Sauna for athletic performanceI’ve used a quick sauna after exercise for over thirty years believing it to be beneficial to athletic performance. Having tried to convince academics in the Seventies of the benefits of sports psychology only to be told that “there’s nothing in it”, I didn’t bother to engage again on the benefits of a post-training sauna.

According to this 2014 article, the post-training sauna is now the ‘new’ performance enhancing trick!

Here’s the science:

University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand – Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport / Sports Medicine Australia – 2007 Aug;10(4):259-62. Epub 2006 Jul 31.

The physiological adaptations to sauna bathing could enhance endurance performance. We have therefore performed a cross-over study in which six male distance runners completed 3 wk of post-training sauna bathing and 3 wk of control training, with a 3 wk washout. During the sauna period, subjects sat in a humid sauna at 89.9+/-2.0 degrees C (mean+/-standard deviation) immediately post-exercise for 31+/-5 min on 12.7+/-2.1 occasions. The performance test was a approximately 15 min treadmill run to exhaustion at the runner’s current best speed over 5 km. The test was performed on the 1st and 2nd day following completion of the sauna and control periods, and the times were averaged. Plasma, red-cell and total blood volume were measured via Evans blue dye dilution immediately prior to the first run to exhaustion for each period. Relative to control, sauna bathing increased run time to exhaustion by 32% (90% confidence limits 21-43%), which is equivalent to an enhancement of approximately 1.9% (1.3-2.4%) in an endurance time trial. Plasma and red-cell volumes increased by 7.1% (5.6-8.7%) and 3.5% (-0.8% to 8.1%) respectively, after sauna relative to control. Change in performance had high correlations with change in plasma volume (0.96, 0.76-0.99) and total blood volume (0.94, 0.66-0.99), but the correlation with change in red cell volume was unclear (0.48, -0.40 to 0.90). We conclude that 3 wk of post-exercise sauna bathing produced a worthwhile enhancement of endurance running performance, probably by increasing blood volume.

David Gale

Dave Gale (Photo by Kalpesh Lathigra)

How many times have you had a complex problem to solve, like a maths equation or similar, and the answer has flashed into your head instantly? The answer may have been in your head but you paid no attention to it because this is a complex problem and it needs a structure and a process to work it out, right? So, you set about making your formal calculations and maybe spent some minutes doing it… only to end up with the answer that flashed into your head instantaneously!

This is the power that I call ‘back brain’. We can spend a large part of our lives working in ‘front brain’, trying to ensure that the human brain overcomes the chimp brain (ref Steve Peters) but the reality is, for ultimate performance, human brain and chimp brain are both part of front brain which is part of the problem. We need to shut both of them out of the process, relax and trust our primeval, subconscious back brain which works much faster and more fluidly. Sure, pre-programming through training and imagery has a role to play but too often athletes TRY to relax and TRY to play the imagery card. The trying works against you. Your brain has already worked it out… now shut up!

I’ve spent many years understanding and formulating techniques that help athletes get to this nirvana state. If you’ve ever been there, most likely by accident, it needs no explanation. In the heat of competition, it can feel like an out of body experience. The trick comes in learning to control it and using it to your advantage…

It’s all in the mind…

Posted: July 29, 2015 in Press Releases

In my recent athletics post, I said that my ‘head’ was a primary focus. It turns out that Dr Steve Peters, the current 400 metre M60 masters British record holder, is Sir Chris Hoy’s head shrink!

It’s interesting that when I tried broaching the subject of sports psychology with UK academia in the Seventies, I was poo-pooed. Having won a few championships in a twenty year career in professional sport (including coaching sports psychology at a Superbike racing school for six years), it’s bizarre that I’ve now stumbled over Steve (a brief word at the National Championships meet last Saturday) as I return to my first competitive love – athletics.

I like Steve’s analogy but I’m sure he will know that for elite sportsmen there is a higher plane. Ultimate performance rarely comes without being able to turn ALL conscious thought off. So, although it’s useful to learn to control the chimp’s ability to get in the way of full access to the subconscious, it’s not the whole story.

I discovered this entirely by accident at the beginning of my motorsports career. I spent the next two decades learning how to master it and then how to pass it on to others. Meditation is one of the early exercises that can assist in accessing the subconscious but experience helps the competitor to learn to ‘flick the switch’.

At first, it took me days of mental preparation to get into the right place in my head before an event. In the later stages of my career, I could flick the switch just minutes before a race. The result is an almost out of body experience and a performance that often even surprises the subject.

The lasting memory of teaching this came from my time superbike racing coaching a very well known military aerobatics team squadron leader. The chimp never got in the way of his human mind but I had to teach him to switch that off as well. I told him, “junk your check list, disappear somewhere quiet and build the entire lap in your head – everything: the feel, the smell, the noise. When you get on the bike, don’t TRY doing the image in your head. Just relax and switch OFF – your subconscious already knows what to do! He referred to it as “flying by the seat of his pants” and duly introduced the rest of his squadron for more of the same…

MaxiNutrition Promax Lean

MaxiNutrition Promax Lean

This is insane! I’m healing faster than I did in my Twenties and Thirties!

Having suffered a double grade 2 hamstring tear whilst sprinting twelve days ago, I was pretty much off my feet for three days deploying my normal routine of ibuprofen, elevation, and ice, learned from my days in football.

