Sunday, February 24, 2013

Gangs of Nutrition

If you get all of us together, we ain't got a gang, we've got an army.
The streets of Nutirtion are rough. The city itself has several boroughs and each controlled by rival gangs, of which the loyalty and devoutness of the gang members put the Hell's Angels, Black Panthers, MS-13, Bloods, Crips, and KK to shame.

Like any gang, there are different layers of membership with those who loosely follow the rules of the street on the outskirts, but once you get into the inner circles, people can get very extreme going as far as tattooing their loyalty on their arms (or at least wearing t-shirts or having bumper stickers like "Yes, Vegetarians do eat animal crackers," "I eat vegetarians," and "Get your Grock on!"). Moreover,  they all fight for territory in the supermarkets, blogosphere, podcasts, and scientific journals. Drive-bys occur frequently as another "scientific" study or book takes down the research of another. They all seem to be at odds with each other and truce does not seem to be on the horizon. Consequently, I am here to ask "can't we all just get along?"

Earlier this year, when I was thinking about moving boroughs, I sat down with several of the gang leaders (at least met with them in my mind and tried to reconcile all the differences.
The Butcher
I met with:

  • The Double Ps  from the north side (Primal and Paleo)--a rough but strong group who runs their business out of grass fed butcher shops usually. 

  • The Vegs (vegans, vegetarians, and fruitarians) who are the loudest of the bunch. They like to drag race hybrids but are also known to lead raids on Zoos and vandalize Fast Food joints. If you cross them, you may get tofu brick heaved through your window.   

  • The Ketoes (those in dietary ketosis and low carbers) from the south side who are notorious cereal killers. These guys some time team up with the Double Ps. You think Dr. Atkin's died because he slipped on ice? Think again. They also like to mark their territory with the spray paint has tag "nsng "(no sugar, no grains) 
  • Biohackers- a very scientific group that espouses that they are bullet proof. 
  • The SAD mafia (standard American diet--this was a tough group to get a hold of. They currently control Tammany Hall and have tons of money backing them. I was a little worried that dealing with them would be dangerous. If I did not watch my step I would wake up one morning with ketchup all over my sheets and a dead horse head next to me (the body was used for some English burgers--too soon?). They also control the pharmaceutical industry and push anti-obesity drugs. Halfway through my moderation, they left the table "to go for a lunch" and never returned.
The Godfather himself
They may disagree a lot but here is what I heard as what they agree on (with the exception of the mafia of course):
  • Dark leafy green vegetables are good. Other vegetables and fruit are debatable depending on their glycemic load and index
  • Protein is important but not too much (the source of protein is a sticking point)
  • N64 is much better than the Wii with the best game being Golden Eye and Mario Cart '64
  • Exercise is good (how much and the type is debated hotly) 
  • Healthy fats found from sources like avocados are good 
  • The less processed the food the better
  • Moderation is critical to any diet
  • The best diet is that which you can sustain for a lifetime
  • Fad diets are not sustainable. 
  • Sweets should be limited if not eliminated (what defines a sweet is debatable).
  • Science backs their point of view
  • The "Rocky" movies get better with each instalment with the exception of Rocky V, where the kid ruins everything. 
The list maybe longer but these are the ones I came up with (if you have other similarities, please comment).The above list is pretty solid advice but the devil is in the details.

I am not sure which borough I want to live in right now. I am still moving between them to see which one I like and works best for me. For now, I like living in the suburbs of moderation and experimentation. 

As I listen to more podcasts and read more blog posts from the gang leaders, the tensions between these groups seems to be on the rise. I have therefore come up with a solution:

I would really like to see a WWF style (that is the World Wrestling Federation not, for hippie, tree-huggers like me,  World Wildlife Foundation, or, If Alec Baldwin is reading this, Words with Friends ),  "winner-takes-all," to the death, Monday Night smack down cage fight between all the diet gangs out there. 

Who do you think would win? 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wearing Speedos with Morrie

Every Tuesday, I go and have lunch with an old Professor who teaches me valuable life lessons about transcending the junk that pop culture spews out and instead focusing living life to the fullest.

