When I first began working with adventure and endurance athletes, a fairly sizable area of opportunity for these athletes struck me right off the bat, as I’d look over the training plans they’d been doing before meeting with me for the first time.
For virtually all of the people coming to me for help, after they’d complete their big event, they’d go into a ‘rest period’ that turned into an After-Event Abyss (where fitness progress disappeared, not to be seen again).
For a few weeks up to a few months after the big day, not much happened. ‘Time off to rest’ turned into a gargantuan hole of ‘no movement, no exercise, no nothing.’
This is entirely the wrong way to handle the time after your big event.
You see, when you hang out in the After-Event Abyss, you’re in for a rude shock the next time you train. When you finally decide to exit the abyss, you’re operating with a body that has lost a sizeable amount of fitness, to the point that sub-optimal movement patterns are now the norm, putting you at a higher risk for injury.
This is something that I couldn’t accept. So with any athletes I train, we start off by immediately nixing the After-Event Abyss.
I’ll cover what we did to fill the cavernous abyss that so many athletes unwittingly included in their plan in just a second, but before I do, you’ll need to learn about another all too common mistake folks make that messes up their future results.
As endurance athletics grew as a mainstream sport, I stopped seeing the abyss as much. It was replaced by a far more gnarly monster. This monster was fed on perpetual workouts, it never slept, and it knew one speed – “on”. I started seeing folks who, post big-event, kept on going.
The training never died off. It never wound down so it could wind back up again. It just kept going like the energizer bunny, the mascot of a battery company, that was powered by the company’s batteries which made it keep going, even when the bunny had literally come apart at the seams.
Stay with me here – I don’t know about you but when I first get into a 1o4 degree hot tub, I can hardly stand it. Then after a few minutes, I’m as relaxed as can be and enjoying the water that now feels ‘warm’ instead of the ‘scalding’ it felt like just a few minutes before. The water didn’t get colder, I just stopped noticing the signal of ‘hot’ on my skin. That’s what these little post-event energizer bunnies were doing to the overall awareness of their body to training.
When you just keep going after your big event, your body numbs to the training response. You do all that training, for less of a result.
Because, if the stimulus is “hot” for long enough, as it is when you’ve been sitting in a hot tub for some time, you stop receiving the signal. These little energizer bunnies were never getting out of the hot tub.
Sure, the workouts they were doing might have given them the feeling of muscle soreness, but actual adaptations?, the things that happen when a body reacts and changes based on the signals coming in? Yah, that wasn’t happening.
In an ideal world, your body would sense things happening, and respond. “Oh! you’re doing that movement pattern again! we’ll remember that for future use!”…“hm, you keep stretching & moving the tissue around this joint…….alright we’ll start leaving that tissue a bit more mobile.”
So if ‘the After-Event Abyss’, (where all your fitness progress goes to die) is bad….and the ‘energizer bunny who can’t sense the training signal’ is bad…where should you be spending your time post big-event?
Now if your training uses the Pyramid Prehab Protocol, (one of the foundational tenets of The Unbreakable Body Program) you’ll know the answer to this. You return to your foundation work with a focus on any current limiters that you’d like to address, until its time to dial in the focus for whatever sport-discipline is needed for the next big-event.
In case you’re new to the PPP Method, which is the method I’ve developed in my work with athletes for the last 12 years, and which has helped athletes showcase remarkable durability in the sport, here is a detailed walk-through of the how and why behind it.
How The Pyramid Prehab Protocol(PPP Method) Builds Durable, Powerful Athletes
Normally, once an athlete commits to a race, they start training, and begin to push themselves harder and harder as the races gets closer and closer. Then the big day happens! (this is the part right before the soul-sucking abyss or the training signal-killing energizer bunny happens)
After a grueling few months of training, where they’ve hammered their body, the athlete drags themselves to the start line, hoping to complete the race — pushing through the pain that a heavy uptick in training has brought them.
And in the endurance community, around now is usually when the K-Tape shows up as some kind of badge of honor within the community. Which it isn’t. Having to strap up heavily before a race is a sign that your training program is breaking you.
