I visit the heart of Orange County, CA to talk with a legend in the world of cutting edge athletic training and peak performance—author, coach and unscared competitor Brian MacKenzie.

Brian is the co-author of an epic textbook on training titled Power, Speed, Endurance, and the New York Times bestseller, Unbreakable Runner. As the founder of the CrossFit Endurance movement, Brian gained notoriety for challenging the dated conventional endurance wisdom of a mileage obsessed, “more is better” approach. Brian’s comprehensive program blending traditional aerobic mileage with varied forms of explosive strength training, flexibility/mobility work (he’s a close associate of MobilityWOD.com and Becoming a Supple Leopard author Dr. Kelly Starrett), breath work and recovery has busted the boundaries and barriers of the old school approach.

Brian has occasionally faced challenges and controversy by those favoring status quo. Consider this salacious magazine article title from Outside magazine in 2013: “Brian MacKenzie’s Controversial New Approach to Marathon Training: The mastermind behind CrossFit Endurance says the best way to train for a marathon is to run less and torture yourself more in the gym.” Well, it’s not nearly as simple and crude as the frequently referenced juxtaposition of “quantity versus quality” suggests. It’s now becoming clear that chronic cardio is not only ineffective but can also destroy your health. Furthermore, it’s also evident that endurance athletes are deficient in many areas of general fitness, especially preserving efficient technique as they become fatigued. If your low back and hip flexors get cooked at mile 20 of a marathon (because, for argument’s sake, that’s a butt-long way and you’ve perhaps never run further than that in training), some of the energy your cardiovascular machine is still able to produce for the final six-mile slog is wasted. Instead of maintaining a balanced center of gravity and generative efficient explosive force with each stride, you center of gravity caves and you collapse a bit into the ground on each stride.

This is where the explosive training goes in. Loading a squat bar with weight, running sprints or performing any other explosive efforts is in many respects simulating what happens to your body at mile 20, but without having to exhaust yourself by running the first 20 miles in training before obtaining that desired breakthrough adaptation. Explosive work is not an endurance “hack” (you will never hear Brad use that word on this show or in life, ever). Rather, it’s adding a critically important training modality to your game in order to best prepare your body for daunting competitive challenges without falling apart.

With Brian passionately advocating to expand our training consciousness, he has come off as an intense guy, which he is. After all, that’s him sprinting in Tim Ferriss’s epic Four Hour Body book trailer and his thumbnail image with his individual finger tattoos spelling “U-N-S-C-A-R-E-D.” What was cool in meeting Brian person was how thoughtful and chill he is. The conversation went off into the metaphysical and reflective direction instead of just going into his boiler plate PowerSpeedEndurance message.

Brian starts by discussing the perspective he has gained from his recent terrible accident, surgery, and recovery process, gives a refreshingly expanded perspective of the dated and oversimplified quality versus quantity debate, countering the “more is better” mentality with the priceless maxim, “Better is Better.” Perhaps the best takeaway from the show is Brian’s emphasis that the next evolution in human performance will come in the area of recovery, and complementary practices such as breathing, cold therapy, and heat therapy, of which he is super focused on these days. Visit PowerSpeedEndurance.com to learn all about the progressive offerings of Brian and his team.

TIME STAMPS:

Brian talks about how he ended up with a neck in a brace after playing tag with his nephews and how it has affected his life. [00:07:51]

After experiencing the trauma such a serious accident, we realize our daily complaints about traffic or a missed meal are minor. [00:13:13]

Chronic pain is nothing more than basically a mental disorder. [00:16:49]

Deepak Chopra says: “At our current rate of demise and collective dysfunction of society, we will be extinct in thirty years. [00:19:12]

There is criticism of the evolutionary style of eating. [00:21:26]

How did CrossFit endurance movement come to be? [00:23:11]

If a person is going into marathon running, what is the movement pattern needed? Is it an aerobic conditioning issue or is it actually a tissue issue? [00:26:56]

Is it individual whereby someone is going to respond better to a certain ratio of intensity explosive work to pure aerobic mileage? What about DNA, genetic attributes?  [00:29:50]

You need to listen to your body. [00:33:22]

With the endurance population, how does the idea of more is best go over?  [00:40:46]

Brad and Brian point out the importance of breathing and getting a different mindset. [00:43:08]

Is this type activity a healthy payoff to your life? [00:48:14]

What does it feel like to be running at the appropriate pace? [00:55:35]

The training methods for these sports have changed so much as more scientific knowledge has been acquired. The network of athletes are sharing what they are learning and growing from the knowledge. [01:01:16]

What about hot and cold therapy?  You can be taught to adjust to these things and it is a tool you can use for the rest of your life. [01:13:39]

Light and breathing play huge parts in our spiritual lives.  [01:15:19]

It’s very important to really know what’s going on. [01:21:15]

LINKS:

Deepak Chopra: World-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation

Muscle UP: Advanced strength training exercise

Outside magazine article: “Controversial New Approach to Marathon Training”

Power Speed Endurance: This book is a highly effective training system that has catapulted thousands of endurance athletes to the next level.

UnBreakable Runner: This book examines long-held beliefs about how to train, tearing down those traditions to reveal new principles for a lifetime of healthy, powerful running.

4-Hour Body YouTube Trailer

QUOTES:

“More is not better, better is better” – Brian MacKenzie

“We, for the first time in our existence, are self-creating our own disease and problems.” – Brian MacKenzie

“Chronic pain is nothing more than basically a mental disorder.” – Brian MacKenzie

LISTEN:

 

SHOW TRANSCRIPTION:

Brad Kearns:     Welcome to the Get Over Yourself Podcast. This is Brad Kearns.

Brian McKenzie:           People still are thinking in terms of more is better, and they don’t understand better is better. And more is nothing more than a by-product of better.

Athletes who are doing the mobility work, athletes who are doing the nutrition – if you go look at the CrossFit games athletes right now, you will not see any of these top 10 athletes not doing all of these things.

Brad Kearns:     Hi listeners, I am here to introduce an awesome, beautiful show with Brian McKenzie, known as the founder of the CrossFit Endurance Movement, and doing his thing at his power, speed, endurance, new brand website, incredible programming. I’m so happy to finally meet this guy in person and catch up with him. I’ve been fascinated with what he’s been doing for many years since I picked up this amazing book that was shipped to our office. I don’t know, was it seven or eight or nine years ago, called Power Speed Endurance.

It was the most thorough and mind-blowing tome on athletic peak performance and training that I ever seen. I couldn’t even believe it was written. Like every single page you flip to, it’s just deep, an amazing programming that was taking the dialogue and the approach way beyond, especially for endurance athletes, way beyond the long, flawed and dated notion of just doing mileage and more is better.

So, he kind of emerged back when he came to prominence as a controversial figure, because people were seeing that he was trying to “hack” the traditional approach to endurance training. And tell people that if they did a bunch of box jumps or loaded up a squat bar with weight, they could simulate what was going on at mile 20 of the marathon and power through the final six miles better than if they just up their mileage, like all marathon runners or triathletes seemed to have been obsessed with for the past 40, 50, 60 years.

Well, guess what? Now this stuff is really coming into prominence after Brian and others fighting that battle for a long time and fighting against the naysayers and the traditionalists. And now, we’re at a nice explosion of perspective where the comprehensive approach to athletic training with the flexibility and mobility that his sidekick, Dr Kelly Starrett is known for, and the explosiveness applied to endurance goals is being well validated by science. And of course, all the case studies of people that Brian has been working with and people like him that he’s trained and have embraced this new paradigm.

So, to finally sit down with him, meet him in person was great. Because looking from afar, he’s kind of come off as this controversial guy, and I think the media has advanced this kind of perspective. There was an outside magazine article back in 2013 titled Brian McKenzie’s Controversial New Approach to Marathon Training. And the subtitle says, “The mastermind behind CrossFit endurance says, the best way to train for a marathon is to run less and torture yourself more in the gym.”

Well, not quite that simple. In fact, that’s an oversimplified approach and a gut kind of recoil that a lot of the traditional endurance athletes had when this guy came on the scene. But guess what? It’s now becoming very clear that chronic cardio is not only ineffective, but can destroy your health and mess up your heart. And it’s also evident that endurance athletes are deficient in many areas, including that important factor of maintaining good technique while you’re fatigued.

This is something that Brian’s principles are fundamental to realizing that, look, if you’re running a marathon, for example, and your low back and your hip flexors blowout at mile 20, because you’ve probably never trained beyond 20 miles in training, but you do have to go 26 on race day, then guess what? Any energy that you have left in your body to produce your cardiovascular machine can still go. That energy, a lot of it is wasted because it’s going into the ground instead of generating explosive, propulsive force with each stride as you might if you were able to preserve good technique through a more balanced and complimentary training program that did have these features of explosiveness and balance.

Also, what’s great about Brian is the recovery aspect is central to his theme. So, you’re not trading in high mileage for high intensity and blowing yourself out at CrossFit. And we know that the CrossFit movement has been duly criticized for the people that go in there with an overly intense approach, and over train via CrossFit or over train via endurance. This is the evolved mentality of athletic training where recovery, breathwork and breath control and the things that he’s really big on now are central elements.

How about cold exposure and heat exposure? You can find him on YouTube, getting you all deep on that and also at his website with little courses and easy bite size entry protocols, so you can get into this cutting-edge stuff from a remote location with all his offerings.

Wow! I’ve been done racing for 24 years now off the professional triathlon circuit, and I really wish I could go back in time with some of these realizations and some of these cutting-edge techniques. And what I would do, jeez, you know what? I’d slow down probably even more, honoring that Maffetone method where the low-end aerobic training can produce great dividends without causing those hormonal and energy system stresses that put you into overtraining mode.

I definitely would have added more varied and probably more frequent explosive efforts as advocated by Brian’s work over the last couple of decades. And more mobility efforts, of course, working with the bands and working with the stretch chords and working on my posture and my breathing. But most of all, more rest and recovery.

So, those are some of the great takeaways that you will get from this show; the importance of recovery. How that represents the next evolution in fitness breakthrough. But interestingly, we don’t just hit the nuts and bolts right away. We just had a great connection and we went off into kind of a metaphysical and philosophical direction with the show.

It started because oh man, this guy is such a trooper. He had a severe accident, a neck injury, only a month prior to the recording. And he rallied, he agreed to meet me anyway. He was sitting there with a big giant smile with his neck in a neck brace. That’s why his audio is perfect because he can’t fricking move his neck. He’s just speaking right into the microphone for the entire show.

But what a great attitude, and you could see the light and the warmth coming from him. This guy who’s been positioned as the hardcore guy who’s breaking the endurance concepts down, none of the sort. He’s a really great, balanced, thoughtful guy. So, we go off into different directions with the show and then we take it back to some of the great practical techniques.

So, you’ll get a whole bunch from this show. I especially love when he sprinkles in the dialogue with terms like “mastery” and had the epic quote, the epic pull quote for the show, where he countered that more is better mentality by saying this maxim, which is priceless and you’ll never forget it; more is not better, better is better. Oh yeah. So, have a great time as I did with Brian McKenzie. And go check out his work at Powerspeedendurance.com. Here we go with the show.

Brian McKenzie?

Brian McKenzie:           Yes.

Brad Kearns:     After that wonderful introduction that I will record after the show because you’re a good guy, man. Just to sit here with me with your neck in a brace. I’m sorry to see it, but you got a smile on, you’re recovering, you’re coming back strong. Do you want to talk about it? Is it part of living life or what happened, man?

Brian McKenzie:           Well, yeah, it’s obviously, I mean, being in a neck brace changes things for people who are healthy, I guess.

Brad Kearns:     We have the microphone positioned perfectly for Brian, and you will not notice any change in his voice tone.

Brian McKenzie:           None.

Brad Kearns:     It’s fixed position.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, I originally was playing tag with my nephews and I was running up a ladder to jump onto a crosswalk on top of the … and there was a bar up top that I missed that I just didn’t see. And I went directly into it with the top of my head and it knocked me out. And then through that, I compressed the discs C3-4 which created a spinal contusion. So, it bruised my spinal cord. So, not only did I go out, but when I woke up on the ground, I was paralyzed. And so, I just kind of was like, “Oh, life just kind of changed.” I mean, I was pretty scared at first.

Brad Kearns:     I thought you were unscared, but this will do it to you.

Brian McKenzie:           That will do it. But unscared is no more or less just the idea that it’s just another term for courage, I think. I mean, it’s just like, hey, like fear exists, it’s part of life. It is what it is.

But instinctively, what I did was I just slowed down my breathing based on what I understand and plasticity and kind of PSTD, stuff like that. Because I knew that had I started to ramp my respiration rate up, started reacting poorly, started freaking out, I would have probably created a little bit more trauma or a lot more trauma centered around what was going on, regardless if I was going to walk or move again or not.

Thankfully, within about five or 10 minutes I was moving my arms. About 30 hours later, I was able to move my … they wanted to see if I could walk, which was like they … basically, I looked like a baby. So, you’ve got kids and it’s like when your kids first learned to walk, that was exactly what I went through at about 30 hours or so.

Then that took a day or so to kind of get better at, to where I had clearance then – I wanted to get out of that hospital because we have a medical … our medical insurance is through Stanford. So, I wanted to get down to Stanford Healthcare, and talk to the surgeons down there. I talked to probably a half dozen surgeons and non-surgeons, all those about what I should be doing. And it all came back unanimous that I did need the surgery. And I talked to enough people to understand.

So, I had a surgery, anterior discectomy on June 12th with a fusion of C3-4 because the disc were just compressed enough and still like there was enough … they needed to create room for the spinal cord. So, I was just a walking time bomb until that happened. And so, that was where I was at. And then, so, here I am.

Brad Kearns:     Here we are, this is a month anniversary, man. Good job.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, it is, it is. Yeah, I’m here. I’m happy to be doing this, working, walking around. I still have some numbness in my legs. I mean a spinal cord injury like that is pretty … Everything that came back from every person, every doctor that understood the MRIs, was like, “We usually don’t see people get back up from this.” So, yeah, I was pretty fortunate.

Brad Kearns:     So, you think that acute time does matter in terms of not going into panic and not sending the message. You’re sending a message up your spinal cord. The stress hormones and information-

Brian McKenzie:           I can only go with my experience, but in what I have experienced and what I’ve seen with other people who do have acute trauma and do react very poorly to it, and including my … I’ve reacted poorly to stuff before. We all have, right? That creates micro … I think that is part and now, this isn’t the total thing that we could be looking at within PTSD, but this is a part of what post-traumatic stress disorder is. Is I have a traumatic experience, I hit my head, I’m now … and this happens and if I don’t deal with this appropriately, I’m never going to walk away from that situation or a similar situation without having complete fear wrapped around that or freaking out with things like that.

And in dealing with trauma myself, like we all deal with trauma, right? I’ve done enough therapy to be able to look back at childhood and understand what sort of traumas I’ve had, and why I’ve behaved the way I have. So, I have some background understanding these things. But to narrow that down to an instance to where my life changed instantly and be able to go, “Holy crap.” Like this is just another opportunity. This is something to kind of walk through and understand regardless if I’m moving the same or not. I mean it’s not going to matter. It’s going to be what it is.

So, do I want to be more of a burden or do I want to be more of somebody that’s adding to the game.? Right? And those are just choices, and that’s responsibility and I think that’s part of this human experience.

Brad Kearns:     I mean, you read and hear a lot about people that suffer misfortune. They express these fabulous perspective where they’re thankful to be alive in their debilitated state or whatever’s going on. And then we compare that to the day-to-day complaining and commiserating. The psychologist say humans like to commiserate. So, if we issue a complaint about today’s traffic in the Orange and San Diego County areas, I’ll come in and say, “Sorry, I was late, man. The traffic was horrible.” “Oh, that sucks. Yesterday I missed my flight.” And we take that angle so much more frequently than this enlightenment that sometimes takes a warp in the head I guess. Figuratively, analytically.

Brian McKenzie:           Totally, I couldn’t agree with you more. I mean, it made me think about stuff like that, but it’s like, I think that’s just part of life at this point, and where we’re at with comfort and what we’ve created. Like we get to be in cars and I can drive up from Mexico to Orange County into LA, in a single day. Which is something that how long ago would that have taken? A week.

Brad Kearns:     If the borough wasn’t too hot.

Brian McKenzie:           Right? Yeah, yeah. At this time of year, right? Like, great, we’re a little bit more advanced than that, but we do find … unfortunately, I see even in myself most of all, because I have to look there first. And people are nothing more than reflections of myself, and that’s why I look at it anyway. Anything I’m irritated at, I know that there’s a reason why I’m irritated to that, my own behavior to a large degree.

Brad Kearns:     “Hold up a mirror,” my cousin says. She’s a therapist. I’m like, “Well, wait a second, hold up a mirror? Hold up a mirror. And then, you’re all set.”

Brian McKenzie:           It’s it, man. It’s it. It all comes back to you and I think that where we are with … if we get comfortable in something, we have to find something to complain about, because we don’t need to survive anymore. We’ve kind of mastered that here. I mean, we’re living in a time where we’ve never had less war. We’ve never had more healthy people. We’ve never had it better, yet we complain more about everything.

Brad Kearns:     Rates of depression-

Brian McKenzie:           Here we go.

Brad Kearns:     Anxiety.

Brian McKenzie:           This is going to be the biggest cause of death here in 2025 or something. Is stress will be the biggest cause and this will be mental disease, will be the biggest cause of death.

Brad Kearns:     That’s a stat that’s going to [crosstalk 00:15:52] eating donuts-

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, you got it.

Brad Kearns:     To stress.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, yeah.

Brad Kearns:     Yeah, wow.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, and this is a self-inflicted time. But to go back to Yuval Noah Harari who wrote the book Sapiens. I don’t know if you read that or not. It’s a phenomenal book. But it’s like we’re at the first time in our existence where we’re self-creating disease and problem. And I think when you can really wrap your head around that, that’s where something like this is like, this is what it’s like to be healthy and have a spinal injury and recover from it. I’m bored, I want to do more than I should.

I mean, I sat in the hospital and I was watching where drug addiction begins. People who just constantly are wanting their pain meds, when are they really in that much pain? And because I understand the opioid process to a large degree; how that works, how the pain buffers out, how we’re not even really … and then we’re shutting down more things. And then what chronic pain actually is. Chronic pain is nothing more than basically a mental disorder to a large degree. We’re just telling ourselves we’re in more pain.

