Sunday, April 24, 2011

Fuel for Success

Spring greens, spinach, strawberries, avocado, cucumber,
tomato, garbanzo beans, chicken, and light mozzarella.  
Many athletes, including myself, have fallen into the trap of 'well I did a hard workout today so therefore I can eat whatever I want'.  For some it works out just great and they continue to improve and get stronger.  For others, including myself, this type of thinking leads to bad habits and we have to remind ourselves that what we eat and when we eat is fuel for the next workout or nutrients to recover from the previous workout.  It is important that as we train and break our bodies down not only do we take the proper physical time to rest and recover but also to provide the body the nutrients it needs to repair and become stronger so our next workout is even better.  Our body also needs the proper fuel to get us through that days workout.  You wouldn't expect your car to run on empty, so why ask your body to run on empty?

Recovery fuel is essential after a long hard workout, such as a weekly long run or brick workout.  One of my favorite recovery drinks is fat free chocolate milk!  Cold, delicious and the perfect 4:1 card to protein ratio that your muscles need to repair.  I don't use chocolate milk all that often as my key recovery aide though, it is too addicting and I would end up drinking a 1/2 gallon every day.  A cup of cereal with milk or almond milk is also great for a quick recovery food if it's not quite time for a meal.

What's your favorite way to recover from a hard workout?

Day to day nutrition is also important to keep your body running smoothly and efficiently.  I like to load a salad up with greens, spinach, and and all fruits and veges from my fridge, protein (beans, meat, almonds) and drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette. Aim for natural foods as much as possible.  Limit added sugars, fats, sodium, and cholesterol in your diet.  An easy way to do this is not to eat pre-packaged foods.  You'll have to watch out on other items you choose to eat too but an apple is more filling and more delicious than a Little Debbie, which won't make you so little after all.  That being said, if you do treat yourself every once in awhile or succumb to the pressures of a delicious looking dessert it's ok!  Don't think you've fallen off the wagon, you're still on it.  Completely eliminating foods from your nutrition plan can cause you to crave them so allow yourself to have something in moderation if you really like it.

How do you pack nutrients into your meals to fuel for success?

Rock Creek
Just as important, and often overlooked, as our physiological fuel is our psychological fuel.  Where do you get your drive and desire from? Why do you race?  Is it the feeling you have during training or racing, the feeling after, the direct health benefits of exercise, to be at one with yourself, nature and everything surrounding you? Sunday is a day of recovery for me - mostly active recovery.  Today I set out on a recovery run and enjoy the beautiful Easter Sunday weather along Rock Creek Trail.  I felt lightyears away from the big city at some points.  It was a nice change of scenery and reminder what drives my desire.  As much as I try and strive, strain, and stretch for perfection I will never reach such a level.  I can say though, I give my all – all of the time. I do not give up. I do not give in.  I do not give out. I am the Lord’s warrior – a competitor by conviction and a disciple of determination.

It's important to take a short time every week or day to spend some quiet time however you like best.  Be thankful for all that has been given and all that has yet to come.  If you have never checked out Team FCA-E go ahead and check it out! 

“…and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:2, NAS)

Why do you race / train?  How do you get your psychological fuel?

1 comment:

  1. Great advice! I can really tell when I've been fueling properly with the right foods and nutrients and when I haven't. I make sure to have protein and carbs in recovery foods.