More Great Stuff from the F4 Coaching Staff

5 08 2009

From TRI Coach Heidi Smith’s Weekly Group E-mail:

I hope you all had a fantastic weekend and are enjoying our recovery week!  After we have finished our hard work from weeks past it is time to taper and restore our bodies for the upcoming race. During a taper period our bodies and minds can do all sorts of things.  We may expect to feel energized and itchy to race as the week go on, and although sometime we do, it is quite common to feel sluggish.  In the article on tapering for an IM, Mark Allen points out how many athletes tend to feel during taper time and tells tells us to Give yourself the luxury of this less-than-stellar feeling. It is just a signal that your body is repairing itself and getting ready for a big effort.” Read more below:

Taper is tricky because of what is happening internally when our bodies try to recover. When athletes start to give themselves rest, the system in the body that responds to stress (which is the system that allows you to get up for big workouts) starts to shut down. It is like working on the engine of your car. You cannot have the engine running at the same time that you are giving it an overhaul. You have to shut the engine off.

The same is true for our bodies. You have to shut the “engine” off for it to recover and charge up in the way that it needs to be ready for the big race. And when you do this, you will probably feel like you are out of energy, sluggish, and getting out of shape. THIS IS NORMAL.

Give yourself the luxury of this less-than-stellar feeling. It is just a signal that your body is repairing itself and getting ready for a big effort. We do this naturally each night when we sleep. We get a mini-taper. You sleep and you recover. You are not working out when you are sleeping.

But during the taper, a lot of the recovery is going to happen in the day when you are used to working out. This will require a readjustment of mindset. Allow yourself to feel lousy, out of energy, and sluggish. This is what a taper is for. Resist the temptation to go out and test your fitness just to make sure you are not losing it. As best as you can stick to the planned reduction in volume and overall intensity. This is the toughest part of a taper – the rest. …

For full article:

This article can be true; I know for me this is often the case.  One other article stated that 50% of people who were tapering felt sluggish while the other 50% were energized. There is no right way to feel.  The important things is to look back on hard work you have done and know that you will cash it in for a solid journey on Sunday.  Your job now is to rest, recover, stretch, pamper yourself…

For some of you this is your first Half and I am so excited for you!  I am tempted to say this may be my favorite distance.  The thing I love about the Half Ironman is that it is more like a journey than a “race.”  the Half is not something you just go guts out but you set a sustainable pace, and keep clippin away. When you think you’re feeling tried you’ll get a second wind.  If you keep your eyes open you’ll make a couple friends along the way.  We have worked on strategy for fueling and hydration as well as our mental training throughout the season.  We have invested in challenging workouts and races that have boosted our fitness.  Yes, you said it, you are pre-recorded for success!

I look forward to sharing the journey with you on Sunday weather you will be on the race course, volunteering (thank you!! you guys are awesome!!!!) or there in spirit.  I will be thinking and rooting for you!


From RUN Coach Anna’s Weekly Group E-mail:
Happy Recovery Week!
Some things to remember about recovery weeks:

1. It is helping even if you can’t feel anything.  As I was saying at the end of the run today.  Recovery is actually what makes us stronger.  Every time we workout, we tear down our muscles a little bit, and it is during recovery that the muscle repairs itself and gets a chance to grow back stronger.  So of course we all remember that from 8th grade health.  But the part to keep in mind is that although the 24 hours in between workouts during a normal week of training is important, it is also crucial to have slight longer recovery periods every so often as well.  Like this week!  Sometimes, our body does not a get a chance to repair everything back to 100% after each workout and some fatigue and deep tissue damage can linger. This week your body will get a chance to do not just the day to day repairs but a basic system over-haul if you will.  This will give it a chance to go in and actually repair any lingering damage that needed a little extra time and attention – stuff we often are not even aware is there!

2. Feed and take care of yourself just like you would on a pretty demanding week – give your body what it needs to do that repair work! Eat really well, try to get some extra sleep, and definitely hydrate.  Remember the gas tank analogy from today – don’t use all your fuel for the running, keep it for recovery purposes this week!

3. Use the extra time wisely.  Sometimes recovery weeks can make us antsy.  So try to be deliberate about how you spend some of your free time and extra energy.  Maybe look up new recipes for good running fuel meals, maybe make your own granola bars you can freeze and use for running snacks in the next couple of weeks, when you don’t have time and are tempted to grab something less healthy.  Maybe catch up on your training log, which has been neglected (hint, hint) or fill out that health form that you were supposed to give to your F4 running coach weeks ago! 😉  Maybe actually do your exercises for those shin splints and ice three times a day!  Buy new running shoes cuz you know they are old, and old sneakers can cause over-use injuries….Ah! how I could go on!  My point is, don’t sit around feeling antsy, if you feel the need to do something, do something fun that motivates you for your training even more!!

