Monday, March 24, 2008

Bad habits creeping in

I'm an all-or-nothing kind of guy. Sometimes, that can be very good. I can go months without missing a planned training session, getting up very early day after day. And other times, I can suddenly lose a couple weeks and my diet will go to hell and I wonder how I'll get back to where I need to be.

I seem to have transitioned from an "all good" phase to a not-so-good phase right now. It seems to sneak up on me. I ran a marathon late last month. The race went well and it was the end of 8 really good weeks, where I was losing weight, working out hard, and really focusing on doing everything right for Western States.

Then, I took a recovery week after the marathon. I had been staying away from alcohol and foods I shouldn't eat, but they started sneaking back into my diet that week. Then, I had a really good week of training, followed by a mediocre week. In that mediocre week, I was feeling a bit tired. I was feeling tired while working out, tired while skiing and tired when it was time to get up in the morning. On the weekends, rather than coming straight home after skiing, I was having a couple beers with my friends in ski school. One thing that I don't do is lose weight if I'm drinking alcohol at all. There are physiological reasons for how alcohol affects your body's ability to use fat for fuel, but bad eating seems to go hand-in-hand with alcohol as well.

A week ago on Saturday, I went out with friends after skiing and ate chicken wings and french fries. Yesterday, I ate french fries for lunch during my skiing day. I had some beer after skiing and some wine with dinner. I slept in this morning rather than working out.

None of these choices I've made recently are consistent with running a good race at Western States. I don't know why or how this happens. Well, of course, that's not true. Of course I know. I happen to love food and drinks that aren't really consistent with my athletic goals. I spend my whole life trying to balance the two. The default position, if I'm not truly diligent, is that I'll eat and drink more than I should. Part of it seems to be the amount of time involved. Even in periods of heavy training, I don't average much more than 2 hours of training per day. Assuming I sleep for 8 hours per night, that leaves me with 14 hours to do bad things with my diet. I can say "no" 100s of times, but each "yes" costs me. It's not a score sheet, where my "no's" outscore my "yes's", so I win overall.

I've been afraid to even step on the scale for the past 10 days or so.

So, I'm done teaching skiing for the year, which removes some dietary and alcohol temptations from my weekends. I have my first ultra of the year on Saturday. It's time to get my ass in gear again and focus all of my efforts. If I can't spend 14 weeks doing everything that I need to do for this race, I'm clearly not serious about this sport.

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