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Raising the next Lance.

 
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CBaron
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Joined: 20 Jun 2003
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Location: Austin, TX

PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2005 7:44 am GMT +0000    Post subject: Raising the next Lance. Reply with quote

Doc Nolan,

I was thinking about this topic yesterday on my ride and figured I'd get your take on it.

I am the father of two very young boys, oldest is 2.5 and the youngest is 10mos. I am just about ready to add a seat or trailer to the bike and bring the older one with me for some fun. Of course being an avid cyclist and somewhat less enthusiastic about "traditional sports" I'd like to cultivate my children's interest in cycling or endurance type sports.

Let's assume that both my children are (born) identically paired regarding genetic disposition, i.e VO2 Max, lung capacity, LT, AT, fast/slow twitch etc... One grows up playing golf and the other grows up cycling. Once they reach the age of physical maturity say around...28. Would they both still be (noticeably) paired similarly regarding these genetic markers? What I guess I'm asking is...can things that seem to be genetically determined be developed and enhanced through the choice of physical activities one chooses to participate in at a developing age?

Thanks in advance,
CBaron
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The Bike Doc
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Location: Corpus Christi and Warda, Texas

PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2005 11:01 am GMT +0000    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are several physiologic factors that are genetically predetermined. However, one can be gifted with a phenominal VO2 max, but one cannot maximize the benefits of that gift without training and discipline. So if one child with the same genetic investments does training that maximizes his VO2 max and his endurance and sprinting strengths and the other pursues a significantly less strenous route of activity, the former will be able to draw more deeply on the genetics he or she was endowed with. But, the later is no the less great if his or her endevor does not require drawing on the bank of VO2 max but instead on another bank of genetic benifits.

Now, in regards to your kids, instill in them a love for and a fun relationship with bicycling. Do what you are doing, start them early, pop them into the trailer and have a fun ride. (My kids were 3 months old when I strapped them into their car seats and popped them into the bike trailer to go out for thier first neighborhood rides -naps actually.) Graduate them to a "Trail-a-Bike" when they are older but not yet big enough to ride along by themselves then move onward to their own bikes. Keep the rides short and fun, take plenty of breaks. Take them to FUN events, (Kids Kups, organized bike rides with short distances, rides to the store for ice cream cones for example) play down the competition and play up the fun and interaction. If they develop a desire to compete, encourage them but do not push them (no little league syndrome). If they have the potential to go like Lance, be ready to go the long haul, loving and supporting them through the wins and losses.

Thanks,
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2005 11:17 am GMT +0000    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sea Baron,

Since this is sorta my area of expertise, I feel obligated to weigh in.

First, the chances of them being "genetically" identical in physical parameters is quite remote. They will be somewhat similar, but not the same. Genetics can be a wonderful thing or a terrible thing. Depending on what you are delt!

Second, the one who grows up playing golf (assuming he does not EVER do anything aerobic) will be much less capable of performing "aerobic" exercise than the one who grows up cycling. Even with a "genetic potential", that potential MUST be trained or it will never be accomplished.

In other words, what makes Lance, Lance is a combination of two things: 1) pure genetic potential. He was just born with a natural ability to "excel" at endurance sports. 2) He began his athletic career as a swimmer (at the ripe old age of 6!). Anyone who knows how swimmers train will understand what his early years were like: hours upon hours in the pool! So, the second factor is years of training. You can see that Mr. Armstrong has been a "competitive" aerobic athlete for the majority of his life.

So, he has used years of training to actually reach his peak physiological potential.

You are correct in saying that peak can be reaced in the middle to late 20's. From a purely physiological perspective, one can expect to reach his/her peak in the 26 - 28 year range. Take me for example, I did not get serious about endurance sports until I was 35. Will I ever be able to achieve what my peak potential may have been? NO! Can I train and achieve as much of that as possible? YES!

So, to build the "next Lance", you MUST begin training in the early years (what I mean by early years is 8 - 10). Now, do I recommend that all of us with 5 and 6 year olds send them off to cycling camp or swim camp? No! They must want to do whatever it is they are training for, and we as the adults must keep it fun for them. If they want to, then let them. But, keep the intensity low. Remember, they are just kids!

I have a 5 year old myself. Would I like to get him started "training"?
You bet! But right now, he is just not interested in riding his bike. So the last thing I want to do is force him to ride the thing.

Hope this mini-thesis helps.

Terry Dupler, Ph.D.
Associate Prof
University of Houston-Clear Lake
Texas Trek VW Regional Mtn Bike Team
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2005 12:13 pm GMT +0000    Post subject: Reply with quote

My son is only one year old but I can tell already that there is not going to be any forcing him to do things he isnt interested in Smile

However, if I could force him to ride a bike would that be any worse than letting him eat MacDonalds at every meal? I just want to put this into perspective. I dont think "forcing" kids to do things they might not want to do is necessarily a bad thing. We force kids to do lots of things they wouldn't otherwise do or that aren't fun.

Yeah yeah yeah, you can take anything too far but making a child exercise a few times a week is not as bad as letting them eat crap at every meal.

