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May 24, 2010

Pushing it “indicators”

lance_1

Right, after the wonderful article on “Woolies Cleaning Up” I thought it would be time to get back to some high performance sports stuff. One of the things that I discuss most with Ironman guys (they ask the most questions – almost as many as the girls – keep it up girls!) is learning to listen to your body about when you are pushing it a little hard.

Many endurance athletes get sick aplenty and struggle with weight management and never quite get to their goals because their training goes well for a few weeks and then #BOOM its a blow up scenario, followed by 4-5 days of bad sleep, bad behavior and zero training. If athletes get sick, they can miss up to 2 weeks of good work, which in essence they will never recover.

So how do you learn to be aware of these things? How does it “feel” just before you get sick.

How do I know when I’m pushing it too hard? How does it feel before I blow up, mentally and physically?

For me I have a set of key indicators for when I am totally pushing my limits and in turn, my luck, my health and my long term outlook. I have to live a little more controlled than others but that is just how my body functions. I deal with wine and beer better than ice cream and pasta. Find what works for you and what doesn’t and list the things that don’t work and the things you are prone to craving when you are pushing it. Here are my things:

1. Sugar – when I am close to the limit, I crave sugar.
2. KFC – nothing beats a Boxmaster Deluxe Upsize with a Chocolate Shake when I am feeling on the edge. Its a sure sign I need to back off.
3. Erratic sleep – I will be dead tired by 8pm and ready for bed but when I get to bed I sleep badly. My body is so broken I can’t sleep properly. This happens to me a few times a year, but that’s only because me + music + forests = totally overdoing it.
4. Hiding from the world – I will go into a cocoon when I am overdoing it, avoiding people, socializing and crowds of people. Insert me into society and I tend to be short and upsetting to those around me.

Those are probably my 4 biggest indicators. I pay careful attention to them as they generally come before I get a sore throat and a clogged up nose. I sometimes ignore them, but it’s always to my detriment.

A useful way to do this is to keep daily track of your food intake and general emotional state. The only way to spot trends is to analyze the data and unless you are creating data you will never know the onset of emotional and physical decoupling.

So what’s the biggest lesson in all of this?

If you see me walking on Noordhoek beach on my own eating a piece of oily fried chicken with a milkshake in my hand and feel the immediate urge to ask me how many minutes per week you need to spend riding at FTP to FTP + 5% to achieve that sub 5h30 bike split….. just walk away, ok? I want you to make it to the race.

By the way: How rad is that picture of Lance?

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