Thursday, February 21, 2008

Fueling for Performance, Fueling for Life

I love to eat. Heck, one of my favorite things about training is enjoying the mass amounts of food I get to pack away. Many people have asked me about my nutrition and if I have a "special" diet. My simple response of "No" seems to catch some by surprise. Now before you think, "Yeah, right dude. Get real." it is true I don't down packages of Twinkies and Ding-Dongs. My whole approach is to eat a balanced dose of lean meats, veggies, fruits and healthy carbs & fats while limiting my consumption of processed foods. I definitely enjoy my treats and as my grandmother always said, "Everything in moderation."

Having coached girls high school soccer and swimming I have seen the presence of disordered eating and training in athletes. For endurance athletes, there seems to be a very fine line between maintaining optimal race weight and being unhealthy. I don't count calories and for most athletes I think that is excessive. Obviously it is important to dial in the necessary caloric intake while training and racing, but if someone were to ask me how many calories I consume on a daily basis I would respond with, "Enough to keep me fueled and recovered." This is not to sound arrogant, but I have seen too many athletes risk injury through overtraining and depletion of muscle mass, calcium, iron and other vital nutrients in an effort to attain what they perceive to be "a lean, mean, racing machine."

Too many athletes equate being super lean & fit with being fast. While there is definitely a correlation between them, it should be kept in relation to each individual athlete. I am a firm believer in being proud of one's body type and the importance of loving oneself. This would include maintaining a balanced, healthy nutrition and exercise program. I recall a few instances where I have been out having dinner with other athletes and ordered cheese with my burger. From the look on some of their faces you'd thik I was a heathen for wanting cheese. It has often been said triathlon is a lifestyle. I agree, it promotes very healthy habbits and over time these habbits become a lifestyle. Just be certain these habbits are truly giving you a boost in body, mind and spirit!

Keep it smooth...

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