Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Common Mistakes I Make When Training, #3 Downplaying the Importance of Nutrition

Read Parts 1, Focusing on Time vs. Quality and 2, The Deep End

Mistake #3: Downplaying the Role of Nutrition

Food is my achilles heal. Doughy breads and pastas are my crutch. And I truly believe down deep in the center of my soft core that Karamel Sutra makes everything better—cures the flu, can turn the ledger ink from red back to black, can heal a marital spat—its truly a miracle medicine.

Unfortunately its "miracle" lies in the placebo effect, we all know what a diet full of bread and ice cream will really do to someone.

On the flip side, when I am following a clean diet it is the single component that has the greatest and fastest impact on improving performance.

I am not a Sports Nutritionist, I have no licensing or professional education. All I have is my personal experiments and knowledge gleaned from Google searches.

Finding a proper balance while regularly doing high-intensity workouts or long endurance rides can be challenging. It's not unusual to get to the evening and be craving a large, heavy meal. Or sometimes I'll find my hunger carries over into the next day and I over-refuel. It's true I burn a lot of calories during those workouts, but in my personal experience, burning 2,000+ calories on a ride is not equal to 2,000+ calories of pizza and beer post-ride.

I know some people that can get away with that. That's never worked for my waistline.

This is what has worked best for me in the past:

Fueling for the workout DURING the workout. The rest of the day eat a normal, healthy, clean diet of lean proteins and lots and lots of vegetables.

What this means for me is that I always have a sports drink in my water bottle and carry some food. I try to take in about 100-200 calories an hour, depending on intensity and duration of the workout. The following is my basic nutritional plan (while eating a lower calorie diet high in vegetable content):

3 mile jog around the neighborhood = 50-100 calories of Endura (or similar) post-run
6 mile run / 60 minute bike ride = 100-150 calories of Endura
90 min ride / 9 mile run = 200-250 calories (100-150 from Endura, 100 from food)
2 hr ride (mod. intensity) = 300 calories (200 from Endura, 100 from food)
2 hr high intensity = 300 calories during + 100 post-ride (banana, chocolate almond milk, etc)
3+ hours = 150 calories from Endura/per hour and 100+ from food every 60-90 minutes

Following this guideline for during workout nutrition I have been able to curb post-ride starvation (which tends to result in post-ride over-indulgence and face-stuffing) while also maintaining high energy levels which allows for a more effective training session.

Food is such an important aspect not only for training but for overall health. Nutrients from food build and repair cells and body tissue, help maintain proper organ function, provide energy and warmth.

While food and following a nutritional meal plan will always be a challenge for me, a clean diet is something that I will never stop pursuing whether training for an event or not.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Common Mistakes I Make When Training, #2 Being Afraid of the Deep End

Part 2 of Common Mistakes I Make When Training. Read part 1 here.

2) Being afraid of the deep end.

It's funny watching my kids learn to swim. When they want a challenge they'll dart under the divider from the shallow end to the deep end then quickly pop back up safely at the depth of 3.5 feet. They are pumped from their dare-devilish flirt with the deep end. It's humorous because you know they've kept one toe safely on the shallow side and never fully plunged into the depth of the pool.

The 'face of suffering' at Iceman finish line 2011
I can easily fall into a similar rut when it comes to cycling (really, this translates to any area of life). I'll begin an interval session with grandiose intentions of plunging into the depth of suffering before coming up for air. All to often, however, I'll feel the darkness close around me and the burning in my legs and think that I've hit deep. In reality I've just flirted with the deep end.

Last week I set out to do a workout with gradually increasing intervals of duration and resistance. Midway into the set my quads burned, I squirmed on the saddle under the weight of the effort. My body was yelling 'good enough! You can back off now!' And I wanted to listen. I really wanted to.

But there was something else lurking in my mind. I recognized that dark place of suffering. I'd been there before. And when you're in a race, once you've hit that level of discomfort you don't get to bob back under the divider to the safety of shallow waters. You live in the deep end for the duration.

Finishing Peak2Peak 2012 which
proved to be a true test of perseverance.
Our bodies are amazing things. We can do so much more than what we think we can. But it is incredibly difficult to push ourselves beyond the boundaries of discomfort. However, it is persevering through that discomfort that we can finally achieve new levels of success and greater fulfillment. It is only when we push ourselves out of our comfort zones that we can expand our 'boundaries' and explore   our true potential.

When I'm training I try to embrace that depth of discomfort because I know that when it gets to race day and I come to the dark place, when I'm gasping for air and my legs feel like blocks of lead, when I am cresting that brutal climb and my body tells me to 'back off, take a break,' I can tell it to 'shut up' and then dive into the deep end.