It’s kind of like a Phantom Limb Syndrome which is fascinating, but this is where we get in this chronic stage of something and we’re dedicating … it’s, “I’m bored or I’m just not getting up and doing anything about it and I’m feeling sorry for myself. And I’m like, here I am, what am I complaining about? I’m complaining about traffic and this guy like, whatever. His daughter died or something happened, terrible to him today, and how can we change that?” I don’t know.

Brad Kearns:     “I didn’t get the promotion. I’m feeling inferior in my teenage peer group.” All that stuff is just those thoughts that pop in.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah.

Brad Kearns:     Yeah.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah.

Brad Kearns:     Heavy stuff, man. We’re off to a heavy start.

Brian McKenzie:           Heavy start.

Brad Kearns:     Yeah. Well, I appreciate your attitude and you’re on way back. So, I would imagine that everything will seem more special, the ordinary moments of life having gone through something.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah.

Brad Kearns:     Yeah, I asked Lance Armstrong that question a long time ago before he got into a scandal with Tiger Woods and all that. And I said, “Does having gone to hell and back (referring to his cancer treatment and that whole brush with death), does that give you a more refreshed perspective, a more appreciation for everyday life?” And he goes, “Everyone’s been to hell and back one way or the other.” And it was like the greatest answer because it got me to think like, everyone’s been to hell and back. And we have that opportunity to wake up with a smile and say, “Hey, I’m here.” And I think when you’re at your lowest is the most difficult time to accept this advice coming through you on your iPod or whatever you’re listening to. But that’s when you need it the most.

Brian McKenzie:           I couldn’t agree more. I think everybody’s fighting their own war. Everybody’s in pain to some degree, whatever. Everybody has the ability to take responsibility for way more than they do.

Brad Kearns:     Oh, you mean instead of make excuses or tell stories?

Brian McKenzie:           Or point the finger. Like, “Oh, you.” It’s like, “No.”

Brad Kearns:     Hold the mirror.

Brian McKenzie:           Fault and responsibility are two different things.

Brad Kearns:     Yeah. Speaking of 2025, Deepak Chopra was on a podcast recently and he said, at our current rate of demise and collective dysfunction of society, he thinks we’re going to be extinct in 30 years. And that’s a smart dude right there, giving the warning out, due to violence at all levels. And he called out, of course, global violence with the nations, but also relationship violence and all the other places that you can describe violence that we don’t usually consider. But then in the next breath he said, “If this collective consciousness builds and finally we have the time to not go looking for food all day, we can survive. We can think of higher concepts, maybe we have a chance to turn it around.” That was his message that we need to wake up.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah. So, when I hear something like that, it’s not that I don’t agree with it, but what I do think of is, it’s like you create a pill, right? For a disease, and you can’t make everybody take that pill. And not everybody’s going to take that pill, right? But you can’t tell … like we all know moving and exercising is a very healthy thing to do, yet not everybody does it. Why?

Brad Kearns:     And it feels good immediately as well as long-term payoff. So, why?

Brian McKenzie:           Why? And so, I get it, it’s a hard thing to start doing. But I think back to kind of where I think about this, is it’s like nature has a way of thinning the herd. And we, whether we like it or not are animals, are a part of this system. And although we’ve removed ourselves from it a lot, yes, we’re now inflicting disease upon ourselves. Maybe we’re sending ourselves ready to just thin the herd somehow. I mean it’s a bit of a morbid thought, but it’s also like, can you save everybody? Can you help everybody? And not even … Jesus knew He couldn’t do that, right? I mean, like, “Hey, if you follow me,” right? Or the Buddha, like, if you’re going to follow this path, you can find enlightenment. But I think we have our own way of it all figuring itself out at some point.

Brad Kearns:     Well, I think about that example with diet and the criticism of the evolutionary style eating. Where you got to go get grass-fed meat and pasture raised eggs and organic produce, and then it becomes expensive and then literally unsustainable. If everyone switches over to grass-fed and we need our cows grazing 800 acres of grass, it’s not going to work. And so, the population today, what is it? Seven billion or some crazy thing? That’s sustained by nutrient-deficient foods. Just slamming them down people’s mouths, even in the third world. And of course, in the civilized world.

So, it’s like there’s a great awakening going on, but it’s only with 10% of the people. “Oh, paleo effects was a zoo.” You should’ve seen, everybody’s got Vibrams on and orange glasses. It’s crazy, it’s such a fad. And it’s like, that’s wonderful to see, and there’s 2,000 people who walk in the halls that have bought into, the message and then, tens and hundreds of thousands to millions, whatever the ratio is, that are just still looking at the billboard thinking that they need to go buy Fritos and a drink because of the marketing message with no other thought except for, “This tastes good.

Brian McKenzie:           Well, it’s the same concept of why did we put health on top of the shoulders of the medical community? How did that happen? That was-

Brad Kearns:     Power structure or something.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah. But that’s not the direction. I mean, we’ve got to figure out ways of making this all work to some degree. And I don’t have the answers, I know that.

Brad Kearns:     Well, you guys are working on it, doing good stuff.

Brian McKenzie:           We’re working on some stuff.

Brad Kearns:     Some stuff is happening.

Brian McKenzie:           For sure, we’re trying to do our part. That is a fact.

Brad Kearns:     What’s the website with all the offerings? The simple-

Brian McKenzie:           Powerspeedendurance.com.

Brad Kearns:     Yeah, yeah. So, Power Speed Endurance, when did that book come out?

Brian McKenzie:           2010.

Brad Kearns:     Okay. So, we met in person today for the first time, but in 2010, I met you because I was in the Malibu office of Primal Blueprint, and everybody ships a book to us. There was a big stack and I just grabbed this big black book, I’m like, “What’s this?” And it was absolutely mind-blowing that in one book, like every page you turned to, you see these incredible insights that I’d really honestly never been exposed to even as a lifelong athlete and an elite level triathlete. All we did was like, strap up and go peddle or run or swim and then get an injury, and then rest, and then come back and do it again. And so, I was blown away, man. I got to tell you that eight years later. I think you can still buy the book on Amazon as a matter of fact.

Brian McKenzie:           Yes, you can.

Brad Kearns:     So, as we jump into the fitness topic, how did this CrossFit endurance come to be?

Brian McKenzie:           Well, it’s interesting because I used to like to get on my bike and go out and run and swim for long periods of time and-

Brad Kearns:     Fuck up your day, doing that shit, man.

Brian McKenzie:           And find my inner Zen and just keep going and going and going until I broke. And started asking some questions and people started saying some things that kind of made some sense, but I was a little resistance too. And I was fortunate enough to have pulled enough people into my network at the time to kind of say, “Hey, I’d like you to work with me or I’d like you to help me out here. Or what does this look like?”

I started toying with things and it really became a concept of what is this quality over quantity approach? Why do we continue to be … like being a professional triathlete or endurance athlete is like that’s not even … I don’t even know that that’s 1% of the populace of even endurance sports, right? Because the vast majority of people doing endurance sports is so great at this point.

Brad Kearns:     20 pros, 2,000 people on the starting line. So, that’s one tenth of 1%.

Brian McKenzie:           There you go. Right?

Brad Kearns:     No, that’s 1%, sorry.

Brian McKenzie:           Okay, so, it’s 1%. But by a large majority, I mean you’ve got well, a lot more people out there and then you look at ultra-endurance, and what’s going on there, whatever. There was nothing new that was going on and people were busted up all over the place that I was looking at.

Brad Kearns:     If we’re busted up, they look terrible. It was like cranes on the bike or what does Kelly Starrett say? “A dog taking a crap on the bike.”

Brian McKenzie:           A dog taking a crap. Like you look like a dog fucking football, excuse me. But it became obvious when I really started paying attention to stuff and just listening to what was happening. And by listening, I meant performance. And it was like, “Hey, I feel better. Oh hey, I look better. Oh hey, I’m in prime performing better.” Those are three variables anybody could agree on.

Brad Kearns:     Besides that, you’re full of shit, all that stuff.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, totally. And that’s where the heat started to come on and I started to realize I probably had something. It was like, “Oh, I’m pissing some people off. That kind of comes with the territory.”

Brad Kearns:     Exactly. These two young dudes at Auburn CrossFit, what’s their names? I forgot their names. They signed up and did a 50-miler with zero training, zero-

Brian McKenzie:           By the way, I’ve never advocated that. I’ve never-

Brad Kearns:     Everyone was so pissed off. They’re like, “That’s not fair. That’s bullshit what you did. That’s a disgrace to the sport of ultra-running.” It was just the most hilarious reaction instead of like going, “Huh, anyway.”

Brian McKenzie:           Well, I mean, and ultra-marathon for most people really isn’t running.

Brad Kearns:     Ouch!

Brian McKenzie:           Well, I’ve done it. I mean, let’s be realistic, like for 100 miles, if you’re doing a 30-hour, let’s just call it 30-hour ultra-marathon, that pace is not running.

Brad Kearns:     Which all the power to someone who completed 100 miles but just let’s get that-

Brian McKenzie:           That is still doing 100 miles and it is an extreme thing to do. Like that doesn’t take away from that. But, what I’m kind of getting at is going back to is like, “Hey, what are we paying attention to? How are you actually developing the level of getting there?” And by the way, hey, that guy who’s the marathon World Record holder, what was he good at? Where did he start? Oh, weird, he was a 1,500-meter guy or he was a miler. Oh, and he broke the world record there? Ah, weird. And then he went to the 5k. Oh, and he broke the world record there. Then he went to the 10k and almost broke the world record there. Oh, and then he went to half marathon and this is over a career versus the vast majority of people who’re stepping into things and going, “Oh, I’m going to do 70 miles this week or 50 miles this week and I’m going to start ramping it up.”

It’s like you don’t have the movement patterns to be doing that, you sit most of the day. And what happens when you actually do do a marathon, is it an aerobic conditioning issue or is it actually a tissue issue? Does your tissue hurt? Are you breaking down, like are you in pain? Yeah, I’m in pain. Okay, so-

Brad Kearns:     What’s the ratio? Do you think it’s 99% people breaking down with tissue pain? Even the elite?

Brian McKenzie:           Look, this doesn’t take away from the fact that yes, you’re going to need to develop some sort of aerobic capacity to do an endurance event. That is absolutely factual. But, if your tissue’s what’s breaking down, well there’s plenty of ways to develop the tissue in specific ways for that sport without breaking you down further to develop that tissue. So, you can go out and continue to run longer or we could go and do some specific movements that are going to develop the tissue to not break down, make it stronger. And yeah, you might put on a few pounds because you put on some muscle mass. But a few pounds versus holding up and recovering and rebounding quicker and not breaking down and not being a mess, I mean, it sounds like a win to me. It’s not the only way to do it.

There’s plenty of ways to go do things, but that was kind of what we stumbled on and people were having incredible results with it across the boards. Thus, it was all right, off to the races. Let’s start putting some content out on this.

Brad Kearns:     Right, right. Do you think it’s individual whereby someone’s going to respond better to a certain ratio of intensity, explosive work to pure a real big mileage?

Brian McKenzie:           Well, from what we understand from genetic testing now, yes, certain people respond better, and some people don’t.

Brad Kearns:     Yeah, what’s up with that? So, I got my DNA fit test. And I’m nine years on the pro circuit, training my ass off and constantly breaking down and behind my peers in terms of whether I could bounce back the next day. These guys were machines; Mike Pigg, Andrew McNaughton, every day going all day. And I’d be like two days of that, like San Diego, the Tuesday run, the Wednesday ride. I’d go back to LA and sleep for three days while those guys were doing the next thing. And then I get my test here in 2016 as a old guy, and I was 56% strength power and 44% endurance. If it’s legit, I’ll ask you that.

That was a rude awakening because thinking back to what I did to my body, I was fighting against those genetic attributes. And I proved it on the race course because I was better at short distance. I was even better at sprint than Olympic. I just had power going up hills and then I go to Ironman and it wasn’t my thing, mentally or physically. I just couldn’t do the training. I wasn’t built that way. I wish I’d known that and maybe been able to modify due to that genetic factor.

Brian McKenzie:           I have some yeses and nos on this. I feel as though you can maximize but the fact is, so if we go and look at CrossFit, you look at something that took off like a rocket ship after it had been alive for probably eight years or something, right? Like it was just kind of floundering around. Greg was running around, they were teaching seminars. They weren’t doing great things, they were small. It was infant. But then when the masses kind of grabbed onto it, you saw it take off, and we have a couple of theories as to why it took off.

One being the community, which is very simple to understand. Look at the running community, look at the cycling community, look at the triathlon community. These are things that gravitate people together, put them together, have them training together, doing things. Another component of that is that genetics thing. And if you look at the populace, only 10% of the population basically carry that endurance gene.

Brad Kearns:     The true endurance gene where they just have that enact for it.

Brian McKenzie:           That can just hammer. And I’ve got a guy who I actually, I’ve worked with.

Brad Kearns:     Chrissy Wellington.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, but I’ve got a guy who I’ve worked with for over a decade. His name’s Mark Matusiak. He’s an ultra-guy. He does badwater, finishes in the top 10, usually. I mean he’s finished in top five I believe before. So, he’s an ultra-guy and he’s actually an endurance responder.

He’s found that if he actually runs more than 20 miles, he doesn’t have the best effect that he can. Yet he still introduces strength and conditioning, but we found that it was only two days a week that somebody like him could respond to something like that. And if you go look at a guy like Dan Pfaff, whose out at ALTIS, who’s one of the greatest coaches of our time, worked specifically with track athletes, but he’s worked with all athletes. He’ll straight up tell you there are certain athletes that respond real well to strength and conditioning. There are other athletes who it will ruin their career, and I’ve seen it happen.

So, you have to look at what … I think there are very individual responses. I think you can take somebody like you and you can learn from what’s going on. And had you been listening a little more like, “Hey, well, maybe if I just kill, I go two days on, one day off, sleep or how I’m chopping this up, I may get better responses,” right? But Kelly Starrett, just so happens-

Brad Kearns:     That Mofo.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah. Just so happens Kelly’s kind of more of an aerobic responder as well. And here’s a guy who went and squatted 600 pounds.

Brad Kearns:     Really?

Brian McKenzie:           Like he looked after he got his genetics done and he’s like, “I’ve been basically a square peg trying to jammed into a round hole for the last decade.” And I’m like, “Well, so what? You went and did some pretty big things and …” sorry, he squatted 500 pounds and he dead lifted 600.

Brad Kearns:     I thought he was just a businessman. I didn’t realize he could do that stuff.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, well no. But he’s also gone and he’s done some endurance events and he’s starting to do endurance stuff, and he’s starting to do these things. But it turns out, being 237 or 38 pounds and doing these things comes at a cost.

Brad Kearns:     They give a special medal at the dipsy for the guy who improved the stairs by pushing the redwood further into the ground, so the rainy season will survive.

Brian McKenzie:           And I signed him up for that race by the way.

Brad Kearns:     So brutal.

Brian McKenzie:           It was.

Brad Kearns:     I mean the downhills, the 140-pound runners will tell stories about the brutality of the downhills, and then you have this guy doing – he’s doing the work of two people.

Brian McKenzie:           Yes, totally, totally. But there are ways I think like, look, if you’re really looking to maximize your potential, you’re best not following a group program. You should probably be listening to your body on how that responds. And I think that’s what most elite level athletes are doing. Is they’re listening to their bodies. I mean, my wife has two gold medals, phenomenal athletes. She was a rower. She was the smallest in her boat, and she always had a seat in that boat, and she worked her brains out. They would be doing 200 kilometres a week leading into the Olympics. And I mean, that’s more than most marathoners are running in a week, right?

Brad Kearns:     120 miles and change, yeah. It’s crazy, in a boat.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, and they’re in a race that’s taking them six minutes, seven minutes, right? So, they’d be cracking and she’d come home after three trainings … they’d do three training sessions in a day sometimes – come home, be in tears, just couldn’t handle the … and her mechanism for stress and overloading was sleep. Sleep for 12 hours, she’d wake up and her vitals would be perfect. I’d be like, “What in the hell?” I would be cooked for like three days.

So, she listened to her body and she would do what it needed to do. Other girls wouldn’t, they would break. And also, prior to meeting Kelly and myself, needed tools because she was breaking ribs and doing things that … because she was in poor positions and not thinking about things in terms of, “Oh, I could utilize strength and conditioning and build my body up a little stronger, sit up more upright.” Do things a little different. “Oh, I could change my nutrition a little bit and I might rebound. I might get a period.” “Oh yeah, my period came back.” And it just so happens that most professional women athletes that I’ve run into that are in working sports, think that losing their period is a badge of honor. And that is actually you learning that you’re not functioning like an optimal human being now. You’re actually not hormonally functioning positive.

So, we taught her and many of the women around that area those kinds of things and how to eat and what to do to buffer the training, and it’s interesting because people aren’t thinking like that totally. And it’s old school thinking that’s out there and it all changes.

Brad Kearns:     Yeah, team sports, man, it’s tough because you’re obligated to be part of the program.

Brian McKenzie:           100%, yeah.

Brad Kearns:     Yeah. I mean, my son went through intense high school basketball, experience four years practicing three hours a day, year-round. Instead of class, you had to take the PE class, and all they did was just bang it every day, and did quite well. But then what was the next level that was possible if … Kelly says 25% of your workout time as an endurance athlete should be devoted to flexibility, mobility. Now people are getting their calculators out like, “Holy shit, wait, a two-hour run? That’s 24 minutes of, I’m backing off my mileage, that’s going to be terrible.” But it hasn’t caught on yet and widespread.

Brian McKenzie:           People still are thinking in terms of more is better, and they don’t understand better is better. And more is nothing more than a by-product of better. And if you can’t connect those dots, like look, athletes who are doing the mobility work, athletes who are doing the nutrition – if you go look at the CrossFit games athletes right now, you will not see any of these top 10 athletes not doing all of these things right now. There’s no way to hold up in a sport like that. There’s absolutely no way. You will break because of the sheer amount of work you’re doing over different modalities, right? So, you’re going to break. You have to.

Brad Kearns:     That’s the goal of the games, is to see who’s the strongest, and doesn’t break.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah.

Brad Kearns:     Yeah, I know.

