MFSM #3 was produced on location in the suburbs of Athens, Georgia on April 28th during USA CRITS' 2014 Speed Week. Because MFSM #3 is about mid-season management of a Human Athlete's Mind, Body and Soul, Manual for Speed chose to feature locations (an abandoned/empty parking lot, a C- mall and an average pool), and activities that were free or practically free, ubiquitous and widely available and/or accessible throughout the United States of America.
STANDING BOW POSE (Dandayamana-Dhanurasana): Standing Bow moves blood from one side of the body to the other, then back again. In the pose the HA-yogi reaches forward while simultaneously kicking back, the force in opposite directions creates and promotes balance. This opposing force concept develops patience, determination and concentration.
Standing Bow increases the size and elasticity of the rib cage (helping with breath), firms the abdominal wall and strengthens the upper thighs. It also improves flexibility and strength in the lower spine in the opposite direction required by cyclists when cycling, thus resetting the body to a neutral position after rides.—Becca* "The Feed" Schepps
ONE LEGGED WHEEL POSE (Eka Pada Urdhva Dhanurasana): This pose is known as a mood enhancer and can help treat symptoms of depression. OLWP tones the digestive and respiratory systems, helping to release toxins out of the body. Doing this pose frequently can help aid the function of the thyroid, pituitary and reproductive system (which for some Human Athletes, can be stunted when exercising at intense levels). Muscularly speaking, OLWP, increases flexibility in the spine, hip flexors, wrists, elbows, biceps, triceps, legs, glutes, and shoulders. It also improves the physical and mental stamina required during racing, especially when OLWP is held for extended periods of time. It also helps prevent osteoporosis, which can be developed by cyclists who do not do impact training.—Becca* "The Feed" Schepps
WHEEL POSE (Urdhva Dhanurasana): While similar to OLWP, in WP both legs are down, elbows are brought to the ground, and hands are brought to the prayer position. This variation opens up the chest and rib cage increasing lung capacity.—Becca* "The Feed" Schepps
UPWARD FACING DOG (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana): This is a foundation pose, and does a lot to counterbalance many of the imbalances and injustices cycling imposes a Human Athlete's body. It improves posture, strengthens the spine, arms and wrists. It stretches the chest, lungs, shoulders and abdomen. Firms the buttocks. Stimulates abdominal organs. Helps relieve mild depression, fatigue and sciatica, and can be therapeutic for asthma.—Becca* "The Feed" Schepps
SUPPORTED HEADSTAND (Eka Pada Shirshasana): This inversion is great for reversing the effects of gravity (and cycling) on the lungs, diaphragm and skin. SH stimulates the pituitary and pineal glands, improves digestion and builds strength in the shoulders, neck and core. Focussing into the pose can calm the mind, reduce stress, alleviate mild depression, and relieve symptoms of asthma, insomnia and sinusitis.—Becca* "The Feed" Schepps
UPWARD FACING TWO-FOOT STAFF POSE (Urdhva Dhanurasana): This is another variation of Wheel Pose, however UFTFSP does more to stretch the entire front of the body including the shoulders, which can be tucked in the opposite direction for extended amount of times when cycling. UFTFSP also opens the chest.—Becca* "The Feed" Schepps
SEATED ANGLE POSE IN HEADSTAND (Upavishtha Konasana Shirshasana): SAPIH is an inversion of Seated Wide Leg Stretch Pose. SAPIH does a lot of the same stretching as the Seated Angle Pose, but has the added benefits of increasing focus, decreasing stress and improving mental agility.—Becca* "The Feed" Schepps
SEATED ANGLE POSE (Upavistha Konasana): SAP stretches the hamstrings and knees which are chronically overused in cycling. Placing ones hands to heart (prayer pose) while in SAP is used as a reminder that your practice is a form of prayer and/or an offering to your true self. It adds mindfulness to the body, heart and mind.—Becca* "The Feed" Schepps
ACRO YOGA PARTNER FLYING: Partner yoga can help develop deeper levels of trust between teammates. PY also helps nourish a synergistic concentration between practitioners, while incorporating elements of massage and stress relief.—Becca* "The Feed" Schepps
Contemplation:Contemplation means "to admire something and think about it." The word contemplation comes from the Latin word contemplation. Its root is also that of the Latin word templum, a piece of ground consecrated for the taking of auspices, or a building for worship. In a religious sense, contemplation is usually a type of prayer or meditation. Because people use “contemplation” to describe especially profound qualities of prayer, we often associate it with silence and stillness—perhaps even withdrawal from the world. Classically, however, it means immediate open presence in the world, directly perceiving and lovingly responding to things as they really are. Perhaps the simplest definition is “presence to what is.”
