Well here we go. My brother and I signed up for our second Ironman triathlons (IM) in Tempe Arizona on November 17th of this year (his idea). Yes, one wasn’t enough and so it’s time to get moving, for real.
This one is a bit of a do-over/revenge for me.
My first IM was the St. George Ironman in May of 2010. The water was a balmy (freezing!!) 59 degrees; there were hills on the bike, and even bigger hills on the run. Being my first race of this distance, I didn’t know what to expect. And although I was reasonably well trained, that run took me to the dark side. You know, that kind of suffering that takes you to a deep, dark place.
But this time, I want to see what happens if I prepare myself to the fullest. (And also see how I do on a flat course.) Yes, I have a detailed training plan, but this time around I’m going to refine my health as best I can – sure, you can train for an IM and forget it all when you’re not training, but the recovery is where you truly make gains in fitness. This time, my eating, recovering, and supplementing will be refined to a science as well. (That is, as scientific as you can get with a busy life and family with three little kids.)
One thing (or rather, mistake) I made during my last IM training was eating anything and everything I wanted. Normally I eat really well, but given the amount of calories I was burning, I let it all go and ate whatever I wanted. My kids are lucky I didn’t eat them, too! ;)
Although calorically dense food, this stuff is nutritionally bankrupt. This isn’t news, but food like this does one thing – create tons of inflammation in the body. Not that I wasn’t already inflamed with the sheer amount of training I was doing! At age 39, it’s a wonder I escaped uninjured last time.
This time around, at age 42, I’m more interested in self-preservation rather than seeing how hard I can flog my body. While I truly enjoy the training/suffering, I also want to inflict the least amount of damage on my body.
Sure, you can heal from injuries, but I’m talking about oxidative injury – the stuff that leaves a cumulative toll on your body, and basically accelerates the aging process.
You can think of oxidation as ‘biological rusting’ – just being alive creates oxidation in our bodies. Illnesses, exercise, crappy food, chemicals, sun exposure, etc. all contribute to oxidation. Our DNA (genetic code) becomes damaged from this, and after a while it doesn’t get repaired as well. Hence, the aging process.
So, stay tuned and I’ll be telling you about all the ways I’m going to try and keep my body not only healthy, but at peak health over the next 5 and 1/2 months.
Here’s what I’m doing for starters, to cover my bases:
In addition to a what I want to call the sensible, moderate diet* (some lean meats, and basically lots of plants)I’m going to have 2 Green Drinks each day. A great way to get your veggies in, (because I’m lazy and pressed for time, its easier for me to drink my veggies than crunch salads all day long) putting a bunch of veggies and fruits into a blender is an efficient way to get high doses of all the great stuff in plants. The darker the plant, the higher its antioxidant content is.
*This means eating lots of plants, some animals, and very little processed, packaged junk. You know, eating real food. Yes I eat grains, yes I eat some dairy (but not much).
Multivitamin. No harm in getting a bit of extra nutrients when you’re pushing your body (and brain) hard.
CoEnzyme Q10. The ‘final electron acceptor’, Co-Q10 is the molecule that puts the finishing touches on creation of ATP, our body’s energy currency.
Corvalen-M. A mixture of D-ribose and magnesium; D-ribose is a special form of sugar that supports energy production in the mitochondria, the powerhouses of our cells.
L-Carnitine. An amino acid that assists the cells in burning fat. Endurance exercisers rely heavily on fat production and Carnitine ensures adequate use of fats during exercise.
Omega-3 fatty acids. Nature’s anti-inflammatory, Omega-3 fats help to keep inflammation under control. Endurance exercise is inflammatory and keeping it to a minimum is important for injury prevention.
Joint Support. A specialized combination of natural ingredients that support joint cartilage and have anti-inflammatory actions. This will help minimize the wear and tear on my joints from all the running I’ll be doing.
It isn’t the training that makes you stronger, but what your body does when it’s done. Training only tears the body down, and given the optimal conditions for recovery, things get rebuilt a little bit stronger. So day by day, one gets a little bit more fit over time. The best ways to recover are:
Sleep.The optimal sleep hours are from 10-6. Sleep during these hours allows your cortisol to come down and your growth hormone to come up. We know that the same 8 hours of sleep, say from midnight to 8 a.m. are far less restorative.
Yoga. An excellent low intensity recovery, yoga allows you to relax and stretch your spine and muscles, undoing some of the compounding forces from running and sitting bent over a bike.
Diet. A huge part of recovery, the ‘anabolic window’ occurs in the first 30 minutes following exercise. This is when the body is most efficient at replacing lost nutrients. Of course with IM training, I’ll be eating (quite literally) on the run and bike as well. But making sure you eat a good spread of fats, carbohydrates and protein after a training session can do wonders for your recovery.
So there you have it. I’ll be covering these in much greater detail in the future.