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The Coach of 7 IRONMAN Victories, Elliot Bassett

The next episode of the PTPintcast starts right now.  The best conversations happen at Happy Hour.  Welcome to ours.  On the show today, coached the University of Montana to a national championship in 2006, at the ripe age of 22.  He was actually on the team just before that.  He’s coached 10 IRONMAN wins with 3 different people.  He also has a roster of more than 10 professional and elite athletes in Triathlon, distance running and cycling over the last 5+ years.  Coached more than 20 people from amateur to elite licensed pro.  On the show today is Elliot Bassett.  Elliot, welcome to the PTPintcast.

Elliot:  Thanks for having me.  I’m legitimately pretty excited to be here to talk about this stuff.

Jimmy:  Awesome.  Cool.  First question is always the most difficult.  Elliot, what are we drinking tonight?

Elliot:  Ha, ha, ha.  Well, tonight you’re going to be bummed.   I am drinking Earl Grey tea, but after that I think I’m going to switch to Not Your Father’s Rootbeer.

Jimmy:  There we go.  I like that stuff.  That stuff  I feel like came out of nowhere.  Next thing one of my roommates is talking about it.  He’s like “dude I can’t find it anywhere.  I had it when I was home on break.”  Next thing you know, like everyone and there Mom is talking about it.

Elliot:  It can get you in trouble because, let’s be honest, it tastes like rootbeer and you think you’re drinking rootbeer and you can drink a lot of rootbeer.

Jimmy:  It goes down pretty easy.  Alright, I’m going ah, my goal here, Elliot, is every episode have a different beer just so I can try different stuff.  Star Hill Brewery, that’s out of Charlottesville, Virginia, which is not far from where we’re going to meet up at the Richmond Endurance Symposium coming up on the 23rd.

Elliot:  Yeah.

Jimmy:  Star Hill Brewery, it is their Jomo Vienna-Style Lager.  So cheers to you, my man, and and thanks for coming on the show so far.

Elliot:  Yeah.  I’m excited.

Jimmy:  Alright.  So – let’s walk through it.  You’re at the University of Montana, you’re team President and the coach for a couple of years, and then – “oops” – you guys win a national championship.  Walk me through that.  That’s got to be awesome.

Elliot:  It is kind of a whirlwind.  Credit needs to be given to Jeff Cincoski, who, beside being my best friend when I was a freshman, helped me buy my first bike on Ebay, which I did not know how to use at the time, taught me how to swim, and I had a large background already in just studying endurance sport, but sport in general and I spent a lot of time, a very large amount of time, reading every single book you could read.  My local library had probably the largest collection of training books I’ve ever seen in a library.  That was at my local library.  So I read every single one before I graduated high school.

Jimmy:  Before I forget, what’s a couple that I should read, that I haven’t already?  I’m looking to go into orthopedic physical therapy and I’d love to work with some endurance athletes.  What’s some cool stuff I can absorb?

Elliot:  The ones that stick out are like Jack Daniel’s book, which, by the way, I’ll never be the best coach to come out of University of Montana because Jack Daniels went to the University of Montana.  Great guy if you ever get the chance to meet him.  His book is great just for like the basics of running.  You can read that and you’re not going to go wrong.  If you want to include the orthopedic part of it – you were talking to Matt Lieto yesterday, he works with Jay Dicharry, and Jay’s book is good.  I actually am in Tucson and I have it in the bedroom with me.

Jimmy:  I had read that book, Jay Dicharry, who is out of Bend, Oregon right now.  I just loved, I mentioned this in Matt’s episode, I loved the way he talked.  I’m hearing his voice in my head – having never met him before.  It just sounds like he’s real conversational, gets to the point and is always intelligent.  I’m like “yeah, I could read a lot of books by this guy because he gets the point.”

Elliot:  He likes to drink too.  Ha!

Jimmy:  Hey – cheers to that.  I like that a lot.  So yeah, that’s a couple of good books right now – “The Anatomy of Running” from Jay Dicharry, another good one.  Alright so you’re reading about it, you buy your first bike on Ebay which is coincidentally how I bought my very first tri bike.  It was a Frankenstein.  Some dude sold it for like $150 bucks, and that’s what I got into tri with.  And then – what happens?  How do you go from that to coaching the University of Montana to a national championship?

