Essential Sports Nutrition


Off I go....

Heading to Lake Lanier, GA today for Iron Girl Atlanta. Looking forward to the un-matched, Iron Girl experience. Nothing compares to racing with women and seeing pink EVERYWHERE!

In addition to our 3 furry little ones, we have 3 fish tanks. Karel just re-did our 55 gallon fish tank and it looks beautiful. We have 2 other tanks and dozen of fish in them but we just love the personalities of our chichlid fish. Oscar (the giant one) likes to re-arrange the tank after Karel makes everything pretty. It's funny to see the tank completely different in the morning (usually with all of the plants and rocks on one side of the tank) because Oscar doesn't like anything in his way. Eventually we will get a bigger tank for them but for now, we only have so much room in our apartment.
Enjoy the pics!
*In my next life, I will be a fish. What a wonderful life to just swim all day....


3 Simple Sports Nutrition tips

Tomorrow Laura and I will be on the road for a 7 hour drive to Lake Lanier, GA. This will be Laura's first Iron Girl triathlon and I am so excited to share this experience with her and all of the other future Iron Girl newbies.
Although this is a sprint triathlon and may be "short" in distance, there is nothing easy about this course. I have done this race for the last 2 years and both times I finished the race I was wondering if I really did a sprint triathlon?
The 1/3 mile swim + 18 mile bike + 3 mile run is not easy and you need to have your climbing legs ready for this event. Sure, there are lots of climbs on the bike and the out and back run seems like it just goes up and never goes down but let me tell you about the swim. No, no hills during the swim but to get from the swim exit to transition you run up the most steep hill I have ever seen in my life!

I will be speaking at the pre-race expo at 1pm. Please come if you are doing the race or live nearby. Rather than telling everyone how to fuel for the race on Sun, I decided to discuss my favorite 5 Simple Sports Nutrition tips help athletes learn how to live an active and healthy lifestyle as a triathlete as well as learning how develop an individualized race day nutrition plan.

Here's a sneak peak to 3 of my 5 tips (simplified) that I will be discussing in my talk:

Tip #1: Sports nutrition is the 1st principle

In my opinion, nutrition is the 1st principle of triathlon training, not the 4th principle. Daily nutrition first, then swim, bike run. You can have the best coach, the best designed training plan, lots of discipline and motivation and the best nutrition fueling strategy but if you aren’t as disciplined with your daily diet as you are with your training routine, you will constantly find yourself struggling to improve with your workouts as well as being consistent with your training.
If your diet is filled with foods that limit performance, such as simple sugars and salty or fatty foods, or have habits such as not eating breakfast, overeating, not fueling properly after training or going long hours without eating, there is no perfect training and racing nutrition plan (or product) to help you have a great race day experience. Triathlon training starts with your daily diet and making your health your first priority. Ultimately, if your daily diet is under control and balanced with healthy foods, you will find it much easier to know what your body actually needs or doesn’t need during training.

Tip #2: Carb-emphasize
You don't need to be a veteran athlete to know about carbo-loading? The name kinda says it all. You load your body with carbs. The understanding is that if you decrease your training volume, and expend less calories than normal, your body will break down the sugars from "extra" carbohydrates and you will encourage your body to store extra carbs as glycogen in the muscles and liver. Essentially, filling your fuel tank for race day Well, the idea of carbo loading is a great idea but over the years I think athletes have taken the concept to the extreme.
Carbo loading does not mean eating pasta until you physically can’t eat any more or eating every carb (specifically the processed ones) in sight on the days leading up to your race. Although I don't want people to calorie-restrict on the days leading up to a race, I encourage everyone to forget about “carbo-loading” and to focus on a balanced meal, rich in slow digesting carbohydrates.
Rather than eating a heavy, calorie-filled meal on the night before a race, plan to have a portioned-controlled meal, rich in complex carbs on the two nights before the race. Aim for around 450-550 calories (+/- 50 calories depending on your body size) of a mix of slow digesting carbs (making up around 65-70% of your meal), such as pasta, pizza, any kind of whole grains, sweet potatoes, non-gassy veggies, fruit, rice or bread and add in lean or low fat protein, such as fish, turkey, chicken, eggs or egg whites, veggie burger, tofu, part-skim cheese, milk, beans, cottage cheese and a little health fat such as olive oil, fish or nuts.