The athlete survives the race. And promptly, the training intensity drops (or stays exactly the same, depending on which route they gravitate toward- abyss/bunny).
The PPP Method finds all the holes in that model and puts them to bed for good.
First, instead of Race Day being the end game, we put it in to the center of our training regimen. What this does is it reframes our perspective and expectations of training. Namely, that instead of reaching the goal of ‘the race’, we have to be able to continue moving like a champion post-race in our down-training time.
What this also does, is it changes the way our training intensity works. Instead of just ramping up from a dead stop, and dropping off after the race, like normal training, this is a little different.
First, we start training at the true foundation. Not at a foundation that “scales” what the regular workout is. Not at a foundation that “just does less” than what is prescribed in that day’s workout. We want to build up to a solid foundation, not scale down to a half or three-quarters of a foundation.
To do this we need to drill down to exactly what is happening in your body and bring up the weak points, address the limiters, and build that rock-solid foundation of mobility & strength.
Where could you be moving better than you currently are?
What movement patterns are you using to move, train, & race that are hampering your potential, not to mention putting you at risk for future injuries?
When I work with clients, I assess their movement patterns to find the answers to these questions. The Unbreakable Body program members get answers to those questions as well by using the 6-assessment tool I created just for that program to mimic what my in-person clients do with me.
We’re looking for what’s good, what needs to be better, and where we have areas of opportunity to level-up movement quality, muscle firing, brain-body syncing, and strength. The goal, which we accomplish every time when we follow the PPP Method, is to move ‘baseline’ up to a higher level.
We make joints that don’t move well, move well.
We make new movement patterns that support durability & longevity in not just the chosen sport, but in basic life-movements, like going up and down stairs.
All that power that churns down from the glutes to propel an athlete across the ground? It can’t escape out broken kinetic-chain links once we’ve addressed them as we build a solid foundation, via the PPP Method, into an athlete’s body.
Once the new foundation is built, we start building true strength in that foundation. Those new movement patterns have started to become the new neurological norm, it’s becoming more ‘natural’ to move in a way that closes gaps in the kinetic chain, our tissue have become aware of and familiar with these new movement patterns. Now they can become strong.
Commence ramping up towards race day. But in an intelligent way. We always circle back to the foundational movement patterns and groove those in to our bodies so they become the standard operating procedure, instead of something we have to think about doing correctly.
Somewhere in here Race Day shows up. YAY!
And once the race is over? No After-Event Abyss or Non-Adapting Energizer Bunny here. We’ve been training to be able to down-train smoothly and go back to the work of further strengthening our foundation before we ramp up for the next big event.
And that’s what we do. We have a ‘down training’ approach, that ensures we ease ourselves out of the intensity of training and back to our foundation where we can re-assess and re-program for any limiters or new areas for opportunity we want to address.
You see, the Pyramid Prehab Protocol is based on ensuring ever-better movement — all year round.
In an ideal world, your 1st season training with the PPP Method would start from your unique entry-point with knowledge of where your movement patterns could be made better, and where your limiters currently sit.
You’d follow training that addresses those areas, that in turn helps you cement a stronger, better foundation & that is the true foundation for durability in your sport.
Then you’d grow your strength & power on that foundation, moving yourself towards race day.
You’d race strong, injury-free, and without k-tape holding you together.
You’d move into a down-training period where gentle recovery-movement is priority, and shortly thereafter you’d re-assess your movement patterns, and get to work on limiters that need improving on and further foundation building work that can be done.
If you’ve never tried training this way, you’re in for a real treat. Injuries and -itis type pains are not meant to be a ‘normal part’ of being athletic. Being powerful, strong, durable, and injury-free absolutely can be the ‘norm’, you just have to take a look at how you’re training, and make the necessary adaptations.
What would it mean to you to be able to train, race, and perform better than ever, not just in sport, but in life too? Leave me your answer in the comments below, I read and reply to every one. 🙂