"What we plant in the soil of contemplation, we shall reap in the harvest of action."—Meister Eckhart
Hydration (Electrolytes): There are 3 main types of electrolytes: Sodium, Chloride, Potassium and Magnesium.
Dehydration is not just about the loss of body water, it’s also about loss of electrolytes. Electrolytes are crucial for neuro-electrical stimulation of muscles contraction, one of the most important physiological processes during exercise. Simply put, electrolytes make muscles contract. Sodium is the most important, and most necessary for muscle contraction. A decrease in electrolytes due to sweat, decreases the capacity of the muscles to contract. Muscle cramping is a common sign of a drastic decrease in electrolytes.
Average sodium loss per liter of sweat = 900mg. In a race the sweat rate is over 1L per hour. This loss affects performance drastically.—Becca* "The Feed" Schepps
Reflection: Manual for Speed says: By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest. Also, it has come to our attention, and this is just based on anecdotal evidence, that the real Human Athlete smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection.
"I do still get shocked every once in a while when I catch my reflection when I'm walking past a glass building, but it's in my mind about getting older and finding out what I'm going to look like as it unfolds - or as it folds, depending on where the marks and scars land."—Dave Matthews
Muscle Roller: A common misperception amongst athletes is that soreness is lactic acid building up in the muscles, therefore they must stretching, massage and roll out the lactic acid in the muscles this is not true. Lactic acid is actually quickly cleared from muscle during exercise, and does not contribute to soreness or muscle damage. The burning feeling in muscles during high-intensity exercise is actually a by-product that's created when energy producing pathways that use oxygen catch up to the faster energy pathways that do not (aerobic to anaerobic). Lactic acid, or lactate is metabolized and consumed (cleared) by muscles and organs (including the heart and brain) as a fuel source.
When athletes use contraptions to roll out their muscles they are converting non-compliant muscle to compliant muscles by implementing a deep stripping massage. By rolling the stick over the trigger points in their legs they are preparing muscles for activity, accelerating muscle recovery and removing the barriers for peak physical performance. It is recommended to roll the stick, with pressure over sore muscles and their trigger points 20 times.—Becca* "The Feed" Schepps
Nature: Human Athletes crave a connection with nature. From gardening and horticulture to taking a stroll/criterium through the park or hiking through the mountains, HAs have found solace in nature for centuries. But with a rapidly deteriorating environment, shortage of open spaces and fear of “stranger-danger” during outdoor playtime, American life is punctuated by nature deprivation and a disconnect with the world around us.
Generations of brilliant minds, naturalists and authors have documented the many benefits of spending time in nature. Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), an American author, naturalist, and philosopher best known for his book Walden, celebrated the therapeutic effects of nature by saying, “I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.” Nature has played an integral role in the quest for happiness and personal fulfillment of many other historical figures as well, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Muir and Charles Darwin. Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959), acclaimed architect and philosopher, advised, “Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.”
There is a strong body of research confirming that direct contact with nature increases mental health and psychological and spiritual development. Benefits include stress reduction, a sense of coherence and belonging, improved self-confidence and self-discipline, and a broader sense of community.
I. Stress Reduction:
More than 100 research studies have shown that outdoor recreation reduces stress. In a study of individuals exposed to stressful videos of accidents, those who watched a subsequent nature video experienced faster recovery than those who watched a video with other content. Another study established that a view of nature, even through a window, speeds recovery from surgery, improves work performance, and increases job satisfaction. By observing the ever-changing environments in nature, individuals cultivate a positive attitude, renewed attention, mindfulness, and sensory awareness. In the words of renowned naturalist and essayist John Burroughs (1837-1921), “I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.”
