Tuesday, April 23, 2013
What I Do
Lately I've been quite busy with being a Team Manager for Pedal Pushers Racing. I absolutely love the position, and have a great team of 20+ people mostly doing endurance racing like myself. Since I've been spending most my time updating the Pedal Pusher Racing site (check it out here: http://pedalpushersracing.com/), my own site has been lacking in blog entries. Since it's been nearly a month since I've blogged, I figured I'd babble about something that may be of interest. What do I do in my attempts to being the best endurance racer I can be? Let's go through the three hot topics; Training, Diet, and Recovery.
Everybody has their own way to train whether it's the average Joe riding as much as possible and having fun doing what they love, or the stricter approach of a training plan. I, like most racers, use a structured training plan. Some training plans are specified for one rider by a coach's consultation, and others are more cookie-cutter plans that can be utilized in different ways between races. I use the cookie-cutter approach and modify it for my needs. My modifications include cutting days short or dropping days if I feel my recovery is lacking. Although there are some training plans that are better than others, it is my belief that it's not so much the training plan (unless it's a truly trouble training plan), but the quality to which you follow the plan. This is where I excel. I never have any issues going as hard as I need to go to hit my goals for the day. I'm always obsessing over getting a quality workout each and every time I go out there. Of course, there's a fine line between going hard to hit your goals and not over-training which destroys any chance of getting a quality workout. We'll go over that in more detail in the recovery section. Another element that helps set you apart is your environment. In other words, where you are training. Living in Golden, Colorado, I feel I live in one of the best training faculties I could live in for my sport. Of course, a lot racers in Colorado can say the same. So how do I get an edge on the competition if we all live in such an awesome location? Simple. When it's really nasty outside and all my competition is sitting on a trainer indoors trying to do a workout that is best suited for outdoors, I'm out there in nastiness because I know I'm going to get a better quality workout. It's also worth mentioning that I spend some time each week doing a short, effective core workout. Not only does this help with not having lower back pain during long races, it also allows me to push off of my strong core. Every time I push the pedal, I'm utilizing my core muscles, so keeping them strong is important.
There are a lot of diets out there, and what works for one person doesn't allows work for another. After finally accepting that I'm an eater, and I have to eat a lot or suffer from going crazy, I found that a pesco-vegetarian diet works best for me. Eating mainly fruits and vegetables, I can fill my stomach without filling up on a lot of calories. I avoid meat like the black plague because although it's packed with protein it's also packed with calories. I get most of my protein from two servings of greek yogurt a day. I also eat a serving of almonds as well. I've always eaten shrimp for extra protein, but I'm starting to mix more fish into my diet as well. I eat to fuel and recover, and whatever that day's workout looks like is how I plan what I consume for the day. For example, on a hard training day I would eat something like this:
Breakfast: Oatmeal with a little honey and almonds, and a banana.
Snack: My snack generally consists of: greek yogurt with strawberries, almonds, and mixed in oatmeal then carrots and celery and also an apple if still hungry.
Lunch: I like to have homemade soup such as minestrone and a big spinach salad with a little feta (quarter or less of serving size) and light amount of low calorie dressing.
Snack: For a second snack, I'll have air popped popcorn with no calorie butter spray and no calorie powder flavor on it, and an apple if I'm still hungry.
Pre-Ride Snack: I'll have a second greek yogurt with frozen fruit and oatmeal and a banana or an apple if still hungry.
Dinner: I will eat a spinach salad with a little bit of strong crumbled cheese (feta, blue, etc), low calorie toppings (olives, carrots, fruit), light amount of low calorie dressing, and mix in some tilapia.
If it was a light day, I would skip putting oatmeal in the yogurt, and maybe not add fish into my dinner. If I find myself still hungry at any time during the day I reach for an apple. Training myself to reach for an apple rather than for crackers or another bad carbohydrate has helped immensely. It also took some time to train myself to eat (and finally actually enjoy) fish. I don't measure grams, and I don't count calories. I eat when I'm hungry because my body is telling me I need fuel to recover. So what do I weigh after all this? Enough to have some veiny arms and legs, and a flat stomach. I weigh myself every week or two just to make sure I'm still under 160, but that's it. Oh, and I have a beer or two once a week and some dark chocolate from time to time. When my wife buys something that looks amazing, I don't hesitate to take a bite. I've learned that completely abstaining only leads to failure. As long as it's in moderation, there's nothing wrong with splurging. You've got to live a little sometimes.
Recovery is the most important element to being a great endurance racer. Many of us are great at breaking down our bodies, it's building it back up is the hard part. Other than a healthy diet, and getting plenty of sleep (I aim for 9 hours a night), it's important to give your legs the proper love they deserve. This involves massage, both at-home and by a professional, using a foam roller and stretching. The part that's the hardest is knowing when you are not recovered enough to go hard. Continuing to push hard when you are not recovered ruins any chance of a quality workout, and further digs you into the "over training" hole that you may not be able recover from before race season. This is why people spend big bucks on a coach. They can tell you when you need to back off, and when to keep driving. This is my fourth year racing, and I'm getting pretty good at reading my body so I know when I need to back off. With that said, there are still many things I have to learn. Although I do not consult with a coach myself, I can see why a lot of people do.
All you need to be a success is to train hard, eat right, and take time to recover. So far I have seen large jumps in my performance so I would say I am on the road to success.