Essential Sports Nutrition


In the moment

This morning I rode with a new group, new people and new routes. This is BIG for me because I am a creature of habit. I love riding with people I know and on the same routes. Probably my type-A personality and my fear of change but unless my sidekick/comfort blanket(Karel) is with me to ease my worries I will get super excited for new routes and groups but then make an excuse to not go for weeks! Well, no excuses this morning. I planned on going to the beach and meeting up with my friend Kellie this morning and riding 60 miles with a group of triathletes and running 3 miles with Kellie and her friend Joy. Of course, I was a little extra motivated to train at the beach because I have not been to the ocean in Jax since we moved and I really wanted to go in the water and play.
This morning started at 5:15am when I woke up, started the coffee and got dressed. I packed my bag, filled up my bottles and put my bike in my car on friday night. I prepared my 1/4 cup oatmeal, raisins and a little banana for the car, snacked on 1/2 wasa cracker w/ PB and filled up my coffee cup and water bottle. I had a 25 min. drive to the beach and I didn't feel that nervous for the ride. Karel has a great way of telling me that I am a strong triathlete but sometimes I doubt my potential when I am with other people. Especially when those people are much faster than me at certain disciplines.
Joy, Kellie and I rode our bikes to meet up with Shawn (karel's coach) and another guy. During the next 10-miles, 8-10 more people joined on. The ride was 60 miles and a few of us turned around at the Hess gas station at mile 32. Shawn is training for Kona and a few others are training for IMFL. For those doing Ironman's, the ride was 100+ miles and that was not for me. Actually, everyone there was training for an upcoming half or full IM....except for me. I was just out there enjoying what I love to do and well, I just have that IM buzz.
I noticed that the pace was pretty fast for the rides and even with the headwind for our 20 mile stretch along A1A (Gotta love the ocean view for 40 miles!) it was a tough ride for my legs. Heart rate was ok but I was pretty tired from pedaling continuously for so long. I guess that's one of the downsides of flat have to keep pedaling to keep your pace. There are no downhills. It was pretty much Kellie, a few other guys and myself in the front of the group while Shawn pedaled according to this powermeter. Very smart of him since we were only doing 60 miles and the other guys had a few more hours in the saddle.
When we headed back we had the wind at our back and a super strong guy was pulling us back. No joke, we averaged 25 mph for 18 miles and I had no more gears to give me any more power. My cadence was so fast and I thought the stretch back was much harder on the way out. Well, we made it back all in one piece and it was a great fast ride. I really enjoyed myself and I felt great. I went through my two bottles of Melon Heed (my new FAV flavor!) + 1 scoop base aminos and refilled one bottle at the gas station to give me around 2 1/2 bottles for the whole ride. No energy gels were needed and my heart felt good even though the ride was hard for my legs.
After we swapped our cycling shoes for running shoes and visors we headed out on the street along the water. I was feeling really good for the run and just happy to be out with the girls (kellie and Joy).
Now, here is where it got interesting. Joy and kellie are amazing runners. Both are fast and fierce on the run. As for me, well, I can run aerobically for a long time but my speed is just not there since my leg injury pre-kona. I have been working really hard on my running but it is a slow process to come back from such a horrible injury.
The pace was fast right from the start of our run. It was 9:40am and it was hot. Just to say how fast it was, our first mile was a 7 min/mile. Ok, I don't even do that in a sprint triathlon! My legs don't know that speed off the bike and if anything, I'm just doing this workout for fun! This run became not-so-fun when I asked Kellie if we could slow down the pace. Ouch-that hurt my ego so much to say that but I just couldn't keep up. Kellie said no prob since she just did IMKY and needed to stay in her zone 2. Well, at 17 min it all turned ugly. I literally couldn't catch my breath and it was as though I had an asthma attack. I know I didn't because i don't have asthma and I was fine in a few seconds but I just couldn't catch my breath and I had to stop and walk. Bummer.
Kellie continued on for the last mile and I walked. Walking during a training session is something I can say I have never done before. Why, because I always train at my own pace and when it is tough I slow down. It was just a few minutes of walking until I was 100% fine to run my own pace. I felt like I had enough energy to keep running for another hour, the legs felt good and I was enjoying getting a tan as I was running out by the ocean.
Karel tells me that training with other people will make me stronger. I agree. My cycling improved so much when I started riding with him (being able to draft properly) and riding with groups on my road bike. But when I can only run 1.5 miles out of a 3 mile run and then have to walk, is that really making me stronger? If anything, I probably ruined a 3 mile run off a great bike because I started out too fast and my body was compromised. See, with cycling you can coast, get dropped or just draft. As for running, if you run too fast you are done. It is very hard for the normal age-grouper to just "tough it out" when you are way out of your league and out of your zone.
Taking a look at the group ride, the only person who was staying true to his comfort zone was Shawn. The only person going to kona was well, in the middle of the pack, not drafting and keeping his cadence and power steady. Now, that is smart. As for me, I was caught in the moment. Here I am thinking in my head "I went 11 hours in an Ironman, I have beaten both these girls in triathlons, how can I possibly do IMKY when I can't even run 1.5 miles in the heat here in FL after a 60 mile ride". Now, I'm sure these thoughts sound pretty arrogant but I think we all think about our strengths during times of weakness. The weakness however came because I was in the moment of training with others and not thinking about what my body was physically capable of doing.
I feel fine now and after a dip in the ocean I was really happy I made the drive to Jacksonville beach to train with a new group of people that I plan on training with many more times in the near future.
When it comes to racing it is really important to listen to your body. If there is wind, slow down your pace. There will probably be tailwind and you can pick up the pace. If you pace on the run is slow for a few miles, maybe you can conserve your glycogen stores and average a faster pace than what you had intended to run. As you know, with a triathlon there are three sports and depending on the distance there is a lot of ground to cover. The race isn't over until you cross the finish line.
As far as training, I want to train with people faster than me. But I must recognize that everyone trains differently during the week and we all progress at different paces depending on our heart rate. It is likewise important that I don't just train in the moment or else I will never find myself getting any stronger.
I guess I learned my lesson that I have a long way to go until IMKY and it isn't going to be an easy ride. But I will continue to stay positive and challenge myself whenever possible. I guess I am ready to get out of my comfort zone.