I'm not disagreeing with anything that has been said I just want to put some perspective on it.

Paul
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CBaron
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Location: Austin, TX

PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2005 2:20 pm GMT +0000    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the dialogue gentlemen, I was hoping to start some discussion and hear from some informed opinions.

I almost sent out a disclaimer along with my initial post that stated...I'm not really trying to raise the next Lance, and I'm also not going to force my kids into anything. It just seemed like a catchy thread title and yesterday while riding, I was just pondering the future of activities and sports in our growing family.

Back to the topic:
I've always been interested in what makes (really) fast people fast, Lance being the pen-ultimum example. I've dialogued w/ quite a few people about this, some say purely genetics, some say drive & will to win, training ettiquette etc.. I completely understand that its a quality combination of most of these things that makes someone fast. But what are the things that can be developed (or not).

It has always been my opinion that due to my less superior genetic factors, me at my "most fit" would not necessarily be able to compete with Lance (or Sager to keep it local) at his "most fit". I base this on in-lab tests of my VO2 max, lung capacity, AT, muscle fiber samples etc... These tests revealed that based on the broad sample of cyclists tested in the UT performance lab, my numbers were at the lower end of most all pro-cyclists. Albeit, these guys w/similar genetic markers were 25lbs+ lighter than me. So based on my own "theory" of me at my best vs X at their best, what could have been done (if anything) to improve my genetic limitations. I too swam competitively in high school but I also lifted weights(for 10yrs). If I had never lifted weights and continued to swim through college would I be less meso/endomorphic? If I currently have a 4.5 litre lung capacity, would I have had a 5 litre (10%+) capacity if I had been a cyclist since 10 years old? (this is the better question)


So in summary, this is less about interval training with the 3 year old and more about analyzing my own physiology as a former mid-level expert racer.

Thoughts?

Thanks again,
CBaron
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CR66
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2005 1:02 pm GMT +0000    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very interesting topic.

IMO, there is not much you can do to improve your gentic limitations, since they are just that: genetic limitations. You can however maximize what you have by training, but you won't be able to go much beyond what you got from mom and dad. Something you can develop over time however is your mental strength. The mind is a powerful thing! Some people don't even realize how much more they could do if their mind would let them. So if you think you have reached your physical max...there may be more left to gain by improving your mental edge.

Is Lance the fastest out there at the Tour; nah, probably not. But is he the one who is as well prepeared as he can be?....sure, but I am sure others are well prepared too. How come they don't win? Bad Luck? Probably not, but they may not really believe they CAN win....the Believe to Achieve is a big factor. When is Lance going to NOT win the tour? When there is someone out there who believes he can beat Lance, or when Lance is doubting himself.

Is cycling a mental sport? Yes, but not as much as other sports where this mental edge can be observed very vividly. Tennis (my own background) is a known sport where mental toughness can outperform the physically stronger and talented player. Seeing a player in the lead crumble mentally before your eyes happens at tournaments all the time. Those "upsets" are just that, totally unexpected and usually due to mental breakdowns.

You want win...you need to believe to achieve!
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The Bike Doc
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Joined: 08 May 2003
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Location: Corpus Christi and Warda, Texas

PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2005 5:58 am GMT +0000    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sea Baron wrote: "If I had never lifted weights and continued to swim through college would I be less meso/endomorphic? If I currently have a 4.5 litre lung capacity, would I have had a 5 litre (10%+) capacity if I had been a cyclist since 10 years old? (this is the better question)"

In a word, No. Lung capacity is genetically predetermined. There certainly are enviromental influences that will restrict your lung capacity as you develop in the utereus and after being born. Children of women who smoke have a 10% reduction in the lung capacities. Certain environmental exposures and infections can limit your lung capacity. A person who is moribundly obese, (something which you are not) will have a reduced lung capacity. Being of muscular build however is not going to reduce your lung capacity. In fact, pulmonary functions improve on individuals who are out of shape who then go on strength training programs. The body condition not only allows you to improve your muscle function of your legs and arms it imporves the function of your lungs.

Where does muscle bulk hurt you? In climbing and long endurance events. It takes more energy to haul that extra muscle bulk up long climbs and on sustained efforts at VO2 max such as time trialing. Look at Lance pre and post cancer. He had a much bulkier upper torso and arms pre-cancer, the effect of his years as a swimmer and triathelete. He was and awsome sprinter but was not as good at long climbs and time trialing. With his cancer he lost his bulk. When he recovered from his cancer and focused his training, he did not regain the upper extremity bulk but take a look at his thighs and calves! There is no one in the peleton who can match his time trialing and climbing abilities and he has one hell-of-a kick when it comes to sprinting to boot.

Where does that muscle bulk help you? In mountain biking, upper extremity strength is crucial in the technical areas, lifting the front of the bike over obstacles and in protecting your bones from injuries and fractures when the inevitable unscheduled dismounts asail you.

I hope this answers your questions.

Thanks,
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Paul K. Nolan, MD
AKA: The Bike Doc
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