Get ready for a lively podcast on all aspects of sports with the one and only Lindsay Berra, host of the Food of the Gods podcast, longtime sports journalist across an incredible variety of sports, and longtime athlete in an amazing variety of sports as well.
Lindsay first established herself as an authority on baseball fitness and injuries through her five-year-long position at MajorLeagueBaseball.com, she then transitioned into a long career as a senior writer for ESPN magazine for 13 years—the highest level of sports journalism where she covered ice hockey, baseball, and three Olympic Games, among many others. We touch on topics such as golf legend and O.G. fitness freak Gary Player to whether the Dodgers should have pulled Clayton Kershaw during a perfect game to save his arm. Lindsay talks about her current passion for golf and tennis, reveals she was the Captain of her high school’s boys hockey team, and offers an amazing assortment of insights on training technology and methods used today in sports. Not only Lindsay has interviewed so many cool people—from auto racers to baseball players to Olympic athletes—but she also happens to be the oldest grandchild of Yogi and Carmen Berra, so expect to hear quite a few sensational Yogi Berra quotes that feature both his trademark humor and malaprop as well as profound life observations. My personal favorite Yogi quote is: “Baseball is 80 percent mental. The other half is physical.”
Lindsay has a background in almost any kind of sport imaginable and brings a vital discussion on training, nutrition, and all other things sport. [00:52]
Lindsay’s interviews with elite athlete indicates a surprising lack of extreme eating strategies. [03:09]
Lindsay is working on an app that analyzes pitching mechanics. [07:35]
There has been amazing progress in the technology of sports. The athlete has more fun if they are not injured. These techniques help. [11:01]
Brad wonders if the fact she was an athlete helped with her career as a sports writer. [13:46]
How did the podcast Food of the Gods come about? What has she found out about various athletes’ diets? [18:31]
The biggest common denominator is that these guys are not afraid of carbs! However, they are not eating processed foods. [21:49]
It seems the younger players in the professional sports still haven’t given up much of the junk food they are used to, however, as they age in the leagues, they learn how to better feed their bodies. [24:00]
Travel schedules and recovery times vary. [26:37]
What is happening during the off season with most of the elite athletes? [30:24]
Clayton Kershaw was pulled out of a perfect game. The decision was made to save Kershaw’s arm health and it was a good example of good coaching. [34:02]
Most of the athletes interviewed on Food of the Gods lean more towards balance than towards any of the ultra-restrictive diets. [39:35]
For training, you really have to know which sport is your goal. No one can easily train for two different types of sport, like weight lifting and marathon. [42:06]
Yogi Berra was Lindsay’s grandfather. She gives some of her favorites of his quotes. [46:24]
There are many challenges that people get into and some CrossFit people claim to be the most fit people on earth. [47:46]
How can one rate the fittest or greatest athlete in terms of ability? Some records stand the test of time. [49:25]
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Hey listeners, get ready for a lively podcast on all aspects of sports with the one and only Lindsay Berra host of the Food of the God’s podcast and longtime sports journalist across a variety, incredible variety of sports and a long time athlete in an amazing variety of sports as well. She worked at majorleaguebaseball.com for five years, established herself as an authority on baseball, fitness and injuries, and was on TV talking about her stories frequently. Then she transitioned to a long career, 13 years as a senior writer for ESPN magazine. So really the highest level of sports journalism, and she covered ice hockey, tennis, baseball, and three Olympic games. She’s a longtime athlete, played varsity softball at University of North Carolina, played on the men’s ice hockey team club team at North Carolina, was the captain of her high school boys hockey team. She’s into golf, she’s into tennis these days, and she has an amazing assortment of insights on training technology, the progression of training methods in sports.
We have some opinions and some reflections, like a proper sports talk show about who’s the fittest athlete. And, are these athletes eating appropriately? Do we have a, where do we see in the future of, nutrition for elite athletes? Um, she’s interviewed a ton of people, auto racers, PGA tour golfers, Olympic athletes in a variety of sports, heptathlon, long distance running, a lot of baseball players, of course, as her original niche. And yes, she’s the granddaughter of the legendary Yogi Berra, who was a great athlete and manager for so long in baseball, a true baseball legend. And she’s on the board of directors of the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center in little falls, New Jersey. My favorite aspect about Yogi Berra is he possibly the most quotable athlete of all times, amusing, hilarious, and also really insightful. And Lindsay’s gonna give you some of her favorite quotes from grandfather.
So, enjoy that toward the end of the show and check out the Food of the God’s podcast. Particularly interesting to me is interviewing these athletes at the top of their game in a variety of sports and finding out how they eat. I think that has tremendous weight and relevance, especially compare and contrast to the research and the science and how we obsess on, if something is validated by a scientific study, then it must be good for us. But I also like to put in a huge plug for what real athletes are doing every day when they’re suiting up in the national hockey league, NFL, major league baseball, and the Olympics and weigh that carefully. And the reason I say that is because she reports back surprising lack of extreme eating strategies by the elite athletes. So there’s not to be found much of keto, primal, paleo, intermittent fasting time, restricted feeding, and generally, the common thread that you’re gonna find with the elite athletes is eating wholesome natural foods and avoiding junk foods. And we talk about that too. Is that really true? Are these athletes still stuffing their face? Like we learned from Usain bolt at the 2000 Olympics joking about how many chicken McNuggets he ate in the Olympic village because they were free. I think you’re gonna love the show. If you’re interested in sports, Lindsay is lively, fun, she’s got tremendous insights. And here we go with Lindsay Berra host of the Food of the God’s podcast, Lindsay Berra, how are you?
I am just peachy Brad, how are you?
I’m so glad to connect through our association with the, with the wonderful Digitan podcast network and boy, they, they said, you gotta check out this, this lady’s show. It’s pretty interesting. You might like it. And I’m, I’m, uh, I’m super excited to, to have you on and, and discuss what you’re doing with Food of the Gods and what you’ve learned from this amazing smattering of athletes that you’ve interviewed in so many different sports. So, um, first I’d love to know your background with all that journalism and, and covering a variety of sports and also your own athletic background. So let’s tee it up for lIndsay Berra here.