Brian McKenzie:           And I mean that’s really turned into an endurance event, is all it is. I mean, it’s a multi-day event. Sure, there are some heavy lifting in it, but the fact of the matter is, it’s just constant on, it’s suffering. It’s the ability to go and think what I have to do in order to win this workout or finish well on this, and how do I attack that? And oh, they’ve got a bike this year that’s showing up, and it’s got clippings. And all these guys are like, “Oh my God.” And I’m like, “Clippings? What are you talking about? That’s a bonus my friend. Like you’re going to get some relief because of that,” but they don’t know how to do that. So, there’s a skill component that these guys all need to learn, right? “Oh, yeah, that’s going to be fun.”

Brad Kearns:     Keep your pelvis flat, don’t shake around. I have to say I disparaged the athletes at my first side of the CrossFit games. I’ve never been … knew nothing about it. Mark Sisson took me over there, and I saw the muscle up biathlon.

Brian McKenzie:           Yes.

Brad Kearns:     They do 10 muscle ups, run a 200-meter circuit up the stairs, around the stadium, down the stairs. And we were right on the running course, and these guys were barely moving, they were exhausted. And I went to Mark, I go, “What’s up with this man? These guys can’t even run 200 meters?” And Mark’s like, “You ever done a muscle up?” I’m like, “No, what’s a muscle? Never done it.”

So, then in the expo area, they have the rings and you’d come try a muscle up. And there was no way I was getting up for one, and was exhausted jumping down. I’m like, “Okay, much respect, respect.” But the endurance part, I didn’t think about that since it’s a multiday event. I mean, you know-

Brian McKenzie:           Oh, it’s an endurance sport.

Brad Kearns:     Yeah, it’s people there can do that stuff. Wow.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah. And they’re smart. All these kids are doing endurance work now too. Their specific work for endurance, smart.

Brad Kearns:     So, with your endurance population, the people you’re working with buying into this new idea, it entails a big transition and mentality to not think more is better anymore. And how does that go if someone’s open to new ideas and trying something new like getting into the gym for the first time?

Brian McKenzie:           I think it gives possibilities to somebody, right? Versus you getting out of the monotonous, like, “I just need to go, get my mileage and do what I’m …” It’s giving you new opportunities and understanding your body. It’s giving you new opportunities and understanding how you should be moving. Oh, you’re limited in a specific way, “I suck at this. Oh, it turns out I can’t do a muscle up,” which is something that not too long ago, most human beings could do at any point. Because you needed that sheer strength to be able to get up a tree or get up a mountain or climb something in order to get away from something, right?

Sure, we’re way beyond that now, but it’s like do we want to be? And I’m not saying everybody needs to learn to do a muscle up, but I think it creates more opportunity for people. And it’s just another thing that you can look at in terms of doing something a little differently. And one of the big things we talk about is mastery. And learning to do something one way can make you a master in that one thing, one way.

Brad Kearns:     I’m good at running a really slow marathon, shuffling the last seven miles.

Brian McKenzie:           Now, what’s it like to run a 5k at a blistering pace? My job over the last 15, 20 years has been to do something, and then go back to the beginning and deconstruct and start over again with a new way of doing that or looking at it. And what we’re currently doing-

Brad Kearns:     That’s a good quote for the show right there, man. I think you nailed that.

Brian McKenzie:           Thank you.

Brad Kearns:     That’s your job, we need you.

Brian McKenzie:           We need a lot more breathers. We need a lot more than me, but thank you. And right now, the paradigm we’re in is we’re looking at breathing, and what breathing is doing. And now we’re looking at how people are breathing not only in performance, but in everyday life. And what does that mean? And we’re now starting to understand the interconnectivity of the brain and respiration and how that is absolutely part of – your respiration is a part of your central nervous system. In fact, we believe it’s the remote control. Your emotions, your pain, your muscles going to work, stress of any sort, there are dedicated respiration patterns that go off the moment those are happening on an autonomic level.

So, if I’m not thinking about it, if I’m unconscious about this, these are things that are happening. But if I become conscious of it, and this is what I kind of alluded to when I had the accident, was I instantly went back to training I have been doing over the last five, six years, right? Where I’m like, “I know that if I slow the respiration rate down, I’m not going to spin myself out. I’m not going to drop, I’m not going to put myself into this more sympathetic dominance tone that I’m already probably in, because I’m in a life-threatening situation. Thus, I’m giving myself more of a peripheral vision. I’m giving myself more of a tone to learn from this and understand this in a more clear, creative fashion.

That might sound a little odd in a life-threatening situation, but the fact is, is that is how we learn. Is you go through a very stressful situation and then you need to pull back and be able to go, “Oh, what was that? Oh my gosh, that made sense.” If you go watch the action sports community, you’ll see skateboarders … I’ve worked with a lot of skateboarders and professional surfers and big wave surfers, and they just keep going and going and going and when they’re failing, failing, failing, failing, and then all of a sudden, boom, they get it once. They’ve calmed down, they’ve let go, they’ve repeated something enough to where they’ve stressed themselves out enough to where they let go. Or they show up the next day and it just happens.

These are very interesting things. If you look at sports, like action sports, I mean, how much has surfing changed in the last 20 years? How much has skateboarding, snowboarding, skiing changed in the last 20 years? You can’t really put statistics on what they’re doing rotationally and all of these things with the tricks. You go back and look at where it started and you’re going, “Oh my God.” You go look at running and you’ll go look at working sports, rowing; the times aren’t that different. They haven’t made that big of a change.

So, when we start looking at things like that, what are they doing? And obviously there’s very different things at work here, but what’s happening with these athletes versus the other. And so, this is all part of what we’re looking at with even the brain and even respiration breathing. How it correlates, how it works together, what we can do to help reset or give people tools to use in real time or in time of pre-training, post-training competition, all of that, and what it can do.

Brad Kearns:     Well, I’m a big speed golfer and like the message of that sport is that it’s the ultimate Zen sport, because you’re moving quickly and you’re taking yourself out of that overly analytical mindset and all the stress that comes from hitting a bad shot and ruminating on it for the next seven minutes, and getting tense and thinking too much about your technique. Because you’re just running up to the ball and hitting it.

The insight that participants get, is they play as good or better than when they’re deliberating for four hours with all their clubs. We’re running around with a handful of clubs and hitting these crazy half shots and things like that. But it’s like you tap into that zone that you’re talking about, where the guy that wants to do the [Meg 00:46:58] twist 780 with another gainer at the end. They got to be accessing another peak performance state because it’s too insane and too dangerous. But they pull it off and they continue to progress the sport. It’s phenomenal.

Brian McKenzie:           And they look like they’re playing.

Brad Kearns:     Right, they’re in that-

Brian McKenzie:           Speed golf.

Brad Kearns:     Usain Bolt.

Brian McKenzie:           Skateboarding.

Brad Kearns:     Yeah, everyone thinks he’s just a clown at the starting line, and I’m looking deeper and going, “Okay, this dude’s the fastest human that’s ever been on the planet, the most consistent champion by far, not a flash in the pan.” And then you read his autobiography and he’s saying, “Yeah, I’m really lazy in training and my coach is always getting on me for bagging workouts, and I like to party and dance in Jamaica.” This is like the gospel that we’re going to find out in 20 years’ time, I think. And he’s showing us right now that being lazy is okay. It’s probably where he gets his advantage from the NCAA division one runner who’s going to do the relay also, and then he pulls his hammy and all that mindset about the endurance athletes still have that collective mentality that they want to suffer.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah. Well, I think as a society, we’ve learned that we’ve … or we’ve not learned, we’ve forced ourselves into this thing that suffering is something we need to do, and that’s an option.

Brad Kearns:     Hey man, I mean-

Brian McKenzie:           That’s an option.

Brad Kearns:     It’s okay, we don’t want to judge it. And if your life’s super easy and you’re living on the beach and you get food delivered to you or whatever, then go out and do the barb wire race or sign up for a long-distance event, but if you want to do it right and get all that value and that personal growth out of it, I mean that’s kind of my message on the show; get over yourself. It’s like, there’s another route here.

Brian McKenzie:           Oh, yeah.

Brad Kearns:     And it can be probably way more fun.

Brian McKenzie:           Yes. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I think really, it becomes our being doing these things, and it’s not even our profession. And there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s your path. I mean, that was my path. I mean, I was doing triathlons, I did Ironman, I did ultra-endurance. I did these things and I took on an identity with it and I took on this thing with it and it’s like, “Is this really what I do?” And I couldn’t get over the fact that everybody would always be like, “Look, what are you running from?” And I’m like, “What are you talking about?”

Brad Kearns:     The starting line you idiot.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, what are you talking about? And then it finally hit me one day. For me, it was, “Oh, I wasn’t really getting into life.” I really wasn’t. And that’s not life, is going, you know … for me, it wasn’t just going out and doing all … if you’re Dean Karnazes or not, like Dean, that’s what he loves to do. He’s a good friend of mine. I’ve spent time with him, I’ve paced him through badwater. I’ve run with him down the coast. I’ve done a lot with him, I’ve spent time with him, that is what he does. And I think he’s one of very few people who’s really made that, “This is what a career looks like in this, a lifetime in it. And I enjoy it and I get paid to do this. And I’m not the best, and that’s great. Like that’s a phenomenal thing. I don’t take anything away from that.

But that’s Dean and it’s like what are we really doing? And is there another path and is there another way to understand this? And do you want to understand it a different way? You look at things like the Bruce Lee concepts or you look at the things like martial arts and it’s like there’s a reason why there’s a belt system and there’s – like why people are respectful to each other. It’s like there’s a whole thing of mastery setup through these processes that a lot of our sports today I think really miss, and we miss opportunities on. I don’t know.

Brad Kearns:     Yeah, I mean, I used to put on a half Ironman triathlon for 10 years and the emails and the personal interactions I’d have on race day were mainly a massive collection of fears and anxiety and stress. And I realized it was part of the journey and it’s okay because like, if you’re just watching, you’re bored, you’re going to play on your phone for four hours and then your boyfriend’s going to come in, you’re going to cheer for 12 seconds and go.

So, it’s okay to get wrapped up like that, but then, I think if you get further down the line, you examine whether it’s giving you a healthy payoff to your life. Sometimes the answer is uh …

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah. I mean for me, it was like, this is healthy payoff so that I can eat crappy food.

Brad Kearns:     No shit, man. No shit.

Brian McKenzie:           Right? Like literally, I watch this, I did this, I watch this today. I mean, I see all of this stuff so that I can eat like crap, so that I can avoid this, not have to do that. Like it was just, “Oh, okay. What relationship?”

Brad Kearns:     Yeah, and are you okay with failure and setbacks and performing under expectation as a growth experience?

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah.

Brad Kearns:     Yeah.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah.

Brad Kearns:     I mean, I talk my son through some difficult basketball experiences and say, “Hey man, you guys got your ass kicked, that’s awesome. A fantastic experience.”

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, that is.

Brad Kearns:     What? But if you’re just sailing through life, that’s tough.

Brian McKenzie:           Dude, that’s so good. I love that.

Brad Kearns:     It’s tough.

Brian McKenzie:           I love that. Failure is just so important. It’s so important. And unfortunately, I don’t think enough of us learned that early enough. I didn’t.

Brad Kearns:     I guess Tiger Woods didn’t neither.

Brian McKenzie:           No.

Brad Kearns:     Right?

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah.

Brad Kearns:     Succeeded in every single way, and then a total train wreck.

Brian McKenzie:           Well, maybe not. Maybe this was supposed to be the way.

Brad Kearns:     That’s right, it was his destiny.

Brian McKenzie:           Isn’t he doing well right now?

Brad Kearns:     He’s doing great, it’s incredible. Especially, so many surgeries, but if you look at that journey where he was constantly fiddling with the swaying and-

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, I remember all of it.

Brad Kearns      … unsatisfied and needing to suffer and struggle and go join navy seals and jump out of the plane. And it’s strange because it definitely wasn’t enough just to be the best golfer in the world and the best athlete of all time in many ways in my eyes. He was tormented in certain ways. Who knows why, maybe it was too easy or he didn’t have the proper perspective to appreciate the journey along the way. If he’s not signing autographs or smiling, the next guy is staying for two hours to sign everybody’s hat, maybe that’s a checkpoint that … not that athletes are obligated to spend their time, but you can see these glimpses of-

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, but you look at somebody like Ronaldo. I mean, I don’t know if you watch soccer, but I mean the note he just wrote to his team and the fans and he left Real Madrid, like it was unbelievable. He thanked everybody, and like including the president who he didn’t get along with and he didn’t burn that bridge and did you see that with LeBron? Do you see that with the players like of today? And it’s like you just don’t see that stuff, and it’s like really, you want to live your life like that.

I’m not even a big soccer fan anymore, and I’m not even the biggest Ronaldo fan. Like I felt like he was kind of a little too cocky, but that note made me think like that’s a leader. That is somebody who is actually, who loves what he’s doing. He really does love what he’s doing. That’s where you’re looking at somebody who wants to finish his career in LA and it’s like, “Yeah, I’ve seen a picture of Magic running through Vegas with Madonna, Prince, Jack Nicholson, blah, blah, blah.” All these stars behind him as he’s running through Vegas, and I’m like, there’s one reason why people come to finish their career in LA, whatever. I mean, I’m speculating and all the Laker fans are probably going to hate me at this point.

I’m harping on somebody like LeBron who I don’t even know, but this is part of this thing we see with, what’s your process? Do you care about what you’re doing or is it just about the pay check and how much you’re making?

Brad Kearns:     Or just about winning.

Brian McKenzie:           Or winning.

Brad Kearns:     It’s the same sort of checkpoint for reflection.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, there’s this kid who’s a Jujitsu and he’s a (I’m not going to bring his name up). But he’s this phenom. He’s now a purple belt and he’s double gold as blue, as a white. Like he’s going to be this big, big thing. And his whole thing is, “I just want to win everything.” And it’s like, “Okay. What happens when that happens?”

Brad Kearns:     Then what?

Brian McKenzie:           Then what.

Brad Kearns:     So, we get these endurance athletes that are going to make a commitment to a transition, and they’re going to lower their precious volume in mileage. Is this something that you can preserve more easily than we think, your base, in other words?

Brian McKenzie:           I feel yes – I don’t feel, I mean, I’ve seen it.

Brad Kearns:     I’ve experienced it myself and even in recent years.

Brian McKenzie:           Well, I mean, let’s be clear, your VO2 max isn’t achieved by doing 70% of it, right? So, look, if you’re training and if you’re doing things, there’s no reason why if you’re not consistent in a manner that you’re getting response out of it, it’s just being able to figure out where that response is. What does adaptation mean? Where are you getting it? And are you willing to play around with that enough? Or do you need somebody to tell you what to do all the time?

I don’t think enough people get into feeling. And this was the third book I did with Dr Andy Galpin, which was Unplugged. And this was about fitness technology and where it’s headed and everybody’s so addicted to this stuff. And I use a lot of different technologies to understand stuff.

I once had an athlete who … he kept looking down at his heart rate monitors. We’re doing a run and he’s like, “Dude, we need to slow down, I’m going to blow up. Dude, we need to slow down, I’m going to blow up?” I’m like, “What’s the number you’re going to blow up at?” He’s like, “166.” I’m like, “Where’s your heart rate?” He’s like, “164.”. And I’m like, “Do you think you’d be talking to me right now if you were going to blow up?”

It was just this thing that went off in my head. It’s like I don’t think we’re connecting the dot of what that place you’re supposed to be at or feeling is, is. And if you’re doing something that’s long and slow, that should be at a sustainable pace that is for long and slow. If you’re doing something that’s 15 minutes, that should be at a pace you should be doing – it’s supposed to be for 15 minutes, right?

Or and what does that look like? If you’re supposed to be at your lactate threshold, what does that feel like? Do you know what that feels like? And you should have markers and parameters that are set up around things like that to understand that. Ensure heart rate’s one of those. Respiration rate’s going to be another one. So, what’s happening with both of those things, and then what do you feel when you’re there. You understand what that feeling is and do you understand how long you can be there or when you’ve gone past the time that you can.

It’s just interesting because I think we just start to fall off and we don’t want to pay attention anymore, and we just want to go and do something and-

Brad Kearns:     Outsource.

Brian McKenzie:           Totally. Or, “Hey, maybe I just want to go up into the mountains and go for a hike and not have to worry about it.” By all means, you should be doing that. I do. We go and hike all the time and I don’t think about any of this stuff. But if I’m in the gym or I’m doing interval work, I know what I’m doing at specific ranges in order to achieve specific physiological reactions out of those. And if I’m doing my job or what I’m trying to achieve, I should be getting response out of that so that things are improving along the way. And there’s no reason why you can’t continue that process throughout your life.

Brad Kearns:     Yeah, I guess if you have these metrics that you know what it feels like to run at 164 or to load up the bar with 180 in my case. In my hex bar, I’m up to 180 now listeners.

Brian McKenzie:           All right. That’s good.

Brad Kearns:     But if I feel like crap on a certain day and I know that my usual baseline sensation when I lift six reps of a certain weight is not happening, that’s going to be an opportunity to make a decision.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, and hey, if I can’t lift my baseline or I can’t do my baseline, whatever that is, right? On a specific day, what is that telling me? Probably not ready to be doing that again.

Brad Kearns:     Right.

Brian McKenzie:           I’m probably not recovered enough. Why do anabolic steroids work? Well, they shorten that recovery window.

Brad Kearns:     EFO.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, they shorten all that stuff up, right? And so, it makes it, so it’s really easy. So, if you’re not actually getting the recovery to do it, and you’re not using like … we believe that the future of human performance is literally in the recovery. It’s in the brain and in the recovery. That’s it. We have been screwing around with everything, like physical exertion and work that we could for a hundred years now. And it’s not really getting any more unique. It’s now going to become individualized recovery protocols. “What am I doing? Am I using some sort of respiration rate in order to get myself down into a more of a parasympathetic tone quicker? Am I using heat? Am I using ice for another stimulus to bring me up or drop me out? Am I sleeping? Am I taking a nap? Am I hydrated enough?” All these things start to play. “Well, how many hours of sleep did I get? What was my sleep score?”

I had to get rid of one of those things. Like I was too concerned with my sleep score. I’m like, why would I … just go to sleep.

Brad Kearns:     I wake up, I can tell you my sleep score, because my eyes feel – they feel greater, they feel baggy.

