Post Race Blues. It’s a thing. Who knew?

“You have good nails for someone who’s just finished an ironman” my best friend says to me. It’s just over a week since I’ve crossed the finish line of ironman and I’m back at home.

“I don’t know what to do with myself!” defending my perfectly polished nails.

“You can join the rest of us mortals and do normal things like sit on patios and watch movies”

Touché.

We were teasing, but the truth was I felt a bit lost, and even more surprising – depressed. How could I feel this way after one of the coolest vacation and experiences of my life?

Not only were Ironman and Mont Tremblant amazing, I had four incredible days with Tim in Montreal celebrating our five year anniversary exploring the city by bike, tastings in beautiful vineyards and then visiting with dear friends at a cottage. There was a food tour, a spa, an eight-course meal at one of my favourite restaurants, swimming in a beautiful lake, laughter and wine with wonderful people. You get the idea. I had absolutely nothing to be sad about…but I was. In fact, I was down right sullen. People would ask me about the race, and I would struggle to show my enthusiasm for the entire experience. I had no regrets about the race and couldn’t imagine the day going any better…but why so blue?

I read up on this phenomena (I like to call it the ‘Boxing Day Syndrome’) – it turns out its quite normal! After working all year for one large goal and putting so much focus into Ironman, once it was over there is certainly a low to follow. There were some great suggestions that I tried to put into play.

  1. Sign up for a new race. Check. I decided to finish off my race season with the Valley Harvest Marathon. This is the closest marathon to my family’s home and I’ve enjoyed completing the 5 &10K over the thanksgiving weekend. Finish a run, watch the pumpkins races in Windsor and have Nanny’s turkey dinner. The marathon has always been on my bucket list so why not now? After committing to this via my registration fee, I dusted off my runners and went for my first post-ironman ran. My plan was 16K (delusional much?) and at 5K I stopped at a friends house and wondered if I had gone insane. My hips hurt. The humidity was ridiculous. I hated running. I managed the 5K home, but wondered if recovery was going to take a bit longer than I anticipated.
  2. Do some of those things that I put off when training. Paint the deck (eat nibs), paint the garage (eat more nibs), organize my house (over wine), read more (wine), cook more (with wine), walk the dogs more, clean out my closet. I’m on it.
  3. Write. More.
  4. I’ve reached out to a few local races and offered to help out 3 local events over the fall. I really do love cheering people on! 
  5. Reconnect with those amazing non-triathletes.
  6. Chase some big career goals and professional development.   

I am happy to report my post-race sadness has dissipated completely and I’m learning the fine balance between lazing on the coach with Netflix to 6-hour bike rides. There’s a happy-medium I’m aiming towards for the remainder of 2015.

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I am certainly committed to completing another ironman distance race, but I’m unsure it will be in 2016. Our family has plans in Newfoundland next summer, but I suspect there will be some local triathlons I get involved with, including Epic.

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The Clean Eating Experiment

It’s easy to determine if I’ve had a good training week or not. There are red and green boxes, sore muscles, and hours logged. Tangibles. It’s not quite as easy to talk about nutrition. If someone asked me how my week was, and I had just eaten an apple, I’d say great….if I has just finished off the doritos, I may second guess my choices.  

I’m no angel when it comes to food. I don’t deprive myself of anything, but have confidence I know what’s good and bad for me and tend to focus on the former.

Except for the past month. If I were being graded, I’d say my nutrition in March would result in a C. Minus. I’ve been struggling to make smart nutrition choices, and some nights been guilty of consuming three cadbury eggs, along with “loads of ketchup” potato chips. Gross (and delicious). I wondered to myself: Why do I even have this crap in my house!? I typically start my days off strong, fruit smoothie, eggs, salad, fish, vegetables and then….garbage, garbage, garbage! Sometimes the garbage starts earlier in the day…say around 3pm in the lunch room. This garbage consists of leftover meeting sandwiches, the boss’s jujubes, baked cookies and loaves from my coworkers. And on my worst days I realize that all of my meals have come through a window or out of a frozen tray. Disgusting.

If I was featured on one of those episodes of what I eat in a week, it would be shameful!(http://foodmatters.tv/articles-1/what-the-world-eats-shocking-photos).

The sad thing is, I know better. I studied nutrition in school and one of my best friends is a nutritionist. I read about nutrition all the time and understand the importance of nutrients and vitamins found in whole foods. I’m also fully aware of  the empty calories / trans -fats / other harmful effects of processed, packaged foods. I know what is essential for a healthy body. Essential for an endurance athlete’s body.

But I suppose this is the part I don’t give myself enough credit for. That I’m not a real athlete. Not even a real runner. I’m an impostor trying to join the club.

The little voice in the back of my head pipes up: “Hey B. You’ve got an Ironman in 20 weeks. Now would be a good time to start believing you’re an athlete.”   

…..I’m an athlete. 

And I need to start fuelling like one. Despite my knowledge, it still felt overwhelming to start a new plan. There is so much talk about not eating carbs, fat, dairy, protein, but what’s left? Please don’t say legumes. And what’s all this talk about Paleo?