This might take me a second. So, I grew up playing all sports, like all of them, with the exception of really golf and tennis. I play golf now, but I did not play golf as a kid, but I played everything other than that. Growing up, I played soccer, ice hockey and softball in high school. I was the captain of the boys’ varsity hockey team at my high school in New Jersey. And then I went on to play varsity softball and men’s club hockey at the University of North Carolina at chapel Hill, Tar heels. And then I went to journalism school at UNC and after college, uh, oh, wait more athletic background. During that, I, I was an ocean lifeguard for eight years. So swimming, running, paddling, rowing, you know, all, all that beach stuff was like on the docket all summer for me all the time.
Then after college, I started working at ESPN magazine where I covered mostly hockey, tennis, baseball, did a little boxing. I covered three Olympic games, Turino, Beijing and Vancouver. I was at ESPN magazine for 13 years. Then I was at mlb.com and MLB network covering major league baseball on TV and for the interwebs for five years then I was freelance for four years, writing a lot for like men’s health and sports business journal started to get a little bit more into the fitness side of things at that point. And then most recently two months ago, I started a job doing content for Tonal the fitness company that you see LeBron James and Serena Williams doing, uh, ads for, but I’m also, um, hosting food of the gods. As you mentioned, I’m a board member at my grandpa Yogi Berra’s Museum, the Yogi Berra museum in learning center in, in, in Little Falls, New Jersey, we’ve got a really fun documentary coming out on him called it ain’t over, that’s premiering at the Tribeca film festival. Mm. Um, and I also work with Tom House, the legendary pitching coach. Tom House, on his biomechanics pitching app which is called mustard, where you can get biomechanic analysis and, and free coaching for your youth pitchers. So I do a lot of stuff <laugh>
Oh my gosh. I, I wanna pick up with, with the last thing you said, so what are you doing for this app and, and how does that app work? That seems like a fascinating technology.
So I met Tom years ago when I was working at ESPN magazine. Tom is kind of universally known as the father of modern pitching mechanics. He was a big league pitcher, but then became a coach. He was Nolan Ryan’s pitching coach, Randy Johnson, Greg Maddox, all the, the famous quarterbacks over the
Hundred four people. That’s a good coach right there. Nolan Ryan. Does Nolan Ryan still have the speed record for the fastest pitch?
Rollis Chapman may have beat him with a 1 0 5. I think, however, if he watched the documentary fastball, it proves that Nolan’s was actually faster because of the way they measure now. Nowadays they measure about 10 feet in front of the mound. And when Nolan was pitching the gun, caught it a lot closer to home plate, which caused the ball to be measured at a point at which it had lost miles per hour. So even though the gun reading, the new gun reading for Chapman is higher, Ryan’s pitch was actually faster. Um, but that’s just
In case, just in case, you’re wondering if this, if this lady’s legit or not, now, now she’s on a roll. Okay. How can you dispute that, that,
That documentary though is called fastball it’s by Jonathan Hawk and it, it’s pretty fantastic. I think it’s available on Netflix or it’s, it’s on the inner inner webs somewhere. You can find it. But anyway, so I met Tom House years ago and Tom has been working with all those famous pitchers. He was alsoTom Brady and Drew Bres throwing coach, like all the big quarterbacks. And he, I, he has been doing biomechanical analyses of pitchers since the late seventies, which is way before biomechanical analyses were cool. Um, and he has 40 years of data on elite level pitchers. He’s 75 just turned 75, but he has Parkinson’s disease. And he was afraid that if he didn’t do something with all of his data, it would be lost to history mm-hmm <affirmative>. So he teamed up with some engineers from MLBAM, and some entrepreneurs and developed this pitching app called Mustard that takes, digitize all of his data and using an AI engine overlays Tom’s data over a video of your kid pitching. And it gives you a report with 11, the 11 most important mechanical variables in the pitching delivery, timing, stride, length, uh, balance, posture, uh, lift and thrust stack, and track, um, missing a bunch. But anyway, uh, hip and shoulder separation gen the ability to generate torque is a big one, but it, it gives you a pass fail in all of those, um, variables and then gives you a, a report, uh, with drills and how you can personally improve. So it’s a pretty cool thing.
Unbelievable. It sounds like there’s some carryover to the football quarterback throwing the ball and perhaps even into other sports
Yeah. Rotation is rotation. So eventually they’re going to move the app into football ,lacrosse. Oh, first of all, hitting for baseball, golf, you know, any time you’re generating rotational power from the ground up, that that force has to move properly through the kinetic sequence for you to get the most power out of your body and into whatever implement you’re using. So it’s really applicable to everything.
I’m just coming up with a weird question insight here about, about the amazing progress of technology in sports. And so now these little pitchers all over the place can learn how to throw like a big leaguer. You’ve seen this so prominently in the golf scene, you know, starting with tiger woods coming in and destroying all these soft, wealthy, lazy players that didn’t have the, you know, the competitive edge honed as, as much as him and then the fitness and all these things. And now everybody can swing like a robot a as you see on the range. And so we, we’re all nodding our heads talking about how technology is so, so prevalent and sports have progressed so much, but also if we can reflect and sit back and think that, um, okay, Nolan Ryan was throwing the ball farther, faster than anyone. And that was what almost 50 years ago. And same with some of the old time golfers. Um, you had Gary Player on the show. So I am making a segueway here. People I’m not just ranting, but like they’ve shot some pretty low scores with some quote unquote, you know, inefficient, crappy old technology, clubs, balls, and so forth. So I’m, I’m wondering, you know,
Their technology was, was crappier back then, but they all had that sequencing down, pat, their swing, Gary Player’s swing is beautiful. And I think getting kids to learn how to properly throw a baseball at a young age, saves their arms from wear and tear a lot more fun playing. If you’re not hurt, more, kids will stay in baseball if they’re having fun, because they’re not hurt. And, you know, a pitching coach is $200 an hour. So giving kids access to that kind of coaching that can really change their lives in sport for free is pretty amazing. I mean, and, you know, I grew up in a baseball family and Tom House obviously loves baseball and wants to share that love of the game with kids all over the place. But again, you’re not having fun if you’re hurt all the time.
