Saturday, February 28, 2009

Nutrition week

Earlier this week I went to see a Natropath. I have two main concerns that I want to focus on this season and I need help to get me on track. The issues are nutrition and low back pain. Two things that are a permemenent fixture in my day to day and have been for many, many years.

Like so many, my weight has always been an issue for me. I constantly watch my weight and everything that I eat has to first plead it's case to my self-concious before making itself welcome in my body. Don't get me wrong, I have a healthy appetite and for the most part, see food as fuel, but it can be exhausting constantly battling yourself trying to get somewhere weight wise that's oh-so-close and yet still never quite there. I sometimes feel that I tetter on the edge of healthy vs unheathy self image - I'm buildt on a big frame, I'm muscular and most of all I'm healthy, which is important, but I've never really been completely happy, always just a few (2-3) lbs from where I'd like to be.

Here's something I'm not always willing to do... but for the sake of tracking this journey in great detail, here it is... I currently weigh 162 lbs. Shocker I know. This time last year, I finally lost the 3 nagging pounds that I just couldn't shake and things were looking great all the way through the summer. Naturally, as most people do, I lost a few more pounds in the summer and I did get down to 155lbs. That was the lightest I've been in many years, and of course, I still wasn't perfectly happy, but I was content.

Somehow, and I REALLY have no idea how, since December I've put on a few extras and I'm back to 162-163. How does someone train 8-10 workouts a week and PUT ON WEIGHT????? I'm at a loss. I really don't have time to be frustrated anymore, life's too busy right now, so I've enlisted the help of Dr. Ryan Oughtred, Naturopath. His background as a pro ski racer and his extensive work with athletes helps him relate to what I'm trying to achieve and gives him great insight into what I'm looking for from him.

First things first, he's having me keep a Diet Diary for the week. I've done these in the past, and they really do work. It's a bit of a pain at first, but after the first day or two, you really get a sense of what your really eating, and most of all, how much your actually eating. What they allow you to do is become accountable for what your consuming. If you keep track of everything you put into you body, your all of a sudden very aware of how many "exceptions" you make. But let me tell you, if your being honest with yourself, and sticking with the diary, you'll find yourself opting to skip the 3pm chocolate chip banana bread rather than face the reality of having to write it down in your log. It's simple, but it works.

I've developed pretty healthy eating habits and don't find myself reaching for that afternoon sugar fix all that often anymore. I've got great healthy alternatives and have been 'brown-bagging' my lunch for a long time now. I cook quite a bit (mostly spend an afternoon on the weekends making food for the whole week), I eat "clean" (mostly fresh, organic, no additives food), I make healthy snacking options, I eat little and often (and I mean really often - I rarely go more than 2 hours without eating), I drink a ton of water and I exercise regularly (duh). It's for all these reasons, I can't figure out why I'm not leaning out as I'd like, and actually going in the OTHER direction. But - that's for Dr. O to figure out, I just have to record it.

So starting next week when I'm back, Dr O will have reviewed my diary and get me on a plan to lean out my naturally "cushioned" body composition helping be to be a bit more 'stealth-like' in my racing.

My other issue is with my chronic lower back pain. That's a whole other situation and I'll save it for another post, likely after I've had the chance to work with the Good Doctor to asses what he thinks he can do to help there.

Training this week has been a little slow, but that was on purpose. The consensus throughout my coach, the Doc, and myself is that I may be pushing a bit to hard for this early in the season. I'm spending a bit to much time in the anaerobic heart rate zone (that's the high 70-80% of your Max HR). Doing this can burn you out quick and will usually hinder any kind of success in training. Mostly the consequence is a variety of different overuse injuries or over training symptoms life fatigue, plateau or other random challenges that pop up in your life that you wouldn't necessarily connect to your training - like irritability.

So this week I cut out the track workout (run) and took it nice and easy in the pool on Tuesday. It felt great actually. This comes at good time, since tomorrow I'll be heading up to Whistler for the whole week. I'm working at the IPC Biathlon and Cross-Country World Cup and won't be able to get many workouts in. I'll get up (super) early tomorrow to get in a long run before I leave at 8am, but who knows if I'll be able to get anything else in for the next week.

Despite the missing of the workouts - it's going to be a great week. Oh! and I went on a great long ride out to Deep Cove today. I finally witnessed the "Honey's Donuts" phenomenon. They looked/smelled delish.. but I wasn't about to log "1 Giant-doughy-sugar-glazed-doughnut" into my diary. No matter how many kilometers I peddled to get there.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

A perfect Saturday

What a great week. It started off a bit slow, was feeling a bit tired and again, missed my Tuesday night swim. Felt pretty bad about it, but was in bed at 8:15pm so I guess I couldn't feel too bad. At least I didn't forfeit a swim just to sit on the couch - I was actually tired.

Wednesday nights spin was brutal. The workouts are definitely getting tougher as get fitter. To that point, the track workout on Thursday was killer! Plus - I got lost on the bus getting there (since my usual ride was sick and didn't go). It took me 2 buses, a train and a $10 cab ride to get there (late)... but I made it. I'll save my gripping about not having a car for some other time...

Here's a taste of the track workout:

10min warm up
3 x 200m ALL OUT with 2:30 recovery
5 x 200m on 1:15s (4 times)
400m cool down
That middle section (main set) is 20 times 200M sprints! That was tough.
Following that, on Friday, it was SO NICE out (13 degrees and sunny) so I left the office early and headed home to head out for a run along the seawall with an old friend.
Saturday morning, I ran into another old friend and we went for a long ride out to Horseshoe Bay. It was a perfect way to spend a beautiful day.
Here are some pics from our ride;

It definitely was a tough week. I put in the most miles running this week since last summer and my legs are feeling it. Lots of relaxing at home after the workouts makes it all worth it :) Plus - I picked up a new coffee maker so now my early morning rituals are not capped at one savory cuppa joe, but a (seemingly) never ending pot of caffeine goodness to get me going.

