Ever have a really good streak going when suddenly it feels like everything is working against you to stop that streak? That's how I feel today.
With my torn tendon keeping me from running, I figured the time is right to work on my swim (and bike, but I always feel the time is right for that). So I decided that the best way to improve is to swim a lot, but my focus is more on frequency than total volume. I run at lunch nearly every day, so now instead I'm swimming at lunch a few times per week. I only have time for 1200-1800 yards, but that can still be a decent workout.
I started swimming every day, and then decided to see how long I can keep that streak going. The first seven days were easy, and then the road blocks started popping up. The first one was a big one. Easter. I discovered the Y is closed on Sunday. I could go to Gold's Gym, but that one swim workout will probably cost me $15. That's a little steep for one hour, if you ask me. A streak is great, but I'm not sure this one is worth $15 to me when I already pay for pool access.
So I decided the streak would end at 8 days. I would get in a good, hard swim Saturday and a short bike, then Sunday would be a long bike and no swimming. A new swim streak would start on Monday with a good, hard swim. Not so bad.
This morning, my plan was to swim early, then meet my parents to pick up their truck (I'm moving) so I could move some furniture. Then later in the day I would go for a short ride, then move some more. I got up, made breakfast and then realized the West Y had lessons most of the morning and I wouldn't have time to get in my swim before I had to meet my parents. Change of plans. I'll move some stuff, meet my parents, move a few more things, swim, move, ride, move. Busy day, but that's how it goes when you're moving.
It wasn't until late afternoon when I finally found time to go to the Sun Prairie Y (my favorite of the 3 YMCAs in the area). I was exhausted and not in the mood to swim, but the streak must continue for one more day. I mustered up the motivation, got to the pool, got in the water and began my warm up. I felt really smooth and was focusing on swimming easy (I'm working on easier warm ups to save my energy for the main set) with good form. I got in 50 yards when I noticed the life guard was trying to get my attention.
Some kid dropped a deuce in the pool and they had to clear everyone out of the water. I admit my first thought was to ask if i could just squeeze in another 3050 yards before getting out of the water. I swim in the lakes all summer where I have to deal with the geese. If you know how I feel about birds, you know I'd much rather deal with a turd than geese. It's not like the kid had diarrhea and there was a brown cloud floating around the pool. It was just a turd. Fish it out of there and let's get our workouts in.
Unfortunately, prior to this workout I had decided only a workout of 1000 yards or more counts so 50 wasn't good enough to keep the streak alive. I went home contemplating what to do. It's getting late and I still have to swim, bike and do some more moving. How was I going to fit it all in?
My options were to try one more time at the East or West Y to swim and maybe go for a really short bike or scrap the ride altogether since I was heading out for a long ride in the morning. Courtney asked, "what if you take a rest day and just spend the whole day moving? A moving day."
"Rest day? I don't understand."
When you have torn tendons in your knee, rest days are rarely a bad idea. However, I have decided to scrap the ride and go to the pool....then do a little more moving. *sigh* Moving sucks.
I'm going streaking!
Healthy eating is something I've been working on a lot this year. I think I've always eaten fairly healthy, but there's still a ton of room for improvement. My biggest problem has always been processed food. I tend to go for convenient foods, and those are highly processed and generally lacking in nutrients.
So I've been working on cooking more and really paying attention to what I eat. I've been constantly making changes and improvements. Little tweaks as I learn something new or discover a better option. Healthy eating isn't the easiest (or cheapest) thing to do. Unhealthy food is easy, convenient, readily available and fairly cheap. And, unfortunately, in very high demand which makes the healthy food harder to find. Fruits and vegetables are easy to find, but it's the packaged stuff that gets tricky. You really have to pay attention to the labels because I'm discovering that many "healthy" foods are nothing more than highly processed foods disguised in healthy-looking packaging.
For example, one thing I recently learned about is the sodium injected into frozen chicken breasts. High blood pressure runs in my family, and I've been borderline for about 3 years now so sodium is something I've been paying attention to lately. I always thought I ate a low sodium diet because I never use the salt shaker, but I don't. Sodium is absolutely everywhere, and the quantities are downright ridiculous sometimes. All we absolutely need in a day is about 500 mg, but that's nearly impossible so they recommend less than 2000 mg per day. Sounds easy, right? It's not. Eat one meal at a restaurant and you're over your limit. Check out Panera's nutrition data sometime. Panara has a healthy image, but nearly every meal on the menu has more than 2000 mg of sodium.
Potassium works with sodium to help maintain the body's water balance. The recommendation is to get 2:1 potassium to sodium (and this is for everyone, not just people with high blood pressure). The typical American doesn't come close, and I was no exception. I was getting way too much sodium and not nearly enough potassium. So this led to paying a lot of attention to labels, and I've learned a lot in the past two months of tracking sodium and potassium.
Back to the frozen chicken labels. First off, they haven't used hormones in chickens since the 50s so if you see a brand advertising that their chicken is hormone free, it's all hormone free. Antibiotics is another story. Then there's sodium. Read the packaging and you'll see a statement about how much sodium water was injected into the chicken. I see a lot with 7%, but I've seen as high as 15%. 15%! That's a ton of sodium water.
