How did nutrition and happiness end up in the title of the same blog? Let's find out together.
There is a collective theme emerging this winter from the runners I coach in that they are proactively taking control of their own healthy eating and fueling habits. Some of them have purchased books on the topic, and whether or not it’s a run-specific nutrition book is irrelevant at this point. They’re setting specific goals in this category, with tangible action plans. Much of that starts at the grocery store (e.g., reading labels), and then carries over into their choices when dining out (e.g., no alcohol). Quick side note: Alcohol affects your sleep, and then lack of sleep, especially over an entire week or month, will affect your performance and increase your risk for inflammation injuries (overuse injuries).
Some of you have a body type that doesn’t have much room to improve, whether that’s in terms of body weight (you’re already as low as you’re going to get) or body composition (lean vs. fatty tissue), but your goal with proper diet can still be to be energetic day-in, day-out, and to get good sleep (I have a separate Blog on BodyTypes, which also appears in the Nutrition chapter of my book).
The off-season is the best time for experimentation and to attack all the off-the-field elements of your training. Yes, we incorporate all aspects of training during the entire year (a holistic approach), but we mentally prioritize (key word) things like, ST, PT, XT, and nutrition in the off-season. To mentally prioritize everything all the time means you’re going to drive yourself crazy. The key to “finding balance,” like your hippie yoga friends preach, is not to reduce everything to the same level (same amount of priority) throughout the day, week, month, or year, but instead to focus/prioritize certain aspects more than others for a while (however long that needs to be) before switching focus/prioritization to something else, so that at the end of a month or year, the overall weight of everything has balance.
To use run training as a quick example (explained in greater length and depth in the Periodization chapter of my book), racing is the lowest priority in the winter, with ST at the highest. Then that slowly but surely shifts in the opposite direction as we hit the fall season, which is peak race season. Monitoring exact paces for workouts follows suit (low priority now, high priority later). You should be able to apply this same mental approach to all aspects of your life: professional, athletic, social, and family/friends, with further breakdowns within each of those major categories. I’m sure some of you already do this with elaborate color coding on your monthly planners or through journaling, or though meditation, but if not, then give it a whirl. Take an hour to dissect your life on paper...your schedule, your priorities, your goals, and your happiness. As an athlete in the Mid-Atlantic region, this is the perfect time of year to do it (winter off-season).
So, as you focus on nutrition now (here in the off-season), you are adhering to a key component of happiness, which is to the Purpose and Pleasure Pendulum, for which I have a separate Blog, and reading that will explain how nutrition and happiness ended up in the same title of this Blog :)