Essential Sports Nutrition


My weakness

Thanks for all the emails from my concerned blog readers.
My injury is almost gone and with only 1 day off, I'm proud to say that I was not a stubborn, silly athlete...speaking of the athlete I was in the past.
You know how it never know how much is too much and you feel like you can just "get through it" and then after the workout you will rest. Or, you think that training through an injury will be ok for a few days and then you can rest. Haven't figured out how that one works but we have all done it. Well, for the past year I refused to "get through" any workouts. I believe that my fitness will be my only limiter when I train. No injuries, no nutrition problems. This means that it is only up to a good training schedule to push me to my limits and help me get stronger and faster. Up until a week ago, all was working well.
I know that everyone is different. The root of my injury may be completely different than another person's injury, even with the same symptoms. But, the most important thing about an injury is to find the root of the problem. In my case, it wasn't the ITband, it wasn't my back. It was my weak hips!!!
Because I like to use my blog as an educational tool, I want to talk about my injury and healing process (99% healed) and hopefully help out any other "injured" athletes out there.

Day 1 (Thurs) - Felt tired all morning. Run 2 easy miles, biked 28 easy miles. Just an easy recovery day but didn't feel like myself. Later in the evening, my back was super sore. I planned to meet Katrine and Laura on the treadmills at 5:30am on Friday morning but I went to bed thinking I would just walk while they ran.
Day 2 (Fri) - Rt. leg felt really weird. I had rt. lower back pain and felt weakness in my leg. Decided that I would walk on an incline, rather than walk fast. For the 3 months I was healing myself from my pre-kona rt. leg undiagnosed hip/inner thigh/groin injury, I just walked, walked and walked on a treadmill w/ an incline.
After walking for about 15 min. my hip and back felt worse than before. I walked a few more minutes to see if it would get better and I was having a hard time controlling my gait with my rt. leg. I got off the treadmill and hoped the water would be my friend.
I swam warm-up and my back was killing me. Leg didn't feel good when i pushed off the wall and after 6 x 200's of a 12 x 200 main set, I decided I would get out. I started thinking I needed to get out around the 2nd x 200 but of course, I thought I could just do a few more and hopefully I would get better. It was really hard for me to get out of the water cause I requested the 5200 yrd practice that we were doing. Oh well, another time.
The rest of the day was a lot of discomfort. I give myself a scale when I am feeling pain or discomfort. I suggest doing the same when you feel pain or something "not normal"
1-5 discomfort (1 normal soreness from training, 5 totally not normal but no pain)
6-10 pain (6 painful to train, 10 disrupts daily living)
I decided I would take ibuprofen in the evening to reduce inflammation. I also iced my lower back and outer thigh. I bought new shoes so that I wouldn't walk around barefoot and I laid on the floor to watch tv, rather than sitting on the couch or in a chair. Decided to take sat off from all activities.
Day 3 (Sat) - Went to the beach with Campy. Walked for an hour. Felt discomfort in my outer thigh (IT Band tightness and a little soreness in the outer part of my rt. knee. IT Band felt tight all day. Iced and took 2 ibuprofen in morning and at night.
*I daily take 1 fish oil and 1 glucosamine+chondroitin. I try to be regular with taking 1-2 amino pills (Hammer aminos or Base aminos-Karel uses those).
Day 4 (Sun) - I woke up planning to ride 2-3 hours, depending on how I felt. Luckily, I felt better but still soreness in my ITband. Lower back was a lot better but hip was feeling a little weak. However, better than the day before which was a good thing. I rode with my friend Laura to Katrine's house and we all drafted off Ryan (katrine's hubby) to the group ride. Karel drove to the 16 miles to the group ride so that we would have a car there just in case I started to feel pain. I felt good on the ride but didn't push it. Didn't know my limits so I had trouble drafting cause I wasn't sure how hard to work. The discomfort in my hip, lower back and knee (all on the rt side) was feeling better but the true test would be the afternoon after the ride. I didn't run after the ride and after 58 miles, I was feeling better than before. The rest of the day I iced, took 2 ibuprofen and stretched my hips.
*If I'm ever feeling discomfort, I do not take ibuprofen before a workout. I want to get a true sense of how I feel and I don't want to mask the pain. I probably take 2-3 ibuprofen a month so it works really well with me when I do take it. Just a suggestion, if you are wanting to see if you are still injured, take the ibuprofen after the workout. Taking ibuprofen before a workout isn't going to make your injury go away in 30 minutes. Just a suggestion so that you don't re-injure yourself or hurt yourself more by trying to train through an injury.
Day 5 (Mon) - Woke up with less discomfort. My level was 1.5 and I swam 3000 yrd nice and easy. Did a few strength exercises for my legs and arms. Libby wanted to check my hips out cause she thought she knew what was wrong with me. Libby is a PT and as a talented triathlete ( she really knows her stuff when it comes to injuries by triathletes/runners. She thought that I had a hypermobile SI joint and she was right! It was all in my hips the whole time! After a few tests on my back, adductors and hips, she found that my core and adductors are strong but my hips are very weak. The most possible cause of my hip issues is finishing Kona with an injured hip/groin/leg but most of all, I rarely work my hips.