Good point, I think also with, um, just becoming more resilient and adaptable with modern fitness techniques where you’re, you’re not getting injured and you’re, you’re having more fun at all ages, because I think back in the day, some poor kid to his knee up in a, in a football practice sophomore year, and his athletic career was doomed forever because they went in there with a knife and now were in there doing mini bands and, and, uh, Accords and balance drills and, and all the things that we see the professional athletes lasting for you know, 18 year careers as, as a norm rather than, you know, just the freaks of the old times.
Yeah. The functional strength is obviously such an important component, no matter what sport you’re playing, it’s important for normal life too. So, yeah. <laugh>
So that, that journey you’ve been so deeply immersed into sports since you were a kid, as a participant and as a journalist. And well, I wonder if that helped you, you know, with your opportunities, did, did it matter, did they weigh that, uh, fact appropriately that you were, you were an actual player rather than just someone who could, um, you know, cover the cover the sport?
I think at ESPN magazine they did for sure. And once they realized that I could, I was good at explaining like the nuance of athletic movement to normal people, which was one of the reasons Tom House and I hit it off really quickly because I was able to sort of understand the sciencey stuff that he was saying, and then explain it in writing to someone with no science background. And that has been super helpful throughout my entire career. I mean, even right now, I’m doing a bunch of golf content for Tonal, cuz they have a partnership with Michelle Wie-West and there’s a whole bunch of golf workouts on Tonal now. And I’m talking about like why your glutes are important in your golf swing and why hit mobility is important and how to generate torque in your swing. But you can’t explain that, like you’re writing some kind of scientific paper. You have to write it in words that the average Joe on the driving range can, can understand. And I think my background playing sports and really a lot of it came from doing yoga for many years. And being able to kinda mentally articulate the different parts of your, your body, it helped it, it helped me a lot to be able to talk about it in terms that normal folks can can digest.
So in your case, um, you’re using these disparate skills. I assume you’re someone who’s digging into the research, pulling out these scientific insights about torque and then reflecting on your yoga experience or whatever, and then trying to find the words to convey. It sounds like an awesome challenge.
Yeah. And it’s not just necessarily me going through the science. I do get the chance to talk to the experts, the people who are actually doing the research and they can kind of tell me what their theories are and explain what the research shows, but those people use a lot of sciencey words. So that’s where I have to like, you know, break out the Thesaurus and distill it. So it’s a little bit more digestible mm-hmm <affirmative>
So how about this Gary Player guy? He’s fascinated me for so long, cuz he seems like the original fitness freak in elite major professional sports and listeners, Lindsay will give you a sufficient background, but he’s an old time golfer from South Africa.
Yeah. So we had Gary on Food of the Gods, um, last fall, I think it was anyway, but first
Did he challenge you to a push up contest or anything?
This guy’s a piece of work.
He’s a hoot, he’s a total hoot, right? Yeah. And he’s, he’s very outspoken in, in how he thinks that people don’t move enough and Americans are lazy and you know, he’s not wrong. A lot of us don’t move enough and a lot of us are lazy, so he’s, he’s not wrong. But he is 86 years old and he’s still in the gym five days a week, he plays golf five days a week. He still shoots his point of pride is that he still shoots his age. Um, and really at 86 years old, like two over par, he considers a bad day, but he was also a competitive diver growing up and he can still at 86 do back and front flips off the springboard on his pool or off like there’s a video on his Instagram of him doing a back flip off the side of a boat, at 86 years old. And he’ll tell you that he, uh, you know, eats raw garlic and raw red onion every day because he thinks it’s, you know, good for your gut and all this kind of stuff. He’s, he’s very particular about what he eats and he’s still doing pushups and leg presses and in the gym all the time. And he, he really is just an incredible shape for someone of his age. And he’s still an incredible golfer.
I think he also sticks claim to having flown the most miles in an airplane of any human alive, which is pretty, pretty I think,
I think. And it’s, yeah, it doesn’t sound, uh, out of the realm of possibility to me too, because he’s from South Africa and he goes home fairly frequently. So just those trips back and forth to South Africa would give him more miles than most folks
Yeah, he was playing on the PGA tour for years and you know, he won several major titles is one of the greatest golfers of all time and oh man, the commitment to fitness was something so new to golf and oh yeah, he did a, you know, a great job awakening people to the importance of what you’re, what you’re eating besides, what, what club you’re hitting
Absolutely. In the sixties. There’s all like if you Google Gary Player, there’s all these great old, black and white pictures of him like lifting with you know, steel plates and whatnot. It’s it’s good.
So you decided to start this podcast Food to the Gods and focus on in particular focus on the dietary habits of elite athletes? Or tell me about that, uh, that brainstorm and how it’s gone.
It’s just, it’s about the, um, <laugh> how elite athletes eat and train to fuel performance is my tagline. So what kind of workouts they do in season and in the off season, and then how their nutrition is on a day to day basis and how that varies through the off season. You know, I love asking people what their cheat meals are cause everybody’s got ’em, but, for the most part, you know, they’re all, they’re all, uh, eating pretty well and taking care of their bodies. And, you know, they’ve all got the recovery methods that work for them. There’s so many recovery options out there and not everything works for everybody. So I like to ask them, you know, which ones are they, you know, they use on a regular basis. A lot of them are, you know, things folks can do at home, like, you know, the portable massage gun or a foam roller or an Epsom salt bath, or just stretching, you know, getting a lot of sleep that that’s important to everybody, but it has been interesting, you know, listening to them talk about their, um, different kinds of diets and what they eat before they work out what they eat after they work out.