I found some frozen chicken at Whole Foods that contains less than 2%. I also saw some at Trader Joe's with 7%, but the sodium content was only 55mg per 4 oz (for comparison, the chicken from Whole Foods had 70mg per 4 oz).
I've seen some with 7% and 12% and even 15% and many times the sodium content is around 350 mg or more per 4 oz. That's insane. 350 mg of sodium in a piece of meat, and I bet most people would guess that there's no sodium in their chicken.
So the lesson I've learned is that you really need to pay attention to the labels. The amount of sodium added to packaged foods is out of control. We really need the general population to start demanding lower sodium products. It's unnecessary, unhealthy and once you get used to lower sodium foods you'll find it doesn't even taste good.
Another example....lunch meat. This has been my biggest problem. I started packing a lunch about three months ago and haven't eaten out for lunch since. I love my turkey sandwich lunch but it was high in sodium. It's easy to make, easy to take to work, and I like the taste. But the sodium of packaged (and deli) meats is really high. 2 oz usually contains about 350-450 mg of sodium, and I typically put about 4 oz on my sandwich. Throw in the sodium in the bread, a little in my V8, a little in my yogurt, the swiss cheese, etc and my lunch has about 1200 mg of sodium. That makes it really tough to keep your daily intake under 2K. Really tough.
This past weekend I found my solution. Applegate Farms sells no salt turkey (no salt added). I found it at the deli at Whole Foods. It has 55 mg of sodium per 2 oz. It's low sodium, organic and get this....it tastes like turkey. And by that I mean it tastes just like turkey, as in the turkey off your Thanksgiving table. Most packaged turkey doesn't taste like Thanksgiving turkey, but this stuff does. The only negative is that it's a little dry, but so is real turkey. So I add some olive oil vinaigrette, swiss cheese and spinach and I have myself a really tasty sammich.
Granted, it's still a processed meat and not the healthiest thing a person can eat, but it's progress. I don't want to give up everything I enjoy just to eat healthier, so I'm looking at this in terms of choices and decisions. I want a turkey sandwich for lunch, so given all the choices out there how I do make a good decision and make this as healthy as possible? I feel like I've found a good solution.
The intention of this post was to quickly mention that I've been trying to eat healthier, and that I plan on going into more depth on what I'm learning regarding nutrition and how I'm applying it and making it work in the real world. It was going to be a short post, but I got a little sidetracked. So my plan is to share some of the things I'm learning, the new foods I'm trying and some of the new recipes Courtney and I are cooking. Hopefully you'll like some of the recipes I share. I think you will. Courtney and I are trying to eat healthy foods without giving up everything we like and resorting to buying strange foods no one has heard of.
Knee update: It feels pretty good. I'll post a race report for the cold, windy TT. I was concerned about my knee, but it survived and continues to feel a little better everyday.
I've been a pretty lazy blogger lately, so I figured it's time to finally give an update. Not long after my last post, I hurt my knee. Like the last time I hurt my knee in 2008 (torn semimembronosus tendon in my left knee) I didn't feel anything happen. This time I didn't feel any pain until the next day when my knee was very stiff and sore.
I ignored it and continued to run and even had a really good track workout Tuesday. But the pain never went away and it was reminiscent of the last time I hurt my knee so I finally broke down and called the doc. I should have called sooner...like a month ago.
Like before, he said he suspects I have a high pain threshold because I shouldn't be able to withstand the pain while running because I have quite a bit of damage to my knee. A high pain threshold sounds like a good thing, but it's not. You can hurt yourself and have no idea you did damage. I have a pretty good tear in one of my tendons and that lead to damage in two other tendons. It's much worse than last time (right knee this time).
It's really disappointing. Not just because this is my Kona year, but because my running has never been better and the season is just beginning. Last time I was diagnosed in December so I had all winter to heal and I came into the spring in the best shape of my life. It worked out for the best because it forced me to slow down and build a good base. That was when I learned about base building.
This time the season is just beginning. Crazylegs is in two weeks and I felt like I was finally on track to finally break 30 minutes. I've been trying to do that for 3 years. It looks like I'll be a Crazylegs walker this year. Very disappointing.
And like I said, my running was better than ever. I was cruising comfortably at a 7:30 pace with my heart rate around 70% of max heart rate. And even though I took most of the fall off the bike, I was hitting power numbers I've never hit this early in the year so my cycling was coming along really well too. Training was good.
Now I have to take a month off running. I can bike and swim all I want so I at least I can do something. And cycling is my favorite of the 3 sports so it could be worse. And spring is the time of year that I want to be a cyclist and do bike races, so I guess that what's I'll do for the next 4 weeks. My first bike race is this weekend. I'll try not to be a lazy blogger and give a race report.
Looking back, I healed fairly quickly last time because I put as much effort into recovery as I did training. So maybe I can do that this time too and come back quick enough to salvage some of the season.
So that's where things stand right now. Injured and feeling sorry for myself.
Tomorrow morning I'm going to get up, hang up my running shoes, and put on my cycling cap. Maybe my swim cap too.