Taking a break

This is my 10th year in endurance athletics. It completely blows my mind when I sit back and think about where I started, what I’ve done, and what a crazy fun ride this been.

One of the things I’ve learned, though, is that there are invisible stressors that you cannot measure. Those stressors can turn into Overtraining if allowed to, even with the best made workout plan by the smartest coach ever.

Overtraining is the enemy of most Endurance Athletes and an unknown concept to normal people. Endurance Athletes tend to be driven people and so much so that they can work out TOO MUCH. On Purpose. REALLY! Crazy, I know.

To combat overtraining we use training plans, coaches, and log our workouts. Some even go so far as to log mood, energy, food, and sleep as these all play a role.  Work stress, family stress, community stress, and so on also play a role – albeit almost impossible to measure. Best you can do is recognize the SYMPTOMS and set the ego on the curb and listen to your body.

Every endurance athlete needs a down period each year. A period where the focus is to recharge, re-energize, and regain the love of the sport – not just follow “the plan”. Knowing WHEN to do this is tricky. Most of us in the northern states do it in the winter, when workouts can be a real challenge anyway. However, I’ve been learning over the years that JULY is just not a good month for me (4th year in a row!).  Many reasons play into that. Family obligations, work, etc play into this. Looking over my workouts, they have been perfect. My coach knows what I can handle, pushes me to the edge, and pulls me back when I go over that line. She also knows when to tell me when to pull the plug.

So July will be my ‘off’ month to recharge. Yes, that means not racing in July. Yes, that means no training in a STRUCTURED manner for a few weeks, I will go where the heart desires. If I want to swim, I’m going to swim. If I want to take out the mountain bike, I’ll do that. Go on a longer ride with friends? I’ll do that. Ice cream run with the kids, you bet.

When do you rest each year? Comment below!

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Getting Ready… Rev3 Knoxville here we come!

After months of preparation, finally Rev3 Knoxville Age Group Championships will be here.

My swim is “Meh”, I really haven’t been able to swim as much as I would like these last few months, zero open water swimming, and only one swim in my wetsuit. So the plan is to take it steady.

Since the run is coming around, I should be able to run the swim to bike portion, which will be nice. Haven’t done that in a while!

My cycling is as ready as it could be.  My FTP is up a good 10% since the start of winter, so all the winter work paid off. With such a yuckie winter, I bet most of the northerners are going to be well UNDER their fall FTP. It wears on you doing 2-3 rides per week inside on a trainer, especially the 2-4hour rides.  Yesterday’s outdoor 3.5 hour ride was a real confidence builder. I’ve spent SO much time doing hills, hills, and only hills that seeing average speeds of 22-24mph for extended periods was a real morale boost. When you’re doing hills it can be 10mph-15mph and it erodes the confidence…

Arrangements have been made to get Princess Tri-cycle down there, flights booked, hotel reserved… Taper time and let’s get this race underway!

I’m really excited to see my teammates and the Rev3 staff! Can. Not. Wait!

 

 

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I’m back! and just 1 inch away…

Wow, last post was 7 weeks ago? Ouch. Well, that sickness held me down for almost 3 weeks. After that is was ramping back up just to get back to where I was.

The bigger news, however, is that I’ve been running again. Sometimes 3x in a week. All of 2013 I struggled with running, relearning from scratch. Actually, 2012 was a lost cause too. So lets just say, it’s been a while since I have “really” run. But working with my run coach, we’ve been focusing on my “first worst” errors trying to isolate which of the (3) {worst} bad things I do are the catalyst for the rest. And I think we have a winner. It’s 1 inch. 1 stupid inch.

Due to “whatever” I don’t rotate my left upper body far enough (1in short to be exact) and that causes a chain reaction through the rest of my body.

Is this the answer? so far, it seems real positive.

Is this the only answer? Likely not.

But it is, by far, the best news I have gotten in my running in a LONG time.  So there’s hope for me to run “for realz” yet.

So how is your season going?  Post below!

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Not ready?

sickguy

I saw this picture and did snorted.  It’s true. Thanks ZAZZLE.COM for the funny shirt.

It’s funny because it’s true. 17 days ago I got the flu. 15 days ago I admitted it. And as much as I WANT to be done recovering from it I have to admit I’m not.

When normally I can knock out 4 hours of workouts in a single day without really a concern I gets kind of grouchy when I cannot climb the stairs without being out of breath. Really? Stupid microscopic scum have managed to take a fit guy down a few hundred notches to a barely-functional-guy. Is this what I used to be like when I was morbidly obese? Dang, I didn’t imagine it this bad but maybe….

Doesn’t the virus know I have no time for this?