I’ve taken a couple of different tips from, from a bunch of them. Danielle Collins, who is an American, one of our top ranked American tennis players. She told me about these NOKA superfood smoothies. It looks like a baby food pouch, but it’s, they’ve got five grams of plant protein in them. And they’re like in the little wheel, the door pocket in my car and in my golf bag, I love ’em. I carry with them, carry them pretty much everywhere now, cuz it’s such a good snack and it doesn’t need to be refrigerated and there’s no chocolate on it that melts like most protein bars. So, I’ve even taken a lot of tips from them and, and kinda incorporated them into my everyday life.
So do you see some common popular techniques, strategies, foods through the guest list and then also what are some of the most freaky or unusual things that you’ve heard?
The freakiest was definitely Bradley Bozeman, NFL offensive lineman’s pre-game meal includes like two steaks, a baked potato with sour cream, a bagel with cream cheese, like all this stuff that I could not function with if I had it in my stomach, you know? So that, that was like, he was the most extreme, but most we we’ve had, you know, one ice hockey player who does is a pretty strict intermittent faster. But with the exception of those two, everybody just is a pretty balanced eater, you know, like lean meats, vegetables, fruit, whole grains, you know, like complex carbohydrate. They, and they don’t shy away from carbohydrate. A lot of the athletes, I think what people will find most interesting. Like for example, we had Emma Coburn on the other day and she’s a very fit, very thin American steeple chase runner, which is a pretty gnarly race. And she eats a ton of carbs. She eats like pancakes after her training. You know, obviously not like, you know, ice cream sundaes, but she’s eating stuff that are gonna fuel her. She’s obviously burning a lot of carbohydrate,
But I think that the biggest common denominator is that these guys are not afraid of carbs in the way a lot of normal people are.
Well I guess, um, you know, progressive health enthusiasts, which is a lot of the work that I’ve been in this ancestral health space, primal, paleo, keto, carnivore, all these, all these great things that people are reporting, you know, life changing benefits, especially getting away from things that have been irritating to their digestive health and then also reducing excess body fat with any strategy that takes you away from the disastrous, uh, consumption of processed foods that represents the standard modern diet.
Well, and I will say that all of these athletes who are consuming carbohydrate are not consuming processed foods. They’re eating sweet potatoes and, you know, brown rice, things like that, like at the pro the processed food is not on the, on the list. <laugh>
Wow. I mean, that’s a, I think that’s insight number one. Is that the elite functioning human is staying away from, from garbage. I’m not sure maybe you’ve had, you know a cultivated, uh, guest list where you’re talking to people who do care about their diet because, I suspect there’s still some optimization to be had, especially in this, these high performing athletes. I mean, Usain Bolt was laughing and joking about his consumption of chicken McNuggets in the Olympic training center. Um, yeah, and I think, you know, the major professional sports team, some of them, like Dr. Cate Shanahan had a program going with the Lakers. And, I was familiar with that and, and the guy who ran it for her, Tim De Francesco, their former strength and conditioning coach where he’d, you know, he’d place it to go order from Whole Foods, for a buffet meal for 20 people. And he’d have it ready after the games. And it was, you know, highly structured of, of the very best foods. Uh, but in general, um, it’s possible that I, I don’t know if you have any insights of what level of junk food is being is still found in the pantries lockers automobiles of, of the elite athletes.
So we’ve had a few different nutritionists for pro sports team on the podcast. We had Leron Sarig from the San Francisco Giants and Anthony Zamora from the Utah Jazz, and they definitely have the highest quality stuff available for these athletes. And now it’s literally three meals a day. You can come in there for breakfast and have them do an omelet with fresh veggies or oatmeal or whatever you want. And then there’s, you know, all different options for lunch and, and dinner. Um, I think they do have the, a little bit junkier foods like chips and cookies stuff available. And everybody says that the younger players will still eat some of the crappy foods, but the older you get in the league, and the more you learn and realize that what you eat matters, you know, when you’re 20 years old, you might be able to get away with eating a big Mac every day for lunch. But when you’re 35 and trying to stay in the league, every little thing gives you an edge and you’re gonna give up those big Macs and go more towards, you know, the protein shake with your deep powder for nitric oxide and, and your, you know, collagen protein to help your joints and, and all those things, instead of the, the big Mac that you got away with when you were a teenager. So I, I think like everything people live and learn and, and pro athletes are, are no different.
Oh my gosh. And the stakes are so high these days and the incentives and the microscope as well. And I would assume that mentality possibly carries over into, um, off season behavior patterns, how frequently they’re in the gym or doing their rehabilitative mini band stretches or there gun, uh, treatment sessions and so forth.
I think the, the recovery stuff becomes really important in the season, because of the travel. I think that physical activity is one thing, but recovering from so much, so many flights and so many hours in a plane is, is really difficult during the regular season in the off season. They just have a little bit more time, you know, like their workout is the priority of the day and whatever training they’re doing, but they’re not having to go get on a plane and fly to the next place or play the actual game. So there’s a little bit more downtime in the off season for them to work on things that they kind of got stuck with during the season. But during the season, then that’s when you have like the pitchers doing the shoulder maintenance program between starts and really paying attention to being able to get on the field or on the court for, for every game. And because it’s, you know, the pro sport season, no matter what the sport is relentless.
Yeah, for sure. It’s, you know, maybe even an equivalent stressor to the actual physical contest is that travel schedule that they have. When Tim was with the Lakers, he was telling me about how the jet would take off after, an Eastern time zone game and fly them back to Los Angeles where they arrive at two in the morning or some ridiculous time. And I said, why don’t they just stay in a hotel in the city and get a good night’s sleep and then fly home? And he said, because they’d go out that night. And so they might as well just get them on the plane. <laugh> fly home. I’m like, both of those are pretty terrible sounding for the, the highest performing athlete, but it sounds like there’s been some progression from the sense that these athletes are out there partying and going to the clubs and then throwing in 30 points the next night.