II. Meaning and Purpose:
Being in nature also bestows a sense of connectedness, meaning, and purpose. There is a sense of chaotic order in the way nature works; the plants and animals are interconnected in a series of complex relationships. Everything coexists in nature without the necessity of outside intervention. It is a system that has existed successfully since the beginning of time, which provides a sense of structure, coherence, and reliability for those wise enough to use nature as a model for life. Realizing that human beings are an essential component of this larger structure can supply a sense of purpose and belonging.
For many, respect and enjoyment of nature also leads to a sense of spirituality and an appreciation for powers larger than oneself. The wilderness teaches that each individual is unique but also part of the larger whole. In a world bogged down by social pressures, standards of conduct, and the demands of others, nature gives people a chance to appreciate a grander sense that the world is alive, fascinating and meaningful. This universal appeal crosses all cultures and time periods. “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better,” advised legendary physicist Albert Einstein (1879-1955) .
III. Heightened Awareness and Physical Activity:
People understand and process environmental information through mapping, exploring, and interpreting the landscapes, obstacles, and surroundings. This type of physical activity reduces depression and anxiety, reduces the risk of disease, and improves psychological well-being. In fact, research suggests outdoor exercise has even more beneficial effect than indoor exercise.
Inner Balance: Basic average or street or "pedestrian" balance is about the even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady, but balance, like the real deal-type balance, is much broader and profound.
"What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter - a soothing, calming influence on the mind, rather like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue."—Henri Matisse
More Yoga!: Do more yoga, woooooo!
Hamstrings: The nature of cycling is that it's not natural. It requires Human Athletes to sit in a fixed position, bent over handlebars, pedaling in a circle, with legs 35cm apart for hours. Cycling does not make you flexible. In fact, a lot of cycling injuries come from doing something besides cycling, like carrying groceries. This is why restoring flexibility is important. Hamstrings play a large role in cycling. They are one of the largest muscles in the body, and you want to use your bigger muscles the most, since they will tire last. A stretched hamstring will let the pelvis tilt on the saddle, allowing a more aero position. A well-stretched hamstring also promotes the use of your glutes, the body’s strongest muscle.—Becca* "The Feed" Schepps
Partnered Hamstrings: To measure your hamstring flexibility lie flat and have someone raise one leg until your hamstring feels tight and you can no longer hold your leg straight. Measure the angle: 55 degrees or less is poor flexibility.—Becca* "The Feed" Schepps
The Drift: The Drift (also known as Drifting or Bridged) is a process that two Jaeger pilots (criterium racers) undergo prior to synchronizing with the Jaeger (a crit race) itself.
The process of Drifting is a type of Mind Meld that requires pilots to share memories, instinct and emotions. Drifting allows them to act as one and control the very movement of the Jaeger (a crit race) itself, one pilot controlling the "right hemisphere", the other the "left hemisphere".
During the Drift, pilots will lapse into silence and attempt to keep their mind clear of all thoughts. Random Access Brain Impulse Triggers (or R.A.B.I.T.) is an occurrence wherein one of the pilots latches onto a memory. Focusing on a single memory is discouraged while piloting a Jaeger (crit race). The emotions from the memory typically translate into actions for the Jaeger depending on the hemisphere the pilot is calibrated to.
Whether two pilots are "Drift Compatible" with one another, depends largely on their personal connection and their ability to work in sync with each other. Compatibility is commonly determined through sparring in areas like the Kwoon Combat Room or an empty parking lot. Drift compatibility is a potential that exists between two people, however, it is not predetermined by the relationship (or lack thereof) of the compatible persons.
Common setbacks that can lead to a lack of compatibility is to judge or control memories that jump to mind during the Drifting process. The "modesty reflex" is considered "antithetical" to creating a connection. PPDC psychologists suggest that embarrassment based on sexual memory is the biggest reason algorithm paired trainees cannot sync together. Trust is an implicit part in creating a strong bond between a potential partner. Familiarity with a partner makes fostering trust easier where it may be more difficult between strangers. Without trust, the Neural Handshake cannot succeed.
