Tuesday 28 June 2011
A new adventure began. We arrived to Trinidad and Tobago and ran our first race in the scorching heat and humidity. I swear it's more fun than it sounds!
At this first race is where we joined the ‘One A Week Hill Runners Club’ which has been an absolute one-of-a-kind experience between all the training, knowledge and new friends we've made here in the land of Carnival. I participated in the big 'Fusion Race (over 35k) last month, and now it's on to marathon training for the LOOOOOOONG run.
The following information is some of the knowledge and expertise that our running coach, Dexter Simon, has left us with. I would like to share some of the concepts he has discussed to become a well balance, 'holistic athlete'.
There is a marathon taking place here in Trinidad and Tobago on July 24th - just two weeks away from now - and we have this event scheduled in our calendar as we continue on our journey together as a team.
Balance is the correct combination of the following points listed below, which makes the ‘Holistic Athlete’: one who maintains a high ‘base line’, thereby making it easier to attain new goals within a relatively short space of time.
Key Steps to Becoming the Ultimate Holistic Athlete
1) Adequate Sleep - 7 to 8 hours a night. Proper and adequate rest allows your body to recuperate and rejuvenate quickly, and also puts it in a position to call upon ‘reserves’ when required in order to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle.
2) Proper Nutrition and Supplementation - They promote and support the healthy lifestyle. Have frequent meals and snacks (3 meals/2-3 snacks) throughout the day, plus supplements (vitamins, amino acids, protein shakes, electrolyte replacements, bars, etc) in between or with food.
A routine meal schedule could look like the following:
1) 6:00am to 8:00am - Breakfast + Supplements (Protein Shake after a morning workout)
2) 10:00am - Healthy Snack + Protein Shake
3) 12:00pm - Lunch + Supplements
4) 3:00pm – Healthy Snack + Protein Shakes
5) Post Work Out - Protein Shake + Light Snack (electrolytes if needed)
6) 8:00pm - Dinner
7) 10:00pm - Light Healthy Snack + Pre Sleep Supplement (Protein Shake, etc; optional)
Note: The above has to be a ‘lifestyle’ change and commitment, not only to be done for ‘a period of time’, and is not only applicable for people who are competing or so called "freaks"; this is how everyone (who is athletic) should be nourishing their bodies to foster and maintain a high metabolic rate, a healthy body and way of life.
The benefits of this new existence are far greater than the sacrifices made (which are only at the start) and your families and children will thank you for the extra years added as a result of same. People spend too much time regretting past mistakes, start healthy eating habits and you won't have to make huge sacrifices to lose weight or get healthy! Eat in accordance with your training sessions and hydrate sufficiently.
3) Personal Base Line Level and Training - Maintaining a base line level of fitness requires a devoted regime of training at least 4 days per week, minimum 2 hours per session. What does base line level mean? This is a level of fitness which could be relatively easy to maintain based on personal standards and the base line level one wishes to sustain.
There are several of base line standards - a typical example of a personal base line could be:
Pushups (Male 50, Female 25)
Sit ups (Full range sit ups: Male 75, Female 45)
400 m run – 65 seconds
1 mile run – 7 minutes 30 seconds
1 lap Q.P. Savannah (approx 2.2 miles) – 18 minutes 30 seconds
5K – 25 minutes
With a decent base line level, training for ‘new’ events (a 5K, ½ Marathon, Marathon, ‘Fusion’, start of a new football season, etc) will not be as difficult to prepare for and will not require exhaustive amounts of preparatory time, compared to starting from a very low fitness level or ‘very low base line’.
There are two main types of preparation:
1) preparing to ‘Complete’
2) preparing to ‘Compete’
These two very different types of participation require different approaches and ‘effort levels’ regarding intensity and preparation.
If you cannot complete a marathon you will know in advance of the race day. When it comes to marathon training, especially if it's your first, aim to 'complete' and not to 'compete'. Remain positive, and avoid negetaive thoughts about "not being good enough". The biggest part of training is actually 'showing-up'. So just show up and challenge yourself! The worst that could happen is you enjoy the pre-training, learn something about marathon running, and improve your base line level fitness.
