"The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start."
*** As always, for a QUICK READ, just skim the BOLD passages. ***
Dear Tri Babes - Notice that when beginning to train for a triathlon, you can get quite a few miles under
your Tri Shorts before you actually start to pay the price for not doing things properly. Eventually,
however, not doing things "Pinkly" takes a toll. Believe it or not, I usually know the exact point at which
you can no longer "get by" without doing things properly - it is the moment I start to see you cry!
Unfortunately, I can't go all "Tom Hanks" on you and say "there is no crying in baseball" for two
important reasons: 1) this isn't baseball, it is triathlon; 2) triathlon is a HIGHLY emotional sport. If you
are going to keep your sanity in this sport, you are going to need to learn to ride those emotional waves!
When emotions serve your purpose, tap into them!!! But, when they undermine your comPLETion, you
need to banish them!!!
One of the MAIN sources of UNPRODUCTIVE, negative emotions is improper Nutrition aka
"Fueling & Fluids." If you google the symptoms of "dehydration," you will see a list containing the
following: Extreme fussiness or sleepiness in infants and children; irritability and confusion, in adults.
Once your training distances start getting longer and the days start getting warmer, I start to see whole
lot of irritability and the attendant emotional onset of some of the common neuro-physical symptoms of
dehydration which include: Muscle Cramping, Dizziness, Headache, fatigue. Or in other words, I start
hearing a whole lot of irritable complaining and start seeing a whole lot of fatigue induced crying going on!
But, guess what . . . THERE IS A SIMPLE SOLUTION . . . just do what I say!!! Oops, there is that
Meglomaniac that Dane and Drake are always complaining about rearing her oversized head! So, let me
try again . . . You need to realize that YOU ARE AN ATHLETE!!!! Granted, you may not be a GOOD
athlete. But, that is irrelevant. You are a GOOD ENOUGH ATHLETE. Therefore, you must treat your
body like an athlete does. You MUST provide your Good Enough Athlete's Body with the Fluids
and Fuel which it needs!!! If you don't, your body will rebel. And the signs of rebellion are: muscle
cramps; excessive fatigue; inability to perform; nausea; dizziness; irritability; confusion. Obviously,
different people respond differently to these symptoms. But, at the risk of getting my Feminist License
revoked, many women respond to these symptoms by crying. I can attest to the fact that you are FAR
more likely to see me cry when I am irritable and mad than when I am sad. I am NOT saying that you
can't cry. What I AM saying is that we need to eliminate the UNPRODUCTIVE PHYSIOLOGICAL
REASONS, like improper Nutrition, and leave the crying to the PSYCHOLOGICAL SITUATIONS that
actually benefit from a bout of crying!
Here is an effective FUEL AND FLUIDS FORMULA to make sure that you stay as happy as possible
AND perform as well as possible whilst TRI-ing!!! For the sake of simplicity, I am going to lump
food/fuel and fluids into a single category called "Nutrition."
1) Realize that Proper Nutrition is not just a Training Time and/or an Event Day issue. Proper Nutrition
is a 24 hours a day/7 days a week commitment!!!
2) In order to be properly hydrated while you are training and tri-ing, you should drink 1/2 your body
weight in ounces of water per day!!!! For example, this morning I woke up and stepped on the scale.
It read 164 pounds. This means that I am going to drink 164 divided by 2 = . . . give me second, I am
thinking . . . = 82 ounces of water!!! NOT flavored water; not that brown caffeinated fluid nor that black
carbonated fluid which actually dehydrate you; and NOT that red or white fluid that helps you process
bad days and celebrate good ones. I mean that CLEAR FLUID CALLED WATER!!! You need to drink this
amount of water each and every day, no matter how much it makes you do that incredibly healthy
activity which you perversely resist called "peeing." By drinking properly each and every day, you
are creating a hydration base that will serve you on training and events days. Without this
base, you start your training and events at a deficit from which you can never truly recover --
no matter how much your consume whilst training or comPLETing.
3) As a not necessarily good, but certainly a good enough, athlete, you also need more protein per
day than the average sedentary person. Good enough athletes need 0.6 times their body
weight in grams of protein per day; good athletes need 0.75 times their body weight in grams
of protein per day! So, let's do some more math, shall we?!?!?!? If I weighed 164 pounds this morning
and I am being honest about the fact that I am training like a "good enough" athlete (i.e. I am doing more
endurance work than Interval work and I am very rarely pushing myself to maximum capacity AND my
times put me in the 75th - 90th percentile in my age group), then I must multiply 164 X 0.6 in order to get
98. This means that I should be consuming 98 grams of protein per day!!! Please don't ask me "how
many ounces is that?" That is like asking which weighs more -- a pound of lead or a pound of feathers --
they both weigh the same! And, X many grams of protein is X many grams of protein. Each food item
has its own unique amount of protein per ounces of consumption. So, you need to check labels and see
how many grams you are getting based upon how many servings you are consuming.