Opening up about your racing goals

IMKY 2009:
Swim - 1:04 - 1:06
T1 - 4 min - 6 min.
Bike - 5:43 - 5:48
T2 - 4 min - 5 min.
Run - 3:40 - 3:50
Total: 10:35 - 10:59

There, I did it. I opened up about my race goal for IMKY.
Ok, now it is your turn.

Do you ever find yourself doubting your potential before a race? Doubting your race goals or race expectations the days before a race. What about a year before a race? Do you find yourself doubting your potential to go a specific time during a race, when it is months before you even start training for a specific race? Are we afraid of letting down our training partners or coaches if we talk about a race goal time and then not achieve that time? Or, do we let down ourselves, considering the race performance as a failure, if we don't go that certain time? Where do we get these times that become our race goal time? These are the numbers that we dream in our head during a company meeting, write on a notepad in your work/home office or visualize as you are swimming repetitive laps in a pool. These numbers or times, which become our race goal times, are not times that a friend, coach or pro athlete would do. These are our times.......right?

It is now a year before my Ironman and I'm getting excited for my upcoming Ironman. I know there are lots of athletes getting ready for IMFL '08 and many more athletes that have gotten the IM bug and have decided to sign up for an IM for 2009. I find myself wanting to interrupt conversations with friends, strangers or customers at the bike shop and just tell that person "hey, I signed up for IMKY!" That would be so silly of me but I just get so excited inside that I just have to admit how anxious I am to do another IM.

