The week-long bonk – or "How a slab of meat changed my week"
This week has not been very awesome.
In fact, last week wasn’t either.
With traveling, conferencing, interviewing, meetings, research, and training, I have been feeling the weight of life slam down heavy on my shoulders [although, I can’t even imagine how Marg must feel with her upcoming wedding and job search]. And of all things, its my training that suffers. I feel tired, and my speed work ends with me crapping out. I swim 2000yards and I feel like I am drowning. My plans for running after work end up with me and heading home from campus at 7pm, only to seek refuge in grilled cheese and True Blood on Blu-Ray because I don’t have any energy for anything else. Yesterday, I tried to get in a long road ride, and a flat tire had me in tears and calling my boyfriend to come get me in BFE.
The question I have asked myself every day this week: Who took my energy, and where did they go?
Last week, Baberaham hinted that I might have symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome, and taking it easy is probably not a bad idea. Granted, we were in Florida, where swimming in a lap pool set to 86 degrees and “getting refreshed” by jumping in the ocean (which was 91 degrees) was only minimally satisfying. Not to mention, running at 4pm before lightning storms because that was the only time there was a breeze didn’t really help my energy levels. But I wasn’t having any headaches (except for when I wasn’t injesting caffeine) and I felt descent after napping, so I chocked it up to a shift in the climate and a lot on my plate.
Then I got to thinking about one of the cruxes of endurance training: my diet.
It’s true, I hadn’t been eating as great as I should have been after Rev3 Quassy. I do a great job of hydrating and eating right before a race, but afterwards I don’t care as much. And a trip to Florida, with big meals and glasses of wine, threw me out of whack a little. It wasn’t until I got home, spent a week cooking for myself, and feeling like absolute dump, that I realized what mgiht be going on.
After the failed bike ride of yesterday (55 miles does not equal 130, thankyouverymuch flat tire), I had a craving. Not a normal craving, either. I usually want to eat things like chocolate or ice cream, or a Snickers bar or cheese. No, this craving was unusual, for me, especially since I am no longer a vegetarian. The craving: a big fat juicy STEAK.
Growing up, I was raised on red meat. My parents bought a cow and had it processed, and we’d eat beef 3-4 times a week. Hamburgers, chili, meatloaf, you name it. I depended on finding, during summer weekend evenings, a T-bone steak and an ear of corn on my plate. When I went off to college, I stopped eating so much meat, and when I went to graduate school I became vegetarian. I never had too big of issues with training, but I rarely trained as much as I do now (plus, so it goes, I was younger and could apparently recover faster then… plus during graduate school I was adament about having a protein shake after every big workout).
Now, even though I have reincorporated meat into my diet, I struggle more in recovery, and have found that it takes more time and more discipline to feel good during and after a big training block. Although we don’t eat a lot of meat, Baberaham and I usually fill our meals with a good variety of foods like black beans, eggs, and whole grain rice. I usually make an Ultragen shake after long workouts, but my First Endurance supply has been depleted and my ambition as of late has not been focused on reordering more.
So, yesterday, sitting on our friend’s couch watching World Cup, I saw a Bon Appetit magazine on their coffee table with a big rib eye steak. I then counted the meals I had consumed this week and could count on one hand the number that had either meat, egg, or beans in them. Immediately, I turned to B and proclaimed: “I need to go get a steak dinner.” He looked puzzled, and I continued, “My treat.”
After the US’s disappointing loss, we went to Calumet and both ordered the rib-eye. All 16-ounces of the bone-in, medium rare meat melted in my mouth and slid down my gullet. I felt euphoric, and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my mouth. Baked potato? Gone. Grizzle? Gone. Sour cream? Gone. Of all things, I left the limp green beans on my plate, I suppose as a sacrifice to the bovine gods.
I didn’t know how it happened, but I had put my finger exactly on the issue that my body was dealing with. After the meal, and the post-feast lethargy of more True Blood and muddy buddies, I slept like a baby and woke up in the morning before the alarm. I pulled on my running shorts and darted out of the house, tackling the 3hr run to South Range with more umph than I’ve had all week. I felt like I was flying during the last hour, and I felt strong, fluid, and forward. I felt good.
True, part of that could have been because my ride yesterday was cut so short and I let my brain and body rest all afternoon. But I really, truly believe that the thick, juicy, delicious slab of meat I ate last night changed my week, and my week-long bonk will happen again if I don’t pay better attention to the protein I put in my body.