Archive for fun training

Are You Eating In Harmony With Your Goals?

 

Two triathletes recently contacted me to set up nutrition consultations. Both are staring down at upcoming Ironman distance races and neither is satisfied with their training progress to this point. Feeling frustrated and panicking a little, they reached out and asked for help. I'll refer to them as Tom and Sally. (It's no secret to anyone who knows me that I LOVE helping athletes like Tom and Sally who reach out for help - it is my passion!)

In instances like this, the first thing I ask for is a detailed diet log, to better see how an athlete is eating on a daily basis. (Do you ever wonder whether you could adjust or tweak your eating habits to better support your training?)

As it turned out, I quickly learned they are like you, very serious about their training and their goals.

I also learned that despite them training for what was essentially the same race, they were on complete opposite ends of the spectrum when it came to how they ate.

Sally's daily total caloric intake, despite training 12 or more hours per week (or trying to), was far below what her activity level and training volume demanded, by a wide margin.

What she proudly believed was a "disciplined" approach to eating in order to "get leaner," was actually excessive calorie restriction The end result was chronic exhaustion, constant hunger, and uninspired training. Unfortunately, as is all too common for many athletes like Sally, what she most accomplished was to feel very frustrated!

(I'll admit, I did whisper in her ear that in all likelihood, her body was reacting and performing as though it was being starved. Yep, she sure was shocked and dismayed to hear that!).

On the other hand, Tom was getting enough calories, BUT on an almost daily basis, his diet was littered with simple sugars and junk food. He mistakenly convinced himself that because he was training "like an animal," (his words) he could treat himself a little bit each day.

Tom learned the hard way that his frequent, less than optimal daily choices delivered chronically high insulin levels that led to cravings, energy and mood swings, and more body-fat than he desired. (The key take-away words here are frequent and daily. I don't believe there are any "bad" foods, only bad habits!)

Listen, in the 35 years I've been training, competing, and coaching, I've seen and heard it all, especially as it relates to nutrition.

I always chuckle, shaking my head in amazement (and at times, disgust) as those emails pour into my inbox, boasting of the latest "cutting edge" info on a new nutrition "breakthrough," or a "recently discovered" biohack to a leaner better body, all delivered courtesy of any one of a plethora of internet marketeers (masked as "coaches" and self-proclaimed "experts"). Do you get those kinds of emails, too? You might be smart to delete most of them, I think.

So back to Tom and Sally - with their well intentioned but somewhat "flawed" efforts to improve, what did they learn?

The answer to that question is rooted in a philosophy that can be summarized with these words: BALANCE and MODERATION.

I also told them the same thing I'll say to you now: commit to eating in a way that is in harmony with your goals.

If you're wondering where to start, begin today with the guidelines below.  Remember balance and moderation.

For optimal results and enjoyment, apply them most of the time and especially around key training periods. 

  • Eat a varied and well-balanced diet, containing copius amounts of fruit, veggies, fat (especially those known as "good" fats), and quality protein.
  • Eliminate or minimize processed foods, especially those containing simple junk sugars.
  • Eat an amount that reflects your activity level and training volume (e.g. more calories in the days leading up to big training days, and less on other days).

This simple philosophy will then "set the table" for you to refine and personalize your approach, learning through experimentation and small tweaks.

It isn't about extremes, "biohacking,"or strict adherance to any one particular approach.  It also isn't about a "secret," marketed in a way that hooks you into believing there's an easier way - a magic bullet. There isn't.

It's about sound principles applied daily, combined with smart experimentation and continually dialing it in.

Ok, one more thing, some "food for thought" before I sign off: there is this certain 4-time IRONMAN Age-Group World Champion who is as tough, competitive, and committed as they come, who also happens to love chocolate and red wine!

Reflecting today's message of balance and moderation, I know she would never give up those awesome foods entirely; for her, they add richness and enjoyment to her life and they taste good! However, to her credit she also carefully picks her days to indulge, especially during key training periods, choosing to eat in complete harmony with her goals as an athlete.