It's been a great week, and I'm looking forward to next week. It's going to be a busy one. In fact, training is going to suffer for the next two weeks. The Sport Events are in full throttle now (I work for the Olympics) and next week is the Ice Sledge Hockey tournament. These are the Paralympians that play ice hockey (in a sled because most of them don't have the use of their legs). I got to see a documentary on the Canadians Men's team last year and since then have been looking forward to seeing them defend their World Championship title next week. As an able bodied athlete, it's truly inspiring to watch these guys do what they do.

The NEXT week, I'll be up in Whistler working at the Paralympic Biathlon and Cross-Country World Cup. Again, some really inspiring athletes. Anyone that has the chance to see it - come out to Whistler Olympic Park - it's free!

Anywho; here are my stats from this week:

Happy training everyone!


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Just another week..

Nothing much to report this week. I had a pretty "blah" week and a few not so great workouts. I was late to my spin on Wednesday (bridge closed.. not my fault), I had a mediocre hills workout on Thursday and today I opted to nap all day rather than do my long run.

Having just said that, I can see the contradiction with the next thought.

I'm tired of being at the back of the pack. I've been doing this a while now, and I'm not expecting that I'm winning any championships or anything, but for God's sake... can't I run faster than this????

I'm training pretty balanced, I'm eating really well, I'm getting lots of sleep, yet... I just can't seem to step it up a notch. I talk to my coach about it, and he tells me to stay positive, it's early still. Which is fine. I'm trying. But it's really discouraging when I'm always working my hardest, but never seem to gain any ground on my peers.

Knowing that this game is almost more about what goes on in your head than anything else, I can see where the tweaks in my attitude are setting my peers apart.

Example A:
Hills workout Thursday: I'm running really well with a pack, feeling pretty good until one of them passes me. I'm tired, my legs are burning, I want to be running faster, and now this guy passes me. I stay cool for the first little while, stay on him. Then on our way down the hill, we run past the coach and he yells "3min left". The hill repeat that we're doing (up and down the same hill) is about 4 minutes up and 2 minutes down, so since we're on our way down.. I figure we can't possibly do ANOTHER one with only 3 mins left. We get to the bottom, I pull up and thank god I'm done. What does the guy I was chasing do???? He turns around and heads up the hill again!!! Argh. I can't be the one that gives up first, so of course I start up again and chase him up the hill. Unfortunately, by this time (even with the few seconds that I stopped) he's way gone in front now. There's no way I'm catching him. I've lost my momentum, I'm frustrated and pissed at myself for stopping. By the time I get back up to where the coach is he says "times up - Sarah stop". EVERYONE ELSE GOT TO FINISH THEIR LAST HILL but because I stopped at the bottom, thinking that I was close enough to the end that I can just stop, I lost out on the last push of the workout that ends up being the most valuable.

I guess what I have to do, and what I want to focus on this week is keeping a positive attitude, no matter what. There are all kinds of obstacles throughout the day, and they are always going to be there.. bad day at work, traffic jam making you late, personalities that bug you, all kinds of situations that come up that make you loose focus.

I have to remember that I'm there because I want to be. I'm working hard because I want to push myself. I"m not there to cut corners or to be irritated with it all. That's just silly.

Next week - it's going to be all positive thinking. If I'm not enjoying it. I'm not going. It's not worth it and it's not helping my training at all to be there with a negative attitude.

On that note. Here are my stats form this week (minus the long run that I didn't do today).

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Time Trials

Alrighty, first milestone of the year - Time Trials. Basically, this is your benchmarking for how your progressing through the year. Both on the track, and in the pool his week we timed our mile time and our times for the 100m, 50m (kick only) and 400m freestyle.
Here's the outcome:

1 mile (1600m on the track): 7:47
100m free: 1:32
50m kick: 56s
400m free: 7:41
So these are the benchmarks I will work from going into my season. We will continue to do time trials throughout our pre-season and look to these times to pace and set goals durng race season.

I've also found a new site were I can log my workouts and mileage. It produces a really great stats report. I missed a swim (Tuesday), a ride (Friday) AND a strength workout this week, the stats are still good to have as a record.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sunday rituals

Oh Sundays. How I've come to love thee.

Sundays no doubt have become bitter sweet. They start early, and include two long and mostly grueling workouts, but there is something about Sundays that just make my little heart content. It's hard to put my finger on it...actually...who am I kidding.. I know exactly what it is...

It's something saved only for weekends, vacations and holidays.
It's so simple, but is so satisfying
It's so easy and can make the worst days seem not so bad
It's sometimes the only thing that gets me out of bed in the mornings...

The Afternoon Nap.

Full on, back into bed, pull the covers up, tuck the blankets under your feet, wedge your head between the pillows, TV on the golf channel...NAP. Sigh. Is there anything better?

Today was no exception. I had a great swim this morning, followed by a 50min run from home. A shower, a bite to eat, and then.... nap time!! Of course, it doesn't hurt when this is the view from your bed:

Ahh.. so sweet. Following suit with the Sundays rituals: I got up from my nap, went grocery shopping, came home and cooked a feast of chili and baked yummy, oatmeal, sugar-free, protein packed, blueberry muffins for meals this week.

Now, I'm ready for next week and going to bed, relaxed, satisfied and looking forward to going to work tomorrow (and to enjoying an evening off of training)

Here's what the swim looked like today (no time trials):
300M - Warm up
3 x Drill: 50 Kick
50 drill
50 free
13 x 100 free: non-free on the 3rd 100's
Relay race
Total: 2300M
Good night!