Essential Sports Nutrition


Form first

Campy and me are doing lots of studying lately. Well, more like Campy sleeping and me retaining the info. Either way, I just love studying for the RD exam with my furry best friend.

Now that we are approaching the height of triathlon season, I find that form is a critical component of increasing your chance of an injury-free season. While the base phase of training is a perfect time to change body composition, increase strength and improve form/weakness's, it is never too late to work on the little things that will make a big affect in your race day performance. Knowing that I have many "fitness enthusiasts" that read my blog, this blog post is not limited to only those who train for a finish line.

One of the many beauties of triathlons is that almost anyone can do it. If you can swim from point A to B you have 1/3rd of it covered. If you can ride a bike you have the other 1/3rd covered. And for the last 1/3rd, all you have to do is walk fast if you want to reach the finish line. For in triathlons, it's not about the fastest athlete but who slows down the least. So if you can keep your body moving for swim-bike-run, you can consider yourself a triathlete.

Now on the downside, almost anyone can teach themselves how to move their arms in the water, how to pedal a bike and how to turn a walk into a run. Unfortunately, many athletes progress in the sport of triathlon (or individually in swim, bike and/or run) without ever really learning "proper" form. But nevertheless, athletes are quick to spend thousands of dollars on coaching plans, expensive bikes and fancy running shoes/gear. Not to mention the endless supply of sports nutrition products available to athletes, claimed to provide the "perfect mix of amino acids, complex carbohydrates and electrolytes" to reduce fatigue, improve VO2 max, improve endurance, buffer lactic acid, provide steady energy, reduce post exercise soreness, ensure proper hydration, reduce body fat, stimulate your workout, diminish pain".....should I go on?

Over the past year, I have tried devote much of my exercise routine to good form. Sadly, weak muscles have prevented me from doing just that. As much as I wanted/tried to work on my form, my dominant muscles (quads) would get extremely tired. Therefore, rather than thinking that I had to pound more miles in order to get faster, I took myself into the weight room to build strength. For me, in order to develop good form, my training entailed many hours of the past few months to improving weak muscles (primarily my hips, glutes and hamstrings). Once I gained strength (which has been noticeable, rewarding and a big relief to the prior constant pain in my lower back), I was able to really work on my running form. With improved running form and the previous retul bike fit, both my cycling and running have felt better than ever before. As for the probably know that I come from a swimming background (high school and college) and that I was a fish in a former life. However, I continue to work on my swimming form by adding Master Swim classes at the Brooks Y and having my coach periodically evaluate my form (especially when we do distance and speed sets).

I would like to provide 3 great links/videos that you will find helpful in improving your form. The run video was featured at the run clinic that I attended last Wed (Hammerhead triathlon club monthly meeting) so I have to give a big thanks to Owen S. for sharing the video and providing an excellent talk on running form.

(easy tips to focus on in your next swim session)

Importance of high cadence
Increase cadence
(Basic concept, increase cadence. However, you must be patient when working on it as it won't happen overnight)

simple steps to good running form
(Something to focus on before and during EVERY run)


Get inspired - Garden Salsa

I have several cookbooks. Ok, I confess...I only look at the pictures. I'm not one to follow recipes.
On my birthday Karel took me to Capital Grill for a super yummy dinner. When there is an occasion to eat out (primarily when we travel), I like to look for places that offer more than just a filling salad. As much as I love salads, I eat them all the time. When I eat out, I want something different. Something that will inspire me for when I make Marni-creations at home.
Rather than getting a $12 spinach salad (that would likely leave me hungry after the meal, making me wonder why I spent $12 on a meal only to eat again after I left the restaurant) I asked the waitress if the chef had any vegetarian options. Having been there once before, I was hoping that the chef had his "tofu plate" which I LOVED the last time we went to Capital Grill for our anniversary.
Happily, the chef prepared me the most yummiest tofu plate which I enjoyed with a beautiful basket of different breads. The tofu was grilled and served with a citrus glaze, served on a bed of white rice and topped with an assortment of grilled veggies. My tummy was happy and I left the restaurant very satisfied.

For my birthday, I received a colorful basket of fresh, garden veggies from my community nutrition preceptor. I consider myself a lucky person when my friends know exactly what to get me for my birthday. Vegetarian cookbooks and fresh veggies!

