Journey to the Ironman: Becoming an Olympian…Sort of

Written by Jonathan Mackintosh

Rubberband GunAnticipation has become a burr in my breaches. I’m itching to jump the gun. Here is a bad analogy I am going to share anyways: I feel like there is a rubber band gun pointed at me. It probably won’t hurt, but you still flinch from the uncertainty of when/where/how it will strike. We are coming up on the home stretch before the endurance training kicks into gear. I have 4 weeks to get to where I am going before the 13 week countdown begins. However, I am constrained by the need to take an excruciatingly slow approach to continued healing in my right tendon leg, with no guarantee that it will make a difference. I can just see myself running down the road for the first time in months, having worked daily on strengthening, stretching, massaging and icing my leg, only to feel the first bite of pain as the leg flares up again. Hence the flinchiness with the rubber band. It can drive you bonkers to think about all of the what ifs.

I am reminded of a Summer Olympics I watched a few years back. During the 100 meter dash, I watched a runner jump the gun twice in a row resulting in a disqualification. I was devastated for the person who likely had sacrificed years of their life for the opportunity to compete, only to lose on a technicality. I could not, and still cannot, imagine the thoughts assailing the runner pre and post disqualification. You have trained for years to the point in which the difference between last and first is a second. Talk about being drawn taught. Yet, what really blows my mind is that you will see an Olympic athlete lose spectacularly, only to fight on for four more years and return to the next Olympics. How do they bear the potential for failure and justify the sacrifice?

Beyond enjoying the sport itself, I like to believe they have developed a passion for pursuit, no matter the prize. Sure winning the gold is wonderful, but when possible, that same athlete is back the next time around even after being declared the best in the world. Their personality and passion isn’t often changed by achieving success, or more to the point, failing. They are in the race to be in the race.

My point is that I am in a constant state of having to remind myself that the race at the end of my Ironman journey, does not define the journey itself. This is about the Journey TO the Ironman, not even about the Ironman itself. That all sounds cheesy, and maybe I am just blowing smoke, but it honestly is a struggle for me to anticipate the tragedy of the potential that I may not succeed. So I must retrain my mind to pursue the race, not the result.

Nutrition

Highland CowThere is an absolute ton of research, blog opinions and propaganda out there on the best path forward for healthy eating. My wife and I have been saturated lately with wading through all of this info, trying to develop plans for when I am at the peak of training. Here is what we have learned so far: most generic milk is disgusting, high fructose corn syrup with kill me, but only after soda claims my soul. Eye opening stuff. Needless to say my wife is now a vegan and I am well on my way (except for the meat and dairy part).

Actually we are very interested in the Paleo way of eating, though we believe in good grains and healthy dairy. I like to think of it as the Paleo Plus Diet. Coined.

Still loving and rocking the Nussentials products. Currently using Alert, Core, Less, Run and may start Restore soon. That, combined with our adventures in healthy eating, has made a huge difference in my recovery time and overall feeling healthy. Still figuring out the optimum profile balance for products, but maybe my journey can help jumpstart Nussentials to create persona product packages. Like a product package for athletes, similar to the weight loss focused, Gold Pack. You heard it here first.

Exercise

This has been a tough Colorado Winter experience. There are so many days that I have been forced to adapt to deal with snow on the ground and ice on the roads. I think most endurance athletes can attest that there is very little enjoyment in being regulated to off-season training, when your mind is rearing to hit the trail. I don’t mean to sound bitter, but Colorado has long Winters. This is coming from a boy born and raised in California, where I spent almost 2 years straight in the same pair of Rainbow® sandals. So I am regulated to foam rolling (and sometime wooden roller pinning) the tears out of me and my sore muscles. If I can’t enjoy the outdoors, might as well be in pain, right?

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Journey to the Ironman: A Blind Date with Passion

Written by Jonathan Mackintosh

So I mentioned in my previous post, that my journey to getting healthy was driven in part by Passion. Passion sounds romantic when it comes to building towards a goal, but what happens when passion is not easily conjured out of the air?

When I started this journey in the Summer of 2011, my wife and I had a 5 month old little girl. For those of you who are parents of small children, you can understand how life can get a bit “interrupted” by 20 lbs of crying midnight madness. Don’t get me wrong, I love my daughter exceedingly, but new parents can attest that you are at the mercy of insanity that first year. Passion for the journey to getting healthy was far from a reality, simple survival was the goal.

I certainly had desires to be different, I believed that I had the potential, but I wasn’t “passionate” about the process it would take to get there. How do you feel passionate about something that is big, scary and lives under your bed at night? No, I was freaked out about the sacrifice it would take, I was scared of failing again, I was scared that this was another yo-yo diet session and I was afraid of the effects it would have on my family.

Blind DateI equate the process, loosely, to a blind date. To go on a blind date, you are somewhat at the point of desperation, can’t find your “soul mate” even though you have tried many times to make it happen. You may have found the dating process to be arduous and daunting so you can’t imagine this will be any different. Yet, you meet the date anyways. Not because you have a passion for dating and not because you have a passion for the person you are meeting, but because you desire the potential outcome. For the sake of the story, somewhere during the initial awkwardness you see a glimmer of hope. Slowly your apprehension gets out of the way, you begin to build a relationship and it slowly stops feeling so much like an uphill struggle.  Passion takes over and you stop looking at it as a journey towards something and realize you have arrived.

So I have a point. Hopefully. Exercise, eating healthy, being disciplined, these were means to an end when this all started. I looked at them as part of the uphill struggle to get healthy. But I also saw it as temporary. I would do this, it would produce these results and I would be done. That’s how I started. I had always said I hated running. It was not my thing and as a 6 foot 2 inch 275 pound man, I didn’t think that was the way to ease into anything. So I took baby steps.  I found something I halfway enjoyed (biking) and worked it into my routine. As I got past my initial fear of exercise, I began to desire diversity and took on the “big scary monster”, running. As time progressed, I hated it less, learned to like it and eventually even saw trickles of a long-term relationship in the works. Eventually I looked around and realized that this means to an end, had become a passion.

That doesn’t mean there still aren’t tough days when I don’t want to get out of bed. It just means I no longer see healthy living, running included, as a temporary fix, and now recognize it as a long term relationship.

Training

In the coming weeks, my passion will certainly be put to the test as I take on the Ironman training. Currently, I am building the base exercise structure that prepares me for the more intense training regimen. My brother (who is crazily joining me on this endeavor) and I will be working through the fairly well known program, 13-weeks to a 13 hour Ironman.

Our weeks leading up to it primarily consist of core focused workouts including, weight-lifting and plyometric training. See Core Performance Training for more details. We also work in swimming, biking and running to ensure our endurance is up to snuff when beginning the main program. I will be sharing more details as the training intensifies.

Nutrition

I mentioned I am using the Nussentials products for nutritional supplements during my training. I had been primarily using Less as my protein shake after workouts, adding non-fat milk and vanilla Greek yogurt to the mix. I have been very satisfied with my workout recovery.  I was finding though, that I was feeling extremely tired during the day and suspected that I wasn’t getting enough nutrients from my current diet, so I added in Nussential’s Core product. The added B12 in my diet, plus all the other nutrients, has vastly improved my post workout energy and I no longer find myself nodding off in the middle of conversations with my wife. Always a good thing to avoid.

Recipe

As previously promised, I am sharing with all of you my absolute favorite meal of all time. It happens to be incredibly healthy too, so it’s the feel good recipe of the year.

Follow the link for the Sweet Sassy Sausage Soup (created by Reba Mackintosh, my wife)