Building bodies: building minds

FRESNO, Calif.

From getting your blood drawn in the middle of a run.

"This is science at its greatest," said Sharlyne Rivera, a national training center exercise physiologist.

To having every stride scrutinized.

"And see where we can make some improvements," Joe Simko, a physical therapist, said.

To being hypnotized?

"My job is to have them ready before they go out on the field," Dan Vitchoff, sports mental and performance coach, said.

It's what these athletes are doing to improve their performance. Heather Hidock, an avid runner, tests her lactic acid threshold whenever she can. It's the point during exercise when Lactic acid builds up in our blood faster than our bodies can remove it. Figuring out what her threshold is can help increase it, and in turn build endurance.

Physiologist Sharlyne Rivera says it helps runners pinpoint what pace or training zone is best for them.

"People are disillusioned into thinking that you always have to go hard and go fast," Rivera said."

At a runners clinic, Dave Calvert goes through a battery of bio-mechanics tests as he tries to qualify for the Boston marathon. He's having a problem with shin splints.

"There were a couple times where yes, I started out the door, within 25 seconds or so and just stopped," Dave Calvert said.

The team of doctors, analyzes his form, stride, balance and diet. Doctor Darrin Bright says problems in any of these areas could lead to injuries. He should know, the doctor runs 100 mile ultra-marathons.

"Unfortunately, anywhere from a third to half of all runners will get injured each year," Darrin Bright, M.D., from the OhioHealth Runners clinic, explained.

And performance may come down to what goes in. Nutritionists help Dave maximize his carb intake with a formula. Divide your body weight by 2.2 and multiply that number by five, that will give you how many grams of carbs to aim for each day. As he focuses on mileage, Dave's mental condition is also important.

For 2008 Olympic gold medal-winning shooter Vincent Hancock is all about the mental game.

"That's the piece that makes or breaks you. That's what defines a winner," Vincent Hancock said.

Instead of hitting a regular gym, he and other athletes come, to the mind gym.

"They're not going to get the watch, they're not going to be clucking like chickens or a duck or anything like that," Dan Vitchoff said.

Licensed hypnotist Dan Vitchoff says certain tones in specific music help him rewire connections in athletes' brains, so calm, focused responses are automatic under pressure.

"You're getting them into that state where they've done it thousands and thousands of times," Vitchoff said.

The power of suggestion and the power of high tech testing are giving these athletes the edge mentally and physically.

You don't have to be an endurance athlete to improve your mental game. A new study out of the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Illinois shows, brisk walks helped the elderly remember things better. After a year on the exercise program, scans showed the participants' brains were growing and reversing their normal age-related shrinkage.


Sharlyne Rivera
(352)241- 7144, ext. 4202

Colin Yoder
Media Relations Manager
Office (614) 566-8855 | Mobile (614) 565-0619

Dan Vitchoff Sports Mental Coach/ Performance Coach

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