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#6 – Matt Hanson, Professional Triathlete – Optimizing Cognitive and Physical Recovery

On this episode, the Rewire team discuss with Matt his journey from being a professor in exercise science to now being a professional triathlete competing at the highest level. We discuss the lessons that he’s learned along the way, both as an athlete and a coach, including how Matt is able to prioritize both cognitive and physical recovery whilst training. 

The Importance of Cognitive Recovery for Athletic Performance

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about cognitive recovery? Unfortunately, the problem is the majority of people don’t think of it at all. It’s already challenging for most athletes to take time from their training schedules to rest and recover physically. It’s even harder for some to be intentional about their cognitive recovery. Cognitive training and recovery are just as important, some may argue more, to an athlete’s performance as their physical training. If not addressed, it could potentially have a negative impact on your performance, whether you’re training for the Olympics or your next pick-up game at the gym. That’s why it’s so important for athletes to be aware of how their physical and cognitive training affects their performance and ways they can successfully address the holes in their training. Luckily, these areas of improvement can be addressed by systems like Rewire. This type of training can address mental fatigue, reaction time, perception of effort, self-talk, etc. 

The effects of mental fatigue have continued to show a negative correlation with physical performance. A systematic review, published in 2019, concluded that “cognitive exertion has a negative effect on subsequent physical performance” (D.M.Y. Brown et al., 2019). This continues to support the fact that performing at your highest level isn’t only about what you do physically but how you prepare and take care of yourself mentally. 

Not only does your mental fatigue play a role in how you perform, but the way you think and talk to yourself in those moments affects your performance as well. A study done by Blanchfield concluded that positive self-talk reduced the perception of effort during endurance performance. This study also showed that the subjects that used the self-talk intervention had increased time to exhaustion in comparison to their pre and post-tests (Blanchfield et al.,2014). Again, these types of studies point to the importance of implementing more than just physical training.  

Available research has already shown the benefits of cognitive recovery and training. There are enough interventions and protocols out there to start addressing aspects of it and getting positive results now. That is where programs like Rewire’s mindset recovery system come in. Rewire’s mindset recovery protocols offer guided breathing (including box breathing, pranayama, 4-7-8, and more), use of binaural beats, visualization, self-talk mantras, and subliminal priming. Each of these tools play a vital role in helping athletes, seasoned and novice, get the most out of their training sessions. 

One of Rewire’s guided breathing protocols focuses on box breathing which guides you into inhaling deeply, holding your breath for 4-seconds, then exhaling slowly for the same amount of time and holding again for 4-seconds. This is then repeated several times. This type of guided breathing has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. It’s also a technique widely used by the Navy SEALs to stay calm and focussed in stressful situations. Another study showed that this type of diaphragmatic breathing helped to reduce anxiety, as well as reduce breathing rate in as little as eight weeks (Yu-Fen Chen et al., 2016). Implementing this into recovery will help to calm and relax the mind assisting with cognitive recovery. This can have a direct impact on performance by decreasing pre-competition or pre-performance anxiety and increasing performance confidence, thus having a better outcome in performance. A 2020 study that looked at collegiate track and field athletes concluded that when anxiety is decreased and self-confidence is increased, they are able to obtain their “best record” (Liang et al., 2020). This included the athletes hitting the same or better than their personal best in their perspective events. Examining newer studies like this helps to look to the use of relaxation techniques like box or other guided breathing in order to positively affect an athlete’s performance.  

