Author, Board Certified Sport Dietitian, Master of Science in Exercise Physiology, 2017 IM CHOO Amateur Female Champion, 14xIronman finisher including 6xIM Kona qualifier, Triathlon Coach, 26-year Vegetarian.
I'm 24 days away from starting my dietetic internship and 11 months away from my hopeful and anticipated finish of my last educational part of becoming a Registered Dietitian (of course, the learning never stops). Not sure how stressful and overwhelming it will be to study for the National Registered Dietitian Exam but I really look forward to the next year of my life....one day at a time.
As you can imagine, training for Ironman Wisconsin on Sept 12, 2010, a week after finishing my community nutrition rotation and a few days after starting my food service/production rotation, is going to require time-management and discipline at its finest. My goal for IMWI is to qualify for Kona 2011 so I am creating a training plan that will work on my weakness's, strengthen my strengths and keep me entertained and having fun, all while preventing injury (always a #1 goal with endurance/speed training) and burnout/overtraining. I've managed sports and education all my life, but in years past I didn't have an internship, husband, 3 furry animals (1 of which requires 110% of my time...but I don't mind giving it to him :)), life responsibilities and my favorite, lots of athletes who require a large amount of my time in an effort to help them reach their nutrition and exercise/training/racing goals.
When I read "Coach of the Year" in the Volume 39/No 9, July 2010 issue of Velo News, I felt as if I was reading my own personal philosophy's (which I pass on to my athletes and blog readers)...but in a more thought-out and well-written way.
This article was written about Neal Henderson, who has been coaching Taylor Phinney (4x cycling world champion and cycling superstar), alongside many other successful athletes. I had not heard about him until I read this article but I am so happy that coaches like himself are getting the recognition they deserve.
Although I read (and apply) a lot of scientific research, I often wondered if I would ever be taken seriously by applying many of the in-depth philosophy's/rules of exercise physiology and sports nutrition to the every-day and competitive athlete. Sure, we have all heard of fat burning, base building, anaerobic intervals, plyo's, low sugar sport drinks/gels and strength training, but creating a training and nutrition plan to support balance in the life, and these training and nutrition principles, may have many people feeling overwhelmed and confused. So, as I practiced what I preached on teaching the body to use fat for fuel and minimizing the processed food, sugar and salt in my diet (a more plant-based, vegetarian diet), all while training the body to maximize performance, I continued to feel overwhelmed by sport nutrition companies and forum gossip. For the past few years, I have felt as if the research was out there to support quality training, less nutrition while training and nutrient timing to support glycogen storage and tissue repair (encouraging an increase in lean muscle mass) but misinformation by "coaches" without an exercise physiology background, a lot of experience or coaching degree, non-credentialed "nutritionists" and sport nutrition companies without scientific, double-blind, placebo-controlled research have been convincing athletes that in order to be a more fit or faster individual you need to do lots of mileage, eat a lot on a daily basis and take in a lot of sugar/calories during training.
I hope you enjoy this article as much I did and can take away some of his philosophy's....
5 tips for better performance: 1) KNOW YOURSELF - get tested in a lab once or twice a year if possible. But more importantly, test yourself in the field on a climb and/or with a power meter. Track your progress over months and years, not on a daily or weekly basis. 2) DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE - Once you know what kinds of training work for you, stick with it. Use a training log to identify the types of training you did the days and weeks before a good performance. Experiment with new training strategies before low priority events, not big ones. 3) TRAIN INSIDE - Even when the weather is nice outside, specific high intensity intervals can best be done indoors on stationary trainers. You can always warm-up and cool-down outside. 4) TRAIN YOUR BRAIN - Strong legs with a weak brain powering them won't go fast in races. Practice visualization and refocusing and use positive self talk to ride stronger. 5) TEMPER YOUR EFFORT - Save your best and hardest efforts for when you have a number pinned on, not a workout or group ride. You only have so many great efforts available - use them when it counts!
More words from the article: "Neal is extremely bright and his knowledge of science-based training is on par with anyone in the world," said Taylor Phinney's dad. "He is not stuck on old traditions, but is open-minded and a quick study. He really cares about his athletes, and it shows in their response to him."
"For me, the combination of scientific method and practical training methods is what yields the best results in the real world" said Henderson. "Much of how I train athletes is a result of reading hundreds of papers on training responses in all sorts of conditions, but the actual demands of competition factor into the way any specific training is prescribed"
This was my FAVORITE QUOTE..... "I try to seek the point of maximum adaptation to the minimum of training stress rather than try to achieve the greatest level of fatigue. Excessive fatigue does not guarantee improvements or adaptation. Finding what I call the 'zone of optimal adaptation' is the place that i like to keep my athletes" said Henderson.