The rest of the week has gone great. Libby showed me some exercises for my hips and my goal is to have buns of steal by the end of the month.
With only 2 days of no running, I ran on Tues after my 25 mile interval bike ride. I only ran 2 miles but at a 7:45 min/mile pace, I was pleased that I lost no fitness and if anything, I was running better than before. I am working on not over arching my back and really working on my running gait to work both my quads and my hams when I run.
Wed I ran 8 miles. 2.5 miles before swimming and 6.5 after swimming. I didn't plan on running that much but I did several sets of intervals and the miles just went by. My discomfort was .5-1 as I was running but Libby said it was fine to run. I am really working on my running form and I can 100% notice a difference when I change a few things with my running gait. The discomfort almost instantly goes away when I make the small changes. I did my hip exercises after the run and did some weights as well. The last time I took ibuprofen was Sunday so I am really pleased that I am not masking any pain this week and feeling better and better everyday.
On wed evening Libby did a gait analysis at the beach running store. She does this once a month and told me I should come. This was my first time doing this and I loved seeing my running form on the tv. She taped me from the rt side, left side and back. She zoomed in on my hips as well.
Just a brief summary from the run analysis; my rt. leg has a mid foot, foot strike which is great but my stride is short and my quad is not fully lengthened when I strike. When my left foot strikes (non injured side), I land with my heel but I have good quad and hamstring strength. My hips are not uneven (libby worked on that on mon) but I do have a weak rt. hip which looks as if something is moving in my hip when I strike. She is still trying to figure out that one (probably the hypermobile SI joint) but for now I am feeling better and better.
Today I am .2 on my discomfort scale. Hardly notice anything but I don't know how I would feel for a long run. I'm taking this day by day so hopefully I will continue running stronger, with better form, and my undiagnosed rt. leg weakness will be gone forever!

The exercise that I am doing is a side plank with a bent elbow (elbow under the shoulder). Lay your top hand on your side. Tuck in your belly and make sure your top hip is not rolling forward. If anything, try to roll back your top hip behind you. When you get a stable position with good form, lift up your top leg 10 times, very slowly. Rather than just lifting up the leg, try to lift up your heel a little behind the foot that is on the floor. If you do this correctly, you will feel your butt muscle working after about 4 reps. Just be sure to lift that leg straight up, a little behind you, rather than infront of you. This will also force you to roll back the top hip. I do 2-3 sets of 10 on each leg. Buns of steal!!


Bored with pasta, meat and veggies?

I always hear that athletes get bored with the same meals. Athlete or not, it is easy to get bored with pasta. Some people say they can never get bored of pasta but having the same "go-to" meal every night can become tiresome. If anything, you want to look forward to a meal..especially when it has new flavors from new ingredients. However, as simple as it is to prepare and totally affordable for any size family and/or budget, you can only eat so much pasta.
On Sun night Karel and I went over to Katrine's house for dinner. Not sure why it is but all of my close triathlon friends want to re-pay Karel for his bike tech work, with food. I guess that isn't a bad thing. He occasionally brings home beer or wine from his regular customers (what a lucky guy!) but other times, good work = good food. I know I'm not the only one who keeps the Trek store in business but I love sending my tri-friends to Karel for all of their bike needs....and desires :)
In May, Libby (who placed 7th in the 25-29 age group at IMCDA!) cooked Karel and me a super yummy and healthy Lasagna. Who knew healthy and Lasagna could be in the same sentence??? It was sooooo good with spinach and feta cheese.
Katrine made Karel an almond and herb crusted salmon. She also made couscous with pine nuts, goat cheese, red and green peppers and onions. There was also a nice strawberry and greens salad to go with the meal. Once was sooo good.
My other good friend Laura (the RD who made me her version of a "healthy" carrot cake for me b-day) is next on the list and I know she will knock my socks off with some crazy-good, healthy meal.
I just love it that my friends want to cook for us rather than taking us out to eat. A free meal is always nice but it is most thoughtful when the meal is prepared at home.