The first three parts of your Fantastic Fuel and Fluids Formula concerned what you should be doing each
and every day. Now, let's talk about what you should do before, during, and after training and
4) You must eat a power packed meal at least 1-2 hours before you train/comPLETE. I like to
make sure that I combine carbs, protein, and good sugar (like fruit). I like to avoid dairy before events
since it does not interact well with my nervous pre-event stomach. But, I AM able to eat yogurt before a
short (under three hours) training activity.
I also like to eat a light "snack" 15-30 minutes before an Event or Swim Training -- forget what
your mother told you about waiting an hour to swim after you have eaten -- that has to be one of the
most puzzling, and for triathletes, problematic, of "Old Wive's Tales!"
Obviously, YOU need to figure out what YOUR body prefers. So, start experimenting NOW!
5) While training and comPLETing, you MUST make sure that you consume enough fluids in
order to counteract dehydration. On a normal and cold temperature day, you need between 8 - 16
ounces of fluids depending upon your sweat rate; on a warm day, you might need up to 24 ounces per
hour!!! So YES, you will probably have to pee during your training and maybe even during your event! If I
pee right beforehand, I can usually go 3 - 3.5 hours without a pit stop but over that, I must, and therefore
6) While training and comPLETing, you must consume between 200 and 300 calories per hour
of exercise!!! If your good enough athletic endeavor will take you less than 2 hours, you CAN get away
with a strong Nutritional Base PLUS a Power Packed Pre Training/comPLETing meal -- as long as you
ARE taking in the requisite amount of fluids. However, if you are noticing that you are struggling to
comPLETE your workouts OR if you are excessively tired afterwards OR if you are too exhausted to train
again the next day, then you REALLY need to make sure that you fuel whilst training and tri-ing!
While warmer weather requires an increase in fluids; colder weather often requires an increase in
calories. How you get your calories is dependent upon what YOUR gastrointestinal system can handle.
Each calorie choice has its own pros and cons. So, once again, start experimenting NOW with what
works for YOU!! Personally, I like to use Perpetuum (available on-line, at Poulsbo Running, and at
Silverdale Cyclery). What I LOVE about Perpetuum is that it is a powder which you mix into water.
Therefore, I can decide how many calories each water bottle contains. If I am going for a long (3 plus
hours) training/event, I mix 400 calories into each water bottle; if I going for a short (less than 3 hours), I
mix 270 calories into each water bottle. If it is a hot day, I use 24 ounce bottles; if it is NOT a hot day, I
use 20 ounce bottles.
The other thing I LOVE about Perpetuum is that it does double duty for me -- I can consume BOTH my
requisite fluids AND my requisite fuel calories at the same time!!!
But, your GI may not tolerate Perpetuum and your palate might not prefer the Caffe latte flavor (which I
actually enjoy) or the Strawberry-Vanilla, Orange, and Chocolate options. If you aren't as enamored of
Perpetuum as I am, you certainly have OTHER options: GUs (bleck); Shot Blocks (not much calorie
bang for your consumption buck); Energy/Carb Bars (again, BLECK); Real Food (hard to carry and
consume whilst moving). So . . . START EXPERIMENTING NOW WITH WHAT WORKS FOR YOU!!!
7) You need a means of replacing electrolytes like sodium and potassium that you lose from
sweating. Please remember that you sweat regardless of the temperature. (This is why I HATE Winter
Sports -- I have an incredibly high sweat rate and it just isn't fun to be dripping wet in freezing weather!)
BUT the higher the temperature, the more you sweat (I know, duh). The reason I felt the need to state
this incredibly obvious fact is because if you are sweating normally and fueling properly (200 - 300
calories per hour of exercise), then whatever fuel you are consuming is usually able to replace
the electrolytes which you are losing. However, if you are sweating excessively and exercising for a
long (more than three hours) period of time, you may need to take more extraordinary measures in order
to replace electrolytes. These extraordinary measures involve taking Salt Tablets (you can get these
on-line or at MAXX Nutrition in Silverdale. Tell them that the Tri Turtle sent you;)
However, before you go taking these extraordinary measure, let's just try actually fueling properly and
notice what an amazing difference THAT makes in replacing your lost electrolytes!
8) You must RE-FUEL and RE-HYDRATE within 15-30 minutes of finishing your training/event!!!