Alright, so that is a downright lie, but it sounded nice? I will be honest: I do not have a friend named Morrie (never met anyone named Morrie actually) nor do we hang out on Tuesdays (hanging out? Who has time to hang out on Tuesdays? That's when The Bachelor debuts!). I also do not bring him food (I would eat it on the way if I did).

However, I do have a great friend whom I meet with frequently when times (more like training, work and stress) are getting tough and I need someone to talk some sense into me. While he is not on his death bed (he is actually my age and an elite triathlete), he still has a great outlook on life and keeps me sane.  Since we are the same age, have the same aspirations in and passion for triathlons, and struggle to balance training, work, and in his case (unfortunately not mine), a girlfriend, we can definitely relate to each other's problems.

In addition to discussing the latest race technology and training strategies, we often commiserate about how we arrive to work exhausted after two long morning workouts; how we sometimes have to skip workouts because of other commitments; and, how aerohelmet wearing, "70.3" bumper sticker touting, weekend warriors on their $10,000 bikes going only 12mph while riding the bull horns are taking over the sport of triathlon and taking away race slots from "real athletes" (only joking about that last one! I actually do not believe that at all but thought I would throw that in there for kicks, farts, and giggles).

Last weekend, while eating our Whole Foods sushi and salad bar bowls (we both have a diagnosed addiction to both), we got to talking about the race season. I told him that lately I have been stressing out (like always) about my upcoming race in San Juan and how my performance will be this year. I was getting anxious and worked up just talking about it. In the middle of my worries about whether I will be fast enough or good enough to make the podium and get my pro card this year. He looks at me from across the table and with a mischievous smile asks: "So which race are you going to rock the Speedo at?"

My anxiety instantly evaporated and I smiled back: "All of them of course." In my anxiety, I had forgotten the most important part of why I do this sport: to have fun.
These will go perfectly with my Wattie kit

In this crazy sport with its expensive bikes, elaborate training plans, and  crazy nutrition cults, it is easy to take ourselves way too seriously. We get caught up in all the junk and forget the basic roots. As my friend "Morrie" reminded me, when it comes to racing and training all we can and should do is go out there and have fun. Whether it is racing in Speedos, splashing team mates in the pool, rocking aviators on the bike, or wearing Batman socks with capes on them (most if not all of these will be part of my racing kit this year at one race or another guaranteed), every once in a while (or everyday) you need to step back, take a deep breath, smile, and be thankful for the ability to be active and participate in such a great sport...but that is just my two watts.  


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Training in a Vacuum

To Post or Not to Post?

A few days ago a friend of mine posted on Facebook his distaste for posts about personal workouts. I see this all the time on all forms of social media and occasionally do it myself. People like posting how long they went, personal records, if they struggled or not, whether they threw up at mile 10. With apps that allow us to easily share our data and workouts in real time, this posting is becoming increasingly common.

A short while later, another friend posted her distaste about how people (specifically those "recovering" from eating disorders) post before and after pictures of themselves getting "beach body ready" and losing weight. She wrote, and I agree to some extent, that those who do this are still in the grips of the eating disorder and masking their eating disorder with the excuses that they are just trying to "get healthy" or "getting in shape."

Online social media is not the only place where this happens. I get people at the store who, when asked about the weather, will somehow link it back to how they just completed an awesome workout that left them completely drained. Some see all of these types of sharing as gloating, bragging, and obnoxious, but it is completely normal in my opinion.

While these three types are all different situations and are unrelated topics (I AM NOT SAYING ALL ATHLETES HAVE EATING DISORDERS!!!!), they come back to the underlying need for external validation of our efforts

In many situations, I see this type of posting as people being insecure about what they have done or the training that they are doing. They are insecure about their efforts and whether their accomplishments are "good enough." I can sympathize. I periodically feel like I am not training enough or training too slowly or slacking even though I am following the training program to the letter. This lack of trust can completely derail your training.

Similarly, when posting pictures, we are asking others whether we look good or are skinny enough. We want others to confirm that we are looking good, getting faster, and are really an athlete.

