Essential Sports Nutrition


Did you say Thank You?

There's no reason for posting this picture except for the fact that it makes me smile.

I came across this quote the other day...
"Take care of your body. It's the only place you have to live"
How true is this quote???? Yet for many, there are very few "thank you's" given to the human body.
As athletes we love having great training days. We also love good training days as well as tough training days. But when things feel a little off or the body is tired, we often feel defeated, as if our body has failed. However, I see otherwise.
This morning I had a tough workout. All three sports, swim, bike and run on tired legs and with a tired body. I respected my body by allowing a full day off from training on Tues and a easy swim + light strength on Wed. After a massage on Wed and the "ok" from my amazing massage therapist Marjorie ( she cleared me to resume training as she said my body had no hot spots and I had recovered very well from my 4-day training camp.
Thurs and Fri were both challenging and I welcomed today with a change of scenery in order to keep my head in the game.
After testing out my speed suit for a 1500 meter swim, in the absolutely beautiful Ponte Vedra Club lap pool (, I joined the Lodge bike ride for a quick spin. I stayed in the back and avoided any surges as I knew I needed to save my legs for my long run.
After 37 miles, I got my run gear ready and off I went for a 16 mile (2hr and 15 min) run.
My body was tired and it was hotter than last week but I left my excuses in the car as I was thankful that my body was not injured, my heart was working and I was still mentally excited to do this workout.

When I finished my workout I received a few random text messages and emails from friends and athletes that just brightened my day. After texting Karel (who is working today at the Trek store) that my workout "kinda sucked" he responded "I knew it would be hard. Focus on recovery. One last hard day tomorrow. It's all about discipline".

I feel it is important to thank your body for both the great, amazing, good and successful workouts as well as for the off, not-so-good, sucky and miserable workouts. For at the end of the day, our body doesn't have to let us train for an Ironman, let alone get out the door for a breath of fresh air.

I will be writing my yearly thank you blog to "My Team" which includes so many....

While I find it extremely important to always recognize the many people in your life that help you pursue your goals - bike mechanic, physical therapist, coach, nutritionist, massage therapist, shoe/gait expert, running/swimming coach, family, friends, furry animals - never forget to THANK your own body for what it allows you to do on a daily basis.

My thoughts go out to everyone who was affected by 9/11. I would like to share this poem in an effort to motivate others to live life to the fullest as you never know what tomorrow may bring.

Live Life

© Livelovelaugh

Life is crazy,
and totally unpredictable...
It's going to push you over,
kick you while you're down
and hit you when you try to get back up.
Not everything can beat you.
Things are going to change you,
But you get to choose which ones you let change you.
Listen to your heart,
Follow your dreams,
And let no one tell you what you're capable of.
Push the limits,
Bend the rules,
And enjoy every minute of it.
Laugh at everything,
Live for as long as you can.
Love all,
But trust none.
Believe in yourself,
And never lose faith in others
Settle for nothing but only the best,
And give 110% in everything you do.
Take risks,
Live on the edge,
Yet stay safe,
And cherish every moment of it.
Life is a gift,
Appreciate all the rewards,
And jump on every opportunity.
Not everyone's going to love you
But who needs them anyways.
Challenge everything,
And fight for what you believe.
Back down to nothing,
But give in to the little things in life,
After all, that is what makes you.
Forget the unnecessary,
But remember everything,
Bring it with you everywhere you go.
Learn something new,
And appreciate criticism.
Hate nothing,
But dislike what you want.
Never forget where you came from,
And always remember where you are going.
Live Life to its fullest,
And have a reason for everything,
Even if it's totally insane.
Find Your purpose in life,
and Live it!