I've been coming up with all sorts of creations with my bag full of veggies. Something great about fresh produce deliveries (if you have the opportunity to have veggies delivered to your door) is that you are forced to be creative and use what you get.

The other day I made the most delicious salsa which served as a base for Karel's tuna salad and my tofu salad. In our house, Karel and I eat similar foods but in different quantities. When it comes to me being a vegetarian, the only thing that differs in our diet is that I don't eat meat or other words, there are no foods in Karel's diet that are "off limit" in my diet. If you are a vegetarian or are trying to eat a more powerful diet (filled with nutrition quality), avoid telling your friends/significant other/family that they should eat less meat. Rather, try to be a good role model and share your excitement for fruits and veggies. For when we create wholesome and balanced meals, it isn't about eating less meat but rather eating more nutrient-rich foods like fruits and veggies.

I hope you enjoy my latest Salsa creation which you can use as a topping to a bed of dark greens or as a snack with cheese. I used primarily fresh produce as well as canned beans/chickpeas and pickles. Everything else is fresh! Feel free to add your choice of protein (meat, fish, tofu, cottage cheese, greek yogurt, hard boiled eggs, veggie burger) as a perfect balanced meal.
(Remember, I don't can use as much as you want as you can't go wrong with leftovers when it comes to having too many vegetables in your fridge)
Garden Salsa
Black beans
Green peppers
Garlic (chopped)
Fresh basil
Fresh cilantro
1 tbsp lime juice
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp olive oil


Choose Your Plate

On June 2nd, the USDA unveiled a colorful dinner plate, sectioned into 4 compartments, with a side glass for dairy. Good-bye Food Guide Pyramid, Hello MyPlate!

Here at Trimarni, we strive to create a healthy relationship with food. We aim for progress, not perfection. We find what works for us, all with creativity, balance, performance/fitness and health in mind. We are all individuals and we respect each other for our own personal choices. We believe that every day is a new day, worth waking up for and making the most of no matter what yesterday presented. All is not ruined in one meal and we plan for special occasions, just like we plan for long or intense training sessions. For the food we put in our own body will ultimately fuel our workouts and help us live a quality-filled life. We do not associate food with feelings of guilt, obsession and restriction but rather we are passionate about our meals and snacks. We eat to make our own self feel good, not because a book, magazine or TV show tells us what to eat as if a book truely knows how many hours we train, how much we work on a weekly basis, what our significant other chooses to eat/bring home, and how many kids (or animals) we have, which require a lot of our attention. Because we have no "bad" or "off limit" foods, we focus on performance enhancing foods and de-emphasize performance limiting foods. There is a time for everything and we eat well most of the time so that we don't have to worry about the rest of the time. We don't use the words "skinny or fat" because we believe in a positive food and body language. We create balanced meals, built on a plant-based template. We don't stick to a "diet" like gluten-free or Paleo (the latest crazes) but rather we welcome all foods that provide health benefits both for our lifestyle and workout routine.

Thanks to my blog and your support, you have been enjoying my recipes for several years now. Sadly, I can't take credit for the USDA Choose Your Plate idea, but here at Trimarni, we have been creating our own plates which support our fitness, training/racing and personal health/weight goals.

Brown rice pilaf, grilled tofu, colorful dark green salad with egg, mushroom and bean medley
(Picture taken Dec 2009)
We do not restrict food groups (we love our milk and dairy!) and we welcome all foods which provide powerful nutrients and we focus on nutritional quality. We try to create most of our meals that are at least 70% wholesome, containing less than 5 ingredients per food source. We are all athletes, each with our own personal goals. While we may share different athletic/fitness passions, we all share a common bond in that we all strive for a healthier lifestyle and we have many finish lines to cross in our journey of improved health.

So while we learn to accept a new way of eating (I provided several links for your reading), I ask that you continue to focus on your personal needs and appreciate the foods that you put in your body. While research and science may support certain guidelines, it is important that you live your life to the fullest, by eating foods that will encourage strength, speed, power and health....all supporting your love for physical activity or structured training. Continue to strive for a plant-based diet as well as focusing on balance so that your meals and snacks leave you well-fueled and satisfied. For when/as you develop a healthy relationship with food, you will become more attuned to the needs of your body and you will find yourself making the most out of your days.

Please let me know your thoughts of the new Choose Your Plate, by leaving a comment in the comment section (or you can email me).

Choose my plate

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