In a season of weight gain by many Americans, it has usually been a time for that one last cookie before the training begins for the next year at Christmas time. One last gorging before the ramp up, or one last chance to let loose and sleep more, sit back and drink egg nog, sloth around the hearth of the family fireplace… This season ended as a beginning for next season for me, mixing up the tradition of using this time of the year to see how out of shape I can get before the long climb back into the saddle. The off season became a dedicated march towards reversing some adverse effects of some unusually long and challenging “situations” which have left me out of the loop in contending for any podium spots in and out of the Boulder area at any distance for the first time in many years.
Six weeks ago I began the journey just under 161 lbs, a second all time highest weight for me, aside from a year (nearly 10 years ago) when I was power lifting the entire winter and gained a lot of muscle mass. The difference was this time around, it was just mass. Fat mass would be a more accurate description—but not by choice if you have kept up reading KK’s Post. Some would say work on increasing volume to burn off more calories than you intake, which is a wise choice, as long as nutritional needs are met. Don’t starve yourself, that isn’t healthy.However, if you gradually cut back on the obvious culprits like too many starches/carbs/fats, weight can peel off at a safe rate even if maintaining the same number of hours exercising. I first cut out all the free soda at work, thus, less sugar. One 21 ounce glass of soda I was drinking at work was about 315 calories. Multiply that by two or three glasses a day and that approaches 630-945 extra useless calories. Pull back to around 4 to 5 hours of exercise per week average, add in some very fat foods like a 210 calorie mini bag of Cheese Puffs, I could easily be adding on 1155 extra cals per day. That is just the start—imagine giving in to drinking more than the average allowance of 2% milk, not watching the amount of dressing on my salads (creamy Ceasar Dressing), access to all the Little Debbie Swiss Rolls I wanted at work, then rolling over on my back and playing dead on the weekends as I ate 2-4 servings per meal of anything from pizza to deep fried shrimp. You can see I was packing on a diet of a junk food junky or couch potato that was on a path of self destruction. This isn’t something any athlete or coach for that matter necessarily would like to admit, but heck, we’re all human aren’t we?
On to the reversal mode from this path of naughtiness…I stopped the soda, stopped the junk, started feeling a little better from the PRP injection for the injury that caused the 2 year slide in the first place…cut out the deep fried foods, used Italian instead of Ceasar dressing, stopped the cookie and Swiss Roll binging. Started working on a LOT of core stuff, increased aerobic training, shunned all the extra carbs that weren’t needed for my daily caloric expenditure.Diets do not work long term, but smart food choices and exercises are lifestyle habits that can be as long term and beneficial (and painless) as long as you want. As a result, I am happy to announce being down to 151.6 lbs as of two days ago, slightly less than my race weight when I was racing well. One thing I always felt was I was not as lean as I could be for my A races, due to the not-so-healthy food choices I have made. It is my feeling that I can maintain power of past years and not give up anything at 148 lbs—which would be lighter than I believe I have ever raced in my life. We will have to see what the results are when I ride a little more often an am ready for a power test on the bike. They key here is not to get too light or be too concerned with weight, but only NUTRITION. The better I eat, it seems I still have the energy, am leaner, without any power loss. If I feel weak on any given day it is usually due to a lack of sleep from my toddler—something there really isn’t a way around. I can control what I put in my body, and the journey has been quite rewarding so far as I seem to just be happier because of the healthy energy filling foods I am putting in my body. I’ve known this for years…just never really followed it. Eating whatever and whenever was my form of eating by the seat of the pants method of living. Eating to win was always eating what I wanted. If the tummy craved something in particular, it was my belief the body was lacking in whatever that component was (sugar, salt, fat, fruit, veggies, etc.) As an athlete begins to age, we need to fuel with better, higher octane fuel, much like a race car. An older car needs more care/maintenance than a new one because the engine has already been through a lot, and likely has a lot of built up junk in it which has taken away some of the crisp, clean engine performance of earlier days.
