In This Issue
- Final USAT 2014 Rankings for MP Age Group Athletes
Can You Start to Feel It?
With this newsletter, athletes are starting to awaken out of the doldrums of winter Base Training and endless miles on the trainer/treadmill. Heck, we've already had a couple great races at San Diego, CA and Clermont, FL Collegiate "Peak" season is in 6 weeks at Collegiate National Championships and other athlete's first big tests in early May. So "IT" is just around the corner...but what is "IT"?
I look at March as a transition month where a mental shift has to be made. The prep phase is a distant memory somewhere around the turn of the calendar year. What we are talking about is a shift from base training to more specific builds, gaining intensity, power, and speed. Also, it's a shift from our confines of the garage or basement to getting out...but getting out of our comfort zone also! Join that Group Ride on a weekday evening now that we have extra evening light. Don't be afraid to join that Track session and work on some high-end speed and fast cadence and for some fortunate athletes...getting into some Open Water Swimming! It's a mental shift that speed hurts just a little bit more, joining other people for workouts sometimes makes us go just a little faster than planned, and adding a "C" race to the weekend hurts quite a bit more than what it should. But that's OK! Iron Sharpens Iron!
So what is "IT"? We all have different names for it. Spring Fever, Race Season, Mental Edge, Spring Break, First race, cleaing out the cobwebs, spring cleaning, whatever it is...but whether you are ready for it, it is close and let's get ready! In this newsletter you will hopefully find some great resources to help you get ready, whether it's nutrition help, testing, or sponsorship help. Also, your coaches are available, as always, for your questions! Read more below from Coach Frost about "IT" or from Coach Tess about dealing with "IT"!
March is a fascinating month in the realm of ecology. We just feel, without glancing at a calendar, the days getting a little longer and the air getting a little warmer. We see plants begin to emerge and bloom. We see land animals begin to emerge from hibernation and walk about. Flocks of birds start traveling. But before these dramatic changes occur in springtime, trees and plants look bare and colorless, land animals look sleepy, and migratory birds (at least the ones here in Fort Collins) are just pooping around ponds. In springtime, everything is beautiful, but just before beauty, we’re not showing off that much on our brighter sides.
That’s just as true for us athletes in this pre-season that we often refer to as “base training”. Before spring, we all are like geese pooping around the pond regardless of what we’ve done. Some of us may have relied on our Type-A personalities to log big volumes of machine-assisted exercise inside “pain caves”. We may or may not have focused on form drills, thrown weights around the exercise room like never before, or “cross trained” on nordic skis. Our motivation may be sky high or it may have slid down the slope on January 2nd and never rebounded. But no matter what, you are not who you think you are today. You have changed! You have changed…since your last race, since the holidays, since the workout volume went up and since your last FTP test. You’re not you when you’re (or have been) base training.
But there is a voice inside of you that says, every spring, things like “I should be able to go as fast as him,” “My training is going nowhere,” “I feel like I’m behind in my fitness,” and “I’m losing my mojo because it’s cold and wet all the time.” We judge ourselves often on who we used to be or who we wish to be, or relative to the future goals that we have planned. We are our own worst critics, and we believe that voice inside because it’s coming from ourselves, and who knows us better than ourselves?
The reality is that if we are going to judge ourselves, then we need to judge ourselves on who we ARE, rather than who we THINK WE ARE. Because at this time of year, we don’t naturally see ourselves as being akin to pooping birds. We think we can fly. Objectively, coaches try to find out who you are (and where you are) by gathering data, or facts. What’s your FTP, and how does it compare to your FTP before base training, or how does it compare to your FTP at this time last year? Coaches evaluate this all the time, because who you are really matters.
Objectively knowing who and where you are greatly helps avoid the serious pitfalls that can occur in the pre-season and early season. Not training smart, relative to your capabilities, can lead to overtraining and injury, or under training and lacking the conditioning and skills to perform to meet your goals. There is a good balance between building too quickly and not building quickly enough, and that is the beauty of spring for a triathlete.
I am sure all of you have experienced the following scenario once or twice in your life: you have a big project due, you put in a huge volume of training, or you study for a big test, and immediately after you are done, you get sick. If you’re wondering why this seems to happen on a consistent basis, here is a simplified explanation: you have put a large amount of stress on your body which puts strain on your immune system. When your immune system is compromised it is unable to fight off the normal pathogens it is exposed to, and voila, you’re sick. As an athlete there is nothing more frustrating than feeling good about your big training session, to then immediately have to take some extra time off due to illness. Let’s discuss some ways to circumnavigate this pattern, and keep you from constantly taking two steps forward and one step back.
Get extra sleep during the days leading up to your block of large training volume. This can be in the form of naps throughout the day or going to bed an hour earlier each night. One reason this will help is because during sleep your immune system releases proteins called cytokines. Certain cytokines are needed when you have an infection, inflammation or when you’re under stress. When you sleep less, your body makes less cytokines, making it harder to fight off infection and reduce inflammation.
