Thursday, April 3, 2008

Tri Essentials for the Triathlete

As luck would have it, I happened to stop in at the Sports Basement in Sunnyvale tonight just as a special guest speaker, Dr Jennifer L. Forster, was beginning her talk on "Tri" Essentials in triathlon training.

I'd stopped in to rent a wetsuit for my race on April 13 (successful!!), and once I'd made the reservation, I stepped over to hear Dr Forster speak.

While she spoke to many topics around physical, nutritional and emotional support for triathletes, I was most interested in what she had to say about physical and nutritional topics.

According to Dr. Forster:
  • It takes three times as long to gain endurance as it does to lose it. Very much "use it or lose it" and this fact should be kept in mind if you're thinking about taking the winter off from training. It only takes a little bit of activity to maintain your endurance level, so don't just stop once the triathlon season's over.
  • Your aerobic fitness level is lost at a rate of 9% per week. So, what's taken you six months to build up can be lost in just ten weeks of stasis. Don't get injured!
  • If you try to start a triathlon exercise program AND start a diet at the same time, you'll fail at both. You can't starve yourself and try to build muscle at the same time. There's a reason the word "DIET" starts with the three letters D-I-E.
  • Building a strong immune system is the goal of any endurance athlete's (triathlete's) training program. It's built through Nutrition, Exercise, Chiropractics and Massage.
  • Rule of thumb on deciding what to eat: if it doesn't mold or go bad, don't eat it. Heck, if mold or bacteria won't eat it, why should you?
  • Instead of supplementing your diet with vitamins, etc, look into whole food supplements instead. You get all the nutrients without the sugar, salt, water or carbs.
  • Check out the site to find out which food is most nutritious.
And, in regards to nutrition, Dr Forster gave some good tips on before, during and after the race.

Before the race (or long workout):
  • Eat nutritious food in the days leading up to the race (not just night before or day of)
  • Eat at least one hour before the even begins
  • Avoid rich, seasoned, fatty foods the day and night before
  • Best day-of meal: liquid carbohydrate-protein-based meal (liquid is absorbed easier)
  • IMPORTANT: test food products while training, not the day of the race.
During the race (or long workout):
  • Eat at intervals and eat the riht type of food
  • Maintain your energy stores -- the body has about one hour of energy stores
  • Food choices recommended: GU, energy bars, peanut butter pretzels, dried fruits
  • Find what food works for you during workouts and stick with it
  • Carry your own food. Don't rely on the race-provided food as it might disagree with you and hamper your performance. It's worth it to have to carry your own stuff to avoid accidentally consuming that disagrees with your system.
After the race (or long workout):
  • Eat small amounts of carbs, fruit, fruit juices in the 15 minutes just following the race.
  • Eat a meal with protein no more than two hours after the race is over
  • REST, RELAX, REJUVENATE after the race... your body needs it
  • If possible, take an ice bath to help speed up your recovery (get in a cool water bath and add ice, soak for 10 minutes, get out)
Above all else: hydrate all the time.

Unfortunately, I had to leave early, but the above advice was priceless for me. It's given me a lot to consider over the next ten days as I get ready for my first race.

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