Thursday, 20 October 2016 00:47

Recovering From Brazos Bend 100 Pacing

Having just completed pacing at Brazos Bend 100 where everything was flat and I had to adjust to using the same muscles repeatedly, I’m starting to think about recovery and how I can best prepare for my next set of races. The Bandera 100k (pacing a superb athlete), and Rocky Raccoon 100 (shooting for sub 19 hours) are are going to be extreme iwith varying terrain and lots of speed, and they get me thinking about how I want to avoid past mistakes I’ve made in my recovery.

 

I was 10 days post Ironman Louisville and I may have made one mistake on my way to being properly recovered. What was that mistake? Deciding to ride 40 miles on the Saturday after the race was not a big deal. Was the problem that I rode my CX bike, which has knobby tires, so pushing the pedals takes a bit more energy? Nope, it was going out to run trails the next day. I thought I was running 5-6 miles, but wound up at 8 and on a humid day. That was not smart. When you combine those two items you end up with a body that isn’t fully recovered.

 

Fortunately for me, I was smart enough to have recognized that problem and did nothing other than sleep in, swim, and jumped on the trainer to allow my legs to spin as I recovered. To that end, I was asked about preparing and recovering from an Ironman race or even a 100-mile ultra trail run. These are my tips.

 

Nutrition:

The focus on nutrition is a key for me regardless of race prep or not, but during the week before and two weeks after a race, my focus on nutrition is on high alert. I focus on lean proteins such as eggs, tofu and tempeh. I try to get those into every meal so that I am healing my body from the inside out, repairing muscle tissue that has been crushed during the race.I also add in lots of healthy fats in the form of nuts, beans, avocado, and of course the previously mentioned eggs. When I do this, I notice that my body repairs quickly.

 

When it comes to spicing up my food, I add turmeric and cinnamon as much as possible.

 

Inactivity / Rest:

Of course, I started by saying I made a mistake by getting too much in too soon, but the key to recovery and taper is inactivity. It is hard for athletes to sit around and just enjoy life, but I find that when I do that, I am healing my body heading into the race, as well as healing it coming out of the race. This rest also gives me an opportunity to do things that are not swimming, biking, and running. I get closer to family and friends, but it also allows me to not get burned out.

 

Sleep:

This should go without saying. Sleep is a key to relaxing the body and mind. It is during sleep that our body resets itself, and leading into the race, it may be difficult to get enough. However, when you come out of the race, sleeping in for an extra hour or two, plus naps, is essential. Without a structured training plan, sleeping in until 8a or 9a is golden. You can still get a 1 hour workout in and still be done by 12pm so that you have the whole day ahead off.

 

When it comes to sleep after the race, I pay a lot of attention to my sleep environment. Not only does having a comfortable mattress help with my recovery, but I make sure to turn mine because I like to have a 'fresh' mattress to sleep on. I also make the room very cold and dark. Lastly, I do not want to be distracted, so I turn the phone to Do Not Disturb and let the world go.

Published in Train
Friday, 14 March 2014 14:52

Sleep: The Most Valuable Free Item Ever?

