Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Small steps for a big problem

"Big Problem" being relative.

My *big* problem is once again nutrition. I thought once I hit the end of my racing season that everything would fall into place and go back to the way they were before.

All of a sudden, I'm struggling to get through workouts again. (Hey, the positive in this is that I can now identify between being tired from lack of sleep and being tired because I need more to eat.)

I cannot tell you how frustrating this has been for me this year. Every single olympic distance race was a struggle.

Nothing seems to work. I decided to take DRASTIC measures. DRASTIC, I tell ya.

I decided to take matters into my own hands.

I have this completely useless Master's degree in Exercise Physiology.....which really is a long involved story, but one that I am more than happy to share should the time arise.

We spent a sick amount of time on nutrition......all different types of nutrition: daily for athletes and sedentary people, for fueling races/training, what happens at the cellular level, minerals, macronutrients, hormones, fluid intake, blah blah blah....have your eyes rolled back into your head yet? We covered everything.

A couple of days ago, I was getting ready to sign on with a nutritionist. I thought that I owe it to myself to pull out all the information that I have and create a plan for myself.

I still don't like tracking, but I came up with an idea....I will track "how I feel".  I don't know why I never thought about it before. I swim by feel. I ride by feel. Running....well, I always feel like death so that doesn't count.

I should be able to apply the same principle to nutrition. It *SHOULD* tune me in better to when I am missing calories or certain nutrients....I just wanted to test it out.

The first thing I did was calculate my calories and macronutrients. (Keep in mind, they're all estimates since I've never done any metabolic testing, but it gives me a range for hard core training, racing and not so hardcore training.)

My initial thought was "those numbers can't be right." Then, I considered how I've been feeling. I thought I'm just going to do this. If I don't see progress in, say, a month, then I'll get some help.

Instead of tracking, I know what's in the food I eat. It is more a matter of bumping up everything throughout the day.

Day One, I started and got crazy hungry very quickly--par for the course. I made notes to eat XX amount more for breakfast the next.

Day Two: I still got hungry, but it wasn't as extreme, and it took a couple of hours.

This is the game that I've been playing for the past few days. Am I hungry? Do I lack energy? If I had to train right now, could I?

So today, I worked up to a recommendation from my nutrition information. Overall, I felt pretty good. I only ran into trouble when I ended up being at the warehouse longer than I expected. That's going to happen.

It might take me longer than a month just to get "right now" figured out, but I'm ok with that. I'd rather get my stuff worked out before I start getting ready for next season.

I guess the lesson is that I have to take it slow and really pay attention to what I'm eating. If I'm not going to track calories and all that, then I really need to pay attention to the signals and identify what they mean.

The other thing that I am learning is how to prep for the "next day". Let's say I have light workouts today....how do I manage my calories for the next day's 2 hour workouts.

I really wish this wasn't so much work.

BUT....I can see where I've screwed up in the past, doing races completely underfueled, fading fast, even being tired the morning of a race. (NOT a good sign).

I have a couple of really big swims coming up. Those will be my first real tests. All other workouts have been well under 2 hours and more like 1-1.5 hours.


Once again.

Wish me luck....this TIME, this is it. If I can't get my stuff together, I'm heading to a nutritionist.