Additionally, Rewire’s binaural beats protocol helps to relax the user and aid in recovery and performance. It works by having the athlete listen to audio sounds that are pre-set to a different frequency in each ear. The brain then interprets that sound in a way that has a favorable impact on the athlete’s mood and mindset. The protocol offers multiple wavelengths that address various areas of improvement for the user. These wavelengths are delta (2Hz for deep sleep, theta for meditation or sleep, alpha for relaxation or dreams and lastly beta for activity. A 1998 study showed that “beta-frequency beats were associated with a less negative mood” (Lane, J.D. et al., 1998). Not only does the use of binaural beats help improve mood, a 2020 study focused on the reducing effect it has on mental fatigue. This study resulted in the music (or binaural beats) group being the “least affected by mental fatigue” (Axelsen et al., 2020). These results were seen in just one day of testing, highlighting the on-the-spot effect of binaural beats. When mental fatigue is reduced, we see that attention can be kept for longer, as well as reaction times not being negatively affected. This results in better performances as mental sharpness improves, along with being able to detect and respond to different stimuli while performing.  

Rewire’s Mindset recovery protocols also incorporate visualization and self-talk mantras. Visualization techniques are used to prepare for readiness when it comes to training, competition or aiding in relaxation.  A review study completed in 2018 in the International Journal of Physiology, Nutrition and Physical Education looked at the effects of imagery on sports performance in over fifteen studies and concluded that imagery (or visualization) adds to physical practice but “can be used as a substitute for physical practice when athletes are not able to effectively practice physical skills such as when fatigued, over-trained, injured or when environmental conditions (e.g., poor weather) prevent physical practice” (Jose et al., 2018). This is a prime example of how you can still train to be your best even if you may not be physically training. 

Likewise, along with visualization, the use of self-talk mantras can assist in optimizing your training. Self-talk mantras consist of repeating affirming and motivational phrases or words in order to increase positive self-esteem or self-confidence. A 2009 study showed that self-talk can enhance self-confidence and reduce cognitive anxiety (Hatzigeorgiadis et al., 2009). These are imperative to performing at the highest level. It’s also important to note that self-talk also has an effect on how one perceives the level of effort they are giving in a certain task. A study by Blanchfield concluded that self-talk significantly reduced the rate of perceived exertion and therefore reduced the level of perceived effort (Blanchfield, 2014). According to this study, the perception of effort is the “ultimate determinant of endurance performance” as opposed to the actual physiological changes that occur in the body when one is fatigued. Understanding this, we can see that the use of self-talk to push the limits in training will carry over to performance as athletes are able to train longer and harder with this intervention. This further attributes to the benefits of positive self-talk. Rewire offers a variety of pre-loaded phrases to use, and the athlete is also able to add their own personal self-talk phrases as well.  

Lastly, to round out Rewire’s mindset recovery tools, it also offers subliminal priming. This is a technique in which an individual is exposed to stimuli below the threshold of perception (Elgendi et al., 2018). These stimuli can be either visual or audio. Rewire ‘s training focuses on the visual subliminal priming in order to impact the perception of effort, as well as motivation and mood. A study from 2014 looked at the effect of subliminal priming in each of these categories and concluded that the time to exhaustion was most impacted and actually improved with intervention (Blanchfield, 2014). There was a significant improvement in time to exhaustion in the group that used self-talk versus the control group, compared to their pre and post-tests. 

It’s clear that there are a variety of ways that cognitive recovery in athletes can be addressed. Acknowledging the need for it is the first step to performing at your absolute best. Rewire’s Mindset Recovery system helps to provide the action steps in order to reach your best.  


Are you already Rewire Member? If so, just tap the button below to use our Mindset Recovery system. If you’re not a Rewire member, join our community of like-minded individuals looking to Unlock their Ultimate Performance Today!


REFERENCES: 

Axelsen, J. L., Kirk, U., & Staiano, W. (2020). On-the-spot binaural beats and mindfulness reduces the effect of mental fatigue. Journal of Cognitive Enhancement4(1), 31-39. 

Blanchfield, A. W., Hardy, J., De Morree, H. M., Staiano, W., & Marcora, S. M. (2014). Talking yourself out of exhaustion: the effects of self-talk on endurance performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc46(5), 998-1007. 

