Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Swim, Bike, Run, Eat: Sweet Potato Hash with Turkey and Brussels Sprouts

This is a recipe I made up while I was riding the IMOZ course on the CT last night.  Brussel Sprouts are on sale / in season and I had a pound of them in my fridge.  Even though last night was wicked busy with wedding planning, I wanted to get them used while they were still good.  Here is what I did with them.


1 small onion, minced fine because Lana doesn't really like onion :)
2 cloves of garlic
2 turkey sausages (these were Jenny O turkey Brats)
1 Sweet Potato, diced (8 oz raw)
1 pound of Brussels Sprouts
Kosher Salt, Sage, and Thyme


1.  Get your mis en place done.  Once things get moving you'll need everything ready.

2.  Remove the outer leaves from the sprouts and then trim the edge of the stem.  Cut the sprouts in half. Put the prepped sprouts in a saucier with a half cup of water and a heavy pinch of salt.  Cover and cook over medium high heat until not quite fork tender, approximately 5 minutes after they start steaming.  The reason most people don't like sprouts is because they eat sprouts cooked to oblivion.  Don't do want a good amount of crunch on these still.

3.  Cook the Turkey Sausage in a big cast iron skillet until it reaches 165 deg F, then remove from the heat and slice.

4.  Cook the diced sweet potato in the microwave for approximately 2 minutes.  Again, we aren't looking for done, we're just helping them along.

5.  Add 2 tsp of olive oil to the cast iron skillet and heat until the oil shimmers.  Add the onion and cook until translucent.  Add the garlic, cook it for just a moment, and then add the sweet potato.  Let the potatoes start to carmelize before stiring.

6.  When the sweet potatoes are about half way done add the sausage and sprouts to the pan.  Continue cooking and add the thyme and sage.  Taste and season as needed. 

Nutritional Information:
Serves 2
KCal 350
Fat 15g
Carbs 35g
Protein 22g

Need more calories?  We ice cream for desert it was! 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Ugly Side of Recovery

So, the big events for the year are over.  Most of my blogging is about the weeks leading up to a race, but this post is all about race day to race day + 30, and the things many of us go through after a race, most of which aren't as fun as racing, or training to race.
The Post Race Blues
After both my big events for the year I was a little down.  It’s very normal to feel this way, most athletes go through it.  It’s not about not meeting goals.  In my case I did what I set out to do.  It’s more about realigning yourself.  For months, you train for this huge event.  You balance your life to train for the event, eat so you’re faster, sleep to recovery from that training, and then…it’s over.  It feels a bit like the 10 minutes after Christmas morning as a child. 
One of the best things you can do to fight the post race blues is to have a plan.  Where are you going from here?  What’s next?  The time after a race is a great time to plan your next block of training, and your next goal. 
Also, be sure to celebrate your success.  Talking about your race with friends, writing race reports, or even blogging (like I am right now), are all good ways to keep these anticlimactic feelings in check.
Supersized Weight Gains
After a race that requires me to put it all out there, I gain a TON of weight.  This didn’t really happen to me until this year, which I attribute to this being the first year I possessed the strength to really push my body to its fitness limits.  I normally weigh anywhere from about 177-182 at racing weight.  Immediately after the 70.3 and the mary my weight jumped up to the 190-200 range.  My body fat numbers based on the caliper also jumped up.  The week after the 70.3 I was measured by the Bod Pod at ISU and it was crazy high as well.  Those numbers stayed very elevated for a week, and then after one night of many many bathroom trips, all was back to normal. 
The first time it happened, after the 70.3, I freaked out a bit and started eating at a caloric deficit.  Not only did this not help the scale number but it took over a month for me to be able to push on the bike at the level I was pre-race.  I saw the big numbers, reacted with my gut instead of my head, and the result was that I screwed up my recovery.  IMPORTANT:  The week or weeks after your big event are NOT the times to be running a caloric deficit. 
Constant Hunger
I do believe that fiber, fat and protein consumption all play a role in abating hunger, however another key contributor to hunger is the volume of food you’re eating.  If you are used to eating 4000 calories of healthy food a day in the build up to a big event, and then suddenly you no longer have those energy needs and you’re back to 2000 calories a day, you’re going to be hungry. 
Here are some ways I cope with this:
1.   Meet Your Energy Needs – Even if you have some weight to lose, the weeks after a big event aren’t the weeks to lose it.  Recovery comes first, and you can’t rebuild your body nearly as quickly when running a caloric deficit.

2.   Know Recovery Requires Energy – You might want to estimate your energy needs a little on the high side when recovering from a big event.

3.   Follow Your Cravings – Within reason, indulge your cravings and consider what they are telling you.  After my 70.3 I wanted red meat, which is very unusual for me because that’s a food I eat very rarely.  So, I ate some steak, and burgers once or twice.   This was likely a signal to eat fat, protein, or perhaps increase my iron.  After the Marathon I was craving leafy green vegetables and pecans.  Again, this may have been a signal to increase my fat and iron.  Either way, making sure my diet is high in protein, healthy fat, and lots of micronutrients like iron is a great way to speed recovery and fight that hungry feeling. 