It also shows an ingrained need to compare ourselves to others. As athletes, we are constantly comparing ourselves to others not only in race but also in practice. We do not even need to know the person. Personally, whenever I see an athlete working out, my mind immediately begins to churn with comparisons: "Is he a potential rival?...How fast is he going?...He looks pretty good; I hope he is not in my age group...His form looks a bit off...he most likely could beat me. He looks so good; I wonder what training plan he does..." When I see people post how much exercise they do for the day, I automatically compare what I did that day. "Wow, he exercised a lot more than I did. Maybe I should pick up my training...His metrics are so much better than mine."  I am no biologist, but evolutionarily, this reaction seems ingrained. We may no longer be competing against each other to survive but we still find a need to beat that damn weekend warrior with his race wheels and TT helmet going 15mph down the road on the bull horns (you know exactly whom I am talking about and, yes, I am still trying to beat him).

I have had to work hard to override my initial reaction of fear. When I get those pangs of self doubt and training insecurities, I have to remind myself that I am on the best training course for me at this present moment. I am exactly where I need to be and as long as I keep moving forward and stay on my course I will get to where I am going. Time does not matter because this is a life long journey with many waypoints and "no end." To quote Bilbo Baggins, (yes, my inner nerd is shinning and I am going to have to give myself a wedgie for this one), "The road goes ever on and on down from the door from it began.." Training is an individual journey where everyone goes at their own pace and trying to change lanes and tailgate another athlete (and texting while doing it too) will only lead to a crash.

Moreover, when a simple tweet and Facebook post only gives half the story. I do not know their training history, how long they have been in the sport, and therefore I cannot and should not compare myself to another who may have more experience, time, or talent. That does not make my training worse or their's better. It means that they are on their own road, and so am I.

The same applies to pictures of people attempting to get into their "beach body shape." If done with the wrong motives then it can be incredibly unhealthy. Some people post because they are begging for attention. They want external validations for their efforts; for people to tell them they are too skinny or that they need to eat more. These types of comments were trophies in my anorexic mind. When people said this, I knew I was doing things "right." At the same time, I think they are also posting to have people tell them they look good. They are insecure with their own image and, therefore, want others to soothe the self-doubt and tell them they look good. If and when I post pictures of myself, I do not want people to comment that I look good; they can keep their comments to themselves for all I care (and it would be better too if they did). Instead I post to show people that I am healthy and happy.

Not all sharing and posting are evil. I would go as far as to say that it can be beneficial when done with the right motives. For me, seeing other triathletes' workouts gives me ideas about ways I can improve my own training and workouts that I can try out. Moreover, when I see an athlete accomplish a great workout, I know that I can do it too. When I post workouts, which I try to limit as much as possible, I hope that I too can inspire another athlete or give them ideas.

Regardless, before I post or tell someone about a workout, I think to myself: "If no one in the world would know, would I continue to train? Would I train in a vacuum?" If I answer yes, then I can share if not I let it be. Once I am training for external validation and praise, I need to get out of this sport and become a bodybuilder, which would be quite a sight...but that is my two watts.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

February's Perfect Storm

This year, both "Fat Tuesday" and Valentine's day fall in the same week. Traditionally, both of these holidays have nothing to do with each other. The former is a celebration--dare I say a final binge (alcohol, sweets like King Cake, and pancakes)--before the season of Lent begins during which we refrain from these "temptations" so that we can completely focus our relationship with God (Please note that I am turning this into a religious post. I am just giving you a refresher on the roots of Fat Tuesday beyond the Mardi Gras celebrations, beads, Bourbon Street, and Girls Gone Wild Part XXX. For clarity, I am not very religious at all to be honest but I will discuss that tomorrow). The latter holiday, which I talked about yesterday, was created as a way to celebrate and recognize our loved ones and what they mean to us in honor of St. Valentine who was martyred for performing marriages (leave it to Halmark to dig up some esoteric saint and make millions off him). While both these holidays have Christian origins, they currenetly share the practice of major indulgence. On both days, we celebrate with lots of sweets, alcohol, and processed carbohydrates.

