Essential Sports Nutrition


On and Off switch

When I started triathlons, my "switch" was always "ON". I was constantly thinking about triathlons, training and racing and in my free time (which was rare since I started triathlons competitively while in graduate school in 2004) I would read triathlon websites, triathlon articles and triathlon forums. My life was triathlons.

Now, my lifestyle is triathlons. Despite having a career of exercise physiologist, coach and dietitian, I find is easy to turn on and off my triathlon switch. For when it is ON I am ready to dedicate my mind and body to the training session that is in front of me. I also have a dimmer switch as I know that everything I do on a daily basis contributes to my overall health and performance.
In a previous post I discussed visualization with Marjorie (my licensed massage therapist here in Jacksonville) as a necessity in my training for I believe that mental "training" is a vital component of being a successful athlete and reaching individual goals. With quality training, I make every training session count and every training session has a purpose. I can't say that my body gives 110% AND feels amazing for every training session but I can say that I give my 110% effort for THAT day.

When my switch is "OFF" I return to daily responsibilities, knowing that I later in the day or the next morning, I have another opportunity to turn "ON" the switch.

Over the past few months, I have found it incredibly important to turn my switch OFF while I work at the hospital. When I work as a clinical dietitian, I completely forget about the outside world. My entire focus and purpose is to take care of my patients to the best of my ability. With the Ironman World Championships in 16 days, and a busy work schedule and heavy patient load at two separate hospitals (Baptist Medical Center South and Baptist Medical Center Beaches) this past week has been an act of balance, with my switch constantly turning on and off.

Yesterday started with a well-needed 30 min wake-up spin on my trainer due to a quick shower outside. After my legs were awake I headed outside with my fuel belt, visor and music for a tempo run. I welcomed the feeling of being a "runner" while training for an Ironman as my legs were alive and ready to go.
2.5 mile warm-up (8:27, 8:16, 8:12 min/mile pace per mile - last one was only .5 mile).
Main set:
3 x 1.25 mile "tempo" desc 1-3 w/ 2 min walk recovery
1) 9:13 (7:23 min/mile pace)
2) 9:10 (7:15 min/mile pace)
3) 9:10 (7:15 min/mile pace)
Warm-down: 8:12, 8:19 min/mile
+ Campy run
Total: 8.7 miles (1 hr and 11 min), 8:10 min/mile pace (including Campy run)

I quickly did my stretches, made a smoothie, showered, grabbed my lunch (which I made last night while making dinner, as I always do) and headed to the beach for work. OFF went the switch. For the first time I did two Outpatient educations (pregnancy nutrition and pre-diabetic) as well as seeing a few patients in the hospital.

Last night Karel and I had a fabulous (AND YUMMY!) dinner at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club and had the BEST three course meal (appetizer, entree and dessert) for Karel's Birthday. We both kept our switches "off" as we enjoyed each others company, catching up and enjoying the the beautiful ocean view. Karel has a night crit this weekend and I know he is super pumped for the 9pm, 80 minute race in downtown Bartow. Despite us both having deep passion for our sport of choice, we recognize that our sport is not our life. Once again, it is our lifestyle.

This morning both Karel and I woke up at 4:45am for me to go to swimming and for Karel to take his time before his morning bike ride with his boss, Jeff.
I absolutely love being in the water so after a quick strength session (working on machines, isolating single body parts for lower body) I jumped in the pool for a 90 min, 4500 yrd master swim.
500 warm-up
100 skull
4 x 150's (K,D,S) - IM order
Main set:
3 x 300's desc w/ 30 sec rest
600 pull
6 x 100's desc 1-3,4-6 w/ 15 sec rest
400 kick (I pulled a 600)
8 x 25's all out w/ 5 sec rest

After swim I stretched out my back, put on my scrubs and got myself ready for a super busy day at the hospital.
I had my biggest patient load to date as a clinical dietitian and with my switch on "OFF" I was able to stay focused and be super productive today at work.

While we all have different responsibilities and passions in life, I find it extremely important to recognize your ON and OFF switch.

As a health care worker, I recognize that many people choose not to ever turn ON their switch. While "us" athletes have a hard time turning OFF our switch (yes, I know that life gets in the way of triathlons and running sometimes), there is a large part of our population that has a hard time turning ON the switch.

Perhaps you are in the same predicament. For people who constantly strive for perfection, rather than progress, the switch has a hard time turning ON. For many, there is never a good, right, best time to start, thus lifestyle changes are often put off until tomorrow.