Source: Live Life, Inspirational Poem and 6 Stories


Feeling inspired

Odds are that you know someone who is racing this weekend. This week I have found myself counting down the days until my friends and athletes partake in x-race and leave everything out on the race course - racing their plan and enjoying the experience.
With Ironman Wisconsin, The Nation's Triathlon, Rev 3 140.6 (Ohio), Iron Girl Seattle (running race) and the Ironman World Championships 70.3 (Vegas) as some of the BIG events, I can't help but feel inspired by so many dedicated athletes.
As we approach several more notable triathlon events in the next month or two, there will be no shortage of inspiring and motivating blogs from athletes all around the world.
But with the Ironman World Championships in 30 days, I find that preparing my mind is just as important as preparing my body for this upcoming 140.6 mile event.
This same passion, dedication and excitement that I have for this upcoming triathlon is combined with a similar passion for nutrition and coaching. For triathlons isn't my life, but my lifestyle.
Last night we had a FANTASTIC turnout at the Mandarin location Trek Bicycle Store of Jacksonville for my nutrition talk as well as the monthly Hammerhead Triathlon Club meeting. All the athletes (and future athletes) went home with some fabulous swag thanks to Hammer Nutrition, Oakley Women, Trek, Bontrager and Power Bar.
I absolutely loved speaking to everyone on the topic of "Beyond Sports Nutrition: Appreciating Food for Fuel" and had so many great questions after my talk. Thanks again to everyone who came to the "town store" and for a great event.

As much as I love coaching, writing about nutrition, training and speaking about well, anything....I have an incredible passion for making plant-based meals to fuel my active lifestyle. Of course, I don't have to tell you all that because you are likely reading this blog as you are in YOUR journey of developing a healthy relationship with food as well as learning to appreciate food for fuel.
This latest creation was super yummy. Roasted cauliflower, bow-tie noodles, black beans, sauteed spinach, lots of chopped garlic, olive oil and chopped fresh basil.

One thing that I love about the Ironman is that if you are currently training (or about to participate) in an Ironman, you are constantly reminding yourself of your personal journey of making yourself a stronger, smarter and fitter athlete. All the sacrifices, obstacles and "never thought it was possible" moments of transforming your body to prepare for an all-day event. It's amazing that with an Ironman (or long distance event) you learn SO much about yourself before you even stand foot on the starting line. It's as if just getting to the starting line is the true accomplishment and finishing the race is simply the added bonus for all your hard work. For many people, who have yet to consider doing an Ironman or may never want to attempt an Ironman, there is something absolutely special about knowing, supporting and believing in someone who is about to do their first or 20th Ironman event (and everything in between). For you don't have to participate or train for a long distance event in order to feel inspired or to inspire others. Believe in yourself that you can succeed - whether it is in life, work, sports or diet - and you will find yourself a winner without needing/wanting a medal (or t-shirt) to prove it.

For all the athletes, future athletes, fitness enthusiasts and health-conscious individuals, I leave you with an amazing quote by Nancye Sims. Since both my brother and I have been athletes for all our life, I'm pretty sure my mom has had this quote (cut-out from the newspaper) for over 10 years in our kitchen. I'm so glad that she finally passed it along for me to share with others.

Winners Take Chances
Winners take chances.
Like everyone else they fear failing, but they refuse to let fear control them.
Winners don't give up.
When life gets tough they hang in until the going gets better.
Winners are flexible.
They realize there is more than one way and are willing to try others.
They respect their weaknesses while making the most of their strengths.
Winners fall, but they don't stay down.
They stubbornly refuse to let a fall keep them from climbing.
Winners don't blame fate for their failures, nor luck for their successes.
Winners accept responsibility for their lives.
Winners are positive thinkers who see good in all things.
From the ordinary, they make the extraordinary.
Winners believe in the path they have chosen, even when it's hard, even when others can't see where they are going.
Winners are patient.
They know a goal is only as worthy as the effort that's required to achieve it.
Winners are people like you.
They make this world a better place.


Tofu and Pineapple salad

Karel just sent me my last BIG build before Kona. Yesterday was a lovely day off from structured training and it included hip exercises, stretching and 3 LONG walks with Campy. Today I had a wonderful swim which followed a moderate intensity strength training session (around 20 minutes). My body is feeling good (much better than a few days ago) and I can't believe how quickly time is flying by. I have been staying super busy throughout the day so I find myself welcoming my training as it is a time to clear my mind and brainstorm.
Tonight I will be speaking at the Trek Store of Jacksonville (San Jose location) for an event that is open to the public, but is also the monthly Hammerhead Triathlon Club meeting. I am so excited to speak to so many triathletes and future triathletes/runners :)

A common thought that continues to pop into my head is the idea that I am a vegetarian training for the Ironman World Championships. Certainly I don't feel that I am healthy because I don't eat meat but rather that I have good health because of the many foods that I DO eat in my diet. I still try to introduce new foods into my diet but I don't put pressure on myself that I have to be perfect when it comes to eating wholesome foods. Several times in the last few weeks I have thought to myself "Wow- my body is fueled by plants!" How cool is that! Perhaps it doesn't get you excited but I sure do get excited when I think about the wonderful vitamins and minerals that I provide my body on a daily basis. As a lacto-ovo vegetarian, I do not skimp on my protein (and calcium), specifically from eggs, cheese and dairy (yogurt and milk), whole grains and healthy fats - which are also important components of my balance diet to support my training and my health.