4) Rest and Recovery - It is important to not be fanatical! Rest and recovery ARE important. STOP, take a moment to rest, and that simply means - just chill out! Go to dinner, watch a movie, take the kids to the park (active recovery) have some ‘me time’ and some ‘family time’.
Most athletes believe that when they stop training they will loose ‘fitness’ - *news flash* you will only get stronger if it is done correctly. e.g do not take 3 to 4 days off if you are preparing for a race or trying to increase your base line level and you are on a program. This will cause you to regress where your ‘consistent improvement’ is concerned and only set you back in achieving your goals.
Rest should be taken after intense workouts or a string of them e.g if you are training for long periods (above 2 hrs) on a daily basis without enough sleep and insufficient nutrition, you will require rest sooner (probably every 2 days) rather than every 4 to 5 days consistent with a ‘holistic athlete’. The balance of all elements of the ‘Holistic Athlete’ must be considered to achieve optimal gains in the program and fitness.
What happens when a person is a "jumper" and over trains when not using the holistic approach?
You will train every day, probably for 8 days straight and then BOOM! Your system "BONKS". You will crash and get ill! When you are sick you loose 7% of your fitness every day! You basically have to do a ‘pick up’ from the complete setback whilst having missed valuable sessions to stay on track with your improvement. You just will not get to where you want to go.
5) Weight Training and Strength Training - Modern Science dictates that all athletes must incorporate weight training into their program to strengthen muscles, joints, tendons, etc, to improve strength and the general ability to perform economically and efficiently whilst minimizing (hold on time to drink my protein) injury during training and getting the optimal results from your body. The general outlook is one which is just added value.
A strong physique is extremely important if you want to do ‘different and new things’ as well as safely challenge yourself. Injury does not discriminate but your body will have a quicker recovery and lesser consequences (smaller pop downs or "mini" pops) when it occurs.
6) Cross Training - It is important to engage in some sort of cross training activity. This could be done with a friend or partner, and even the kids! When you constantly use the same muscle groups all the time for the same sport, your ancillary muscles stay dormant and under-utilized which opens you up to the possibility of injury when or if you make a different or strange action or movement which is out of the norm for you.
Most of us runners come from several different backgrounds so it will be easy to just ‘go back’ to your original sport for a bit with some limitations of course. e.g. I was a competitive figure skater for 14 years but there is not a single ice rink to be found in T&T...so I like to dance or do fitness classes (I'm a Certified Fitness Instructor, Personal Trainer and Official Zumba Instructor). Those are my cross-training activities. Mix it up - basketball, football, hockey, swimming, kayaking, hiking, cycling, etc.
7) Equipment - What you wear and how you look will determine how you perform and improve.
This part of the ‘Holistic Approach’ is very important! Too many times I have heard people state “I can't run because of shin splints”, etc.
Every different type of running and surface has a different affect on your body, so you have to make the necessary adjustments with your training gear.
Educate yourself regarding the proper running shoes for:
1) Road running - Short distance/speed (5 to 10Km)
2) Road running - Long distance (15 to 40km)
3) Trail running - Short distance
4) Trail running - Long distance
5) Cross trainers - used for several types but not specific to any - average performance
6) Road to trail transition
Make calculated decisions based on your needs and your budget.
Holistic athletes are complete and balanced. They can take on any (or most) challenges because of the sacrifices they have made in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. They reap the benefits of living long healthy lives with their families and loved ones.
You will always hear of the so called ‘fit people’ who 'randomly' drop dead from a heart attack (sorry for being harsh) but no-one will ever tell you of the behind the scene stories of the bad eating, inadequate sleeping and poor nutritional habits of the person who gives the disciplined ones a bad reputation!
Reach for the stars and NEVER let anyone tell you that you can not! Impossible is non-existent if you prepare for it! Become the ‘Ultimate Holistic Athlete’ and you’ll never be held back again!