Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Do what? Do what you like and then a little more...

What in the H, E, DOUBLE HOCKEY STICKS is a guy to do to get in shape? What do I eat? How often do I work out? Should I order one of those plans from the Riding Bumps website? Do I need to hire a personal trainer? Am I eating enough and am I well balanced enough in the protein-carbs-fat ratios?

The amount of information one must process is overwhelming!

Who or what do you put trust in and believe will help you work toward ACHIEVING your goals?

ANSWER: Believe in and trust YOURSELF!!

I have been going through a lot of information over the past few weeks in order to try and come up with a 12 week program that will get me in tip top shape for the Carolina Cup. However, I am not even sure I am going to do the Carolina Cup; I may do the Key West Paddleboard Classic instead. I may do the Carolina Cup prone and the Key West Paddleboard Classic on a SUP. Everything is up in the air because guess what...we are moving again. (It's a good thing!) Despite all the question marks that lie ahead I know one thing: I need to be in the best shape possible to compete in the 14' class in SUP races. (I also need to get in much better shape in order to enter any race prone!!)

The program I have been staring at the most is the 12 week program Connor Baxter used for a Molokai 2Oahu Race that was posted on Starboard's website back in 2010. I like the idea of getting in a certain percentage of mileage each week. Last year my GPS registered 13.5 miles at the end of the Carolina Cup. That a lot of miles to paddle at a race pace. I bonked last year so I knew I needed to work on nutrition before, during, and after a race for 2014. I felt in pretty good shape to paddle 13.5 miles but I did not fuel my body well enough to compete for 13.5 miles. Goal in 2014 - develop a better nutrition plan.

Riding Bumps (the book) is a fun read but all the information is stuff many people who are students of fitness already know. What I liked the most about the book was the way they broke down periodization training. They used layman terms and I finally got a grip on this style of training and felt I had a better understanding necessary to come up with my own 12 week program.

The Cold Stroke Classic also helped me gauge what I needed to focus on in workouts. A tune up race is such a great idea. As I stated before, you really find out where you stand. Be honest with yourself and prepare yourself to do the necessary work if you want to improve your fitness and achieve better results.

Find out what your heroes are doing then adapt. I love the way Connor Baxter trained in 2010 for a 32 mile race. Unfortunately for me, I am not a young talented individual living in Maui. Connor's program might not be the best routine for a a guy approaching 45 who needs to contribute to the well being of his family. I am pretty sure a lot of it will be very helpful but the reality of my situation and physical abilities demand that I go into this percentage training with a willing ability to adapt.

Find out what your friends are doing and learn what NOT to do. There are a lot of sexy-looking guys out there that are not killing it out on the water. How many times have you shown up to a race and enviously glanced at a guy's six-pack and his bad-ass race board then passed them going out to the turning buoy while you are on your way back into the finish line. People can definitely hinder their growth (in SUP racing) by taking on too much.

Our sport of SUP is so weird it demands so much of us at all the wrong times. We need to be able to go like gangbusters at the start of a race then maintain as much of this pace as possible for around 6 miles. We cannot afford to incorporate a warm-up pace then increase as we go on. Most of us have to get after it from the start then find a way to get after it some more throughout the whole race. SUP racing is different and I don't think there are enough people who understand how to coach for the sport. There are a lot of workouts that make you look awesome but do they help you reach your goals? You have to be careful and listen to your body. Trust yourself to gather info, apply it, then evaluate it and prepare to change.

The best way to trust yourself is to gather all information and adapt. Definitely come up with a plan but be ready to change plans and do not get down on yourself when you have to veer off and attend to life. There will be time over the course of 12 weeks to make up for a missed workout. Life gets in the way so if you get a 12 week plan and cannot achieve all of what is written up for you, you are setting yourself up to think of missing a workout as failure. Don't think of life getting in the way as failure!! You can make up for it down the line.

