Wednesday, May 06, 2009

A few things I've learned along the way.

Blame Facebook, that's all I'll say.

Anyway I just realized that next weekend will officially be my 5th full year of endurance sports. This being my first race. WOW does time fly, when I started this I looked at a half marathon like the pinnacle of all achievements, now 13 miles some weekends is not even the length of my training runs...how things have changed.

That being said, I figured I'd share somethings I've learned along the way that others may find useful. Some of these took me years to figure out, some I have been doing from the start.

1. Always do some sort of warm up and cool down....no matter how far the distance, getting the body warm is the way to go.

2. Fuel: In events or trainings lasting over an hour, it's critical to get nutrition in. It may vary for each person, but for me 300-400 calories does the trick. I really learned this lesson last year training for my IMWI and have carried it over, even to my not so long workouts and it works. I can't remember the last time I "bonked" on any event or training since I've been fueling properly. You can be the best endurance athlete in the world, but if you don't fuel, you're going to falter.

3. Recovery: Be it an ice bath, recovery socks, getting in a 3:1 carb/protein drink after a workout, etc...do it. It's important. You need to give your muscles the nutrients to recover to prepare for the next workout. I have found ice baths (last year) and compression socks (this year) particularly helpful for a quick recovery after particularly hard workouts.. Some may think they look funny, but yes, I have worn them out in public. I look at it this way, if the person giving you the weird look even attempted half of what you were doing, they'd be in the ER with IV's all over them, so who is really having the last laugh?

4. HR zone training....another HUGE key for success. Get a VO2 max test so you know what your HR zones are and train in them. You should know your L1,L2,L3,L4 and L5 for both the bike and run. Once you know them, it's so much easier to make sure you are putting for the right effort for each workout. It's really dummy proof at that point.

5. Yoga. There I said it. Yes the Clyde does Yoga, usually at least once a week, but he tries to sneak it in twice a week. It works. Period. You will be stronger, more flexible and overall feel better. Personally I have gone from being able to only reach halfway below my knee to being able to touch my ankles, and it's only been 5 weeks since I started.

6. Weight Programs. Another key component, and I'm not talking meathead weights...programs such as Kettleball or P90X, (which I'm currently doing)...which incorporate real life movements w/ weights is where you want to be heading.

7. Sleep. Ties into 3. They say 8 hours is optimal, but even I have problems w/ that, so I try to make sure I get at least 7 a night.

So that's the list so far, it may seem very short and straightforward, but each one was "learned" by me at some point over the last 5 years. Each one has helped to make me a much better athlete than what I was when I toe'd the line that May 5 years ago. I'm sure in 10 years I'll have more to add for that's one of the greatest things about this sport, you never stop learning new tricks.