The other day I had lunch with a good friend who is about to participate in his first Ironman (IMWI). We ate at Native Sun (which he owns) and we had lunch while talking about all things related to IMWI. I tried to do my best to prepare him mentally for the course (as he is super fit and was well-trained with a great coach/friend - Shawn Burke from VMS). I tried to give a few extra tips from my experience with IMWI in 2010 and of course, get him excited as he is about to embark on the most life-changing day that he will never forget.
Fueled by plants was all that I was thinking as I told the lady behind the counter "I'll have everything!" while she was making my salad. The coolest thing about the salad was that she used a pizza cutter to "toss" my salad - can't wait to try that at home!!
I am surprised I did so much talking at lunch because my salad was absolutely delicious...I had to stop and take a picture!

When I left Native Sun I picked up a magazine (better nutrition - the shopping magazine for natural living Sept 2011) and saw a great article on CLEAN CUISINE (pg. 30-31). Here's a list about the CLEAN 15 - according to, the following are the 15 "cleanest" crops, which are grown using the fewest pesticides.
1. Onions
2. Corn
3. Pineapples
4. Avocado
5. Asparagus
6. Sweet Peas
7. Mangoes
8. Eggplant
9. Cantaloupe
10. Kiwi
11. Cabbage
12. Watermelon
13. Sweet potatoes
14. Grapefruit
15. Mushrooms

No need to fear fresh produce - always give a good wash/scrub, even if the fruit/veggie has a peel that you don't plan on eating.

I hope you enjoy my latest FRESH creation!
Tofu and Pineapple salad
Firm tofu (I bought a new brand at Publix that had red peppers in it - YUM!)
(I grilled the tofu in a skillet with olive oil - seasoned with pepper)
Pineapple (cubed)
Dark Greens
Green peppers
Fresh Basil (chopped)
Cabot jalapeno cheese (shred yourself)
Dressing: Balsamic or salsa


Training camp Day 4

That's right, I'm just as surprised as you. There's a day 4 of the Trimarni Kona training camp.
However, the last day of the camp was specific to swimming. Thankfully, no more weight bearing exercise as my body has done more than I could ever expect and I could not be more delighted with my endurance, speed, power (specifically my power to weight ratio on the bike) and ability to overcome mental and physical fatigue. Today was about putting in just one more quality workout when my body and mind wanted to scream "no more" but I found myself also hungry for more. I have to admit, my body is tired (can't wait for some quality sleep!) and a bit on the sore side. My body feels somewhere around day 3 or 4 post-Ironman.

I found this saying on a website
Mental Toughness- Having a physiological edge that enables you to be consistent, confident, focused, and determined during high pressure situations in order to perform at maximum potential.

“Obstacles can be discouraging and can create the feeling of failure. Once that feeling is there you may entertain thoughts of giving up the journey. In order for you to bounce back quickly you must prepare yourself for these obstacles internally and externally. Do all that you can to prevent these setbacks from happening but if they do happen, remind yourself of your goal. Surround yourself with positive people who will encourage you when you are tempted to give up. Keep motivational materials around also. Posting motivational quotes or reading success stories may give you that recharge that you need to keep you going.The quicker you bounce back the quicker you will reach your goal.”

