Eat Right Feel Right

So I’ve completed my first microcycle Base 1, 28 of 160 days completed, which included both mine and my mum’s birthday, which equals lots of cake.  The aim of this first microcycle was to begin to lay the foundation of fitness for the harder training sessions later on my macrocycle (whole training process for the triathlon for those of you new to the blog), which has included strength training in the gym, technique training for swimming and running and long but very steady bike rides to improve my aerobic endurance.

This first microcycle has offered a number of challenges along the way, mainly completing the number of training hours I planned for myself.  I had planned to complete 10, 11 and 12 hours of training per week for the first three weeks with a rest week for the fourth week which included three performance test described in my earlier posts.  However I did not manage to complete my total training hours in any of the weeks as I have learnt very quickly how few hours there are in the day when real life gets in the way.  The failure to complete training sessions initially led me to feel very disheartened, and lose motivation as my goal of the triathlon seemed very far away and the more training I did the more tired and demotivated I became.

However I battled through to my rest week and was able to take a step back and assess why it was I suddenly was losing motivation after only 21 days of training.  Firstly my birthday in the first week left me with a lot of cake to eat, I know I didn’t have to eat but who can say no to homemade cake, which I know made me incredibly sluggish in my training sessions.  Secondly I made the mistake of convincing myself I could train like a ‘real’ athlete, forgetting that I had a job and other commitments, so overloaded my training schedule with hours I was never going to fit into the day.  This has meant that trying to squeeze everything in has led to late training sessions, late dinners and ultimately late nights and early mornings.  I have discovered very quickly just how important sleep is when training.

So have I learnt my lesson? In a short answer yes……I have changed my diet (more on that in a bit), and have changed the way I plan training to fit it around my real life to get a better balance.  Will it work?  We shall see in three weeks during my second rest week, but with Christmas coming it looks like this could be a real challenge.

Welcome to the SiS Winter Academy.

My forthcoming training has also received a huge boost from the good people at Science in Sport (insert link) and their Winter Academy.  As I explained in my first blog post SiS will be supporting my training with nutritional supplement and advice throughout my winter training through their Winter Academy.

During the last couple of week my support began with a phone consulation with the SiS resident nutrition Jedi, the Yoda of nutrition (founder of SiS) Tim Lawson.  The aim of the conversation was to establish what my current nutrition strategy was, where I can improve it, and where SiS and their products can help me delivery the gains my training is designed to do.

Although I have a degree in Sport Science and an MSc in Sport and Exercise Physiology I will happily admit that my knowledge of nutrition is only superficial, based on the couple of modules I have undertaken.  During my chat with Tim it became clear just how superficial my knowledge is, and where I was going wrong.  Many of you who are endurance sport addicts will probably have the same ingrained belief that I did, ‘Carbs, Carbs and more Carbs’ is what you need for endurance training.  Well from talking to Tim and some subsequent research of my own that yes carbohydrates are important for exercise, however the majority of studies from which I, and many others have built this belief on are testing the effect of carbohydrate consumption on acute performance.  This is to say that if you are preparing for a race then high carbohydrate intake is important to insure that you have sufficient energy levels for your race.

However when training we are all spending hours, running, biking, swimming or gyming to make physical and chemical changes to our bodies, building muscle, more blood cells and vessels and mitochondria (the tiny organelles in all our cells which are the engines of our aerobic activities).  Although all of these can use, store and carry carbohydrates for us to use when exercising, they are all made of something very different, PROTEIN!!!  The friend of the body builder, that ‘product’ many of you may scoff at as the bigger boys at the gym chug down their shakes.  It turns out us sticks in tri suits need our protein just as much to make all of the bits of our physiology that ultimately make us go faster.

It’s like building a house, carbohydrate is the electricity that runs all the things in the house that make it a home, however electricity doesn’t make good walls.  Protein is the bricks in the walls which make the house, which can then become a home.

So as you might of guessed the first glaring mistake Tim spotted was my sever lack of protein in my diet.  Previously my diet was made up from almost exclusively carbs, lots of pasta, rice and bread, with the little protein coming from the occasional egg and bit of meat or fish and my one serving of a recovery shake after a training session.  After chatting to Tim I have already changed the way in which I plan my meals.  I am now planning every meal by focusing on a high protein food, fish or meat, and then building a well-balanced meal around it.

As well as gaining more protein from additions to my diet Tim has recommended that I use the following products to ensure I am meeting my required protein intake at the right times; REGO Recovery, REGO Protein and REGO Night.  Throughout the coming weeks I shall be writing about each product and how it is supposed to work, my experience using them and how I feel they works for me.

As well as increasing my protein intake, Tim has also suggested GO Electrolytes, GO Bars and Gels, GO + Nitrate Gels and Omega Shot. Again I will look at each product individually and report back on how I have got on with it.

On to the next cycle…..

As I write this I have just started my Base 2 microcycle with a reenergized effort following a good rest week.  My main focus for the next three weeks will be on increasing intensities of my running, focusing on improving swimming efficiency, and a final cycle specific strength training in the gym.  So there is lots of hard work between now and my next rest week where hopefully will shall see some improvement in my field test performances.

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