Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Live, learn, forget, re-learn...

I can't believe it's December already, but training is going well. I'm not doing a huge distance at this stage (c. 20 km / week), but am using the sessions to work much more intensively on different registers of pace, and in particular, in holding a decent (for me) race pace. I'm very aware of the cut-off for Manhattan, so am trying to focus on that side of things on the assumption that I know that I can manage the endurance aspects of the swim. So, less plodding for me, and more pace work. On top of that, I'm running on the treadmill a couple of times a week (just 3 miles each time) plus some strength training in the gym and daily stretching and working on the shoulders using bands. I've even been cycling to work, although now that the weather's taken a turn for the worse I doubt I'll be willing / able to keep that up.

So much of this is familiar to me, and even though the focus on pace work is playing a much greater role than previously, I basically know how to train and feel confident that the programme that I've put together will get me where I need to be next summer. But somewhere along the line, I lost track of some of the other important aspects of training - most notably, nutrition. By the middle of term, I was feeling absolutely exhausted, but in spite of that, was having trouble sleeping - a classic sign of over-training, even though I didn't really feel that the amount of training I was doing warranted that.

But then I also started to notice that I was losing weight. As a matter of principle, I rarely weigh myself - scales have a compulsive aspect to them, and I hate the thought of the quality of my day being determined by pounds lost or gained. Ultimately, I don't really care whether I'm fatter or thinner and don't accept that my body size says anything meaningful either about either me as a person, or about my health. But I was unhappy with this unplanned and quite noticeable weight loss, dropping a clothes size in just a couple of months. Combined with my tiredness, this suggested that I didn't have my nutrition right. I went back through my fieldnotes from the Channel training, and realised that I was making much more use of energy drinks and recovery shakes then than I have been this year. On top of that, I've been eye-wateringly busy at work, and especially mid-week, was either skipping the occasional meal, or grabbing a quick pot of soup at my desk, rather than preparing proper meals to support my body-in-training.

So, I've given myself a talking to, and forced myself to re-learn all that I had learned, and apparently forgotten, about nutrition and training. As a result, I'm now using energy drinks (SiS Go - what used to be PSP22) rather than water for pool sessions, and am having either a protein shake or bar afterwards by way of aiding recovery. In addition, I'm being much more meticulous about packing pasta or rice salads for lunch, rather than just buying soups, and have a ready supply of cereal bars, nuts and fruit in my bag and desk. The result has been a complete transformation in how I feel - I have much more energy, my swim times have improved, and I'm sleeping like a log.

Lesson (re) learned.

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