Creative Visualization: Creative visualization (sports visualization) refers to the practice of seeking to affect the outer world by changing one's thoughts and expectations. Creative visualization is the basic technique underlying positive thinking and is frequently used by athletes to enhance their performance. The concept originally arose in the US with the nineteenth century New Thought movement. One of the first Americans to practice the technique of creative visualization was Wallace Wattles (1860–1911), who wrote The Science of Getting Rich. In this book, Wattles advocates creative visualization as the main technique for realizing one's goals; a practice that stems from the Hindu Monistic theory of the Universe that is subscribed to by the book.
Hydration (Timing): It is recommended to drink 300-600ml during the hour before exercise. Then the recommended intake during exercise should be about 150-200ml every 10-15 minutes although tolerance and consumption may vary depending on exercise intensity and weather. After exercise it is recommended to replace the amount of fluid lost within the first 2 hours after exercise.—Becca* "The Feed" Schepps
While discussions about the health benefits from sun exposure typically center around vitamin D, which your skin produces in response to UVB rays, UVB exposure actually has a number of other health effects unrelated to vitamin D production – whether it's from the sun or a safe tanning bed.
New evidence presented in the April-June issue of Dermato-Endocrinology confirms that exposure to the sun in appropriate and measured timeframes has a number of health benefits unrelated to vitamin D production, such as:
- Enhancing mood and energy through the release of endorphins.
- Protecting against and suppressing symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS).
- Treating skin diseases, such as psoriasis, vitiligo, atopic dermatitis, and scleroderma.
- UV radiation also enhances skin barrier functions.
- Inducing nitric oxide (NO), which helps protect your skin against UV damage and offers cardiovascular protection, promotes wound healing through its antimicrobial effect, and has some anti-cancer activity.
- Melatonin regulation through the "third eye" of the pineal gland photoreceptors.
- Relieving fibromyalgia pain.
- Standard treatment for tuberculosis 100 years ago, long before the advent of antibiotics.
- Treating neonatal jaundice
- Can be used to sterilize your armpits and eliminate the cause of most body odor.
- Treating Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
- Synchronizing important biorhythms through sunlight entering your eye and striking your retina.
- Regulating body temperature
Protecting against melanoma and decreasing mortality from it.
- May be effective in treating T Cell lymphoma.
Meditation: Meditation is a practice in which an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness, either to realize some benefit or as an end in itself. The term meditation refers to a broad variety of practices (much like the term sports) that includes techniques designed to promote relaxation, build internal energy or life force (qi, ki, prana, etc.) and develop compassion, love, patience, generosity and forgiveness. A particularly ambitious form of meditation aims at effortlessly sustained single-pointed concentration or single-pointed analysis, meant to enable its practitioner to enjoy an indestructible sense of well-being while engaging in any life activity.
The word meditation carries different meanings in different contexts. Meditation has been practiced since antiquity as a component of numerous religious traditions and beliefs. Meditation often involves an internal effort to self-regulate the mind in some way. Meditation is often used to clear the mind and ease many health issues, such as high blood pressure, depression, and anxiety. It may be done sitting, or in an active way—for instance, Buddhist monks involve awareness in their day-to-day activities as a form of mind-training. Prayer beads or other ritual objects (water bottles) are commonly used during meditation in order to keep track of or remind the practitioner about some aspect of the training.
Fun & Games: The flagship journal of the American Psychology Association, American Psychologist, published an article that says puzzle games improve mood, promote relaxation, and ward off anxiety.