[caption id="attachment_9521" align="alignright" width="255"]sleep - endurance sports - training - taper Source: Psyholawlogy.com[/caption] Sleep is so valuable yet so abused.  There seems to be some sort of award for staying up late working and getting up early with few hours of sleep in between.  I was caught up in this rat race until I realized that sleep helps me be a functional human being.  From being able to get my workouts in and not have them feel sluggish to being productive at work.  Of course, all of the things I do (eating right, working out, laughing, sleeping) all go together to create this scenario but sleep is the one item that I overlooked for so long that I didn't realize it had such an impact. For over 6 years I worked from home.  I was able to stop what I was doing and take a mid-day nap.  It was glorious.  The best 30 minutes of my day.  I would wake up refreshed and crush work.  Now that I work at a desk in the middle of an office surrounded by other people and not just Ginga, taking a nap is somewhat frowned upon.  Until I am able to perfect the open-eyed nap at my desk I will have to rely on sleep at night taking care of my body.  At first this process was a tad difficult as I thought I could do it all but as days pressed on I came to the conclusion that getting in bed early meant I was going to sleep early which yielded positive results. A few months ago at the DMN Top 100 Workplaces luncheon the guest speaker mentioned that the optimal amount of sleep is 7 hours and 10 minutes per night.  Ever since that presentation I have set a goal for myself to do exactly that.  I get into bed around 9pm after doing 5-10 minutes of stretching and 5-10 minutes of core work.  I am typically turning the TV off at 9:30pm and waking up at 4:30am.  That is a 7 hour sleep pattern and it has been a noticeable change.  The days (like Wed and Thurs of this week) where I do not get that amount of sleep I can feel it.  I find myself lethargic and looking all over for coffee and sugar.  I yearn for the moment to lean back in my chair and fall asleep for 10 minutes. [caption id="attachment_9520" align="alignright" width="300"]sleep - endurance sports - training - taper Source Gymnordic Tumblr[/caption] In actuality, I hope to be more like my dog.  Every morning she wakes up and heads downstairs with me as I fill her bowl with food.  She will drink some water and than head out the door to go use the outdoor facilities.  Once done she comes back in and does a couple of tours of the kitchen as I prepare my breakfast and then I see her scooting up the stairs.  When I finally head up the stairs she is in her crate and laying down getting ready to go back to bed.  She knows how much time she needs to sleep.  Unfortunately, we as humans do not.  We think we can multi-task and accomplish a lot but the reality is that we are doing a half-assed job at it.  If we were to sleep more and take care of items better and not with one eye on something else then our lives would be more efficient and successful. This week is the first week of taper for the Lake Martin 100 race and probably not the best time to have a lack of sleep.  Yesterday I ran 5 miles and my heart rate started sky-high before eventually coming down to a mid Z1 level.  This morning I went out and put in 4.5 miles and while my heart rate did not start out very high it did climb throughout the run.  All indications that I need more sleep to aid in my recovery.  Tomorrow is a 16 mile trail run that I will start at 7am.  Going to bed around 10am I should get 9 hours but I also plan on getting a nap in mid-day as well.  Sleep will be my best friend this weekend and for the next two weeks after that as the body repairs itself. Yesterday (3/13)
Today (3/14)
Click View Details to see heart rate information.

How Much Sleep Do You Get Per Night?

Published in Uncategorized
Monday, 04 March 2013 15:28

3 Tips To Improve Your Health

We are all looking for ways to improve our health without putting in too much effort.....well that is what society wants.  If you are reading this blog then you are most likely doing what you can to improve your health but we always need one of the following:
  1. Motivation and Inspiration.
  2. Change from our normal routine.
  3. Reminder
  4. Tips
The three healthy tips I am going to provide you below are ones that I have written about in their own posts but as I enter into taper I realize that these three tips are going to be what keeps me healthy over the next two weeks.  In addition to keeping me healthy they are going to be reinforced habits that make it easier to fall back into the routine after the 70.3 San Juan race is completed.

3 Tips To Improve Your Health

[caption id="attachment_7504" align="alignright" width="240"]sleep - health - benefits - triathlon Source: Health[/caption] 1. Sleep Sleeping is imperative regardless of what those people who tell you they can function on 4 hours of sleep.  I say that is complete non-sense as I manage to get through on 6 hours some days but I know that will catch up to me.  This usually happens during a peak week when I am asleep on the couch at 8pm and waking up at 5am for a solid 9 hours of sleep and getting up to go at it again. Lately I have been running on those 6 hours per week but two weeks ago after yoga was complete I came home and stared at my laptop and could barely read the words.  I was wiped out and needed to sleep.  I put my head down for a 30 minute nap because anything longer than that is sleep and would affect me that evening.  I wound up waking up 3 hours later.  Obviously my body required more rest because when I woke up I felt great and my body felt like it was healthy again. I have written about getting 8 hours of sleep previously, that you can read here but here are the highlights;
  1. Sleep deprivation was linked to metabolizing glucose less efficiently in addition to the fact that levels of cortisol were higher.
  2. The glucose levels for the group were no longer normal during the sleep deprivation week and resembled those found in the elderly.  Since we know that glucose and glycogen (stored glucose) are the energy sources behind the ability of an endurance athlete to perform one can conclude that getting enough sleep is very important.
  3. What the study doesn’t address is how much sleep is enough?  I don’t know that getting 8 hours is perfect but I do know that getting 4 hours is not enough and not just because of the glycogen stores, but because your mind is not in the game.  You have a tendency to lose focus with sleep deprivation and this is caused by the increase in cortisol.  If your mind is not focused then the task at hand is going to be more and more difficult to perform.  Think about your best race and how well you slept the night before and think about your worst race and how you slept the night be.
[caption id="attachment_7503" align="alignright" width="285"]massage - health - triathlon - benefits Source: Men's Health[/caption]

