For new readers

To get an idea of what I'm trying to do and why I think it's possible, check out the following entries, they'll help get you up to speed.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Stoked on Noakes (Central Governor Theory)

Dr. Timothy Noakes
I find myself reinvigorated regarding the academic side of things after reading some papers (thanks for the links Aaron!) by Noakes and his students regarding the Central Governor theory (CGT). After reading the papers i did a bit of web browsing and found heaps of good stuff that is more accessible than an academic paper: - this has lots of good stuff, most of it pertains to the CGT (these guys were students of Noakes). It's even got some interesting stuff on cold weather training - just search 'cold physiology' and it should come up. - this is a great humorous piece summing up the theory and a perfect first introduction. - Here is another good summary on a wikipedia like (i mean really like) website dedicated to ultra running.

THIS LINK goes to podcast with Noakes that was on low(ish) volume IM triathlete and world renowned trainer Ben Greenfield’s site. It can be a bit hard to hear but a link to the transcript is also provided. It is worth mentioning in that it ties some of the CGT (central governor theory) stuff in with high intensity training, something the other pieces don't do.  

It's pretty fascinating reading all this stuff for me - it gives me another way to talk about and frame what i've known through personal experience for so long - the role of confidence and knowledge of suffering is absolutely key in performance. The models that overlook the role of the central governors and the complexity it presents are the ones that end up promoting traditional training methods and the 'body as machine' idea. Yeah, there is a machine, but it is directly influenced by (and influences) this very complicated and presently little understood network of connections and systems that make up what we call both the conscious and unconscious minds. 

All that mountaineering and climbing i did, that was practice overriding the central governor.  It wasn’t necessarily even conscious - i simply experienced had what Noakes calls the emotion of fatigue, but in situations such that it HAD to be managed in a progressive way (not through ending activity). And so i learned (unconsciously even) that this emotion did not describe my actual limits.  This has served me well, and is why even initial forays into ultra endurance efforts were often successful, despite a myriad of reasons why they shouldn’t have been.  

High intensity training is also important in that it continues to offer day to day dialogue with the CG himself, something traditional training hardly ever offers.  I routinely push myself past perceived boundaries, and as a result am able to, as one of the above posts analogizes (wow, is that really a word?) slightly edge up the ‘rev limiter’ on this engine of mine, getting more performance out of what i have.  

If fitness is judged by actual performance, then this (or a similar method) has got to be the most efficient way of going about things - after all, if I can do an IM in under 12 hours by training one hour a week (i’m convinced I can...and might be half the battle), it pretty much shoots to hell conventional wisdom and is a strong case study in favor of the CGT.  

In addition, regarding my recent blog, it seems that it is perhaps also the best way to actually approach ones MBF.  Traditional training will not effectively work to move up that rev limiter, which once a reasonable level of fitness is achieved, is a significant limiting physical performance. Think of it this way - physiological research has already shown (tabata and HIIT training studies) that VO2 max and other physiological fitness indicators show similar increases for very low volume HIIT training and more moderate intensity training (traditional endurance training) at medium volumes (4-8 hours a week).  So physiologically, i can train less and harder and get the same improvement of my engine.  However, traditional training typically DOES NOT typically provide an environment (outside of races themselves) where one gets to address the CG aspect of the model, or have any hope of edging up that rev limiter.  

Yep, i could probably do long runs where i push hard at the end and get a similar dialogue going with the CG - but if i’m after economy - then the least amount of time required to both improve fitness to a reasonable level (get a decent engine) and start that dialogue will likely be something similar to what i’m doing.  Add to this the idea that I'm looking for something i can keep up indefinitely and you've and you’ve got MBF.  

I could probably improve my engine a bit more by upping the hours a bit, and keeping intensity highish.  But i doubt i could have many more than the 2-3 (at minimum) conversations i seem to be having with the governor these days.  This method should work for others too - HIIT has been shown effective and safe for ‘untrained’ subjects, and certainly dedicated application, along with my prescription of a steady dose of big races (to make sure they get lots of face time with the man himself), should allow one to get both a big enough engine and to set that rev limiter high enough, thus enjoying a level of fitness previously thought reserved exclusively for those willing to spend a lot of time getting it.

No comments:

Post a Comment