From Holy Spokes! by Rob Coppolillo:
So you did your first race - congrats! Well, did you like it? I trust you survived with all your limbs
in tact and you got a good night's rest after the race. Ready for another one, maybe in a week or
a month, or two?
Chances are you'll want to improve a bit, so start riding more and getting comfortable with the
speed and physical demands. Bike racing asks a lot of your bod, so you'll need to be focused on
your diet, staying hydrated, and sleeping well (seven to nine hours a night) consistently - not just
the night before your races.
Competition develops great habits that will follow you through life. If you're paying attention, it
teaches you a bunch about your body, mind, and self. To get the most out of your racing, you'll
need to eat wholesome, clean food. You can still indulge once in a while (or a few times a week if
you're a weakling like me!), but in general, you need lean proteins like salmon and chicken, healthy
fats like olive oil, and complex carbohydrates like brown rice and whole-grain breads. Combine
those with some training, be in bed by 10pm, and you're good to go.
I read this while I was home for Thanksgiving. On the seven-hour drive back to school, which ended
up being a ten-hour trip due to stopping for dinner and driving with heavy traffic, I reflected upon
this portion of Holy Spokes! in relation to my own journey to better health and fitness.
I thought about my first event, a sprint triathlon on September 2, and how nothing has ever tasted as
good as that fruit did after I crossed the finish line and settled my heart rate. I thought about my second
event, a bookend duathlon (run-bike-run) on November 10, and how I binged on bananas after the
second 5k run made me question every ounce of willpower I had. I thought about friends of mine who
have had similar recent journeys: religiously commuting to work via bike, entering the world of cyclocross,
going to spin classes, going for walks.
I thought about my own personal progress of struggling to bike a mile and a half and giving up after
three blocks of running to being able to bike 28 miles with a 15mph average and run 3 miles with an
11-minute mile average. I thought about where I continue to struggle. I thought about additional areas
for improvement, especially in light of the book excerpt above.
As I thought about all of this during my ten-hour trip, I experienced a significant cognitive shift. It was
so significant that I could feel it throughout my body.
I need to live clean in more areas of my life.
No more soda. Minimal sugar. Only enough wheat products to keep my love of pasta and bread satisfied.
Sleeping well. Eating fresh. Daily workouts. More water. More fruit. More of what is good for me.
I got back to school, went to the grocery store the very next day, and did incredibly well for a few days.
That weekend, I realized a significant area of struggle for me continues to be willpower. Living alone and
being responsible for purchasing all of my food allows me to eliminate junk food and most sources of sugar
from my diet through simple avoidance. The struggle arises when I am in other environments (friend's
homes, office, etc.) where junk food is available and offered. This is where my willpower fails.
And herein lies my new goal: to bolster my willpower in order to resist junk food in any environment.
I'm proud of my gains. I'm proud of how I feel.
I want to make more gains and feel more proud. I want to continue to feel better and feel more proud.
In addition to increasing willpower, living clean will incorporate other aspects, such as taking more time for
me to become better. Less Reddit, more reading. Less drama, more quality time with quality friends. Less
television, more art.
Fewer excuses, more commitment.
For me, health and fitness is not about getting skinny or going further. It used to be and a part of it still is,
but this mindset has only gotten me so far. I believe that my recent wall in regards to running is largely
related to impatience, which I believe stems from this mindset.
I simply want to be better, in all ways.
To paraphrase Holy Spokes!:
To get the most out of life, LIVE CLEAN.