Trainer talk with....Dr. Jeff Spencer (5/22/08)
By Tim Crytser
 
 
 
 
 

Virtual Trainer: Hey Jeff, thanks for taking the time to chat with the us today.  It has been a while since we last talked and I believe you were training Chad Reed at the time.  Now you have new client that was all the talk this supercross season, Kevin Windham.  Let's start there.  Tell me how you came to be Kevin's trainer?
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Jeff Spencer is a great guy and a great trainer, and really much more than a trainer – obviously a friend, and everything, to me. I’ll be honest with you, he leaves no stone unturned.
- Kevin Windham, RacerXill.com
Jeff Spencer: Well, initially I had a meeting with Kevin in the middle of the '07 season and that is when we first got together to discuss the possibility of working together.  That evolved though '07 and really was only during the off and pre-season of '08 where I was able to put the structure to it that I thought it needed.  We waited a little while because you can't really jump into the middle of a season and turn things upside down.  You have to make modifications that are consistent with where the athlete and the season are at that particular time.  So this is the first season where I was actually able to implement what I felt needed to happen to enter the '08 supercross season with the best possible advantage.

Who was Kevin training with prior to hiring you and has he ever used a trainer throughout his career?
To be quite honest, I don't really know who he was training with.  I know he was training with someone but I think it was more like a training partner than what we are doing.

Kevin has always been one of my favorite riders and I have heard guys like Travis Pastrana say things like, 'Kevin is the most talented rider I have ever seen on the practice track.'  As a trainer, I have always wondered if some of his lack of performance, if you can call what Kevin has accomplished in his career lacking, was do to training and not having a formalized plan.  What are your thoughts on that?
Well, again I can only speak from the interface that I had with Kevin during the early phases of our discussion about working together.  The first thing I always do is have several conversations with someone just to get a sense of what their strengths are and the areas that need more attention.  It was obvious to me at that time that Kevin has tremendous talent but needed a system created to convert that talent into results on the track.  I could immediately see from those first discussions that that was 100% achievable.  And knowing Kevin's level of intelligence and physical aptitudes and his willingness to embrace a more formalized structure to his racing it became evident to me that what I had envisioned was 100% possible. 

Now that the SX season is over, what are your goals moving forward?  Will you and Kevin be working together in the future?
Well the goals are to look at the landscape of the next several months out and what the off-season is going to look like and then we will look at the races he will be racing and then start to develop our strategy based on those known commodities.  Right now he is in the middle of contract negotiations for '09 and beyond and once those details are known we will be able to structure our training specific to those particular obligations.

How much time off will you give Kevin since he had such a great SX season and is not racing the outdoors?
Again, it's all dependent on his personalized needs at the time given the circumstances.  The first thing right now is that he needs a little bit of a break to come off of a very rigorous six month supercross season.  It's time to step back and let the feathers settle a little bit.  Once the contract negotiations have been formalized and we have a sense of what's in front of us on the calendar then we will be able to start to formalize and ramp up towards those events that he will be competing in the rest of '08 and certainly for the '09 supercross series. 

Is Kevin the type of person to completely shut down when given the chance to take time off or is training and riding so much a part of him that he can't stop?
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Jeff is part Doctor, part guru, part medicine man....we believed Jeff could fix all of our problems....while he fixed us physically, he also fixed us mentally....If you judged the most important man on the Postal team by the foot traffic in and out his door, then it was Jeff.  Without him, we knew we'd never make it to Paris.
- Lance Armstrong, Every Second Counts
Well, first of all Kevin is 100% compliant with the structure that we create for him based on the wisdom of our choices and based on what we have in front of us.  I think that every rider has specific needs that are unique to their individualized circumstances that are a matter of their physical makeup, the class that they are riding and where they are in their careers.  So I have never really tried to create a one size fits all program but have always been very respectful of the persons individualized needs and accommodate what those needs are for the particular time of the season and what their point is in their career development.

I know that a typical week during the supercross season is anything but typical.  Each week, I'm sure, is different then the next.  But take me through what a week training a professional motocross athlete might look like during supercross.
Well, again every day has its own unique requirement based upon what happened the week before and what's going to happen the week after.  But traditionally, Sunday is a travel day, Monday is a recovery day, Tuesday and Wednesday there might be riding followed by one of two gym workouts or two or three cardio workouts, fly out on Friday, race on Saturday and then you repeat that the following week.  That is what we use for our basic blueprint but there are several variations from that that we exercise without hesitation depending on the riders individualized needs for that particular week. 

I know you have been a part of Lance Armstrong's training and cycling is big part of your life.  Do you use the road bike as the primary mode of cardio training with Kevin and what does he think of the bike?
Well, I select activities that are going to get the most out of the athlete in terms of the goals for the season.  I believe there are a variety of different ways of approaching that and everybody does have their own preferences.  My preference is certainly cycling because I was an Olympic cyclist where others may prefer running.  It really doesn't matter.  What matters is the intensity and duration of the workouts.  I'm also a big fan of variation.  I think that you should never do just one thing.  You need lots of variety in your program so I encourage running, swimming, cycling, rowing; a variety of different exercises to keep the body fresh.

