Thursday, October 27, 2011

My fun size secret.....

As with most fine things, chocolate has its season. There is a simple memory aid that you can use to determine whether it is the correct time to order chocolate dishes: any month whose name contains the letter A, E, or U is the proper time for chocolate. ~Sandra Boynton

I keep candy in my office for my residents (I work in a retirement home). Normally I have the most self-control of almost anyone I know when it comes to eating healthy and I never TOUCH the stuff. It's tucked away in my closet, far from reach. I am the go-to person when people seek nutrition advice. I love that people look at my eating habits and think they "I want to eat like her". But sadly, things have changed.

It all started when a piece of "fun-size" candy fell from the bag. One piece, no harm in eating that right? It was an almond joy. It was heaven. The next day another piece fell. This must be a sign that I am getting too skinny. I'll go ahead and eat that one too. Then later a Reeses PB cup fell. Wow. I didn't realize those were SO good! I ate it up with delight. I realized that the bag was slowly tipping over, but I didn't care. These little pieces of falling candy were coming straight from heaven and I was a happy girl.

Then one day I came to work and the entire bag had finally fallen. I thought "Great. It's gonna take me ALL DAY to eat this candy." And that is when I realized.... I had a serious problem. No, I didn't eat ALL the candy, but the "fun size" pieces were all adding up. And 300-500 calories a day from candy is really not what my body needs right now.

Most people who eat junk gain weight because they eat it in addition to their normal meals. Not me. I was eating candy, and my fruit and veggies were going bad. I don't like wasting food. And I DO NOT like eating junk. It's not my style. So I decided to give up sugar. Done. Adios. Get out of my life!!!!

I am getting my bodyfat testing next week. I am really excited. It hasn't been tested in several years. The last time I was tested I was 16.2%. I am 3 pounds lighter and much leaner now, so I am looking forward to the results.

I've realized the worse part of giving up sugar is the insane abundance of energy that I have. It's really abnormal. You really are what you eat, and when you eat healthy wholesome foods, your body will adapt and give you more and more energy. I don't have sugar crashes anymore. I've got WAY more than the normal amount of energy required to get through the day plus training. Personally, I think it's the absence of high intensity training. I asked Coach and he said "normally people are tired from the volume" Um yeah. I am NOT the norm!

So no one has perfect eating habits. We all do things that are less than optimal for our health. But keep in mind that little things ADD up. Yeah, the creamer isn't horrible for your coffee, but the creamer everyday is. One glass of sweet tea? It won't make you gain 5 pounds a week but think about how much sugar that adds up to on a monthly basis.

Take baby steps to clean up your eating habits. Reduce things one piece at a time instead of making drastic changes. It will pay off in the end! Trust me!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What people don't tell you....

Last Saturday I had the distinct pleasure of doing a 162 mile ride. 8 hours and 42 minutes of almost complete solitude left me with plenty of time to think about things that no one mentions to you when you are thinking about signing up for a race that will take 24+ hours to complete. Here is what you need to know:

Hire a Coach: You might be smart. You might have lots of books with tons of useful information. But this volume of training is stressful enough without having to figure out a training schedule on your own. When you start to think about the endless possibilities of things that could go wrong, you will want a coach to help you work through those situations and keep your goals in line.

You did not just get accepted into Fat Kid University: You might think that just because you've added a lot more volume to your training that you can eat anything and everything in sight. This is not the case. Food is the fuel for your body. Your engine is running a lot more than it's accustomed to. Fuel it properly and it will function better!

You're not the coolest person around: So your recovery week now looks like what a typical Ironman training week looks like. That's cool but don't rub it in. Your old training partners don't need to feel bad that they are riding 1/10th of what you're doing. Remember, these are your future crew members! Do you want them laughing at you when your vomiting or sleep running? Exactly! Don't be that guy.

You are not crazy: Prolonged training, particularly in isolation may produce the following: hallucinations, delusions of grandeur, bouts of paranoia. These should subside shortly. If they don't call Dr. Slayer.

Leave your ego at the door: Yes, that woman with the babystroller did just pass you. And people who you would drop on a normal basis are suddenly able to keep up with you on the bike. You are not slow! I repeat: YOU ARE NOT SLOW. You're just GOING slow. Big difference. Don't freak out.

Get your life in order: Now is probably not the best time to plan a wedding, move across the country, start a new job, etc. Unless you really have to. Your training and work will probably be consuming every ounce of your time and energy. Keeping your social obligations and stress levels low are a really good idea.

