Input: (inpt) n. 1. Something put into a system or expended in its operation to achieve output or a result
Having a professional life in the food and wine industry can make moving forward athletically difficult to say the least. At some point you may have to put consumption in check if you find yourself up-sizing your wardrobe. We live in indulging times and we consume more calories than the previous generation but with less physical activity than our parents. Dining out was once the domain of special occasions but with the “super-size” explosion of the quick service food industry it’s now part of the daily dietary experience and a surrogate chef for many families. If you eat out too often you lose control of nutritional input, you don’t learn how to cook and you get addicted to eating crap, which, in itself, is the goal for most of the corporate food industry. In finding form you have to consider all the different inputs needed to improve with nutrition probably being the most important one.
2010 was the first real year back on the bike racing and I suffered… a lot. I was too heavy, I did not incorporate any adaptive phase training for my body and I wasn’t eating properly. My thoughts on training were based on out-dated experiences; ride hard as much as you can, throw in some intervals and attempt a taper before any race. Nutrition was a big limiter. There was too much reliance on a restaurant diet of rich food; grain based breakfast items and lots of dairy. The results were pretty straightforward; I got dropped in every event, was nauseated during races (from poor pre-race choices) and I wasn’t losing the weight I expected. Nevertheless, the 2010 season was a starting point in what is hopefully a continuation of a lifelong process of improvement.
In an effort to progress from the previous season some changes had to take place. Heading into the winter decisions were made on how to positively advance training for the 2011 season and the first choice would be to work on total conditioning. CrossFit Canmore seemed to be the best choice. With intense workouts (WODs) and personal instruction the results are quickly noticed. CrossFit is a great off-season training regime that is both challenging and encouraging. Challenging, because the workouts make you do things you probably wouldn’t do on your own, like 100 burpee pullups, and encouraging because you’re in the company of highly motivated people. Strengthening the core (entire body) pays off, especially if you’re going to go out and ride for five hours or have to put in 2000 meters of climbing.
The second part of the equation, and what started this entry, was nutrition. In March the weigh scale indicated that there was still too much mass on the bones, 170 pounds or fifteen pounds too much, which in cycling terms would be like trying to ride with a kettle bell attached to your bike. Some of those pounds were fat and some were muscle gained from cross training. The big challenge would be to shed that weight slowly and not at the expense of muscle loss. If at least ten of those pounds were not lost it would be very difficult to improve riding form, but if lost too quickly it would come at the expense of power. An effort to find a nutritional plan for the season was found in Joe Friel’s book The Paleo Diet for Athletes. Crossfit taught me about paleo nutrition and Friel’s book offers a modified paleo plan for cycling (modified to keep up with the intense calorie inputs needed from carbs). Knowing that the majority of the season’s races were going to be stage races nutritional planning was going to be critical in fuel and recovery. Following Friel’s advice as close as possible a total of 13 pounds were lost over a four and half month period and not at the expense of power. Fat decreased and power output increased. The best part of the paleo philosophy is learning to eat raw foods and to eliminate refined products. It makes sense. Putting better building blocks in to your body is the same as improving your training plans or equipment.
The 2011 season was a planned effort with a threefold focus on nutrition, periodized training and active recovery and that, combined with tremendous family support, actually played out almost to script. I upgraded categories and had a top 10 result in almost every race.
With winter upon us it’s now back to cross training writing the 2012 plan, and enjoying the odd occasion dining out.
Keep on moving!