Elliot:  Luckily for me, it’s a club system.  The team started to kind of, I wouldn’t say fall apart.  There wasn’t much of a team to begin with.  There were a handful of people that were really fast that were 4 year older than me and they all graduated and left.  My freshman year it was me and this guy, Jeff Cincoski, and he knew how to swim and he had worked at a bike shop I knew a lot about running and training.  Jeff is one of the nicer guys you’ll ever meet.  We recruited campus like you’ve never seen anyone recruit campus.  Pretty much every girl I saw thought I was hitting on them and every guy I saw thought I was hitting on them.  Everybody that could bike – anybody who had a cruiser or a mountain bike that could do anything, knew the team existed and anyone who swam at the pool knew the team existed and we’d get people there.  And then I was – it was a great opportunity for me.  I already knew I wanted to coach down the road.  I always thought that it would happen like when I was in my thirties or something.  I was like “might as well get started now.”  It was a great place to experiment.  So then in my sophomore, junior and senior year, I was experimenting with the team and I took on a couple friends just to play around that way.  I always wrote my own training and I was in school for exercise physiology working with some very high level physiologists.  One of my professors was the U.S. Nordic Combined coach for 15 years.  His daughter was on our team.  He knew I was obsessed with it.  So I got to sit down and talk with him.  One of my other classes I got to be in the last couple of undergraduate classes that Brent Ruby ever taught and if you heard about the McDonald’s Recovery Study, that’s what he’s most famous for.  He was in Runner’s World a couple of months ago.  He’s always doing pretty interesting studies, and I got to be, I honestly can’t remember how many lab studies I took part of in my undergraduate career – probably 15 or 18.

Jimmy:  Wow.  That’s a cool experience.

Elliot:  Yeah.  So in just all that, the lab I was in was just – kinda jumped in and worked my tail off.  It just so happened, a lot of the people we met, mediocrely focused training got to be pretty danged good.  That’s how it worked, I think.  When we won our women’s B team still would have been third in the country.  Because we had a lot of depth, so.

Jimmy:  Wow.  That’s pretty cool.

Elliot:  Yeah.  It was great.

Jimmy:  So from there how do you jump to coaching?  I’m pretty sure a resume builder – winning a national championship has got to help.  You know your background being organized, being in exercise physiology, doing a bunch of research.  How do you go on and start recruiting people to bring you in?  How do you put the word out there?

Elliot:  That’s a good question and I’m not normal in how most people did it.  So I was young, I was quite young.  I was 22.  I’m in my fourth year of real coaching experience.  I had a little bit of experience in high school with my cross country team.  I was confident in myself and I’ve always kind of been overly confident, maybe to a fault.   I knew I could do it but I also felt like the basis of it all was to do the work.  So I was just taking on friends for free and I just worked with people who happened to be fairly talented and had the talent to be second in the world someday.  I always kind of thought that but it turned out 2014 Ben Hoffman, I’m the only person he’s ever coached.  He was on the team that won the nationals.  He won nationals as an individual that year.  So when you know people like that, and, I’m not going to name the other 10 people who raced professionally, so when I go around and I talk to people who’ve been racing professionally for 5 years, it’s like “oh you started that race?”  It’s “yeah I, at sometime or another, coached half the people in it or at least rode a bike with them 10 times” so I never actually put the word out.  I just did the work.  I worked for free.  I went to grad school to learn more – University of Victoria, which is in British Columbia in Victoria – and that’s where the Canadian Triathlon Center is and you meet even more people there.  It basically just snowballed on who you meet and if you keep working for free and you do good work, eventually people just came to me.  I don’t even have a website.

Jimmy:  I’ve heard that piece of advice from other people in PT specifically, in sports PT, in different forms.  What I’ve also heard is people always say, “well what’s the secret, what’s the short cut” and the answer I always get from people who are doing good things is “ah, the short cut is the long cut.  You gotta do the work.  No such thing as a short cut.  You gotta put the work in and eventually, if you’re enjoying it, it’s not really work, the success should come to you that way.”  And it looks like it did for you, ah, just putting the work in, like you said, working for free definitely paid off.

Elliot:  Yeah, I can work in my pajamas now.  So – top that!

Jimmy:  Yeah, jackpot!  So, so I want to walk you through this: so you take athletes from all levels and you brought people from amateur to pro.  How do you start?  If you’ve got someone like me, you know, I’m a weekend warrior.  Where do you begin?  What’s kind of an evaluation process for you in terms of figuring out where they are in terms of endurance?