Entering into 2009 without all the junk built up from winter will allow me to carry less around out on the trails, and of course there will be less body to cause more drag through the water. This will allow me to focus on improving technique and my engine rather than partitioning off some energy to changing body composition. Sure fat will peel off as you ramp up and add volume, but why not start off with that already taken care of just by making smarter food choices? I for one, will be entering 2009 leaner than I have in previous years, rather than heavier. Lean doesn’t mean fit. It just means there won’t be as much fat to carry around slowing me down while trying to get that engine revved up. Make some tough love decisions this holiday and new year season, and feel good out of the gates about your body composition—start the season knowing you already have one piece of the pie taken care of (no pun intended!) Happy Holiday!
Winter solstice is upon us in only 9 more days, the point at which I often consider the official launch the next year’s triathlon season. December 21st has the shortest daylight hours of the year, so that means each day beyond that there is a little more daylight to train in. Not that it is that much of a big deal for me, as I have the luxury of training during the daylight anyhow—but it is a mindset that summer will quickly be upon us.
Today I rode through some pretty stiff wind, just struggling to punch out a mere 201 average watts, a TSS score of 100, burning 1200 KJ, ending up in with a NP score of 214. There is nothing impressive here about that--only that I made it the entire 30.5 miles of riding in mid-December. The weather in Boulder so far has been very nice compared to other years. I actually only had to shovel twice this year so far, all in the last two weeks, a record I think for minimum shovels. The run yesterday was done with a light long sleeve Craft shirt and baseball cap as it was quite toasty for being so close to Christmas. With things starting to gear up for the 2009 season, I’ve enjoyed a forced rest the last four months from the injury, but the PRP injection has helped some. Although I think I’ll need a second one as it still seems to need a little extra TLC to heal this 2 year long injury.
With all of the 8 pounds of fat I gained since mid summer (yes, I gained fat during race season as training became less and less as the weeks passed…) I am down to my old racing weight of 153 pounds as of two days ago. With a much improved diet, I have been eating a balanced diet of low fat, low sugar and lots of veggies and fruits to lose the 8 pounds of chub over five weeks. Cutting my favorites like all the free soda at work, or cookies (my wife likes Double Stuff Oreos but I seem to be the one eating most of them in the past,) it has been a full on battle of will power to remind myself that I don’t need to carry the extra weight around when my fitness level is so low, and putting stress on my yet unhealed tendon. Returning to health/fitness and even to what I call an introductory race fitness level will take all the will power I can muster over the next few months. If I’m healthy it can happen, because I’ve been this out of shape in December before and come into the season strong. Hopefully being at this weight this time of the year will make the long road ahead easier.
I have the new trainer all set up and ready to go for those snowy days, but will obviously take advantage of the mild Colorado winters to get out when Mother Nature allows (such as today). The hard part of coming back from Chub Land is holding the consistency as you are often reflecting on how laid back you could be while getting out of shape. Time becomes of essence and every minute seemingly needs to be scheduled to maximize and meet the needs of the goals in the future months. After seeing everything slide the last two years aka training time and race results as well as fitness AND my belly—in a downward fashion, the motivation at this time of year seems a little bit more than the past few years. I’m just tired of being fat I guess—not that I was really fat, but when your pant sizes you’ve worn the last 10 years have to be put on while sucking in your belly, it is time to lose some poundage. Self conscious—I think so.
The sleep deprivation from my increasingly_more_than_ever mobile 2.5 year old has been difficult in getting enough sleep to sustain a high volume of training.Luckily, I’m still in the middle of a base building cycle. Some days I have to nap when the kid naps just to catch up mid-week. I am able to get a workout in the afternoon when the nanny comes over, but I’ve been known to bail on the workout to keep myself healthy by taking the occasional nap myself.It is nice to just pull the covers over my head and just zzzzzzz.It’ll be nice to have family here next week so I can sleep in daily—a good support crew is key to getting in triathlon shape.