If you are looking for some structure in order to hold yourself accountable here is what I am doing: I suggest you print out 2 copies of weekly calendars that lead up to a race or a goal you wish to achieve. One is to be used as a rough draft where you write down what you plan to do and the other will be the final copy where at the end of the week you write down the details of all your workouts that you did do. Don't worry about scratch marks and eraser stains on the rough draft. We all lead busy lives so we have to make changes. Don't worry about altering a plan you have for the week. I haven't even been planning by the week. I have been writing down my intentions for the day and possibly the next day. Trust me, when you write something down and go do it you find out whether it was the right amount of time, mileage, effort, etc. You may even surprise yourself and have those epiphanies when you realize your efforts are paying off! The key is to write down all your planned workouts in pencil and to not touch the final draft of the week until your week is done and you go back over all that you did over the course of the last 6 days. Write the final draft in pen then evaluate what your body is saying to you at the end of the week. Is it saying do more? Do less? I need a break; take it easy this week? Don't be  wuss tho...don't take a break when you know you can do more!! You make gains when you push past the I'm tired I should rest feeling. Being tired is not an excuse to miss a workout!! Not venturing out past the comfort zone is what keeps you separated from the lead pack!! In my humble opinion, hurting means resting; being tired means sucking it up and getting after it!

Getting better does not have to be so scientific. Don't let science impede your progress. After the Cold Stroke I knew I needed to work on my wind. I started studying all the aerobic vs. anaerobic ratios one needed to do and when it is best to incorporate the anaerobic threshold into the adaptive phase of training and to be honest, I just didn't want to have to think that much about it. I came up with a simpler solution. I started swimming at the YMCA. Learning how to breath in water while moving has always been difficult for me. Plus, I knew swimming would definitely be an aerobic (meaning slow) workout for me with no chance of leading into any anaerobic zone, at least for a while. (I do believe in building an aerobic foundation so I am aware of my phases as I try to keep my workout planning as simple as possible.)

When I first got in the 25yard pool I could do 2 laps before needing a break. Two days ago I did 18!! That's around a half mile without stopping and not using the walls to push to make the pool more like an open water swim. I was psyched! I have already achieved a milestone I once thought impossible. I did this by taking myself out of a comfort zone and adapting my training. I love being on the water; I love being in the gym; I love going for runs; I love jumping rope; I have always been leery of swimming because I was never very good at it. I went out of my comfort zone and, now, it feels good. It certainly did not at first. My wind has improved and I can now jog for 3+ miles breathing only through my nose, out of allergy season of course.

We are all adults. If you want to improve you know you have to work at it. In my humble opinion that does not always mean go bigger to get better. Take all your thoughts and ideas and write them down (in pencil) then come up with a plan for the day, then the next day, and then for the week. See if it works. If it does keep moving onward and upward. If it doesn't try something else. If you are working at it you are improving! Trust yourself and interpret the way your body feels. Know when to say: I need a break, I need to add more, or I need to keep it slow and steady.

I still check the internet for useful information but I am realizing more and more that the simpler I keep things the more improvements I make. The only thing complicated is the labels on all these new-fangled protein powders, supplements, and hydration aids I keep trying. They seem to be working. They better work at mile 10 in 2014!

I like the idea of mileage over the course of a week. I like the idea of going slow to get fast. I like the idea of hitting the gym and seeing what I can do. I love the way a TRX workout makes my body feel. I cannot wait to hit the pool again. I can't wait to try some of those full-body exercises I read about in that article. Prone paddling is so dang hard. There is no better time on the water than having your feet on a SUP.

This is only some of the information I process in order to come up with my workouts. There is plenty I know I need to do to get in shape I must also experiment with some other workouts in order to exceed what I think I am capable of. We are all capable of doing more than our mind lets us think we can. We need to reach beyond in order to do so. Once in a while, take yourself out of the comfort zone. You will be rewarded and make gains.

Today is my day off. It wasn't supposed to be but I woke up and just knew today needed to be a rest day. I am okay with that because yesterday was busy: 2.5 miles prone in the am and 3.5 miles SUP in the pm. Tomorrow is going to be big too! That's okay; I got plenty of rest and will be ready for what faces me tomorrow.