Dr. Jon McGavock – Seminar Lessons and Review.

Last night I had the PRIVILEGE of attending a presentation by Dr. Jon McGavock. He is a researcher at the University of Manitoba who focuses on exercise physiology, nutrition, childhood obesity and Type 2 diabetes, and on endurance training. His talk was dedicated to busting myths regarding performance, diet, exercise, and training. It was really good and I learned a ton. As a scientist (I am graduating with my Bachelor of Science after all 😉 I was thrilled with everything Dr. McGavock had to say about scientific literature and the media portrayal of that information. 



I wrote down everything I could remember as soon as I got home, just so I could pass on all of his brilliant information to you. The main focus of the seminar was about improving PERFORMANCE. He used that word so many times… so I knew it was a key point 😉 Our weight, our diet, our training, and our recovery is always geared towards performance. Whether it is a marathon, triathlon, 5K, swim meet, yoga class, or track meet, every decision we make throughout the day will affect our performance. We are not all elite athletes, but to feel our best and perform our best, we have to make a conscious effort to perform well. 

You can follow Dr. McGavock on Twitter!

DIET

You don’t have to be an elite athlete or even an athlete to be concerned with your diet. The saying “You can’t out-exercise a bad diet” is SO true and Dr. Jon made this point very clear. A good diet it essential to good training and thus a good performance. Finding the most nutrient-dense foods without exceeding caloric intake is a balance that differs for every single body. No one diet will prove to be “the best” and finding food that works for you is an individual trial. He made it clear that scientific studies are all over the place with diets and the one conclusion that was found across the board is that there is no one conclusion. Beet juice is great for marathoners? Antioxidants will make you live longer? Chocolate milk is the perfect recovery drink? Says who? So many people take these “studies” as fact when in reality there are so many different variables and many studies are designed properly to address them all!

Low/enough calories, high nutrient, find your perfect diet. 

WEIGHT. 

The main point Dr. McGavock made about weight was “calories in versus calories out” is a tool for weight loss, not training. If you eat less calories that you are expending, you will lose weight, if you eat more, you will gain weight. Basic science. However; this is a little different in a training situation when it is a little harder to find that caloric balance. Lighter athletes will move faster and be able to perform better… but athletes that aren’t at a healthy weight won’t have enough muscle and the right body composition to perform to the best of their abilities. Again, it is about balance… I sense a theme 🙂

TRAINING.

Dr. McGavock talked a lot about cycling and triathlon training, but not a whole lot about running. He said that high intensity intervals have been proven to improve performance while training for cycling events, but no such evidence has yet come forward for running. A lot of his performance measures came from VO2 max tests… a test I never want to do but secretly think would be really informative. He made some major points about flexibility and strength training and I think I wrote his exact speech about strength training in a post yesterday

SLEEP. 

What is the best method to improve training, prevent injury, and regulate hormones essential to satiety and metabolism? SLEEP. Training expends a ton of energy and the best method of recovery is sleep. Even more that compression socks and foam rolling (both of which have no scientific backing), sleeping TEN hours a night is ESSENTIAL to performance. You are not Dean Karnazes… you probably need more than 4 hours of shut eye. Yes, this is an excuse to take a nap every day 🙂

The best thing about his talk? The debunking of SO MANY myths. He is a super cool scientific researcher who spends his time talking about how unreliable other scientific researchers are. Too many scientific studies have a poor sample group, targeted studies, are funded by bias companies, or are misreported and misinterpreted. When randomized sampling occurs over a long period of time, it often shows neutral data that shows no statistical difference in compression sock wearers or caffeine-drinkers or foam rollers. The best thing to do it be an informed consumer. When you read in a magazine that an elite athlete eats half a grapefruit every morning, it doesn’t mean you should go buy a 10 lb. bag of grapefruit from Costco and instantly you will be able to run like an elite athlete. 
Ask more than one person (or scientist) about the information you have received. Find the research, and question it. Most importantly, try what works for you, not anyone else. 

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This morning I warmed up on the stationary bike for 10 minutes (and then began to chafe so I jumped off). I jumped cautiously climbed on the treadmill for a 5 minute walk, TWO MILE RUN, and 5 minute walk. I did a bit of stretching, my physio exercises, then 45 minutes of arm strength training. I did ANOTHER MILE on the treadmill after the strength because for some reason, the second bout of running feels better than the first… I guess it takes me 90 minutes to warm up for my runs nowadays! I called it a day and headed home to ice. I was still in pain by the end of the run but it is getting better 🙂


What have YOU found to be essential to YOUR performance? Is it psychological, diet, sleep, recovery, training program, or something else?

3 Comments

  1. oh my goodness! what a great post. i wish i was able to hear it in person, but you did a great job of summarizing the important points. the biggest one to me is that i don’t respect sleep as much as i should. ever since i had my baby i’ve been sleep deprived and have found a way to function…but i shouldn’t be ok on so little sleep. thanks for the reminder 🙂

  2. Great post Kris. And 3 MILES!
    I think all of those things have been essential for me but if I had to narrow it down, in the last 4 months it has definitely been the coaching. I’ve made huge gains that I’m positive wouldn’t have been possible without it.
    – Shawn

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