Elliot:  I have a questionnaire and the questionnaire always starts with the persons goals, you know?  If your goal is to beat your buddy down the street and it’s just for fun but you still want to be able to do a podcast 3 nights a week, that you get to drink 3 beers at, then we’ve got to stick with those goals.  And if your goals – you know you meet some people that are like “I want to do X,Y,Z” and you’re like “okay – that’s pretty lofty” but then you realize I also am willing to do everything you ask me and if that means I can’t do a few fun things, or maybe what’s fun for you is just chasing that goal day in and day out, that’s where it starts.  It all starts with the person’s goals and ambition.  People always talk about, you know, coaches are a motivator.  I don’t think they’re a motivator, I think they keep the motivation alive – which is a different way to look at it.   I’m not giving anyone motivation.  I’m just keeping the motivation they have and keeping it up there.

Jimmy:  Would it be correct to say you’re keeping it directed?  Is that another thing too, like keeping it focused on the target?

Elliot:  Yeah, that’s a – keeping it focused on the target and making sure that there’s times to like, your job is just essentially pulling back and then, yeah, like you said, keeping focus.  And I always say, you know, a good coach doesn’t give an athlete anything they didn’t already have, they just help you avoid mistakes.  If you keep working in some direction and you take away all the mistakes eventually you start getting closer and closer to what your best performance is.

Jimmy:  That’s a cool way to look at that.  I like cool little nuggets like that, that actually keep me on target in terms of what I’m able to get out of somebody that I coach in swimming or a patient that I work with in PT.  And I also like how, you know you said you had that questionnaire.  That’s exactly what a lot of my good, PT professors say the first question should be, “what’s your goal here” because if you don’t know what the goal is, how do you ever define success?  How do you know if you’ve gotten there or you haven’t gotten there – unless you ask for that goal.

Elliot:  That’s a – that’s interesting because I work with many PTs and I consider myself an amateur PT which – I wholeheartedly emphasis on the amateur part.  I’m fascinated by it but the way you solve the problem is very, very similar.  Whether it’s from the motivation aspect and then where you’re trying to go to but – when I work with an athlete, to get to your original question is, if you’re not healthy, you can’t perform.  And so it always brings it back to – what keeps you healthy.  And that’s where it really comes in to the amateur PT because I might take away a work out or 2 because it puts them too at high a risk for injury.  I’d rather somebody train at 90% and keep doing that, than train at 100, 100, 100, 0; 100, 100, 100, 0.

Jimmy:  Yeah, talking with Matt Lieto the other day he talked about one thing that really stuck with me that I took away.  I try to take away one, like, really good nugget, one pearl away from each episode and he said, “I don’t have to train to be fast, I have to train to be strong.  So when I know I have to go to that tank at the end of the race, man I know I’ve got it because I’ve already trained to be strong. I can push myself in the race.”

Elliot:  Oh and he can.

Jimmy:  Yeah.

Elliot:  That’s the, you know, that gets back to the motivation, like when push comes to shove who’s gonna push themselves all the way and you read whatever magazine or internet article and they say “well the professionals hurt the same as the Joe Schmoe” and I was like “let me tell ya, they’re hurting more.”  I don’t care who I offend.  Like, you don’t get there without learning how to endure a certain amount of discomfort, and the more top-level people you hear, you understand that the way they think about discomfort and just being uncomfortable and in pain, if you will, you realize that they all have a well-developed attitude towards it and that’s something that pretty much every single top-level athlete I’ve ever met has, in multiple sports, not just swim, bike, run.

Jimmy:  Yeah, Matt had brought that up as well in terms of  “you’re going to experience some pain doing some races,” especially the lengths of races that Matt does, the half and the fulls.  Um, what’s your favorite location, what’s your favorite race course, just personally, just from liking to be there?

Elliot:  Ah man.  Well.  My favorite race location and I’m assuming you mean to race, not to spectate.

Jimmy:  Ah – let’s do both.  I’ve picked races based on cool places I’d like to go, and they also happen to have a tri.  So I’ve done Madison, Wisconsin, I did Lake Placid and I’m looking to do either Coeur de’ Alene or I’m looking to do Mont Tremblanc – just because they’re places I want to go hang out.  So where do you like to go hang out?

