Road to the Ironman: The Inspiration Epidemic

Written by Jonathan Mackintosh

Inspiration and passion are contagious. You inspire me, I might inspire you and we become a group that inspires others. There is a viral effect that rapidly moves beyond our ability to track.

Credit: Dr Stephen McQuaid & Stewart Church / QUB / Wellcome Images

Credit: Dr Stephen McQuaid & Stewart Church / QUB / Wellcome Images

These past couple of weeks I have watched inspiration hit my wife like a ton of bricks. I mentioned in my last blog that she had started looking at how to remove processed food from our diet, well she dove in head first and has become a serious advocate for healthy living. In our family you are not allowed to half-ass it. You are all in or you are lazy (Hence I am doing an Ironman with only one other triathlon under my belt). This isn’t a rule in our family, just the way we work.

So, we have donated our cupboards and freezer stock of processed food and started over with the basics. We make our food from scratch, we are able to pronounce every ingredient and we try to avoid hormonal overload on our meat and dairy. With three females in the family, we have enough hormones without the extras (don’t get mad sweetheart…it’s funny). The transition to this lifestyle is helped because we are able to peek into the lives of those that have gone before us, people we can relate to.

Inspiration often requires context to create action within us. If I can identify with the person, I can more easily picture myself doing what they did. The trail has been blazed. My wife finds inspiration in bloggers who have families similar to ours, sharing their journey through stories of success and failure.

Their failures make them accessible, their successes inspire action.

The beauty of the contagion is that when we take action, we immediately become a candidate to inspire others. It doesn’t mean we have it all figured out. Like I mentioned before, I am far less inspired by people that aren’t willing to express their failures. We become a trail blazer for our friends and neighbors who couldn’t identify with anyone before.

I desire to be a part of an epidemic of change. I desire to inspire others. I don’t think that’s egotistical, because my criteria is that I share my failures alongside my successes. I want my journey to the Ironman to be an accessible story for those that are in similar situations to where I began.

So here are three very real things about me:

  1. I still can’t look at myself in the mirror with my shirt off
  2. I battle with feelings of failure and depression when I take a necessary break from routine
  3. I fear what I will feel/look like in 1, 3, 5 years. Have I really changed for good?

Exercise

I have started running again. Just a little bit, but so far it hasn’t hurt my soleus muscle so I am optimistic. I will continue to slowly build my miles back in to my run, with tons of stretches and muscle rolling integrated into the routine.

I am continuing my focus on building my core muscles to create stability when the major endurance training kicks in. I am a big advocate for Core Performance Training. It has helped rid me of my lower back issues and I am sure it has prevented a large number of potential injuries. They have a great ramp up program that meets you where you are. That’s my plug.

My next blog entry will include our first week of the 13 week training program. I am extremely nervous but thrilled. I think my training is there, but per usual, I am nervous about my injury. Onward.

Nutrition

I already talked a lot about what we have changed to lately regarding unprocessed food. Here is a particular site that has inspired my wife (who has inspired me):

http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/

Since our transition, I broke through a weight-loss plateau that I had been stuck on for 3 months, losing an additional 8 lbs. The bonus is food just plain tastes better.

I have also started to add in Power Bar gels during my longer duration exercises to get my body used to the substance since it will be necessary during the Ironman race.

On top of it all, I am still rocking the Nussentials stuff. The key for me has been my post workout Less protein shakes. Yesterday I was in a foul mood after three hours of training. My best guessfor  is that it was a vitamin deficiency, because after the shake my mood improved considerably.

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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?