Chris Carmichael Blog: Easter and Passover as Training Tools (really…)

I am not a very religious man, but even I recognize that this is a special weekend. It’s not every year that Easter Sunday and Passover coincide on the same weekend. I am also not a theologian, so please excuse me if I get some of the facts about these holidays wrong in this post. While waiting for someone who was late coming to a meeting, the rest of us got into an impromptu discussion about these traditional spring holidays; and later on a ride I started thinking of ways to apply the central principles of the holidays to training or performance. Why? I don’t know. It was a long ride and that’s how I decided to occupy my time. Anyhow, I think you’ll find what I came up with useful – even if the connections to the holidays wear thin.


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Easter

As far as I remember, the central premise being celebrated on Easter Sunday has nothing to do with chocolate bunnies or eggs, but rather the resurrection of Christ. When I thought of “resurrection” as it relates to training or performance, I thought about bonking:

Nutrition to bring yourself back from the dead: We’ve all screwed up at some point during a long workout and bonked. We’ve all experienced the sudden loss of speed and power, the nausea, lightheadedness, and foggy thinking that comes when there’s not enough fuel to keep your brain and/or body functioning well. You can examine the causes and make adjustments later; when it happens your first priority has to be to fix the problem. The good news is that energy from a gel or sports drink can get into your system and get you back on track within 15 minutes of ingestion. The bad news is that a relatively small dose of carbohydrate will not last long enough to prevent you from bonking again before you get home. When you’re truly bonking (I’m talking “wheels-fell-off-the-wagon”, “crying-for-your-mama” bonking), forget about precision. You need calories, fluids, and sodium – in that order. Sports nutrition products, like GU Energy Gels or Chomps, are a great part of the equation. But higher-fat convenience store foods come in handy in an emergency because the normally-excessive amount of fat helps slow the absorption of the carbohydrate so it lasts longer. The sodium in either sports drinks or salty convenience store foods may also help stave off cramping; and even if cramping is not an issue, the electrolytes will definitely help you feel stronger and more focused on the way home. The last time I needed resurrection it was because I gave away all the GU products I had in my pockets to a rider who really needed them, and then I ran into an old friend. We rolled along and caught up, and I didn’t realize I was going to be adding two hours to my ride. Long story short, when I rolled into a gas station completely shattered, a few donuts (sugar and fat), a liter of water (some consumed, some put into bottles), and a can of vegetable juice (for the electrolytes) put Humpty Dumpty back together again. My normal sports nutrition strategy would have prevented the bonk, but I messed up and had to improvise. When it happens to you, maybe your temporarily-impaired brain will remember my solution and it will help bring you back from the dead.

Passover

Most of my knowledge about Passover comes from my 7-Eleven teammate Doug Shapiro and my CTS Editorial Director Jim Rutberg, who hosts Sedars at his house when he’s in town for the holiday. At its simplest, Passover celebrates the Jews’ delivery from slavery in ancient Eqypt. Finding a way to relate Passover to training was more of a challenge but as I said, it was a long ride. The connection came when I remembered the final sentence of a Sedar: “This year here, next year in Jerusalem.”

That line stuck with me because it’s a hopeful, optimistic, goal-oriented statement. This year we make the most of what we have here. Next year we strive for even more. Most athletes buy into the second half of the statement; next month, next race, next year you’ll be stronger, faster, and more competitive. But fewer grasp the importance of the first part of the statement. First you have to make the most of what you have here and now. Instead of lamenting about setbacks caused by unexpected schedule changes, injuries, illnesses, or bad weather; be pragmatic about the fitness you have and the best ways to make your current workouts as beneficial as they can be. Perhaps you can repurpose the statement and tell yourself: “This weekend in the draft, next month in the breakaway!”

Before the devout among you get too upset with me, I mean no disrespect to anyone’s religious beliefs. I was merely attempting to find a novel way of providing some good training information. If you’re celebrating Easter or Passover this weekend, enjoy the holidays in good health and maybe try to steal away from the festivities to get in a good workout.

Have a great weekend,
Chris Carmichael
CEO/Head Coach
Carmichael Training Systems

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