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Time to step up to starting line

Tue., July 7, 2009

Two years ago my best friend called at the end of May and asked, “Do you want to be the cyclist for our team in the Coeur d’Alene Triathlon?”

“How far do I have to ride?” I replied.

“About 25 miles.”

I had been riding my bike more that spring, so I said, “OK.”

A few days later, I started thinking, “Do I really have time for this? What was I thinking?”

So I got up earlier, rode more, and trained until the big event arrived. I was a bundle of nerves the day of the triathlon, and you know what? I did it and I had a great time.

This will be my third year in a row competing in the triathlon with this team, and I can’t wait.

My point is this, signing up for an event or making a goal is great motivation to get moving, whether it is a race, a backpacking trip or lowering your blood pressure or cholesterol.

We have many great choices for fun (and sometimes challenging) sporting events here in Spokane and the surrounding area (check out The Spokesman-Review’s events calendar).

And walking an event is as good as (or better than) running. In fact, a friend of my dad’s in his late 60s can walk Bloomsday far faster than I can run it.

OK, you have registered for an event, now what?

Training: To train for my bike ride in the triathlon, I try to bike three times a week, fast walk (cross train) twice a week and do yoga once a week. This routine builds my strength and endurance and gives my biking muscles and joints a break three times a week.

Choose a cross training activity very different from your usual activity. If you are doing a nonweight bearing activity (like biking or swimming), it is especially important that your cross training is a weight bearing activity (like fast walking, soccer or weight lifting) to maintain bone density and prevent broken bones.

When your activity is a weight bearing activity, make your cross training activity nonweight bearing to give your joints a rest. I like yoga for my sixth workout day, but a light workout followed by 20 or more minutes of stretching works great too.

Recovery: And on the seventh day she rested. I love my rest day. Give yourself a total rest day once a week – or maybe two if you really need it some weeks.

Diet: What you eat is part of your recovery. When I eat the right balance of proteins and carbohydrates at the right times along with fruits and vegetables, I feel better during workouts and have less fatigue and muscle soreness afterward.

First, drink water during your workout. Next, within 30 minutes of finishing your workout, have a recovery drink with a 4:1 ratio of protein to carbohydrates.

Chocolate milk is my (and Michael Phelps’) recovery drink of choice. If you are lactose intolerant, try chocolate lactose-free milk. More expensive recovery drinks can be bought at sports and nutrition stores.

While you are training, you should try to eat about 1 gram of protein for every 2 pounds of body weight. I like to get that mostly from food since supplements can be incomplete.

Eat protein with every meal to keep from having highs and lows in your blood sugar, which are hard on your body. Fish, eggs, turkey, chicken, low-fat yogurt and milk, and peanut or almond butter are all great sources of low-fat protein.

Protein bars are great, but some are higher in sugar and lower in protein than others – read the labels.

Fresh fruits and veggies (local produce is great this time of year) are low in fat, high in vitamins, tasty and help keep you hydrated, so have plenty.

Whether you set yourself a personal goal to get healthy or sign up to participate in an event, training and diet go hand in hand. WebMD’s Health and Fitness Center has a lot of valuable information on types of exercise, training, and diet at fitness-exercise/ default.htm.

Find out what motivates you and then have fun doing it. It worked for me.

Dr. Alisa Hideg is a family medicine physician at Group Health’s Veradale Medical Center in Spokane. Her column appears every other Tuesday in the Today section. Send your questions and comments to

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