Tip #3: Topping off your fuel tank
You can thank me later for telling you to not overeat the night before race day because there is nothing worse than waking up with a full stomach and knowing that you need to put some food in your body at least 2 -3 hrs before the race start.
No matter the racing distance, it is important to put something in your body on race day morning so that you are not hungry before the race start and you have enough back-up fuel in your system to get you through the race. The key here, just like your "carb-emphasized dinner", is that you don’t want to overeat. Your just topping off your fuel tank.
From a physiological standpoint, what you eat on race day morning isn’t going to ensure you that you are going to have a personal best time on race day. Training, pre race nutrition and race day nutrition are all factors in your performance on race day. However, I can assure you if you are feeling bloated, starving, ligtheaded or fatigued before or during the race, you are not going to have a great racing experience.

My advice to you, rather than skipping breakfast or drinking a Red Bull on the road, I want you to focus on a healthy, and hopefully well-practiced, slow digesting carbohydrate snack with a little fat or protein to keep you satisfied in the hours leading up to the race.
Pre race nutrition is going to differ for everyone depending on food preferences, terrain, weather, racing volume and racing intensity. Keep things simple and be sure to consider your hotel/room arrangements on race day morning (ex. no microwave for your normal pre-race oatmeal or no fridge for your normal hard-boiled egg or milk)
It’s very important that this pre-race meal is balanced and that you don’t just consume a 300 calorie bagel, a bowl of sugary cereal, a power bar or 2 banana’s and an energy gel. I believe that adding a little protein and/or healthy fat to the meal will help keep your blood sugar stable before the race start as well as slowing down digesting to keep you feeling satisfied during the race. It’s also very important that you have a big glass of water with your meal and if you want coffee, that is perfectly fine with your breakfast.
I find that many people eat way to close to the race start because they worry about not having enough fuel during the race but believe me, your pre-race meal is not going to be the defining factor of whether or not you finish the race. On top of your taper, your carb-rich meal last night and your pre-race snack, you are going to have plenty of fuel for the race.
Remember, the later you wait to eat solid food, the more likely your stomach will not agree with what you are putting in your body.


Vegetarian pasta and Tuna stuffed broiled tomato

Karel will eat anything I prepare. I've had a few "not-worthy for the blog" creations but overall, I think I make his tummy very happy.
Although Karel is not a vegetarian I always cook a vegetarian meal for the both of us. It is up to him if he wants to add "extras" to his meal or eat something after dinner but when he comes home from work, there is always something plant-based ready for him to try.
Several nights a week I try to cook chicken or fish for him but on average, when I prepare an additional non-vegetarian dinner for him it likely tuna or deli meat inside a vegetarian creation. On most days of the week we have a salad w/ dinner or as the main part of dinner.

Here are two easy dishes to please both the vegetarian and the non-vegetarian.
Enjoy my latest creations!

Vegetarian pasta
1/3 carton of firm tofu (cubed)
2 large handfuls of spinach
2-4 spoonfuls marinara sauce
1/4 - 1/3 cup sliced onion
1 cup sliced mushrooms
Fresh basil leaves (mine were from a garden, not grocery)
1 serving whole wheat pasta noodles (per person)
1 - 2 tsp olive oil
1 large garlic clove (chopped)
Seasonings - pepper, curry powder

1. Cook pasta to your liking
2. While pasta is cooking, heat pan to medium heat and add olive oil and garlic.
3. Add tofu, onion and mushroom. Cook until soft and brown.
4. Add marinara sauce and chopped basil leaves (or you can use basil seasoning) and stir.
5. Add spinach and turn heat to low and cover.
6. Drain pasta and place 1 serving of pasta in shallow bowl.
7. Top with a big spoonful of veggie-tofu mixture.