Chen, Y. F., Huang, X. Y., Chien, C. H., & Cheng, J. F. (2017). The effectiveness of diaphragmatic breathing relaxation training for reducing anxiety. Perspectives in psychiatric care53(4), 329-336. 

Elgendi, Mohamed et al. “Subliminal Priming-State of the Art and Future Perspectives.” Behavioral sciences (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 8,6 54. 30 May. 2018, doi:10.3390/bs8060054 

Hatzigeorgiadis, A., Zourbanos, N., Mpoumpaki, S., & Theodorakis, Y. (2009). Mechanisms underlying the self-talk–performance relationship: The effects of motivational self-talk on self-confidence and anxiety. Psychology of Sport and exercise10(1), 186-192. 

Jose, J., & Joseph, M. M. (2018). Imagery: It’s effects and benefits on sports performance and psychological variables: A review study. International Journal of Physiology, Nutrition and Physical Education3(2), 190-193 

Lane, J. D., Kasian, S. J., Owens, J. E., & Marsh, G. R. (1998). Binaural auditory beats affect vigilance performance and mood. Physiology & behavior63(2), 249-252. 

Liang, D., Chen, S., Zhang, W., Xu, K., Li, Y., Li, D., … & Liu, C. (2020). Investigation of a Progressive Relaxation Training Intervention on Pre-Competitive Anxiety and Sports Performance among Collegiate Student Athletes. Frontiers in Psychology11, 4023. 

Ben Kanute Sixth in Strong Showing at Ironman 70.3 World Championships

The Ironman 70.3 World Championships took place on Saturday in St George, Utah, with Rewire Athlete Ben Kanute placing sixth in a strong field that saw Gustav Iden retain his title with a breakaway victory.

Kanute had tackled the course previously this year, and the Arizona-based Athlete was looking to make amends after an uncharacteristically poor performance in early May.

Sadly, the event was without Rewire Athlete Matt Hanson, who after a strong performance in the Collins Cup three weeks prior, sustained a knee injury which prevented him from racing. Having had surgery on the problem joint on the Thursday prior to the event, the 36-year-old is already back in light training.

Temperate waters in the Sand Hollow Reservoir allowed swimming without wetsuits for the 1.2 mile swim, and Kanute started well on his favoured leg, jumping out to a slim two second lead over eventual ninth-placer Sam Appleton at the halfway split.

Despite losing his swim cap, the PTO world number 11 led a pack of five other leaders through the end of the swim in a time of 23:48, with the gap to second place staying at 2 seconds.

Finding his feet immediately out of the water, the Rio Olympian put a gap into the chasing athletes up the ramp, with an efficient transition generating a lead of 8 seconds out of T1 over Olympic champion Kristian Blummenfelt.

A two-time winner of 70.3 events in the past, taking first at Texas in 2018, and California the year after, Kanute held a slender advantage over 70.3 world record-holder Blummenfelt at the first bike split, 5 seconds his lead at the 7.9 mile mark.

Just shy of half an hour into the 56 mile bike leg, the 70.3 World Championship second-placer from 2017 was passed for the first time. After being a minute back at the end of the swim, German Frederic Funk made his way to the front of the field, holding a 5 second advantage at the 13 mile split.

As the cycle leg progressed, a tight lead pack started to churn, with Kanute seen between second and fourth at various points either side of 22 miles, despite passing that split in the lead.

At the 42.4 mile split, Kanute was a victim of Gustav Iden’s desire to push the pace

At the 42.4 mile split, the 2021 Escape from Alcatraz winner was a victim of Gustav Iden’s desire to push the pace. The Norwegian was one of only two men to go under two hours on the bike leg, the other being Dane Magnus Ditlev. With the lead pack slimmed down to Iden, Funk, and Ditlev, Kanute found himself 56 seconds back in seventh position, as part of a large chase group.