I don’t support diets, perhaps it’s because I haven’t been able to last for longer than 24 hours on one. Diets are so limiting and (in my extreme case) unsustainable….and I like so, so many food groups. I don’t crave sweet or salty or chocolate. I crave it ALL. And then I came across this book: 

eating clean for dummies

Don’t judge, I’m a HUGE fan of this line of books!

So, here goes my experiment. Clean eating. It’s a concept I can get behind. Removing the processed and fried foods from my life. Focusing on one-ingredient foods. Whole, fresh foods with ingredients I can pronounce and understand.

The simplest description of clean eating I’ve found is:  “If it had a mother, or grows in the ground, eat it.” Simple. Step two is focusing on non-GMO and organic. I was planning on starting with step one and buying organic when available. This plan reminds me of what I’ve been hearing for years….shop the parameter of my grocery store for the healthiest eating choices. I can get on board with that!

clean eating march 2015

My first round of grocery shopping, focusing on “Clean”

Eggs, nuts, fruits, vegetables, quinoa, lean meat, cheese and okay, okay! legumes. Fish, grains, whole grain pasta and bread and good god, did I read that right? Dark chocolate gets the green light.

So heres to trying something new (but with some concepts I’ve been practising for awhile now) and lasting at least 24 hours. I’m hoping that I can eat 90% clean for an entire week, and I started with a delicious salad from Pete’s! Here’s to the next (clean) week and the 20 weeks until the big race!    

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My first trip to the gym in weeks was rewarded with healthy, clean greens.

 

    

Fuel for the Fire

 

Diet. It’s a four letter word… but ultimately diet is what you put in your mouth. Properly defined: the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats. I’ve never had success with a strict diet of anything. Low-carb, low-fat, atkins, paleo, it’s just not me. 

The word diet often has me flashing back to my pre-teen days when my parents were following the Susan Powter “Stop the Insanity” program. I can’t tell you much about it, except that everything was measured in baked potatoes with a strong focus on reducing fat intake. “Why eat a candy bar when you can have 34 baked potatoes instead?” It became a family joke that we still throw around today. “Are you sure you want that dessert? You could have 213 baked potatoes instead, you know” we tease.

susan powter

Diet – in the ultimate definition of the word – isn’t something I can ignore, and when I am burning an upwards of 2000 calories a day, I need to spend time thinking of my food intake and be mindful of what I’m eating and if it’s enough to keep me kicking. A balance of carbohydrates, fat and protein is key to my performance. I’m sure any athlete can attest to finishing a gruelling workout and when faced with the famish feeling reaches for something fast and, well, there. This can lead to poor choices without planning. 

 

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Garbage in, garbage out

On October 12th, 2013 I made a serious shift in my diet.

NO MORE FAST FOOD!!

Confession time: I’d eat fast food 3 times a week. Yes, I’ll biggy size that. Yes, I’ll have fries with that. And yes, I’ll add McChicken Sauce. I’d eat in my car in secret  because I knew it was WRONG. I am known as the sporty one with my colleagues, family and friends (except with my ironman friends, then I’m classified as lazy 😉 ), but I had a dirty secret. And it was what I was using for fuel, more times than I was willing to admit. And despite my workout regime, some of my pants were becoming rather tighter than when they were originally purchased.  

After one particularly disgusting meal (Spicy chicken combo, biggy sized with a coke from Wendy’s, incase you were wondering) and urging from a wise friend to watch the popular documentary “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead”, I knew I had to make a change if I wanted to put my best training foot forward for 2014. So I went cold turkey, I signed up for Home Grown Organic Food delivery and frig, why not? I bought a juicer. It was time to wake up and smell the vegetables. 

juiceing blog

Juicing with Joe

I know the formula for eating right, I just needed the planning and motivation to accompany it. Here I am six months later, not perfect by any means (I made homemade poutine. Three times. And I eat bacon. And drink beer. I could go on….) but I don’t get my food through a window, avoid processed foods and I spend most Sunday’s planning my weekly meals and snacks.

The meal planning is going well, I eat out at restaurants less and physically, I’m feeling much better. It’s becoming more rare for me to eat a meal and feel that gross and guilty feeling, and I’m always keeping my eyes peeled for yummy and healthy recipes. Easter Sunday found me in a sea of some of my favourite recipe books planning this weeks meals: 

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My recipe book shelf – a few of my favourite go-tos.

I’m not saying I won’t be polishing off some chocolate, ham, cheese (and more) this holiday weekend (let’s get real), but on Monday it’s back to the plan of healthy fuel to keep my training on track and feeling energized and not lethargic.

As to be expected, I’ve had moments when all I can think about is chicken mcnuggets. I haven’t caved yet, the feeling passes and I choose real food and feel great about my decision. The cravings are fewer and far between and I find my tastes are shifting…cravings for sushi, pears and hummus have taken the place of fries, burgers and mcchicken sauce.

Eating healthy takes time, planning, investment and desire – I’m not perfect but I’m happy to be moving in the right direction.

Healthy