Day 4: I added ‪#‎MaxiNutrition‬ Promax Lean to my recovery routine, as well as alternate hot / cold application of a shower head on the injury sites, and light stretching exercises / gentle dog walking. Lots of raised leg rest!

Day 6: I was walking just under four miles, albeit slowly. Lots of raised leg rest.

Day 12: I’m back up to normal walking speed and it all feels so good that I’ve done some light jogging and side shuffles whilst walking the woofits! I will sit on myself to make sure that I don’t do too much too soon but I am gobsmacked at the progress.

My last fitness challenge was 12 weeks. My new Athletics Challenge is 12 months!

2015 BMAF Championships - warm up area

2015 BMAF Championships – warm up area

Whilst I’m still waiting to get the karting moving I’ve been staying fit and gradually preparing for a return to competitive athletics. Speed trials suggested that I needed 12 months prep to get to a competitive 400 metre time, the main issue being that I have a huge imbalance between my very strong dancer’s quads and my hamstrings. Unsurprisingly, that imbalance led to a recent major double hamstring tear, so I’m in recovery mode!

I took the opportunity to get a feel for it all again at the British Masters Athletic Federation National Championships, at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham. It was a superbly organised meet with an electric atmosphere that sent shivers down my spine!

Physio area

Physio area

I did a complete walk-thru ready for next year: registration, declaration, warm up, call up. The mind is an incredible thing, if you know how to tweak it. Now I know exactly what to expect, my subconscious will pre-programme the entire event with all of the variables having a separate plan.

I took some time to say hello and check out the opposition and videoed what would have been my race. Preparation!

Checking out the opposition!

Checking out the opposition!

Last time I competed here, it was a cinder track! The biggest variable in a 400 metre race is making sure that you don’t run someone else’s race (their tempo / their pace). Your fastest race time will come from being able to blank out the opposition and run the first 200 metres just a second or so off your best 200 metre time, with the last 200 metres being up to two seconds slower than the first. Get drawn by a super-fast first 100 metres and you’re screwed. This is why it’s so important to pre-programme your own race.

September 2014 – Progress!

Posted: September 29, 2014 in Press Releases

KidsForCashUK.orgI said earlier in the year that not all of my battles take place on the race track. In February 2014, I made a public call for the historic Leicestershire child sex abuse cases to be reviewed.

I’m pleased to report that in September 2014, Leicestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Sir Clive Loader, has announced that, in 2015, his force will carry out a full review of historic child abuse cases.

I’ve also been informed that Leicestershire Constabulary has now called in the IPCC to formally investigate potential wrong-doing by police officers. Whilst it would be wrong to jump to any conclusions about the outcome, I’m happy that Kids for Cash UK has played a small part in moving things along.

Dave GaleI’ve had a number of major issues to deal with in the past couple of years that have kept the racing on hold. Not least of the troubles has been actions by the Great and the Good that have been designed to protect them from investigations of Kids for Cash UK, a voluntary organisation that I founded to investigate malpractice and corruption in the social care and family justice systems.

First of all, I identified a ranking police officer as being responsible for obstructing a police investigation, to the detriment of a child, as a result of which I found the weight of Derbyshire Constabulary thrown into covering up wholesale malpractice and corruption.

Next, I blew the cover of Derby City Council covering up the loss of over £25 million of missed savings and double-spend on IT and business transformation projects. A tip off led to the discovery of documents confirming that council directors had been responsible for a smear campaign against me in an attempt “to close down discussion” of the malpractice. I received a formal written apology from a senior council director. The Local Government Ombudsman stated that they had no powers to intervene and that the only recourse against council officers’ libel was the High Court.

Fast on the heels of that investigation came Kids for Cash UK evidencing the industrial scale fraud of the legal aid system, with the Legal Services Commission (LSC) being complicit with dodgy solicitors in defrauding the public purse. The LSC was eventually closed down, being referenced by one minister as being ‘unsalvageable’.

Then, late in 2013, as Kids for Cash UK probed police involvement in a cover up in an historic paedophile case, I received another tip off. The suggestion that I should use a subject access request to check my records at the Criminal Records Office (ACRO) came out of the blue. It was a surprise because I knew that my record should be clean, given that I am dependent on security clearance for professional contracts but I have had some peculiar, last minute issues with contracts in the past eighteen months. The return surprised even me, with the response being a three page record of serious crime unlawfully attributed to my identity.

There has followed a claim by the Criminal Records Office that they had sent me an ‘incorrect record’ in error, this despite the local constabulary putting in place arrangements to take my fingerprints to clear the record, and despite my initial inquiry being as a result of a tip-off. The Information Commissioner’s Office has stated that it has no criminal jurisdiction over the Criminal Records Office and that it doesn’t know who has. In short, this could happen again. More recently, I have been warned by a retired officer with 25 years’ service that I have a large target on my back. Clearly, there are people in positions of power and influence who are prepared to break the law in an attempt to protect themselves.

What has this got to do with motorsport? When the chips are down, there is nothing better for dealing with adversity than having had experiences in motorsport that enable me to dig deep and keep fighting. When you’ve been flung over the handlebars at well over 100mph a few times, dusting yourself off, getting back on and fighting with every last part of your being comes naturally.

David Gale
RamTec Motorsport
+44 (0)7703 460360