Ironically, in the midst of both these binge fests, we added another "holiday" into the mix, National Eating Disorder Awareness Month. These three events all seem to conflict with each other. On the one side we have two holidays marked by massive eating of pancakes and chocolate and on the other a recognition of the disease of anorexia, bulimia, orthorexia, and overall people's problem with body image and its relationship to eating. I, however, think all three go perfectly together in a sweet and spicy way.

Having gone through two separate bouts of the eating disorders (see my 110lb journey tab for a more detailed story), it's hard for me to look at a box of chocolate or a stack of pancakes without feeling guilty. I do not even have to eat one and the pangs of anxiety come back that leave me reaching for my gym card and looking at my body in the mirror. Even though I would say that my ED (Eating Disorder not erectile dysfunction) is in remission, old habits die hard. I struggle therefore with holidays like Fat Tuesday and Valentines Day where food seems to be the center of attention.

Take it off!!!
This year, in light of National Eating Disorder Awareness Month, I am approaching both these holidays though from a new, healthful perspective. I am looking at Fat Tuesday as it was historically (without the religious undertones per se). Like it was back in the middle century pre-Bourbon street (I personally think there was always a Bourbon street), it is a holiday of introspection and self cleaning. I am looking at what in my life is distracting me from a closer relationship to others and to myself and asking myself what in my life I need to put back into balance. Is there anything in particular that I am overindulging in? For some this may indeed be fat and sugar. For others it maybe Facebook and Twitter. I am still thinking where the "fat" that I need to trim in my life. Chances are though it will not be on my body.

I am approaching Valentine's Day in a similar way. The roots of the holiday, away from the weeds of Halmark and Hershey's, are fairly strong. It is a day to celebrate the person you love. This year, therefore, since I have no girlfriend or valentine (Ladies, there is still time), my body is going to be my Valentine. I am going to wake up on Thursday and give myself a big hug then I am going to make it a nourishing breakfast in bed to thank it for all that it does for me. I may neglect it sometimes and not give it the recognition it deserves, but on this Valentine's day I am really going to treat it the way it deserves (Note though that breaking it down in a killer workout is NOT considered abuse). Even if I do indulge in one chocolate, it will not kill my body. In fact that one piece maybe a good thing but thats just my two watts.

Tomorrow I will discuss Lent and how my what my secular Lenten disciplines will be, so stayed tuned!  

Monday, February 11, 2013

Will you be my Valentine? Some advice from Dr Love himself (explicit)

Valentine's day is coming up and that means I need to invest in Hershey's,, Tiffany's, antidepressant companies, Kleenex, and distilleries. To be honest, I am not huge fan of this odd Halmark Holiday. In fact, it may be my least favorite holiday, ranking somewhere between Columbus Day and Talk Like A Pirate Day. It is nice to have a holiday in the middle of winter, but in my opinion, it just makes the most depressing month even more depressing. Thank goodness its the shortest month!

Triathletes in particular seem to struggle with this holiday more than the average Joe. Let's be honest, we are usually not the most romantic of people. We spend countless hours away from our loved one while training and by the time we are done we do not have much energy left for an "extra workout" if you catch my meaning. (For the record though, there is no evidence that links cycling saddles to testicular cancer or ED). At heart, though, we are hopelessly romantic. We do like long "walks" on the beaches (at 6 min/mile pace) having done an open water 2.4 mile swim before. We also enjoy candle light dinners at 5:30 in the afternoon. Our endurance, too, is like no other; we can literally can go all night doing an Ironman. We just need some help expressing that firry passion.

I, Dr. Love himself, is here to help. I may not have my degree from an accredited, medical institution nor have I won Kona or Vegas, but I do know the lyrics to the majority of Usher, Marvin Gay, Tyrese, Genuwine, and J. Holiday songs, have watched the Notebook and Titanic too many times to count, am a loyal subscriber to Men's Health and Cosmo,  and can recite lines from Pride and Prejudice by heart, all of which makes me better than Dr. Phil I think (except the mustache. He has me beat there).

