Be the Milk

I was reading, and by reading I mean listening to audible while driving, to the Stephen King collection called “Bazaar of Bad Dreams”. A collection of short stories, which I really enjoy from him, where he narrates the introduction to each one. I have always liked it when King takes a moment and describes what he was thinking, where the thought came from, etc. He always makes me think about why I don’t write things down more as they come to me. How many good ideas have been lost to the cosmos because I didn’t take a moment and scribble it down somewhere?

Anyway, before one particular story he began talking about how his mother had a saying for everything, and how one specific one always stood out;

Milk always takes on the flavor of what it’s next to in the icebox

This is something I have heard from my own parents and grandparents, so it automatically strikes a chord in me, but the inner meaning began to worm its way into my psyche as I drove home that night.

We, as athletes and coaches, are a lot like milk. We take on the flavor of what we are reading, who we are listening to, what people we are around while we train. It’s inevitable as humans to not have this happen.

The trick, as they say, is not to become the onion if you are the milk.

Now, what do I mean by that?

Humans are adaptable. We take on the cloak of what is around us in order to survive. Over millions of years, we evolved to meet the climates where our ancestors found themselves. What we, as athletes and coaches, need to do is adapt to the things we learn and the people we train with or coach.

The danger is taking on too much of the things around us so that we lose what is our own essence, and our own belief system. Most of us want to be liked, so we tend to become what we need to become in order to be accepted and liked by the people we are around. Joseph Campbell’s theory of Masks speaks to this in great detail. We assume the mask of what is accepted, but underneath we are the same person we have always been, and eventually, if we don’t tend to the real person, the mask cracks. This is how women end up married to abusive men when nothing, while they were dating, showed that he was abusive. Eventually the mask he was wearing cracks and the monster emerges.

The trick is, then, to assume what is around you, take it all in, but never lose or hide who you are as a coach or an athlete. No matter how many onions are sitting next to you in the icebox, never try to be an onion, because no matter how you taste, you are still at your core, milk.

As I am working through my coaching certification I was hit with things being taught that I knew I would eventually come across; nutrition and the belief still being held by most dietitians that an athlete’s daily food intake should be 60-75% carbs.

Big sigh as I read this, and I started to react, but then it became clear to me that it really didn’t matter what they were teaching. The lessons (and most of the coaches) are geared toward elite level athletes. Not overweight or obese clients. For them, this level of carb intake might be correct because they burn constantly. What I do know is that this type of eating will not work for overweight athletes trying to lose weight. I know this not only because of my own experience, but because of studies I have read, books on the subject, and people I have trained with over the years.

And it doesn’t matter …. it just doesn’t …

I will take in what they are teaching, answer the questions as they taught them in the final test, then throw it out once I attain my certification. As part of the venture, you are asked to develop your own coaching philosophy; are you an LLD type of guy, or maybe an LLDLD person? Do you believe carb loading works? Are you a paleo/wild diet/Asprey/Tortorich/Abel follower, or do you agree with Rich Roll? Some love Gatorade, while some prefer plain water.

All of these decisions make up who you are as a coach. I am still developing that, but I know that I want clients who are new to the sport, are overweight and feel they cannot lose it, who think that a triathlon, or a half marathon, is out of their reach. Clients that feel they are too old to start something new or have too many medical issues. These are my people.

I have met many people since becoming more of a presence online. I became a podcast host because I met Andrew Weaver through another show and then ventured off to do a spin-off of that show on my own. I have had arguments with people on those forums that I eventually ended up agreeing with, and I think I have had the same effect on some others. I have had to accept that no matter how much science you throw at people there are some that will always believe in carb loading, ice baths, and Greenfield followers who think bio-hacking is normal.

I have to accept that and just stay the course, but at the same time keep an open enough mind that might come to agree with some of them in the future.

That … I am still working on. 🙂

Jelly Roll

There are many good things about training. The first of them is the feeling of accomplishment at the end of a long ride, or finally being able to breathe in the water, or running under a 12:00 pace for a 5k. All accomplishments I have seen over the last 7 seasons, but along with these good things, there are usually corresponding not so good things.

I don’t say bad things because in the grand scheme they are not “bad”.

The first thing that pops to mind is the weight loss. Yes, I know … those that have read my stuff for a while have heard me bitch and moan about my inability to lose weight, or at least lose weight consistently (because going from 313 to 276 is a loss). The weight comes off, grudgingly, slowly, pound by pound, only to inch back up on occasion as if my body is telling me “don’t get too full of yourself, buddy, I control you still”.

But what I have noticed is a whole new issue.

When I was at my heaviest I took some pride (believe it or not … amazing how a person can find pride in negative things) in that my belly was not “flabby”. I carried all of my weight in my gut (not uncommon for a guy) but I still had decent muscle mass in chest and legs, so my midsection, though huge, was HARD. Tight as a drum. And here’s the thing … now that some of the weight has come off, the stomach has become flabby. And it is refusing to tighten up.

This is my body again saying:

“See? we will allow you to lose weight but we will keep this jelly roll on you so that you remember we were here!”

The body can be a real bastard.

