Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Merciless Eating

One of the best things about starting this triathlon stuff in my forties is learning how my body reacts to all this training. When you're a kid, everything works. Five-day-a-week workouts twice a day? Yep, that works if you're 16. Eating everything in sight for dinner? Yep, that works if you're 16. Things are a bit different when you're 47.

One interesting thing I've noticed is that if I train really hard (a hilly century ride, two brick workouts in a day), I can end up with a feeling like a cold is coming on. I have found only one thing makes that go away: what I call "merciless eating". This came up again last week when I felt very tired. The same feeling I had the whole week after my last triathlon and which followed me on our family vacation the week after that. There I was, the week after that and I was still tired. Rest wasn't working (I didn't train the week after the race and only twice the following week) so I figured I would see if merciless eating worked on that. It appears to have done the trick.

What is merciless eating? It's pretty much what it sounds like: you eat a lot. Two breakfasts. A snack. Lunch. Maybe another lunch but at least an afternoon snack. A snack when you get home. Dinner. Dessert. And maybe a snack before going to bed. Don't laugh, it's been working for me. Makes that cold-like feeling go away and it got me un-tired last week. I don't even feel full when I'm doing it, either. Weird.

I would prefer that I just eat the right amount after my workouts but I feel like I'm walking a fine line. On the one hand, sure I want to recover from heavy workouts so I do eat liberally afterwards. On the other hand, though, I don't want to be a pig because I am trying to lose weight, too. Also, you should know that I'm not exactly weighing my broiled chicken breasts and steamed broccoli so I know exactly how many calories I'm taking in. I made fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy last night (steamed squash, too). I'm much better about eating lots when I need to, though, so I don't have many merciless eating days. However, this post-race fatigue thing was something new. I didn't have the cold symptoms at all. It was just fatigue. And the race was just a sprint--it took 74 minutes!

Oh well. Live and learn. That's what makes this sport so interesting.

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