Tuna stuffed broiled tomato
1 large vine tomato (mine was fresh from garden, not grocery)
1 can tuna (packed in water)
1 clove garlic (chopped)
1 celery (chopped)
2-3 tbsp chopped onion
2 tsp spicy mustard
1 tbsp mayo
Small handful of shredded mozzarella cheese
Basil leaves (chopped)
Pepper, cayenne

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees - set to broil
2. Scoop out inside of tomato after carving around the top with a knife.
3. Place the tomato on tinfoil, on your baking dish
4. Combine tun, garlic, celery, onion, mustard, mayo, basil and seasonings and stir.
5. Pack tuna mixture inside of tomato until it is stuffed.
6. Broil for 10 min or until tuna begins to brown.

*Use extra tuna mixture on a sandwich thin and broil in oven for 2-3 min. Topped with a little fresh swiss cheese (shredded)

Salad to go along with dinner OR as dinner
Romaine lettuce
Mozzarella cheese
Hard boiled egg


Staying active

Sure, I want to improve with my training and I want to reach my full potential. However, I am not one to take chances when it comes training for an event and risking an injury. I realize that as an athlete, it is hard to know your limits especially when you train yourself to be physically and mentally strong. However, there needs to be an understanding of how much to train and how hard to push it so that "getting through" THAT workout doesn't turn into your last workout.
I think there is a big difference between "slacking" with your training and having a quality training session. If your training schedule is designed properly to encourage recovery after your intense training sessions, you should not find yourself second guessing staying in bed or getting up to go train. Because the body is not perfect and you are human, there will be times when you need to listen to your body in an effort to maximize recovery and mentally re-focus.

Here's how I see it. If you always find yourself struggling to get through your Thurs and Fri workouts and you don't take Mon off after your hard weekend of training, maybe a morning of sleeping in will jump start your week. I believe in waking up without an alarm at least 1 day a week (of course, waking up in time to go to work as opposed to waking up 2 hrs earlier to do an "easy" swim) and if that means missing a workout, well I would suggest listening to your body to help with muscle growth and tissue repair. I can't express enough how important it is to get a restful night of sleep on most days of the week.
You don't have to feel 100% every day of the week but you should be able to give 100% to every workout. Giving 100% doesn't mean going 100% all out but rather making the most of your training sessions. Sure, there will be workouts that you wished you would have skipped but overall if you focus on quality workouts the majority of your training will make you a healthier, fitter and faster athlete.
If you feel as if you can't give 100% to your workouts, then just exercise. Having a training schedule does not mean all or nothing.
I had a great training week last week. I posted my Tues and Wed workout on my blog but Thurs was a toughy!
Karel writes my workouts on Mon and we address my upcoming schedule, time constraints and weekly goals.
The set for Thurs on the bike:
5min @ 165 W + 10min @ 145ish + 5min @ 165W + 10min @ 145ish (All as a one interval with no rest between – total of 30min interval). One of my goals for my IMWI training is a higher cadence during my fast intervals so my legs were pushing fast and hard (although not mashing) for the 5 min sections. After the set I recovered for 10 min and repeated the set again.
I had a second part of the set which was 3x5min at 165W with 3 min recovery between. but during the 2nd round of my main set I was 99.5% sure that I would not be doing the second set. Karel is always ok with me modifying the workout so long as I give the main set my best effort. I ended up getting a flat during the last 10 min of the 2nd round so I just rode home easy and called it a day after I changed my flat.
BTW-my first time changing a tubular in "real life". I timed myself from start to finish when I got off the bike until I got back on the bike. 4 min and 43 seconds. I'm very happy about that and tubulars are SO much easier to change than clinchers!

On Thurs night I was laying in bed and I was looking forward to the weekend. Thinking back to the workouts on Mon - Thurs, I realized that I had a consistent quality week of training. What more could I ask for! Although I am like most people who have a goal of "not being injured" I am very aware of preventing the injury. Therefore, my 2nd goal of IMWI training is recovery which includes stretching, icing, compression, core work (planks), glute/hip strengthening and sleep. So far so good.
So in bed on Thurs I decided that I would take off Fri. I was tired and I really wanted to sleep and swim outside (something I never do). I told Karel that I just wanted to exercise and he said that was a good idea. Of course, I found myself wondering if I was "slacking" but it took me 2 seconds to think about my Mon-Thurs workouts and then another 2 sec. to think about my upcoming weekend workout and without a doubt, I certainly wasn't slacking.

