Friday, June 26, 2009

race weekend, coming clean, and making changes...

this weekend is full of racing for us. on sunday i will be heading up to running springs for the first race in the Rim Nordic series and Beth will be racing the San Diego International Triathlon. I just found out my homeboy Tom is coming in town for the race too. So stoked.

I really wish i could be there to watch beth race but for some reason it always seems events fall on the same days... it sucks, but it's something you have to get used to when decided to spend the rest of your life with a fast/competitive chick.

hopefully we'll both have some good race reports to post next week.... now for some real news.

a lot of changes...

I contemplated a lot about this post and if i should really put this out there... but obviously, since you are reading this, i decided to charge it. this blog was started when i started training and racing and has all my good and bad moments thus far... and in my opinion this is one of my worst. i think this will be a very pivotal moment for me in my athletic pursuits as well as my overall health and well being, which is WAY more important. I am by no means perfect when it comes to my training. i have learned a lot through trial and error and this will definitely serve as another learning experience.

First of all... i have had a really fun last month of training and racing with my new training plan under Trevor's watchful eye. he has me feeling great... and working my ass off!

the month before (end of april/beginning of may) was kind of nuts. the week after the Malibu Canyon 14 mile trail race where I had the "mysterious" quad cramp issue I had a physical exam. the exam was scheduled a month prior (i get one every year) and had nothing to do with what went down in the the race. let's just say that results from my labs (blood work) weren't awesome... and I kind of had a feeling they wouldn't be. i won't go into the exact details (at least not right now) but the test results were pretty well in line with what happens to a lot of endurance athlete's when they push their bodies too far and aren't eating enough. i even had to get an MRI of my brain... luckily no brain tumors! it was/is still some pretty gnarly stuff and I am taking it very seriously.

not mine. just a cool image.

what happened?

i really noticed a shift in the way i was feeling the week after the race at sea otter. the race kicked my ass and I had already put in a huge week of riding... as well as many hard weeks of riding and running in the months leading up to the race. i couldn't shake the fatigue post race and recovery from workouts took a lot longer... but i didn't stop training or even cut back. i also started dropping weight without trying. for most of the year i was around 134-136 and then I plummeted to an all-time low of 129. i just figured i would come around like i always have in the past. my original plan was to peak for the Idyllwild Spring Challenge and the Malibu trail race but with the way i was feeling i bagged that idea and just kept training through them. I had an OK race at idyllwild and Malibu was horrible!

I continued to train a lot and try to find some balance between running and riding. I never found it. I was running as much as a lot of people who train just for running and riding with the same mindset... like i was just riding. i gave no consideration to how much each of the sports was affecting the other, and really didn't care. with no A races, and no real focus i just trained A LOT (too much) and gave very little thought to recovery and just kept logging a lot of miles. i also still have/had the triathlete mindset and felt like i had to get in at least two workouts in everyday. the problem now was that one of the workouts wasn't a swim, which would have given my legs and body a bit of break. So I was just running and riding almost everyday. stupid.

the training is one part of the equation. the other is my diet. the bottom line is that i wasn't eating nearly enough and probably haven't been in quite a while. for the last couple of years everybody tells me that i'm to skinny but i never really gave it much thought... until now. i just wasn't eating enough to fuel my training or recover from the training i was doing. most people know i love food and eating healthy but it's probably too healthy and just not enough overall calories. the result was that i had dug myself into a pretty big hole.

i think one of the reason this happened is that one of my best qualities in racing is my ability/willingness to suffer. when it hurts is when i love it and dig even deeper. unfortunately having to dig this deep in training all the time due to lack of energy/fuel and too much training had a negative impact on my body. when i was fatigued and low on energy i would just "dig deeper" and get through the workout which in turn just broke me down even more. not very smart.

i really needed to get things back on track and get my body back to a good place. so i decided to just focus on one sport and really work hard at it without digging myself any deeper in the hole. when i came down to it I decided to focus on the bike because it's what i am really enjoying more than anything right now, will have the greatest benefit when i return to the xterra scene next year, and just plain and simple it doesn't beat your body up like running does. I just couldn't fathom training for a 3 hour running race (pike's peak ascent) in the state i was in. I was struggling through 90 minute runs and not enjoying them at all.

