Famous nuns, triathlon and getting back to basics

Do you meticulously weigh and measure your food? Do you agonize over whether you should be doing high reps/light weight vs. low reps/heavier weight vs. cardio vs. Crossfit? You may be prioritizing the minor elements of your nutrition and fitness while neglecting the more foundational ones.

In my younger years, I caught the triathlon bug. Over the course of about ten years, I competed in a few dozen races from sprint distance to Ironman. My first race was a sprint-distance race in the rolling hills of the Columbia Gorge. Since it was my first race and I didn’t even know if I’d ever do another, I used the equipment I had. What I had was a 35+ pound mountain bike. On the bike leg, I got passed by the famous Sister Madonna Buder, a legend in the sport. If you’re not familiar with the triathlon world, you should know she was around 70 at the time. I did manage to catch her toward the end of the run, but it’s a little pathetic to measure my performance against a nun who was 4 decades older than me. But still. I beat her. (For the record.)

As I became more serious about the sport, I learned about different bike styles and components, and realized that one could spend a good $5000 or more for a top-of-the-line triathlon bike, complete with the lightest components and most aerodynamic design. And there was always “that guy” who rarely trained but spent hundreds of dollars on components that lightened his bike by a few grams or gave him a slightly more aerodynamic position. For the elite competitors who won or lost a race by seconds, these were required modifications. But for “that guy”, there were approximately eleventy billion things he should have focused on instead.

In the world of nutrition and exercise, we often do the same. We focus on changing macros by a few grams here or there, or meal timing, or frequency. We agonize over rep schemes and heart rate zones. But we tend to neglect the fundamentals – things like eating more veggies, getting adequate protein, moving every day and eating slowly and mindfully.

In the sport of triathlon, the vast majority of folks just need to move from a mountain bike to a road or triathlon bike to see dramatic improvements. For your nutrition and fitness, most people would be better off focusing on those foundational habits that really give a much bigger bang for your buck. Take the simple habit of eating slowly and mindfully. We often think, “Yeah, I already know that, it’s too basic.” But how well do you practice that habit? When I really paid attention to it, I found that it took a lot more effort than I realized.

Over the next few weeks/months, we’ll be introducing these foundational habits, with practical tips to help you incorporate these simple (but powerful) habits into your every day life. So stay tuned!