Friday, November 22, 2013

Training and racing abroad

So, you want to travel to a foreign country, see some sites, stay fit and maybe even race.  Training and racing abroad is a great experience and with a little bit of planning, you can make the most of your time abroad.  Here are a few things to consider before you depart, during travel and once you have arrived.

Pre trip – Make a list!  Sounds simple, but is most helpful.  Take a few moments before you depart to educate yourself a little bit more about where you are traveling too.  Paper maps are quite helpful to keep handy in case Google maps or the Garmin is not working.   Make extra (Paper) copies of passport, credit cards, travel itinerary and any contact info in case you loose anything or your smart phone gets stolen/lost or won’t charge.   Notify your credit card company of the dates you plan to travel to avoid delays making any purchases.  Arrange for transportation to your accommodations ahead of time instead of trying to figure it out when you arrive and are tired. 

Travel – Allow enough time to not have to rush.  Check in, baggage, customs, all take a little more time than domestic travel.  Have a small amount of local currency when you arrive to cover anything that may arise.   Wear comfortable and functional clothes/shoes for travel.   Sometimes you have a lot of walking to do along with baggage and possibly a bike box.

Food & Hydration - Drink plenty of water on the plane and during the travel day.  Pack a few snacks in case you have delays or not feeling like eating the airline food.   However, be aware of any food restrictions of your destination country, as you may have to declare items you are brining into country on your customs forms.  Some countries you cannot bring certain foods in at all so, don’t bother bringing it along unless you plan to consume it on the plane or on any layovers.  

Time change – Give you body a few days to adjust from the travel.  Best thing I have found to help this is upon arrival get some kind of easy workout in.  You are an athlete after all.  Helps the body loosen up from the flight/train and starts getting your reset on local time.   Set an alarm to get up the following morning on local time as well and keep drinking water!

Rules of the road, local customs – Here in Australia, when you ride a bike, you must wear a helmet otherwise be subject to a fine.  Also, vehicles travel on the other side of the road compared to the states, so when you step off the curb, or merge into traffic look right first.  Speed limit signs are in KMH not MPH.    Dining out in some countries the tip is already include in the bill. 

Check out the course – Course knowledge is always helpful so plan on driving or riding part of the course before race day to get more familiar.   Pay attention to road surfaces, wind conditions and what parts of the course are and are not open to traffic on race day.  Great to get in the water at the swim finish area so you can get some land based objects to site on for the end of your swim.

Where are you going to travel next?  Don't forget the camera!

Make it a great week,
Coach Eric

Monday, November 11, 2013

What happened to common sense... if your exhausted... REST!

Aristotle, who is the first person known to have discussed "common sense". He was describing the ability with which animals (including humans) process sense perceptions, memories and imagination (phronein) in order to reach many types of basic judgments. But only humans have real reasoned thinking (noein).

I think endurance athletes are loosing touch with things a bit in particular their common sense.  Often times I hear athletes say they were exhausted and wonder to myself, "why are they going to attempt a workout today".  Now I know sometimes one can become tired from training and you need to stress the body from time to time to gain some improvement.  But, if you had just raced an IM a little over 3 weeks ago and I am hearing you say you're are exhausted, don't ya think it might be better to take the day off instead of creating more fatigue which continues to delay the full recovery process.

People, when are you going to get it?  Do you need to be sick, fevered and injured before you stop training or take a much deserved break?  I am seeing this more and more with age group athletes who train like professional athletes, while working a full time job.  Sure you can train like them in a physical way, but there is no way you are going to recover like they do because you just don't have that much free time for naps, weekly massages and general downtime to rejuvenate.  Some age group athletes eventually gets to the point of being so run down from lack of adequate rest, combined with pushing their training limits, that even a 3 week taper is not going to bring them to race day fully prepared.  Always better to be 10% undertrained than 1% over trained when going into your priority races for the season.

Take the runners from Kenya, when they are done for the season, they are done.  Some will not run for 2 or 3 weeks some not even for a month.  They just take a complete break, no cross training, just total downtime.  I belief this downtime allows them to maintain the focus and intensity when they are training.  Most elite Kenyan runners run 2 times a day and some 3 times a day.  They usually start with a morning run around 6am, after that return to bed to rest for the main session around 10am. Lunch and more rest and some will run again in the afternoon.  Now I know this is the elite, but my point is by having the real downtime, it allows them to hit a very high level focussed bit of training when called for.

In the western world, 2-3 weeks of downtime is going to drive the type A athlete and those around him/her completely NUTS!  I have written about this before and will continue to do so in future posts, TRAINING IS RECOVERY BASED!  Easy means easy, hard means hard, day off means, day off.  Combine that with some common sense and you may just reach your next goal healthy and happy.  Pay attention to your self talk.  Are you saying "I have to workout" vs "I want to workout"  When the have to's start becoming the norm,  overtraining, burnout and injury are getting bigger in the rear view mirror for sure.

If you need help, get it.  There are plenty of great coaches out there who can help you balance the training load with all your other activities.  Don't be afraid to do a little less especially if this is supposed to be your off season.

Make it a great week!

Coach Eric

Monday, November 4, 2013

You are what you eat!

The foods we eat help nourish our body/mind for optimal health.  But, not all foods are created equally. 
There is debate whether organic foods are better from a nutritional standpoint than non-organic foods.  But the bigger picture I think lies in the use of pesticides on non-organic foods.  

Switching to an all organic diet can be more expensive, especially if you live where growing your own produce is challenging.  One thing you can do however is to try eating organic on what the Environmental Working Group calls "The Dirty Dozen".  Some research suggests that by going organic when purchasing these foods, you may be able to eliminate up to 80% of the pesticides in your diet. 

"The Dirty Dozen"
  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Grapes
  • Hot Peppers
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Potatoes
  • Spinach/Kale
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet Bell Peppers 
So, try making your local farmers markets and the organic produce section a frequent place to shop for your fruits and veggies.

Make it a great week!

Coach Eric