So, anyway, on another point …

Throughout the years I have ridden three different road bikes (a borrowed LeMonde, a Scott Speedster, and now my Litespeed C1), a mountain bike (a refurbished Giant frame), and a Scott Plasma 20 TT bike (now sold to a new home). There are differences, and in the course of these years I have come up with a list for riding … lessons learned if you will. They are:

    • It is much easier to stand on a TT bike than a road bike. I am not sure why this is … maybe just the way your body sits on it.
    • If you plan on racing and riding in hills, invest in a compact crankset and an 11-28 cassette. Once I changed my Litespeed over it made a world of difference.
    • All bikes must be named and all names should show at least a little bit of creativity (i.e. naming a Bianchi “Bianchi” or a black bike “Blackie” is … boring). My bikes are/were: Scott Speedster was “Mario”. Litespeed C1 is “Buzz” (like Buzz Litespeed. OK, I thought it was funny). Scott Plasma 20 was “Gunner” and the Giant mountain bike is “Buster” because he busts my balls going over rough terrain and jumps.
    • It’s fun riding in aero going downhill (even if it’s a bit scary), though the control, or feeling of control, you have on a road bike makes it a bit less scary.
    • Love Bugs taste better than grasshoppers. This might just be a palate issue.
    • In that vein, learn to ride with mouth closed and breathe, Nuke Style, through my eyelids.
    • There is something deeply gratifying getting off the bike and having sweat drip off you like a river. This may be a Florida thing, but sweating like that is … manly.
    • Braking takes longer on a Tri Bike … adjust accordingly. Just trust me on that one.

So … things are coming along. So many people helping me, from Team in Training Alumni’s to Meghan Collins-Fanning, to Facebook followers, and to listeners of the podcast. They have been awesome, and when the motivations wane, as it tends to do, they are the ones that pull you out and push you to the next level. This has been an awesome adventure so far.

I just wish I had started sooner.

All Sizzle and No Steak

I hope this post doesn’t turn into a rant, but I have a sneaky suspicion it will, so I should apologize for any hurt feelings, but I won’t, because if you think I am talking about you, then I probably am. 🙂


The more I have gotten into blogging and podcasting the more I see instances of so-called “fitness experts” hawking either their own products or something they are paid to sell, no matter what the underlying healthiness of said product is, and it is getting ridiculous. I actually saw a post once on a healthy (at least it was advertised this way) eating site titled “recipe of the day” …

It was for DEEP FRIED STRAWBERRIES.

Seriously?

Now if you are someone who is so in shape and have the metabolism of a housefly that you can afford to eat deep fried anything, well, good for you. Congratulations. But the majority of people are not that lucky, and to see a post on healthy websites or blogs touting something deep fried like it’s a “new twist” gives the impression it’s healthy. It’s not, and it’s misleading to present it as such. Why does anyone need to deep fry a strawberry?

We see this all the time, especially from the celebrity trainer types like Gillian Michaels. Now don’t get me wrong, I like Gillian Michaels, or at least I used to, but she constantly is pushing food and supplements that are one, not healthy, and two, usually not needed, and the problem with that is, alongside others like Bob Harper, are people listen to them.

They buy the DVD’s, watch the shows, follow the diets, and when it doesn’t work for them they feel like they have failed.

No … you have not failed …they have failed you.

An older post I wrote touched on this issue also, but was more geared toward those out there that complain and complain about their weight yet you see them posting on Facebook “checked in a 5 Guys Burgers”. There is NOTHING healthy at 5 Guys Burgers. Period. If you want to eat at McDonald’s, or 5 Guys, or wherever, that’s fine … it’s your life. Just please refrain from complaining about how fat you are afterward. The same issue happens with people completing about GI issues during runs and bikes, yet when you look at their nutrition they have downed numerous packets of sugar-filled GU’s and Gels.

But don’t DARE suggest they lose the sugar! Oh God no!!

The blogs I read or tweets I see that are re-tweeted? The majority say nothing of value … it’s all just fluff meant to self-promote. The people behind most of these blogs and tweets (the ones I KNOW at least) rarely are found out at 5:00 AM running or making a mad dash for Flatwoods after work to get a couple of loops in. And most of those that ARE out there, don’t blog or tweet (which I find amusing), though they ARE good at Facebook entries, which I think is great!

I know there are some people that hate people posting their recent workouts or meals. I personally find it motivational, especially when I know they are out there giving it all they can. The frustrating thing, for me, is when much credence is given to those that are not out there. Personally, I am out there 4-5 days a week and I was questioning how much I should write about or post/tweet because, well, I am still overweight. What right do I have to write about my training and nutrition when I am still in the shape I am in?

I liken it to someone I used to work with. We were measured in the number of “projects” we had on our plates. At one point I had 13 open projects. They had 3. Yet, they are the one singled out for recognition, presentations, etc., because the 3 they work on are high visibility projects. The funny thing is that the work associated with them is all phone time; selling basically, and once the WORK needs to be put in on development, or authoring a white paper it gets handed off to someone else (me in many cases).

He was all sizzle but no steak.

So, everyone, when you read blogs, or tweets, or Facebook, please use some discretion on whose opinion you put a value on. I know I put stuff out there all the time, but I try to stay informed, and I am quick to point out that I am by far not an expert and that everything I post or say is MY point of view and from MY experience. I am a lifetime student and I gather information from everywhere I can and filter what works for me and what doesn’t.

The Mission

It is the mission of Endurance For Everyone to promote the healthy participation in endurance events regardless of current fitness level. The leadership and members of teamE4E believe with proper and appropriate training, nutrition, and motivation, along with the support and guidance of a team, that everyone can complete, and even compete, in long course events.