As any regular blog readers will know, mostly I blog about training, fundraising or write ups from the races I take part in.
Ever since I stated this endurance racing adventure there has always been an elephant in the room. Lurking in the background has been an inescapable fact that I have chosen to ignore. Yes you can train hard. Yes you can train smart. Yes you can make sure to rest well and sleep 8 hours a night, but if your diet isn’t on point then you are almost certainly letting yourself down.
1) I am an unhealthy vegan.
Like most people in the Western world, I probably don’t eat the best diet. Despite going 99% vegan last year (nobody is 100% vegan…………right???), I quickly found a way to eat a fairly unhealthy vegan diet.
Vegan cakes are easy to make. Chips are always vegan, and so are baked beans, lots of vegetarian sausages, many pies, take away pizza (with no cheese), etc etc. Also, almost all booze is vegan, and who doesn’t enjoy a bit of booze?
Plus, it is easy to over eat no matter what your diet is like. Simply, if you consume more calories than you burn up each day you will gain weight. And gain weight I did. Over the Christmas period I managed to gain an impressive 16lbs of weight. 8kg in new money. That’s a lot to gain in 3 weeks off work.
2) Sometimes I run like the wind………other times I just have wind!
I often suffer with stomach cramps when I run. If I get my diet wrong before I run, or I go for a run too soon after eating I will almost always suffer from a bad stomach. This is fairly common with runners or endurance athletes; however when I generally eat badly I feel a lot more sluggish when out exercising. This clearly does nothing to aide my training.
3) You are what you eat
This is an old saying, but is entirely true. How can you expect to fuel a machine to its maximum performance if you feed it crap. If you put dodgy petrol in a car then it runs worse. Perfectly logical. If you feed yourself on crap food you will perform worse. Also logical.
4) 5% of the time this works, every time.
I cannot remember where I read the following statistic, but it has stuck in my ever since I
read it. For every 5% of weight you lose you gain 5% in athletic performance with no additional training. In other words, somebody who is as fit as me but weighs 5% less will be 5% faster. This makes perfect sense. You don’t see very many overweight people on the podium at triathlons. Mo Farah doesn’t look like he is carrying a lot of extra baggage around.
Another way to think about it is this. My “racing weight”, e.g. my ideal weight for maximum athletic performance is around 168lbs (calculate your own racing weight by clicking here). This is 76kg for you Europeans. Or exactly 12 stone for us good old Brits.
I currently weigh a whopping 206lbs, 93.4kg or 14stone and 10 lbs. In other words, I am 38lbs (17kg) overweight.
If I was lined up at the start of a marathon and somebody said to me “would you like to carry round this backpack that weighs 38lbs or not”, I think you can all guess what the answer would be. But that is essentially what I am doing. Imagine how much quicker I would be, how much easier it would be on my body if I can shed that unnecessary weight.
The moral of the story…..
So the moral of this story is, it is time to sort out my diet, and by proxy my weight. I am determined to nail this missing link to my training. I have never paid that close attention before, but this is going to change. Somehow I feel this might be the most difficult part of any training I have ever done.
Wish me luck