I was inspired by Katrine's couscous so I made some last night. As Karel and I were eating (while watch TdF) we couldn't stop talking about how much we love couscous. We don't eat it that often but it is so easy to prepare and you can really dress it up when you buy the plain version. It is such a different texture compared to other grains yet you still feel satisfied by eating a little of it. Most of all, you don't miss out on the carbs when you combine couscous with other ingredients.
As I was preparing our meal last night, I started thinking about ways I could dress up our meal.
Here's the breakdown for a typical Sumbal dinner.
20% whole grains
40% protein
5% healthy fats
30% greens and veggies
5% seasonings

The percentages mean nothing. Just an estimate of the breakdown of how I pick food when I trying to create a recipe. My main focus for dinner is protein and then my second focus is veggies. We usually have bread or some type of carb (grain) with the meal and with cooking the meal I add in the healthy fats (olive oil, nuts, cheese) and seasonings (salsa, spices). Hope this helps everyone out for planning meals and when finding replacements for your meals to make them not-so-boring.

So, take your boring meal and try to break it down into whole grains, veggies, greens, healthy fats, seasonings and protein. For each of those components, switch out something that you always use for something new. For example, if you always season your salad with salad dressing, use salsa. If you season your omelet with salt and pepper use garlic. If you always eat chicken, choose vegetarian meat. If you always defrost/microwave your protein choice, oven-cook fresh meat or opt for deli meat.
If you use olive oil for dressing, replace the oil for nuts in a salad.
If you typically eat bread with your meal, have slices of baked potato or a sweet potato. If you usually steam veggies, make a salad. If you top your salad with cheddar cheese, use feta cheese. If you use butter on your bread, use hummus. If you usually eat a salad, add fruit to the salad. If you usually eat chopped raw veggies, cook your veggies in the oven or on a skillet. Just a few examples, hopefully you get the point of making subtle changes to make a big difference.

Here's the meal I made last night. For a typical Marni meal of cooked veggies, eggs (my go-to protein), a salad and bread I made tofu with cayenne pepper, cooked a veggie burger, cooked corn, onions, garlic and tomatoes with a little olive oil, made couscous w/ fresh garlic and cut romaine lettuce for the bottom of my salad.
I get inspired by others meals so if you have some ingredients that you'd like me to use in a future creation or are in need of a recipe make-over...let me know in the comment section!!

1. Couscous - 1/2 cup couscous in 1/2 cup boiling water. Turn off heat when you add couscous, cover and fluff with fork after 5-8 minutes. Add whatever seasonings you want. I suggest pepper and chopped garlic and a little Parmesan cheese.

2. Veggies - chop whatever veggies you choose. I used frozen corn, onions, garlic and tomatoes. Always cook veggies in a little olive oil (1/2-1 tbsp) to absorb non-fat soluble vitamins.

3. Veggie burger - pick your own protein. You can use lean meat such as chicken or turkey and you can even use fish. Or, you can use chickpeas or top it all with cottage cheese.

4. Tofu - Try may learn to appreciate it. Cut tofu into strips and cook on a non-stick skillet w/ non stick spray or a little olive oil (1/2 tbsp). Use seasonings such as italian seasonings, cayenne pepper or paprika.

5. Greens - pick your choice of greens for the bottom part of the meal. The darker the green, the better.

6. Layer it! Make your meal look nice. Top your meal with nuts such as sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts, peanuts or soynuts. Add a little shredded cheese, feta or goat cheese. If you make presentation count, you will take more pride in your meal, eat it slower and feel good about what you are eating (and what you prepared). Use a few squirts of salad dressing spray, top with salsa or use your favorite salad topping.