I've been a competitive triathlete for the past 5 years. I did my first half at 24 years old (in the baby division) and now at 28, I wonder why I didn't start this sport any sooner in my life! Sure, I've been an athlete for most of my life (swimmer at the age of 12) but the training for triathlons is completely different than the training for swimming (my specialty events were 100 breastroke, 200 butterfly and 200 IM). In the 5 years of being a triathlete, I've learned so much about myself. I've learned how to overcome obstacles, how to better manage my time, how to become mentally and physically strong, how to overcome fears and how most of all, how much I LOVE the lifestyle of being a triathlete. With the completion of 3 Ironman's (IMFL, Kona, IMKY), 5 Half Ironman distances (IMFL 70.3 and Rock N' Rollman), 3 Marathons, a handful of half marathons and lots of triathlons and running races, I've enjoyed every race and every experience. I feel lucky and blessed to have the discipline and desire to train for such an intense sport...and the body and mind that will "survive" the training. I've also been very fortunate to check a lot of experiences off of my bucket list (Ironman World Champs, Boston Marathon, 6-Gap GA cycling event w/ Karel, riding around Lake Tahoe w/ Karel). More than anything, I've learned so much about what I'm capable of and that nothing will stop me from participating in endurance events.
Throughout my 5-year career as an endurance athlete, I've experienced the many up and downs of pushing the body in an effort to maximize performance. Despite the struggles with finding the balance between pushing enough and pushing too hard, I've had a lot of fun and I absolutely love my life. Of course, if I wasn't competing in triathlons I would still "exercise" every day of my life (likely swimming, biking and running), but it sure helps to have something to train for on a daily basis. I could not be more excited to participate in my 4th Ironman (I get chills just thinking that I've done 3 Ironman's in the past 5 years!!) in Wisconsin and I'm so happy to have the support of my blog readers, friends, Karel (and Campy) and family.
Although crossing the finish line at a triathlon and running event can leave a person speechless and wanting more, I can't help but think to myself that every person who trains for an athletic event sacrifices a big part of his/her life in an effort to prepare the mind, body and soul for race day.
In the past 5 years of competing in triathlons, I met Karel, started my dietetic program, got engaged, moved to Jacksonville, found Campy, got married, , finished my dietetic program, found Madison, applied to internships, got rejecting to internships, applied again to internships, got accepted to internships and in 2 weeks...I start my dietetic internship!!!
My life is not unlike many others. There are stressful, exciting, fun and difficult times in life. So with the responsibilities of "life" one would wonder...how can a person balance of family, friends, work, extracurricular's, travel, healthy eating, relaxation and sleep all while training for an endurance event.
When I moved to Jacksonville, I found myself thinking of the past. How I use to train for my first IM, how I use to eat before I met Karel and how I use to spend my days before wanting to become a Registered Dietitian. Thinking like this for a good 6-8 months caused me great stress. A lot in my life had changed but I wanted to live in the past. I found myself sad, guilty and bothered that I wasn't being consistent with my eating and exercise routine.
After many months of self-talk and discussing things with Karel and my parents, I slowly found myself living in the now...not the past. I have a husband, a dog, 2 cats, a very expensive and time-consuming dietetic internship (which I am SO excited for!!) and lots of bills and responsibilities. I decided to stop thinking in the past and to start focusing on ways that I could make the most out of my training routine in an effort to find more balance in my life. Sadly, I couldn't just focus on my training. I also focused on developing a healthy relationship with food in an effort to be able to make the most out of my training and to ensure a lifetime of activity and good health.
I read a great article yesterday in Velo News that Karel passed along to me. I am very excited to share parts of it in my blog (tomorrow) because I think we can all take away bits and pieces of the article.
I have worked really hard in the past year - yes it took that long- (with Karel getting a lot of credit) to create balance in my life with sleep, family, Karel, my animals, school, work, healthy eating/planning and training. In my opinion, success in a sport is all about finding the best balance (every person is different) between training/exercising and living the rest of your life. I promise you, once you find that right balance, your exercise, training or triathlon performance will improve and you will find yourself at ease with your current life. Ultimately, knowing that you are not neglecting other important parts in your life, which will also keep you happy and healthy, is the best way to live in the moment and make the most out of your only life.
Finding the right balance between.... LIFE THE REWARDING TIMES THE TOUGH TIMES THE GOOD TIMES
I LOVE LOVE LOVE recovering from workouts. It's a beautiful thing to push the body and then get stronger after the hard work is done. But as much as I love a shower and my post-workout smoothie + meal, I also love watching my body get stronger after workouts. Sure, I can't always physically feel or see my body getting more powerful, stronger or faster but workout after workout, I know it is happening. There is nothing worse than feeling sore after a workout and not being able to give 100% to the next workout. There is nothing wrong with the fitness enthusiast exercising for the caloric burn but in my opinion, your workout will become boring if you do the same thing every day just to burn calories.
