossfit, interval training or powerlifting can create lactic acid build up that needs to be worked through. If your tolerance for being sore is low, cryotherapy can accelerate recovery. During Ironman training, I do this once a week. Top athletes use cryotherapy to boost recovery, promote weight-loss and improve overall wellness. It has even been shown to boost collagen production to keep you looking healthy and youthful.
Hypoxico Altitude Training  “Exposure to reduced oxygen levels (altitude or hypoxia) is a challenge to the human body because oxygen is the primary source of energy for our cells. Under a state of hypoxia the body strives to produce required amounts of energy with less oxygen available. To do so, a protein called Hypoxia Inducible Factor (HIF-1) sets off a host of reactions geared toward improving the body’s ability to utilize oxygen.” If you ask my friend Matt Eckert (meckert@hypoxico.com) for “The Dave Special” he will set you up with a sweet discount.
This is the greatest time to be alive. It has never been easier to understand, track and improve human performance in sport, business and life. Achieving victory, it turns out, can be accomplished in precise, measured units of progress!

 


Reprinted by permission.

Image credit: CC by brett lohmeyer

About the author: Dave Carvajal

Dave Carvajal built HotJobs (650 employees, IPO & $1.2B market cap then sold to Yahoo!) as Co-founder & TheLadders (400 employees, $80M revs) where he focused on attracting, retaining and developing all employees. These days he’s asked by top VCs and CEOs of high-growth startups to build their Boards and leadership teams with the top 1% of A+ executive talent. He is an Ironman and lives in NJ with his wife where he is co-founder of twin boys and a pup named Clover.

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