2. Massage And A.R.T.

Yesterday I rode a portion of the Ironman Texas course and then drove home and straight to a massage.  That means that yesterday was 4 hours in the saddle, 3+ hours in the car and 1.5 hours on the table.  How did this make me feel?  I felt healthy on the bike, then a slug in the car and rejuvenated with a renewed focus after the massage.  The massage was much-needed and being two weeks before the race it was perfectly timed. Regular massage can do a couple of things can help to improve the status of your health:
  • Massage increases the blood flow to muscles to help speed the healing process by flushing out metabolic waste. By having the muscle healed faster an athlete can resume training at a quicker pace and build up their strength to compete at a higher level than before.
  • In addition to healing quicker, a massage will allow an athlete the opportunity to reconnect with their body. The mind will be able to decipher which muscles are sore/fatigues and need to be treated more often. It can bring awareness to those areas that are not functioning properly and in the long run help prevent injury.
A good rule of thumb is to get a massage at the beginning of the week of a race so that your muscles are not so relaxed that the body takes longer to get acclimated to the racing speed. Receiving a massage will put the athlete in a tranquil mood and while that is wonderful for the mind, the body needs to be capable of racing and be able to stand the rigors of the race. In addition to getting a massage early on race week it is recommended to get one immediately after a race and if that is not possible at least within one day and with their regular therapist. Massage is not the only way to get these feelings to improve your health.  Going to an A.R.T. professional will also help you.  Regular visits to your A.R.T. professional will help you because it can focus on injuries before they become to bothersome and force you off your feet.  In addition to that it will help your muscle balance which improves your health and overall efficiency for participating in your chosen sport. If it is possible try to combine A.R.T. and massage.  I have scheduled days with a 15-20 minute A.R.T. session followed by a 30 minute massage that has me walking out of the office in a state of mind that is focused on my health and well-being.  In addition to that I am relaxed and ready to focus on what remains in my day. [caption id="attachment_7393" align="alignright" width="300"]yoga - health - triathlon - ironman - balance Source: Eat Breathe Blog[/caption] 3. Yoga I recently wrote about how yoga and swimming are the best of friends but that isn't the first time I have written about yoga and the sport of triathlon.  I have this post and this post that you can read.  I believe yoga has allowed me to not only become a better athlete but a better person because I am able to focus my mind on the tasks at hand no matter the task. My mental health has improved quite a bit and I am more relaxed than I used to be and reducing stress helps reduce cortisol levels, which as you read above, you know helps improve your overall health.  Keeping your cortisol in check will make your days better. Here are a few points about yoga:
  • Yoga is a form based movement.  If you have poor form in yoga you will fall over.  By focusing on your core you will improve your balance and a stronger core will lead to improved health.
  • Yoga focuses on breathing.  To get deeper into your stretches you need to breath and losing that focus will cause the body to not react the way we would like.  Have you ever been so mad that you don't even realize that you aren't breathing which causes stress on the body.  By focusing on your breathe your anger will come down and you will be able to make better decisions.
  • Yoga has poses the force you to back bend and get the spine engaged.  The spine is a key component of your core and having a stronger spine will also improve your balance.
If you practice these three on a consistent basis then your health will improve.  If you are an athlete and you incorporate these items into your routine and training you will see improved performance and in the end that is why we do what we do.  We want to improve our performance but to do that you have to improve your health.  Incorporating more sleep, massage/A.R.T. and yoga in your routine will be beneficial to your health.

Which Of These Three Do You Incorporate Into Improving Your Health?

Published in Train
Sunday, 18 September 2011 10:00

Sleepy Foods?