4.  If you are having trouble deciding whether to go harder or easier on a given workout this week, definitely go with easier.  Give yourself some extra walk-breaks if you feel tired, if you have had an injury that has been nagging take one of your X-train days as an extra rest day and stretch, roll and ice that injury.  If you are not sure how fast to be running, slow down!   Don’t worry what you will gain from the recovery far out weighs any fitness you think you are losing (which you aren’t by the way)  you will come back even stronger for it!

5. Talk to me! If you are having trouble taking it easy, talk to me! I will give you permission, and sometimes that makes it easier, so if you are waffling about whether to take an extra day off this week, or whether or not to go slower or shorter, send me an e-mail and I will be very willing to encourage you to take it easy! 🙂

Lastly, in case you did not catch the not so subtle hints earlier, this week would be a perfect chance to fill out that health form so you can get it to me next week, or buy new shoes, because I am going to start checking foot gear!

Some Thoughts also on Fuel/sports drink/weight gain or loss

1.  If you are feeling weak, light-headed, dizzy after a race – there is a good chance you need some water, electrolytes, food or all three.  Some ways to prevent this yucky feeling is to hydrate and fuel in advance of an extra long, or hard workout – I am not saying go to town three days beforehand on whatever looks or sounds good. but actually pay attention to the food you are eating and make sure it is nutritious and make sure you have a water bottle with you and you are hydrating beforehand.
After the run is a good time to keep drinking water, sports drink, and have a snack immediately, followed by a pretty nutritious healthy meal almost as soon as you can stomach it.  if you are trying to lose weight, this is NOT the right time to cut calories, you can be healthy, but make sure you give your body what it needs (more on this later)
2. What to eat/drink when/how…good questions and unfortunately, you are the only one who can answer those questions for you.  Some GENERAL guidelines are have some sports drink and/or goos and/or shot blocks or other fuel once your run exceeds an hour. Aim for a sports drink that has something in it other than sugar.  Try some of the samples Scott brings for us in the truck!  Just sugar will give you highs and lows which can sort of mess with your run or race.  Now the rest is up to you.  Try different drinks and see what you can stand – the point is to consume it, so if you hate it, and don’t drink it, I don’t care how much it cost it is doing you no good! So find something you like.  decide for yourself at what point you feel better having a sports drink as opposed to just water – maybe it is an hour, maybe it is only 30 minutes -each of us is going to vary a bit on WHEN a sports drink is a good idea. Also figure out what sort of food fuel you like, and when it starts being a good idea – maybe if you are running for an hour and a half or more you will need fuel.  Remember the point is to give your body what it needs before it actually needs it, so if you know you need a sports drink for anything over an hour, you start sipping that sports drink within the first 10 minutes of the run, so by the end of the run you are still going strong, you don’t just drink it after an hour has passed, same thing with food, if you know you will need fuel on the run, figure out at what interval works for eating and start eating when it works – that could be 20 minutes in to a 2 hour workout – but you know you will need that fuel later and need to get it started….Try lots of stuff, see what tastes and feels good, and please ask if you have questions!
3.  Weight loss and fueling for success.  I want to say right way I am not a nutritionist.  If you are serious about wanting to learn more about nutrition and training, I can recommend books and nutritionists are great to talk to!! But some basics:
a. Don’t skimp as a method to lose weight.  This doesn’t work for a number of reasons.  first our body is sensitive to not getting enough food, if it senses it is not getting what it needs, it slows down your metabolism, which makes you sleep and lazy and basically prepares to conserve energy and fuel.  Our fat stores are viewed as very important to the body and it will not give them up easily -especially if it is afraid you are starving.  So DON’T cut back on healthy amounts of healthy foods you know you should be eating…If you feed your body regularly healthy stuff, it will allow any speeding of your metabolism to happen naturally, which will burn more calories and will allow you to lose a few pounds if that is a healthy decision.
b.  Make sure you fuel properly for longer and harder workouts especially.  Again, don’t skimp, as these workouts will go less well if your body is lacking nutrition, you will not get the fitness benefit you were looking for, you will be more prone to injury and it won’t be fun! Know that after a workout like this your metabolism can stay elevated for hours! So if you are healthy you will burn plenty of calories without starving your body during the workout.
c.  A calorie is a calorie.  I know there is a lot of discussion out there as to what pace burns the fat and what pace burns carbs.  Yes there is some truth to that, but the easiest thing to remember is a calorie is a calorie, try to make as many of your calories good ones and you will feed good, and know that almost anything excess you put in can and will be converted into fat and stored regardless, so the balance is burn about as many calories as you consume or burn A FEW (and only a few) more then you consume each day to lose weight.  Yes, you might be running in the carb burning zone for a given workout, but the harder you run, overall the harder it is on your body and the more fuel it will burn, which means calories are being burned regardless, who cares where it comes from, it is burned! Plus those harder workouts keep your metabolism up for several hours like we talked about, so even if you are burning carbs in the moment, your body will probably resort to burning fat again after you cool down.
As always, let me know if you have questions!



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