So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

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Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad.* Instructional Systems Specialist. Runner. (Swim-challenged) Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) CRO/2, NTO/1. RRCA Rep., FL (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Right Kind of Currency

I came home Sunday morning, after my bi-weekly 8-mile jaunt around Bayou Texar, & proceeded to ditch my dripping wet running shorts, socks & shoes on the shoe rack & hangers in my back yard. As I opened the back storm door, there was a whirrr & a blur of feathers off to the left at about the height of my head. A bird house which hung off one of our loblolly pine trees since we moved into the house five years ago had fallen in one of the hurricanes we had in the year after our arrival. Because of the fall, it's structural integrity wasn't the greatest; the floor was about half attached. We had it sitting on a metal outdoor shelf for a while wondering what to do with it. It still kind of looked cute, so we hung it up near our kitchen window about three months ago, about the same time we started putting up our patio roof. After the Close Encounter of the Avian Kind, I realized the birdhouse was no longer just a decoration. The bottom of the birdhouse was crammed with pine needles. Obviously, some bird couple has decided to take up residence there. My wife, ever the cautious one, wondered whether we should try to repair the house and re-hang it. However, I'm more than willing to hold off until I know for certain the house has been vacated. Hey, I wouldn't want someone to come in & redecorate (or screw up) my place while I was out, Home & Garden Network be d*mned.
"Life is a budget." - Patricia Quigley, Ph.D., ARNP, CCRN (during aerobics class, ca. 1993)
The quote above probably has never been used in a book, or directly attributed, but I definitely have to give credit where credit is due. Dr. Q is probably one of the main reasons I went to college, developed an interest in fitness, and began working as a coach. During the mid-1990s she saw me in various states of fatigue, dehydration & under-nourishment, & rescued me during one of my more acute crash-and-burn exercise moments, which turned me on to the benefits of sports nutrition.

It's also a great quote when I think about fatigue, stress, work, training. Especially when I'm laying out training plans for my athletes. Like the first principle of economics says, we have unlimited desires but limited resources. There's only so much you can do given time constraints, energy limitations, & multiple task demands. Professional athletes are blessed with not only the gifts of efficient energy distribution, but with the opportunities to efficiently reacquire the energies previously distributed. The rest of us citizens juggle that 40-hour (or more) work week, (seemingly unlimited) needs of family & home, & in many cases, determine if we can be involved in other activities.
By determining how much time do I have to train, runners can make a simple (well, perhaps not so simple) determination of what race distances to focus on. I've seen more than my share of miserable, beat-up marathoners who probably would be happier half-ers...or 10-kilometer runners. Triathletes are even more budget-constrained than the average runner; hard-won performance gains in one of the three disciplines often come at a cost to the other two...regardless of the distance. Lately, I've started to learn you need the right kind of currency to spend in this market.
Ever spend time in a foreign country but didn't have access to their money, and all you had were dollars? Okay, maybe that's not such a good analogy; flip it around. Ever come back from a foreign country to the States, and all you had in your wallet was their folding money? Especially in this town, where people tend to not think about international travel, going into a Starbucks for a latte and trying to pay with 15 UAE dirhams (1 UAE dirham = $.27) is a very bad idea.
'What's this? Monopoly money?'
Your next cup of coffee will be at the Pensacola Police Department, while you're answering a series of questions. Beginning of a very bad day.
While coffee & pastries might work as good fuel for a 40-year-old 5K/10K specialist, it's not quite as effective when the goal is 70.3, or 140.6 miles. I guess you can do it, but it's not good fuel. From all of the people I've ever talked to who have done long-distance triathlon, they have not agreed with the marketing which states America Runs (or Tris) on Dunkin'. Well, Michael Lovato might be an exception.
That same sort of diet (or rest, or beverage...more on that in the future) discipline - or the lack of - is like having a birdhouse with a half-nailed-in floor; it's a matter of when - not if - the bottom will fall out...and you hope you don't have your eggs in there when it does happen. I approach these currency exchanges of a sort with a little bit of fear & trepidation...some 200-plus days out from Ironman Florida.
So it wasn't too surprising to hear my wife's girlfriend complain about her dietary hassles over the past weeks. She has a love, like I do, for sweet things & junk food. Since my wife is more into savory, salty snacks, the odds of having lots of cookies, cakes, pastries & the like around the house are slim. Not that I don't love pretzels or popcorn, it's just gummi bears are higher on my list of favorite food-like substances which must be avoided like the plague so I can hear Mike Reilly shout my name on November 7, 2009. Blessed be my wife, for she has turned me on to sports nutrition bars, namely CLIF bars.

I tried to explain the benefits of CLIF bars to my wife's girlfriend:
1. There are multiple flavors.
2. They have a cookie-like texture.
3. They are made of mostly-organic stuff.
4. The large bars are 200 calories; the new mini-bars are 100.
So, with items like CLIF bar, a person in need to be wise with their diet, or lose a couple of me, for performance & health reasons...can exchange the unhealthy stuff they love to scarf on at the office (where I can find whatever I am looking for) or at home with what can best be described as an eighty-percent solution. It's not a chocolate chip cookie or a brownie, but it's close enough for government work. The grains, natural fiber, flavor variety & portion control make it the folding money I can use for my own personal fitness & dietary budget.

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