What you need to realize is that for all the GOOD which exercising does for your mind and body, it is
also a type of "trauma" to the body. Exercising works by tearing down your muscles (they respond by
re-building bigger and better). Exercising depletes your stores of fluids and fuel. The instant you stop
exercising, your body is desperate to "recover." If you do not provide your body with the fluids and fuel it
needs to recover, then you do NOT get all the wonderful benefits AND you DO experience lots of
negative effects -- namely prolonged exhaustion, cramping, and muscle soreness. I made the mistake of
not taking in enough calories on a recent 44 mile Bike Ride and literally was thrown to the floor by the
cramping of my diaphragm muscle -- it was a hilarious, but unpleasant, sight that made me feel a LOT of
sympathy for LeBron James! So, the instant you stop exercising, you need to drink 8-16 ounces of
water AND eat a high protein snack. By doing so, you will feel much less tired AND you will be able
to more successfully comPLETE your NEXT scheduled training!
PLEASE NOTE THAT TRAINING ALSO JEOPARDIZES YOUR JOINTS . . . a great way to help your
joints "recover" is to immerse yourself in a COLD WATER BATH!!! If you live in Washington state
and are getting your water from an underground well, there is no reason to add actual "ice" to your ice
bath. Simply fill up your bathtub with comPLETEly cold water. Before stepping into said cold water, you
should remove your sweaty, skanky tri top (or whatever top in which you have just tri-ed) and your sports
bra and put on a fluffy warm top that you don't mind getting a little wet at the bottom. You should gather
your 8-16 ounces of water and your high protein snack and bring them with you to said bathtub. What
you should NOT do is take off your tri shorts (or whatever shorts in which you have just tri-ed). Enter
said cold water on the exhalation and the expletive wearing your fluffy, warm top and your tri (or recently
tri-ed in shorts)! I PROMISE that the indignity, the offense and the discomfort only last 30-60 SECONDS.
I promise that the next 10-15 minutes will NOT be nearly as unpleasant as you think they will be AND I
KNOW that the benefits of subjecting yourself to this imagined, but not actual, torture WILL outweigh
those 30-60 seconds of actual, but NOT hurtful, torture. Once you have stopped screaming expletives (I
CAN hear them, you know), you can leisurely enjoy your 8-16 ounces of water and your high protein
snack whilst basking in the positive pink emotional endorphins produced by your comPLETion.
OBSTACLES TO IMPLEMENTING THIS FORMULA WHICH MUST BE OVERCOME:
~ Your resistance to urinating! Come on peeople, what is more important -- your health or overcoming
this incredibly slight inconvenience?
~ Your fear of gaining weight by consuming calories. Come on people -- do the math!!! Yesterday I
burned 1049 calories while riding 24 miles. Since it took me 1 hour and 42 minutes to do so, I consumed
400 calories of fuel and since it was hot, I consumed 44 ounces of fluids. When I stepped on the scale
this morning, I weighed the same as I did yesterday!
~ The logistics of carrying all these fluids and calories with you while training/comPLETing!!!
You MUST get yourself to Silverdale Cyclery and figure out a system that works for YOU!!! I like to have
three water bottle cages on my bike. This allows me multiple calorie/water options depending upon how
far I will be riding.
~ Your ability to handle your bike well enough to actually consume fuel and fluids whilst
riding! If you don't PRACTICE by actually drinking and eating whilst riding, you will NEVER get any
better!!! I suggest that you ALSO practice during the week by going to a parking lot or grassy field.
Please realize that the BEST time to attempt to consume whilst cycling is when you are going
down a slight hill. While going down a slight hill, you have enough momentum to take one of your
hands off the handlebars but aren't going so fast that you need both hands for stability. Please realize
that it is VERY hard to take your hand off the handlebars when you are going UP a hill.
~ Your GI System's willingness to cooperate with all this consumption! Please realize that just as
you are training your Cardio-Respitory system to function more productively and just as you are training
your muscles to work more efficiently, you are ALSO training your GI system to process calories whilst
under the "stress" of athletic activity. This does NOT come naturally so do NOT expect it to do so. You
need to practice, over and over, when the stakes are low (your Individual Training) and the support is
HIGH (our Kitsap Tri Babe Bricks) so that you will have perfected your own personal Fuel and Fluids
Formula before your Event Day!
~ Your stubborn insistence that you DO "drink lots of water" and that you DID eat. 1) I don't give a
rat's whisker how much water you have or have not drunk. If you are experiencing muscle cramps,
nausea, and dizziness, you need to have drunk more!!! If you are feeling excessively fatigued during or
after your workouts, you need to have consumed more calories!!! 2) It is ONE thing to SAY, "I drink lots
of water every day"; it is an ENTIRELY OTHER THING to actually weigh yourself, divide that weight by 2
and drink that many ounces of water per day!!! It is ALSO ONE thing to SAY, "I drank lots while I was
training"; it is an ENTIRELY OTHER THING to measure out how many ounces of fluids you bring with
you while training and make sure that you get 8-24 ounces of fluids each and every hour depending upon
the temperature! Finally, it is ONE thing to SAY, "I ate"; it is an entirely other thing to be vigilant about
consuming 200 - 300 calories per hour of training/tri-ing!