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Feed the machine

Actually, as yummy as McD's is sometimes, the smell when I'm exercising is quite nauseating...

I’ve decided to incorporate a new tag “Feed the machine” to reflect on the impact of eating habits and training.  Where does this come from?  I’ve heard it used by a number of players on the Toronto Blue Jays lately.  But I think it reflects well on my opinion of “fueling” (or eating as it’s referred to in the tri community).

The general principle is as follows:

  • You have to eat.  Period.  Even if you’re training to lose weight, if you diet and reduce your calorie input, your ability to train hard will be decreased.
  • The amount you have to eat is correlated to how much you train.  If you burn a ton of calories training, you have to replace them with fuel.  Think of it like fueling a car: If you use up the gas you have, and don’t fill the tank back up, it won’t go where you want it to tomorrow
  • Calories are your friend, but only if they’re good calories!  You can’t fill a car with sludge, you have to fill it with gas.  French fries are sludge.  Beer and cola are sludge.  In fact, many of the good foods in life are sludge.
  • You need to allow yourself a cheat day.  A beer and pizza day, if you will.  If you indulge occasionally, you can avoid the binge eating that ultimately follows from depriving yourself for too long.  The key here though is to have a cheat day, not a cheat week.

I’m pretty bad about following most of these rules.  Really bad, actually.  I’m good at eating – I certainly don’t deprive myself with calories.  And I’m really good at matching my eating with my training – when I train more, I eat more.  But I’m not good at dialing back my eating when I take a rest week, and I’m really not good about avoiding the sludge.  In fact, I’ve had bacon in 6 straight meals now (5 of those meals being pizza).  I’ve had more beer and coke than water in the past 24 hours.  That’s sludge.

It’s really starting to occur to me as this spring moves along just how many moving pieces there are in training for triathlon.  On Wednesday I did the stairs, taking a few extra breaks, but running 50% of the stairs to really push my HR up.  On Thursday I spent an hour in the pool working on my flutter kick.  On Friday I went for a slow run focusing on pushing through cardio plateaus to increase my run distance (I got up to 15:1’s).  This weekend I celebrated with beer and pizza – a reasonable action, except the left over pizza has lasted for too many meals.  So many things to improve in my swim and my run (and I haven’t yet pulled the bike out for the summer), but I can’t neglect how I eat at the same time.

No wonder the ‘elite’ triathletes find sponsors and make this their full time job.  I’m glad I race against other age groupers, who probably enjoy beer and pizza just as much as I do.

– DO’G


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