Brian McKenzie:           Exactly. I mean, what do you feel like when you wake up in the morning? If you’re not on it, like there’s something going on. So, I really think it’s in recovery. That’s the future of what we’re doing.

Brad Kearns:     Yeah, Maffetone said to me on a video that he’s obsessed with this 1:59 thing he wrote a book about. The 1:59 marathon and how it’s going to be by a barefoot runner because they’re better than any shoe. But he also said that it will come with a runner who’s doing less mileage and less intensity than today’s top marathoners. So, you’re slamming two doors and everyone’s thinking, “Well, they’re running 1:40 a week now. So, if they get up to 1:75, they’ll break two hours.” And it’s an interesting way to think about it.

Brian McKenzie:           Well, I once heard that Jack Daniels asked a room of runner-

Brad Kearns:     Jack Daniels, the exercise physiologist. A noted guy, yeah.

Brian McKenzie:           Where he has two different groups of runners. He offers them up two different programs. One is the over 100 miles a week program and one is like (and I’m getting this a little bit wrong), but one’s under like 40 miles a week program. Show of hands on who wants the over 100 miles a week program? And almost all the hands would go up. But you’ll get the same results.

Brad Kearns:     Guaranteed with the most exacting science [crosstalk 01:02:22]

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, and it’s like, “Oh, that’s the human condition.”

Brad Kearns:     Yeah, I think in my career, me and my peers, I think we screwed this up because we looked at it as this oversimplified base versus intensity. And should we up the intensity and go do the box jumps and the weighted bar or do more mileage.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, or even some skill development there, right? Layered in there.

Brad Kearns:     One-legged peddling, and things that we didn’t pay attention to. So, that was the first mistake, was like seeing it as this either or, and possibly it was like Maffetone says, just resting more would have been transformational. And then still keep – this was Sisson’s message to me when I had my best exercise; was just judge yourself by your best work out of the week. So, go do that eight-hour bike ride on Tuesday, but don’t worry about coming back and swimming 30 minutes on Wednesday and jogging a quick 20, and then Thursday going for two hours easy spin. Because we are programmed that we want to have that satisfaction of keeping to a schedule. But it’s like just throw down on people when that day comes, and then go on a siesta and watch videos.

So, when I literally increased my account membership at the VHS store … that’s how I’m dating myself now. That’s when my performance took off.

Brian McKenzie:           Yes, that’s great. I do think though, I mean it’s like you get somebody off the couch for the first time, more is better. Only because more, you’re doing something, right? You’re doing something for the first time. So, we need to get you doing more. And look, if you’re a beginning triathlete or a beginning runner, more is going to be better in the beginning phases of this. But, get better at it. Get better mechanics. You should be sleeping better, you should be feeling better throughout the day. You should becoming more mobile. Like these are all things that should be happening. And if those are things that are starting to deteriorate, then you’ve got a problem. I think once we’re past that point of where we’ve done enough, it’s then time to start to introduce that quality and rest to a large degree, so that we get that rebound effect.

Brad Kearns:     Well, it’s like the amenorrhoeic female. She’s headed down a road to maybe some wins and then a drop off the edge of the cliff. And I think we get fooled by that because we get so enthused at the start and we up our mileage and we set a PR and then another PR, and then we think we’re on the world. And then wonder why Debbie Potts is a podcaster up in Seattle and she did 12 Ironmans, including six Hawaii in eight years or something. And then she went out for a 50-mile bike ride and made it halfway and pulled over to the curb, and she was completely broken. And she spent the last three or four years deep dive into functional medicine just trying to feel better. It just ended in a snap of the fingers.

That’s a pretty dramatic example, but we have attrition rates in these sports, something’s happening where you got your finisher medals up there from doing some marathon with a group training aspect, like you recommend against because they’re going out there and pushing everybody at the same workout, working really well for the 3% fittest people and the rest of them are getting overstressed.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah. Well, I mean, look at how Dave Scott’s training people now. I mean he’s-

Brad Kearns:     How is he training people?

Brian McKenzie:           Just using this concept. He’s using this very concept of more is not better. He’s got athletes overhead squatting now. He’s doing more interval work.

Brad Kearns:     He’s going keto now, man.

Brian McKenzie:           He’s full blown. Now, I mean, here’s the other side of the spectrum, is it’s like, okay, I mean, I played in this world for a long time and it’s like, it doesn’t always work for everybody long-term. There’s very few people – Sisson can probably agree with this, that long-term kurtosis is probably not the best thing for somebody who’s doing a lot of intense or even long work. That can end up having detrimental effects for some people. I’ve seen it, but it doesn’t mean it’s not worked for some people. It has. And there are things … being a vegan, like that can be very awesome for a lot of athletes. I’ve seen it destroy some athletes.

The same goes for eating like crap or eating high carb or eating low carb or eating medium carb or eating lots of protein. I mean, you can look at bodybuilders. There’s Brawny Coleman. I mean, you see this in every sport. I mean, this guy was the eight time-

Brad Kearns:     Google that dude.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, and there’s a documentary on him now. And it’s unbelievable because the guy’s fighting to walk again. And that is like, you want to take yourself to the limit. You just need to understand what the limits are.

Brad Kearns:     What was he doing? Eating junk food or something?

Brian McKenzie:           No, no, no, but-

Brad Kearns:     He just over trained himself.

Brian McKenzie:           I mean you’ve got a 300-pound man who had 4% body fat and would out train anybody. He’d be in the gym for hours a day and he was massive. And he’s had to have multiple spinal surgeries and things because it’s just destroyed his body. And now, he’s fighting to walk again. It’s sad, but it’s also like he’s still got the fight in him and he’s like, “I’m going to do this.”

Brad Kearns:     New battle.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, new battle. And I’ve seen all this stuff with the endurance stuff years ago. People hated me. A lot of people did not like me because of what I was talking about. And yet, here-

Brad Kearns:     I heard your ritual podcast from several years ago where you guys got into it with the warring factions of the traditional endurance training with you telling me to jump up on boxes instead of go for another 50-miler. It was very entertaining. But it was super thought provoking too. I’m not making light of this, but it’s like we got to see where we fit into that picture and test things out, and be open-minded and that’s how you progress.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, absolutely. No, and I commend Rich. I mean he loves what he’s doing. He does great at what he’s doing. And he responds well to what he’s doing in that specific thing.

Brad Kearns:     I mean, I’ve heard some argument, I’m not taking a position here, but a certain set of genetics will thrive on a vegan diet. I don’t know what percentage it is. It could be seven or 12 or 14%, and then the rest of the people may thrive for a year because they stopped going to Burger King and Donut Land, and then they’ll start to develop deficiencies like you’ve mentioned. That’s not a rip against the vegan diet, it’s just an encouragement to be open-minded and explorer.

Brian McKenzie:           I’ve tried vegan diet and it did not pan out. It did not go well. Now, the vegan community will probably go, “Well, you probably didn’t do it right.” It’s like, “Well, maybe I didn’t, but whatever.”

Brad Kearns:     You didn’t take your 27 supplements.

Brian McKenzie:           I’ve been involved in the paleo community. I’ve done the low carb, I did high carb. I was a high carb athlete.

Brad Kearns:     Sponsored by -this episode sponsored by Goo and Gatorade. Brian’s one two punch for success; power, strength, endurance, and a few sugary products.

Brian McKenzie:           I find it very interesting that people who are willing to go down and fight for a way of eating or training or doing and yet, have only experienced really one or two things. And I’m not harping on them, I just find it very interesting. Because-

Brad Kearns:     That’s all interesting folks.

Brian McKenzie:           It is very interesting and it’s also very telling. And I’m not interested in the person who’s only experienced one or two things in their lifetime, and how they’ve done it. I’m interested in people who’ve actually gone out and experienced a lot of different ways of doing things and want to share that with people, and want to pass that on. And we are designed biologically to literally share information. That is what every cell in our body reverberates. And I think that obviously, genetically, we can pass that on, right? But we also have the ability to pass on ideas and share things.

Brad Kearns:     The evolution timeline, man. You nailed it. 60,000 years ago, there was an extreme spike in population and survival rate and the evolutionary biologists, believe it was due to being able to pass information on better, from generation to generation. So, they’re getting older, they’re succeeding, they got their food things down, their hunting methods. But the fact that they could share more information was attributed to the spike.

Brian McKenzie:           100%, 100%.

Brad Kearns:     Yeah, and here we are today, man. Doing podcasts, YouTube and hopefully-

Brian McKenzie:           … social media.

Brad Kearns:     Hopefully the collective consciousness will grow. Especially, my heart goes out to the endurance community, man. I loved it. It was my life, it was my identity when I was a kid. I have a lot of shows in the bank here talking about how I had to get over myself starting as a professional athlete, thinking that this was the end all and the life or death matter, and I was so intense and competitive and that was how I needed to be. And then you get punched in the face a few times and you have to wake up and go, “Oh, okay. Oh, I was supposed to have fun during the training and the process and fight that battle, the starting line without that tension and anxiety and that chanting paleo breathing, right?

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah.

Brad Kearns:     Yeah, it’s kind of the deep diaphragmatic breathing.

Brian McKenzie:           There you go.

Brad Kearns:     You know that Body, Mind, Sport book, John Douillard? It was published like in 1998 or something. And one of the tidbits he said was, “Try going out there and running with your mouth closed and breathing through your nose, and pulling that deep diaphragmatic breath through the nose.” And now, here we are here-

Brian McKenzie:           Here we are.

Brad Kearns:     Hitting that hard.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, I mean that’s literally what we have all athletes doing. Is understanding that concept. And I mean, you can go back and look at when Spartans were doing that. They were having their children do things like that. There are tribal communities in Africa that have rituals where kids are supposed to go through the desert with a glass of water in their mouth and they’re supposed to fill up that same glass at the end of it.

All of this stuff is starting to really – that information’s finally been … I mean there was a guy who wrote a book in 1867 about this stuff. It was called Shut Your Mouth and Save Your Life. And he literally observed over a million indigenous people in North and South America. And the difference, the biggest difference that he saw between the indigenous people and civilized man, was that civilized man had his mouth open all the time, slept with his mouth open, did everything with his mouth open. And the indigenous folks literally, would sleep with their mouth closed, they’d hunt with their mouth closed, they wouldn’t talk a lot. When they did talk, they were doing … It’s a very quick little interesting read. And it’s not scientifically backed, but the fact is-

Brad Kearns:     Now it is, today.

Brian McKenzie:           Oh, yeah. And I mean, we’re about to jump into some research projects ourselves directly in the human performance world based on performance with this stuff, to show what we’ve been seeing so that we’re actually really validating a lot of this stuff. And we’re a part of that process.

Brad Kearns:     Well, shoot yoga’s kind of new, right? 3,000 or 4,000 years old. And now, we’re getting that wise breathing is such as central element to that. And getting great science with the different parts of the brain lighting up when you’re in too deep breathing and-

Brian McKenzie:           You got it.

Brad Kearns:     What about the hot and cold, man? Let’s finish off with some of that stuff, because I’m a recent enthusiast.

Brian McKenzie:           Awesome.

Brad Kearns:     I got on the phone with Kay Starr and he gave me the full rundown. Then I played the voicemail on one of my shows about cold therapy because he said, “You go in there for a few minutes, if you start shivering, get the fuck out. If you’re in there longer, you’re just showing off, man,” and all that kind of good stuff. But something’s besides the boost of norepinephrine and the increase oxygen and blood, there’s something that … you’re expressing this idea a lot too, that there’s something beyond that. Like the focus, resilience, the peacefulness of the experience.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, I mean, we use the cold to really show people what it’s like to be in those high stress situations again. If you’ve never really been in an ice bath where you’re down to your neck, it’s a shocking experience. I watched two kids do it today, for the first time, they wanted to. And their father was there, and they stuck their arm and then they said it wasn’t that cold. And so, we said, “All right, well, why don’t you get in.” And they got in and literally started hyperventilating instantaneously and it changed their entire reaction, and they jumped out, right? Less than a minute, which is perfectly fine. And that’s exactly what you should do. Like you should get out if you’re really freaking out.

But if we could teach you how to deal with that situation in a different way, and then you were able to connect the dots into any stressful situation to be able to control that situation, that is a tool that is there for the rest of your life to a large degree. And obviously the breathing, and something we’re really now getting into is some of the visual components of stuff, because you can do things with … your ocular nerve is the fastest nerve to your brain. So, what you see, if you can see, if you have vision, is literally the first thing that can change things.

One of the quick analogies on this is like, look, if I’m looking at a sunset, am I freaking out and stressing out? I’m watching a sunrise or I’m out in nature and I’m seeing the mountains, do you see people going, “Dammit, raw, this sucks?”

Brad Kearns:     “Can’t get service out here, damn!”

Brian McKenzie:           And there’s a good reason for that, and it’s mathematical. And it’s literally your visual system is peripheral and I see everything. So, I can see my hands up here to the side. So, I’m looking out at the horizon and I can now shift myself into more of a parasympathetic tone or down shift myself. I’m calm. I’m signalling for my body to be calm. The light at sunset, your brain knows what that light means over the course of our history of a species. Because of what that light does, it triggers things in your body to go time to start to calm down and go to bed.

Then that light in the morning does the same thing and says, “Time to wake up and start the day.” So, for you travelers out there, those are probably two of the most important things you can do. But, back to the cold, if I’m in the cold and I’m actually focused hyperly on something in front of me – think about being on your phone. “What’s going on? What’s going on? Oh my God, the likes. I’ve got them to type this message, like boom! I got hit by a car because I’m not paying attention, right?” And how many times does that happen a day? All the time. People are on their phones, you’re distracted, you’re in a highly focused state. You’re sympathetic dominant, right?

Then if we actually can introduce maybe some breathing stuff and you’ve got some nasal breathing, because if you nasal breathe, you’re actually tapping into the parasympathetic, more of the parasympathetic branch, your vagus nerve, right? And then, you’re actually calming the system down to some degree, slow the breathing down. Largely, what I like to do is you get 10 breaths when you get in the cold. And when you first start, those 10 breaths are probably going to happen in a minute. But if you get really good at this, it’s probably going to last well over five minutes.

That can happen if you can really start to teach yourself how to do it, or you use specific breathing patterns. Which yoga has been using specific patterns for four or 5,000 years. And they’ve understood these concepts to a large degree. So, just introducing respiration into something where you know you’re freaking out or even if you’re working out and you’re pushing it really hard, well, what’s going on with your breathing? What if you controlled your breathing a little differently, what would happen? And boom! All of a sudden, you’ve got athletes who are like, “Oh wow, I’ve got a different gear here.” Yeah, because you’re not letting yourself get out of control, and you’re not going past that.

So, I think the cold is a really good teacher with that. And on the flip side of that, you’ve got the heat. And so, you’ve got something that can really start to open things up and allow you to feel things in a different way. The heat’s always been used as a spiritual tool, right? Many cultures use it for … you hear about sweat lodges and deep stuff like that, but you’ve got all these Nordic countries that have been using it for hundreds if not thousands of years, where they … I mean, you don’t have actually running water in the winter up there, so you’re not really bathing. So, this is the only real way to do it. So, it’s a very cleansing process as well, right?

So, add breathing to that, where 70% of the toxins that are in your body are actually removed through respiration. So, you could sweat all you want and think your cleansing yourself, but it’s not really that much. 30% is you’re talking sweat, spit, defecation, urination; that’s all combined 30%, where respiration becomes that large detoxifier. And you can add that into part of your day and wow, it’s weird, you feel better. You want to remove your potential to have heart disease when you’re older, get in a sauna three times a week. You’ve just dropped it 50%.

Brad Kearns:     Are you tying in the breathing exercises with both cold and hot exposure as a necessary hand in hand?

Brian McKenzie:           Not necessary, but I think they are hand in hand. We will teach the cold with specific breathing. The heat we do, it’s not necessary, but it enhances it. Like holding a breath pattern for 15, 20 minutes in the sauna can be interesting. And you start to see when your brain’s getting a little too hot and things are getting too hot, your respiration rate wants to change, yet you’re not moving. And so, stress is stress, man. You can learn a lot.

Brad Kearns:     Oh my gosh, I find the cold plunge as my best opportunity to meditate. I go in there and I take my 20 deep diaphragmatic breaths that will last a varying length. I just finished 20 and sometimes I’ll just exhale and sit there for 12 seconds or something and getting better over time. But I remember one time, I went out there because it’s habitual. I do it every day and I had a podcast going, and I’m like, “I’ll just listen to the podcast,” and I have froze in there. It was completely different than my ritual which connected that deep breathing and getting into that parasympathetic state where I can handle this and I’m completely focused on what’s going on, versus blah, blah, blah, some podcasts is going. And I jumped in, and I remember my hands were tingling, and my feet were tingling and I got out and turn the thing off, and then started over.

So, that was a big insight that you got to be prepared for what’s going on in there and address it.

Brian McKenzie:           Big time. I think it’s very important to be aware of what’s going on. Like I’ve watched plenty of people who think that going into an ice bath for 10 minutes is a great idea, for no other reason than just trying to man through 10 minutes of an ice bath. And then later that day they’re still purple or blue and it’s like, “You know what hypothermia does? It means you failed. It means you’re not going to respond to this. You’re not creating an adaptive process to this.” Hypothermia is not the game.

But getting to that shiver response is actually a good thing. Your shiver response means that you’re at that first stage and you’re actually kicking on a gene that can help with a lot of stuff strength-wise. You can see upticks from what I understand in testosterone through proper cold training.

So, there’s a lot of benefits to the whole thing. Your ability to actually buffer off the cold. Like, I mean, I went into the ocean a couple of years ago, just to do some body surfing in the middle of winter here, and I didn’t have my wetsuit on. And it was probably, I don’t know, 58 degrees or something. I was out there for 45 minutes and didn’t even realize I had been out there for 45 minutes. I’m like, “Whoa! What happened?” Like the water was cold and it didn’t really affect me. Like, “I’m usually in a wetsuit this cold.” And that wasn’t happening.

Brad Kearns:     Yeah, you condition yourself. I suppose the same for the heat exposure if you’re going to go do an athletic endeavor in high temperatures.

Brian McKenzie:           100%. And especially if you’re an endurance athlete of any sort, keep training. I don’t know why you would not be doing it, regardless of even if you’re going to be in hot space or not.