I have family obligations.

I have work obligations.

I have a workout schedule to keep, because I have GOALS to accomplish.

Yeah well, Mr. Virus and Mother Nature, they just have NO RESPECT for my plans.

Knowing I was “not well”, Days 1-2 I skipped my workouts – in hope that I could sleep in and maybe fight this thing off. I upped my vitamins and started taking probiotics.

Days 3-4 I slept. Like basically the whole day. I slept 8-10hours (normally I get 7) and then took a morning nap… and an afternoon nap… and repeat. I even started drinking Kambucha – aka HOOCH – which is this stinky fizzy tea with all sorts of promises of healing elixir qualities. Oh yeah, and I didn’t even remember I had workouts, so I didn’t miss the fact I blew off some pretty awesome and fun looking workouts. Somewhere in there I installed the Pajama Pants and Sweatshirt {I HATE being hot, but I wasn’t} and started listening to Shania Twain - all sure fire signs that I’m on deaths door.

Days 5-6 I worked from home. I wasn’t well, maybe I was contagious, but I most certainly didn’t want to put on a tie.  Lots of Shania and Phil Collins. Say the Doctor Day 6 and he said “yup, you’re sick, it’s a virus and maybe you have a sinus infection now too.” Great. Well, good news is I got DRUGS.

Days 7-11 I slowly got better. An entire week of NO WORKOUTS. No sense wearing myself out.

Days 12-17 I have been slowly working into it. 30min on the bike easy, sweated like a pig. 20min walk on the treadmill. 8×75 swim. Stuff that I normally would consider a warmup was a full and complete workout. 1 hour on the bike yesterday was a serious chore… and I couldn’t get my heart rate up to even Zone2 (which is somewhat the “low end” of workouts). Today, 1:15 on the bike was a real chore.

So clearly… I’m Not Ready.  Going to back off tomorrow and then continue to ramp up. I’m praying for a miracle and sometime SOON I will be

imback

Until then….

dealwithit

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Endurance Athletes and Getting Sick…

What a sorry lot we are.

flu-prevention

As I’ve blogged about before in my post Sick?   I have placed all sorts of good reminders to myself, and others, on what to do when we are sick. What I didn’t address is how Endurance Athletes are really bad about ADMITTING they are sick even when the signs are right there in their face.

For me lately, I’ve been working crazy hours, involved with a ton of kid events, and trying to keep up with my training for Rev3 Knoxville.

So when I was tired and DYING for RED MEAT Wed I really didn’t give it a second thought. Working with my Eating Coach I just assumed it was one more rebellion by my body against what has been much cleaner eating.  I had a burger (which I have to tell you was HEAVENLY) and moved on. Tired before Masters but that’s pretty normal. Masters Swim that night was tough, like usual, and I got home late (9:45pm?) and slept HARD.

Thursday morning came too soon and by 9am I was STARVING again. Not just Hungry, but FREAKIN STARVIN. Tired too. So I put a bunch of healthy food down my gullet and moved on. But by noon? STARVING again and craving RED MEAT again. Ok, that is weird. I had a steak at lunch and a bunch of healthy food. But by 2pm I was SO TIRED. Barely functional. I assumed it was the fat from the steak or something and dismissed it. I wanted to get my run in and had kid stuff that evening. Man, I’m so annoyed, I will probably miss my workout… and did.  I barely made it until 10 before I passed out hard.

Friday morning I have the sniffles. Uh, oh. Where did THAT come from? I never saw it coming! Am I fighting off a bug? (you’re probably laughing right now, the clues were there since Wed) and MAN I was tired. Decided that I should probably skip today’s workout if I am fighting a bug, got the boy to school and off I went downtown for work. Once I got there, I realized I had (2) appointments in the suburbs, which I had just missed. CRAP!  Oh, and yeah I an freaking STARVING.  Third day in a row.  And my throat is a tiny bit sore. You see the pattern?

Sat AM I wake up and I feel like I have the Martian death plague. Snot everywhere and I cannot speak and my throat hurts. DANGIT !!! I’m dying! Ok, 10min later and I cough and blow and otherwise evacuate this snot invasion and I’m doing fine – but I can no longer avoid it… I’m sick.  Sick uniform in place: PJ Bottoms, Sweatshirt, and socks (That is like 500% more clothes than I would prefer to wear around the house… shorts and tshirt is ALL I would rather have). I’m officially grounded for the weekend. BOO!

So you see the pattern here…

1. I was exceptionally tired – but I run tired all the time lately so I couldn’t tell the difference between normal tired and abnormal tired.

