November is a month of remembrance hosting both (remember, remember the 5th of November…) Bonfire Night in the UK and Remembrance (UK)/Veterans Day (US). Personally, last month was a real time for reflection. After a long fight with a multitude of illnesses my grandmother past away. In such times you inevitably look back at your experiences with a person recently past and how you interacted together. The day after her funeral I completed the purchase of a flat in London. Also, following my first full season of competing in triathlons, and before hitting the long Winter base training period, it was time to take a training break to refresh my mind and body. Over the month I worked through with my coach the highs and areas of opportunity from the season as well as what my goals would be for 2015/2016.
It just so happened last month I received some great wisdom via a blog article and a TED Talk. In the former, head of SXSW Interactive Press & Publicity Kelly Krause epitomised many people I know who put so much pressure on themselves to achieve professional and personal goals they fail to see they are on a long journey and “I am doing better. Every single day I’m doing better.” Reading her story will change your perspective and make you realise “always forward” is how you will eventually get what you want, and it can be a whole lot of fun on the way. In the latter, lauded UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, with profound simplicity, redefines success and urges us all to pursue the best in ourselves. I hope this season will be my break-out in the triathlon community; I will be giving it my all and these two people have made me accept that is what matters.
In advance of all these life events I had nearly two weeks of holiday planned for the end of October but they were thrown up in the air when my travel buddy, who is in the US Air Force, had to cancel because his deployment was delayed. My mum too had to cancel her travel plans on account of my grandmother’s funeral. In much need of a wind-down we booked a self-drive trip to New England. Our route took us from Boston to Newport, to Chatham, to Martha’s Vineyard. We were just in time to enjoy the last of the crimson red, fire orange and sun burnt yellow leaves of fall, the delights of which I have been and will continue to put up on my Tumblr and Instagram accounts.
Although not following a prescribed training plan from my coach Fiona Ford, I still did some form of workout five times a week whilst Mum and I were away, including some “saucy” sessions suggested by Fiona. To those who do not compete in sport this behaviour may come across as obsessive. In the past my mum would have concurred but after repeating “triathlon is not a hobby, it is a lifestyle” to her enough she has come to accept my dedicated routine. Our wake up time each day was dictated by the sights we wanted to visit which, depending on what equipment and outside environment I had available at the hotel, in turn dictated what training I did. As we went to bed every evening, Mum would ask “Are you exercising in the morning?”, which was her way of working out if she needed to set an alarm or not. Whenever she asked this I corrected her by saying I was training, not exercising. Unlike much of modern society I do not engage in sport or go to a gym to burn empty calories eaten earlier in the day. Instead, each outing is strategically planned and requires focus to make me stronger and faster for race day.
As I said earlier, amateur sport is a way of life, dictating how you sleep, eat and socialise. Something I talked about in greater detail in a previous blog post about how sport can change your life. Yet, I also have a full-time job to uphold in the mix so fuelling my lifestyle well requires great planning and finding quick, convenient recipes. During my third and fourth year at university I committed to trying at least one new recipe a week. This exercise, which merely required a survey of what was left in the fridge for inspiration, taught me a multitude of culinary techniques and flavour combinations. Then, when I began to take endurance sports more seriously I sought the guidance of Registered Nutritional Therapist Jo Scott-Dalgleish whose acute wisdom and personal approach helped me find a flexible, nutritious and (crucially) tasty way of sustaining work and training whilst navigating through and on-going over-active thyroid condition. Combing these experiences preparing nutrient dense meals pronto has become second nature. Jo regularly sends an e-newsletter exploring a nutritional concept, detailing seasonal produce and their benefits as well as including a delicious recipe for those items. This month’s recipe was a kale and chickpea stir-fry, a zingy and filling post-work whip-up:
Serves 2. Preparation and cooking time: 20 minutes.
1 tbsp bouillon powder
1 can of chickpeas, drained.
Two handfuls of kale
3 large carrots
1 stick of celery
3 large tomatoes
2 cloves of fresh garlic
1 pink or white grapefruit
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp tamari soya sauce (optional) pre-cooked chicken
1.Cook the quinoa in a lidded saucepan for 15 minutes in 300ml of stock made with the bouillon powder.
2. Chop the kale, tomatoes, celery and carrots. Crush the garlic. Juice the grapefruit.
3. Melt the coconut oil in a wok at a medium temperature.
4. Add the vegetables, garlic and soya sauce. Sauté lightly for 5 minutes.
5. Add the drained chickpeas to the wok and warm for 2 minutes.
6. Add the quinoa to the wok and stir all the ingredients for 1 minute. Also add the pre- cooked chicken at this point if wished.
7. Squeeze the grapefruit juice over the stir-fry and serve.
If you wish to explore the world of endurance sports nutrition or require a 1-2-1 consultation with go Jo, check out her website.
Enjoy your fireworks this November and apart from pausing in silence out of respect for those fallen take a moment to reflect on where you have come from and where you are going.