Yeah, I think some of the teams have started to modify that super late night flight thing, but there are guys who just make the decision that they’d rather wake up at home with their kids if they don’t get a lot of, um, days off. Um, so it just kind of depends on where, what the team’s like personal priorities are, or, you know, sometimes you play, sometimes the schedule is ridiculous and you play on one coast and you actually have a game the next day. So you have to fly home. That’s, you know, it can be nutty like that too.
Yeah. And the NFL playing once a week, but these Thursday night games are those Saturday night games. And then, um, I wonder what it’s like to recover from the physical pounding of just an ordinary NFL game for the, for the player. I mean, how are they coming on day one, day, two day three?
Yeah. I think that Monday is usually like a full day off or some guys like to do active recovery workouts, but like, that seems like it’s like a hot and cold tub and get my massage and go on the infrared sauna kind of day for everybody. Yeah. I mean, I can’t even imagine getting hit repeatedly by a 330 pound lineman, so
I can’t speak. Yeah. I’m actually wondering, like, if, if Brad Kearns came in for one play and went across the middle and took a shot, it’s possible I could get killed in one, one tackle, you know, if my next snaps, because I, I don’t have the ability to handle one hit on one play in the NFL. Seriously.
Yeah. I’m not sure we should try that.
Although if you survive, it might make you like a YouTube star,
George Plimpton. I use that. I use that term sometimes, like, he’s the George Plimpton of the biohacking, or he’s the George Plimpton of blank. And I get a blank look from anyone that’s under 40 years old. I’m like, you never heard of George Plimpton. It’s like, oh my gosh, come on. Oh my gosh. Maybe you should explain who he is for the young listener. That’s never heard that, that word. Who did he,
Who did he fight?
He fought some, uh, elite boxer. Was it a heavy way? I
Remember which boxer he actually fought. George Plimpton was a writer who decided to get in the ring with a real boxer. Um, and I don’t remember what year, and I don’t remember who it was, but he’s pretty famous for, for doing it.
<laugh> yeah. He was like the ultimate participatory journalist. And he also did
A bull fight too.
Oh my gosh. I mean, we have to, now we’re gonna have to have some links in the show notes,
Something I think he did. I think he did a bull fight.
Yeah. He did a training camp for the Detroit Lions and wrote a book called Paper Lion, like the fragile Detroit lion. And he actually got in one play on a preseason game, I think at quarterback or something. But, you know, he went through the whole ordeal. It’s just this ordinary writer guy and he threw himself into, um, numerous other sports. Like you’re like you’re mentioning
He did do, he did do a bull fight. I’m not wrong about that.
<laugh> That’s even, that’s, that’s one step beyond running with the bulls. Geez.
Speaking of the off season and coming down from that incredible travel and competitive schedule. I read this excerpt several years ago and it really stuck with me. It was an interview with Julio Jones, the great wide receiver mm-hmm <affirmative> is he with Atlanta? You got
My favorite name in pro sports. I love his name. Julio Jones.
Yeah. It’s um, Bill Simmons book about basketball had, uh, a list of his favorite names for different reasons. Uh, humorous little account in there. Uh, the reader can go look that up themselves, but, um, they asked him, uh, telling about your off season training strategy. And he says, I don’t do anything. I just let my body rest. And I was like, you know what? This could be a glimpse of the athlete of the future at the highest level of sophistication of performing where really all he needs during the off season is, you know, to walk around the park with his kids, go get a massage. You know,
You might wanna take a break from the punishment, but I do believe that what separates elite athletes from the rest of us hacks is their proficiency and skill and their sport. And I think to maintain that you have to like, you know, pitchers need to throw most of the year. They might wanna take a couple weeks off at the end, but you gotta throw, you gotta practice your craft and your skill if you wanna stay at that elite level. Now, because at this, in this day and age, what you just said about Julio Jones is very much not the norm. Almost everybody else is working out all year long. And if you wanna compete with the top 1% of 1%, you’re gonna have to do that as well.
Yeah. Isaac Rochelle of the Chargers. He’s a former Notre Dame defensive end. He’s had a nice career, even though he wasn’t expected to be. He wasn’t a high draft pick, but he, he made his way through the NFL for many years now. And he talks about his off season as more emphasizing yoga, you know, beach sprinting, things that are making him a better athlete. And, and then, um, not necessarily hitting the blocking sleds or doing, you know, extreme football drills, but balancing it,
No, the, and the guys do do like full more full body things, but, but like everybody’s training is somewhat sport specific. Like there’s gonna be little elements of skill. Like he might, if you’re a football player, like you might do those like hand eye coordination drills, but you know, like where you’re talking about defense and shifting, like it it’s applicable to sport for sure.
I think the triathletes are in that same camp. Simon Whitfield, Olympic gold medalist and Olympic silver medal triathlete. He talked about his breaks would be three weeks and he would sprinkle those in over the course of the year instead of having this big, huge off season. Oh, great. There’s no races for three months. You’re gonna sit around and add some body fad and get outta shape. You know, he emphasized the importance of always being in pretty good shape. And of course, three weeks is a wonderful break. You’re not gonna lose much. You’re you’re not just sitting on the couch, but you’re taking these chunks of time where you give your body a break from the traveling and the extreme training.
I think you see that a lot with fighters too. Like, you know, triathletes don’t race all the time, boxers don’t fight every weekend. You fight like every couple of months and you will give yourself a little bit of a break, but you keep yourself, you might like decrease your fitness, like, you know, three to 5%. And then in your camp, you ramp it back up, but you keep yourself at a place where it’s easy to recover your top level of fitness. You can’t fall too far off the wagon, or you’re gonna have a hard time returning to that level.
Speaking of pitching, I was just alarmed to learn that the great Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw was pulled out on route to a perfect game after seven innings. And I wanna get your opinion on that, cuz that was just exasperated. Like, are you freaking kidding me?