Below I have compiled some great thoughts on how to woo your loved one this February 14th. These are solid gold and are guaranteed to have her falling for you harder than Leo for Kate.

Some good pick up lines to make her Garmin Heart rate monitor to go haywire:

  1. As she is riding her bike in the aeroposition on the trainer, point to her elbow and say "Girl, are you at 90 degrees? Because to you look right to me" 
  2. "Don't worry dear, you can wash your tri shorts on my my wash board abs"
  3. "I will draft off you anytime. I love the view" 
  4. "You have some really nice breast stroke times"
  5. Tell her that she is sweeter than honey stinger waffles.
  6. "You make my heart rate jump to zone 4." 
  7. "Girl, you don't need a dictionary because your body is already too defined."
Some gift ideas:
  1. Instead of a box of chocolates, get her a box of Powerbar Chocolate Outrage gels. That will really get her going and keep her energized all night long!
  2. Cannot afford a diamond ring? Sign up for the "Diamond in the Rough Triathlon.
  3. No need for champagne when you have Nuun and Hammer Fizz. Perfect for setting the mood 
  4. Massage oils are overrated. Use DZ Nutz and body glide instead. Its softer on the sensitive areas too
  5. Strawberries and Raspberries are out of season, and the ones you can get are tasteless or moldy. So get some strawberry Clif blocks dipped in chocolate gel or go for the Gu Roctane Chocolate Raspberry. I think both are aphrodisiacs 
  6. Forget the Viagra, Powerbar Perform will keep you hydrated and performing until the wee hours of the night and your morning swim practice
  7. Victoria Secret is not as sexy as compression tights
  8. KSwiss shoes: Every Kiss begins with KSwiss and they also invented the Kwicky
Dating advice:

  1. Go get your legs (or full body) waxed together
  2. Rent a tandem bike and go for a ride.  
  3. Ditch the foam roller for the night and give her a real massage 

Hopefully this post will help you bring out your romantic side this Valentine's Day and not leave you single (like me).

Speaking of which, if there are any single ladies in the DC area who need/want a date this Valentine's day drop me a message. I promise we a) do not have to eat at 5:30 b) have to turn in early because of morning practice c) do anything athletic (unless you want to of course). Believe it or not, I do have a life and personality outside of triathlon.

I promise to come up with a more stimulating post next time.  

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Can I get some prozac with that..Pill #3: My lump of coal

This is part three of my "nuttier than squirrel turds" series, which details the most common anxieties that many triathletes and athletes in general, including myself, deal with and what to do about them without having to reach for the Prozac bottle.

Like many coaches, my coach posts my workouts on my TrainingPeaks account every Sunday night. I cannot wait to see what great workouts he has devised for me. It is almost like Christmas, or more appropriately, Hanukkah and getting seven brightly colored and wrapped gifts. However, occasionally I open up my "gifts" and receive a lump of coal: recovery day.

Many athletes rejoice at the mention of a recovery day. I remember in high school when my cross country and track team would jump with joy when our coach announced that we had a recovery day on which he gave us the option of either running the course at an easy pace or play Ultimate Frisbee. 99% of the team would jump for joy and then run over to the soccer field with the frisbee. I however was part of the 1% (You could say it was the "Occupy the Ultimate Fields" movement--my bad joke for the post), that would groan and instead of going with the team do the relatively too short 3.1 mile run at an easy pace that naturally turned into a moderate run when my coach was not looking. 

Back then, my main reason for not playing with the rest of the team was because I wanted to burn calories. I hated recovery and easy days because I was not able to burn off my lunch salad. When I knew that these recovery days were coming I would secretly run in the morning and then after to log in the extra miles. Consequently, I never allowed myself to recover. All my "easy" days were zone 3 and all my hard days were zone 3 as well because I did not have enough energy to push it to more than that. I was lost in the dreaded grey zone. My races also suffered. Even for championship races, I never performed to my potential because I blew off and trained through taper. 

