When I started this journey, my only commitments were to workout 5-7 days per week, depending on that week’s training schedule, and to not diet. After all, if I was exercising over an hour a day, I was not going to stress over food.
This strategy worked for the first six weeks or so. I never felt bad about eating cake, my body was responding beautifully to the exercise — barring a few Advil-dependent nights — and I made almost every training session. Don’t get me wrong, I would have followed this strategy indefinitely. I loved it; my body, apparently less so. I began craving vegetables and orange juice. Yep, you heard me. My body was taking over, demanding more of me and the deal I had made myself only a few weeks before.
Sleep also became elusive. I’ve always been a fall-into-bed-for-9-solid-hours girl and now I was waking up in the night. Bored. Days where I hadn’t trained were worse.
I was also having trouble with my knees. They weren’t injured, just sore. After a longer-than-normal after run stretch one day, I realized that my knees no longer hurt. After some experimenting, I figured out that my knees hurt because my hips were tight. Great, something else to deal with…
Mindful Refueling is Key
This is when I really started looking at the importance of refueling. In triathlon terms, this means nutrition, sleep, recovery days, and — for me — yoga.
I still refuse to diet but I do try to get food into my mouth every 2 hours and have started keeping fruit and vegetables ready to go. Why every two hours? Timing became more important as training progressed. I didn’t like eating within a few hours of exercise but was ravenous afterwards, which was around 9:30 at night. If I didn’t eat, I wouldn’t sleep. I now know that eating within half an hour of finishing training is integral to jump starting recovery and so I’m careful to have something afterwards. It’s really helped — I’m not nearly as sore the next morning and have fewer “please don’t make me train today” days.
Sleep is still not perfect, but I’m having more good nights. I think as I get better at timing my nutrition, this will continue to improve.
As for my knees, I have discovered that a once a week yoga class seems to be the ticket. I don’t always get to class on Sunday — especially if I have a long bike ride that day — but knowing that there is a solution is very helpful. On weeks where I know I won’t make the class or that my knees start getting sore again, I do some of the yoga hip stretches on my own. They’ve made a huge difference.
This post was originally published on the Pebble Road Marketing blog but now calls this home.