We’re very, we we’ve had this conversation a lot at Mustard. So Clayton Kershaw is a, he’s got as great as he is. He has a bit of a fragile arm. He was on the injured reservist a bunch of times last year, he’s dealt with injuries in spring training this year. He hadn’t pitched more than four innings. And I’m not sure what his pitch count was. I, I think it was not, he hadn’t pitched more than 70 pitches and he was through seven innings in that perfect game already at 80 pitches. So more innings and more pitches than he was prepared to throw. And I think when Dave Roberts looked at that, he thought, do I want, we’re gonna win this game is Clayton Kershaw’s perfect game more or less important than having him healthy and on my roster for the duration of the season and Dodgers fans don’t wanna see him out.
So as angry as they were with him, getting pulled with the perfect game, you can see Dave Roberts’ rationale and Clayton himself was not upset about it. So that says a lot too, because he knew what Dave was doing for him. And Tom will tell you, it’s the greatest thing, regardless of what you think about Clayton getting pulled, it sets a really great example for youth sports to see the Dodgers prioritizing the pitcher, the pitcher’s health at that level, you know, where you have a 13 year old who shouldn’t be throwing more than, you know, 85 pitches total, and he’s at 120, just because he’s the best kid on the team. And that’s where kids get hurt. So for coaches at the youth level and parents at the youth level to see health of AER being prioritized like that by the Dodgers is a great example for youth sports and bodes well for the idea of good arms, staying good long enough to make it to the big leagues.
<laugh>, you know, I, I’m sorry. I never thought of that perspective. That’s really great. And it also sets a great example for professional sports because the athletes have been chewed up and spit out as commodities from, from the dawn of professional sports. So now I’m looking at it from a, a different perspective than the selfish fan perspective, but I still I’m since, since I’m, I’m going to try to engrade a little bit here, um, you know, it is entertainment mm-hmm <affirmative>. I’m wondering of the extreme damage of his arm falling off. If he were to pitch another inning or another or another and become one of the, the there’s only 23 perfect games in the history of baseball in a hundred and what 130 years or something. And then as I finished my question to Lindsay here compare and contrast to Japanese baseball, which my understanding is they have a different philosophy about pitchers and how to strengthen the arm and become a resilient pitcher.
I am, I’m not well versed in what they’re doing in Japan. So I can’t really answer that side of it, but Clayton, I would just say that, you know, he, a perfect game is super rare, right? <laugh> But dancing, dancing with, with flirting with fatigue is very dangerous, right? So you, once you’re tired when you are throwing with the intent required to throw a hundred mile an hour fastball, and you need all of your muscles and things to be firing in the right sequence and, and, you know, on full cylinder, when once you start to tire that stuff, the, the injury risk just goes up, right. And when you get tired, like if you listen to Tom House, he’ll tell you that, like the first thing that you lose is command. If you stop being able to throw strikes, it’s probably because you’re getting tired.
And if Clayton had thrown a few more balls in the previous 10 pitches before he got pulled, then in the 10 pitches before that, it would’ve been a pretty good indication to Dave Roberts, that he was really walking that fatigue line. And I mean, look, I don’t know. I think that most pro athletes will tell you whether they are really believe it or not that they’re putting the team accomplishments ahead of their own mm-hmm <affirmative>. And if the Dodgers were gonna win that game, Clayton would say that was the most important thing.
Very nice. Okay. Lindsay’s won me over here with that, that high level view. I like it. Um, my understanding in Japan, I read a book called you gotta have wa wa it was written a long time ago was fantastic book. Um, but apparently they have that, um, you know, that, that workman like philosophy with the training in general. And so the baseball players are working out and training hard and running sprints for hours every day. And the pitchers are throwing at high volume many days per week, it’s just total flip flop and it’s to you know, get the arm stronger and more resilient to throw more pitches. So, um, a few pitchers have come over here and made it and done pretty well O Otani and the rest. But, um, it’s just kind of an interesting compare and contrast. And
I would, I would be curious to see what they’re doing on the flip side, too, because as you know, as a triathlete, what you take out, you have to put back in somehow, right? So I, I would be curious to see what the recovery side of that looks like.
So back to the interviews and the wonderful body of content at Food of the Gods, where you’re getting into the dietary patterns and picking up tips and tricks from they, they disparate athletes in so many sports. You mentioned that you didn’t have a lot of examples of people in involved in these extreme dietary restriction strategies that are so popular in the progressive health movement. That’s extremely interesting to me because I’m trying to pass myself off as an athlete in the older age groups here. So, I’m training for high jumping sprinting speed golf, and it’s pretty stressful to do anything of that nature in the 55 plus division. Uh, and then here I am on the other end, uh, you know, deeply involved in the progressive health scene and experimenting with what might be considered extreme and restrictive dietary strategies. So, I wonder what that’s like with your group of athletes.
So you’re right. Not a lot of them are, are into the whole extreme eating. Like, I, I don’t think I’ve interviewed anybody who came back and said they were a keto or paleo. There were some folks who had like, experimented with things like that, but they always ended up coming back to just the balanced diet. We did have one hockey player, Michael Delgado who was a pretty strict intermittent faster. Um,
And is that during the season, was he doing that in the off season? He did.
He did it all the time, but he, I think he he’s an exception to the rule. But, um, there were a bunch of athletes who were gluten free, a bunch of athletes who were dairy free, but even the gluten free folks were finding other sources of complex carbohydrate. Like I said, the brown rice, the quinoa, the, the sweet potatoes, that kind of thing. Yeah, it seems to all just sort of come back to people, making balanced, colorful plates with lots of lean protein, you know, fruit and veggies, the complex carb and that healthy fats being a really, really big, big deal. I think that’s another thing that, I mean, the keto and paleo world has certainly embraced that, that a lot of normal folks are, oh, I have to eat fat free. Like, no, you don’t eat more fat, more fat is good for you. Um, the good kind, obviously not. Um, so yeah. But I do think that most the, the vast majority of the athletes that, that we’ve had on Food of the Gods do lean more towards balance than towards any of the ultra restrictive diets
<laugh>. And I’ve Al you know, as a, as a former athlete, especially in the endurance scene and, and doing the triathlon stuff these, this scientific research would come out about this, that, or the other thing where, um, shorter workouts at higher intensity will, will boost your fitness more than going around and peddling all day at a slow pace. And then I’m looking around at the, the greatest athletes in every endurance sport throughout the last 60 years training in a certain way, and highly validating that in comparison to what everyone thinks is the ultimate or the pinnacle is show me the science. You hear that quote all the time or, or research reveals that, um, free weights are better than machines. And then the other research reveals that machines are better than free weights. So I look strongly to who’s out there at the front of the pack, you know, setting records to what might be the optimal, human way of, of training, eating and, and living.