Trim the fat: The last thing your life needs is added drama. People who are unsupportive or generally negative need to be eliminated. Yes, I realize that sounds harsh. But you cannot afford to defend your decisions (nor should you have to). Telling white lies about your training or not telling particular people what your plans are is okay.

Get some good friends: You are going to need some really awesome people in your life if you don't already have them. You need support and encouragement. Make sure these people know how wonderful they are and how much you appreciate their support.

Some really weird things are gonna happen: There are going to be times where your body will resemble a 7th grade science experiment gone bad. This is normal. What is NOT normal is to tell everyone about it. Not everyone needs to know all the strange ways your body reacts to training. If you feel the need to tell anyone, call me. I love hearing about it.

Dani hasn't actually raced an event lasting 24 hours, she is merely training for it. Check back in a couple of months for "what no one told me about racing for 24+ hours.."

Friday, October 7, 2011

Confession: I have NO IDEA what I am doing!

Expectations: Always Aim High!

As most of you already know, I am a self-coached athlete. This has been my choice since I started this sport in 2006. I've had a pretty interesting progression that looked something like this:

2006 Season: New to the sport, jumped in with my training buddies on whatever they were doing

2007 Season: Recovering from being hit by a car and breaking my leg. Mostly rehab.

2008: Let's do an Ironman! Brilliant! Used a book by Matt Fitzgerald with training plans.

2009 Season: Totally self-coached, did whatever I wanted. Gains made. Got faster. I attribute most of this to recovering from injuries from my accident

2010 Season: Jason halfway coaches me. I adopt his training principles. Even more gains are made, and I PR in every distance race I competed in.

2011 Season: Jason doesn't really have the time/energy to coach me. With no races or events longer than an Olympic triathlon I lack the real motivation for triathlon training. Spent a while recovering from a ruptured bursa sac. Performances declined for my repeat races from last season. Felt like I was just going through the motions. No speedwork completed in anything other than biking.

So there you have it. My career in a nutshell. What everything boils down to is this: I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I AM DOING! Yes, I can totally train/coach myself for shorter distance races. But a 420 mile ride? I've never even MET someone that has ridden that far, let alone know how to train for it. A double Ironman in February? Eh, that's a whole other story. So.......I think I NEED a coach. BUT......I don't really want one. Here is why:

I have always thought that this sport is "for fun" I don't win money. I pay money to do this. My approach to training is actually very laid back( contrary to popular belief). Yes, I train a lot. But it's super laid back. I change my plans all the time. I do what I want, when I want. This makes training fun for me and I ALWAYS want to workout.

BUT.....I, like most athletes that I know, tend to spend unequal amounts of time dedicated to the 3 disciplines. No doubt, cycling is my one and only real gift in this sport. Because I am good at it and love it, I will choose that over anything else. Sadly, swimming and running take a backseat. Actually running has taken more than a backseat. It's been boxed up and in the trunk. My "long" run career is so pathetic that I can actually count every long run I have ever done. 1 18 miler before my 2 IM's, 3-4 15 milers, 1 50k race, 25 miles pacing Jason at Umstead, and about 25-30 walk/run miles at Key West. That. Is. It. Told you I don't run!

My deepest darkest triathlon secret when it comes to why I haven't hired a coach? I don't trust 'em. I have no idea why. In my mind many coaches have one way that works for them, and a majority of their athletes and they want you to train that way. Regardless of whether it works for you. I call it "cookie cutter coaching" and it really bothers me. That and I don't like being told what to do. And if I don't trust you or respect you then I am definitely NOT doing what you say. (The irony of this is that I will listen to a plan in a book written by someone who doesn't know I exist)

I know that the way I do things isn't the best way. It's the way that creates the most fun, not the most speed. I have a degree in Exercise Science and Kinesology for pete's sake and I STILL do things my way. Plain and simple......I am stubborn. So stubborn that it has been detrimental to my athletic endeavors.

I trust Jason. And I trust Shanks. Both are logical and level-headed. They will have disagreements with you without telling you that you are wrong. They understand that there is no such thing as a wrong opinion, and if given factual data, I do believe that they will both change their minds. Shanks has kinda been my advisor of sorts. I send him an occasional text asking if something is a bad idea or not. Sometimes I listen and sometimes I don't. But I respect both of their opinions immensely. In a perfect world, there would be a hybrid of Jason and Shanks. They would have Jason's tough love attitude and "I-know-when-you-are-full-of-shit" detection system and Shanks ability to write plans and periodize.

