Monday, January 30, 2012

Big smiles - just add water.

This past week has seen all three disciplines of training for a triathlon involving some degree of water - Brisbane has been drenched! The same cannot be said for the motivation of many of the people around me, as they continue to slug-it-out regardless. It's inspiring to see others turning up to sessions or running alongside the road even when it is pelting. And you know what's really interesting? When it is pouring during a session and you're soaked to the bone the size of the smiles on faces is HUGE. People almost seem happier training in the rain. Granted I can't comment on what goes through their mind initially, when they are warm in bed with the rain singing on the roof and they are trying to convince themselves to get out there. But when they are going for it with mud-soaked shoes or coping a face-full from the wheel of the bike in front of them more often than not the grin is from ear to ear. Over the years you tend to become used to this sight (people actually enjoying thrashing themselves in the rain) but I can only wonder what it must look like to the couch-potato who takes the weather as a reason to hibernate. 

Personally, I love training when it's raining. Sure, there are a few cons (such as the constant smell of damp running shoes or bike shoes) but the pros far outweigh them. For starters, I have been able to get a whole lane to myself at the pool. That was unheard of a few weeks ago during school holidays when the lane represented a mile-field of bobbing heads. Also, it find some sense of connection with nature when I am running a trail and it's raining. The smell of the rain, the mud, the solitude, the sound of the water hitting the leaves... Perhaps a bit hippy but it's true. And what about that inner smile that seems to blossom out of nowhere? Last week I was riding the Riverloop and just as I came onto the path along Coro Drive the skies burst open. The rain was falling so hard it was stinging my face. It was like a wall of rain. I was drenched. Yet I actually started laughing. "I'm alive!". What kind of idiot would be riding a bike in this weather? Ha! This kind of idiot. The kind of idiot that tends to race triathlons. In those moments I find you tend to appreciate yourself a bit more, your ability to persevere, to push the boundaries, and to let loose. 

With that being said, I hope it's not raining on Sunday at Caloundra! Two years ago it was not only wet but freezing cold! I remember being huddled under one umbrella for 3 of us thinking, are we really going to do this? We did in the end, and had a ball, but waiting for the start was less than enjoyable ; ) 

I also want to mention briefly some nutrition I've been trying out. About 6 weeks ago I was lucky enough to chat with Nick from Endura and he put together a package of some products that might help me perform and recover better. 

 I wanted to give the products a good trial before commenting on them. The Endura sports drink is one that I have been using for a while and have found it to do the job - it tastes great and seems to keep me hydrated. The gels I have also tried before and I'd say they are neither better nor worse than the other brands I've tried. They are not as thick as the GU's, so if you like a runnier consistency these might be for you. They pack a little bit of caffeine (although not as much as the Torq brand) and have a range of flavors. 

The stand-outs for me so far have been the Optimizer, Endura Over Training (a Ginseng formula) and the Q10. I increased my weekly training load by a good 25% over Christmas, which in the past has resulted in me getting sick. Not over-the-top sick, but a cold or blocked nose. I can honestly say that this has not happened over the past 6 weeks. I have found the Opti to be a great recovery drink post-session as it contains so many useful things for your body (carbs, protein PLUS essential vitamins and minerals). I know it's difficult to pin-point which one specifically is having the biggest impact; I could always stop using everything except one and see how it goes. But, if it's not broken why fix it, right? The big test for these supplements will be next week / weekend as I load up for the Falls Creek Long Course National Championships. Nick has given me some advice on loading using the Opti and Magnesium supplement. So if I don't bonk-out or cramp during the race, and feel fueled enough to perform well, then job done. Check out Chain Gang Performance Bikes or Active Stride to stock up on your Endura gear. Actually, check out the video on Chain Gang's home page... I hear there is a real spunk-monkey in it.

There are a few other Endura products that I've tried that I'll comment on down the track. Overall, I am very happy with the stuff I've used and it seems to do what it says on the sides of the bottles. That might sound funny but you can't always say that is the case! 

Last note, you know how you can tell if you've put in a good day of training? You're ready for bed at 7pm and could fall asleep anywhere. That's how I feel right now! 

1 comment:

  1. Oh yeah! Training in the rain rocks :) It's just a shame that out my way the drivers can't seem to keep their cars on the road in the rain so I find it's too dangerous to cycle on the road during peak hour in the wet. It's all 80kph and 90kph roads that people drive at 100kph and 110kph and tailgate each other - I see so many crashes when I'm out that I've decided it's not worth the risk :( ... Shame really. But gives me more time to run out in the wet stuff.