Saturday, December 17, 2005

Food

Cakes, pies, cookies, gravy, stuffing, cakes, pies, candy, cakes, did I mention cakes? Ah, the joy of Christmas! It's drawing closer by the day and I've got a dreadful feeling of joy and horror in my stomach. The joy is the obvious part, but why the horror? No, it's not the Christmas shopping that scares the fecal matter out of me, nor the inevitable "do you really have to train on Christmas Day" comment from the wife. No, it's much simpler than that, although maybe simple is the wrong word; Food. Such a simple word, such a complicated issue. In Norway we have a saying "without any oats the horses get weak". As we all know, this principle applies just as much to us humans. We need fuel to perform. Why then, do we make food and eating into such a complex matter? I'm not going to lie to you, I've got just as much of a love/hate relationship to food as the next serious cyclist. At times I worry more about getting fat than a bride does the week before she is about to get married. It's sad and a bit pathetic actually. The whole thing is completely imagined and a product of one's subconscious mind. The development and progress of an athlete consists of 3 basic items: training, eating and resting. All too often do we make the mistake of only focusing on the training bit, although the real progress takes place during the resting and eating phases. Eating sounds so simple, just put food in your mouth. But it's harder than that - eating has created problems, eating disorders. I pay close attention to what I eat, constantly. The food has to be healthy and rich in energy. Fruit, vegetables, whole wheat products, potatoes and fish makes up the core of my daily diet. A very successful athlete once told me "the more I can eat, the more I can train". For a guy that tips the scales around 140-150lbs, I eat a lot. Huge amounts actually, but during my hardest weeks I also burn 5000-6000 calories a day or more. That energy must be replenished, with proper food. Why then, do I worry when I step on the scale in the morning? I know my weight will never climb much above my optimal race weight, year round. But still, I worry. I am working hard at the mental part of this, trying to get rid of this negative thinking. Negative thoughts are a waste of energy, athletes need to focus on positive things, always. In order to perform to the max, an athlete needs to have a healthy, relaxed relationship to his own body. It can be better to be 2 pounds "overweight" and feel good about oneself, rather than spending lots of energy on trying to lose weight. There is a direct link between the mental state of an athlete and his physical form and performance. We need to be in harmony, both physically and mentally. This is where most top athletes have room for improvement. Not to mention that the hard training requires adequate energy-reserves. If the energy is not there, the body will not be able to respond properly to the high training loads. Of course, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that trying to lose 5-7 lbs before the race-season starts is a bad thing, not at all. But many riders don't eat enough, once the target weight has been reached, due to the fear of gaining weight again. This can directly, or indirectly, lead to injuries, illness, burn-out, over-training and a general lack of performance. Patience is very important when you want to lose those extra 5 lbs before the season. Start early and plan to lose small amounts of weight per month. Remember that restricting the caloric intake too much results in a lack of performance during training, simply because your body does not have the energy available to perform. And that does you no good, absolutely no good at all. So do like the horses, dig in and watch your performance increase. Oh, and pass on the cake, it's over-rated anyways... If you keep telling yourself that, maybe some day you will believe it. Until then, be strong and ride hard. :)

7 Comments:

Blogger Emilie Lucie B said...

Food is the basis of our existence, as you explained quite asetically in your post. True, food facilitates our body functions, but one thing we can never forget is that it also facilitates our emotional functions. and THIS is what separates man from beast.
"Show me what you eat and I'll show you who you are," stated Brillat Savarin.
You ARE what you eat.
So why deny cake? Deny pleasure? One small piece will never kill you. It may, in fact, make you smile. And this joy, my friend, is what will fuel you to the Olympics.
'Tis the same joy that demands you spend time with your wife on Christmas. For the sport comes and goes with age. But love keeps on....

22:50  
Blogger mags said...

Emilie,

Yes, food is of course much more then just energy - I agree with that. In reality, the only way I can eat as much as I do, is by eating food that I like and enjoy. Why deny cake? Well, 1 piece will not hurt, no. I made that comment sort of "tounge in cheek", but there is some truth in it. It's not about denying pleasure, it's about making choices and understanding the consequences of those choices. Simple as that. To be brutally honest, you need to be VERY egosentric in order to be successful as an endurance athlete. This means putting training before (almost) anything else. I am very fortunate to have a spouse that understands this and fully supports me. Because, yes, I HAVE to train on Christmas.

15:03  
Blogger Emilie Lucie B said...

ahhh...yes. tis admirable. the drive, the love, the passion... i compliment and admire it all.
having been on both sides of the equation, i fully understand the mulitplicity of influencing factors.
consequences are something not many of us understand, but for those that do, tis commendable. my point is to also realize the consequences of consequences....if that makes sense...?...
dear sir, i am the FIRST to affirm making clear, responsible choices, but as a devil's advocat, i perhaps also have to urge a recognition of the end: the point when the body stops, and emotions begin. so run, bike, swim, train, and...love.
: ) cliche cliche.... : )
and oh-so-true.

happy holiday!

22:57  
Blogger mags said...

Emilie,

You are far too sophisticated and smart for me. :) Remember that you are dealing with an athlete. ;) You bring up a good point though, in order to perform, I need not only my body to work, but also my mental state. And happiness and support from home is vital. Luckily, I have that and like many other professions, I have to work on Christmas Day.

Mags

08:27  
Blogger Skibby said...

I understand Magsie's juxtaposition. I obsess about my weight, even though I'm pretty lean I typically weigh myself 3-4 times a day and freak out when I gain a pound or two. I'm just an amateur racer and I got myself in trouble with my ex-wife for training on Easter and Thanksgiving. Mags you are lucky to have family support...

23:59  
Blogger Regina Wilshire said...

Neat blog Mags....I finally had some time to read some entries! Might consider adding paragraphs though - it would make your blog much easier to read!

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

10:25  
Blogger mags said...

Skibby,

Yes, I think we all are a bit obsessive about our weight. Don't want any extra pounds to haul around on that bike, you see. :)
Regina - Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad to enjoyed the blog. I probably should add paragraphs, along with using a spell-checker, look over my grammar etc... I'll try and figure out how to add in paragraphs. For some reason I am having problems with that.

Mags

15:56  

Post a Comment

<< Home