MICHAEL LOVATO | Professional Triathlete




Training Starts… Now! (Again.)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

It’s March 16th, and I have strategically waited until after the Ides of March to write this blog. (Those who scratch their heads with confusion at that one should Google away.) It’s now spring break in Austin, and the weather is incredible. Most parts of the country are starting to emerge from the grips of winter, and folks are hitting the outdoor training quite hard, with renewed enthusiasm and ample motivation. And today, I admit, I am one of those folks!

After a solid month of training in January – which I spent consistently plugging away from Lovato Home Base, Boulder version – I plunged into a month of travel and commitments: HRTC Training Weekend in Houston, REV3 Tri Costa Rica (camp, clinic, commentary, announcing, etc.), followed by the Solvang Triathlon Camps weeklong training stint in CA. Interspersed therein I flew back and forth from the ATX to the BCO, and later drove back to Texas via Albuquerque. My past four weeks have been… busy.

Although my training has been quite good, it’s gone in mini-blocks for the past four weeks. Logging four to five days in a row broken by a few days of work/ coaching/ travel/ etc. has made for a lack of true consistency. The only streak I have managed to keep alive is my new-found commitment to logging back-to-back swim week (after week, after week, after week).

And now that I am in Austin, I am starting my training AGAIN!

Starting again really just means that I am moving into a phase of training that will be characterized by a new set of markers; I’ll be doing more race-specific workouts, and I’ll be more consistently tied to my need for day-to-day recovery, and proper in-session fueling. And for this reason, I am writing this blog update: it becomes increasingly more important to tend to the details of nutrition.

Although each of us has a different set of circumstances that lead us to when and why we ramp up our spring training, I am still seeing many athletes in a similar spot: motivated and ready to train. So I am taking a moment to make a few suggestions – to you and to myself!

First off, allow your body’s needs to evolve as your training progresses. In other words, pay attention to the fact that you will need different quantities and different varieties of breakfast when entering your period of consistent training. Starting out you will find yourself immensely hungry after each training session. You may find that a 90-min ride creates an appetite that normally correlates to a 3-hour ride. Be ready for that ramped up hunger, and prepare yourself by introducing a new recovery tool: Ultragen. Especially in your early weeks, the body is fighting hard to adapt to the increased training load – it’s stressed out, and needs to be treated well. I find that one or two bottles of Ultragen per day, timed within 30 minutes of a training session, aids in recovery, keeps me from getting sick, and it encourages me to make wise choices for refueling (rather than returning famished from a hard workout, pillaging the kitchen cupboards like a crazed gorilla in search of any suitable morsel of food – we’ve all done it!). Start the habit now: an Ultragen a day is what keeps the doctor away! (Note: apples need not be offended nor miffed, we still love you.)

Next, pay very close attention to hydration. Nearly all of us starts the day a touch behind on fluids. We each tend to lose two to three pounds per night of water weight, and with that deficit we can start our day at a huge disadvantage. My suggestion first thing in the morning – even before that precious cup of Joe – is to down 16oz of water. Do it, your body will thank you (but you may find yourself needing a few more trips to the John).

A third way to help your body adjust to its increased consistency of training is to begin using your fluid replacement drink outside of training sessions. A quality sports drink like EFS will do the best job of meeting your fluid and amino acids needs, and of keeping your electrolytes in balance. Mixing up some EFS for those in-between moments will help your body level out and find its equilibrium between sessions (work sessions, training sessions, or family sessions). Carry that bottle with you like you do at the expo during race week – start forming good habits now, and get that body ready to handle your efforts. Fluid replacement drinks are not just for workouts anymore.

Finally, this transition from winter training to consistent load is a great time to eliminate your lazy habits. Give yourself a drop-dead date to start tending to the little things. For many folks this means taking your vitamins daily instead of every other third Tuesday. Build the vitamins into your morning routine: a good way to do this is to pop the pills with that initial glass of water you just started drinking first thing in the morning. It works – water AND Mult-V in the tank before your oatmeal, toast, coffee, eggs, or donut.

Lastly, in reference to that last breakfast mention, try to cut out a few of the junk food regulars. It’s OK to eat these things on occasion, but notching back on the donuts a bit, and replacing them with your odd piece of fruit might be just the trick to get your system running smoothly, and to aid in dropping those final few lbs that are hanging around from the holiday weight-gain. Just think about it.

And with that, I must return to training. It’s nearly noon, and I’ve just finished my second breakie, which included a bottle of EFS, a Multi-V or three, and a large apple (see, I follow my own advice).

Onward and upward!

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