by Sue Aquila
The past year has been an amazing year for me as my performance improved dramatically. My training volume was high and challenging. I am pleased that I did so without getting sick or injured.
Often we hear the horror stories of people destroying themselves with too much: too much training and too much intensity. Preparing the 2012 season starts now with a focus on being as healthy as possible for the big weeks of training ahead.
What do I recommend now to be physically and mentally healthy later?
- Turn off the alarm clock. I have been experimenting with letting my body tell me when it has had enough sleep. Yes, I work and yes I should get up early. Almost all of my days I wake up naturally at 5:15am. There have been a few days my body has needed more. I think increasing my sleep time has made a huge difference in my overall health.
- Find a sports medicine internist. I was fortunate to find a young physician recently out of a sports medicine fellowship. As endurance athletes it is important to have a doctor open to our needs and our differences. Some of our blood test results our abnormal for the general public but “normal” for our population.
- Get a blood test. I found out last fall that I had low ferritin and Vitamin D levels. I believe raising both levels (under a physician’s care) to the standards of an endurance athlete has made a huge difference in my overall health.
- See a dermatologist. Get a total body skin check. Make sure he or she checks everything from your scalp on down. We spend a lot of time in the sun and if anything needs to be removed, now is the time to do it.
- Eat real food. Due to limited time and energy in the middle of my season, I find that preparing and eating food becomes a chore. Ditch the sports nutrition and enjoy some spectacular end of the season bounty. Take time to cook and roll around in the pleasure of great food.
- Learn something new. I have a swim coach from the Indiana University swim team teaching me butterfly and the rest of the IM strokes. My goal is to swim 400 IM. Challenging my brain and going back to “the beginners mind” helps me to embrace the basics in all of our sports.
- Plan trips to the sun. Just knowing you are going some place warm to train can make a huge difference in your gray cold pain cave days.
- Research new equipment. Have fun with it. Spend time with your local elite triathletes and cyclists and ask their advice. Now is the time to try new shoes, change your aero bars or experiment with new seats.
October is a great time to build your foundation for the upcoming season. Go back to basics and prepare for a great season with a focus on your health now.
Sue Aquila is a USAT Level 1 coach who balances her ironman training with running a successful business that she built from the ground up. She blogs regularly at fewoman.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @fewoman.