i think this residual fatigue goes all the way back to last year before worlds. I was over it and tired but i got through it... again with trevor's help. I also had some "bad" blood work back in the fall of '07 before Xterra Nationals and Worlds. It's time to take this stuff seriously.

so for the past month i have been following the cycling focused plan trevor has me on precisely. Resting when he says i should rest, going easy when told, and also nailing some hard workouts... actually taking days off! The balance has been great and I have put together some solid races and training sessions. I have also been ramping up my calories and adding in some foods (bread, rice, more potatoes) had not been eating a lot of in the past while following a pretty Primal diet. I have been feeling much better but still have a long way to go before I am back where I need and want to be... I'll get there. so this will be an ongoing experiment and i can already see/feel some differences after just a month.

with the total change in training focus my race schedule has also seen some drastic changes.... i'll post that next week. lets just say it's going to be a fun... don't worry, there will still be some running races in there.

sorry for getting all serious but i think it was a story worth telling and huge lesson learned on my part! I don't want to forget this and know i can turn in into something positive. i can't wait to see what i can do with a healthy body.

random photo from Sea otter.


Anonymous said...

This will sound cliche, but when it comes down to it your health is all that really matters. It is really easy to get sucked into the go go go mentality when training for triathlon and other endurance sports. It seems like you have some good perspective at this point, and you will probably perform better in the long run if you make the changes like it sounds you plan to make. Good luck.

GZ said...

Ballsy post. I am glad that you decided to share it. I am glad you are on the mend. You still LIVE IT in my eyes. (A little) Bummed I won't see you here this year for the big hill but it will be there for a long time - so no worries.

Matt said...

You mention the primal diet and you even referenced MDA the other day-- guys like him really push that notion that endurance sports should be fairly aerobic with some hard stuff mixed-in since that's so much more natural.

Go long, dude, but we're talking life. Great post. Glad you're bouncing back.

ps i'll try to give beth a shout-out on Canon while she's hammering up to the point.

Nikee Pomper said...

Qualities of an endurance athlete can be a double edged sword- suffering is what takes you to the next level or can get you into a lot of trouble. Super bummed to hear that you are not in top health. Listen to your body, let it heal, and gain strength. You are rockstar and will come back even stronger!

SanDiegoPJ said...

Hey man, it's better to take a step back and address this stuff now before it brings you to a screeching halt. I'll echo "anon" and say there is nothing more important than your health.

Get your mind and body right and you'll be where you want in no time. And if you need any advice on eating more I'm pretty sure I have that area covered.

Anonymous said...

My hat is off to you for such an honest and painful post.

You are wise to listen to what your body is telling you loud and clear: that you are in dire need of complex carbohydrates.

You've got it down with the proteins, healthy fats and veggies. Now it's time to step it up with grains and starches. Quinoa, couscous, legumes, brown rice, whole grain pastas and pilafs...they're going to do you a world of good!

While the Primal Diet may work for some high profile athletes, the bottom line is that every body is different. And as you and your coach have found, it's about finding a training and nutrition program that works for your individual body.

I'm looking forward to reading about how the changes you're making help you to become healthier, stronger and faster. And we know you and Beth will be sharing yummy new recipes along the way!

Justin Mock said...

Thanks for sharing. Injuries really force us to step back and think about what we're doing. Most recently for me, somehow at 5'9" and 125 lbs, I have an under-active thyroid. I think everyone struggles to find the right balance.

Carolina John said...

hells yea james. you gotta take care of your fuel. gotta eat enough to make the motor run. got you got your perpective straightened out.

I just got slapped with the same thing a few weeks ago. ran my first marathon june 13 and finished in 5:07. 5 hours later i was in the ER for some IV fluids after getting too dehydrated during the race. i know how much i should drink while running, and i only took in half that amount. so it's my own dumbass fault. gotta pay attention.

Kruse Time said...

good post, way to think long term

Zippy said...

Glad you're getting this under control before you wound up with permanent damage. Good luck at the Rim Nordic Series; I'm bummed I'm missing it!