Now, about my racing goals. I have just under 11 months until my IM and I am thinking about my goal times. Why do I think of these times? Well, because I have 11 months to train my body for these times. I must train efficiently, according to my heart rate and raise thresholds in order to get faster. I must teach my body how to use as little fuel as possible and turn my body into a lean body in order to avoid carrying around unnecessary body fat for 140.6 miles. I have a year to build a base, peak and taper, all without getting an injury and getting burned out. And all this training will start before I know it.
So, with a year until my IM why should I talk about my racing times right now? Well, what if we all admitted our race goals 3+ months before a race. We are so good about posting on our blog about our speed or distance during a long weekend workout, times during an Olympic distance race that gave us a PR or our speed during an interval workout which occurs once a week. But, with all that training that we are so proud to post on our blogs, do we ever take a time to think about the big picture. Why we are training our body?
To some people, covering the distance is just good enough. A first time sprint tri, an olympic distance, half ironman or IM...just to accomplish 1 or another race is good enough to keep the winter time weight off and to keep you busy during the summer time. However, there is a beauty in transforming your body into a faster, stronger and leaner body...overtime.
When going into a race I believe that no one should be afraid to post, talk about or admit a racing goal. I find that people become discouraged when not meeting a goal time because that goal time was not achievable. For a sprint tri and 5K you can hope to go as fast as you can and try to get a best time. Your body can withstand the speed for that short amount of time. But for longer races than an hour, you must train your body to go a certain time. If we talk about 100 mile rides where we average 18 mph, why not have a goal time of 18-19 mph. If we can run long runs at 8 min miles, why not have a goal time of 8:00-8:15 min/miles during a race. Why do race times always have to be faster than what we do during training? I know the body needs to rest/taper before a race in order to get stronger but isn't training suppose to mimic what we do in a race when we put it all together? If you can't run 7 min/miles for 3 miles, how can you run 42 min. for a 10K?
For all the athletes about to do a race (IM or any distance race), think about the training that you put into your race and be realistic. Having said that, be optimistic and think about all the good workouts and have a range of times. Give your best scenario if all works out as planned and then a scenario that is still achievable but gives you a break if need a moment during the race. Don't be afraid to admit goal times well before your race. Aside from injuries, nutritional problems (remember, our body isn't much as we wish it could be) and poor environmental conditions, your body is always ready to race a certain time and you should not be afraid of admitting it.
Now, for all those athletes who have races in mind for 2009, think about the training that is involved to go a certain time and regardless of the time, be realistic of what you can do to prepare for that race. If you can have in mind a goal time for the months leading up to a race, training sessions become quality workouts and you are more likely to listen to your body and enjoy the art of training. And, if all goes as planned, you might surprise yourself and go faster than you thought.

*At my first IM I predicted I would go 11 hours. I had all my times written out for Karel, my mom and my dad and I gave them ranges so that they could track me as I was on the course. People thought I was crazy to go 11 hours and qualify for Kona in my first IM. But with the encouragement of Karel and lots of quality training sessions my body was ready for an 11 hour IM and I was not nervous for the race. Hopefully I will have the same great experience at IMKY 2009, especially now that I have a bigger support group (bloggers!) to keep me motivated and inspired. But I know I have A LOT of training ahead of me...and I can't wait!


Eat this not that

I recently spoke to the Hammerhead triathlon club here in Jacksonville. I spoke about pre race nutrition but I also wrote an article for their monthly newsletter on keeping your heart healthy.
I know it is great to eat whatever you want after you put in a long weekend of training or several days of two-a-days. However, it is likewise important to keep your insides looking as good as your outsides.
I wanted to post my eat this not that suggestions since I'm sure a lot of people won't take the time to find alternatives to their favorite treats. This section took me a good 3-days to find all these suggestions. When looking for better alternatives I don't have specific criteria except for reducing sugars, eliminating trans fats and seeking out lower-calorie, satisfying treats.
You can read the whole article on the hammerhead triathlon club website
(pg. 8 and 12)

Eat this……not that!

Instead of Jif peanut butter (ingredients: partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, fully hydrogenated vegetable
oil) choose
Natural Smucker’s peanut butter (ingredients: peanuts, salt).

Instead of Rice Krispy cereal (ingredients: rice, sugar, malt flavoring, high fructose corn syrup) and ready-to-drink Nesquik chocolate milk (1 cup, 200 calories, 30 grams sugar, 3 grams saturated fat, high fructose corn syrup) choose
Kashi GoLean Crunch (ingredients: whole oats, long grain brown rice, rye, hard red winter wheat, triticale, buckwheat, barley, sesame seeds, textured soy protein concentrate, 8 grams fiber) and Light Chocolate Silk milk (1 cup, 120 calories, 19 grams sugar, 0 grams saturated fat)

Instead of Orville movie theatre bagged popcorn (5 grams trans fat, 170 calories per 2 tbsp unpopped) choose
Smart Balance low fat popcorn (20 calories per 1 cup popped)