2. I was craving RED MEAT. For me, this is also not unusual, but lately with all the clean eating for 5 weeks – this is greatly reduced. So this IS new with me eating this way.

3. I probably had some aches and pains. This one is also normal during a training cycle… so I doubt I’ll ever pick up on that!

So what are YOUR clues you are getting sick? We are each different but there are signals that, if you pay attention to them, you can use to tailor your training and allow you to boost your defenses – IF you pay attention to them.

In my case, I simply wasn’t acknowledging them.

No matter how critical my workouts were for this weekend, they are in the past now. I’m going to have to skip Sunday as well and re-evaluate for Monday.

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Rev3 Knoxville check in…

So my first “A” race of the year is May 18. This is the Rev3 Age Group Championships race in Knoxville. I’ll be competing in the Aquabike division (1 mile swim and 40 mile bike). As you can see, I’m not alone in this self proclaimed Epic contest of the ages…

  1511692_10202376101835620_1683989113_o

The other gent there in the silver (and NOT Legal) wetsuit there is Tim Glinski, new Rev3 Teammate of mine who also qualified for the Aquabike Age Group Championships.

Rumor has it Tim has been training hard… here’s a picture of his bike. Although I’m not sure where he is?

tim-bike

Also, this is a picture of water he has been rumored to be practicing his open water swims… oh wait, I don’t see him there either….

tim-swim

But here! Here we found him… well, I’m not sure what he is planning..

tim-battle

Huh…. must be planning his next move.  But I’m not sure what he’s doing down below… Is he eating trash?

tim-dumpster

In the mean time I’ve been working hard… bike is coming along well. I haven’t done an FTP test yet (it’s a measure of power for those interested) but I can tell from my workouts that I’m getting stronger and going longer every week. This week was over 5 hours on the bike and it felt great. The weekly Endurance Spins will now increase to 2.5 hours every Sunday with more focused and harder 2x during the week.

I’m actually swimming twice a week! It’s a Christmas miracle!   The Masters Swim Team State meet is in April, so I figured that would be a good time to be in shape.. I can take the speed from masters and extend it to a longer distance.

And I’m working with my eating coach, have lost 6lbs so far, but many more to go. But I have a plan and it is in motion!

So that’s where I am at… and Tim, well, Tim is definitely going to be able to out dance me come May…

tim-busting-a-move

And Tim, welcome to Team Rev3 !

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How to lose weight?

I think I forgot this. I figured it out years ago but I guess sometimes I need to relearn things.

Need-To-Lose-Weight

And since it is Feb 1 – it’s that time when the gym memberships start going mostly unused. Most of the new years resolutions have been long since forgotten. And people wonder why they are still fat? 4 weeks does not a chance make. Sorry folks, let’s start with 4 months and then hold that for 4 years… now we are talking.  Let’s get BACK TO BASICS.

How do I lose weight? I have the answer.  And you know what? Its pretty simple.

Easy? No. I said simple. If it was easy, you’d have already done it now, wouldn’t you?

Ok, here it is. The ANSWER you’ve been looking for…

Burn more calories than you eat.

 

That’s it. It IS that simple. But how do you get there with all the confusion about HOW to accomplish this?

Ignore the noise about this diet or that diet

Ignore the noise about genetics being the cause

Ignore the noise about stress or other hormones

Ignore the noise about your metabolism

Ignore the noise about the “quality” food

Ignore the noise about juicing

Ignore the noise about fasting

Ignore the noise about cleansing

Ignore the noise about supplements

Ignore the noise about the latest book preaching this new concept or that

Ignore the people telling you to buy X, Y, or Z product or service to do A, B, or C miracle solution

Ignore the people in your life who say you can’t. LISTEN to those who say you can in both words and action.

Why isn’t this magic solution on Oprah?

oprah.jpg w=300

Why isn’t everyone preaching this on TV? Well, there’s no money for them in it. The TV is trying to sell you stuff. Ever thought about turning it off or turning on the mute? Do it.

Look at all these books they want to sell you? This is from a single search on google images. There were thousands more. Too much. Stop the noise.

dietbooks

I don’t want your money so have some truth instead.

Burn more calories than you consume and do it over an extended period of time (months and years).

Look, most of that stuff I call noise has some place for you LATER. Each one may or may not make sense for you but NOT when you’re starting off. When you start, it comes down to a decision to start and don’t let the noise stop that. It’s not easy. I never said it was. Wait, you want EASY and FREE? Get over it. Life isn’t like that. That which is of value requires work.

