Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Weight Management After the Winter

During the course of a training cycle or in between cycles many of us non-professional athletes gain weight.  My racing season typically is from April - September.  I feel comfortable racing during this time and training in the beautiful southern California sun.  This leaves winter as my "off season."  Off season for many means alternative sports or more down time.  This year my off season was marathon eating.  November and December saw my weight jump from my yearly average of 173.3 lbs to 193 lbs.

The gain in weight corresponded not only to "off season" but also to law school finals.  Luckily, I eased back into training habits and am almost back to my yearly average (which I hope to be under for racing in April); but here are a few strategies I used to allow the weight gain not get depressed about it.

  • Let your body heal
Many of us just don't know how to take a hint.  Pushing our bodies to the brink of injury and when injured all we can think about is doing it to ourselves over and over again.  I DNF'd (link) at the Headlands 100 this year at Tennessee Valley Aid Station (mile 54).  I felt a snap in my ankle and immediately went into panic about my fitness future.  What if my achilles is gone?  What if its broken?  Why did I not let it heal when it first flared up?

You see I knew I had an ankle issue; for months my tendon knots made a nice little silver dollar size clump.  My runs building to Headlands included a "warm-up" not for prudence but to allow my ankle to get full range of motion once it warmed up.  The result, a completely avoidable injury.  Luckily the snap was only the knot finally loosening up; it only took 10,000 ft of elevation gain/loss in the Marin Headlands to do it !

  • Invest in the things you divested during the season
Personally, I have a hard time "zoning out."  I just cannot do it to save my life.  But, what I can do is gain a trance like focus when exercising.  Because most of the season is spent training the "focus" I achieve is at the detriment of those closest to me.  I start spending less time with friends and family.  The relationships stress are "incidental costs" of endurance sports.   

Even though they are not out there with us and are happy for our accomplishments they miss us.  For example, my mother read "Born to Run" in spanish during my first Headlands 100 (blog) because she was so worried that she did it to understand what the heck goes through my head during a 100 miler.  Invest the off season in making them feel appreciated for all the things they do during the season that keep us on our bikes and in our shoes.

  • Truly make it an off season
For reals.  Just take time off for yourself.  "Off season" does not mean that you go and hike everest of that you suddenly do triathlons instead of ultra marathons.  All of us have that friend who PR's every distance, qualified for Boston, etc, etc...then burned out.  Don't lose the love for the sport or the active lifestyle just because you fail at moderation.  

Endurance sports are tough enough and never knowing when to relax really dulls the purpose of them.  I am a non-professional endurance athlete because I hope to have a healthy future and live longer and stronger because of it, but if I never teach myself how to ease off the gas mine will be the same fate of poorly run NASCAR teams.  They run an engine until it gives everything and there is nothing left for the return trip.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Focus and Awareness

It has been a while since I posted something because my running has been suffering.  My mileage is down and certainly not at the level I expected it to be.  In a way its a blessing because I have healed up some nagging overuse injuries but at the same time its annoying because I miss it.

After reflecting, I realized I may not be the only one struggling to get back to fitness so I am going to make an effort to keep a log of the trip back.  On the list of races this year is Sean O'Brien 26.2 (feb), American River 50 (april), Bishop High Sierra 100k (May) and the big one Angeles Crest 100 (aug).

So here goes the update....last week my mid back spasmed about 1.5 miles into a run.  The feeling sent shock waves through my body and my blood boiled.  Anger took me because I knew this pain intimately and thought it gone forever  (July 2011 - Post).  My back spasms coincide with periods of high stress.

Over the last few months I have focused on school so much to the detriment of other areas of my life.  Its always hard to find a balance..too much in either direction and its a problem.  But, law school is #1 and Ulrta Running is #2; thus I do not regret the extra time spent on school.  The part I failed was I stopped my daily meditation exercises.  I am a huge fan of the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center because it helped orient my meditation and made it doable and not foreign.

Gotta get back to it.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Invictus by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears 
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishment the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.