I think we can all relate to overcoming obstacles. Perhaps that is what drives us to compete in long distance events as it isn't normal to train to participate in a 26.2, 70.3 or 140.6 mile event. It's important to recognize that a finish in a long distance event is inspiring, motivating and indescribable but many never reach the finish line...nevertheless, reach the starting line. While many people jump on the opportunity to train for a long distance event, I will not sugar-coat the truth that it is a huge commitment and you are not alone in your decision to train for a marathon, Half Ironman or Ironman. Your significant other, family, work, friends, etc. must be on board with your long distance training. For the final push (4-6 weeks until taper) can be mentally, physically and emotionally draining. This is why it is VERY important to NOT overdo it in the months leading up to your long distance event. While you may feel like 6 weeks isn't much time to train for an Ironman, believe me when I say that those last few weeks of training before taper are the most important as it is necessary that you use those workouts as an opportunity to put together all the little pieces that make up your "quality" training. And if you are doing the "long stuff" in excess in the 12-16 weeks before your race, it is likely that you increase the chance of burnout and injury. If this is you right now, just be have PLENTY of time. :)
As much as you try to achieve balance in your life and with your training, there is a specific amount of training that is necessary to prepare your body for the demands of your long-distance event. However, with the right training plan and the right attitude, you should consistently feel yourself progressing in a way that doesn't feel rushed. I don't know how many times I have said it on my blog but I am a planner. I love having a plan that is realistic and flexible in helping me reach my goals.
I found this on another website:
See yourself finding the ways and means of realizing your desire, overcoming obstacles one after another, all the obstacles that can possibly arise. See yourself called upon to display, and displaying, alertness, promptness, courage, confidence, resourcefulness, patience, push, enterprise, expert knowledge, insight, shrewdness, tact, self-control, decision. See yourself face to face with the situation that confronts you in real life and manifesting the qualities and doing the things necessary to your purpose. Put yourself body and soul into this picture. Multiply details. Rivet your mind upon it.

The other day I was speaking with one of my athletes who will be participating in his first Ironman this weekend (IMWI) and has overcome many obstacles, such as surviving prostate cancer. I have been helping him with his nutrition for the past month (both daily nutrition, training fueling and IM race week/day fueling) and the other day we were discussing his plan over the phone and I wished him lots of energy and excitement for his race. He didn't need a wish of luck because I know he is ready and he has a great fueling plan. He told me something that I just had to share on my blog (with his permission) and I think it is just perfect when talking about getting ready for an event.
He told me that training for an event is like studying for an exam. Of course, I could totally relate as soon as he mentioned that.

When he started to talk about race week he told me that he felt prepared to do his best. He wasn't expecting a 100% on "his exam" nor did he train to get an A. He said there would be some "questions" that he probably wouldn't know the answer as he had never taken an exam like this before, but he felt he "studied" the best he could and really felt as if he grasped the "information" to help him "pass" the exam. Most of all, he felt relieved that he didn't cram for the exam nor did he feel like he left out anything in his prep. He said he felt really confident and was ready to "TAKE THIS EXAM!!".

I just love it!! I hope you can relate.

As for my LAST workout to conclude my 4-day Trimarni Kona training camp:
6200 yard swim (outdoor YMCA pool)
7:30am - 9:20am
2 x 1000 warm-up (#1 swim, #2 pull)
Main set:
500 swim
2 x 400 swim
3 x 300 swim
4 x 200 pull
5 x 100 swim
Between each set I did a 100 w/ paddles (no buoy) as recovery
My cycle for everything was on a 1:30 pace (ex. 500 was on 7:30, 400 on 6 min, etc.).
Warm-down 200

Trimarni Kona training camp is complete. I would say this was a HUGE success and I thank Karel for giving me my first solid 4-day block of training...and instructing me to minimize outside distractions like 5-8+ hours a day on weekends on the computer (ex. coaching plans, nutrition write-ups, writing articles - which I managed to do last week-well as much as I could- in order to plan ahead). But now comes the most important part of training.
Time to recover, rejuvinate and reflect.
32 days until the 2011 Ironman World Championships!


Training camp: Day 3

There are a few sets from my College and High School swimming days that still make me cringe when I think about them. There is one specific set from college that I will never forget as the set required complete focus and the right mentality in order to successful complete.
The set was 8 x 50's on no interval, however if you wanted to get out of practice in time for dinner you had around an hour to complete the set. Sounds simple until the coach reminds us that the set is "NO BREATH" from a start and you must complete 8 of them.
The funny thing about this set is if you think about it, swimming for 30ish seconds (my time back then for a 50 yard easy swim) while holding your breath shouldn't be that hard. However, it never failed that I would always end up taking a breath with no more than 5 strokes to the wall (around where the flags hang).
Why was it that I couldn't make it to the wall? Sure, my body was filling with lactic acid as I was holding my breath and keeping in all the CO2 that my body wanted to exhale but why did I feel the need to breath after 45 yards? Why not 25 yards or 40 yards?
This set taught me that we can overcome a lot if our mind is in the game. Certainly we don't want to risk our health (or life) just to "get the job done" but when it comes to athletics, so much of what we do is mental.