Elliot:  I love spectating at Coeur de’Alene.  It helps that I live 2 1/2 hours away and I’ve been to all but 2.  Coeur de’Alene’s great, but honestly, old IRONMAN Canada course I think is cooler.  My favorite race to race personally is Great White North in Edmonton, Alberta, which is actually put on by the guy who now puts on Challenge Penticton, which will be IT Long Distance World Championships in 2017.  That race is great.  The course is nothing mind-blowing, it’s a pretty fast course.  It’s just a really well-run race with all the local hot-shots come out.  Jeff Simons, who’s an extremely fast guy who won IRONMAN Melbourne last year, he goes to the race every year and kicks everyone’s butt and a couple other local pros go but it’s just a cool race, it’s got a good vibe, it’s not put on by WTC which, if you’ve talked to enough of my athletes, I like that they put on well-run races, and I like that they do give out prize purses, but there’s a lot of things I think they could do better to grow the sport.  Yeah.

Jimmy:  Well cool.  Those sound like cool recommendations.  If I get a chance to do Coeur de’Alene, I’ve only heard good things about that course.  It’s gorgeous out there I’ve heard.

Elliot:  It’s amazing.  The lake is beautiful, the riding off the course – top notch.  It’s truly amazing.  There’s some trails around there.  There’s some rides that you would love, so if you’re going to train there, you do the course once and you stay to ride for another week or two.  Yeah.

Jimmy:  Cool.  Alright, talking with Elliot Bassett, triathlon coach, going to be with us at the Richmond Endurance Athlete Symposium January 23rd at the Westin in Richmond, Virginia.  Check them out online at their website:  www.RichmondEnduranceSymposium.com.  I just liked the feel of the roster when I found that even online.  It’s just a bunch of different people, all about endurance sports, all coming from different directions in terms of orthopedic doctors, PTs, coaches, athletes, all, pretty much, talking about the exact same thing.  Something like that has got to be pretty exciting for you.

Elliot:  Yeah.  I love listening to people like yourself talk about your speciality.  I have 2 athletes currently who live in the same town as me in Missoula, Montana, and 1 is an IRONMAN pro and 1 just qualified trials for marathon.  Their PT and me meet up and talk shop.  It’s a blast.  I think he enjoys it just as much as myself and you get that back and forth and you realize we both look at things just a little bit differently, but his background and what he’s coming from and whatever he’s talking about somebody pushing down a big toe or somebody’s foot rolling in and out and I’m thinking further up the chain of what their heart’s doing, or how their glute strength is balancing everything out that way along with the emotional and psychological aspect and everything.  It’s good fun, I’m looking forward to to those talks.  Linsey and Matt I know quite well so I really doubt they’re going to say too much I haven’t heard, especially since I coach Matt and I’ve known Linsey since either of us did a triathlon.  The people in your position who are going to be speaking, those are kind of the ones I’m looking forward to.

Jimmy:  Yeah, I get really amped about all the interviews I get to do and all the different conferences I get to talk to, but I really do like to hear different parts of the athlete chain, or different parts of the patient chain in terms of strength and conditioning guys, and coaches and MDs.  Anybody that works with an athlete, I mean, that’s essentially the patient.  That’s who we’re talking about.  We get excited to hear different parts of it and PTs and coaches – we like to learn stuff.  And you talk about how you had your head in a book and you read everything you could – that would pretty much define any good PT or good PT student is – they just want more information to learn a little bit more.

Elliot:  Yeah and I think the fascinating part is, really, I always think must be difficult for someone in your situation  – you know if somebody’s bone or if some tendon or something or a muscle attaches in a slightly different spot, everything’s changed.  You know?

Jimmy:  Yeah.

Elliot:  If somebody had an injury they kind of forgot to tell you about, fill out your little chart before and they marked 7 things down but they had 8, everything’s changed – and you guys, often, can figure that out just by, you know, manipulating something and all the different things you have to be thinking through:  what could be going on here?  There’s so many different options.  And I think that’s what’s really cool.  This is bad because I get hurt a lot and all my athletes make fun of me but I go into PTs and it’s always a very back and forth because they know my background.  We kind of like diagnose the problem together.  I’m like the over-thinking patient, and I’m sure it’s going to be a blast so.  What from you perspective I guess – is that a good thing, a bad thing?  What do you like to see from a patient?  What’s you ideal patient?