On the coaching front, I have athletes eagerly wanting to return to training now—who have just completed Ironman races, but have to pull back on the bridles and tell them to rest more and just head out for some leisurely at will fitness outings—nothing structured.If you’re a coach, living a pipe dream for business purposes only, you’ll have them training as soon as possible—however you’re seriously in disconnect with what makes a happy and balanced athlete. You need to give them some space to both mentally, physically, and financially (coaching isn’t cheap)—so they can handle the laid back down time after the tri season and get back to a calm center point with family and erase those training season errands that build up. One of the biggest jobs of a coach is to either keep athletes from doing too much, or crack the whip because they aren’t doing the plan. The goal is for improvement while staying uninjured. Although that happens to all of us, you try to reduce the occurrences the best you can. Right now, the athletes need to be with family, rest, and find their inner balance again. Hopefully the time off will get them to feeling like a caged lion by the time the new year kicks off. The last thing you want is a bunch of burned out athletes by March or April.I have some neat changes I haven’t told them about yet (okay, NOW they know I guess…) that should really crank up the fun for 2009. Hopefully, the added changes will create a better, well-rounded athlete in all of them.
Looking ahead to Christmas, it will be fun in knowing that my 2.5 year old will finally be able to understand the excitement of Christmas, as he is really looking forward to Santa coming to visit him. I know I don’t really want or need anything from Santa Claus, except to be around family, and enjoy my time with them. Unfortunately the family I grew up with seems to always have the holiday “over there” rather than here in Colorado. It would be nice to all be together for once, as we’ve never had the little guy with all the grannies & grandpas, cousins and aunts/uncles together all at once—but if we’re not in Colorado, Santa wouldn’t know where to find the little guy now would he?So we have to be here—it’s a given.We’ll be thinking of the rest of the family when we wake up on Christmas morning. For all those out there spending time with their family this holiday, or whether away on a trip to get out of the snow, here’s wishing you all a wonderful entry in the new year, with lots of happiness slated for the road ahead in 2009.
Bob's first Ironman Finish
The 2008 wrap up! Bob Valley finishes his first Ironman in 12:35, Max Lawler went sub 10 hours with a 9:50 and John Moore with 10:52...all personal bests. If you are reading this and want to know what makes a personal best, at least for these Gemini athletes--it is believing in themselves. There is no real mystery to Ironman success other than minimizing the outside factors like equipment, nutrition, pacing, and a lot of grit, determination and luck come race day. You have to put in the time, and have the right attitude--which all of these guys had on race day. We planned, we changed plans, and best of all, they stuck to the plans and succeeded. 2008 has been a wonderful year for Gemini athletes who have stuck to the plan. You must come into a program uninjured, and somewhat ready to handle the rigors of the training come day 1 of the season. Avoiding letting yourself slide out of shape in the off season where you expect the "plan" to bring you back from sloth-ness of the holidays. Respect the work you have done the last year, and build on it, not tear it down.
Each year is not going to be a consecutive improvement in our race result oriented sport, it just is not realistic. If that were true, we would all be Lance Armstrong, and just keep winning. Even Tim DeBoom after winning the Ironman World Championships slid after his two wins. Injury, and equipment all play a factor to each athlete, and the best we can do is to plan and meet the challenges that face us year after year. Whether you have a child come into your family, face a financial crisis or health situation, our plan is only as good as our execution. The three above mentioned athletes, have ended their season on a fantastic note, and learned so much more about what they are made of, and what they can make of themselves in the future. This is testament to THEIR will power, dedication, and honest communication with their coach. I am proud of each and every one of them, as they have surpassed their dreams, and hopes in 2008--well done gents!
That said, I am busy outlining new plans, with more technology based training services for 2009, chasing down new sponsors, and preparing for the season which is not too far off. Gemini Multisport will be growing again in 2009, but keeping its family feel with the athletes. No need to divert from a successful formula...we want quality athletes, with quality coaching and not high numbers of athletes with inexperienced coaches (also rans). We are not about generating a business for income sake or for popularity contests, we are about solid results, enjoyments of the sport, and building athletes into long term competitors who live the lifestyle of triathlon rather than burn out and fizzle away. If you want to be part of this success, and bring your results to new heights, contact us using the contact page on this site, and bring your "A" game. We're just about ready to roll for 2009!