Who else do you work with or is Kevin your only client?
I also work with Nathan Ramsey.  I have been with Nathan for 8 years in '09. He is a terrific athlete and has just a perfect athletic temperament.  He has been great to work with.

I know that you have more things going on in your professional life than just training riders. You have a new book out as well as some other things.  Tell me a little about those other activities.
The most important thing other than my riders is my new book.  It will be in bookstores in a couple of weeks and is called, Turn it up! How to Perform at Your Highest Level for a Lifetime.  I believe it is a manual that everyone should have.  If you want to become a champion and remain a champion there are certain things that you absolutely have to do.  My position has always been that we are all born winners and we all need to be able to convert our talents and will into usable assets so that we can have long and prosperous careers.  Winning is a learned behavior more than anything.  It's not just about having Will and talent.  There are plenty of people that have lots of will and talent but have gone absolutely nowhere in athletics or motocross.  It's a matter of learning how to become a consistent top performer and that is what the book is all about.  I have had the fortune of not only having quite a bit of success in my own life but also having the trust of some of the most successful people on the planet and been part of their inner circle that helped get them to the top of their game and stay there.  I can say that without exception that each of these consistent top performers have characteristics that they all share.  This book teaches the methodology of becoming a consistent top performer and winner. 

I also present sports injury seminars to the health care profession about injury diagnosis, prevention and management.  I do seminars across the country on developing a competitive, successful, mentality and lifestyle and I consult with athletes in other sports.  In addition I am also working on a couple of health care products that I think will be extremely important to the capacity of remaining a consistent and top performer in sport.  So I am never at a loss for things to do!

Is the book purely for the motocross athlete or can it be applied to other areas of someone's life like work?
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I used to think all you had to do was train but there's so much more to it.  A lot of the time I'd be second-guessing myself and, with Jeff, I believe in him.  I trust in what he says and what he wants me to do.  He tells me and I do it....the guy's incredible and he amazes me every time I talk to him.
- Nathan Ramsey, Racer X Illustrated

Yes, it can definitely be applied to other parts of your life not just racing. Winning, whether you are a performer, an athlete, a housewife, or a businessman, winning is winning.  Winning is a learned behavior and most people don't know that.  Most people think that it is something that is reserved for the type A personality or for the person that has this irrevocable will to manifest things.  It really has less to do with that than understanding the basic principles and developing the mental and physical skills to have the capacity and structure to go out and consistently win and perform at your best.  I have had the good fortune of working with some very successful Rock Groups, successful entertainers, and businessmen as well as very successful athletes.  Winning at the top is always the same.  It's not about the specific discipline; sure there are slight variances and specifics to the mechanics of the different disciplines.  But the mentality is what drives the mechanics.  If you have good structure but have a bad mentality and you don't know how to win then you are not going to be a consistent top performer.  So this book is universal in it's application to anybody that wants to have a higher quality of life and experience more success. 

Sounds like a great read.  I can't wait until it comes out and get a chance to read it.  Thanks again for talking the time to talk training with us and again, great job with Kevin!
Your welcome and if I could I'd just like to say this about Kevin.  Kevin's key this year was his consistency.  He never finished any worse than 5th place and was on the podium in all but three races.  That was not by accident.  His was a purposeful outcome of the strategies that we put together to make sure that he was mentally and physically ready to show up at each race and put forth his best effort.  And everybody has that opportunity because winning is not a coincidence.  Top consistent performances are not random acts.  They are purposeful outcomes of deliberate strategies that have been put in place specific to the individualized needs. That is basically what my job is.  To understand what the needs are of my client and create the structure to bring the best out of that person so that they can perform at their best consistently.  I think Kevin has been a perfect example of that through his own effort.  I provided the guidance but he is the one that has to go out and put in the work every day.  And Kevin is not afraid or hesitant about doing his part to do everything necessary to show up at the race and put in his best effort. 

Well, whatever you did with Kevin has certainly paid off!
I am extremely happy for him.  He is a person of extraordinary talent.  The difference between him now and in the past is that he is a proven talent and he is a winner.  And it has all been through his own efforts.  He took the initiative to seek me out and had the willingness to look for innovation and we were able to create a program that worked for his individualized needs and again that wasn't by accident.  We had a very strong knowledge and grasp of what his needs were and we created and committed to a program to make sure those were there for him every weekend. And his effort is what made that happen.

That's it from Jeff for now. Until next time, good luck with your training and, as always, VT can be reached anytime at crytset@comcast.net .  In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section , your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness.
 
 

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