Happy Eating!

~Coach Al

ps: Because so many of you have asked, yes.....I'll have more posts in the future on a ton of other nutrition topics, so stay tuned and don't forget to get in touch if I can help.

Are You Having A Crazy Amount Of FUN Doing This?

 

Happy kids in colorful bike helmets holding bikes

Keep the FUN in your training and I guarantee you'll get better, faster, and enjoy the journey more!

I remember when I was a kid how much I looked forward to after school and weekends, when I could ride my bike over to my friend's house. We spent hours playing, working on our take-offs with our "home-made" ramps (made out of whatever scrap wood we could find) and chasing each other around the driveway, exploring the backyard trails and laughing our butts off the entire time! Thinking back, I never got into BMX riding but I sure wish I had.

Do you remember those days? Take a minute and think back.

Riding bikes was so much FUN when we were kids!

Today I'm here to tell you that it can be fun again, and because I know you are the kind of athlete who is serious about your training, trust me that you can also achieve the great workout and fitness boost you want, too! (Would you like to have even MORE hip and core stability, core-glute-leg strength, and even better balance?)

But before I go on...come on now....In this day and age, don't we ALL need more pure, unadulterated (and legal!) FUN in our lives, as well as some child-like joy in our training?

And if we could manage to keep most of our training enjoyable and fun (despite the occasional discomfort that goes with pushing ourselves at times), won't we get better faster, and enjoy the journey more?

From my perspective as a coach, the answer to both of these questions is one million percent, YES!  

(If you are one of those folks who believes that you can only achieve at a high level if training is drudgery and not fun, you are seriously missing out. Life is too short!)

So, the million dollar question for today has got to be, how?

The answer is (drum roll please....) the mountain bike.

Now if you already ride, there's no reason to read on. You're a believerYou get it.

You've smiled, sweated, laughed, gasped for breath, been humbled, scared, euphoric, and even bloodied and bruised. And....you've never been happier while training.

But if you don't ride a mountain bike (yet), please read on!

Exploring forests and trails on a mountain bike is the most fun you will ever have on two wheels.  Ever! There's nothing that makes you feel more like a kid than a flowy, wooded single-track, dotted with rocks, roots, and berms that twist and turn down a slope.

And...conversely, there's nothing that will challenge your strength, focus, balance, power production, movement quality, and mental toughness, than will pushing those pedals up an ever changing landscape to get back up the trail.

Of ALL the many things I do now, riding my mountain bike is without a doubt, the most rewarding, challenging, butt-kicking fun I have as an athlete!

Regardless of where you are right now in your riding or training, consider this note today as simply me encouraging you to get started if you haven't already.

I'll be writing a ton more in the future about this awesome sport, covering topics like skill building, flats vs. clipless, bike/equipment choices, and more.

For today, just in case you're hoping for some basic tips to get you started on the right path, here are a few that will help keep you from getting hurt and also increase the fun factor.

* Riding a mountain bike safely and enjoyably on technical terrain requires good skills. (Doesn't anything worth doing well?) Learning those skills gradually and building upon them will help you have more fun. Why not consider attending a camp / workshop or find a friend or fellow rider who can help you learn what you need to know.

* Take the time to find the right group of fellow riders to learn with who are at, or perhaps slightly above, your skill and experience level. Ride behind someone you trust who is more skilled than you are, and learn by watching how they ride.

* Find trail systems that are appropriate for your skill level. Don't get caught on highly technical or hilly terrain if you're not quite ready for it. Nothing sucks the fun out of riding more than crashing a lot.

* Be patient and persistent. Don't take yourself or the riding too seriously and keep smiling.  You'll improve consistently and have a ton of fun learning along the way!

Now let's go out and play! Happy Trails!

~Coach Al

ps: check out this video from PinkBike Trail Love Episode 4 to get even more jazzed about riding! Here we come, Kingdom Trails!