I read and hear from people how they don't sleep well the night before a race or how they are unable to sleep at all.  I don't have any problems going to sleep.  As soon as the TV is off and my head hits the pillows the Zzzzzz's start rolling, even on race night. [caption id="attachment_4159" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Large meal with alcohol will not be good for sleep"]alcohol_carbohydrate_pasta_sleep_deterrent[/caption] As I have previously written sleep is vital to recovery.  As you sleep your body is repairing your muscles from the day's activities and also preparing them for the next days workout.  I always wonder if my ability to sleep, and others ability not to sleep is based on what they ate and also when.  Did they drink a food heavy in carbohydrates?  Did I eat a lot of sugar?  So many different scenarios and a little research led me to Competitor magazine. The article in Competitor magazine provided sleep helpers and sleep deterrents.  The sleep helper consisted of tryptophan, which many of you will automatically link to Thanksgiving (the greatest holiday in all the land) and people falling asleep on the couch watching football. Foods rich in this natural chemical include poultry, eggs and dairy. Research shows that eating a tryptophan-containing food in moderation as part of an evening meal may help induce sleep faster and lead to a better quality of sleep. Carbohydrates in foods such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains initiate an insulin response that helps tryptophan reach and act upon the brain. However, avoid sugary, starchy carbohydrates, which can lead to disturbed sleep. Selective herbal teas such as chamomile, peppermint or valerian root might help some people sleep better. The warm, comforting drink along with relaxing herbs can promote sleep. (Just make sure you buy a non-caffeinated kind.) The perfect meal would be 1 egg on whole grain bread with a cup of tea approximately 1 to 2 hours prior to sleep. [caption id="attachment_4158" align="alignright" width="240" caption="Sugary Drinks and a heavy meal will not help with your sleep"]food_sleep_deterrent_soda[/caption] The deterrents included the obvious in coffee, caffeinated teas, energy drinks, alcohol in excess, and hyper-hydration.  It also pointed out when to eat food, but not to be too heavy in protein and fats or spicy. These foods are harder to digest, and although large meals might make you sleepy immediately, slow or difficult digestion means disturbed and lower-quality sleep. But don’t go to bed overly hungry—a growling stomach and hunger pains do not make for a restful night. If you really need a snack after dinner, eat something small and preferably containing tryptophan, such as a warm glass of milk. (Grandma may have been right after all.)  

How do you sleep? What do you do to help you sleep?

 

To read the full article click [HERE]
Published in Train
Tuesday, 30 August 2011 13:11

Sleep - Is 8 Hours Really Necessary?

I was asked by Chloe of 321delish.com to write a guest post and I was honored that she would ask.  She and Steph have great information and as they say it is like getting two blogs for one.  I wanted to write about sleep because just a few days after I was asked to write the guest post the topic came up.  I am repurposing the post I wrote for them on my blog since it is a topic that should be discussed.  Here is my post: ==================== [caption id="attachment_3771" align="alignright" width="121" caption="Are these necessary?"]sleep_caps_endurance_athletes_glycogen_cortisol[/caption] Is 8 hours really necessary?  Maybe more or maybe less?  Why am I even approaching this topic you might be asking yourself, so let me give you a little bit of background about me. I take my training and racing seriously.  I am focused on becoming a better triathlete on a daily basis and it was through this that I started to wake up at 3am to eat breakfast and drink some coffee then fall back asleep for an hour prior to training around 5am. When I talk about the 3am wake up call I typically get a response of:  You are crazy! (You’re thinking the same thing right now aren’t you?)  Or the other response I get and typically through Twitter is:  Do you EVER sleep? (Yes, I do and I sleep as much as the next person I just have a different pattern.) My patter consists of resting (and I mean purely resting on the couch) starting around 8pm and not moving.  My body is in a state of relaxation and is recovering from the morning workout and day full of work activities.  I get in bed by 9pm and begin to fall asleep around 930p (If I haven’t fallen asleep on the couch already - told you I am in a state of complete relaxation.)  I then wake up at 3am and eat, drink and tweet and fall back asleep between 330a and 345a.  I then wake up at 445a and am out the door to start my training by 5a. So you can see from this scenario that I sleep anywhere from 7 hours to 8 hours, I just don’t get it the way most people do and I bet that I probably get more than most people. I have read articles from back in 2007 that there was no direct study linking sleep to athletic performance but just extrapolations.  Obviously this would do us no good because you cannot extrapolate the damage that an endurance athlete does to their body during their training cycle compared to the average person who is exercising for 5-6 hours and probably not at the intensity level of marathon or triathlon training. Since 2007 there have been other studies done and the most recent one I found included testing young males (18-27) based on three different sleep cycles.  They were asked to sleep for 8 hours in one week, then 4 hours in another and finally 12 hours in another.  The 4 hours was the sleep deprivation cycle and was used to compare against the other two cycles. The interesting part of this study, for me, is that the sleep deprivation was linked to metabolizing glucose less efficiently in addition to the fact that levels of cortisol were higher. The glucose levels for the group were no longer normal during the sleep deprivation week and resembled those found in the elderly.  Since we know that glucose and glycogen (stored glucose) are the energy sources behind the ability of an endurance athlete to perform one can conclude that getting enough sleep is very important. What the study doesn’t address is how much sleep is enough?  I don’t know that getting 8 hours is perfect but I do know that getting 4 hours is not enough and not just because of the glycogen stores, but because your mind is not in the game. You have a tendency to lose focus with sleep deprivation and this is caused by the increase in cortisol.  If your mind is not focused then the task at hand is going to be more and more difficult to perform.  Think about your best race and how well you slept the night before and think about your worst race and how you slept the night before. I am comfortable with the amount of sleep that I get because I very rarely feel tired during the day and so for me my schedule works.  You may need 8 or 10 or 12 hours of sleep to get your performance to be at its peak.  Just like eating and training there are going to be different responses for everybody but there are rules of thumb and I will go out on a limb and say you should sleep more than 4 hours per night.
How much sleep do you get?  Do you nap?  Do you feel more hungry on days when you do not sleep well?
Published in Train
Wednesday, 04 January 2012 11:44