Besides my fat phobia, recovery scared me because I was afraid that if I took a day or afternoon off I would lose my fitness. While I rested my competitors were training and getting faster. What I failed to understand though was that through recovery, I too would get faster. 

It was not till college that I finally began to grasp and respect recovery. What I had failed to understand and trust was that an athlete does not get faster and stronger when they are pushing through a hard workout. In reality, you are actually breaking yourself down during these efforts. It is in recovery that your body builds itself up again. If you undermine your recovery by adding in secret workouts or going to hard on easy efforts (training in the grey zone) then your hard efforts that make you a better athlete will suffer as well. 

I still struggle some with this though. Not nearly as much as I once did, but it is nevertheless present. Whenever I take a day off, have a lighter training week, or (Heavens forbid) a full week off, I just feel so lazy. It might be 100% psychological but my body feels sluggish, flabby, and (I really hate this feeling and description but its unfortunately true) "fat." My desire to cut calories again comes back, and I fear that I am getting out of shape. 

Thankfully, I recognize these thoughts as huge cognitive distortions--believing them is a different matter. Taking one day off will not kill me. In fact it will make me able to perform better in my next hard effort because of the added recovery. I also will not get fat from one day of not exercising. Even if I do have to take several days off because of an illness or injury, my fitness will come back and so will I. Recovery is not a punishment for being weak but rather a present to yourself. It still may seem like  lump of coal but when pressurized will turn into a diamond but at least thats my two watts....

On Tuesday I was reaching for the Prozac

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Can I get some prozac with that..Pill #2: The golden urinal

This is part two of my "nuttier than squirrel turds" series, which details the most common anxieties that many triathletes and athletes in general, including myself deal, with and what to do about them besides reaching for the prozac bottle.

Yep that's me
In the last post I talked about racing anxiety, but since endurance athletes only race only a few times per year it is not as frequent as "workout anxiety," which since we train daily (or almost daily), occurs more than once a week. In work out anxiety, the athlete dreads a coming hard brick, swim set, or open water swim challenge. I know I have seen an a workout in my TrainingPeak calendar and not slept the night before because of fear as well as some excitement of what was to come.

For beginners, I think this anxiety arises from the fear of pushing themselves to an unknown and painful place. For more experienced athletes, I think what triggers this is a fear of not being able to hit expectations or having a bad workout. Our brain has a set image of how things "should be" and when reality fails to meet that, we get depressed and anxious.

For me this used to be a huge problem because I would psyche myself out before the workout and then either feign sickness or injury to get out of the workout or get so anxious that I would not perform to my full potential. My expectations were so high that it became a self-fulling prophecy. I would think that I could not hit my intervals/splits, and when I didn't, it would confirm this belief, which then set off a spiral of negative thoughts. "I am just slow." "I will never be as fast as that." "My coach is expecting too much of me" "There goes my chances of going pro." "The pros can hit these splits, why the hell can't I?" "I should be going faster than this!"

While I still have this anxiety, especially for swim sets, it has dissipated as I have begun to trust my body and not care if my splits are exact. My "Prozac" is to shut off my brain, let go of my expectations, and enjoying the process rather than focusing on the end goal. All I can focus on and control is my effort and the splits will be whatever.

Performance is incredibly unstable. It depends on so many factors like nutrition, stress, sleep, and recovery that it is impossible to set records in each one. Instead of creating a false expectation of what "should be," focus on what is and deal with that. I try (and usually fail) not t stress and read too much into every little bit of data. Just because you cannot hit your splits today does not mean that you cannot do it, it just means that you are not there yet today. In my mind, pushing yourself through the tough days and workouts help you more and make you stronger than really good workouts. They become obstacles that lead us our overall goal.

The Goal

One great metaphor that demonstrates this process is the bathroom analogy. When we wake up in the middle of the night and have to pee, we gingerly feel our way in the dark sometimes stubbing our toes on the bedpost or running into doors. When we hit these obstacles, we do not give up, sit down and pee on ourselves but use them to guide us to our overall "goal" i.e. the toilet. There is no doubt in our minds that we will get there eventually; it just might take us a bit longer. Just as in this metaphor, I see myself with a bladder full of passion and love for this sport, making my way in the dark and not knowing the exact way, but knowing and trusting that I will eventually get there.