Tip: if you do the same thing, the body will become very efficient. Even if you lose weight at the beginning, the body will burn less calories for the same workout unless you change up your activity routine. If you want to increase your calorie burn without focusing on how many calories you are burning in a given workout, focus on strength training, in addition to cardio, to increase muscle mass as you strengthen the heart, in order to burn more calories at rest.
Regardless if you compete in athletic events or just exercise for fun, I believe that every workout should have a purpose. Even if the purpose every now and then is to just get to the gym and do something to de-stress, your workouts should be of quality in order to create a stronger and healthier body.
Part of my recovery routine involves rolling on the tennis ball (my butt), stretching (primarily my psoas, hamstrings and lower back), icing and recovery protein (either yogurt, whey protein or skim milk). However, I have a new addition to my recovery routine...
I'm sure many people have experienced the wonderful relationship with the foam roller...it makes you cry and then smile.
Our good friends Stephanie and Sean have a company called Recover better
You can't help but love their philosophy...
YOU CAN GET FASTER BY RECOVERING BETTER RecoverBetter.com features performance recovery and self-therapy products for triathletes, runners, cyclists, and fitness enthusiasts. These products are designed specifically to help athletes achieve their full potential by enhancing and speeding up the recovery process.
It was Karel's boss, Jeff, who told us about the GRID and that we HAD to get it.
I'm so glad we listened.
Not only is it affordable ($40!!!) but it is small and easy to use.
The Grid represents a revolutionary advancement over traditional foam roller technology. It won't break, lose its shape or require costly replacement as a result of day-to-day use. The GRID is green and uses less foam than the ordinary foam roller. It is designed to help you achieve the benefits that are associated with Myofascial Release Therapy and related massages. It is also great for core workouts!
The GRID matrix includes low & flat foam (feels like the forearm or palm), high & firm foam (feels like the finger tips) and medium & tubular foam which feels like the fingers and thumb.
Each GRID comes with a fold-out guide to great exercises and techniques.
Over the years, I find myself always on the verge of injury. I think that is normal for most athletes. However, avoiding injury is key. It's knowing when to hold back, when to push and most of all, how to design an effective and quality training plan to prevent overtraining and overuse injuries.
Sure, it is hard to know your limits when you are training for an event, especially when you are constantly teaching yourself to be mentally strong throughout workouts. I find that as you improve your aerobic and anaerobic thresholds (which comes with proper periodization of workouts/training), it is easier to push a bit harder than in seasons/years/months past.
But, although you may be feeling stronger and faster than ever before, your body is going to need a little extra TLC. It is silly to say to yourself "This year I'm always sore and hurting but last year I was able to recover so quickly from workouts!"
As your body becomes more conditioned with exercise/training, it is SO important that you focus on the now rather than the past.
Your body goes throughout a lot in order to accept the demands of training. Be kind to your ONE body and be sure to focus on your recovery after workouts.
And most of all...be sure you are getting a restful night of sleep on most days of the week.
Are you starving when you come home from work? Do you have time to make dinner after an evening workout? Do you even consider cooking a healthy and balanced meal when fast food, processed food, frozen food or canned food is the quickest option to getting something into your stomach and getting your blood sugar back to normal?
Planning healthy and balanced meals is not always easy. However, it does take some planing and thinking ahead. While you could try preparing 4-5 weekday meals on the weekend, it is likely that the weekend is just as busy as your week. Even if you find yourself with less to-do's on the weekend, it is likely that you deserve a little R&R (or training with no responsibilities to follow).
Both Karel and myself have been known to prepare meals well before dinner time. Although I typically do the dinner cooking around 5-6pm (Karel works 'til 7pm so we eat around 7;15-7:30, however, on the weekends we usually eat around 5:30ish), Karel typically makes his lunch before he leaves for his morning training and I sometimes prepare dinner before I start my work for the day.
Here are 4 great options for a healthy and balanced meal to last you a day or two (depending on how much you prepare and how many people in your family). With these healthy options, you can be really versatile with your leftovers and still have balanced and healthy meals.
Enjoy! 30 minutes of prep......less than 5 min to prepare. What's your favorite quick and healthy meal?
Hard-boiled eggs - I typically boil 6-10 for sandwiches, snacks and salads. Time: 20 min.
Quinoa - quick and easy. Can be eaten for any meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and you can add nuts, seeds, raisins, seasonings (no-salt) or fruit for variety and lots of taste. Time: 8-10 min.
Green beans - this was my "green" vegetable for choice but you could also do asparagus, zucchini, eggplant or your favorite. Time: 8-12 min.
Fruit Salad - I made this while the other foods were cooking on the stove. I added apples, pears, tomatoes, chives, apricots, carrots and tomatoes to a container of (washed) spinach and romaine lettuce. I typically squirt a little lime juice or fresh oranges over the lettuce to keep it from wilting. Time: 10 min. (due to chopping)
Thanks to my official photographer Karel for snapping pics before, during and after the race. Karel managed to get in some hill training while I was on the bike course and got some pics of me in action. Enjoy!