As you know, my background is in exercise physiology (Master degree in Exercise Physiology, Bachelor degree in Exercise Science/minor in psychology) so I feel really confident when it comes to coaching and understanding the adaptations that must be made in an effort to increase speed and power for optimal performance. Individual improvements are very relative. Because we all have different heart rates for different speeds, which causes us to metabolize fuels differently, it would be silly to say that a 9 min miler does not work as hard as a 7 min miler, just because the "faster" athlete finishes quicker than the "slower" athlete. Training must be individualized in an effort to experience performance gains and in an effort to avoid burnout, injury and unnecessary fatigue.
Unlike any other event out there, except for the decathlon, triathletes do not just train for one sport. If you are a triathlete, or are considering the "triathlete" lifestyle, you realize that you swim, you bike and then you run. You train your body to be able to bike after you swim and run after you bike and you hope that on race day, all your training comes together.
Isn't it amazing what we put our bodies through.....just for a t-shirt and a finisher medal.
In my opinion, triathlons are a great sport. They teach you so much about yourself. Not only do you become physically strong but you teach yourself to be mentally tough. However, for the majority of us and the people you train with, it is likely that you aren't getting paid to race/participate in a triathlon.
I’m sure we would all love it if we received back our registration fee after we crossed the finish line but at our level, we aren’t racing for money and triathlons aren't paying the bills.
But, we all know we need to exercise for health benefits and weight control and for whatever reason, we picked the triathlon lifestyle to help us stay healthy. Triathlons are a great lifestyle but they don’t need to be your life. It's likely that you have a job, a family, a husband/wife, close family and friends and furry little ones (or slimy ones) that need just as much attention and focus as your training routine.
As I have mentioned in several previous blog posts, triathlon training (or any exercise routine) begins with a balanced diet. If your daily diet is filled with foods that limit performance, such as simple sugars, processed foods, calorie-dense (as opposed to nutrient dense) foods or salty or fatty foods OR have habits such as not eating breakfast, overeating, undereating, not fueling properly after training or going long hours without eating, there is no perfect training plan to help you improve in your sport. Furthermore, when it comes to race day, without proper nutrition on a daily basis, there is not "ideal" racing nutrition plan to help you have a great race day experience.
Triathlon training starts with your daily diet and making your health your first priority. Because many people struggle with a balance of training and the rest of life, do not feel overwhelmed when trying to change heart-unhealthy habits to more heart-healthy habits. Just like with training adaptations, healthy eating does not happen over night, especially if you want to create habits that you can stick with. Taking a little time each day to focus on your strengths and weakness's in your daily diet, which will support your healthy, active and quality-filled life, will allow you to find what works best for you, depending on your training volume and intensity.
To help fuel your workouts and your lifestyle, I strongly encourage a more plant-based diet, rich in fruit, veggies and balanced with quality protein, low fat dairy, fiber-rich grains and healthy unsaturated fats. Do not view foods as good or bad but rather performance limiting or performance enhancing. Certainly there are foods you should emphasize in your diet and de-emphasize so if the daily diet is under control you are going to find it much easier to stay consistent with your training/exercise routine and not feel guilty, restricted or obsessed when it comes to healthy eating.
I hope you enjoy my latest creation. Why would anyone ever think that vegetarian diet isn't filling or satisfying and doesn't support the lifestyle of an endurance/active triathlete? This meal deserves a big YUM!
Vegetarian "Meat" and Potato salad
1 small Idaho potato
1/2 container firm tofu (cubed)
1-2 tbsp Corn Starch
1 large steak tomato
1/4 cup purple onion (sliced)
1 large clove garlic (chopped)
1/8-1/4 cup jalapenos (chopped)
2 1/2 tsp olive oil
Seasonings: curry powder, cracked pepper, cayenne
Large handful spinach
1. On a non-stick pan on medium heat, cook garlic in 1/2 tsp olive oil until garlic turns slightly brown. Remove from pan.
2. On a plate, spread out cubed tofu and gently rub w/ corn starch to coat at least 1-2 sides of tofu cubes.
3. Cook tofu in 1 tsp olive oil and add seasonings.
4. When tofu is slightly golden brown add garlic and toss. After 1 minute, remove from pan.
5. While tofu is cooking, microwave washed potato for 3-4 min. or until soft on the outside and cooked in the inside. Slice potato into cubes.
6. Cook potato in remaining olive oil until potato turns golden brown. Add tofu and toss. Remove from pan.
7. Cook egg in pan (sunny-side up).
8. Starting with spinach, place a handful of spinach in shallow bowl and top w/ sliced tomato and onion. Add potato and tofu and top w/ egg.