Lessons from a bike

Want to know how NOT to prepare for something? There are lessons from a bike coming right up that you can apply to anything at all, believe me.

Do you remember that last week we talked about the importance of doing the preparing before the doing – whatever it might be? Just in case you missed it, you can refresh here.

Preparing for anything has been front of mind for me due to my inability to move my neck for quite some time after a gazillion handstands but also because of a random encounter on a plane.

Back in October, I boarded a plane in Sydney bound for my hometown Perth. I was at the end of the queue, so by the time I found my home for the next five hours, both occupants of the seats either side of me were ensconced. The gentleman in the window seat was deep in conversation on his phone as I got settled and although I know it is rude to eavesdrop, it was a little hard not to when you are sitting 1cm apart from each other.

Although it was not mine, I quickly became engaged in this conversation. It didn’t take me long to work out that my travelling companion (lets call him TC) was about to embark upon a bike event that he was ill-prepared for and with just two days until the start gun sounded – there was no small element of PANIC.

Once TC was off the phone – I couldn’t resist questioning him on what he was actually doing. Firstly, hats off to him committing to a very worthwhile cause, the Ride to Conquer Cancer. But and there is a big but – when that commitment involves two consecutive days of sitting on a bike and cycling a grand total of 200km – preparing is central to one’s success at making it off the bike alive.

With five hours to spare, I had all the time in the world to grill TC. This is how it went.

Q. How much training have you done? A. None.

Q. Is your bike ready? A. Probably not, the last time I saw it was in the garden shed and it may have a basket attached to the handlebars.

Q. What are you wearing? A. What do you mean?

Q. What have you planned to eat and drink on the day? A. No plans as yet.

I could see that in order to assist TC to avoid being on the nightly news over the weekend, intervention was required and let’s just say that a crash course in general preparation, sports nutrition, logistics of cycling and survival skills ensued between Sydney and Perth that night.

I thought of TC often over that next weekend and first thing Monday morning he kindly updated me on his adventure. Here is what TC had to say…..

Hi Julie

Well, I completed the 200km and followed your nutrition plan to the letter. Had I not, I would be dead…

Key Take-aways:

  1. Identify obstacles – the weather Saturday was extreme

    a. Pissing rain from the start

    b. Hail in Byford

    c. Howling Sou’Wester (clocked at 80km / hour) that we rode directly into for the last 60km!

  2. Think logistics – setting up the swag at ground level was torture

    a. My knees were swollen enough without having to kneel on them.

    b. Slept first 3 hours in my shoes as I could not face the torture of taking them off

    c. Woke at midnight to find my way to porta loo and change into more comfortable attire in blustery 7 degree temperatures

    d. At first light surrounded by very enthusiastic cyclists who were looking forward to a 3 – 4 hour effort back to Perth and a lazy Sunday afternoon… Not available for me

  3. The right equipment is essential – my bike was a piece of s**t

    a. Sunday morning I woke to two broken spokes, a bent rim and 15 Psi in an 80 Psi tyre – all of which I suspect I rode with for a good portion of on Saturday

    b. Was told by learned colleagues my weekend was over… Some called it deliberate sabotage by me to avoid the 2nd 100Km

    c. I thought I would give it a bit of a go for personal pride with no thought of actually making it. Surprise, surprise, I crossed the finish line at McCullum Park on my bike in the second last group of real battlers.

  4. Recovery is Important

    a. Epsom salts

    b. Hydralyte

    c. Ice on both knees

    d. 50mg Voltaren tablets

    e. T Bone Steak

    f. Half a bottle of Red

    g. Compression bandages applied indefinitely

Signed up for next year…Thanks for your contribution and being interested – part of the healing process is being able to talk about these things. TC

Thanks TC for the lessons you have shared and the grace in which you accepted your fate. Lets catch a plane a little earlier next year.

Running for a Reason – What’s yours?

If you are a running enthusiast, autumn and winter in Australia provides you with a veritable smorgasbord of events to try your legs at. I love the fact that anyone can run at any time, in any city of the world. It is a great way to see the sights (even if it is just your neighbourhood), get some fresh air in your lungs and work through your daily strategy. Over the next few months, in Australia and in fact anywhere in the world you can choose from a running menu of 4km, 12km, Half Marathon (21.1km) or the Marathon (42.2km). If you thinking about participating in any of these events, now would be a good time to start thinking about what petrol you are going to use. Yes, I know lots of people don’t bother with the training or preparation for ‘Fun Runs’ but doing so certainly puts the FUN back into them and enables you to walk and function after all that fun.

Your preparation does require some thought with regards to fuel consumption. Do you want to be a BMW or a clapped out rattletrap? Now is not the time to be indulging in takeaway for dinner or skipping meals and certainly not getting stuck into the vino the night before training. Let’s leave that till afterwards shall we?

Right now, many people in Perth, Western Australia are counting the sleeps down to the Perth HBF Run for a Reason this weekend.

A 4km or 12km run does not require carbohydrate loading but what you eat and drink in the 24 hours beforehand is important as it basically fills up your petrol tank for the next day.

Your day might look like this…….

Breakfast – high fibre cereal with fresh fruit and low fat milk or crumpets with peanut butter and banana
Lunch – wholegrain bread or bread roll with lean ham/chicken/beef or tuna and salad plus fresh fruit
Dinner – pasta or rice with a chicken or beef tomato based sauce plus a green salad
Snacks like yoghurt, fruit, crackers and cheese might get a guernsey too.

One thing that I find challenging is recovery. This means making sure that I eat or drink something containing carbohydrate and protein within 15-30 minutes after I finish training or competing. It is SO easy to waste that crucial recovery time doing something else like talking, getting yourself and others ready for work and school or just generally faffing about. Your blood is flowing quickly after exercise and there are enzymes ready and waiting to pick up some petrol to transport back to cells and assist your muscle recovery. You might just need a ‘transition’ snack before your next meal to get your recovery happening and its best to look for 50g of carbohydrate combined with 10-15g protein in this snack.

Some options include:

Up and Go Energize drink
Sustagen Sport drink
Goodness Superfoods muesli bar or Go Natural protein bar plus a glass of milk
1 cup low fat milk combined with 2 tablespoons skim milk powder
1 small tub low fat yoghurt with a banana
Handful of nuts with a banana

Paying attention to your recovery after running will dramatically improve your energy levels, improve the quality of your training sessions and get you prepped for the next ‘fun run’.

Now all you have to do is run like the wind!

Pasta Power

Its time for our Friday taste test of our third $2 meal.  I do love pasta but I really try and avoid the creamy sauces as I know they are not the best for my heart or my hips. The recipe today originates from one of the very first cookbooks designed for athletes, written in 1993 and titled ‘The Taste of Fitness’. The authors  are Helen O’Connor, highly respected Sports Dietitian and Donna Hay, before she became as famous. I have used this book many times whilst teaching people to cook, and the recipes are ideal for the everyday person and athletes.  Easy, quick, tasty and great source of energy. Ticks all my boxes. Continue reading “Pasta Power”