Tag: Ironman

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

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

Dreams alone never took anyone anywhere. Dreams require massive action in order to become success stories.

I’m counting down to my third Ironman Triathlon. With just a few hours left before the race, what matters most now is the work I’ve 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’ve 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’ve made in my training regimen for my 3rd ironman is how I refuel. This time around, I’ve 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’ve 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’re 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’m 37.5% power, 62.5% 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.

CryotherapyThis 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. Cryotherapy has been used by top athletes 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 ([email protected]) for “The Dave Special” he’ll 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!

How to Build the Power You Need to Achieve

How to Build the Power You Need to Achieve

All personal power comes from within. Power is a function of truth, force is a function of emotion. And the truth is that we are much greater and much more capable than we even believe ourselves to be. Reconciling the gap between our inner truth and our self image creates an enormous level of fortitude and personal strength. We must own the person we are and the greater version of ourselves that we want to become. Realizing this, we can achieve our driving purpose in business and in life.

To build this inner power, we must first recognize that we have all the right stuff to achieve the success we have the courage to desire. Train the mind. Nurture the soul. And weaponize the body.

Our bodies are machines. Like all living things, the right fuel will make it flourish. Learn to recognize which fuel your body needs and which has the cleanest burn. I’m training for my third Ironman triathlon. My diet is as disciplined as my training regiment. This time around, I’ve trained my body to burn fat instead of carbs – based on research by doctors Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney. Increasing your intake of coconut oil, fish oils, avocados and olives while reducing carb intake can allow you 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. Fat is a much cleaner fuel for the human body to burn and it burns longer, more efficiently and with less waste left over. The full optimization and maximization of your body requires you to familiarize with the most advanced thinking on human physiology and sport.

Some look for power and validation from external success – money, titles, influence. True leaders who have achieved great success know it works the other way around. Learn to cultivate the strength you hold within yourself first, and the rest will follow.

Your Most Powerful Muscle is Your Mind

Your Most Powerful Muscle is Your Mind

In business and in life, we fight many battles. Before we face any external challenge, we must first face ourselves. The greatest battle in life is the one to proclaim your inner truth. Though we often underestimate the significance of our internal dialogue, the conversations we have with ourselves will prepare us to meet any obstacle. Your own mind can be the engine driving you to success, or it can be your biggest saboteur.

Whether your goal is to run an ironman or build a billion-dollar business, the first and most important muscle you must train and strengthen is your mind.

Here are some critical drivers for optimizing your brain power and achieving the greatest version of yourself:

  1. Build Clarity of Purpose

Influential leaders lead with purpose. Define and build clarity around what the greater purpose is behind everything you do. If purpose breeds influence, clarity breeds power. When I was four years old, my parents finally had enough money to bring my family from Ecuador to NYC. We had so little growing up. At night before bed, my Mom would teach us to kneel down beside her and pray. She taught me to believe that anything was possible and that we could rise up from our humble beginnings and become anything we set our minds to. She was programming me with clarity of purpose.

2. Commit First

Make a commitment to yourself and write it down. Once it’s written down it transmutes from an ethereal idea to a concrete plan. Then treat yourself as you would any good friend and be impeccable with your word. Once you’ve committed with words, commit with action. You can take small steps at first, but take them now. As you begin to develop competence, you’ll build confidence and the courage to continue stretching outside your comfort zone.

3. Believe and Achieve

In 1922, psychologist Émile Coué introduced a new method of self-empowerment based on ‘optimistic autosuggestion.’ Continually tell yourself, “Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better,” he contended, and what you say will come true. Coué believed this positive internal discourse could greatly add to the benefits of modern medicine. He taught his patients to replace the “thought of illness” with the “thought of cure.” His research showed that being optimistic could vastly amplify the results of a patient’s treatment.

If you’re facing adversity, embrace the struggle. Don’t let your brain allow you to give up. Let your purpose be your driving force. You can use your mind to override the fail switch. Learn to cultivate positive self-talk and believe in your own triumph. Visualize it. Achieve it.

4. Consistency Builds Ability

Most people have a desire to win on game day. What about the desire to prepare everyday? Do the daily work, burn deep with the discipline of preparation so that you can show up in the strongest version of yourself, with more than just the gusto of game day and hubris of pretended preparation.

  1. Love and Respect Yourself to Success

When we’re filled with ambition and racing for success at full-speed, we often sacrifice the time and effort it takes to care for ourselves and optimize for maximum high performance. The greatest investment you can ever make is an investment in your own learning, growth, health and wellness. Then you can maximize the contribution you make to others.

Remember the words of Jim Rohn, “We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.”

Secrets To Success: Iron Will And Determination

Secrets To Success: Iron Will And Determination

In 2010, I had dinner with Madonna – Sister Madonna Buder, the “Iron Nun.” Sister Madonna’s story of success is amazing: She started training for Ironman triathlons when she was 48. In the Kona triathlon, Sister Madonna was knocked down in the windswept fields of lava where the road asphalt reaches 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The wind literally picked her up and dropped her in the harsh, hardened lava rock. She broke her collarbone. The following year, she returned only to have race organizers tell her that they had new weight requirements due to high winds and that she did not qualify. She swam, biked and ran the course anyway. “This is the USA, it’s a free country,” she reasoned. The following year, they changed the rules and she competed again, legitimately.

When we met, it was my first Ironman Triathlon. It was Sister Madonna’s 36th. We had dinner just 2 days before the big race, Ironman Canada. The day after the race, I would turn 40.

In Ironman competitions and entrepreneurial ventures, the most inspiring words of wisdom and insight seem to come from those who have real operating experience actually doing things versus hypothesizing about them. Sister Madonna could tell I had the nervous jitters of a first timer Ironman competitor. It wasn’t about technical knowledge as much as nervous anticipation. “If an 80-years-young nun could do this race, certainly you gentlemen have to believe that you are capable! Pain is temporary,” she said. “Ironman is forever!“

success iron nun ironman triathlon leadership dave carvajal

Sister Madonna is still a force to be reckoned with. Now 86, she’s pushing herself to limits people not even half her age even dream of achieving. Meeting Sister Madonna left me with three big lessons valuable in both business and in life:

1. Dream Big

“The only failure is not to try.” 

What defines greatness is not the ability to do something with ease, but the strength and audacity to keep going when something is really, really hard. In the four decades Sister Madonna has been competing, she has broken her hip twice, her right arm six times, her left arm twice, her shoulder, her collarbone and almost all her fingers and toes. She keeps going because, “the only failure is not to try.”

2. Strategy & Self-Mastery

“We have all been given different talents. We have to dig deep to discover them. And when we find them, we are obligated to use them for the greater good.”

Sister Madonna started running when she was 48 as a way to “harmonize the mind, body and soul.” Training for an Ironman and building a business mean learning to elevate all three – mind, body and soul. It’s an incredible process of self-actualization and you’ll need a strategy, tools and resources to reach your highest goals. I continue to discover better tools for measuring, learning and improving performance. Measure everything. Organize your data and glean insights to improve.

3. Work Hard & Achieve

“Your effort in itself is a success.”

All success begins with hard work and massive action. For years, Sister Madonna joked that she would train “religiously.” When she and all the Ironman competitors step up to the start line, we’ve already completed a longer race of preparing ourselves. People don’t run triathlons because they’re easy. The physical limitations and the emotional inner dialogue are all obstacles we choose to inflict on ourselves especially on the edge of an enormous achievement.

In business and in life, leadership and love are the highest calling for the life that is inside of us.