Instead of Small Dairy Queen Snickers Blizzard (670 calories, 25 grams fat, 1 gram trans fat, 83 grams sugar)choose
Baskin Robbins Chocolate Chocolate chip (no sugar added) (150 calories per 4 ounce scoop, 5 grams fat, 7 grams sugar)

Instead of Bisquick original pancake mix (15 grams fat, 4.5 grams trans fat per 1 cup dry mix, 480 calories)choose
Dunkin Donuts Cinnamon Raisin Bagel (3 grams fat, 0 trans fat, 330 calories)

Instead of McDonald’s Hot fudge sundae (330 calories, 48 grams sugar) choose Starbucks tall Java Chip light Frappuccino (160 calories, 20 grams sugar)

Important: Just because a food label has a zero next to trans fat, the FDA allows foods to have .5 grams or
less of trans fat, per serving, in order for the food to be labeled as “trans fat free”. If a food lists hydrogenated
oil or high fructose corn syrup at the top of the ingredient list, there is a good chance that you are
eating around .5 grams trans fat for every serving of that food. If you have trouble finding a sweet treat without
trans fat, seek foods with sugar, corn syrup and hydrogenated oils near the end of the ingredients list. Ingredients
are listed in order of quantity, starting with the first ingredient.


How many calories?

I get questions ALL the time about how many calories a person needs for training.
For me, I believe people should keep things simple and focus on the bigger things in life rather than counting calories. However, with a recommended calorie count in mind, in order to foster weight loss and to contribute to gains in performance, I believe that women should eat around 1800-2200 calories/day and men around 2400-2800 calories a day. Of course those ranges are given to account for training volume and intensity but I really don't believe that an active woman needs 3000 calories on a daily basis in order to fuel her exercise. Similarly, I don't think Karel gets close to 3500 calories on his big training weekends when he can easily put in 250 miles in 3 days of racing. I do, however, recommend taking in 150-250 extra calories a day for every hour of exercise. This would be an easy way to take the guessing away from how to eat on long training days versus's recovery days.

The reason why I brought this up is because an athlete I helped a few months ago with her nutrition emailed me a great question.
I will post a little of her question because I am sure many people have the same question:
First she tells me she has lost weight..not a lot, but her clothes are feeling looser. Then she says that she feels like she is lacking energy; and in talking to her coach about that, the coach suggested that she eat at least 3000 cals a day in order to help her training which is about 8-10 hours a week.
Now, here is where I think a lot of people can relate:
I have been scratching the surface of the 2000 cals I eat daily and I am not quite sure of how to get the extra 1000 cals I need on a day to day basis. Does all of this make sense??
How can I get to eating 3000 cals daily and still do it the “healthy” way…

Here is my reply:
As far as 3000 calories I believe that number is too hight. Even for an active male, I only recommend up to 2800 calories for an IM athlete male. I believe for a woman, 2000 calories is a great number and then 150-200 extra daily calories for every hour of exercise. So, if you work out for 2 hours one day, then give yourself 2000+ 300/400 extra calories (to equal 2400 calories). However, those calories should not come from bigger meals (over 400-500 calories meals) but rather from pre or post calorie snacks. That means more small snacks of carbs and protein during the day.
I think the reason why people think "more" calories when they look at training volume is a belief that hours worked out = calories burned. However, although calories are burned through training it is important to recognize what calories are burned through aerobic exercise and what calories are burned through anaerobic activities.
It is those calories burned through anaerobic activities that are necessary to replace. However, the intensity of the workout must be above 85% in order to replace depleted glycogen (stored carbs) in the muscles. Just because a person works out for 4-5 hours or 8-10 hours a week does not mean that every calorie burned needs to be replaced. With an understanding that the body should train as efficient as possible, it is important to rely on your stored fat as a source of fuel and thus, keep some of the workouts (primarily, those lasting around an 90 min. or more) aerobic. And as I have mentioned many times before, it is through interval training (around an hour or less) that the body will get faster due to 85%+ max efforts with recovery intervals as to not deplete all of the glycogen stores (2000 calories worth in the muscles).
As far as feeling like a 2000 calorie diet leaves you with not enough energy, take a moment and look at the daily diet. Rather than seeking extra calories or supplements, an energetic body will enjoy fruits and vegetables (for vital nutrients), plenty of water and the oh-so important post training fuels. As well as pre training snacks for workouts more than 90 min. or afternoon workouts. A person can easily live off a lower calorie diet and be active so long as they focus on balacing the blood sugar with protein+carb foods for all meals and snacks. In addition to the post workout snack to either repair muscles or to prevent yourself from overeating, any drop in blood sugar from going too long between meals (100-200 calorie snacks should be every 1-2 hours before and after meals) will cause the body to feel lathargic and tired. Think about your training volume and intensity before planning out your daily meal calories and hopefully you will feel like you have more energy with a new way of thinking about your training routine :)

