I was out training for an upcoming marathon this weekend. I have run 25 marathons over the years and I run about 6 days a week but it has been a while since I did training for a full marathon. It was a beautiful day, the first really nice day after a long winter and an April snow storm. As I left the house I started my regular routine in my mind. How are my legs feeling? Did I remember to power my watch? Do I need to go to the washroom again before I get to far from home? Check, check, check, No!
As I floated along the road I felt really good, I had a plan for the next 30 ks. I started thinking maybe I should just run a race next weekend, even though I still have a month to prepare. It is still a little cold but nice to see the snow melt, I think. The kilometres rolled by and I waved to the occasional runner wondering if they feel as good as I do? Another few miles, “Not many people out running, boy are they missing a great day.” The run goes on 15 kms, 16 kms, on to 21kms, things are going pretty well. But I notice a cramp in my shoulder, weird that never happens, oh well another few kms, my legs are really heavy, this doesn’t feel right. I look at my watch for an update and my split times have slowed. I start to realize I was “bonking” or “hitting the wall” a term many of you non runners have probably heard. The definition of hitting the wall or the bonk is a condition of sudden fatigue and loss of energy which is caused by the depletion of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles. It becomes difficult to continue on without ingesting more food high in carbohydrates (carbs). The goal is to take on nutrition to keep your reserves up while you run, I was trying a new energy supplement, but obviously not enough. I had done a similar run last week and all was good so what went wrong this week?
With most things in life when things don’t go well, we analyze and try to figure out what happened, hopefully don’t dwell on the failure but make changes and keep moving on. Was I frustrated? Sure. But mostly I just wanted to understand what went wrong, after all it is “training”, by learning from my experience I can better prepare for my marathon. Not that I needed a reminder but just putting in the miles is not enough, and on this Sunday I got my reminder.
When I started to go over my run and my week I identified a few issues. I looked back at what changes I made in my training, in my food intake, and sleep patterns. So what happened, well for sometime I have been trying to eat a little healthier, after all the research I do on retirement and aging so I have been tweaking my diet. I also learned after hopping on a scale at a friend’s house I was heavier than expected, I later confirmed my weight at my doctor office during my annual check up. I came to realised that my scale at home was “lying” to me! I was 6 pounds heavier than I thought. The difference in weight was not major but it did act as a catalyst to change my diet. My wife was on board so we introduced changes, nothing major I thought, mostly get rid of refined sugar, white bread, more vegetables, etc. Unfortunately, for me it meant less pasta, a runners staple. I know there are all sorts of way to get carbs, brown rice, sweet potatoes, etc., but in my case I stopped eating pasta and did not adequately replace with healthy carbs. I also cut back on my calorie intake. Not a great combination and in the end… Bonk. Too much too soon and in trying to change my diet I forgot about the long game, I was training for a marathon!
In the context of retirement, we have heard stories, and met many people who have tried to do too much to soon when they enter retirement. Some people make extreme decisions like selling their homes and moving, or buying an RV having never owned one before, or a few couples I have heard about sell everything buy a boat to sail around the world. In the last case two of the sailing couples lost everything when their boats sank, one due to a storm and one due to sailor error. The moral of these stories, other than know how to sail before you buy a boat, is take your time when you retire. Don’t change too much too soon, retirement is a marathon not a sprint. Make educated decisions, it is ok to try something new and if does not go as planned, learn from it and move on, if it goes well wonderful, you just learned something new.
In the end my bonking taught me a lesson, which will better prepare me for my ultimate goal. Things are going to happen in life not all positive but learn from it and make your next day better.