Wednesday, October 16, 2013

St. George Training: Update #2

I have completed my first block of training here in St. George. From October 7th to the 14th, I ran 80km, rode 400km, swam 20 kms and did some core/strength training, for a total of 28 hours of training! Before I comment more I just want to thank the many people who have been supporting me, especially while I've been here - so far away. In the past few days I have received texts, emails, Skype calls and even a letter in the mail(!), from people telling me that they believe that I really can become the triathlete that I strive to be, one day. I have never had so much support for something in my life. Your kind words of encouragement help more than I can describe. On those long rides, in the cold weather, when my legs feel like they can't turn another pedal stroke or I can't run another step, your words are with me and getting me through. So, thank you.

Since my last post (October 7th) I have had some epic swim sets, my longest ride ever and my longest run of the year and I have learned a lot (bypass the first two if you don't like sciency details!):

1. Nutrition is more important than ever on long training sessions. I learned an important lesson this past week: you don't eat during a long training session => your don't have fuel at the end of your session => you can't go fast => you get discouraged! A person can store about 1400 - 2000 calories as glycogen in your liver and muscles (leaner and stronger and well trained athletes can store more) and you have almost an endless supply of fat supplying calories. But you need glycogen to provide glucose as a quick source of energy & to help utilize fat for energy (I won't get into the biochemistry!!) Since I am used to training sessions never being more than a few hours I have never needed to worry too much about fuel. I could rely on my previous meal and eLoad during my sessions. However, since I am burning 3000 or more calories during these recent multi-hour training sessions, I need to eat during, and eat a lot! Digestion and exercise are not easy to do at the same time and, I have realized, require training! So that is what I need to work on next time.

2. Drinking is also important during any training session, regardless of duration. More science for you: you lose lots of fluid during exercise, mostly as sweat (even in the pool!) and when you lose fluid, your blood volume goes down and your heart rate increases as a result (not good). So how much do you need to drink? There are all sorts of experts out there with contradicting opinions and they will tell you different things. Everyone is unique and, if you can afford it, can do a sweat test to figure out your own needs. I am taking the approach that I need as much fluid as my stomach will allow...about 500 - 750mL per hour (apparently there are some elite ironman athletes that drink close to 1L per hour!). Important to keep in mind that "fluid" does not mean water. I add about 2 Zone Caps (salt tablets by eLoad) per 750mL and about 1 scoop eLoad and 1 scoop eLoad FLY to water (salt and glucose improve fluid absorption into the gut and help regulate electrolyte balance and provide calories, respectively). On my most recent long run I made some miscalculations which resulted in my only taking in 300mL per hour and a HUGE side cramp in the last 40 minutes of the run and a HUGE loss in weight. Not good for performance (or my attempt to negative split a 33km run)!

3. WattsUp socks can also double as cycling gloves. Night before my long ride, 2 gloves go into washer and dryer and only 1 comes out...I could do my ride with one glove (Micheal Jackson style?) or wear socks on my hands and have a matching set. I chose the latter, with the spot for the heel in the sock doubling as the spot for my thumb. Perfectly functional: I had no trouble shifting gears, braking and my hands stayed toasty warm!

4. When you are desperate, a city block in Ivins, Utah can double as a running track for 1km intervals! Track meet on the nearby track meant I had to improvise and find a city block to do my 1km repeats on. Not only did it work, but I had my fastest times for 1K intervals ever!

5. There are so many friendly people who live in St. George, from the clerk at the grocery store, to the barista at Starbucks to people I meet in the pool and out walking their dog. I don't know whether it's the nice weather or scenery or the outdoorsy lifestyle out here, but everyone is super friendly. Especially the family I have been living with: Kirk, Charity, their daughter Selah, two dogs and two cats! I have never been treated so well. Charity even cooked me an AMAZING thanksgiving dinner (even though US thanksgiving isn't until November).

6. If you choose to pursue a crazy dream, one that is risky and one that has the potential of setting you back further than when you started it, you can't have any hesitations once you are on that path. You can't listen to the voices of doubt inside your head, you can't listen to the people who don't believe in you, you can't look have to keep on going, keep on thinking positively, repeating the words of support that you do get. Keep setting little milestones for yourself on your path toward that big milestone. That is the only way you have a chance of reaching that seemingly impossible dream.

Next training block is set to bring 40 hours of training in 8 days...I will be checking in again soon.

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