I'm sure there are people out there that think "there is no way I can only live off 2400 calories as a male athlete. Even with 1000 extra calories on a sat. for an IM athlete who just trained for 6 hours, I know it sounds strange to not eat 3000-5000 calories to support your training routine. I'm sure people have tried to eat les calories and found themselves bonking at training or just tired all day long. I am trying to change the thinking of all athletes and see food as fuel. Too many times athletes eat junk food and see it as "calories" rather than as fuel. Simple sugar foods, carbs without protein and low fiber foods will not fuel exercise. They will cause you to crash and just feel awful all day long...especially if you eat these foods before and after training. Understanding how the body works and how it process's fuel (anaerobically versus aerobically) is something that I spent my entire graduate school learning. Now, I'm sure that there is a Registered Dietitian out there that doesn't support my beliefs but then gain, I wonder how many nutritionists are racing in Ironman's, focusing on sports nutrition and training 10+ hours a week? Rather than being the person that sits here and tells people what to do, I believe in practicing what I preach. With a brain full of expensive information in my head (expensive due to grad school and now a dietetic degree) I don't only want to show people it can be done but I will write countless articles, speak about it until every athlete in the world hears me and I will conduct nutrition consulations at a "cheap" price (kate says I need to raise my price but I am not that famous yet :)) until I can educate everyone on their own, individual, nutrition plan.


OK, jahowie...I don't think I would call myself an inspriational figure :)

But in reference to my last post of the kona broadcast (and clearwater 70.3 broadcast)I did find a video which showcases the 2007 world championships in Kona. And I'm on it! Oh, the painful, painful, painful memories. I just saw that finish line...cried as it took me at least 5 min. to wobble my way to the end and my only thought was "who is going to catch me when I fall". The 60+ age group men had already sprinted by me and I had the whole finish line to myself at 12 hours at 26 minutes.


(I am at 2:44. It is very quick so if you want to verify it is me, press the pause button at 2:44. I have my pink oakleys on my zoot visor and my white/green zoot shirt.) Enjoy.