Iden further pressed home his advantage, coming off the bike with 2:25:06 elapsed, as Kanute was part of a group of 8 athletes entering T2 around three minutes back of the leader. Splitting 2:03:13, the Illinois-born racer entered T2 with 2:28:09 elapsed.

While the race for the title was over as a contest early on, with the gap to Iden only growing, Kanute began the third leg in the hunt for the other medal positions, placing fourth at the first run split.

Kanute’s time of 3:43:48 was only slightly outside the time that won him silver at the Texas 70.3 earlier in the year

Unfortunately, silverware proved elusive on the day for Kanute. With hail pouring down as the men approached the halfway point of the run leg, and the 28-year-old slipping as low as seventh at points, he passed a fast-fading Ditlev in the closing stages to finish in sixth position. His time of 3:43:48 at the conclusion of the competition was only slightly outside the 3:42:20 that won him silver at the Texas 70.3 event earlier in the year, as he split 1:15:05 for the half marathon distance to finish.

At the head of the field, long-time leader Gustav Iden finished in a time of 3:37:13, with Sam Long making up for a poor swim and T1 with 3:41:09 and second. Daniel Bækkegård again got the better of Kanute after winning their Collins Cup matchup, placing third in a time of 3:42:24.

REWIRE FITNESS LAUNCHES FIRST-TO-MARKET NEURO PERFORMANCE MOBILE PLATFORM FOR ATHLETES

Under Armour, 25madison and Kyle Korver Among Pre-seed Funding Investors

NEW YORK, Sept. 13, 2021 – Rewire Fitness today announced the launch of its first-to-market neuro performance mobile platform designed to holistically quantify athlete readiness, build mental resilience, and improve mind/body recovery. To further elevate the athlete experience, Rewire’s training hardware solution will be available for preorder later this month and will synchronize with the mobile app to optimize athletic performance.

Additionally, Rewire announced that it has closed its pre-seed funding round, led by Under Armour, one of the world’s largest athletic performance apparel and footwear brands, NBA All-Star Kyle Korver, and 25madison, a consumer and software-focused venture studio. The round also included several other notable venture capital and angel investors.

“Athletes tend to distort their training and recovery towards the physical side of the spectrum – often overlooking mental aspects,” said Rewire Chief Executive Officer Sun Sachs. “Our latest mobile product seeks to close that gap even further by focusing on brain training to improve mental resilience, monitoring physical, cognitive and emotional readiness and optimizing recovery so athletes can achieve new levels of performance.”

Paul Winsper, Under Armour’s Vice President of Athlete Performance, echoed the team’s enthusiasm, “In line with our mission to make all athletes better, we are constantly seeking to optimize the body and mind connection. Rewire’s progress in providing athletes with elite insights and tools to help train their minds sits at the intersection of our train-compete-recover strategy. With a hyper-focus on cognitive performance, we are very encouraged at the prospect of unlocking additional tools to help athletes realize their full potential.”

Serving as an investor and strategic advisor, NBA All-Star Kyle Korver said, “As a professional athlete, I’ve known firsthand the importance of training the mind and body to push the limits of performance. Rewire’s latest platform makes mental strength training more accessible to athletes everywhere with easy-to-use tools to help them reach their goals.” Additionally, Rewire has broadened its advisor network with key additions from the scientific, health & wellness, and sports technology communities including Paul Winsper, Pete McKnight, Matt Hanson, Sébastien Gros and Lindsay Shaffer. To learn more, please watch Rewire’s product demo here https://rewirefitness.app/demo

About Rewire Rewire is a human performance company that provides evidence-based solutions for tracking athlete readiness, building mental resilience, and improving mind/body recovery. Rewire’s patent-pending technology integrates protocols used by the Navy SEALs, NASA, and neuroscience to help athletes and other populations reach their ultimate potential. For more information, please visit https://rewirefitness.app.

Originally published on PR Newswire

Rewire Fitness Contact
Rizala Carrington
Co-Founder and Vice President of Marketing
[email protected]