Jimmy:  Ah, ideal patient would be somebody who’s engaged.  Hearing somebody who’s asking questions or trying to do it with me, tells me that person is engaged in getting better.  You can’t ask for a better patient than that, you know?  Somebody who constantly questions you?  That’s great, you know?  Someone who’s just going along for the ride and you can tell you’re going to give them a home exercise program and they’re not going to do it, it’s kind of disheartening, you know?.  But if someone is really questioning and engaged, I mean, absolutely, bring it on, you know?  Bring some things to the table.  I’d be psyched if I had a patient like that, absolutely.

Elliot:  So if somebody comes in with like a list of 10 questions, that’s like your – that’s like “I’m excited”?

Jimmy:  I’ve had it happen.   What I didn’t like was, I had a patient like that who was post-ACL reconstruction and I was a student so I had a clinical instructor, so he’d ask her a question, in front of me, “can I do this”, “when am I allowed to do this”, “when am I not allowed to do this”, and then she’d give him an answer, she’d walk away, I’d be working with him, she’d be just out of ear-shot, and he’d ask me the same questions in different ways trying to kind of get me to say, trying to get me to allow him to do something –

Elliot:  Oh, that he wasn’t allowed to do.

Jimmy:  Right.  So like he was like non-weightbearing, so he was like “but I can do this or that, right?”, I’m like “nope, she just kind of answered that” so that’s then kind of questioning that I guess I wouldn’t like because he’s trying to get me to say something I shouldn’t be saying or trying to get around something.  But, somebody who’s engaged?  Absolutely.  That, that person’s going to get better faster.

Elliot:  What you just said is interesting because that person who tries to go around it, he is not, he or she is not working necessarily with you, it’s not like a team aspect, it’s “I want to get to X” and they don’t care –

Jimmy:  Right.

Elliot:  And they think like “okay I’m in the PT so magically I’m going to get there” and I think it’s that disconnect from realizing that the knowledge you have is what’s going to get them to where they want to go – with their work.

Jimmy:  Yeah, I mean, I might tell you not to do something and then you’re going to leave and you’re going to be away from me for 167 hours a week – if I see you 1 hour a week – the rest of the time you’re on your own – you’re going to do it or not.  But if you’re asking me, I’m going to tell you the answer that I think is true – and that means not to do this.

Elliot:  Yeah, that’s, that’s interesting.

Jimmy:  Yeah.  So working with athletes.  Balancing their strength, mobility work.  This is a big, big topic that comes up now a lot in a good way is – people looking a lot more to balance the strength and mobility.  It’s not just to go out and run, run, run.  It’s not just do yoga.  It’s you gotta mix everything up.  How do you work that into some normal training with the athletes that you work with?

Elliot:  So it ah, it depends on the athlete.  If someone’s younger and injury-free, I’m more willing to just say “ok, I’m going to wait a little bit, we’re going to do the bar basics, we’re going to make sure that you’re generally balanced, that there’s no major impingements, there’s no major lack of mobility or strength.”  Once they’re in the clear on that then it’s a lot of swim, bike, run.  If they’re male and they’re under 30, probably not a lot of lifting.  We’re talking endurance triathlete, right?

Jimmy:  Right.

Elliot:   So the shortest race is an hour.  A lot of people are training for a 2- to 4- hour race, and people always talk about strength and power, and I’m like, “let me tell you, pretty much every healthy male under 30 can push a bicycle pedal for 10 seconds at 500 watts.  It’s “can you do it for whatever, 6,000”  I think that’s an hour.

Jimmy:  So.

Elliot:  That’s if you’re looking at a younger guy.  Working with people who are, if it’s their job, they have more time, their goals get higher, then what I basically immediately do is – everybody’s got a PT that we talk to and a lot of times, I totally set you up when I asked that “do you like people who have lists”.  I write lists for some of my athletes to go in and say, “ok, you’re talking to your PT, what is happening?”  I know their history quite a bit because we’re talking every week.  They might have forgotten about an injury because it got better.  You know they might go in with a list.  Some people are a little bit more timid and so if you have an athlete that you know is more timid – it doesn’t mean that they don’t want to work really hard, it just is their personality, so it – those are the kinds of people that you’re going to go in and give them a list and you’re going to get back all the answers you want and once you have those answers, then you can find out, like, “oh, is it a pretty minor, like strength thing?  Is it just their glute-read is 80 percent and needs to be 100?”  It’s not a big deal, you’re going to work on it for awhile, you’re going to keep working on it.  A year later in the off season you’re going to work on it a lot and you just kind of keep that in the back of your mind and you go in somewhere else and you find out it’s a major mobility issue, like someone’s scapula is just not tracking right at all? That’s a big issue that you’re going to be working on regularly and your going to be working on that.  You might change some swim sets based on where they are in their, their rehab.