I have looked and looked for a coach. Ok, I made like 2 phone calls and sent 3 e-mails. Jason has been somewhat quiet about the whole thing (he personally thinks it's a waste of $) I have come up with reasons why I need a coach:

-I need to run more, and I need someone to MAKE this happen

-I am tired of getting to the taper period before a big race and wondering whether or not I have done enough

-I need to focus my energy and efforts on the actual TRAINING itself.

-I want to reach my full potential, and I really do believe it's much greater than what my results have shown thus far

Things my Coach HAS to be:

-Open-minded and understanding

-Firm without being bossy

-Allow me to do my core workouts three times a week and lift weights twice a week. I can get a doctor's prescription if I need to. I have to lift weights. Seriously.

-Creative, funny, and NOT sensitive

Who's up for the challenge?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Living a balanced life in an unbalanced world....

I look balanced but trust me it's an illusion!

With Jason training for Epicman (a triple Ironman) and me training for a 420 mile bike ride across Florida, life has changed a bit. We spend our weekends training, preparing to train, traveling to train, or recovering from training. As the weeks drag on to months I have began to feel like I am living, eating, and breathing training and my life doesn't feel very balanced.

The struggle to find balance in life is something that almost everyone I know struggles with. People ask me all the time how I fit in all my training. Personally, I think that I have it a lot easier than most. I don't make half the sacrifices that some of my friends make. One friend I know runs from 4:00-7:00 am before her husband goes to work. She once told me "I want my training to impact my family as little as possible". That is one of the most selfless comments that I have ever heard when it comes to training for an endurance event!

I consider myself quite fortunate that I am in a relationship with someone who will never complain about my training. He will also never complain about me being tired from training (mostly because that rarely happens!). But his support is great, and at the same time a challenge because he can handle volumes of training that would put most people into the ground within days. So he is naturally pretty unsympathetic about having to train for long periods of time.

So what exactly is it about my life that's not balanced? Well, I've never been one to require a lot of social interaction, so the isolation of large volume training weekends doesn't bother me much. It's the leaving the house in the dark, riding all day, and coming home after dark that I have struggled with. There is very little balance when your day consists of doing NOTHING other than riding a bike and eating. It's not the volume of training that has gotten me frustrated. My body has adapted quite well. I am training about 8-10 hours more per week than I would for an Ironman, but feel way more energetic. Less intensity definitely makes the training easier on my body. The flip side is that this training is BORING. I figured it was going to be and I was right! Last week I rode 8 hours solo in the Gaps (north Ga mountains). The extended period of isolation wasn't the issue (I barely saw anyone else) it was the total and complete lack of speed or effort that was driving me nuts. If you know me, you know that I like to ride fast. 8 hour rides call for little or no intensity, especially when you are going to do 5+ hours the following day. It never occurred to me how much I enjoy intensity until it was taken away. Training for ultras is mostly psychological in nature in my opinion. Any fool can ride a bike at a really low heartrate. But can you do it from sunup to sundown? When the wind is howling at you and knocks you over? What about when your feet are frozen and you're hungry? That type of training requires something that a high VO2 max and lactate threshold cannot help you with.

I've thought a lot the past several days about my "imbalanced" life. I've thought about my need to spend more quality time with Jason, play with my dogs more, try and actually relax instead of constantly ripping and running from one place to the next. Then I came across this quote that I really like: "The word happiness would lose it's meaning if not balanced by sadness." -Carl Jung. This could also be interpreted as "how would I know what a balanced life felt like if I didn't occasionally let it get off kilter?" Training like this won't last forever. Our races will come and go and we will regain what very little bit of normalcy that we had in our lives. Nothing worth having is easy, and sacrifices made now are part of achieving huge goals later!

In the meantime I only put in two hours of training yesterday. Why? It was date- night OB/Dani style: post gym, still in workout clothes, eating really healthy. It was quality time that was very much needed in our hectic lives.

I want to leave you with one of my favorite authors of ALL TIME! Dr. Seuss. This is from the book :"Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?"
When you think things are bad,
when you feel sour and blue,
when you start to get mad....
you should do what I do!

Just tell yourself, Duckie,
you're really quite lucky!
Some people are much more...
oh, ever so much more...
oh, muchly much-much more
unlucky than you!

Dr. Seuss is right. I AM lucky! I've got a mind and body that are able to withstand some really crazy stuff and I need to appreciate how many people out there could not do what I am doing. So I am going to be unbalanced, and just hope that I stay upright for the next 4 months!