Brad Kearns:     Yeah, I mean the recovery benefits and the muscle building. Rhonda Patrick’s doing intensely scientific shows about this stuff. Where they’re showing these people get fitter just from … I guess they’re getting a cardiovascular response too. They’re doing an aerobic workout in the sauna, literally.

Brian McKenzie:           Heat shock proteins. I mean, you get that to happen in an endurance workout.

Brad Kearns:     Okay, man, we covered-

Brian McKenzie:           We did.

Brad Kearns:     … a pie slice of all the great stuff you’ve got going on, but where can we go and get more into this stuff?

Brian McKenzie:           Powerspeedendurance.com. We’ve got our courses on there, Art of Breath. We’ve got all of our stuff on breathwork; cold exposure, heat exposure, training; the methodologies behind everything. All the principles behind all of the stuff we’re doing. We’ve got training programs on there. All of it’s there.

Brad Kearns:     Right, I noticed you have a little bite size intro. You can get cold and hot education for 15 bucks or something and you’re good to go.

Brian McKenzie:           15 bucks and we’ve got a whole slew of information on how to do it.

Brad Kearns:     Same for breathing, yeah.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah.

Brad Kearns:     Love it.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah.

Brad Kearns:     All right, Brian McKenzie here at the nice day on the beach.

Brian McKenzie:           Thanks for having me Brad.

Brad Kearns:     Right on. Thanks for listening everybody.

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Brad Kearns:     Hey listeners, here’s a wild idea. Eat good, clean, delicious, sustainably raised meat. That’s why we’re going to talk about Wild Idea Buffalo; 100% grass-fed and finished meat. These are animals that lived a fabulous healthy life out there on the great plains of South Dakota. Look at their website wildideabuffalo.com, and the homepage picture is going to blow your mind. These beautiful animals out grazing.

You probably know or have a basic awareness of the distinct contrast between the horrible, miserable feedlot existence of the conventionally raised animal, a grain-based diet filled with hormones, pesticides, antibiotics, and a body filled with stress hormones when they slaughter it violently. You may not want me to go deeper here, but I will. anyway. This is a quote from Jared Chrisman, primal health coach who’s in tight with the Wild Idea Buffalo people, introduced us. Thank you, Jared.

He says, “Slaughterhouse animals have been taken out of their natural environment and trailered to a feedlot where they stand in their own faeces, eating corn grain. And in some instances, expired human food like cookies and candy, sometimes with the wrapper still on. Then, once the animals are sufficiently fattened up, they trailer them again, putting them under more stress and they put them in shoots and kill them in mass quantities without regard to the animal’s wellbeing.”

So, this concept of having stress hormones running through the bloodstream as any hunter will tell you, is bad news. If you don’t get a clean shot on an animal and it suffers before it dies, you’re going to have a meat that doesn’t taste as good and has less nutritional value.

Then we have the contrast of the natural life of the Wild Idea Buffalo, whose diet is basically water, grass and sunshine, and supporting this goal of sustainability. They call it Beyond Organic. The company’s mission to let them graze on the pasture, not ruin the native lands of America, but just be in harmony with the environment.

When you taste an animal that’s been sustainably raised, you will notice a difference even if you’re a less sophisticated consumer like me, who just eats food for energy my whole life and goes out there and trains. Of course, I’m a little different now. But when I consume a pastured egg with that bright orange yolk, or when I bite into a grass-fed steak or some Buffalo Burger, which is one of the greatest meals. So simple to prepare, try it yourself. Give them a chance. I know you will be extremely pleased with the quality of food that you get from wildideabuffalo.com.

Speaker 3:        Here’s what you do, follow Brad’s instructions carefully. Visit wildideabuffalo.com and hit the order button. They have organized everything for you with beautiful pictures. Click on monthly specials. Try their bundles, so you get free shipping. If you’re on a budget, hit the ground bison and burger section. They have all these different flavors and packages. And if you have pets and you care about them, you’ll click on the pet food section and order up for those beautiful animals too. They deserve to eat healthy food instead of garbage in a bag. Wildideabuffalo.com, check it out today. Thank you for listening.

Brad Kearns:     Welcome to the Get Over Yourself Podcast. This is Brad Kearns.

Brian McKenzie:           People still are thinking in terms of more is better, and they don’t understand better is better. And more is nothing more than a by-product of better.

Athletes who are doing the mobility work, athletes who are doing the nutrition – if you go look at the CrossFit games athletes right now, you will not see any of these top 10 athletes not doing all of these things.

Brad Kearns:     Hi listeners, I am here to introduce an awesome, beautiful show with Brian McKenzie, known as the founder of the CrossFit Endurance Movement, and doing his thing at his power, speed, endurance, new brand website, incredible programming. I’m so happy to finally meet this guy in person and catch up with him. I’ve been fascinated with what he’s been doing for many years since I picked up this amazing book that was shipped to our office. I don’t know, was it seven or eight or nine years ago, called Power Speed Endurance.

It was the most thorough and mind-blowing tome on athletic peak performance and training that I ever seen. I couldn’t even believe it was written. Like every single page you flip to, it’s just deep, an amazing programming that was taking the dialogue and the approach way beyond, especially for endurance athletes, way beyond the long, flawed and dated notion of just doing mileage and more is better.

So, he kind of emerged back when he came to prominence as a controversial figure, because people were seeing that he was trying to “hack” the traditional approach to endurance training. And tell people that if they did a bunch of box jumps or loaded up a squat bar with weight, they could simulate what was going on at mile 20 of the marathon and power through the final six miles better than if they just up their mileage, like all marathon runners or triathletes seemed to have been obsessed with for the past 40, 50, 60 years.

Well, guess what? Now this stuff is really coming into prominence after Brian and others fighting that battle for a long time and fighting against the naysayers and the traditionalists. And now, we’re at a nice explosion of perspective where the comprehensive approach to athletic training with the flexibility and mobility that his sidekick, Dr Kelly Starrett is known for, and the explosiveness applied to endurance goals is being well validated by science. And of course, all the case studies of people that Brian has been working with and people like him that he’s trained and have embraced this new paradigm.

So, to finally sit down with him, meet him in person was great. Because looking from afar, he’s kind of come off as this controversial guy, and I think the media has advanced this kind of perspective. There was an outside magazine article back in 2013 titled Brian McKenzie’s Controversial New Approach to Marathon Training. And the subtitle says, “The mastermind behind CrossFit endurance says, the best way to train for a marathon is to run less and torture yourself more in the gym.”

Well, not quite that simple. In fact, that’s an oversimplified approach and a gut kind of recoil that a lot of the traditional endurance athletes had when this guy came on the scene. But guess what? It’s now becoming very clear that chronic cardio is not only ineffective, but can destroy your health and mess up your heart. And it’s also evident that endurance athletes are deficient in many areas, including that important factor of maintaining good technique while you’re fatigued.

This is something that Brian’s principles are fundamental to realizing that, look, if you’re running a marathon, for example, and your low back and your hip flexors blowout at mile 20, because you’ve probably never trained beyond 20 miles in training, but you do have to go 26 on race day, then guess what? Any energy that you have left in your body to produce your cardiovascular machine can still go. That energy, a lot of it is wasted because it’s going into the ground instead of generating explosive, propulsive force with each stride as you might if you were able to preserve good technique through a more balanced and complimentary training program that did have these features of explosiveness and balance.

Also, what’s great about Brian is the recovery aspect is central to his theme. So, you’re not trading in high mileage for high intensity and blowing yourself out at CrossFit. And we know that the CrossFit movement has been duly criticized for the people that go in there with an overly intense approach, and over train via CrossFit or over train via endurance. This is the evolved mentality of athletic training where recovery, breathwork and breath control and the things that he’s really big on now are central elements.

How about cold exposure and heat exposure? You can find him on YouTube, getting you all deep on that and also at his website with little courses and easy bite size entry protocols, so you can get into this cutting-edge stuff from a remote location with all his offerings.

Wow! I’ve been done racing for 24 years now off the professional triathlon circuit, and I really wish I could go back in time with some of these realizations and some of these cutting-edge techniques. And what I would do, jeez, you know what? I’d slow down probably even more, honoring that Maffetone method where the low-end aerobic training can produce great dividends without causing those hormonal and energy system stresses that put you into overtraining mode.

I definitely would have added more varied and probably more frequent explosive efforts as advocated by Brian’s work over the last couple of decades. And more mobility efforts, of course, working with the bands and working with the stretch chords and working on my posture and my breathing. But most of all, more rest and recovery.

So, those are some of the great takeaways that you will get from this show; the importance of recovery. How that represents the next evolution in fitness breakthrough. But interestingly, we don’t just hit the nuts and bolts right away. We just had a great connection and we went off into kind of a metaphysical and philosophical direction with the show.

It started because oh man, this guy is such a trooper. He had a severe accident, a neck injury, only a month prior to the recording. And he rallied, he agreed to meet me anyway. He was sitting there with a big giant smile with his neck in a neck brace. That’s why his audio is perfect because he can’t fricking move his neck. He’s just speaking right into the microphone for the entire show.

But what a great attitude, and you could see the light and the warmth coming from him. This guy who’s been positioned as the hardcore guy who’s breaking the endurance concepts down, none of the sort. He’s a really great, balanced, thoughtful guy. So, we go off into different directions with the show and then we take it back to some of the great practical techniques.

So, you’ll get a whole bunch from this show. I especially love when he sprinkles in the dialogue with terms like “mastery” and had the epic quote, the epic pull quote for the show, where he countered that more is better mentality by saying this maxim, which is priceless and you’ll never forget it; more is not better, better is better. Oh yeah. So, have a great time as I did with Brian McKenzie. And go check out his work at Powerspeedendurance.com. Here we go with the show.

Brian McKenzie?

Brian McKenzie:           Yes.

Brad Kearns:     After that wonderful introduction that I will record after the show because you’re a good guy, man. Just to sit here with me with your neck in a brace. I’m sorry to see it, but you got a smile on, you’re recovering, you’re coming back strong. Do you want to talk about it? Is it part of living life or what happened, man?

Brian McKenzie:           Well, yeah, it’s obviously, I mean, being in a neck brace changes things for people who are healthy, I guess.

Brad Kearns:     We have the microphone positioned perfectly for Brian, and you will not notice any change in his voice tone.

Brian McKenzie:           None.

Brad Kearns:     It’s fixed position.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, I originally was playing tag with my nephews and I was running up a ladder to jump onto a crosswalk on top of the … and there was a bar up top that I missed that I just didn’t see. And I went directly into it with the top of my head and it knocked me out. And then through that, I compressed the discs C3-4 which created a spinal contusion. So, it bruised my spinal cord. So, not only did I go out, but when I woke up on the ground, I was paralyzed. And so, I just kind of was like, “Oh, life just kind of changed.” I mean, I was pretty scared at first.

Brad Kearns:     I thought you were unscared, but this will do it to you.

Brian McKenzie:           That will do it. But unscared is no more or less just the idea that it’s just another term for courage, I think. I mean, it’s just like, hey, like fear exists, it’s part of life. It is what it is.

But instinctively, what I did was I just slowed down my breathing based on what I understand and plasticity and kind of PSTD, stuff like that. Because I knew that had I started to ramp my respiration rate up, started reacting poorly, started freaking out, I would have probably created a little bit more trauma or a lot more trauma centered around what was going on, regardless if I was going to walk or move again or not.

Thankfully, within about five or 10 minutes I was moving my arms. About 30 hours later, I was able to move my … they wanted to see if I could walk, which was like they … basically, I looked like a baby. So, you’ve got kids and it’s like when your kids first learned to walk, that was exactly what I went through at about 30 hours or so.

Then that took a day or so to kind of get better at, to where I had clearance then – I wanted to get out of that hospital because we have a medical … our medical insurance is through Stanford. So, I wanted to get down to Stanford Healthcare, and talk to the surgeons down there. I talked to probably a half dozen surgeons and non-surgeons, all those about what I should be doing. And it all came back unanimous that I did need the surgery. And I talked to enough people to understand.

So, I had a surgery, anterior discectomy on June 12th with a fusion of C3-4 because the disc were just compressed enough and still like there was enough … they needed to create room for the spinal cord. So, I was just a walking time bomb until that happened. And so, that was where I was at. And then, so, here I am.

Brad Kearns:     Here we are, this is a month anniversary, man. Good job.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, it is, it is. Yeah, I’m here. I’m happy to be doing this, working, walking around. I still have some numbness in my legs. I mean a spinal cord injury like that is pretty … Everything that came back from every person, every doctor that understood the MRIs, was like, “We usually don’t see people get back up from this.” So, yeah, I was pretty fortunate.

Brad Kearns:     So, you think that acute time does matter in terms of not going into panic and not sending the message. You’re sending a message up your spinal cord. The stress hormones and information-

Brian McKenzie:           I can only go with my experience, but in what I have experienced and what I’ve seen with other people who do have acute trauma and do react very poorly to it, and including my … I’ve reacted poorly to stuff before. We all have, right? That creates micro … I think that is part and now, this isn’t the total thing that we could be looking at within PTSD, but this is a part of what post-traumatic stress disorder is. Is I have a traumatic experience, I hit my head, I’m now … and this happens and if I don’t deal with this appropriately, I’m never going to walk away from that situation or a similar situation without having complete fear wrapped around that or freaking out with things like that.

And in dealing with trauma myself, like we all deal with trauma, right? I’ve done enough therapy to be able to look back at childhood and understand what sort of traumas I’ve had, and why I’ve behaved the way I have. So, I have some background understanding these things. But to narrow that down to an instance to where my life changed instantly and be able to go, “Holy crap.” Like this is just another opportunity. This is something to kind of walk through and understand regardless if I’m moving the same or not. I mean it’s not going to matter. It’s going to be what it is.

So, do I want to be more of a burden or do I want to be more of somebody that’s adding to the game.? Right? And those are just choices, and that’s responsibility and I think that’s part of this human experience.

Brad Kearns:     I mean, you read and hear a lot about people that suffer misfortune. They express these fabulous perspective where they’re thankful to be alive in their debilitated state or whatever’s going on. And then we compare that to the day-to-day complaining and commiserating. The psychologist say humans like to commiserate. So, if we issue a complaint about today’s traffic in the Orange and San Diego County areas, I’ll come in and say, “Sorry, I was late, man. The traffic was horrible.” “Oh, that sucks. Yesterday I missed my flight.” And we take that angle so much more frequently than this enlightenment that sometimes takes a warp in the head I guess. Figuratively, analytically.

Brian McKenzie:           Totally, I couldn’t agree with you more. I mean, it made me think about stuff like that, but it’s like, I think that’s just part of life at this point, and where we’re at with comfort and what we’ve created. Like we get to be in cars and I can drive up from Mexico to Orange County into LA, in a single day. Which is something that how long ago would that have taken? A week.

Brad Kearns:     If the borough wasn’t too hot.

Brian McKenzie:           Right? Yeah, yeah. At this time of year, right? Like, great, we’re a little bit more advanced than that, but we do find … unfortunately, I see even in myself most of all, because I have to look there first. And people are nothing more than reflections of myself, and that’s why I look at it anyway. Anything I’m irritated at, I know that there’s a reason why I’m irritated to that, my own behavior to a large degree.

Brad Kearns:     “Hold up a mirror,” my cousin says. She’s a therapist. I’m like, “Well, wait a second, hold up a mirror? Hold up a mirror. And then, you’re all set.”

Brian McKenzie:           It’s it, man. It’s it. It all comes back to you and I think that where we are with … if we get comfortable in something, we have to find something to complain about, because we don’t need to survive anymore. We’ve kind of mastered that here. I mean, we’re living in a time where we’ve never had less war. We’ve never had more healthy people. We’ve never had it better, yet we complain more about everything.

Brad Kearns:     Rates of depression-

Brian McKenzie:           Here we go.

Brad Kearns:     Anxiety.

Brian McKenzie:           This is going to be the biggest cause of death here in 2025 or something. Is stress will be the biggest cause and this will be mental disease, will be the biggest cause of death.

Brad Kearns:     That’s a stat that’s going to [crosstalk 00:15:52] eating donuts-

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, you got it.

Brad Kearns:     To stress.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, yeah.

Brad Kearns:     Yeah, wow.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, and this is a self-inflicted time. But to go back to Yuval Noah Harari who wrote the book Sapiens. I don’t know if you read that or not. It’s a phenomenal book. But it’s like we’re at the first time in our existence where we’re self-creating disease and problem. And I think when you can really wrap your head around that, that’s where something like this is like, this is what it’s like to be healthy and have a spinal injury and recover from it. I’m bored, I want to do more than I should.

I mean, I sat in the hospital and I was watching where drug addiction begins. People who just constantly are wanting their pain meds, when are they really in that much pain? And because I understand the opioid process to a large degree; how that works, how the pain buffers out, how we’re not even really … and then we’re shutting down more things. And then what chronic pain actually is. Chronic pain is nothing more than basically a mental disorder to a large degree. We’re just telling ourselves we’re in more pain.

It’s kind of like a Phantom Limb Syndrome which is fascinating, but this is where we get in this chronic stage of something and we’re dedicating … it’s, “I’m bored or I’m just not getting up and doing anything about it and I’m feeling sorry for myself. And I’m like, here I am, what am I complaining about? I’m complaining about traffic and this guy like, whatever. His daughter died or something happened, terrible to him today, and how can we change that?” I don’t know.

Brad Kearns:     “I didn’t get the promotion. I’m feeling inferior in my teenage peer group.” All that stuff is just those thoughts that pop in.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah.

Brad Kearns:     Yeah.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah.

Brad Kearns:     Heavy stuff, man. We’re off to a heavy start.

Brian McKenzie:           Heavy start.

Brad Kearns:     Yeah. Well, I appreciate your attitude and you’re on way back. So, I would imagine that everything will seem more special, the ordinary moments of life having gone through something.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah.

Brad Kearns:     Yeah, I asked Lance Armstrong that question a long time ago before he got into a scandal with Tiger Woods and all that. And I said, “Does having gone to hell and back (referring to his cancer treatment and that whole brush with death), does that give you a more refreshed perspective, a more appreciation for everyday life?” And he goes, “Everyone’s been to hell and back one way or the other.” And it was like the greatest answer because it got me to think like, everyone’s been to hell and back. And we have that opportunity to wake up with a smile and say, “Hey, I’m here.” And I think when you’re at your lowest is the most difficult time to accept this advice coming through you on your iPod or whatever you’re listening to. But that’s when you need it the most.