Jimmy:  What you’re doing, from what I’m hearing, you’re using the PT to get the most out of the athlete, and then we turn around and send them right back to you and that’s all we want to do as PTs.  All I want to do is get them back on track and get them out back to their coach doing the thing that they want to do.

Elliot:  I’m a pretty big basketball fan, but there’s a pretty big disconnect in super high-level sports between the coach and the training staff – and there’s all these teams that have really good training staff who consistently out-perform other teams.  So like the Chicago Bulls are known for having a pretty shit training staff and I grew up 3 miles from the stadium so I follow it pretty closely.  and they’re like “oh, we’ve just got back luck.”  And it’s like “no it’s not an accident that half you’re guys get hurt every year.  There’s something that your coach is doing that your training staff isn’t aware of and there’s something that your training staff is perhaps doing that your coaching staff is not aware of” that’s a total disconnect – they’re not working together.  It’s messed up.  And I think there’s a few coaches, you know,  Greg Popovic is famous for this and I’m fricken obsessed with him as a coach.  He like got it really early on that, “oh wait a second, these aren’t just like people that you bark orders at and they do it.  They’re still a person and their body has to function properly in order for them to perform their movement.”

Jimmy:  He’s um, he’s famous for getting in trouble because he’ll roll into a big town when the NBA is going to be on national TV and he’s going to sit a couple guys.  Why?  Because his athletes need a day off and he knows that.

Elliot:  Yeah.

Jimmy:  I talked with a guy by the name of Tony Gemacore, he’s a big strength and conditioning guy out of Massachusettes, that was one thing that he kept bringing up was, “we should work more together and less apart” in terms of, by all means, if an athlete comes in with a list of questions from their coach, homerun man, I mean, that’s 2 individuals working with that patient right between them for the only goal of, not saying I’m a PT and your coach and this is my turf and that’s yours.  The turf between us is the patient.

Elliot:  Is the athlete.

Jimmy:  And that’s point.  That’s the whole reason we do our thing.

Elliot:  And I think that’s the point where it’s ok for me to have conversations like this but like I’m not a huge fan of  someone like myself being in the media – and I know the triathlon media is not necessarily all that big but – I’m not a huge fan of like, why do you need an article about a coach like, their athlete is the one who is literally doing all of the hard work?  Seriously, writing on a sheet of paper and sure I had to learn for a while, but it’s like all that information’s out there.  You always have to remember:  who are you working for?  What is your job?  Your job is to make sure that they are going toward their goal.  Usually, in triathlon, their goal is speed.  And you can’t be fast if you’re not healthy.  Like it’s rule number 1 before you write every training plan, “is this person healthy” whatever, 6 to 8 times a day, the question is “is this person healthy” and “how does this affect their training” and how can you work with someone like yourself.  So that’s why I always say I’m like an amateur PT.  You work with enough athletes, injuries happen whether you do everything perfectly or not and you’re going to learn a lot so it’s helpful that I went through school in exercise physiology.  It took a lot of, you know, my undergrad, a third of the kids end up becoming PTs so, a little bit of a similarity.

Jimmy:  Yeah, absolutely.  Similar backgrounds, similar roots and still the same goal is to get that person doing what they want to do.  We use the word “functional” a lot  in PT, and sometimes orthopedic PTs, I think, take heat because sometimes other types of PTs will look on orthopedic PTs and say, “well, you know, triathlon is not functional.”  Well, if that patient’s goal is to do a triathlon?  That is now their function in life. It’s what they want to be able to do, it’s how they want their body to function.  I think that’s the goal and I think we all share that in terms of coaches, PTs and docs – all working with athletes.

Elliot:  Yeah and I guess that’s right back to what you said you were taught early on in school:  ask what the goal is.

Jimmy:  First question.