Focus on nutrient dense food (think lots vegetables and fruits), in order to build up your antioxidant stores a bit before putting that extra stress on your body. Endurance athletes have notoriously high amounts of inflammation and free radicals in their bodies due to the excess stress that we are constantly being exposed to. Vitamins such as Vitamin C, Beta Carotenes and Vitamin E help reduce the amount of free radicals that are created by stress. Foods such as oranges, grapefruits, blueberries, raspberries, grapes, carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, broccoli, kale, spinach, beets and tomatoes are all high in antioxidants and should be the focus of your meals.
Increase your intake of Omega-3 fats. When we look at the way our ancestors ate, they generally ate a 4:1 ratio of Omega-6 fats to Omega 3s. These days with our Standard American Diet very high in trans-fats, our ratio is closer to 20:1. The problem with this is that Omega-6 fats can increase inflammation, and Omega-3 fats decrease inflammation. When the ratio is hugely out of whack (such as 20:1), plus we are working out multiple hours a day and sleeping minimally, you can imagine that inflammation is probably quite high. By focusing on our intake of Omega-3s, we can aid our body in fighting this inflammation and thus decrease our chances of getting sick. Good food sources of Omega-3s include: Fatty fish such as salmon and sardines, walnuts, avocados, flax and chia seeds, grass-fed beef, and pasture-raised eggs.
While food is always the preferred method of getting these important nutrients into your body, endurance athletes sometimes require a bit of extra help, and supplements can be a good option for some. It is important to remember that supplements are exactly that; a supplement to a healthy diet, not an excuse to eat badly. It is somewhat difficult to eat a full 3 grams of Omega-3s each day, and taking a good fish oil can be very helpful in getting to that amount more quickly. Another nutrient that is difficult to get enough of is Vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for calcium metabolism and bone health, and plays a large role in the strength of your immune system too. Loading your nutrient stores with some supplements before your large training phase can be very helpful in keeping you healthy. Just as the quality of food varies, the quality of supplements vary immensely, and it is important to do some research on reputable brands that don’t have fillers, artificial chemicals, and additives.
Finally: it is essential that you reduce the amount of refined sugar you eat as much as possible leading up to the large training phase. Unfortunately the sugar molecule is similar enough to the vitamin C molecule that our cells will accept the sugar in instead of the vitamin C. When our cells are exposed to tons of sugar and a little vitamin C, the sugar can displace the vitamin C, and diminish the body’s ability to absorb and utilize the vitamin C. Therefore, eating an orange is going to be more beneficial than having a bunch of orange juice (because of the higher sugar by volume). Similarly, make sure to check any supplements you take for their sugar content. Popular “immune-booting” supplements such as Emergen-C and Airborne are fairly high in sugar and harmful additives, and we can do better with products like Wellness Fizz.
As your volume begins to increase, look for reminders in TP to get some extra sleep and immune-boosting vitamins and minerals! As always if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Yield: about 6 quarts
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 1/2 to 2 hours
Total Time: about 2 hours
3 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1-inch chunks
1 medium/large sweet white onion, peeled and chopped into 1-inch chunks
1 medium/large leek, peeled and chopped into 1-inch chunks; use white and pale green parts, discard dark green or leafy parts
1 baby bok choy, chopped into 1-inch chunks; discard top portion of jagged leaves (may substitute by using about half of full-size bok choy)
2 medium or 1 large sweet potatoes or yams, unpeeled and chopped into 1-inch chunks
8 ounces white mushrooms, stems removed and quartered
juice of 1 medium/large lemon
2 to 3-inch piece peeled fresh ginger, added whole and removed midway through simmering (1 tablespoon ground ginger may be substituted)
2 to 3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
salt, to taste; add before, during, or after simmering
about 6 quarts water, or to nearly the top of your pot, leaving about 1-inch headspace
1. In a large stockpot combine all ingredients through black pepper.
2. Soup may be salted before, during, or after simmering; your choice when you want to salt it
3. Fill pot with water, about 6 quarts, leaving about 1 inch headspace.
4. Simmer covered over medium heat for about 1 hour. Taste soup and based on your preference for ginger intensity, remove the piece of ginger and discard.
5. Simmer soup for about 90 to 120 minutes total or until all vegetables are very soft and flavors have married. During simmering, if broth level looks low or is reducing too much, add a few additional cups of water, as needed.
6. Serve immediately. I drain about 2 quarts worth of broth, and the rest is vegetable soup. Soup will keep airtight in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 6 months. Optionally, add other vegetables, noodles, proteins, etc. based on taste preference.
Raw nutrient-packed Juice
· 1 orange
· ½ lemon
· 4 small carrots
· 1″ piece of ginger
1. Juice all ingredients and enjoy.
Omega-3 Morning Muffins
2 cups almond flour (also called almond meal)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
3 large eggs
3 bananas, mashed
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons raw honey
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cups pitted and chopped dates
2 medium carrots, shredded
3/4 chopped walnuts
- Preheat the oven to 325. Lightly oil a 12-cup muffin pan or line with paper liners.
- In a large bowl, mix together the almond flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and coconut. In an- other bowl, whisk the eggs, bananas, butter, honey, and vinegar. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ones. Fold in the dates, carrots, and walnuts. Divide the batter among the muffin cups.
- Bake for 40 minutes, until golden brown or a skewer inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. (Since there's no actual flour, the muffins will not rise significantly.) Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then turn out the muffins onto the rack and let cool to warm or room temperature.