What Constitutes A Perfect Day?

Perfect days can be the result of nailing a training session, or a good report from your kids teacher.  Maybe you got that big contract signed but regardless of how you define perfect those days can be such a confidence boost and keep you going into the next day. Recently I came across an article written by Matt Fitzgerald for Triathlon magazine and found it to be very interesting.  It was titled The Perfect Day and discussed all the items we, as endurance athletes, talk about.  Those items were when to train, how much to sleep and nutrition.  Nutrition was broken down [caption id="attachment_4959" align="alignright" width="259" caption="Each Day Brings An Opportunity To Work At Perfecting Your Task"]ironman_triathlon_training_day[/caption] into what to eat and when to eat it.  It discussed how and what you should eat should you be an early morning workout warrior or a late in the day training maniac. As a person who trains very early in the morning I was intrigued by the 'guidelines' presented by the article but what I enjoyed the most was how a perfect day was laid out (by hour for those Type A people....know of any?) depending on when you workout.  Now that the holidays are over I am going to do my best to apply these guidelines and see if my workouts improve or if I feel any better. What I am hoping for is that I don't find that perfect day because I love the pursuit of knowledge in how the body reacts to nutrition and sleep.  The more I read and process the more I learn about what my body needs to successfully accomplish the training plan.  The one thing I noticed about his perfect day is that it skips snacks and for me the perfect day includes mid-day snacking.  I tend to eat smaller calorie meals and supplement with snacks in between.  I tried to eat bigger meals and have felt sluggish throughout the day and have reverted back to multiple smaller calorie meals and have my mojo back.  So I guess even the perfect day needs to be tweaked to match your own needs.  As they say:  One Size DOES NOT fit all. Here are the perfect days as described by Matt Fitzgerald in this article: Perfect Day 1a: Here’s a perfect workweek day for the triathlete who works full-time, trains once a day and prefers to work out in the morning. 6:15 High-carb snack  (e.g., banana) 6:30-7:30 Workout 7:45 High-carb breakfast 8:30-12:30 Work 12:30 High-carb lunch 1:00-5:00 Work 6:00 High-protein dinner 9:45 High-protein snack 10:00-6:00 Sleep Perfect Day 1b: Here’s a perfect workweek day for the triathlete who works full-time, trains once a day and prefers to work out in the afternoon. If you follow this schedule, be sure to train in the morning at least once a week—perhaps on the weekends, if that’s most convenient—to adapt to morning exercise. 6:30 High-carb breakfast 8:00-12:00 Work 12:00 High-carb lunch 12:30-4:30 Work 4:30-5:30 Workout 6:00 High-protein dinner 9:45 High-protein snack 10:00-6:00 Sleep Perfect Day 2: Here’s a perfect workweek day for the triathlete who works full-time and trains twice a day. 5:45 High-carb snack  (e.g., banana) 6:00-7:00 Workout 7:15 High-carb breakfast 8:00-12:30 Work 12:30 High-carb lunch 1:00-4:30 Work 4:30-5:30 Workout 6:00 High-protein dinner 9:15 High-protein snack 9:30-5:30 Sleep  

What's A Perfect Day For You?

Would You Be Able To Follow These Guidelines?

   
Published in Train