Elliot:  Whether it’s to sit up from the toilet in one piece or can you reach the cereal on the top aisle in the grocery store, and then someone else their goal is “I’ve got to sit on a TT bike for 2 hours and 12 minutes and put out a really high effort.”

Jimmy:  Yeah.  If it’s important to the patient, then it’s important.  You don’t get to decide what’s important, the patient does.

Elliot:  Yeah.  I agree with that wholeheartedly.  And I think some people, when they find out who I’ve worked with are like “hey, I’m not training to win an IRONMAN, I’m training to win my age group at the local Olympics.”  My thought is always like “why isn’t that important?  You’re a person just like them.”  Still seems valuable to me.  My job is to help people improve their lives.  You know reaching for the stars isn’t a bad thing.

Jimmy:  Right.  No absolutely.  I had a 28 year old patient yesterday, my first day of my second clinical rotation.  Patient comes in, she’s got a leg issue.  Her gait’s all messed up.  In the interview we find out she’s got cereal palsy, so she’s got some balance issues, she’s got some neuro issue, and my CI and I asked her “what’s your goal?”  And she said, “I just want to be able to walk around the mall and walk to the movies without being in pain.”  And then she kind of made an off-handed remark, she’s like “it’s not like I want to be an ice skater or anything.”  And I stopped and looked right back at her and I said “do you want to ice skate?”  And she’s like “well, I never really thought about it.”  She’s had cerebral palsy, it’s been pretty severe most of her life.  And I said, “do you want to ice skate?”  And I said, “well, that’s your goal then.  If you want that, that’s your goal.  We can make that happen.”  So I don’t think really the goal is our call.  It’s the patient’s call 100 percent of the time.

Elliot:  Well what you did, that’s my job day in and day out is, you have to tease out what does that person want.  What do they actually want they maybe they’re afraid to say, even to somebody they should be willing to trust quite a bit.  I mean like my job is to sit around and help people reach their goals.  So like, wanting to know what that goal is is where it all starts and ends.  Like, there’s a reason when some of my athletes have a really good race, even if they don’t think it’s that good.  I mean, like I’ve had like goosebumps for like 2 days straight walking around just because you’re like “fricken yeah.  That took like 3 years”  or even if it just took 3 months and you know how much effort somebody put into it, you know somebody was like crying over it it like well, why can’t I be excited over it when it happens.  So.

Jimmy:  Yeah, that’s the person achieving their goal.  That’s the whole reason you do it and that’s the whole reason I do it.  That’s it right there.

Elliot:  Yeah.

Jimmy:  Let me ask a technology question: you’re a coach you coach athletes all across the country all across the world.  What’s a way, besides talking to them, emailing them – how do you see your athletes?  Are you able to maybe have them record maybe some runs on a treadmill or a trainer?  Is there a way for you to get eyes on and and if so, how do you do it?

Elliot:  I travel a bit.  The higher-level people I’ve seen in person.  Usually if I’ve worked with someone for 2 years, I’ve seen them train in person or they came to Montana and a lot of times, so like, I’m in Arizona right now with a guy that I’ve coached for 5 or 6 years who, to me, is one of the more proud people I’ve worked with.  He’s gone under 8:50 I want to say 4 or 5 times.  He’s a full-time math teacher and this dude’s got a real job and he works his ass off.  He also used to be roommates with Ben Hoffman so we both know what it’s like to get your ass kicked by a guy who’s really good.  Maybe kind of think you’re not as important as you are, but, at the end of the day,  he’s kicking some seriously talented people’s asses while he’s working full-time and that’s super cool. I got off track because I think it’s cool that he’s fast.  But – I’m at his house and I’ve seen him train.  And I’m down here with other athletes and, you know, you’ll run into somebody you work with.  Somebody I work with, he’s in Couer d’Alene, he’s a couple hours and he’s probably going to stay in my guest room.  It’s not like I have a super-fancy house.  He’ll be in the basement.  It will be not all that nice and I’m going to ride behind him while he rides his bikes, I’ll go on some runs with him, I’ll look at him in the pool.

Jimmy:  That’s cool.

Elliot:  So a lot of it’s in person, and then a little bit of it is video – particularly swimming.  Biking and running, if there’s an issue, I ask questions and then refer them to someone like yourself.

Jimmy:  Cool.  That’s cool to hear.  Now communication wise are you in communication with them daily, a couple times a week, or, how often are you in communication with athletes that are outside of your geographical area if you’re not going to be able to see them?

