Over the last few weeks, we have been looking at how getting leaner and lighter will make a real difference to your race results. We have also looked at the pitfalls of traditional dieting for endurance athletes who have different energy and nutrient requirements to people who are more sedentary as well the factors which might influence your ability to listen to your body and control your appetite.
Whilst reflecting on what we have already covered and thinking about the topic for this week, I realised that I had missed something really important if you are serious about getting leaner and that is your ‘Why’. This is so important and the foundation to everything else.
As a Sport’s Nutritionist when I first start to work with my clients I ask them to take me through what a typical training week looks like for them. Many get up early before work to go and train in the dark and in all weathers and then repeat it all again in the evening. I am in awe if their dedication but sadly when it comes to their eating habits, they are making poor choices which is affecting both their energy levels and results. They plan every aspect of their training yet they find it really hard to adopt and maintain what I call ‘Performance eating’ habits. This is because they aren’t clear about their ‘Why’.
Knowing your ‘Why’ is an important first step in figuring out how to achieve the goals that excite you such as going faster at each race and getting new personal best times. Your ‘Why’ will get you through the tough times when the initial excitement has died down. Only when you know your ‘why’ will you stay motivated and move your performance in your chosen endurance event onto an entirely new more rewarding trajectory. If you’re not 100% clear about your ‘Why’ when it comes to getting leaner then you will be tempted by the first cake or fast food product that is put in front of you.
Here’s an example of how you can identify your ‘Why’ . Start by asking yourself the question “Why do I do endurance events? For each aspect you identify, be like a 4 year old and keep asking yourself ‘Why?’ until you get to the real answer. So you might realise that one of the reasons you do endurance events is to stay lean. So why do you want to stay lean? Because I want to be able to go faster. So why do you want to go faster? Because I like to be able to achieve the goals I set myself. And why do you like to achieve your goals? Because it makes me more confident in my ability. And why is confidence important to you? It helps me be more successful. And why do you want to be more successful? Because I can better provide for my family. This is your real ‘Why’ for doing endurance events.
Once you have identified your real reasons for wanting to be an endurance athlete, you can use them to inspire and motivate you. The next time you get tempted by highly refined, high calorie low nutrient density food, simply bring to mind your ‘why’ and I guarantee you will have no problem making the right decision.