I mean, I think you really have to look at what the person is doing, right? Like if you want to be a marathoner, right, you have to train to run marathons, which means you’re gonna be out there doing long distance stuff. But if you wanna be the fastest hundred meter sprinter in the world running 26 miles, isn’t gonna do squat for you. You need to train the explosive fast twitch power to be able to sustain a top speed for only 10 seconds. Right. So I think, and also like this, this crap about, oh, I’m, I’m the fittest, I’m the best athlete on the league, but like, you’re the best at what you do, right? But if you put a marathoner and tell them to go into a power lifting competition, they’re not gonna do very well, but at the same time, the powerlifter is gonna do terrible at the marathon.
So I think you really just have to look at what you want to do and what adaptations are necessary to accomplish that particular goal. Right. It was interesting. I did a story for men’s health very recently about this fitness challenge that was going around on the internet, where guys were trying to deadlift 500 pounds mm-hmm <affirmative> and run a sub five minute mile mm-hmm <affirmative>. And that is a, you know, that, that is something that like the CrossFit world would point to as something that is, you know, would require a very high level of fitness and adaptation in two different, very different modalities, right? So Ryan Hall from your world, he’s still an American record holder in the half marathon. He was 135 pounds soaking wet with rocks in his pockets when he was running marathons, he’s now 195 pounds,
Jack, just Jack, heck Jack, crazy.
He was doing, um, uh, and he, he tried to do this deadlift thing and admits that he didn’t do it properly. He, first of all, he put the barbell like a perpendicular to the track. So he did the deadlift and then had to jump over the barbell,
He tripped over it,
That he tripped over it. Right. So everybody, if you’re gonna try this turn the barbell sideways, right. <laugh> anyway, but he didn’t do it. He ran a 5 28 or something. And for some perspective, after pulling that 500 pound deadlift, he ran a 5 28 mile. His American record in the half marathon was way below that four forties or something. Right. So he did 13 of them without the 500 pound deadlift, but with the 500 pound deadlift, couldn’t do one of them. So it just, it, it, it’s so interesting when you think about endurance versus power and how you train specifically for all of those things. And I think when you’re eating or training to accomplish any goal, you really have to look at what that goal is and what type of eating and training is gonna get you to it.
Good point. And in some sports let’s face it, it doesn’t matter that much. John Daley, one of the great golfers, and he has two major titles, which is two more than many of the, the superstars that we revere today. And, um, he had zero attention to any of those things. No. And
He would smoke on the course for God’s sake.
I know smoking and Oreo cookies. And
I also think about you remember John Cruck from the Phillies?
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Ball star baseball player. And I, his he’s got a famous quote. I’m not an athlete. I’m a ballplayer.
<laugh> <laugh>, uh, speaking of that, what’s uh, do you have some favorite quotes of your grandfather? Who’s maybe the most quotable athlete of all time people Yogi Berra.
Well, yeah, so I, people ask me this all the time and my favorites are the most existential ones. Like people like the funny ones, but I like “the future ain’t what it used to be.” “If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be”, you know, they’re, they’re true, but they’re a
Little bit, what was the second one? You said, sorry,
If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be. You know, cause we’re always complaining about something, but if it was like that, you’d find something else to complain about. Let’s be honest. Right?
That is, that is brilliant. That’s an absolutely brilliant.
And then there is, there is one really funny one that I like that I tell people a lot that I, that most people have not heard, cuz it was kind of more of an in the family thing. In 1958 when grandpa and Mickey Manyle became pitchmen for YouWho the chocolate milk drink milk. I use air quotes around milk, cuz I don’t think it’s a dairy product <laugh> um, but uh, in 1958 they had a press conference and there was a female reporter in the front row. And grandpa always remembered this because female reporters in 1958 were very rare and she raised her hand and she said, excuse me, is that hyphenated? She was asking about the word Youhoo, is it hyphenated? And grandpa said, l”ady, it ain’t even carbonated” <laugh> and that is one of my favorite silly yo gizz.
Oh my gosh. I knew we’d get the inside scoop from you. Yeah, that is beautiful. So back to that, uh, the dead lifting and the five minute mile, which is, which is super cool challenge, I’m sure Ryan Hall will do it when he goes down to sea level and, and gets ready. I think one guy has done it already. The San Diego, legendary CrossFit guy. I forget his name. Um, but people have done it. And um, the
Prefer to do it was a guy named Adam Clink. Okay. CrossFitter named Adam Clink and then as some other folks have done it too. And what Adam did, actually, he, um, kind of extrapolated the challenge and took it from it originally was put forth by the, the CrossFit games. Programer Dave Castro in his book and it was deadlift 500 pounds back squat, 500 pounds, which is considerably more difficult than deadlifting 500 pounds and then run the five minute mile and all in the same day. And Adam Clink was the first person to do all three of those. Um, and he, some, some other folks I’m forgetting their names. You can actually, if anyone wants to Google my story, Google four, uh, five and 500 challenge men’s health and all the history of it is, is in that story. Um, but yes, uh, Ryan Hall tried it, um, at 8,000 feet, I believe mm-hmm <affirmative> um, so he, he, he would have to do that down to, to at sea level that right after I spoke with him about, um, him missing on that challenge, he was doing a thing where he was running to the bottom of the Grand Canyon with two of those 50 gallon water jug things, filling them at the bottom and then, and then carrying them out.
