Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Fueling For Performance

As triathletes many of us workout to eat more.  I sometimes see people who train a lot gorging on unhealthy food after a long workout.  Lets face it I have fallen victim to this on occasion.  I don't think it's going to kill you once in a while to reward yourself with something tasty but if that once in a while becomes a daily occurrence you might have a problem. It is important to remember the better you eat, the better your performance will be, and the better your recovery will be.  Fueling your body right, can be the difference between an ok season of racing and a great season of racing! 

Fueling right requires very little work! People don't eat healthy because they are lazy.  They will spend a lot of time working out but not save a few minutes to prepare something healthy.  Here are some key components to improving your nutrition choices:

  • Incorporate healthy carbohydrates in your diet from non-processes sources.  Carbs like oatmeal, brown rice, and quinoa will provide you with much needed energy for your longer workouts.  Carbs from fruits will give you quick energy for shorter workouts and provide you with nutrients that will help with recovery. 
  • Fuel with protein and carbohydrates after your workout.  If you exercise on a regular basis you need more protein then the average person.  A good rule of thumb is to eat close to your ideal body weight in grams of protein. If your ideal body weight is 120lbs then I would shoot for 100-120 gram of protein each day.
  • Incorporate 3-5 servings of vegetables in your diet each day. Vegetables are rich in nutrients especially antioxidants that will be beneficial in recovery. 
  • Eat 2-3 servings of fresh fruit each day.  Stick to fruits such as berries, apples, cherries, and nectarines.  These have valuable nutrients for recovery. Cherries are known for reducing inflammation.  The others I listed are lower on the glycemic index than most other fruits. 
  • Limit or eliminate processed foods.  Most processed foods will contain ingredients that are not good for you.  Most processed foods contain ingredients you probably can't even pronounce let alone know what it is.  Many processed foods have hydrogenated oils that will increase inflammation in your body.  
  • Plan your meals around your training and always have healthy options readily available.  I always try to keep grilled chicken in my fridge that is ready to eat.  I can make a quick meal at almost anytime.  Think about your training and plan what you will eat before and after your workouts.  This becomes especially important for people with multiple workouts in each day.
  • Juicing and smoothies can be good but be careful!  Smoothies are a great way to get protein and carbohydrates in a quick healthy drink.  Be careful not to add too many ingredients to your smoothie.  Before you know it you could have a 600 calorie drink. You can use ice instead of milk and limit the amount of fruit that you put in your smoothie.  Juicing can be very healthy and you can get lots of nutrients but do it in moderation to avoid getting too much sugar in your diet.
  • Always eat a healthy breakfast.  Don't skip the most important meal of the day.  You should always have something to eat before and after your morning workout.  Skip the processed breakfasts like cereal and muffins.  Opt for things like oatmeal, egg whites, strawberries or a healthy smoothie. 
  • Drink plenty of water. I know you have been told this many times but seriously drink plenty of water.  I drink 1 -1.5 gallons a day.  If I train more I drink more.  I drink a combination of regular water and carbonated water.  I like carbonated water and tend to drink more if I use that in addition to regular water.  
  • You have heard it before but here it is again ......eat 5-6 times a day.  Small meals keep your energy levels up and it will keep your metabolism working.  A great rule is to never eat until your full and don't wait until your hungry to eat.  
  • Avoid or limit alcohol.  Alcohol will have a negative impact on your training.  It will dehydrate you leaving you in sub par state for training.  If you are trying to lose weight alcohol can be your enemy.  If you drink alcohol you may be burning it first for energy rather than your fat cells plus you are getting extra calories that don't have any nutritional value. 
Making small changes in your diet could be the difference between first and second place in a race! Get your nutrition in line and you may be faster than you thought you were!

Here are two pictures of my favorite healthy meals to eat after a workout.  The one on the left is egg whites, brown rice, spinach, tomatoes, with a little feta cheese on top.  The other picture is chicken skewers and a pesto pizza on a whole wheat tortilla with basil on top. Basil is great for after your workout because it will help with inflammation!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Common Race Mistakes

It doesn't matter if your completing a Half Marathon, Sprint Triathlon or Ironman everyone has made mistakes when racing.  If you have never made a mistake then racing then just wait you will at some point.  When I started doing triathlons about 10 years ago they were not nearly as popular as they are now. I did not know anyone who had done one and I didn't even know there was such a thing as a coach that could help me prepare for the race. Needless to say my first race was pretty slow.  My second and third one were much better but I still made mistakes during them as well.  Some of the mistakes I made during my first few triathlons were:
  • Turning the wrong way on the bike course.
  • Putting my wetsuit on inside out - I actually won this race believe it or not!
  • Not getting into open water before the race - at all!  I had to swim the entire race without goggles because mine kept leaking.
  • Not fueling enough and almost passing out at the end of the race.
  • Not checking my bike wheels to make sure they were not rubbing on the brake or frame - my rear wheel was on wrong and rubbing on the side of my frame.  This made for a very slow bike until I realized something was wrong.
Those are some of the first races I did. I still make mistakes during races.  Some of the mistakes I have made recently are:
  • I pushed too hard on the bike.
  • I didn't take in enough nutrition on the bike.
  • I drank too many beers the night before - this was last year before the Arizona Marathon.  
  • I got a new profile bottle I only tested once on a ride.  Don't do anything new race day!
  • Not putting sunscreen on my forearms for an Ironman - I got 2nd degree burns and blisters.
Some common mistakes that people make are:
  • Not racking your bike in an easy gear.
  • Not practicing your nutrition and hydration during training.
  • Not swimming in open water enough before the race
  • Using something new race day - NOTHING NEW RACE DAY!
  • Not using sunscreen - everywhere especially lower back!
  • Not having a flat repair kit and if you do have one make sure you know how to use it.
  • Not hydrating enough leading up to a race or during a race.
  • Drafting, proper mounting and dismounting before the line and proper positioning on the bike.
  • Not eating enough breakfast.
  • Not getting enough sleep.
  • Not removing your helmet in transition and going on to the run course with your bike helmet - yes I have seen this done before.
  • Going to hard on the bike not leaving anything for the run.
  • Starting your run too fast.
  • Not warming up for the swim. Not getting in the water before the swim or getting used to the water especially when the water is cold.
  • When you rack your bike make sure you check for landmarks so when you come out of the water you know where it is.  When you come out of the water you will be confused and being able to quickly find your bike may be difficult unless you can find a way to remember where it is.  I use a landmark like a tree or light pole or sometimes a bright color towel to put next to my bike. 
  • Getting confused about which way is the run/bike - in/out. Before the race make sure you identify which way you bike out and run out.  It can be confusing during the race so knowing beforehand can be helpful to you during your quick transitions.
  • Not knowing the race course or not attending any pre-race meetings.
  • Accepting outside help this can cost you a DQ.
  • Littering - this can cost you a time penalty.

Here I am in one of my early races.  This was probably my second or third triathlon.  I am sure I did something wrong during this race!