Not giving up

I have only quit one race. It was the Miami marathon in Jan 2007. For some reason my heel of my right foot started bothering me around mile 16. It became so unbearable that I had to walk. With an awkward walk so that I wouldn't put any pressure on my foot, I made my way 2 miles with my head down low. Karel went to the race with me and although we started in the pouring rain, Karel had his bike to watch the race. He saw me walking at mile 18 and he walked his bike next to me until I reached an aid station. I was so upset at myself for pulling out of the race but I physically could not make it to the finish line. The walk became so painful that I just sat on the ground and well, teared up a bit.
Since that race, and before, I have been fortunate to finish ever race I have started. Now, before I sound too arrogant or that I always have good races, I must confess that I think I have wanted to quit about 90% of the races I start. There is always a moment (or two, or three) that I tell myself to just get to the next mile and then I will stop. I can't recall an injury (except for Kona) for the cause of wanting to stop, it was just pure pain or bodily discomfort.
However, in my multisport journey I have found ways to convince myself to keep going. I am not sure what it is that I tell myself during a race to just keep going but perhaps I begin to focus on myself rather than the task ahead. I listen to my body, I trust my body and I focus on the moment...not on the finish.
Miami marathon 2005 - Don't remember anything from mile 18-23, bonked horribly because I knew nothing about sports nutrition and that was my first marathon, Finished (qualified for boston)
Boston Marathon - food poisoning, 4 bathroom stops, Finished.
Ironman Florida - 30mph wind, 7min T1 from being freezing cold, my butt went numb on the run, 2 bathroom stops, Finished.
Kona - Well, the NBC kona broadcast shows how much pain I was in. And for the 3 months afterwards, when I couldn't walk without crutches or a limp...but still Finished.
Oh, and there are the many sprint distance races which hurt so bad on the run and the 3 70.3's at Disney which were oh so hot.
So, as you can see I am probably just like anyone else out there and I want to quit races. If anything, I wanted to quit grad school before the end of the 2nd week. I just thought it was TOO hard for me.
However, what defines a competitive athlete (not just a Pro athlete) is the willingness to just keep going. I am not talking about injuries or medical reasons but when it gets tough and the finish line seems so far away, you have to find an inner strength to just keep going.
Over the past few days I have had 3 experiences where I could have given up.
1) On Thursday morning I was swimming with the masters team at the Y. I was in a lane with a high school swimmer (claire) and two guys. The set was 5 x 200's on 2:45. I could have easily made that cycle in the spring but because of my lack of swimming with others, I have been suffering in the pool. However, I am determined to get faster in the pool so I am swimming with the masters every tues and thurs. I barely made the first 200 and the second 200 was touch and go. I figured I would just do a 1000 straight and when the set was over, I could stop. I started to get a bit frustrated as I would push off the wall from a flip turn at the other end of the pool and see the 3 other swimmers in my lane resting on the wall. Here I am not even getting a second rest and they have at least 20 sec. rest. But, I just kept swimming. I made an effort to stop at the 200 even if it was touch and go, just so I could feel like I was doing 5 x 200's and not a 1000 for time. It wasn't until the 4th 200 that as I was swimming into the wall, about to start my 4th 200, that the two other guys had stopped. Why did they stop? For a breather.
After the set was over I had the 2 guys and the coach tell me how amazed they were that i just kept going. Of course to me I am totally upset that I can't even make a 2:45 cycle, but I took the complement. I told them I have a lot more work to do in the pool but I don't give up. I guess if I would have given up I would have been sitting on the wall with the other guys....who were still getting 20 sec. rest on every 200.
2) On sat morning karel and I rode with the Open Road cycling group here in mandarin. It has been a few months since I have ridden with a group because of my tri-training but I was ready to get my heart rate up and ride Blue. I had trouble making my way to the middle of the pack and before I knew it, I was almost dropped. I notice the pace picking up and because i was in the back, there isn't much of a draft back there because the riders around me are having just as much trouble as I am to hang on. With Karel in the front (I was told after the ride that Karel and 3 other guys broke away and no one could catch them) I wanted so bad to do the whole ride with everyone. I worked super hard for around 13 miles (alone) and took a short cut as the group did another 5 miles. Lucky me, we all ended up at the light together. Well, although I didn't give up, I did get dropped again. After all that hard work to get back to the group, my legs were just toasted. Well, I did get in a good 35-mile ride but if I think my mileage would have been much less if I would have given up at mile 10 when I got dropped.
3) This morning Karel and I rode together. I was on Seduza and Karel was on his sexy Pinarello (I love that bike). I planned to do 50 miles and karel was going to do a little extra. I had Karel doing all the work but it is never easy sitting on his wheel. We averaged around 20-22mph for our entire ride and I don't think we ever got tailwind. Headwind and crosswind the entire time. Because I started before Karel, I had planned in my head that I would turn around at mile 31 so that I could get in around 50 miles. When we got to the gas station where I would turn around, Karel told me to go 3 more miles and then we would stop for fluids. Ok, I can do 3 more miles. Well, that 3 more miles turned into 8 and my legs were super sore. My heart rate wasn't racing because i was drafting but the pain in my muscles was ridiculous. Finally we stopped and I gave Karel that look of "I don't want to ride this all back by myself". "He told me I was riding really strong and that he would ride back with me". I told him about my "plan" to ride to the gas station and when I have to do more miles, it is tough for every extra mile. Karel told me that I can't think like that. He is right. You can't just expect to stop at a certain spot and then, if asked to continue, feel defeated because you just can't go on. Well, I stayed positive and stuck on Karel's wheel. We arrived home with 65 miles and it was a really strong ride for both of us (I don't know how Karel does it...he is a machine).

I guess I wrote this blog in honor of my recent registration for IMKY 2009. I know I will have my days and during the race I will have moments. But, you must never give up and you must always listen to your body.