Food Courts & Recovery Windows: Preparation for the next race begins immediately at the end of the race. There is a magical 30-minute window where the body can receive precious recovery nutrients and mainline them directly to the muscles. During a one hour criterium race, the body uses 600-1000 calories, (nearly half of the FDA recommended daily amount in a mere hour), but this does not take into consideration and increased heart rate and body functions due to nerves pre-race, and the time in which your body is still working at an elevated state post-race. When racing back-to-back days it is important to restore the body’s glycogen stores with a combination of carbohydrates and proteins, as well as electrolytes. The common practice is consuming a recovery drink with a ration of 4:1 carbs to proteins. Then for the rest of the evening, and up until the race the next day, hydrate with a low calorie hydration drink, to top off sodium levels.—Becca* "The Feed" Schepps
Building Community #1: Community gives joy! The long and short of it is that community is fun. The shared memories, laughter and times spent with your closest circle of friends provide memories that truly last a lifetime.
Building Community #2: Community gives courage. People who say just the right thing at just the right time give courage to pursue dreams, confront fears and live with less anxiety. A life free from fear is a life that can accomplish anything.
Building Community #3: Community gives constructive feedback. No one is perfect. Listen carefully when people offer constructive feedback about your racing style, team kit and hair. They have your best interest at heart.
Leg Preservation: At the elite levels of cycling there is a lot of talk about marginal gains. A lot of these gains can be made not from finding a more aerodynamic position, or cutting grams from equipment, but from actively recovering from training and racing. If you don’t have to walk, stand. If you don’t have to stand, sit. Every step a cyclist takes, is a moment their muscles are firing, and they are not recovering. The body has to be given the time to heal from the physical abuse of training and racing. When the body heals, it heals stronger, and major gains can be made.—Becca* "The Feed" Schepps
Celebrate Freedom: Support the troops!
Nail Salons: Recovery is more than just a drink. It is a mental and physical process where you tend to your body, and prepare it for the next day. This includes treating the body like a temple with grooming, massage and anything else that allows the rider to relax. Anything that causes stress on the system, even if it is mental, can be damaging to physical performance. Often times soigneurs are hired by teams to massage the riders, and tend to their aches and pains. It is found that a proper mani-pedi with a massage chair can be an adequate replacement.—Becca* "The Feed" Schepps
Orange Juice: It is important to note that during relaxation and recovery, riders also need to remember to be hydrating, and nourishing their bodies with essential nutrients. Orange juice is full of nutrients that are beneficial for exercise recovery.—Becca* "The Feed" Schepps
In 8 ounces of 100 percent natural orange juice (no added sugar) there are 120 calories and 28g of carbs, 450mg of potassium and 2g of protein. This is a good amount of carbs to replenish muscle glycogen and help rehydrate the body.
Friends & Family: Positive reinforcement from those you love, combined with the ability to offload fears/anxiety/concerns onto trusted confidants, is a valuable asset in maintaining the long-term mental fortitude required to string together success over the course of a multi-day stage race or crit series, let alone the entire racing season.
Hydration (Water): Drinking only water replaces only fluid, not crucial electrolytes lost from sweat. Someone drinking only water will be at a clear performance disadvantage over someone who is replacing electrolytes correction with a hydration mix. In fact, when sweating, drinking water alone can be really dangerous as it will dilute the body’s sodium concentration and can put you in a hyponatremic state. If you find yourself peeing a lot and feeling really sick, you may just need to rehydrate with a lot of salt. Eat something salty, or use a something like Skratch Hyper Hydration.—Becca* "The Feed" Schepps
Eating (Justin's Nut Butter): After a hard workout it is sometimes hard to fathom eating a whole ton of food. Foods like Justin’s Nut Butter are nutrient dense, meaning they have a lot of calroies in a small space. This is because the make up of Nut Butters contain higher amounts of fats and proteins than simple sugar carbs. This nutritional make up also makes Nut Butters great for aiding in the repair of muscles which require protein snythensis. Nuts like Almonds also contain essential nutrients like biotin, vitamin E, and potassium.—Becca* "The Feed" Schepps