Brian McKenzie:           I couldn’t agree more. I think everybody’s fighting their own war. Everybody’s in pain to some degree, whatever. Everybody has the ability to take responsibility for way more than they do.

Brad Kearns:     Oh, you mean instead of make excuses or tell stories?

Brian McKenzie:           Or point the finger. Like, “Oh, you.” It’s like, “No.”

Brad Kearns:     Hold the mirror.

Brian McKenzie:           Fault and responsibility are two different things.

Brad Kearns:     Yeah. Speaking of 2025, Deepak Chopra was on a podcast recently and he said, at our current rate of demise and collective dysfunction of society, he thinks we’re going to be extinct in 30 years. And that’s a smart dude right there, giving the warning out, due to violence at all levels. And he called out, of course, global violence with the nations, but also relationship violence and all the other places that you can describe violence that we don’t usually consider. But then in the next breath he said, “If this collective consciousness builds and finally we have the time to not go looking for food all day, we can survive. We can think of higher concepts, maybe we have a chance to turn it around.” That was his message that we need to wake up.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah. So, when I hear something like that, it’s not that I don’t agree with it, but what I do think of is, it’s like you create a pill, right? For a disease, and you can’t make everybody take that pill. And not everybody’s going to take that pill, right? But you can’t tell … like we all know moving and exercising is a very healthy thing to do, yet not everybody does it. Why?

Brad Kearns:     And it feels good immediately as well as long-term payoff. So, why?

Brian McKenzie:           Why? And so, I get it, it’s a hard thing to start doing. But I think back to kind of where I think about this, is it’s like nature has a way of thinning the herd. And we, whether we like it or not are animals, are a part of this system. And although we’ve removed ourselves from it a lot, yes, we’re now inflicting disease upon ourselves. Maybe we’re sending ourselves ready to just thin the herd somehow. I mean it’s a bit of a morbid thought, but it’s also like, can you save everybody? Can you help everybody? And not even … Jesus knew He couldn’t do that, right? I mean, like, “Hey, if you follow me,” right? Or the Buddha, like, if you’re going to follow this path, you can find enlightenment. But I think we have our own way of it all figuring itself out at some point.

Brad Kearns:     Well, I think about that example with diet and the criticism of the evolutionary style eating. Where you got to go get grass-fed meat and pasture raised eggs and organic produce, and then it becomes expensive and then literally unsustainable. If everyone switches over to grass-fed and we need our cows grazing 800 acres of grass, it’s not going to work. And so, the population today, what is it? Seven billion or some crazy thing? That’s sustained by nutrient-deficient foods. Just slamming them down people’s mouths, even in the third world. And of course, in the civilized world.

So, it’s like there’s a great awakening going on, but it’s only with 10% of the people. “Oh, paleo effects was a zoo.” You should’ve seen, everybody’s got Vibrams on and orange glasses. It’s crazy, it’s such a fad. And it’s like, that’s wonderful to see, and there’s 2,000 people who walk in the halls that have bought into, the message and then, tens and hundreds of thousands to millions, whatever the ratio is, that are just still looking at the billboard thinking that they need to go buy Fritos and a drink because of the marketing message with no other thought except for, “This tastes good.

Brian McKenzie:           Well, it’s the same concept of why did we put health on top of the shoulders of the medical community? How did that happen? That was-

Brad Kearns:     Power structure or something.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah. But that’s not the direction. I mean, we’ve got to figure out ways of making this all work to some degree. And I don’t have the answers, I know that.

Brad Kearns:     Well, you guys are working on it, doing good stuff.

Brian McKenzie:           We’re working on some stuff.

Brad Kearns:     Some stuff is happening.

Brian McKenzie:           For sure, we’re trying to do our part. That is a fact.

Brad Kearns:     What’s the website with all the offerings? The simple-

Brian McKenzie:           Powerspeedendurance.com.

Brad Kearns:     Yeah, yeah. So, Power Speed Endurance, when did that book come out?

Brian McKenzie:           2010.

Brad Kearns:     Okay. So, we met in person today for the first time, but in 2010, I met you because I was in the Malibu office of Primal Blueprint, and everybody ships a book to us. There was a big stack and I just grabbed this big black book, I’m like, “What’s this?” And it was absolutely mind-blowing that in one book, like every page you turned to, you see these incredible insights that I’d really honestly never been exposed to even as a lifelong athlete and an elite level triathlete. All we did was like, strap up and go peddle or run or swim and then get an injury, and then rest, and then come back and do it again. And so, I was blown away, man. I got to tell you that eight years later. I think you can still buy the book on Amazon as a matter of fact.

Brian McKenzie:           Yes, you can.

Brad Kearns:     So, as we jump into the fitness topic, how did this CrossFit endurance come to be?

Brian McKenzie:           Well, it’s interesting because I used to like to get on my bike and go out and run and swim for long periods of time and-

Brad Kearns:     Fuck up your day, doing that shit, man.

Brian McKenzie:           And find my inner Zen and just keep going and going and going until I broke. And started asking some questions and people started saying some things that kind of made some sense, but I was a little resistance too. And I was fortunate enough to have pulled enough people into my network at the time to kind of say, “Hey, I’d like you to work with me or I’d like you to help me out here. Or what does this look like?”

I started toying with things and it really became a concept of what is this quality over quantity approach? Why do we continue to be … like being a professional triathlete or endurance athlete is like that’s not even … I don’t even know that that’s 1% of the populace of even endurance sports, right? Because the vast majority of people doing endurance sports is so great at this point.

Brad Kearns:     20 pros, 2,000 people on the starting line. So, that’s one tenth of 1%.

Brian McKenzie:           There you go. Right?

Brad Kearns:     No, that’s 1%, sorry.

Brian McKenzie:           Okay, so, it’s 1%. But by a large majority, I mean you’ve got well, a lot more people out there and then you look at ultra-endurance, and what’s going on there, whatever. There was nothing new that was going on and people were busted up all over the place that I was looking at.

Brad Kearns:     If we’re busted up, they look terrible. It was like cranes on the bike or what does Kelly Starrett say? “A dog taking a crap on the bike.”

Brian McKenzie:           A dog taking a crap. Like you look like a dog fucking football, excuse me. But it became obvious when I really started paying attention to stuff and just listening to what was happening. And by listening, I meant performance. And it was like, “Hey, I feel better. Oh hey, I look better. Oh hey, I’m in prime performing better.” Those are three variables anybody could agree on.

Brad Kearns:     Besides that, you’re full of shit, all that stuff.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, totally. And that’s where the heat started to come on and I started to realize I probably had something. It was like, “Oh, I’m pissing some people off. That kind of comes with the territory.”

Brad Kearns:     Exactly. These two young dudes at Auburn CrossFit, what’s their names? I forgot their names. They signed up and did a 50-miler with zero training, zero-

Brian McKenzie:           By the way, I’ve never advocated that. I’ve never-

Brad Kearns:     Everyone was so pissed off. They’re like, “That’s not fair. That’s bullshit what you did. That’s a disgrace to the sport of ultra-running.” It was just the most hilarious reaction instead of like going, “Huh, anyway.”

Brian McKenzie:           Well, I mean, and ultra-marathon for most people really isn’t running.

Brad Kearns:     Ouch!

Brian McKenzie:           Well, I’ve done it. I mean, let’s be realistic, like for 100 miles, if you’re doing a 30-hour, let’s just call it 30-hour ultra-marathon, that pace is not running.

Brad Kearns:     Which all the power to someone who completed 100 miles but just let’s get that-

Brian McKenzie:           That is still doing 100 miles and it is an extreme thing to do. Like that doesn’t take away from that. But, what I’m kind of getting at is going back to is like, “Hey, what are we paying attention to? How are you actually developing the level of getting there?” And by the way, hey, that guy who’s the marathon World Record holder, what was he good at? Where did he start? Oh, weird, he was a 1,500-meter guy or he was a miler. Oh, and he broke the world record there? Ah, weird. And then he went to the 5k. Oh, and he broke the world record there. Then he went to the 10k and almost broke the world record there. Oh, and then he went to half marathon and this is over a career versus the vast majority of people who’re stepping into things and going, “Oh, I’m going to do 70 miles this week or 50 miles this week and I’m going to start ramping it up.”

It’s like you don’t have the movement patterns to be doing that, you sit most of the day. And what happens when you actually do do a marathon, is it an aerobic conditioning issue or is it actually a tissue issue? Does your tissue hurt? Are you breaking down, like are you in pain? Yeah, I’m in pain. Okay, so-

Brad Kearns:     What’s the ratio? Do you think it’s 99% people breaking down with tissue pain? Even the elite?

Brian McKenzie:           Look, this doesn’t take away from the fact that yes, you’re going to need to develop some sort of aerobic capacity to do an endurance event. That is absolutely factual. But, if your tissue’s what’s breaking down, well there’s plenty of ways to develop the tissue in specific ways for that sport without breaking you down further to develop that tissue. So, you can go out and continue to run longer or we could go and do some specific movements that are going to develop the tissue to not break down, make it stronger. And yeah, you might put on a few pounds because you put on some muscle mass. But a few pounds versus holding up and recovering and rebounding quicker and not breaking down and not being a mess, I mean, it sounds like a win to me. It’s not the only way to do it.

There’s plenty of ways to go do things, but that was kind of what we stumbled on and people were having incredible results with it across the boards. Thus, it was all right, off to the races. Let’s start putting some content out on this.

Brad Kearns:     Right, right. Do you think it’s individual whereby someone’s going to respond better to a certain ratio of intensity, explosive work to pure a real big mileage?

Brian McKenzie:           Well, from what we understand from genetic testing now, yes, certain people respond better, and some people don’t.

Brad Kearns:     Yeah, what’s up with that? So, I got my DNA fit test. And I’m nine years on the pro circuit, training my ass off and constantly breaking down and behind my peers in terms of whether I could bounce back the next day. These guys were machines; Mike Pigg, Andrew McNaughton, every day going all day. And I’d be like two days of that, like San Diego, the Tuesday run, the Wednesday ride. I’d go back to LA and sleep for three days while those guys were doing the next thing. And then I get my test here in 2016 as a old guy, and I was 56% strength power and 44% endurance. If it’s legit, I’ll ask you that.

That was a rude awakening because thinking back to what I did to my body, I was fighting against those genetic attributes. And I proved it on the race course because I was better at short distance. I was even better at sprint than Olympic. I just had power going up hills and then I go to Ironman and it wasn’t my thing, mentally or physically. I just couldn’t do the training. I wasn’t built that way. I wish I’d known that and maybe been able to modify due to that genetic factor.

Brian McKenzie:           I have some yeses and nos on this. I feel as though you can maximize but the fact is, so if we go and look at CrossFit, you look at something that took off like a rocket ship after it had been alive for probably eight years or something, right? Like it was just kind of floundering around. Greg was running around, they were teaching seminars. They weren’t doing great things, they were small. It was infant. But then when the masses kind of grabbed onto it, you saw it take off, and we have a couple of theories as to why it took off.

One being the community, which is very simple to understand. Look at the running community, look at the cycling community, look at the triathlon community. These are things that gravitate people together, put them together, have them training together, doing things. Another component of that is that genetics thing. And if you look at the populace, only 10% of the population basically carry that endurance gene.

Brad Kearns:     The true endurance gene where they just have that enact for it.

Brian McKenzie:           That can just hammer. And I’ve got a guy who I actually, I’ve worked with.

Brad Kearns:     Chrissy Wellington.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, but I’ve got a guy who I’ve worked with for over a decade. His name’s Mark Matusiak. He’s an ultra-guy. He does badwater, finishes in the top 10, usually. I mean he’s finished in top five I believe before. So, he’s an ultra-guy and he’s actually an endurance responder.

He’s found that if he actually runs more than 20 miles, he doesn’t have the best effect that he can. Yet he still introduces strength and conditioning, but we found that it was only two days a week that somebody like him could respond to something like that. And if you go look at a guy like Dan Pfaff, whose out at ALTIS, who’s one of the greatest coaches of our time, worked specifically with track athletes, but he’s worked with all athletes. He’ll straight up tell you there are certain athletes that respond real well to strength and conditioning. There are other athletes who it will ruin their career, and I’ve seen it happen.

So, you have to look at what … I think there are very individual responses. I think you can take somebody like you and you can learn from what’s going on. And had you been listening a little more like, “Hey, well, maybe if I just kill, I go two days on, one day off, sleep or how I’m chopping this up, I may get better responses,” right? But Kelly Starrett, just so happens-

Brad Kearns:     That Mofo.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah. Just so happens Kelly’s kind of more of an aerobic responder as well. And here’s a guy who went and squatted 600 pounds.

Brad Kearns:     Really?

Brian McKenzie:           Like he looked after he got his genetics done and he’s like, “I’ve been basically a square peg trying to jammed into a round hole for the last decade.” And I’m like, “Well, so what? You went and did some pretty big things and …” sorry, he squatted 500 pounds and he dead lifted 600.

Brad Kearns:     I thought he was just a businessman. I didn’t realize he could do that stuff.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, well no. But he’s also gone and he’s done some endurance events and he’s starting to do endurance stuff, and he’s starting to do these things. But it turns out, being 237 or 38 pounds and doing these things comes at a cost.

Brad Kearns:     They give a special medal at the dipsy for the guy who improved the stairs by pushing the redwood further into the ground, so the rainy season will survive.

Brian McKenzie:           And I signed him up for that race by the way.

Brad Kearns:     So brutal.

Brian McKenzie:           It was.

Brad Kearns:     I mean the downhills, the 140-pound runners will tell stories about the brutality of the downhills, and then you have this guy doing – he’s doing the work of two people.

Brian McKenzie:           Yes, totally, totally. But there are ways I think like, look, if you’re really looking to maximize your potential, you’re best not following a group program. You should probably be listening to your body on how that responds. And I think that’s what most elite level athletes are doing. Is they’re listening to their bodies. I mean, my wife has two gold medals, phenomenal athletes. She was a rower. She was the smallest in her boat, and she always had a seat in that boat, and she worked her brains out. They would be doing 200 kilometres a week leading into the Olympics. And I mean, that’s more than most marathoners are running in a week, right?

Brad Kearns:     120 miles and change, yeah. It’s crazy, in a boat.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, and they’re in a race that’s taking them six minutes, seven minutes, right? So, they’d be cracking and she’d come home after three trainings … they’d do three training sessions in a day sometimes – come home, be in tears, just couldn’t handle the … and her mechanism for stress and overloading was sleep. Sleep for 12 hours, she’d wake up and her vitals would be perfect. I’d be like, “What in the hell?” I would be cooked for like three days.

So, she listened to her body and she would do what it needed to do. Other girls wouldn’t, they would break. And also, prior to meeting Kelly and myself, needed tools because she was breaking ribs and doing things that … because she was in poor positions and not thinking about things in terms of, “Oh, I could utilize strength and conditioning and build my body up a little stronger, sit up more upright.” Do things a little different. “Oh, I could change my nutrition a little bit and I might rebound. I might get a period.” “Oh yeah, my period came back.” And it just so happens that most professional women athletes that I’ve run into that are in working sports, think that losing their period is a badge of honor. And that is actually you learning that you’re not functioning like an optimal human being now. You’re actually not hormonally functioning positive.

So, we taught her and many of the women around that area those kinds of things and how to eat and what to do to buffer the training, and it’s interesting because people aren’t thinking like that totally. And it’s old school thinking that’s out there and it all changes.

Brad Kearns:     Yeah, team sports, man, it’s tough because you’re obligated to be part of the program.

Brian McKenzie:           100%, yeah.

Brad Kearns:     Yeah. I mean, my son went through intense high school basketball, experience four years practicing three hours a day, year-round. Instead of class, you had to take the PE class, and all they did was just bang it every day, and did quite well. But then what was the next level that was possible if … Kelly says 25% of your workout time as an endurance athlete should be devoted to flexibility, mobility. Now people are getting their calculators out like, “Holy shit, wait, a two-hour run? That’s 24 minutes of, I’m backing off my mileage, that’s going to be terrible.” But it hasn’t caught on yet and widespread.

Brian McKenzie:           People still are thinking in terms of more is better, and they don’t understand better is better. And more is nothing more than a by-product of better. And if you can’t connect those dots, like look, athletes who are doing the mobility work, athletes who are doing the nutrition – if you go look at the CrossFit games athletes right now, you will not see any of these top 10 athletes not doing all of these things right now. There’s no way to hold up in a sport like that. There’s absolutely no way. You will break because of the sheer amount of work you’re doing over different modalities, right? So, you’re going to break. You have to.

Brad Kearns:     That’s the goal of the games, is to see who’s the strongest, and doesn’t break.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah.

Brad Kearns:     Yeah, I know.

Brian McKenzie:           And I mean that’s really turned into an endurance event, is all it is. I mean, it’s a multi-day event. Sure, there are some heavy lifting in it, but the fact of the matter is, it’s just constant on, it’s suffering. It’s the ability to go and think what I have to do in order to win this workout or finish well on this, and how do I attack that? And oh, they’ve got a bike this year that’s showing up, and it’s got clippings. And all these guys are like, “Oh my God.” And I’m like, “Clippings? What are you talking about? That’s a bonus my friend. Like you’re going to get some relief because of that,” but they don’t know how to do that. So, there’s a skill component that these guys all need to learn, right? “Oh, yeah, that’s going to be fun.”

Brad Kearns:     Keep your pelvis flat, don’t shake around. I have to say I disparaged the athletes at my first side of the CrossFit games. I’ve never been … knew nothing about it. Mark Sisson took me over there, and I saw the muscle up biathlon.

Brian McKenzie:           Yes.

Brad Kearns:     They do 10 muscle ups, run a 200-meter circuit up the stairs, around the stadium, down the stairs. And we were right on the running course, and these guys were barely moving, they were exhausted. And I went to Mark, I go, “What’s up with this man? These guys can’t even run 200 meters?” And Mark’s like, “You ever done a muscle up?” I’m like, “No, what’s a muscle? Never done it.”

So, then in the expo area, they have the rings and you’d come try a muscle up. And there was no way I was getting up for one, and was exhausted jumping down. I’m like, “Okay, much respect, respect.” But the endurance part, I didn’t think about that since it’s a multiday event. I mean, you know-

Brian McKenzie:           Oh, it’s an endurance sport.