And I’m like, this is what you think is fun on a Sunday <laugh> but he did that. He did
It. Yeah. Very impressive. I wonder what you think the CrossFit community likes to tout that they’re the, the fittest all around athletes. My friend sent me a text after one of the games and he said Matthew Fraser is the fittest human who’s ever lived on earth. Care to argue that? And I’m like, you know, that’s a pretty good take right there, man. Because in terms of the term fittest, I’d say, I’m gonna ask you two ending questions. So what do you think about, what represents the fittest athlete? And then, I want your list of like the greatest athletes in terms of, you know, think
These different ways to look at this. Like I wouldn’t argue with saying Matthew Fraser is way the hell up there because if Matthew Fraser had to run a marathon, he could, and if Matthew Fraser had to back spot 500 pounds, he could, Matthew Fraser is probably not trained in the skill of, of a particular sport. So when you look at someone like a Roger Feder or a Serena Williams, those folks they’re tremendous athletes, but they have an incredibly specific skill set that works to their sport. So the greatest tennis players of all time, yes, Matthew Fraser might be one of the great or fittest athletes just about what the potential of the human body is, but he’s not, he couldn’t beat Serena Williams at tennis, but then again, Serena Williams while she probably has a really good power clean, probably couldn’t compete with the CrossFitters in the power clean, you know? So it, it just de depend. I almost think it’s like a dumb argument. Like you’re just go in circles and I don’t understand why we can’t say Serena Williams is the greatest tennis player of all time. And Matthew Fraser is the fittest human on earth at the moment. Like why can’t they both be true? You know? <Laugh>
Yeah. And also it, it kind of bugs me to go and compare eras and will tiger woods break Jack Nichols’s record, guess what? Um, he’s already broken, destroed that in so many ways, because the level of competition is so much higher and I’m gonna argue that, you know, dominating in the modern era when the hundredth place guy is making a million dollars a year is different than when Jack Nicholas, the hundredth place guy on tour was selling shoes in the winter in Florida. And I don’t, I don’t wanna denigrate that the athletes of the past, but, you know, the records are made to be broken, of course. And also the sophistication of sports is so much higher that, it there’s, there’s no sense comparing eras.
I totally agree with you. And like for the record, my grandfather worked in a hardware store. He sold Christmas trees on the hill in St. Louis. And then we got sick of working odd jobs and he and Phil Roseto opened a bowling alley to have something to provide income in the off season. So grandpa’s best year in the big leagues, he made $60,000, which is the equivalent of 550,000 in today’s money, which is $200,000 below the league minimum. And people say, if grandpa were playing today, he’d be, unpayable given his winning percentage. Right. Right. But the gram, you know, people ask me this about a lot too, about grandpa, about comparing him to catchers in the modern era. But like my grandfather still has world series hit record for catchers. He still has more RBIS than any catcher in history. I don’t think. And like Molina might catch him, but he would have to hit 400 more RBIS before he, uh, retires.
So I think that, that, you know, those, there are some records that stand the test of time and some of those athletes from way back like Jack Nicholas were so good that there will be records that won’t be broken, but there were like genetic freaks and once in a generation type athletes, right? I think, and not everyone in the league at that time or on the PGA tour at the time could hold a candle to those folks. Whereas nowadays, every the base level of athlete in the pro sport is much higher. And yes, you still have those standout people. But I think across the board, the level of athlete has improved.
Very nice. Lindsay Berra, the sports machine just cranking. I, I love catching up with you and, um, maybe we’ll have to have another fireside chat about all manner of, of sports opinions, like all the great sports talk shows. It was a pleasure. I’m, I’m amazed at all the depth of your, um, your knowledge and your experience in so many different sports too, which is quite unique. Um, tell us, give us a little plug for Food of the Gods. How do we how do we check in with that and what can we expect?
So Food of the Gods podcast is about how elite athletes eat and train to fuel performance. We’ve had some great episodes, some of my favorites, Justin Sue, the mental performance coach for the Tampa bay rays. That was one of my favorites. The Gary player episode was, was right up there. I loved the recent one with Emma Coburn, the, the steeple chaser, um, Michael Lorenzen MLB pitcher was pretty interesting. Um, Jimmy Johnson, the NASCAR driver turned indie car driver who will be racing in his first indie 500 next week was on the podcast. Alex PE last year’s IndyCar champ was on the podcast. The CrossFitters out there can listen to Jason CPA’s episode. Um, we’ve, we’ve really had a very wide variety of, of athletes and it’s super fun. And you can find it, um, on any podcast platform or at our website, Food of the Gods podcast do com
And we could follow you on social media, follow the show.
Yeah, I’m very, I’m very easy to find at Lindsay Berra. It’s horrifyingly easy to Google. You can find me anywhere.
<laugh> get involved people she’s highly carbonated. Thank you, Lindsay Berra. Thanks for listening to everybody.
I’m not highly carbonated, no carbonated S for me, they hurt my belly.
<laugh> Thank you for listening to the show. I love sharing the experience with you and greatly appreciate your support, please. Email podcast@Bradventures.com with feedback, suggestions, and questions for the Q and A shows. Subscribe to our email list at bradkerns.com for a weekly blast about the published episodes and a wonderful bimonthly newsletter edition with informative articles and practical tips for all aspects of healthy living. You can also download several awesome free eBooks when you subscribe to the email list. And if you could go to the trouble to leave a five or five star review with apple podcasts or wherever else, you listen to the shows that would be super, incredibly awesome. It helps raise the profile of the B.rad podcast and attract new listeners. And did you know that you can share a show with a friend or loved one by just hitting a few buttons in your player and firing off a text message? My awesome podcast player called Overcast allows you to actually record a sound bite excerpt from the episode you’re listening to and fire it off with a quick text message. Thank you so much for spreading the word and remember B.rad.