Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Road to St George - Week 4

The end of the first four weeks and I feel like I am beginning to hit my stride although there are still some key workouts that seem to not be happening.  Not a problem as this 'prep phase' was about establishing some semblance of a routine and working out which days will work for certain workouts.  Not as easy for someone whose hours are not set like a regular job but still I probably have a little more flexibility in my day than most so things kind of balance out in the end.  Whenever I have worked in jobs with consistent working hours I have always found my training to be more effective and my schedule to be easier to follow, your training windows are somewhat forced upon you.

The training week in summary:
  • Swim: I actually managed to again swim three times this past week, all three workouts in a SCM pool.  I prefer swimming in meters pools, it is what I grew up swimming in and I like making fewer turns for a given workout.  The highlight was Tuesday, the crazy snow day!  I felt like Peter Reid in the movie 'What it Takes', I showed up to no lifeguards, one receptionist and the maintenance manager.  None of my swimmers showed for their scheduled workout (swim4tri is every Tuesday/Thursday at 6:45am) and so after making the journey from Newcastle to Bellevue I was determined that I would not miss out on my swim (I usually swim after my class) so I managed to persuade the staff at Samena to let me sneak in a quick session.  I managed to get in 2100m and felt good about it!  My other two sessions were both around 3000m and included a decent amount of work at or around my CSS (critical swim speed).
  • Bike: Not the week I wanted here as no ride over 75 minutes in duration.  Not going to build the necessary IM bike fitness with hour long rides no matter how many of them I do!  I got in four decent sessions, most of which included an element of tempo and/or LT work.  There were also a couple of NM type sets included.  Not the end of the world so will look forward to building volume on the bike through December.
  • Run: A much better week than the previous two.  I managed a double run day on Tuesday with a 5 mile and 11 mile session.  Both of these were at E pace (for me right now about 7:30/mile), so 2 hours for the day.  I finally reaquainted myself with Cougar Mtn this week and got in two decent sessions, one with Ethan, Erin and Cindy on Thanksgiving in the snow (with yaktraks of course) which was a ton of fun and a second with Gerry, Eddie, and Ethan on Sunday.  I was amazed by the young guns, they are making leaps and bounds in their fitness.  Ethan schooled us out there but I think I still managed to keep them honest on the climb up the Wilderness Cliffs trail ;).  My forth run was a short commute from Samena to the Performance Center on Saturday, felt remarkably good which was nice. I usually hate running immediately after a hard pool session (and hence avoid it) but today instead of legs feeling empty because all the blood is pooled in my upper body I felt great. A four and half hour run week has to be considered a success.
  • TRX/Core: Three decent sessions completed.  Going to make this more of a focus going forward and am now at a stage where I am ready for some more dynamic, power based functional movements.  Great article in Lava Magazine featuring TRX this month written by Matt Dixon, you should all check it out.
Total volume for the week was (Swim 2:40, Bike 4:30, Run 4:30, TRX/Core 2:00) 13:40 so pretty solid and I am happy with the overall breakdown.  The trend is in the right direction.  Not going to do my usual diet summary this week, it was a holiday after all right and everyone tells me its 'okay to indulge a little' at Thanksgiving ;).  I am instead going to talk a little about dietary supplementation defined by Wikipedia as -

"A dietary supplement, also known as food supplement or nutritional supplement, is a preparation intended to supplement the diet and provide nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, fatty acids, or amino acids, that may be missing or may not be consumed in sufficient quantities in a person's diet. Some countries define dietary supplements as foods, while in others they are defined as drugs or natural health products."

So what does the typical triathlete with a full time job, family and demanding training schedule need to add to their normal diet to ensure they are not going short on any key nutrients that may then hinder their recovery, and/or effect them in any other way that might prevent them being able to execute on their workouts, be productive in their job and be involved with their family?  I am not qualified to give that answer/advice although what I can do is give you an idea as to what I do and how I feel my health and performance are aided by what I take.

My primary goal is to eat fresh, organic, non processed food where I can.  I know that when I succeed in doing this on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis then I typically (regardless of stress and training load) stay healthy and avoid any prolonged illness and/or injury.  However there are times when I for whatever reason - convenience, laziness, time constraints, travel, etc am not able to do this.  When this is the case and/or during periods of hampered recovery due to lack of sleep, rushing from training sessions to meetings or simply a much higher than normal training load (training camp for example) then I need to include some dietary supplements to help me keep on top of this.  Here are my favored supplements:
  • Vitamin C: The king of antioxidants.  Lots of research has been conducted on Vitamin C supplementation and much of it concludes that supplementation can help counteract the damage caused by free radicals produced by training and racing triathlons.  It is also associated with immune system function and I can definitely say that when I feel like I am on the edge a big hit of Vitamin C often brings me back.  I have been known to ingest upto 5g of Vitamin C in a day, not something I recommend but it has worked for me in the past.
  • L-Glutamine: Essential for protein synthesis.  Lots of research to support its use to help promote recovery (cell damage) at times of prolonged stress.  Although a non-essential amino acid (the body can produce it) it is now considered 'conditionally essential'.  Needless to say with the training load we are typically under as atheltes it is a smart addition to your diet through supplementation.  I add it in free form to my recovery smoothies and when I feel like I need it.
  • Quercetin: I take this for its anti-inflammatory and anti oxidant properties.  It is abundant in the multi vitamins I take by the inclusion of Green Tea, Broccoli, and a host of other ingredients.  Again simply a ton of good research on the benefits and I swear by it.
  • Omega 3's - I supplement with a couple of oils rich in Omega 3 (DHA and EPA).  There is strong evidence to suggest a diet rich in Omega 3's leads to a lower incidence of Coronary Heart Disease, boosts immune system function and reduces inflammation amongst other positive benefits.  I take it in the form of Udo's Plant Based 3-6-9 Blend and also Barleans Fresh Catch Fish Oil
So that is about it for what I consider dietary supplements.  I shall cover off 'Performance' supplements next time.  I think we have to accept that with the best will in the world there are times when through diet alone we simply can't get the quantity and quality of nutrients that we need.  I believe it is prudent for the performance athlete to consider additional supplements to help ensure they stay healthy, injury free and able to absorb the stresses we place our bodies under when training for endurance sports.

Thanks for reading.  Next time I will detail my ATP in the lead up to St George and what races, training camps etc I have planned to help me get there in the best shape I can.

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