Brad Kearns:     Yeah, it’s people there can do that stuff. Wow.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah. And they’re smart. All these kids are doing endurance work now too. Their specific work for endurance, smart.

Brad Kearns:     So, with your endurance population, the people you’re working with buying into this new idea, it entails a big transition and mentality to not think more is better anymore. And how does that go if someone’s open to new ideas and trying something new like getting into the gym for the first time?

Brian McKenzie:           I think it gives possibilities to somebody, right? Versus you getting out of the monotonous, like, “I just need to go, get my mileage and do what I’m …” It’s giving you new opportunities and understanding your body. It’s giving you new opportunities and understanding how you should be moving. Oh, you’re limited in a specific way, “I suck at this. Oh, it turns out I can’t do a muscle up,” which is something that not too long ago, most human beings could do at any point. Because you needed that sheer strength to be able to get up a tree or get up a mountain or climb something in order to get away from something, right?

Sure, we’re way beyond that now, but it’s like do we want to be? And I’m not saying everybody needs to learn to do a muscle up, but I think it creates more opportunity for people. And it’s just another thing that you can look at in terms of doing something a little differently. And one of the big things we talk about is mastery. And learning to do something one way can make you a master in that one thing, one way.

Brad Kearns:     I’m good at running a really slow marathon, shuffling the last seven miles.

Brian McKenzie:           Now, what’s it like to run a 5k at a blistering pace? My job over the last 15, 20 years has been to do something, and then go back to the beginning and deconstruct and start over again with a new way of doing that or looking at it. And what we’re currently doing-

Brad Kearns:     That’s a good quote for the show right there, man. I think you nailed that.

Brian McKenzie:           Thank you.

Brad Kearns:     That’s your job, we need you.

Brian McKenzie:           We need a lot more breathers. We need a lot more than me, but thank you. And right now, the paradigm we’re in is we’re looking at breathing, and what breathing is doing. And now we’re looking at how people are breathing not only in performance, but in everyday life. And what does that mean? And we’re now starting to understand the interconnectivity of the brain and respiration and how that is absolutely part of – your respiration is a part of your central nervous system. In fact, we believe it’s the remote control. Your emotions, your pain, your muscles going to work, stress of any sort, there are dedicated respiration patterns that go off the moment those are happening on an autonomic level.

So, if I’m not thinking about it, if I’m unconscious about this, these are things that are happening. But if I become conscious of it, and this is what I kind of alluded to when I had the accident, was I instantly went back to training I have been doing over the last five, six years, right? Where I’m like, “I know that if I slow the respiration rate down, I’m not going to spin myself out. I’m not going to drop, I’m not going to put myself into this more sympathetic dominance tone that I’m already probably in, because I’m in a life-threatening situation. Thus, I’m giving myself more of a peripheral vision. I’m giving myself more of a tone to learn from this and understand this in a more clear, creative fashion.

That might sound a little odd in a life-threatening situation, but the fact is, is that is how we learn. Is you go through a very stressful situation and then you need to pull back and be able to go, “Oh, what was that? Oh my gosh, that made sense.” If you go watch the action sports community, you’ll see skateboarders … I’ve worked with a lot of skateboarders and professional surfers and big wave surfers, and they just keep going and going and going and when they’re failing, failing, failing, failing, and then all of a sudden, boom, they get it once. They’ve calmed down, they’ve let go, they’ve repeated something enough to where they’ve stressed themselves out enough to where they let go. Or they show up the next day and it just happens.

These are very interesting things. If you look at sports, like action sports, I mean, how much has surfing changed in the last 20 years? How much has skateboarding, snowboarding, skiing changed in the last 20 years? You can’t really put statistics on what they’re doing rotationally and all of these things with the tricks. You go back and look at where it started and you’re going, “Oh my God.” You go look at running and you’ll go look at working sports, rowing; the times aren’t that different. They haven’t made that big of a change.

So, when we start looking at things like that, what are they doing? And obviously there’s very different things at work here, but what’s happening with these athletes versus the other. And so, this is all part of what we’re looking at with even the brain and even respiration breathing. How it correlates, how it works together, what we can do to help reset or give people tools to use in real time or in time of pre-training, post-training competition, all of that, and what it can do.

Brad Kearns:     Well, I’m a big speed golfer and like the message of that sport is that it’s the ultimate Zen sport, because you’re moving quickly and you’re taking yourself out of that overly analytical mindset and all the stress that comes from hitting a bad shot and ruminating on it for the next seven minutes, and getting tense and thinking too much about your technique. Because you’re just running up to the ball and hitting it.

The insight that participants get, is they play as good or better than when they’re deliberating for four hours with all their clubs. We’re running around with a handful of clubs and hitting these crazy half shots and things like that. But it’s like you tap into that zone that you’re talking about, where the guy that wants to do the [Meg 00:46:58] twist 780 with another gainer at the end. They got to be accessing another peak performance state because it’s too insane and too dangerous. But they pull it off and they continue to progress the sport. It’s phenomenal.

Brian McKenzie:           And they look like they’re playing.

Brad Kearns:     Right, they’re in that-

Brian McKenzie:           Speed golf.

Brad Kearns:     Usain Bolt.

Brian McKenzie:           Skateboarding.

Brad Kearns:     Yeah, everyone thinks he’s just a clown at the starting line, and I’m looking deeper and going, “Okay, this dude’s the fastest human that’s ever been on the planet, the most consistent champion by far, not a flash in the pan.” And then you read his autobiography and he’s saying, “Yeah, I’m really lazy in training and my coach is always getting on me for bagging workouts, and I like to party and dance in Jamaica.” This is like the gospel that we’re going to find out in 20 years’ time, I think. And he’s showing us right now that being lazy is okay. It’s probably where he gets his advantage from the NCAA division one runner who’s going to do the relay also, and then he pulls his hammy and all that mindset about the endurance athletes still have that collective mentality that they want to suffer.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah. Well, I think as a society, we’ve learned that we’ve … or we’ve not learned, we’ve forced ourselves into this thing that suffering is something we need to do, and that’s an option.

Brad Kearns:     Hey man, I mean-

Brian McKenzie:           That’s an option.

Brad Kearns:     It’s okay, we don’t want to judge it. And if your life’s super easy and you’re living on the beach and you get food delivered to you or whatever, then go out and do the barb wire race or sign up for a long-distance event, but if you want to do it right and get all that value and that personal growth out of it, I mean that’s kind of my message on the show; get over yourself. It’s like, there’s another route here.

Brian McKenzie:           Oh, yeah.

Brad Kearns:     And it can be probably way more fun.

Brian McKenzie:           Yes. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I think really, it becomes our being doing these things, and it’s not even our profession. And there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s your path. I mean, that was my path. I mean, I was doing triathlons, I did Ironman, I did ultra-endurance. I did these things and I took on an identity with it and I took on this thing with it and it’s like, “Is this really what I do?” And I couldn’t get over the fact that everybody would always be like, “Look, what are you running from?” And I’m like, “What are you talking about?”

Brad Kearns:     The starting line you idiot.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, what are you talking about? And then it finally hit me one day. For me, it was, “Oh, I wasn’t really getting into life.” I really wasn’t. And that’s not life, is going, you know … for me, it wasn’t just going out and doing all … if you’re Dean Karnazes or not, like Dean, that’s what he loves to do. He’s a good friend of mine. I’ve spent time with him, I’ve paced him through badwater. I’ve run with him down the coast. I’ve done a lot with him, I’ve spent time with him, that is what he does. And I think he’s one of very few people who’s really made that, “This is what a career looks like in this, a lifetime in it. And I enjoy it and I get paid to do this. And I’m not the best, and that’s great. Like that’s a phenomenal thing. I don’t take anything away from that.

But that’s Dean and it’s like what are we really doing? And is there another path and is there another way to understand this? And do you want to understand it a different way? You look at things like the Bruce Lee concepts or you look at the things like martial arts and it’s like there’s a reason why there’s a belt system and there’s – like why people are respectful to each other. It’s like there’s a whole thing of mastery setup through these processes that a lot of our sports today I think really miss, and we miss opportunities on. I don’t know.

Brad Kearns:     Yeah, I mean, I used to put on a half Ironman triathlon for 10 years and the emails and the personal interactions I’d have on race day were mainly a massive collection of fears and anxiety and stress. And I realized it was part of the journey and it’s okay because like, if you’re just watching, you’re bored, you’re going to play on your phone for four hours and then your boyfriend’s going to come in, you’re going to cheer for 12 seconds and go.

So, it’s okay to get wrapped up like that, but then, I think if you get further down the line, you examine whether it’s giving you a healthy payoff to your life. Sometimes the answer is uh …

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah. I mean for me, it was like, this is healthy payoff so that I can eat crappy food.

Brad Kearns:     No shit, man. No shit.

Brian McKenzie:           Right? Like literally, I watch this, I did this, I watch this today. I mean, I see all of this stuff so that I can eat like crap, so that I can avoid this, not have to do that. Like it was just, “Oh, okay. What relationship?”

Brad Kearns:     Yeah, and are you okay with failure and setbacks and performing under expectation as a growth experience?

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah.

Brad Kearns:     Yeah.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah.

Brad Kearns:     I mean, I talk my son through some difficult basketball experiences and say, “Hey man, you guys got your ass kicked, that’s awesome. A fantastic experience.”

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, that is.

Brad Kearns:     What? But if you’re just sailing through life, that’s tough.

Brian McKenzie:           Dude, that’s so good. I love that.

Brad Kearns:     It’s tough.

Brian McKenzie:           I love that. Failure is just so important. It’s so important. And unfortunately, I don’t think enough of us learned that early enough. I didn’t.

Brad Kearns:     I guess Tiger Woods didn’t neither.

Brian McKenzie:           No.

Brad Kearns:     Right?

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah.

Brad Kearns:     Succeeded in every single way, and then a total train wreck.

Brian McKenzie:           Well, maybe not. Maybe this was supposed to be the way.

Brad Kearns:     That’s right, it was his destiny.

Brian McKenzie:           Isn’t he doing well right now?

Brad Kearns:     He’s doing great, it’s incredible. Especially, so many surgeries, but if you look at that journey where he was constantly fiddling with the swaying and-

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, I remember all of it.

Brad Kearns      … unsatisfied and needing to suffer and struggle and go join navy seals and jump out of the plane. And it’s strange because it definitely wasn’t enough just to be the best golfer in the world and the best athlete of all time in many ways in my eyes. He was tormented in certain ways. Who knows why, maybe it was too easy or he didn’t have the proper perspective to appreciate the journey along the way. If he’s not signing autographs or smiling, the next guy is staying for two hours to sign everybody’s hat, maybe that’s a checkpoint that … not that athletes are obligated to spend their time, but you can see these glimpses of-

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, but you look at somebody like Ronaldo. I mean, I don’t know if you watch soccer, but I mean the note he just wrote to his team and the fans and he left Real Madrid, like it was unbelievable. He thanked everybody, and like including the president who he didn’t get along with and he didn’t burn that bridge and did you see that with LeBron? Do you see that with the players like of today? And it’s like you just don’t see that stuff, and it’s like really, you want to live your life like that.

I’m not even a big soccer fan anymore, and I’m not even the biggest Ronaldo fan. Like I felt like he was kind of a little too cocky, but that note made me think like that’s a leader. That is somebody who is actually, who loves what he’s doing. He really does love what he’s doing. That’s where you’re looking at somebody who wants to finish his career in LA and it’s like, “Yeah, I’ve seen a picture of Magic running through Vegas with Madonna, Prince, Jack Nicholson, blah, blah, blah.” All these stars behind him as he’s running through Vegas, and I’m like, there’s one reason why people come to finish their career in LA, whatever. I mean, I’m speculating and all the Laker fans are probably going to hate me at this point.

I’m harping on somebody like LeBron who I don’t even know, but this is part of this thing we see with, what’s your process? Do you care about what you’re doing or is it just about the pay check and how much you’re making?

Brad Kearns:     Or just about winning.

Brian McKenzie:           Or winning.

Brad Kearns:     It’s the same sort of checkpoint for reflection.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, there’s this kid who’s a Jujitsu and he’s a (I’m not going to bring his name up). But he’s this phenom. He’s now a purple belt and he’s double gold as blue, as a white. Like he’s going to be this big, big thing. And his whole thing is, “I just want to win everything.” And it’s like, “Okay. What happens when that happens?”

Brad Kearns:     Then what?

Brian McKenzie:           Then what.

Brad Kearns:     So, we get these endurance athletes that are going to make a commitment to a transition, and they’re going to lower their precious volume in mileage. Is this something that you can preserve more easily than we think, your base, in other words?

Brian McKenzie:           I feel yes – I don’t feel, I mean, I’ve seen it.

Brad Kearns:     I’ve experienced it myself and even in recent years.

Brian McKenzie:           Well, I mean, let’s be clear, your VO2 max isn’t achieved by doing 70% of it, right? So, look, if you’re training and if you’re doing things, there’s no reason why if you’re not consistent in a manner that you’re getting response out of it, it’s just being able to figure out where that response is. What does adaptation mean? Where are you getting it? And are you willing to play around with that enough? Or do you need somebody to tell you what to do all the time?

I don’t think enough people get into feeling. And this was the third book I did with Dr Andy Galpin, which was Unplugged. And this was about fitness technology and where it’s headed and everybody’s so addicted to this stuff. And I use a lot of different technologies to understand stuff.

I once had an athlete who … he kept looking down at his heart rate monitors. We’re doing a run and he’s like, “Dude, we need to slow down, I’m going to blow up. Dude, we need to slow down, I’m going to blow up?” I’m like, “What’s the number you’re going to blow up at?” He’s like, “166.” I’m like, “Where’s your heart rate?” He’s like, “164.”. And I’m like, “Do you think you’d be talking to me right now if you were going to blow up?”

It was just this thing that went off in my head. It’s like I don’t think we’re connecting the dot of what that place you’re supposed to be at or feeling is, is. And if you’re doing something that’s long and slow, that should be at a sustainable pace that is for long and slow. If you’re doing something that’s 15 minutes, that should be at a pace you should be doing – it’s supposed to be for 15 minutes, right?

Or and what does that look like? If you’re supposed to be at your lactate threshold, what does that feel like? Do you know what that feels like? And you should have markers and parameters that are set up around things like that to understand that. Ensure heart rate’s one of those. Respiration rate’s going to be another one. So, what’s happening with both of those things, and then what do you feel when you’re there. You understand what that feeling is and do you understand how long you can be there or when you’ve gone past the time that you can.

It’s just interesting because I think we just start to fall off and we don’t want to pay attention anymore, and we just want to go and do something and-

Brad Kearns:     Outsource.

Brian McKenzie:           Totally. Or, “Hey, maybe I just want to go up into the mountains and go for a hike and not have to worry about it.” By all means, you should be doing that. I do. We go and hike all the time and I don’t think about any of this stuff. But if I’m in the gym or I’m doing interval work, I know what I’m doing at specific ranges in order to achieve specific physiological reactions out of those. And if I’m doing my job or what I’m trying to achieve, I should be getting response out of that so that things are improving along the way. And there’s no reason why you can’t continue that process throughout your life.

Brad Kearns:     Yeah, I guess if you have these metrics that you know what it feels like to run at 164 or to load up the bar with 180 in my case. In my hex bar, I’m up to 180 now listeners.

Brian McKenzie:           All right. That’s good.

Brad Kearns:     But if I feel like crap on a certain day and I know that my usual baseline sensation when I lift six reps of a certain weight is not happening, that’s going to be an opportunity to make a decision.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, and hey, if I can’t lift my baseline or I can’t do my baseline, whatever that is, right? On a specific day, what is that telling me? Probably not ready to be doing that again.

Brad Kearns:     Right.

Brian McKenzie:           I’m probably not recovered enough. Why do anabolic steroids work? Well, they shorten that recovery window.

Brad Kearns:     EFO.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, they shorten all that stuff up, right? And so, it makes it, so it’s really easy. So, if you’re not actually getting the recovery to do it, and you’re not using like … we believe that the future of human performance is literally in the recovery. It’s in the brain and in the recovery. That’s it. We have been screwing around with everything, like physical exertion and work that we could for a hundred years now. And it’s not really getting any more unique. It’s now going to become individualized recovery protocols. “What am I doing? Am I using some sort of respiration rate in order to get myself down into a more of a parasympathetic tone quicker? Am I using heat? Am I using ice for another stimulus to bring me up or drop me out? Am I sleeping? Am I taking a nap? Am I hydrated enough?” All these things start to play. “Well, how many hours of sleep did I get? What was my sleep score?”

I had to get rid of one of those things. Like I was too concerned with my sleep score. I’m like, why would I … just go to sleep.

Brad Kearns:     I wake up, I can tell you my sleep score, because my eyes feel – they feel greater, they feel baggy.

Brian McKenzie:           Exactly. I mean, what do you feel like when you wake up in the morning? If you’re not on it, like there’s something going on. So, I really think it’s in recovery. That’s the future of what we’re doing.

Brad Kearns:     Yeah, Maffetone said to me on a video that he’s obsessed with this 1:59 thing he wrote a book about. The 1:59 marathon and how it’s going to be by a barefoot runner because they’re better than any shoe. But he also said that it will come with a runner who’s doing less mileage and less intensity than today’s top marathoners. So, you’re slamming two doors and everyone’s thinking, “Well, they’re running 1:40 a week now. So, if they get up to 1:75, they’ll break two hours.” And it’s an interesting way to think about it.

Brian McKenzie:           Well, I once heard that Jack Daniels asked a room of runner-

Brad Kearns:     Jack Daniels, the exercise physiologist. A noted guy, yeah.

Brian McKenzie:           Where he has two different groups of runners. He offers them up two different programs. One is the over 100 miles a week program and one is like (and I’m getting this a little bit wrong), but one’s under like 40 miles a week program. Show of hands on who wants the over 100 miles a week program? And almost all the hands would go up. But you’ll get the same results.

Brad Kearns:     Guaranteed with the most exacting science [crosstalk 01:02:22]

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, and it’s like, “Oh, that’s the human condition.”

