Practice Discipline in these Three Areas to Support Athletic Performance

Speaking on a panel at the Spartan World Championships in Squaw Valley, California may be one of the most interesting angles I have come at nutrition from yet. The panel topic is discipline.

Learning to eat in a way that supports what you set out to achieve – in this case completing thirty plus obstacles, over thirteen or more miles while running up and down mountain peaks at elevation – requires discipline to change from eating behaviors that do not support what you hope to achieve.

For many non-competitive athletes who want to improve and achieve in sport as a hobby they first have to shift in mindset from exercising to burn calories to then be rewarded with food  to that of an athlete who exercises to train and who eats to train for the reward of achieving something more than the calorie credit to eat lots of pizza after a race.

How does someone begin to change the mindset? Well, in my experience as an athlete and working with the pros I have found applying discipline  in these three areas can change the reward mindset to one that makes the participation in the sport the reward rather than loads of food.

Three disciplines to practice daily:

 

Eat to train. Don’t train to eat. Skipping meals, skimping on food during training and events lasting longer than one hour, and delaying eating after activity have major consequences on how well the body can feel during the activity. Stop holding  out on providing the body  the right fuel at the right time through out the day and through activity.

Eat with purpose.  Eating with purpose is being conscious of what is going into the body and why. The purpose could be anything like to nourish, energize, recover, and even to celebrate or relax. This empowers the eater to make the food choice with feeling deprived while also eating the right to suit the occassion.

Eat before, during, and after hard training and events.  Eating an energy dense meal the hours before like a big bowl of fruit and yogurt will top of energy stores in the muscles. Eating an energy gel or three energy chews every twenty to thirty minutes during activity lasting more than an hour will give you the edge over competitors who skip it. Eating a protein bar or drink after the effort to kick start recovery helps to get the body prepared for the next challenge.

Discipline isn’t holding off or delaying gratification. Discipline in sports nutrition comes from learning what to it when and  changing the behavior mindset so it isn’t all about will power but rather, a healthy routine if eating the right food and the right time to suit the occasion, even if that occasion is a celebration!

 

 

 

 

Adventure Mamas Must Adapt

Day-pack stocked with provisions, water bottles filled, sunscreen on, hats, helmets, Xtracycle loaded, scooter in too! Adventure is on for me and my seven and eleven year old sons.  What is adventurous is relative and, as kids grow from infant, toddler, to school age adventure mamas have to learn to adapt. Things that previously were far from a challenge or an adventure suddenly become so when adding kids’ wheels and human power. A casual bike ride down an asphalt trail turns into an epic day with active “big kids” heading to Soccerfest followed by bike park. The xtracyle ( a cargo bike that can carry both my boys on the back) is both back-up when they poop out AND strength training for my self-care day of mountain running.

My boys and I know that the journeys we take are not going to be cake walks. Talking with them ahead of time prepares them when things are inevitably difficult or tiring They have come to expect challenges like big climbs, tired legs, hungry tummies, and short tempers, and have fun despite them. For me, it is teaching them the character- building joys of “type two fun”.  

Eleven

Eleven. My first born son is eleven years old. Everyone says it goes by so fast. That statement always makes me sad and anxious.  I want to savor moments, take deep breaths, and hold on so I feel and experience the miracle of this child before me. It is true that time can not slow down; and it is also true that time does not speed up. It is constant.

None of that changes the fact that Eric is and eager early bird in just about everything. Mornings he is especially bright, cheery, and early. On the morning of his birthday he was so eager to get to school he asked to walk over early and play on the playground (which I can see from my back window). Little did I know that he would head to his classroom where his teacher told him he can’t arrive an hour before school starts.

His early arrival in life is just who he is. It certainly has presented challenges, particularly at his birth when he arrived fourteen weeks early!

He weighed one pound fourteen ounces when he was born. He couldn’t breath on his own, our open his eyes, I couldn’t hold him which was fine because his paper thin skin scared me a little.

He started the fifth grade this week in a new school.  He is confident, excited,  and enthusiastic to begin making new friends. Some days his start in life is so far from my mind that I let mundane annoyances get to me instead of looking at him and reveling the fact that today he does things so ordinary they hardly seem like the miracle they are. Things  like putting on a seat belt, chewing, swallowing, breathing, playing video games, brushing his teeth. Even now he just got himself up out of bed, went to the bathroom, and then knocked on my door to say good morning.

Happy birthday buddy! I love you.

Ultra Running to Ultra Moving

Communities exist that are centered around being active outdoors, in nature, everyday.  I have longed to move our family away from the increasing congestion of the urban home to one that values and embraces the outdoors as a way of life.

This summer  we did it. We didn’t plan on it being this summer. It just happened. More serendipitous activity fell into place than didn’t and we now find ourselves living the mountain life in Truckee, California, where there are mountains, elevation, and trails for days.

In June, I was in Tahoe supporting the super bowl of the ultra-running world, The Western States 100 Mile Endurance Race. It is a spectacular feat. While not a one-hundred mile endurance run through the mountains, I did just accomplish what feels like a massive ultra-endurance feat of strength, relocating. Relocating a family while still taking care of the emotional and physical well-being during such a time of change is a huge feat.  This was done while also holding down a full-time job, pivoting a career, emptying a house, moving everything owned into storage, buying a house, a work trip to London , fixing a house for sale, selling a house, then moving everything out of storage to the new house – in two months time.  Anything is possible once you put your mind to it and start grinding it out.

To make the most of resources and time, the move happened at a  pretty grueling pace. My crew was tough and kept us moving forward.  It also came  with many tough ascents and descents.  We planned enough to keep organized  while keeping it loose enough to adapt to the inevitable unknowns as they unfolded rapidly before use.

It might not be a coincidence that I set our family off on this seemingly abrupt change the day after witnessing fierce, strong, and courageous athletes face their demons while running one-hundred miles from Squaw Valley to Auburn.  Every one of them toed the line as  prepared as one possibly can for a journey rampant with unknowns.  Yet, they didn’t let thoughts of fear or doubt sway them from putting themselves all out there on the Western States Trail.  Without knowing exactly how it could turnout they went for it. In doing so they gained experience and insight they will carry into their next challenge.

We may feel comfortable and safe in one place but, even then safety and security are not certainties. We might as well step into new experiences, prepare, train,  learn ,and run with it to squeeze the richness out of being on this tiny planet.