Seeing patients at the hospital, who come in with a painful cough, unintentional wt loss/eating problems or abdominal pain with no significant history, only to be diagnosed with a tumor or cancer, makes me sad. It isn't easy reading the progress note of a patient who was recently diagnosed with a life changing condition. While we know that all diseases can not be prevented, we can certainly minimize the risk or our chance.

Take a moment right now, tonight and over the weekend to assess your switch. Regardless if it is currently ON or OFF, ask yourself if you are making the best choices possible, on a daily basis, to increase longevity, minimize risk for disease, improve performance/fitness and most of all, increase your quality of life.

"As long as you're willing to give it a go, it is never too late. And there is just too much to love about life to simply give up and quit. You need to start living boldly, bravely, with nothing held back, nothing left behind. Giving it all that you've got each and every day. No matter how old or how young you may be right now, it's never too late to love, to live, to be all that you have dreamed of being and more. "


Happy Birthday Karel!

Všechno nejlepší k narozeninám Karel!!!!
You are the most amazing person that I know. You have shared your life story with me over the past 5 years and now I get to be in your story for the rest of my life.
You are so kind, thoughtful, selfless, intelligent, caring and giving and with every person you meet, you don't even think twice to go out of your way to help. I have never heard your complain and you never make excuses. You are strong in both body and mind and I love that you never ever, ever give up.
You have the biggest heart and you don't have a mean bone in your body (just strong ones!). You make me smile when I need to cheer up and you always find a way to take me out of my comfort zone. You are always there to support me, no matter how stressed I am or how crazy my dream may seem.
You make me challenge myself in order to be a better person and without you in my life, I wouldn't be who I am today. Thank you for accepting me for me.
You are a wonderful hubby and a fantastic daddy to our furry little ones.
You are my best friend and the love of my life.
Happy 35th birthday babe, and cheers to many more years of you feeling young, riding your bicycle, standing on the podium, running for beer, drinking your favorite beers, reaching your dreams, traveling and living life to the fullest....and enjoying LOTS of TriMarni plant-based creations :)
Love, Marn


Plates Not Pills: FIBER

A big HAPPY Birthday to Karel's dad who turns a young 71 years today!!

(picture taken in 2008 after we got married)

Early this morning (5am) we skyped with Karel's dad who lives in Czech Republic and I had Karel ask him in Czech if he was going to bike 71 miles today for his birthday. Without hesitation, his dad told Karel that he has a 71-mile bike ride planned with his friends this weekend.

Just a few weeks ago my grandpa turned 88 and I asked him how he was feeling and he said "well, Marn...I am doing just great for 88". He is still super active, living with my grandma Barbara in Reno, NV, eating healthy meals and exercising on a daily basis.
I guess when you use your body and your mind to the fullest, alongside respecting the body by providing it with quality food, you can only look forward to a long, quality-filled life. My dad has a saying "You may live until you are 60,70 or 80 but your health will determine where you are living and how you are living the rest of your life". I only hope that I can be as active as my grandparents and parents in order to live a long and active life with Karel and with those who I love the most.

Hope you enjoy my latest article on LAVA online. Take a look at the recipe if you missed it on my blog a few weeks ago. YUM!!!

Plates Not Pills: Fiber : LAVA Magazine


Speedy Sunday

My last official KONA "recovery" (week 11 of Kona specific training) ended with an early morning run with Jennifer on Sun morning.

I had 1hr and 40 min to workout in order to quickly shower and get ready to hit the road with Karel and his teammate Rad. Although we started our workout at 6am and I didn't leave until 8:30, I am always mindful of what I CAN do and not what I CAN'T do. Sure, I could have skipped the warm-up bike and just went for my normal Sun long run but I haven't ran a single run with my Kona training, without biking before the run. Sure, I could have ran 2-3 extra miles to get in a full 2 hour workout but I am mindful that my "training" doesn't stop when my cardio is complete. Stretching and doing my hip exercises count as "training" and I find it most beneficial to my training to make the time for my exercises and stretching my back. Because I strive on consistency, I'd rather cut a workout short due to time constraints and make time for the "rehab" post-workout, rather than putting in a few extra miles or laps.