Ready to start? Let me boil it down to two things you need to do:

1. Reduce the amount of calories you put in your mouth.

  • Smaller portions of what you do eat,
  • Less crap food,
  • More real food (i.e. fresher the better),
  • Try not to drink your calories,

Just less calories, not less FOOD. I’m not trying to starve you to death! Duh, starvation diets just never seem to workout and can be dangerous. Forget it. INSTEAD eat several (5-6) small meals of GOOD food and you won’t be starving and you will be helping your body.

Every.single.thing you put in your mouth counts. Stop lying about what’s going in there. Your eyes are right above your mouth – use them to inspect what goes in.  Log your food if you need too. That keeps me from being a liar about what I eat and how MUCH I eat. How MUCH is a problem for me, for sure.

Did I say you had to suddenly go Vegan? No, no I didn’t. Because the you today may not be able to do it. Don’t start things you can’t finish. EXTREME measures rarely work. Do you feel lucky? If not, just stick with tried and true. Slow and steady and permanent changes.

Oh yeah, and I didn’t say remove Beer or Wine. That’s just crazy talk for some. REDUCE is all we’re saying because every bit you consume is MORE movement you need to do to pay for it.

2. Move more!

  • More steps,
  • More activities,
  • Less driving,
  • More walking,
  • Less tools to do our work,
  • More human power,
  • Walking the dog, instead of letting them outside,
  • Shoveling instead of using a snow blower,
  • Walking to see a neighbor instead of driving,
  • Walk the kids to school instead of driving,
  • Walk the steps instead of riding an escalator or people mover,
  • More workouts,
  • These things burn energy so use them to your advantage to burn more.

Make these part of your LIFE and you will never have another failed “diet” again. You will instead have a new you. You didn’t gain this weight overnight and  you’re not going to loose it overnight either. Slow and steady is the path here and that path will get you there.

It doesn’t take money, it doesn’t take experts, it does take a single decision. By you. To make this a permanent change.

Are you ready? Just do it. Comment below. Let the world know you’ve decided. We’d love to share in your journey.

p.s. the is no “Right Time” (i.e. after the super bowl). Start now. You can still have a good time and you can still REDUCE even on special events. Remember, this isn’t something you do for 6 weeks and expect a permanent change. This is something that becomes a permanent you and you will have holidays, parties, sadness, and joy – eat and move accordingly.

Keep on moving.

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Lunch for the super busy

noburger

So besides first breakfast and second lunch, FIRST lunch is the big meal I struggle with. Why? Because during the week I almost always eat out. Either to meet with staff or clients or to simply “get away” from same and have a little quiet time mid day. So I have really had to work on the structure of that meal and simply avoid those places that cannot fit my need.

So the basic structure I am working with for my lunch is:

  1. A lean protein – chicken or fish is best.
  2. A starch – rice or potatoes
  3. Fruit
  4. Veggies
  5. A Salad w/ low fat low calorie dressing

You might say, wow, that’s pretty small! Well, not really.  Eat them in this order and I promise, you’re going to be fine…

FIRST – eat the salad. I use Balsamic vinaigrette, but there are others like that. I’m starting to expand. If it’s creamy or super insane yummy, skip it. No cheese and no protein here and skip the croutons if you can. We’re really after the veggies.

SECOND – Veggie – yeah this is tough for me because I cannot handle anything “cruciferous”. Makes me gag and want to puke. I’m not kidding – so that pulls out broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, etc. So others cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, zucchini (some)

THIRD – the protein – just about any place you can order a fish and/or chicken BY ITSELF. Do it. If you feel weird, let the waiter/waitress know. Any GOOD one will totally work with you. If not, get the manager. ORDERING OFF MENU is not illegal.

FOURTH – Fruit – fresh fruit plate. Almost everywhere will have this for the folks who cannot have sugary desserts.

FIFTH – starch – right now I’m sticking to rice or potatoes – just make sure they’re not smuggling butter or lard or something, some places do that. If so, SEND IT BACK. You absolutely have that right.

Typically, the wait staff can put together your Protein, Veggie, and Starch into a single “entrée” but whatever this is not about cost as much as it is about eating right. If they charge you too much, ask to talk to the manager and make sure the waiter/waitress knows you’re not complaining about them, but about the way the restaurant set it up for you. The downside is… some places you just cannot get it all, especially in the Chicago winter. So I have to strike those from my list.

So there ya go!

What lunch ideas do you have? Share below!

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Food Prep ideas for the super busy

Ok, so I have gotten several emails from people asking what food prep I am doing with this new eating thing. So here are a few ideas.

1. Get a picnic bag you can carry to work. Yes, not a “lunch bag” those are too small. The company I got mine from is here.