Pedal Circles said...

Good post! Glad you're feeling better for sure. See you this weekend!

Luke said...

it must be the year 5-6 thing for us...seems like we can't make up our minds right! bored here...challenges there...balance!!

this year i've noticed some things...i can ride the shit out of my bike over long distances. but try to haul a couch up a flight of stairs and i'm toast. personally i'm tired of having the upper body of 13 year old girl...nah mean!! =)

you have the intense ability to focus, and it has driven you over the edge just as it did me. the single sport focus will definitely give you the time to rest up...but you will want it back down the road.

i think for us's about finding the balance in it all. pushing our bodies to the limits but without mindless goals. go out have fun...enjoy life with your future wife...many great challenges await us down the road...and i'm sure you will do great things in a fresh mindset!!

FatDad said...

Yo JW,
It takes a lot of courage to race the way you do. And it takes a lot of courage to post something like this. You should email Whitfield. That dude is a solid Canadian kid and will help a brother out. Guy eats a ton of oils from all kinds of sources and I'm sure he could have some good advice for another skinny triathlete!

Cliff said...

hey Jameson,

Good to hear that you have no brain tumour :).

Good to hear you focus on healthy need to be preaching here. hard to go easy when it is supposedly to be easy huh? :)

Jaakko Hiekkaranta said...

good post dude!to be honest I was still quite a bit worried at how little you eat! but I know the change isn't an easy one and good thing that you haven't gotten into a hole that is not possible to climb out of! can't wait to see how strong you'll really be when you get healthy!
cheers man and good luck on the race this weekend!

runninggunner said...


Great post. Glad to hear you are getting things under control and focusing on your health. Looking forward to what the rest of the year looks like for you.

MJ said...

I'm sure that if you unleash your focus, determination and tenacious attitude on your new diet plan you will be right where you want to be in pretty short order.

It's going to be scary how fast you'll be once the fuel mix is dialed-in to perfection.

Good choice (and display of courage) to share the story here... there might be a few people who learn something that will help them too.... and there's no sense in creating a fictional character devoid of any flaws or rough edges.... Reality is a lot more interesting....

All the best from Vancouver.

XTERRA 29er said...

JW, I can't thank you enough for this post. As an athlete new to the endurance world it is easy to look up to athletes like you who put it all on the line and take things to the next level on a weekly basis. You sharing your story is an important reminder to all of us to listen to our bodies and to train hard and smart. Best of luck in getting healthy and back on track quickly. Thanks again.

Tawnee said...

Great post, and I can totally relate. I just blogged about how I was too skinny going into IMCA and how I made some drastic diet changes after that. I got the blood tests a while back, too, and that info doesn't lie. Being underweight/underfueled can really take a toll on your body and overall well-being. And we crazy endurance athletes would rather get in another workout than address the real issue. It takes guts to face reality and make changes. But enjoy this new journey of eating right for your work output... I know I have, a little too much in fact... I gained more weight than I wanted to ha ha! But, I also feel better than ever and that's what really matters. Good luck.

Sean Crichton said...

i'm sure you'll tackle this obstacle just like any other and come out better in the long term. It's an endless path to try to figure out the best way. Best of luck to you and take care of yourself, bro. Thanks for sharing it. Your posts (even the serious ones) are great to read and keep me stoked. Your own positivity and the positivity of all those surrounding you will push you further and you'll be badder and faster than ever before. Take care.

Ryan Denner said...

dude, we need to catch up - STAT! sorry to hear about everything man!

beers soon!

lukejay said...

way to be straight up with everyone and yourself. that couldn't have been easy. its so easy to overdo it...chill, eat slot and drink beer!..then chill more.

Sarah said...

Been wanting to read this post since you wrote it. Wow. Your honesty is refreshing and so important in this culture of endurance sports where people love to talk about going hard all the time.

I know what you mean about trying to cope with the triathlete mentality of 'always working out.' I'm finally loosening up on it but it's HARD, man!

Really glad to hear you're listening to your body, doing the right thing and on the road to being 100% again. Keep it up!!