With Karel's last Florida Cup race being a 75-mile road race in windy and hilly Ocala, I was super excited to watch him race in order to keep his 2nd place status in the Florida Cup Pro 1,2 point series. Karel had raced on Sat (60 miles) but I stayed in Jacksonville with Jennifer who was visiting me from Lakeland. Karel was a little bummed on Sat that he missed the break on Sat, so I knew he would be fighting hard on Sunday, no matter how bad it hurt....and for most of his races, it always hurts.

With only limited time to train, I decided that my brick would be most beneficial if I warmed up on the bike and then did a quick interval run. I don't see the point of "recovery" runs in order to rest the body, because if I truely needed a recovery workout I would have just biked... or better yet, just taken the day off. However, Karel wanted me to shake up my legs as I approach my last "fine tuning" week of training so after an early 6am, one hour bike (outside, with our lights) to spin our legs, we got ready for a quick run.

After warming up 1 mile, we jogged for a few minutes and started the main set:
4 x .4 miles w/ .1 walk recovery.

Knowing that Jennifer is a great runner, I wanted a little push so I asked her to pace me around 7 min/miles, which would be a bit speedy for my IM legs.

With 18 days until Kona, I can't express how much I have loved my training. As an exercise physiologist, I think of my body and training as an ongoing science experiment....however, in real life setting. By focusing on practical physiological adaptations that will affect my performance, I do not focus on miles but rather what I am putting in those miles in order to change the physiology of the body.
I have to admit, in my first 3 IM's I was always excited to taper and stop the high volume training. I was always really tired of the long miles and looked forward to 3 weeks of "taper" (aka low volume). However, this year is extremely different as I am still fresh with an endurance-trained body that is craving some speed. I love seeing the gains in performance that come from respecting my body, having a healthy relationship with food and being consistent with what I CAN do on a daily basis.
Because our performance is the accumulation of weeks and months of training, it is important to recognize that when your body goes out for a x-mile/hour bike, run or swim, you are not just "doing the miles" but rather improving factors that may limit OR enhance performance. Because I want to make the most of every training session, I recognize the adaptations that take place within every workout. While we may not be able to quantify or recognize all the benefits of training, hopefully by race day you will recognize that you have made a significant or even just a little (which in some cases-like power-, is a great thing!)impact on power, lactate threshold, economy, substrate utilization, muscle fiber characteristics as well as adaptations to your respiratory, cardiovascular and muscuuloskeletal systems.

On to the run....
Without looking at my Garmin throughout the interval, I glanced at it with around .2 miles to go and noticed that we were flying. I was simply running at a controllable pace but with the windy blowing in all directions, I was focusing really hard on pacing myself throughout the intervals. With two intervals out and two intervals back, I couldn't believe the speed in my legs.

Stats from the run:
Mile 1: 8:23
4 x .4 mile intervals (each interval was around 2.5 minutes. Rest was around 80 sec)
1) 6:30 min/mile pace
2) 6:18 min/mile pace
3) 6:30 min/mile pace
4) 6:02 min/mile pace)
Warm-down mile: 8:15 min/mile pace

After the run, stretching was in full effect, followed by a yummy smoothie and a quick cold shower.

Campy and I had a blast at Karel's race. It was super windy and a bit overcast but luckily, I was able to feed all the Gearlink cyclists in the Pro 1,2 and Cat 3 category at the feed zone. Over the past few years I have mastered my skills in the feed zone and I know the guys just love a cold sport drink or water when they are racing at their max.

Karel managed to get in the breakaway group in the first loop and with 4 x 15 mile loops to go, he was looking strong. Each loop was taking around 36 min (15 miles) and I knew the race was fast and hard.

With 1 lap to go, I was excited to see Karel sprint for the finish. I certainly know that with cycling races, the finish can be an exciting and scary time. With a long straight-away, I could see the Pro 1,2 guys sprinting into some crazy head wind. Karel was pushing with all he had and squeezed onto the podium in 3rd place.

After Karel rolled across the line, he quickly ended up on the did most of the other riders. I could see it in Karel that the race was really tough. Despite it being a super windy day, the guys did the 75 mile race in less than 2 hours and 50 minutes (according to my watch). WOW!

The best part of the day was Karel looking around for the 1st place guy in the Pro 1,2 Florida Cup point series to see where he finished. Surprisingly, he didn't finish the race! What a shock to Karel and the other Gearlinkers that Karel moved into 1st place and won the Florida Cup Pro 1,2 Point series for the 2nd year in a row!!

Congrats Karel and the rest of the Gearlinkers for some solid racing this season. Next weekend we head to Bartow for the Sat night criterium which starts at 9pm!