2. Buy a ton of sandwich bags.

3. Multitask

Ok, so under this “Multitask” is where I get my food prep done. So usually when I am getting the kids ready for school is when I get my prep done. Sometimes it is Sunday night. I typically make food for 2nd breakfast and 2nd lunch only right now. Eventually I will “move up” to carrying lunch as well. One step at a time though… So My “plan” for 2nd breakfast (assumes I have worked out between first breakfast and second breakfast), so it will have:

2x hard boiled eggs
1.5x bacon (lean)
greek yogurt w/ fruit
fruit
bread
some peanut butter

And second lunch will have something like:

Nuts
cheese sticks OR Greek Yogurt w/ Fruit
fruit

How do I prepare it? It’s actually amazingly easy and fast – which is key for my hyper-lifestyle.

Hard Boiled Eggs – we buy those (well, my wonderful wife does, like magic they show up!) so I take two and put them in a baggy… repeat 5x. Done for the week~  1 week done in 30seconds.

Bacon – Precooked (Costco or somesuch? again my wonderful wife handles that magic), so I just pull out 1.5 strips and wrap them in a paper towel, nuke them for 20seconds and then toss it into a baggy. Repeat 5x. DONE! 1 week done in 1.5minutes.

Peanut butter requires celery as a carrier. So I cut up a whole stalk of celery. Wash it off, hack off the ends like a samarai warrior (battle cry optional, especially if everyone else isn’t up for the morning) and then slice them up. Takes MAYBE 2.5minutes and then baggy them all up. Then I take a few baggies and apply peanut butter inside the groove and toss 2-4 chunks into each baggy. Repeat 5x. DONE!

Greek Yogurt w/ fruit – that’s store bought. DONE!

Fruit – we have choices here. Either pre-peel some oranges (for no-muss no-fuss eating in the car, office, etc) or grab a bag of apple slices. DONE!  Peeling 5 oranges takes about 2.5 minutes.

Bread – right now I’m using wheat gold fish. .5oz on the food scale, it’s about 30 which is about a handful. So I pull out 5 bags, put in 1 handful each and then measure. Adjust as needed. DONE! under 1 minute.

Nuts – not doing this right now but will be adding. With bags and food scale, this will be easy too.

BONUS FOOD: I usually grab a cucumber, samurai off the ends and then use the magic peeler to remove the outside. Cut it into half. Baggy each half. These don’t last more than 2 days, so I only do 1 cucumber at a time.

Now remember, everyone’s needs are different, so don’t just copy this! Do you have my body? My awesome cholesterol? my workout schedule? And the rest of my eating for the day? No. This is only a part of a much bigger picture.

More as I continue the journey. Any other tips for speedy food prep for mobile-meals? Please comment below!

This is what I struggle with the most. So going healthy on these meals is HUGE for me. Lunch is my second challenge, we’ll talk about that next time!

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Eating Coach Update

We are 21 days into this. Some observations and updates:

1. I can eat a LOT more, if I eat the right things. I’m not hungry (most of the time).
2. I have completely rearranged the sequencing of when I eat. It’s very much a “food is fuel” mindset.
3. I actually CAN prepare food ahead of time. When getting kids ready for school… I can yell and chop at the same time. Multitask!
4. Eating out, healthy, is 33-50% more expensive than eating crap. (No, not fair)
5. I’ve dropped 7lbs in 3 weeks. I figured the first would come off fastest but that’s a bit above the pace we have set through May (minimum).
6. I have NO idea what proper portions or measurements are. None. Nada. A tablespoon, teaspoon, and a gallon might as well be the same. I continue to amaze myself at how WRONG I am in my portions. Try it some day, it’s amazing. Measure and/or weight stuff. Mind blowing.
7. I hate logging my food. Logging my food exposes what a pathological liar I am about what I put in my mouth, and I don’t like being called to the carpet for that. Good lesson on accountability.
8. You don’t have to be perfect.
9. My life is pretty chaotic.  But that is no excuse.
10. Most GOOD waiters/waitresses will totally work with you and come up with some really creative ways to
11. Anything “cruciferous” was created by Satan himself and must be abolished.
12. I now know what cruciferous means.

I met with my eating coach last week. I did the logging for 14 days not only of what I ate (biggest hurdle) but how many “exchanges” it was (failed miserably on that) and how I felt (kinda sorta did that, I suffer from a Y chromosome which means I’m not so in touch with these “feeling” things as maybe I should be). Other than that, MANY changes in my eating, have to dump a favorite haunt because they just don’t HAVE some basic foods I need to eat.

I meet again next week. I’ve been failing to log, but restarted today.

One step at a time… Keep on going.

What tips do you have? Post below!

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