I slept in until 6:30 and took Campy on a long walk. I went to the Y close to my apartment which has an outdoor pool. I swam for 40 min and enjoyed every stroke. I felt so refreshed and revitalized and I was ready for the weekend.

Sat workout:
72 mile ride + 4 mile run
*rode with the guys and another lady joined in! I responded to a lot of attacks on the first loop and felt super strong. My legs were totally toasted on the 2nd loop but I didn't get dropped. I did about 90 min alone before the ride, 1 hr FAST (28 mph) with the guys and then rode home. 3 hrs and 52 min.
*the run went well. It was nearing 11am and it was so hot out. I filled my fuel belt with water and had a sip of water every 1/2 mile (and extra for cooling on my body). I didn't push it on the run so I finished the 4.2 mile run in around 32 min. My cold shower (which included a bottle of water in the shower) never felt so good.

Sun workout:
9.5 mile run + 15 mile bike
*As my first "long" run of IMWI training I just wanted to run. It was great to run without pain, soreness or worry and to just enjoy the outdoors. My run felt a little slow but I had to remind myself that I am building my way up (following a slow progression with my "long" run mileage) in an effort to run strong off the bike at Ironman Wisconsin. I finished in 1 hr and 18 minutes (8:12) and I was ok with that. I walked in our place and told Karel how great it felt to just run! What a relief.

Karel had a super tough race in Augusta GA on Sat and he said it was all "punchy" hills. The race was a little over 90 miles and he finished 6th with a tough field (GA state championships)!! Curtis and Karel had no one to feed them so they paid a Cat 3 woman to hand them bottles during their 3 1/2 - 4 hr race.
Karel was totally exhausted on Sun so when I got home from my run I was excited to go for an easy 15 mile (45 min) spin with Karel.
I drafted behind Karel for the whole ride and we did 2 x 7 mile loops by our apartment. Nice and safe. We had a quick stop for me to save a turtle trying to cross the road. Poor guy...he was moving super slow.

As for the rest of the weekend (not training) I stayed busy. I tried to rest as much as I could but I just love staying on my feet. Thus, my last reason to listen to my body and to keep a balanced schedule.

In addition to Karel, who has really helped me understand training and how to make the most of a quality, low volume training plan, this little guy keeps me balanced. He reminds me that no training session is worth serious injury. Campy and I are on a quest to make the most out of life and to enjoy every day here on Earth. So far, I think we are doing a good job together.


Garlic and Green Pepper stuffed tomatoes

Last week I mentioned that my preceptor gave me a bag full of fresh veggies from her garden. Well, those went by fast and I was in need of a new batch.
Yesterday Karel and I headed to the beach w/ Campy and on our way we visited my preceptor and "shopped" in her garden. I think we have enough vine tomatoes to last us a month (well, more like a week if I get super creative w/ my recipes).

Tomatoes are packed with nutrition. Definitely a must in the diet of a healthy and active individual.
You probably know them to be a good source of the phytochemical called lycopene (which makes them red) but they are also packed with antioxidants. Did you know that cooking a tomato creates more antioxidants than eating it raw?

Certainly, cooking may reduce nutritional content in many fruits and veggies (for example, oxidation during cooking causes tomatoes to loose some vitamin C) but a diet rich in plant-based foods (cooked or not) is going to provide your body with a variety of nutrients, more so than any processed or packaged food filled with ingredients.

By the way.....a tomato is a fruit because it is a ripened ovary of a seed plant.

I hope you enjoy my latest creation!
Garlic and Green Pepper stuffed tomatoes

1 large vine tomato (per person)
1 clove garlic
2-3 tbsp chopped green pepper
Olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Scoop out inside of tomato with a knife and a spoon (save the inside for cooking).
3. Place chopped garlic inside the tomato and top w/ pepper.
4. Place tomato in casserole dish and drizzle w/ a little olive oil (1/2-1 tsp). Place extra tomato pieces in casserole dish.
5. Cook for 15-20 min. or until tomato begins to brown and shrivel.

Optional: serve w/ green beans, brown rice, black beans and apricot.
For the vegetarians: hard boiled egg
For the meat-eaters: chicken w/ jalapenos.

Karel's plate

My plate