The workout that causes me the worst anxiety though is the dreaded "recovery," which I will dive into in my next post.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Can I get some Prozac with that...(pill #1)

Anxiety and stress is rampant in sports in general but especially in triathlon for some odd reason (if you think you know why definitely drop a note in the comment section or send me an email; I would love to hear people's thoughts on this). I am no exception here. To be honest, I am a clinically (and coach) diagnosed, grade A nut case (I have even been called nuttier than squirrel turds). You name the anxiety (sports related or not) and I most likely have had it.

Working at triathlon store and helping out with Team Z, I get a fairly good snapshot of the sport. I see clients and customers from beginners--some overly cocky and some nervous-- all the way up to the professionals. They all have anxiety to some extent but what sets the pros apart from the newbies is how they deal with that stress and anxiety. While the beginners let the stress of the sport and the external and internal pressures such as other's expectations eat them up inside, turning the stress into anxiety, the pros turn off their brains and embrace the stress. They recognize it for what it truly is: an illusion.

While I am no Dr. Phil, here are what I see as the top anxieties. I am going to take pity on you, the reader (skimmer?) and break this article up and address each anxiety in an upcoming series of posts. Since I have had them all, I hope to share with you what I have found help aleviate them: (as usual this is a long post, so go ahead and brew that coffee and uncork that Monster energy drink).

Here is pill number 1: Pre race-anxiety

Most commonly, triathletes seem to suffer from "pre-race anxiety." I know I have gotten this before every race dating back to high school and to some extent its completely normal. You know the feeling of you get the morning (or for me the week before the race) where those caterpillars of doubt break free from their cocoons and emerge as a sea of butterflies in the pit of your stomach; you have to go to the bathroom every thirty minutes; your hunger is either massive or non existent; morning sickness or nausea; your tri suit becomes saturated with sweat just thinking about the race; and, your heart seems to be racing faster than your bike (I think I may have just described menopause. Maybe I should get my symptoms checked out).

For the most part, this anxiety arises from preset expectations both from others and from ourselves. There are expectations that we will race under a certain time or make the podium or beat another racer. Most of the time these expectations are imaginary and we give them too much weight. While others may want or think that you can come in a certain place, I highly doubt they would really like you any less if you fail to meet their expectations. If they do negatively change their opinion of you based on whether you raced a 4:15 half or a 5 flat than they you may need to reevaluate your friends.

Prerace anxiety also arises from the fear of the unknown. Racing is one giant question mark. Will we race well? Who will win? Will I beat that other guy with the P5 (you know who you are)? Will we cramp? Will we get a flat (my biggest fear)? Will we surprise ourself and be awesome? What happens if I begin to nipple rub? All these situations circle us like vultures leading up to a race. To shake them off we have to be alive.

When these thoughts begin to arise, know that they are just fears and embrace them. It is natural to have them and in fact if you are even somewhat serious about the race then they should occur. Consequently, allow them to arise but do not cling to them. They will only weigh you down on the way to greatness. Leading up to a race, I like to visualize the race and every situation that may arise both good and bad. I then play out this fantasy and respond with what I would do if it were to occur. Therefore if it does happen, I know what to do. I also do deep breathing exercises to shut my brain off and return to the moment instead of the future.

With each race that I do though, my anxiety has decreased. I no longer feel like I am going to up chuck my frosted flakes with red bull. I still get nervous of course but I know that this is just a race like any other and there will be others for sure. I know that I am prepared for it to the best of my ability. I have done this before and, damn it, I can do it again. It will and should hurt but that is only to be expected. If I am not hurting, I am not racing properly. Pain is inevitable but suffering is optional...but that's just my two watts.

I hope that helps but if not let me know, you can always comment below or email me.

My next little pill is a related stress: workout anxiety. Oh dear, I am already getting nervous about writing this. Where's my Prozac?