Brad Kearns:     Yeah, I think in my career, me and my peers, I think we screwed this up because we looked at it as this oversimplified base versus intensity. And should we up the intensity and go do the box jumps and the weighted bar or do more mileage.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, or even some skill development there, right? Layered in there.

Brad Kearns:     One-legged peddling, and things that we didn’t pay attention to. So, that was the first mistake, was like seeing it as this either or, and possibly it was like Maffetone says, just resting more would have been transformational. And then still keep – this was Sisson’s message to me when I had my best exercise; was just judge yourself by your best work out of the week. So, go do that eight-hour bike ride on Tuesday, but don’t worry about coming back and swimming 30 minutes on Wednesday and jogging a quick 20, and then Thursday going for two hours easy spin. Because we are programmed that we want to have that satisfaction of keeping to a schedule. But it’s like just throw down on people when that day comes, and then go on a siesta and watch videos.

So, when I literally increased my account membership at the VHS store … that’s how I’m dating myself now. That’s when my performance took off.

Brian McKenzie:           Yes, that’s great. I do think though, I mean it’s like you get somebody off the couch for the first time, more is better. Only because more, you’re doing something, right? You’re doing something for the first time. So, we need to get you doing more. And look, if you’re a beginning triathlete or a beginning runner, more is going to be better in the beginning phases of this. But, get better at it. Get better mechanics. You should be sleeping better, you should be feeling better throughout the day. You should becoming more mobile. Like these are all things that should be happening. And if those are things that are starting to deteriorate, then you’ve got a problem. I think once we’re past that point of where we’ve done enough, it’s then time to start to introduce that quality and rest to a large degree, so that we get that rebound effect.

Brad Kearns:     Well, it’s like the amenorrhoeic female. She’s headed down a road to maybe some wins and then a drop off the edge of the cliff. And I think we get fooled by that because we get so enthused at the start and we up our mileage and we set a PR and then another PR, and then we think we’re on the world. And then wonder why Debbie Potts is a podcaster up in Seattle and she did 12 Ironmans, including six Hawaii in eight years or something. And then she went out for a 50-mile bike ride and made it halfway and pulled over to the curb, and she was completely broken. And she spent the last three or four years deep dive into functional medicine just trying to feel better. It just ended in a snap of the fingers.

That’s a pretty dramatic example, but we have attrition rates in these sports, something’s happening where you got your finisher medals up there from doing some marathon with a group training aspect, like you recommend against because they’re going out there and pushing everybody at the same workout, working really well for the 3% fittest people and the rest of them are getting overstressed.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah. Well, I mean, look at how Dave Scott’s training people now. I mean he’s-

Brad Kearns:     How is he training people?

Brian McKenzie:           Just using this concept. He’s using this very concept of more is not better. He’s got athletes overhead squatting now. He’s doing more interval work.

Brad Kearns:     He’s going keto now, man.

Brian McKenzie:           He’s full blown. Now, I mean, here’s the other side of the spectrum, is it’s like, okay, I mean, I played in this world for a long time and it’s like, it doesn’t always work for everybody long-term. There’s very few people – Sisson can probably agree with this, that long-term kurtosis is probably not the best thing for somebody who’s doing a lot of intense or even long work. That can end up having detrimental effects for some people. I’ve seen it, but it doesn’t mean it’s not worked for some people. It has. And there are things … being a vegan, like that can be very awesome for a lot of athletes. I’ve seen it destroy some athletes.

The same goes for eating like crap or eating high carb or eating low carb or eating medium carb or eating lots of protein. I mean, you can look at bodybuilders. There’s Brawny Coleman. I mean, you see this in every sport. I mean, this guy was the eight time-

Brad Kearns:     Google that dude.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, and there’s a documentary on him now. And it’s unbelievable because the guy’s fighting to walk again. And that is like, you want to take yourself to the limit. You just need to understand what the limits are.

Brad Kearns:     What was he doing? Eating junk food or something?

Brian McKenzie:           No, no, no, but-

Brad Kearns:     He just over trained himself.

Brian McKenzie:           I mean you’ve got a 300-pound man who had 4% body fat and would out train anybody. He’d be in the gym for hours a day and he was massive. And he’s had to have multiple spinal surgeries and things because it’s just destroyed his body. And now, he’s fighting to walk again. It’s sad, but it’s also like he’s still got the fight in him and he’s like, “I’m going to do this.”

Brad Kearns:     New battle.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, new battle. And I’ve seen all this stuff with the endurance stuff years ago. People hated me. A lot of people did not like me because of what I was talking about. And yet, here-

Brad Kearns:     I heard your ritual podcast from several years ago where you guys got into it with the warring factions of the traditional endurance training with you telling me to jump up on boxes instead of go for another 50-miler. It was very entertaining. But it was super thought provoking too. I’m not making light of this, but it’s like we got to see where we fit into that picture and test things out, and be open-minded and that’s how you progress.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, absolutely. No, and I commend Rich. I mean he loves what he’s doing. He does great at what he’s doing. And he responds well to what he’s doing in that specific thing.

Brad Kearns:     I mean, I’ve heard some argument, I’m not taking a position here, but a certain set of genetics will thrive on a vegan diet. I don’t know what percentage it is. It could be seven or 12 or 14%, and then the rest of the people may thrive for a year because they stopped going to Burger King and Donut Land, and then they’ll start to develop deficiencies like you’ve mentioned. That’s not a rip against the vegan diet, it’s just an encouragement to be open-minded and explorer.

Brian McKenzie:           I’ve tried vegan diet and it did not pan out. It did not go well. Now, the vegan community will probably go, “Well, you probably didn’t do it right.” It’s like, “Well, maybe I didn’t, but whatever.”

Brad Kearns:     You didn’t take your 27 supplements.

Brian McKenzie:           I’ve been involved in the paleo community. I’ve done the low carb, I did high carb. I was a high carb athlete.

Brad Kearns:     Sponsored by -this episode sponsored by Goo and Gatorade. Brian’s one two punch for success; power, strength, endurance, and a few sugary products.

Brian McKenzie:           I find it very interesting that people who are willing to go down and fight for a way of eating or training or doing and yet, have only experienced really one or two things. And I’m not harping on them, I just find it very interesting. Because-

Brad Kearns:     That’s all interesting folks.

Brian McKenzie:           It is very interesting and it’s also very telling. And I’m not interested in the person who’s only experienced one or two things in their lifetime, and how they’ve done it. I’m interested in people who’ve actually gone out and experienced a lot of different ways of doing things and want to share that with people, and want to pass that on. And we are designed biologically to literally share information. That is what every cell in our body reverberates. And I think that obviously, genetically, we can pass that on, right? But we also have the ability to pass on ideas and share things.

Brad Kearns:     The evolution timeline, man. You nailed it. 60,000 years ago, there was an extreme spike in population and survival rate and the evolutionary biologists, believe it was due to being able to pass information on better, from generation to generation. So, they’re getting older, they’re succeeding, they got their food things down, their hunting methods. But the fact that they could share more information was attributed to the spike.

Brian McKenzie:           100%, 100%.

Brad Kearns:     Yeah, and here we are today, man. Doing podcasts, YouTube and hopefully-

Brian McKenzie:           … social media.

Brad Kearns:     Hopefully the collective consciousness will grow. Especially, my heart goes out to the endurance community, man. I loved it. It was my life, it was my identity when I was a kid. I have a lot of shows in the bank here talking about how I had to get over myself starting as a professional athlete, thinking that this was the end all and the life or death matter, and I was so intense and competitive and that was how I needed to be. And then you get punched in the face a few times and you have to wake up and go, “Oh, okay. Oh, I was supposed to have fun during the training and the process and fight that battle, the starting line without that tension and anxiety and that chanting paleo breathing, right?

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah.

Brad Kearns:     Yeah, it’s kind of the deep diaphragmatic breathing.

Brian McKenzie:           There you go.

Brad Kearns:     You know that Body, Mind, Sport book, John Douillard? It was published like in 1998 or something. And one of the tidbits he said was, “Try going out there and running with your mouth closed and breathing through your nose, and pulling that deep diaphragmatic breath through the nose.” And now, here we are here-

Brian McKenzie:           Here we are.

Brad Kearns:     Hitting that hard.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, I mean that’s literally what we have all athletes doing. Is understanding that concept. And I mean, you can go back and look at when Spartans were doing that. They were having their children do things like that. There are tribal communities in Africa that have rituals where kids are supposed to go through the desert with a glass of water in their mouth and they’re supposed to fill up that same glass at the end of it.

All of this stuff is starting to really – that information’s finally been … I mean there was a guy who wrote a book in 1867 about this stuff. It was called Shut Your Mouth and Save Your Life. And he literally observed over a million indigenous people in North and South America. And the difference, the biggest difference that he saw between the indigenous people and civilized man, was that civilized man had his mouth open all the time, slept with his mouth open, did everything with his mouth open. And the indigenous folks literally, would sleep with their mouth closed, they’d hunt with their mouth closed, they wouldn’t talk a lot. When they did talk, they were doing … It’s a very quick little interesting read. And it’s not scientifically backed, but the fact is-

Brad Kearns:     Now it is, today.

Brian McKenzie:           Oh, yeah. And I mean, we’re about to jump into some research projects ourselves directly in the human performance world based on performance with this stuff, to show what we’ve been seeing so that we’re actually really validating a lot of this stuff. And we’re a part of that process.

Brad Kearns:     Well, shoot yoga’s kind of new, right? 3,000 or 4,000 years old. And now, we’re getting that wise breathing is such as central element to that. And getting great science with the different parts of the brain lighting up when you’re in too deep breathing and-

Brian McKenzie:           You got it.

Brad Kearns:     What about the hot and cold, man? Let’s finish off with some of that stuff, because I’m a recent enthusiast.

Brian McKenzie:           Awesome.

Brad Kearns:     I got on the phone with Kay Starr and he gave me the full rundown. Then I played the voicemail on one of my shows about cold therapy because he said, “You go in there for a few minutes, if you start shivering, get the fuck out. If you’re in there longer, you’re just showing off, man,” and all that kind of good stuff. But something’s besides the boost of norepinephrine and the increase oxygen and blood, there’s something that … you’re expressing this idea a lot too, that there’s something beyond that. Like the focus, resilience, the peacefulness of the experience.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah, I mean, we use the cold to really show people what it’s like to be in those high stress situations again. If you’ve never really been in an ice bath where you’re down to your neck, it’s a shocking experience. I watched two kids do it today, for the first time, they wanted to. And their father was there, and they stuck their arm and then they said it wasn’t that cold. And so, we said, “All right, well, why don’t you get in.” And they got in and literally started hyperventilating instantaneously and it changed their entire reaction, and they jumped out, right? Less than a minute, which is perfectly fine. And that’s exactly what you should do. Like you should get out if you’re really freaking out.

But if we could teach you how to deal with that situation in a different way, and then you were able to connect the dots into any stressful situation to be able to control that situation, that is a tool that is there for the rest of your life to a large degree. And obviously the breathing, and something we’re really now getting into is some of the visual components of stuff, because you can do things with … your ocular nerve is the fastest nerve to your brain. So, what you see, if you can see, if you have vision, is literally the first thing that can change things.

One of the quick analogies on this is like, look, if I’m looking at a sunset, am I freaking out and stressing out? I’m watching a sunrise or I’m out in nature and I’m seeing the mountains, do you see people going, “Dammit, raw, this sucks?”

Brad Kearns:     “Can’t get service out here, damn!”

Brian McKenzie:           And there’s a good reason for that, and it’s mathematical. And it’s literally your visual system is peripheral and I see everything. So, I can see my hands up here to the side. So, I’m looking out at the horizon and I can now shift myself into more of a parasympathetic tone or down shift myself. I’m calm. I’m signalling for my body to be calm. The light at sunset, your brain knows what that light means over the course of our history of a species. Because of what that light does, it triggers things in your body to go time to start to calm down and go to bed.

Then that light in the morning does the same thing and says, “Time to wake up and start the day.” So, for you travelers out there, those are probably two of the most important things you can do. But, back to the cold, if I’m in the cold and I’m actually focused hyperly on something in front of me – think about being on your phone. “What’s going on? What’s going on? Oh my God, the likes. I’ve got them to type this message, like boom! I got hit by a car because I’m not paying attention, right?” And how many times does that happen a day? All the time. People are on their phones, you’re distracted, you’re in a highly focused state. You’re sympathetic dominant, right?

Then if we actually can introduce maybe some breathing stuff and you’ve got some nasal breathing, because if you nasal breathe, you’re actually tapping into the parasympathetic, more of the parasympathetic branch, your vagus nerve, right? And then, you’re actually calming the system down to some degree, slow the breathing down. Largely, what I like to do is you get 10 breaths when you get in the cold. And when you first start, those 10 breaths are probably going to happen in a minute. But if you get really good at this, it’s probably going to last well over five minutes.

That can happen if you can really start to teach yourself how to do it, or you use specific breathing patterns. Which yoga has been using specific patterns for four or 5,000 years. And they’ve understood these concepts to a large degree. So, just introducing respiration into something where you know you’re freaking out or even if you’re working out and you’re pushing it really hard, well, what’s going on with your breathing? What if you controlled your breathing a little differently, what would happen? And boom! All of a sudden, you’ve got athletes who are like, “Oh wow, I’ve got a different gear here.” Yeah, because you’re not letting yourself get out of control, and you’re not going past that.

So, I think the cold is a really good teacher with that. And on the flip side of that, you’ve got the heat. And so, you’ve got something that can really start to open things up and allow you to feel things in a different way. The heat’s always been used as a spiritual tool, right? Many cultures use it for … you hear about sweat lodges and deep stuff like that, but you’ve got all these Nordic countries that have been using it for hundreds if not thousands of years, where they … I mean, you don’t have actually running water in the winter up there, so you’re not really bathing. So, this is the only real way to do it. So, it’s a very cleansing process as well, right?

So, add breathing to that, where 70% of the toxins that are in your body are actually removed through respiration. So, you could sweat all you want and think your cleansing yourself, but it’s not really that much. 30% is you’re talking sweat, spit, defecation, urination; that’s all combined 30%, where respiration becomes that large detoxifier. And you can add that into part of your day and wow, it’s weird, you feel better. You want to remove your potential to have heart disease when you’re older, get in a sauna three times a week. You’ve just dropped it 50%.

Brad Kearns:     Are you tying in the breathing exercises with both cold and hot exposure as a necessary hand in hand?

Brian McKenzie:           Not necessary, but I think they are hand in hand. We will teach the cold with specific breathing. The heat we do, it’s not necessary, but it enhances it. Like holding a breath pattern for 15, 20 minutes in the sauna can be interesting. And you start to see when your brain’s getting a little too hot and things are getting too hot, your respiration rate wants to change, yet you’re not moving. And so, stress is stress, man. You can learn a lot.

Brad Kearns:     Oh my gosh, I find the cold plunge as my best opportunity to meditate. I go in there and I take my 20 deep diaphragmatic breaths that will last a varying length. I just finished 20 and sometimes I’ll just exhale and sit there for 12 seconds or something and getting better over time. But I remember one time, I went out there because it’s habitual. I do it every day and I had a podcast going, and I’m like, “I’ll just listen to the podcast,” and I have froze in there. It was completely different than my ritual which connected that deep breathing and getting into that parasympathetic state where I can handle this and I’m completely focused on what’s going on, versus blah, blah, blah, some podcasts is going. And I jumped in, and I remember my hands were tingling, and my feet were tingling and I got out and turn the thing off, and then started over.

So, that was a big insight that you got to be prepared for what’s going on in there and address it.

Brian McKenzie:           Big time. I think it’s very important to be aware of what’s going on. Like I’ve watched plenty of people who think that going into an ice bath for 10 minutes is a great idea, for no other reason than just trying to man through 10 minutes of an ice bath. And then later that day they’re still purple or blue and it’s like, “You know what hypothermia does? It means you failed. It means you’re not going to respond to this. You’re not creating an adaptive process to this.” Hypothermia is not the game.

But getting to that shiver response is actually a good thing. Your shiver response means that you’re at that first stage and you’re actually kicking on a gene that can help with a lot of stuff strength-wise. You can see upticks from what I understand in testosterone through proper cold training.

So, there’s a lot of benefits to the whole thing. Your ability to actually buffer off the cold. Like, I mean, I went into the ocean a couple of years ago, just to do some body surfing in the middle of winter here, and I didn’t have my wetsuit on. And it was probably, I don’t know, 58 degrees or something. I was out there for 45 minutes and didn’t even realize I had been out there for 45 minutes. I’m like, “Whoa! What happened?” Like the water was cold and it didn’t really affect me. Like, “I’m usually in a wetsuit this cold.” And that wasn’t happening.

Brad Kearns:     Yeah, you condition yourself. I suppose the same for the heat exposure if you’re going to go do an athletic endeavor in high temperatures.

Brian McKenzie:           100%. And especially if you’re an endurance athlete of any sort, keep training. I don’t know why you would not be doing it, regardless of even if you’re going to be in hot space or not.

Brad Kearns:     Yeah, I mean the recovery benefits and the muscle building. Rhonda Patrick’s doing intensely scientific shows about this stuff. Where they’re showing these people get fitter just from … I guess they’re getting a cardiovascular response too. They’re doing an aerobic workout in the sauna, literally.

Brian McKenzie:           Heat shock proteins. I mean, you get that to happen in an endurance workout.

Brad Kearns:     Okay, man, we covered-

Brian McKenzie:           We did.

Brad Kearns:     … a pie slice of all the great stuff you’ve got going on, but where can we go and get more into this stuff?

Brian McKenzie:           Powerspeedendurance.com. We’ve got our courses on there, Art of Breath. We’ve got all of our stuff on breathwork; cold exposure, heat exposure, training; the methodologies behind everything. All the principles behind all of the stuff we’re doing. We’ve got training programs on there. All of it’s there.

Brad Kearns:     Right, I noticed you have a little bite size intro. You can get cold and hot education for 15 bucks or something and you’re good to go.

Brian McKenzie:           15 bucks and we’ve got a whole slew of information on how to do it.

Brad Kearns:     Same for breathing, yeah.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah.

Brad Kearns:     Love it.

Brian McKenzie:           Yeah.

Brad Kearns:     All right, Brian McKenzie here at the nice day on the beach.

Brian McKenzie:           Thanks for having me Brad.

Brad Kearns:     Right on. Thanks for listening everybody.

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