Building Your Best: The Importance of Nutrition, Exercise, and Community in Training for the #RoadToCACUSS

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Building Your Best: The Importance of Nutrition, Exercise, and Community in Training for the #RoadToCACUSS

It’s no secret to the people I’m closest to (and some who I barely know) that I’m a very competitive person. When the challenge to ride to Ottawa was presented there was no way I could turn it down. As someone who grew up around sport and played competitively throughout university, I am always searching for the next opportunity to challenge and push myself to achieve new personal bests. Everyone needs something to engage with. While we all might find enjoyment in different things, engaging in the things that bring us the greatest fulfillment helps us to grow and nurture our personal happiness. For those of you who are looking for a new challenge or simply looking for an alternative perspective, I wanted to share my training process and some tips I’ve learned along the way.

I started to train the moment I committed to riding from Toronto to Ottawa. Last July, I jumped in head first and identified three areas I needed to pay particular attention to if I wanted to be successful: nutrition, exercise, and community.

Nutrition

I love pizza. I also have a deep admiration for anything and everything that’s been fried and jammed between two slices of gluten. That being said, I also appreciate the need for balance when it comes to all things delicious. Fueling my body appropriately is (and will continue to be) one of the biggest challenges and necessities while training. Making sure you’re taking in the right amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fat (macronutrients) will give your body the energy it needs while helping your muscles recover quicker. There’s a couple of ways I do this:

Meal planning

Every Sunday, I sit with my partner and plan out meals for the week. We plan breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks (don’t forget snacks!) and the grocery list to go along with it. By planning and buying everything ahead of time, we’re definitely more committed to making the meals we planned than if we were trying to decide what to eat on the way home from work.

One of my favourite meal planning tools is Evernote.

Food journal

I try to track almost everything that I eat throughout the day. It keeps me accountable because I know that if I eat that afternoon cookie, I’m going to have to write it down. I’ve definitely found it’s helped me to understand what works and what doesn’t when I’m training.

My Fitness Pal is a really great tool to help you track your nutrition, water, and exercise.

I think it’s important to note that I still eat my fair share of pizza… I just do it in moderation. Make sure you reward yourself weekly for a job well done!

Exercise

Exercise is an integral piece to a healthy lifestyle. I find it easiest to motivate myself to work out when I have a clear plan and a goal in mind. A varied workout plan comprised of exercises that I enjoy along with the necessary components for achieving the goals I’ve set up keep me motivated to workout on the days that I don’t necessarily feel like it.

Life Hack: Schedule time into your calendar for your workouts. Add your run, spin class, or strength training to your daily agenda so that it’s in front of you and something you’re thinking about throughout the day.

Strength training

Hitting the gym and lifting weights can be intimidating and that’s okay. In addition to being a critical piece in any training regimen, strength training can also help you: develop strong bones, manage your weight, enhance your quality of life, and sharpen your thinking skills. Figuring out a strength training plan and working up the courage to go and try it out is the first and most important step. Do some research, find a buddy or hire a trainer to kick start the momentum and maintain a regular schedule by setting aside time in your calendar each day.

The app that I use to track my strength training is Strong.

Cardio

The fun stuff! (Sometimes…) I’ve never regretted doing cardio after I was finished, though in the middle of my workout—occasionally. Making sure that I’m physically capable of riding nearly 500 km has been a primary focus of mine. The only thing you need to do cardio is a pair of shoes. Get out for a walk, go for a jog, or like I’ve been doing while the weather has been cooler, take in some classes at your local gym. In preparation for the ride, I’ve been spinning 3–4 times a week for the past 4–5 months and loving (almost) every minute of it. Find something you enjoy—you’ll be more inclined to go.

I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention getting out on my actual bike. Having done our first ride of the year a couple of weeks ago, my plan is to ride at least 100–150 km a week leading up to the ride in place of some of those spin classes.

Our entire #RoadToCACUSS team will be hooked up to Strava for the ride!

Community

One of the easiest ways to stick to your goals is to have a strong community behind you. Engage with like-minded people around you and hold each other accountable. Believe in yourself and everyone around you will, too! Take advantage of all of the supportive family, friends, and colleagues that surround you by sharing your goals and vocalizing how they can help you achieve them. Trust the process and trust that your community is behind you.

Keep in touch

Set up a group text, schedule weekly calls, or connecting with one another on some of the apps mentioned above will help you with hitting your target. A buddy system is another great way to stay on track with your training. Whether you’re in the same neighbourhood or city, or if you choose to partner up with someone training across the country, keeping in touch with one another and setting specific targets each day or week will help you to stay accountable. It’s a lot easier getting out of bed for a 6 AM bike ride when you know someone else is doing it too.

Get connected

I mentioned a few apps that really work for me, but I encourage you to jump online and explore some of the really great resources out there. There are an infinite number of online communities that have been designed to help you reach your goals. Reach out to friends on your timeline that have a shared interest in fitness that you can exchange tips, tricks, and stories with.

 

The best way to gain confidence is to prepare. Coach John Wooden once said, “Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.” Define what success looks like for you and push yourself out of your comfort zone to achieve it. See you on the #RoadToCACUSS!

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Kait, Nick, Cathy, and Ian after a wet and cold rideBrandon and Jen stop along the Toronto waterfront on a training ride