Eating (PRO Bar): Recovery bars allow riders to get the proper nutrients into their body immediately after a workout, without having to worry about making a shake. They are extremely portable, and can even be carried along the ride, if the ride does not end at your final destination. The all vegan Pro Bar Core uses natural ingredients like chia and flax seeds, healthy fats, potassium, carbs, fiber, 20 grams of protein, omega 3s, omega 6s and iron to prove that plant based recovery is a real thing, and can tastes good.—Becca* "The Feed" Schepps
Eating (CLIF Shot Bloks): Sugar is crucial for exercise. Sugar is energy. When riders finish a race and feel gutted, shaky, and clammy it is clear they have not ingested enough sugar throughout the race. It is important to note, that once you begin eating gels, chews, or any other fast acting sugar while exercising, you need to continue eating the same amount every 30 or so minutes until completion. Sugar hits your bloodstream quickly, causing blood sugar to rise. But just as quickly as it rises, and is absorbed by the muscles it falls. This fall can leave an athlete in a “bonked” state. Eating every 30 minutes lets you stay ahead of the bonk.—Becca* "The Feed" Schepps
Eating (PRO Bar): Another way to avoid bonking, and avoid having to eat as consistently is to consume fuel that has a broader nutrient make up. Rather than chews and gels, which are pure sugar, foods like the Pro Bar Meal has fiber, protein and fats. Buffering simple carbs with fiber, protein and fats, slows the rate in which they hit the bloodstream, thus reducing the spikes and inevitable crash in blood sugar associate with bonking.—Becca* "The Feed" Schepps
- Play has been scientifically proved to be good for the brain. All animals play, even though playing is not immediately productive and is sometimes dangerous. Yet grizzly bears that play the most survive longest. Rats that socialize more with other rats develop bigger, more complex brains. And play stimulates nerve growth in the portions of the brain that process emotions and executive function.
- Play teaches us to use our imaginations. Imagination is perhaps the most powerful human ability, letting us create simulated realities we can explore without abandoning the real world.
- Rough-and-tumble play teaches us how to cooperate and play fair. Research in humans and animals has shown that roughhousing is necessary for the development of social awareness, cooperation, fairness, and altruism.
- Play helps us learn to be friends.
- Sometimes the best way to learn a complicated subject is to play with it.
- Animals remember things better and longer when those things are learned through play, perhaps because of the total involvement and focus that play requires.
- Physical play delays mental decline in old age.
- A little play can help solve big problems. Play is nature's great tool for creating new neural networks and for reconciling cognitive difficulties.
- Playing at work is not just useful; it's essential. When the going gets tough, the tough go play. Firefighters and police officers use joking around and dark humor to cope with the dangers of their work.
- When we get play right, all areas of our lives go better. One of the hardest things to teach a cyclist is how to make it past difficulty or boredom to find the fun.
Swimming: About 10,000 years ago, peaceful aliens from the planet Antarea set up an outpost on the planet Earth, on an island later known to mankind as Atlantis. When Atlantis is destroyed, twenty aliens must be left behind. Antareans who return to pick them up disguise themselves as humans, rent a house with a swimming pool, and charge the water with "life force" to give the cocooned Antareans energy to survive the trip home. They charter a boat from a local captain named Jack (Steve Guttenberg) who helps them retrieve the cocoons. Jack likes Kitty, a beautiful woman from the team who "chartered his boat" and becomes a voyeur when he spies on her while she gets nude in her cabin, only to get shocked when he discovers she is an alien. After the aliens reveal themselves to him and explain what's going on, he decides to help them.
Temperature: What happens during dehydration: Dehydration cause a decrease in blood volume in your body, along with a decreased ability to pump blood through your body, resulting in a decrease in skin blood flow. This decreases the rate which you can sweat, which in turn decreases the ability to dissipate heat resulting in an increasing core temperature. When it’s hot dehydration makes you get hotter and hotter and hotter until you overheat.—Becca* "The Feed" Schepps
Be Sexy, Do Sexy: Cycling may seem like its just a physical sport, but it requires a whole lot of mental clarity. Thoughts and feelings can have a huge impact on performance. Cycling requires PMA (positive mental attitude). It is important to feel good, look good, and be calm. In order to win many cyclist spend a hour a day training their brains to manage emotions so they can direct their energy properly in a race.—Becca* "The Feed" Schepps
Nap Time!: Gaining a mental edge on the competition translates huge in the race. In order to do so racers must relax, calm their nerves, take deep breaths and do nothing extra.