Friday, April 8, 2011

Performance Aids

Today I'm giving some thought to performance aids. And, to any guys reading this blog, no--not that kind.

It was an early dismissal day, so lifting got the boot once again. On a more positive note, I only have to get one more session in before Monday to meet my goal of lifting 2x/week during tri season.

With the compressed schedule, I squeezed in a 30-minute interval run. Running has felt awful for me these past few days. When I swim, I'm aided by the buoyancy of the water. When I bike, I'm aided by wheels. When I run, I 'm aided by . . . my iPod? There really isn't much help out there when it's just you and the road and, lately, I feel like gravity is pushing down on me with every step I take. These slow-twitch fibers of mine absorb energy like a sponge. There is absolutely zero Tigger in me; I am most definitely not made out of springs.

So, I guess I'd have to say what aids me most with running is caffeine. About a year ago, I quit caffeine cold-turkey for about six months for two reasons: 1) I'd become totally addicted to it; literally couldn't leave the house without it, and 2) I was following a nutrition program that forbid it unless it was black decaf. This was at a time when I was still enjoying frothy, flavored lattes so, black decaf--what was the point?

The surprising benefit was when I started allowing caffeine into my system again it gave me a total kick in the pants. I realized I could harness that energy and use it to my advantage. So, even though I was back on the bean, I was careful to drink only decaf or half-caf if I wasn't training or racing. However, on race day, I'd serve it up fully leaded and dash out onto the race course like Magda and her vacuum in Something About Mary.

I've been told I have the blood pressure of a teenager. There is a practitioner I see twice a week who takes my blood pressure and my systolic is consistently between 88-92. Well, today I must have gone a little too heavy on the leaded side because my systolic jumped to 100!

I went home and set out for my interval run; and I felt great! In the warm-up phase alone I was pacing one minute/mile faster than I'd averaged during my last three runs. Once I started the intervals I dropped another 15-20 seconds. It was the best run I'd had in a while and I'll take one of those any time I can.

So, tell me . . . what aids your performance?

Today's workout:
30 minute interval run: This was a new one. Warm up for the first mile and then start the interval: sprint for 15 steps, recover for 15 steps; repeat. Save last 5 mins for cool down. This was an extremely effective interval for me, though to an onlooker I might have looked a bit deranged, or like I was being chased by bees. But I was so busy counting steps and trying to control my breathing that the time flew by. Happy running!

Healthy recipe:

Warm Bean Salad

2 T. olive oil
2 c. slivered onion
1 t. dried oregano
1/4 c. cider or red wine vinegar
1 15 oz. can dark kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 15 oz. can Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 t. sea salt
1 c. chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 c. green pimiento-stuffed olives, sliced in half
Low fat shredded cheese (optional)

1. Heat olive oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute 5 mins. Add oregano, vinegar and beans. Cook over low heat until beans are warm.
2. Remove from heat and stir in salt, parsley, olives and cheese if you wish. (I think everything is better with cheese!) Serve warm or at room temp.
Serves 6.

We enjoyed this with chopped, raw veggies & hummus, and toasted whole-grain bread with a side of olive oil and fresh pepper for dipping.

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