Today was one of those days.
This was my third day of my Kona training camp and the last two days have left me tired and a bit sore. Certainly no amount of nutrition is going to allow me to properly repair and recover until my training camp is officially complete (after tomorrow). I'm not hobbling around and there are no signs of injury as I am paying attention to keeping my body relaxed, stretched and fueled with quality nutrients.
BTW my dinner last night with my family left me super satisfied...

Sweet potato
Veggie burger on flat bread w/ hummus, cabbot cheese and spinach
Pretzel "chips"
Steamed broccoli
(my family and Karel had chicken)

Campy has been doing a great job of keeping me happy during my training camp. He makes for a great resting partner.

BTW - A big congrats to Karel for two great races this weekend!!!

This morning I headed to the hills of San Antonio Florida (Dade City) for a solo ride and solo run. I knew I wouldn't be alone as San Ann is the place to be if you ride or run but of course, it just wasn't the same without my best friend Jennifer and Karel. Today was all about me and the rolling hills (yes - there are actually hills in Florida!).

As I got myself ready for my bike I reminded myself of a great quote:
"The vision of a champion is someone who is bent over, drenched in sweat, at the point of exhaustion when no one else is watching."

I love the push of training with others but it's important as athletes that we get in touch with our own body, to really listen to our body. I feel I have a great relationship with my body and I couldn't help but thank it today as it helped me travel all over San Antonion on my bike and with my running shoes. I also made sure to say hi to all the animals. No really, I do say hi to animals.

After a hilly 42 mile (2:20ish) ride in the hills which was designed to be "tempo" effort (steady) for the entire ride, I geared myself up for my run. The bike went great and I felt wonderful climbing the hills. I couldn't help but stay positive during my ride (despite my quads speaking to me in the first 10 miles) as I felt absolutely amazing considering what I have been doing to my body over the past 2 days..let alone the past 9 weeks.

Karel always reminds me that I need to save my best performance for race day. I completely agree and I know it is easy to get excited and want to do more volume or intensity but I must contain my excitement. For if all goes well, I should have a great race day. However, going into the Ironman World Championships (or any long distance race) requires that I am not overtrained or burnt out. Although I have learned a lot through the past few years of IM training and how to design a quality training plan, I have also learned from others in that you will ensure a better race day performance if you approach a long distance race feeling undertrained rather than overtrained. Of course, having a practical "race day pacing plan" is also important in order to be sure that you put your individual training to the test.

The great thing about my IM training (with less than 6 weeks to go) is that I still get excited when I train and I welcome every workout as something I "want" to do, not "have" to do. I suppose I should attribute much of that to welcoming recovery rest days to relax my body and mind...especially if I have a busy day of work at the hospital.
As I started my long run, my main goal was to just find a zone and stay there. No need to pay attention to pace but rather, just listen to my body, focus on good form and stay hydrated with liquid calories. I gladly welcomed overcast skies as it made for one of my best runs to date.
12.1 mile run
1:39 total time
8:17 min/mile pace
Mile 1: 8:08
Mile 2: 8:13
Mile 3: 8:20
Mile 4: 8:17
Mile 5: 8:16
Mile 6: 8:16
Mile 7: 8:18
Mile 8: 8:25 (tough hills and wind)
Mile 9: 8:23 (more hills and wind)
Mile 10: 8:10
Mile 11: 8:16
Mile 12: 8:29 (warm-down included)
I stopped to refuel my fuel belt flasks at mile 5.5 and mile 10.

Karel has a lot of great sayings when it comes to my training. I feel he is the perfect coach for me because not only does he know me, but he also recognizes my weakness's and ensures that I keep balance in my life. Sure, the past 3 days may seem a like a lot of volume but I believe the workouts are exactly working to my advantage. Karel has gotten me to this point with my fitness and the purpose of the training camp was not to completely exhaust me. He had no intentions on me doing 130 mile bike rides or 3 hour runs or even biking 100 miles (which I have yet to do with my training this year).
Karel believes that in order to progress as an athlete, you must continually put money in the bank. Sure, you will make withdrawals when you do a hard weekend of training or do a race but you want to make sure that you never put yourself in training debt. That is, put your body under so much training stress that physiological training adaptations are hard to reach and the only thing that receive is a tired body, burn out mind and fear that you will not properly recover for upcoming workouts.

As a coach and athlete, I give you this advice. Be patient with your fitness and respect the body. But more than anything, keep a positive attitude as you aim to achieve your realistic goals in your sport of choice.