Friday, July 9, 2010

Can Food Make You Fitter?

So I've finally been able to start running and have done 2 runs in the last 3 days over 30 minutes without foot pain. Basically while seeing my acupuncturist for some help sleeping, I was able to get some help with the last bit of swelling/trauma in my foot from the dislocation in Boulder. 3 weeks off of running doesn't appear to have hurt me at all. Today's run of close to an hour could have gone longer if I'd eaten more. But hey, I'll take what I got. I'll run again tomorrow after my bike ride and swim to finish out the day.

Recently, I renewed my commitment to eat more nutrient dense food. And while I ate relatively well during the week when I was off work, my choices on the weekends while working weren't always the best due to time constraints and energy levels. I think I did a great job last year making changes that made me a stronger and more capable athlete with the eating pattern I used in the 8 weeks leading up to Ironman Arizona. And while I still adhere to those eating principles now, I have wondered what would happen if I went even further? What if I took better care with my meals during my work week? What if I added more variety and nutrient density? What if I gave up things that probably weren't serving my overall goal to become fitter? And could food make me fitter?

Well to find out I hired a personal chef. A vegan/raw personal chef who would not only assist me with making food for me to eat during my work week (Friday through Sunday), but would also show me how make this type of food for myself. Honestly, I had no idea what I was getting into. But as it turned out, this is one of those things you sometimes do with only the vaguest of notions yet becomes something more than you could have ever dreamed.

To put it simply, I have never felt stronger or healthier in my life. Last year when I changed my diet and started my eating pattern in the weeks before Ironman, that change did more for me in 2 weeks than 9 months of training. It was huge. More lean muscle, less fatigue, faster recovery, you name it. But this, change goes beyond even that. The food I have been eating is delicious, and filling, and good for me. It seems both restorative and supportive at the same time. I have more energy and I feel stronger. I know this week I was lifting more weight easily in my workout and running and cycling have felt effortless.

I certainly can't speak for everyone, but in my experience paying attention to my diet is paying a lot higher rate of return than killing myself with volume and intensity. Who knew?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Wednesday Is Fuel Day

So there was no training today. Well that's not entirely true. I spent the afternoon and early evening "training" with vegan/raw food chef Dina Knight. She is working with me to optimize my nutrition while simultaneously reducing my food preparation time. No small feat. But she managed to help me organize my kitchen and show me how to make these tasty raw fajitas.

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Monday, July 5, 2010

Monday - Power Intervals And Progress

So now that I'm back from Colorado the real training begins. For the most part I've really just been tooling around running and riding and swimming without too much stress placed on the body except for the normal amount of stress that comes with the accumulation of increased volume over time. And I have to say I'm pretty happy with the results I've created from my decision to train in this manner. This is the first season I can remember where I've managed to stay healthy and motivated and so I'm actually looking forward to racing later this year.

Well almost healthy. I did step on a rock while I was in Boulder when I was wearing my Vibrams and managed to dislocate a "new" bone in my foot. My only real issue with this was I was in Boulder and didn't have access to my "magical" chiropractor to put it back in. The guy I saw in Boulder, while well meaning, couldn't tell if the foot had a dislocated bone or stress fracture. But at least he didn't charge me for the "sort of" diagnosis.

The difficult part for me was I managed to find said rock on my first day in town so I didn't get to run for the rest of the week and had to limp around town for the next 7 days. But it didn't stop me from riding. ;) So the blessing in disguise was probably that I spent a lot more time on the bike than I had planned and as a result also spent a lot more time in bed with my foot elevated to keep swelling to a minimum when I wasn't out riding. A total win on both counts.

All of this gets me to the title of this post. Today I start my more focused block of training which on the bike means power intervals on the trainer and longer steady state rides outdoors. This also means it is time for some testing to get the appropriate training intensities. Because I do the same stuff from year to year and keep decent enough notes, I was pretty happy to discover an improvement over last years work of about 25 watts. This is average power and so is a sustained power improvement. I am also about 7 pounds lighter than I was at this time last year which means not only am I able to work harder, I do not need to move as much body weight while I'm working. On top of the lighter body weight, and 25 additional watts, I also recorded a lower heart rate by about 3 bpm. Again all good news.

I still have a long way to go but starting my season out prior to the focused work which tends to produce the most noticeable gains in power threshold and fitness is pretty exciting. So my work for today had me doing a two part work out. The first section was an hour with a 30 min block of power interval work at high cadence (over 100 rpms sustaining prescribed wattage for 5 minute sets). The second block was an hour recovery ride keeping heart rate below 145.

Both blocks went well and I feel good going into tomorrow's workouts. The foot is feeling much better after getting the bone put back in place this weekend. But I'm giving it a couple of days to let the swelling and trauma resolve after it had been out for almost 2 weeks. But like I said, it gave me time to really focus on my cycling so I'm not too upset about not running.