Whew! What a year! Oh, I’m not complaining. I’m just letting some air out of my tires and dialing my scope back a few notches. To be honest I am full of gratitude for all the goodies 2012 piled on my plate and I devoured every last bite! I spent the Spring pumping weights with Ultra Coach Luis Escobar and cutting out junk to finally get down to my racing weight, recruited a rock star team to produce and then, in April, race directed the sell out success San Luis Obispo Marathon plus hit the Summer mountains running hard and smart with Coach Felicia. Come Fall I grinded myself into hamburger at a trail race, beating the clock while running up 9,000 feet over 50 miles and proudly qualified for the Western States 100 race. This was a year full of physical growth for me and I was constantly amazed what you can do when you motivate your mind. It is true, the body will follow.
I had many great adventures with friends old and new, traveled to a bucket list location of Moab, Utah for Thanksgiving to run and mountain bike the epic red slick rock canyons and then wrapped up my race year wet and wild at the SF North Face Challenge by running 50k in a California style tsunami! Once I recovered from that mud pie in your face challenge, I got to work with the talented Sport & Weight Loss Nutritionist, Tara Kulikov to sort out my training fuel and start a 21day detox cleanse. I felt the need to flush out my systems of gluten (I have Celiac Disease), toxins and inflammation from my demanding year of physical growth. Little did I know, this end of year cleanse would open me up to a Winter of spiritual growth as well.
Off-season for athletes is intended for recovery, healing overuse injuries, working on weaknesses and reconnecting with relationships. By me cutting training volume in half, eating no meat, no dairy, no bread products and no more daily triple shot vanilla soy late Starbucks I went from 100mph to 10mph overnight! Of course, I was pretty grumpy week one and slept a lot. The goal was not to cut calories, but simply to get my fuel from rest and quality whole foods, nutritional herbs and supplements instead. Cutting out all processed and hard to digest foods let my liver, kidneys and intestines rest. By day six I broke down and added in 5am black coffee at home. I needed a little hot java love to get out the door for those dark Winter morning runs or gym strength sessions I continue to maintain my off season fitness. By week two I felt good and had cleared out 4 pounds of inflammation and extra waste products! By week three it was easy and I felt so good I did not miss meat, dairy or even my STARBUCKS triple shot, However, I’m sure my favorite 5am Barista was missing me!
As a surprising result, I was amazed how my mind and emotions shifted at the same time as my eating patterns. I felt freed of many old negative patterns and habits then became open to healthy new ones very easily. I was very aware of my relationships and the energy exchange they created, shying away from negative people and gravitating towards positive ones. I first thought and then felt, deep in my gut, how by changing my daily habits- I was changing my body, my life and my entire way of thinking. Having lost both of my parents at Christmas time and being a sunny active outdoor person, I normally fight Winter and it’s cold dark blanket it smothers over me. However, living my life now as an endurance athlete and viewing Winter as simply ‘the off-season,” I have been able to use this time productively. Now for me the off-season is a critical time to recover, heal and rebuild both my body and mind in preparation for the goals in my upcoming year. It’s a time for all of us to review the last year and process it’s valuable lessons then set big growth goals with a solid game plan. I now see Winter as a gift. It is the most beautiful and colorful ribbon wrapped box under the Christmas tree for me and inside it is the power to redefine my body, my spirit and my life. I hope you too will embrace the ‘off season.’ Unwrap and look now into your own shiny gift box then use its unlimited power to give yourself the very best year you can. Don’t use excuses but instead use your mind and your muscles to flex, grow and change your own body and life this upcoming fresh hot sweet potato year!
By Samantha Pruitt