Possible Injury = Lesson

I wish I was blogging about the 18 mile run that was planned for sat or the 5 1/2 hr bike + 35 min run planned for today. However, I didn't feel like myself on Fri and because of it I turned into one smart, yet freaked out athlete.
After my workout on Thurs (easy run + bike) I spent the morning at the Palm Gardens Long-term care facility. My first experience with long-term care dietetics. For my medical therapy dietetic course we are required to volunteer time with a dietitian. I have the best RD to observe and I learned so much in just the first day!
Later in the day I was on the computer (as usual) but by dinner time, I was feeling really sore in my back. I felt like I couldn't get comfortable when I sat at the computer and I knew my old shoes were not helping when I walked with campy.
Katrine, Laura and I planned to run on the treadmill for 2-3 easy miles before swimming at 6am. I was really looking forward to swimming because our set was over 4500 and I couldn't wait to do a long swim.
Because my rt. leg was feeling weird and my back was still achy, I decided to just walk on an incline, slowly, on the treadmill. After 20 min. of walking, the pain didn't subside so I stopped walking and headed to the pool. I figured a non-weight bearing exercise would be easier on my body and more relaxing but it ended up making my soreness much worse. After 6 x 200's of a 12 x 200 main set, I decided that a 2500 swim was enough. It took me all 6 x 200's to decide to get out. I kept saying to myself that I was getting better but I am not one to swim in pain or discomfort. My back just didn't feel right.
I called Karel as soon as I left the Y and holding back tears I told him that something was wrong. Not sure what, but my leg was weak (nothing new with that) and my lower back and upper back (all on the rt. side) was super tight.
After a whole season of training smart, listening to my body and doing everything right with my training, I began to think that my season was over. I tried not to jump to conclusions but after so many great races and great, great workouts, I just didn't know how this could happen without any warning signs. As I mentioned before, I never train through discomfort (or pain) and I always listen to my body. For the past 2 months, I have only felt good.
It was a tough decision, but I took sat off. Yes-a whole weekend day off. I think the last sat I didn't exercise was the sat after both of my Ironman's. There is something religious about exercising on the weekends and Sat and Sun are my fav days of the week. The worst part was that I purposely finished all of my HW so that I could relax after my long weekend of training. Great, nothing to do but stress about a possible injury.
I iced myself on fri night and sat and after doing a bit of research about leg pain, a lot of the articles (from MD's, not triathlon forums) pointed to lower back pain. Whenever I feel an ache or pain I try not to look at the one body part where I am hurting. I try to think about what has changed with my workouts to bring on the ache or where else the pain could be coming from. Perhaps, all of my leg pain has been coming from back inflammation!!??!! I've dealt with back inflammation (serious inflammation, tendinitis, name it) all my life. Most of it came from HS and college swimming and many many many butterfly sets (I swam 200 fly, 200 IM and 100 breast). I've lived with back pain and sitting at a computer all day with poor posture probably doesn't help. Oh yea, I also love wearing flip flops which have no support to help my back.
Rather than feeling sorry for myself, I made the most out of my day off and spent the morning at the beach with none other than my best friend, who loves me no matter what...CAMPY!
Karel loves me too but he had a group ride that morning. Surprisingly, I ran into Karel at the beach parking lot where Jeff, Curtis and Karel were waiting for the group ride. It was great to see them and a total surprise!
Campy and I had a great time at the beach. Lots of pics which I just couldn't wait to post.
As for the rest of the day, my IT Band was tight all day so I iced some more, wore shoes all day (even inside) did proper IT band stretches, and used The Stick for a little tough love. Also, I love my new shoes that I bought on Fri. Mizuno Creation. Super support and I feel a lot of ankle support with those shoes.
I didn't want to make any promises for a bike on sun so karel said he would ride with me and turn around any time if I hurt. I really wanted to do something this morning since I woke up with minimal tightness in my IT Band and after a 58 mile ride, I'm really glad that I rode. I had a smoothie after the ride, iced and stretched. I now know to take much better care of my back and I will be using the ice after every workout. We will see how things go this week. Still nervous about training. It is funny how your perspective for an IM changes when you might be injured. A week ago I felt like I had forever until IMKY but after a slight breakdown and a few tears yesterday afternoon, I came to the realization that I ONLY have 55 days left until IMKY.
I'm thankful that this injury happened because it taught me to pay much more attention to my back, in addition to my hips. I've been doing lots of hip exercises and strengthening moves but once again, I neglect to pay attention to my back.
So...onto happy things...
How about some Campy pics at Jacksonville beach on the 4th of July!!!

One tired doggy