4.   Volume - Focus on high volume, nutrient dense, low caloric density foods (plants).

5.   Get A Little Fatter – This is one of those do as I say things.  My history causes me to struggle with this one.   There is a body of research that shows it’s healthy for athletes to gain a little weight in the off season, and work back down to your racing weight.  I’m clearly not good at this, but I figured I’d put it out there anyway, for the sake of completeness.

Getting Back On Your Feet

That first ride or run after a big race might be a little rough, if not on your body, on your mind.  After racing at a fully tapered race pace, that first easy run might seem not so easy.  For a few weeks though, anything more than very easy, is probably going to hurt more than help. 
1.   The Day After - After a big event, I like to take at least one day completely off.  I will spend my time walking around, which helps keep loose and increases blood flow, hopefully minimizing soreness.  The day after my 70.3, Lana and I picked blueberries at a local farm.  The day after the marathon we walked the grounds of an art museum I ran through as part of the marathon course.  Seeing the sights at a destination race is probably the most fun way to keep active post race. 
2.   Start In The Water - I always start with swimming when I’m ready to train again.  Swimming is pretty easy on the body.  It’s the shortest of the three events in a triathlon, and I’m not a strong enough swimmer to really push that hard anyway, so it tends to be a pretty safe bet that an easy swim is a good first step back to training. 
3.  Run Last – I’ll add in some high cadence low effort cycling when I’m ready.  Running comes last.
4.   No Schedules – For the 2-3 weeks following a big event, I make all my training unscheduled.  I just do as much or as little as I feel like, when I feel like doing it, as long as it’s all easy.  This is as much for the mental break as the physical rest. 
5.   Avoid Threshold Work – It’s worth saying again, the goal here is to burn some calories, flush out all the garbage in your legs and arms, and get in some active recovery.  Work at, or near, threshold breaks things down more than it speeds recovery.  It’s best to avoid training at any real intensity during a recovery period.
6.   Clear those Nagging Injuries – So, it’s been a few weeks, I’m feeling fresh and my muscles don’t hurt or feel sluggish…but is that knee still bothering me?   You know all those nagging overuse problems you developed in a big build that you’ve been ignoring? This is the time to clear them out. 

Believe me, I don't have it all figured out.  I learned alot about recovery this season though, and this is some of the stuff that has really helped me.  Hopefully it might help you too. 


Monday, November 8, 2010

Indianapolis Monumental Marathon 4:11:35

I was running through a field. The ground was passing quickly under my feet and I could feel the wind against my face. My legs jerked against the plastic brace holding my knee together as I transitioned from a deep dream filled sleep to awake. It was a dream. I couldn't run. I couldn't even walk. Even if I didn't weigh 400 pounds, my recent fall on the ice left me immobile and confined to my bed. My weight, combined with a slip walking to my car, resulted in every muscle in my leg being torn away from my patella. The doctors drilled holes to reattach the torn ligaments. I lost the majority of the cartilage under my kneecap in the process. My doctor told me that with some physical therapy I'd walk again, but that I'd need a total knee replacement in a few years, and that I'd have some very severe arthritis.

I remember talking to my mom after that dream. I remember being deeply depressed, telling her that I had a dream about running, and that my injury would keep me from ever being able to run. “Well, lets face it,” she said, “It's not like you were going to be running any marathons anyway.” She was right. It was a rediculous notion.

There was one time in my life that I had legitimately tried to run. I was in first grade. I was the fat kid. There was this girl...Courtney. Courtney was the pretty, popular girl. I was enamored by her, pretty much everyone was. It was gym class. I was supposed to race her. Why? I don't remember. The teacher said go, and we ran. It was my first time (but hardly my last) being “chicked.” Courtney announced to the class that she wasn't even running, she just had walked fast for the win. I was crushed. That was the end of my first running career.

These stories, and a thousand other points of interest in the timeline of my life, were running through my head Saturday morning as I lined up with 9,000 other runners in the dark, cold 27 degree morning air, to run my first marathon. I've come a long way since that first cold morning that left me in the hospital with a messed up knee. I've become brave, and strong. I've become a person that I'm proud to be, a person that doesn't always succeed but always perseveres.

There wasn't a time that I was in danger of DNFing. There were many times that I had to talk myself out of walking. Around 22 miles in I was pretty gone. Was this the dreaded wall? I was at a point where I knew continuing to run at my current pace would result in a finish I couldn't walk away from. I chose to keep going, true, but not at that moment. That choice was made in the thousands of decisions that have defined me, and have gotten me to the starting line. So, that's the truth I found in the marathon. There was no wall for me. There was no one defining moment in the race that I had to push through and reach the other side of. There was my dream of running when I couldn't, there was my race with courtney, there was Lana waiting for me at the finish line, and as always there were the people that would take great pleasure in my failure. The choice had already been made a thousand times over, and four hours, eleven minutes, and 35 seconds after the gun went off, I proved it.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Marathon Update

This weekend I'll be running in the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon.  A fall marathon has been in the plan for a while now, but my goals are pretty modest (finish, don't die in the process) so I haven't really mentioned it.

Anyway, this Saturday I'm going to give 26.2 a shot.  My bib number is 2223 if you care to watch from afar.  You can use this link to follow us.  Lana is running the half, and her number is 6640.

In other news, I have a bunch of friends that will be doing IMFL this weekend.  Best of luck to Tim, Mark, Seth, and Jessica!