Thursday, December 6, 2012

A year flies by

     For the past year I have been going 100MPH. In December 2011 I was informed of an upcoming mission I was being considered for.   Being selected to be part of a new strategy in Afghanistan encompassed the majority of my time.  This was the best training I ever received prior to deploying.  This also meant being away from home for long hours while there and of course completely gone for over 9 of the 12 months. 
Family is number 1, but when you are a Soldier you have to train and be away a lot.  This does not mean you forget them.  You have to be creative when making plans during the free time you will have.  I think we made the most of our free or down days.  

 Trying to keep pace with my running during this was a challenge.  This was the least of my worries.  I knew I would be able to work out during my journey but of course did not make any concrete plans.  They would not have mattered since as I got my feet on the ground in Afghanistan I was getting a medevac ride to remove shrapnel from my knee.  A solid 6 weeks of zero training followed.  This was horrible for me. 
Now as I am finishing the trip portion of this year I am focusing on my running a lot more and making plans for races in the future.  I am only signed up for one at the present time but will of course sign up for at least two more majors and many local events throughout the year ahead.  

I already have plans for a family vacation in the Smokies after Christmas.  This will be a good outing for us all.  Now I have to establish my training regimen to get back into peak fitness so I can endure all challenges in front of me.  

My biggest training challenge is proper nutrition.   As my blog title states I am not your everyday runner.  I find myself looking around on race day and thinking wow how do I fit here.  I am sure the people to my right and left are looking around and see me and think wow where did he get dressed? Or does he know what runners wear?  My wife calls me the anti-runner runner.  I am not into the tank tops and short shorts of running,  but have learned to use some of the tools like bottles and gels.  I tried a Fuel Belt for my Marathon and it was a bad experience, might never wear one again.  When you see me I am most likely wearing gym shorts and a T shirt running.   However, I do jump head into good footwear.  I am trying the Brooks PureConnect shoes now and it is a learning curve for me.  

Back to nutrition:  When I first started running 5Ks and 10Ks I would eat an entire frozen pizza the night before to “fuel” and would have no problems. Then when I upped the mileage I realized it was a horrible idea.  I realized it was bad but I still did not make any significant adjustments.  The one time I attended a pre-race pasta dinner turned into a disaster for me.  I was in pretty good condition and felt good going into the weekend.  The drive to the race near Memphis was uneventful.  The Expo was good and I found a good pair of post race shoes.  The dinner would be my first ever and most likely my last.  We got up and went to the starting area.  The air was thick and it was hazy , hot and humid.  I was not worried about the heat since I just came from the high desert in Afghanistan.  When the starters gun went off the heat index was 105.  By mile 3 I was losing my dinner and had to let it go.  I slowed for about a mile and a half before regrouping.  This was the first time this had happened to me during a race and I am sure it will not be my last, just my last pre-race past meal.  Yes I know it was not all on the meal, the heat had something to do with it as well, the meal was the only thing different in my race prep so it takes the fall.  

I have been reading about the proper amount of Carbs and Protein an endurance athlete should take in up to 72 hours pre-race.  I also know in my line of work this is where I fall short because of the training on my work side.  I have to use the carbs I should be storing and the proteins are getting utilized as well.  This year I am going to make it so I can functionally do both be an endurance athlete while being a professional Soldier.  This will include a better diet not just for me but for the entire family.  

While I was away at training getting ready to deploy my daughter decided to become a vegan.  I was angry with her, but in the end supported her as long as she understood she needed a proper balance for her to be functional on the Soccer field.  She has stuck with it for 10 months now and is doing well.  I am planning on incorporating some of her dishes in with mine to make my diet a much better one. 

It  could be overwhelming to a person new to running or endurance sports to try and learn how to eat right and budget it out to be able to afford it.  Being new you are trying to beat those mile markers in your head , now you have to watch all the nutrition guidelines.  It is rough but not impossible.   Here is a free tool on training peaks you can use:

I will keep you posted on my success in becoming a well rounded athlete, let me know how you are doing.