Elliot:  We sit down and talk for a half hour or an hour weekly and throughout the week, there’s going to be text and emails.  If there’s any big panic, then it might be like a short phone call.  If I have to rewrite something or, you know, if a snowstorm blows in, you gotta rewrite a program.  If somebody’s family member gets sick or if there’s a bike accident, even if your bike breaks, you’re gonna change something up so – lots of texting, lots of emailing and then that once a week is kind of the cornerstone of we just go through – I’m asking lots of questions, they’re telling me what’s up.

Jimmy:  Cool.  Alright we’re going to be able to hear more from Elliot Basset at the Richmond Endurance Athlete Symposium & Expo, that’s January 23rd that’s at the Westin in Richmond, Virginia.  You can check out information about that at RichmondEnduranceSymposium.com.  It’s really cool because the past years of this Symposium, this is the third year that they’re doing it, they’ve put up presentations from past presenters so you can check that out information from people who have done stuff from the past and see who’s on the docket for this year so – Elliot – every episode is a pint.  But before we’re done with the pint, we do shots.  What I mean by that is parting shots.  So – if you had a parting word of wisdom – now I heard what you do in terms of communicating through your athlete to the PT by making sure they ask these specific questions, making sure they’re being up front – what would you like to hear from a PT.  What’s good information back from a PT through a patient?  Or, how can we be better PTs, communicating with coaches in your eyes?

Elliot:  The PT that I’m working with now has a couple athletes – he just made it clear that it was okay for me to call him, and I made it clear visa versa and I’ve got an email to respond to after this actually.  Making sure that it’s clear that it’s in their interest that we are on the same page in terms of information – but also – you go to a PT for one injury, generally, right?  Being very open, particularly working with a higher level athlete, of we’re not just fixing that injury if you see some other things we need to work on – and then also, like, I really like it when someone takes the time, even if it costs some more money, if they were like “hey if you want do to this right, you’re going to come in for 2 or 3 hours and we’re going to see that, we’re going to find out that you have 5 little things that are messed up, only 1 of them is causing your current injury.  The other 4 are not a big deal, but maybe we have 1 or 2 things that we can do that you can work on each of those 5 things so you can just stay healthy and you keep the movement patterns that you want.”  You know if somebody’s left ankle is dipping in ever-so-slightly, for whatever reason, and you can pinpoint that fairly quickly and you do something to counteract that?  That’s what I really like is, that right there is just just like “we’re gonna take an extra hour because we know you’re at a high level, or, not even at a high level, we know you want to take is really seriously” and then we’ll do that.

Jimmy:  Just talking to some different people in the healthcare spectrum, that communication thing, I mean, that’s what you said in a nutshell is communication and making sure we pay attention to the things that are brought up is the way to make sure that our patients and our athletes are getting the best care from everybody along that spectrum so I think that’s a really, really cool piece of advice.  I appreciate that.

Elliot:  Yeah.  Thank you.

Jimmy:  Well I’m looking forward to it.  Maybe we can grab a drink at the Symposium when you’re in Richmond.  It’s going to be January 23rd.  For more information – RichmondEnduranceSymposium.com.  Elliot Basset, maybe 1 day I’ll get fast enough to hire you as my coach and then I can break that 12-hour IRONMAN barrier.  One day.

Elliot:  One day.  What’s your, what’s your PR?  Am I allowed to ask on the air?

Jimmy:  12:56.  So I need to drop an hour.

Elliot:  What you meant to say is you broke 13.

Jimmy:  I broke 13.  You’re absolutely right.  I broke 13 – now I want to break 12.  I want to break 12.

Elliot:  Well go straight for 11 and you’ll get there.

Jimmy:  Alright, I like that.  I appreciate you taking some time out to just share some knowledge and share how you do stuff man, I think your story’s really, really cool, and I’m looking forward to seeing you out at the Symposium and hearing what you have to say.

Elliot:  Yeah, I’m really excited.  I do know there’s the Friday before – there’s the Meet and Greet – I’ll be there.  You should really be there.

Jimmy:  Cool.

Elliot:  Matt and I will be jet lagged and easily drunk.

Jimmy:  Cool.  Alright – Elliot Basset, thanks for calling the PTPintcast.

Elliot:  Appreciate it.  Thanks.