Do I still have an Olympic in me at 48?

Finishing the World Champs in Cancun. I look and feel exhausted!

An Olympic? An Olympic What? An Olympic triathlon!!!

Finishing the World Champs in Cancun. I look and feel exhausted!

Finishing the World Champs in Cancun. I look and feel exhausted!

What the? Well – the background to this story is that 13 years ago I was a fairly decent triathlete regularly competing around the UK and lucky enough to qualify for the GB age group team out in Cancun, Mexico. Due to some vague prowess on the bike I came 19th in the world in the 35-39 years age group. (The photo shows me finishing in Cancun.) Then I moved to Australia, got married, got fat, had babies, had surgery, tried another triathlon which I hated and retired from triathlon completely. Or so I thought.

Until now – or more exactly – 5 weeks time. On May 23rd I shall return to competitive Olympic distance triathlon in the 45-49 age group. I entered this  5 months ago in an attempt to divert attention from the fact that my husband was about to do his first IRONMAN. Not wanting my kids to think he was the only one capable of swimming, cycling and running I jumped in again. And most of me is glad that I have!! We shall see how the rest of me feels on May 24th!

I was comparing an old triathlon photo of myself with the current version. Despite the 13 years age difference I think I look pretty good now – somewhat leaner, happier and healthier. I do not expect to come anywhere near my 19th in the world standard – age certainly affects performance particularly my cranky knees – but this new me is certainly benefiting from the improved diet that has come with the increased knowledge the world and I have about sports nutrition.

Let’s compare for example:
Back then I had toast for breakfast – or cereal. I used to think lots of veggies were important so I ate mainly veggies at lunchtime before training in the evening. After training I had a massive meal of pasta and, after still feeling hungry, compared notes with my pro triathlete friend and ate some fat, in the form of ice cream, to ensure I got through the night.  And I always wondered why I was a larger member of the GB triathlon team? And I always wondered why I felt like sleeping after a big training session and why my muscles felt stiff much of the time.

How we have changed our knowledge about sports nutrition. As a quick comparison lets look at what I do now.

Breakfast is a full meal replacement shake (limited carbs, fats and fibre, mineral and vitamins) with between 24 and 36g of pure whey protein depending on how hard I am training. The more I train the more protein I need above the basic requirements of every adult (1g for every kg of ideal body weight as a minimum). I have a protein rich snack mid morning and one mid afternoon (mainly nuts) with another full meal replacement shake for lunch. I find lunch a tough meal to get right as a Mum working from home – I know I need protein to stay satiated and energetic and the shake is the most convenient way of doing this quickly so I can carry on working. I eat my evening meal with the kids but, whilst ensuring they have healthy carbs, I rarely touch them focusing on a plate of lean protein coming from chicken or fish and a large selection of vegetables. I don’t need anything else that night – my body can easily get through the night because I have stopped the hunger pangs by ensuring I ate enough protein during the day. I sleep much better too – a side effect of ensuring your body has taken in all the correct nutrients during the day and is satiated and happy. And becuase I sleep better and have fab nutrients my immunity is much stronger than it used to be.

So – I am glad I am returning to Olympic – I feel as if I have done the right preparation in my training and my nutrition. Lets see how the 23rd May goes shall we?!

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