Essential Sports Nutrition


Is a running race in your near future?

With the "tri" season coming to an end and cooler temps approaching, many fitness enthusiasts and athletes are seeking running races in order to stay in shape, feel a little competitive and to achieve goals. As a triathlete, I do not hang up my bike and stop my membership at the Y in order to run in "running" season here in Florida. I am still a triathlete, training for 3 individual sports. However, "run" season allows a little more emphasis placed on running but still, I do not forget that I am a triathlete who enjoys to run.
In order to keep things spicy in the off-season from triathlons, I dedicate 1 more day a week to strength training (3 days a week of full-body training), I ride my road bike at least 2 days per week and include 1 "fun" run during the week (either the Trek Beer Run or a run with Karel in the evening). I still run with Campy after my runs..which is incredibly fun for both of us. I still focus on compression, running off the bike and stretching/strengthening my hips/glutes/lower back as those 3 things help me from becoming injured and allow for a quick recovery, with performance gains.

If you are a new runner, are thinking of training for a long distance event or are searching for a few tips of how to make the most of your "off-season" or "running" season, here are a few suggestions...
Training for a Running Road Race:
When planning your training for a marathon or any road race, use a training plan. Not only are plans designed to help you improve your fitness and help you reach your running goals but the plans keep you scheduled so that quality workouts are not replaced with junk mileage. If you have minimal running experience or you are coming from a background in another athletic sport, give yourself at least 1 month to build a running base and improve fitness (aka introduce your muscles to "planned" running) before beginning specific training, designed to encourage performance gains. During this month, focus on running skills, drills and economy and fall in love with running. Don't hesitate to include walk/run in your year-round running plan. Even if you are a vetran in the sport and you are planning on running 1 or more marathons a year, give yourself a chance to enjoy the art of running without being strict on mileage, speed, HR, etc. For newbies, once you feel as if your fitness has improved, started your structured training and focus on running for time (not distance) for most of your runs. I highly encourage investing in a garmin w/ a HR monitor so that you can monitor progress as well as be consistent with effort. While HR is a great training tool - so is effort and pace. Once you feel comfortable running between 45 min and 75 min, start increasing your speed through intervals (walk/run or jog/run) so that you can cover more distance in that designated amount of time. After around 2 months of building your base and getting use to intervals, you should find yourself noticing performance gains, alongside feeling more confident with your running. The key is to not rush the "base" period of training and to not be afraid to do intervals.

Before you start a new sport or new training plan, consider your health status and fitness. It is easy to get caught up in the hype of the endurance world (specifically ironmans and marathons) so it is very important that you are well enough to start a new challenge. There is nothing worse that starting a training program injured or even worse, racing injured. If you are sick, injured or currently suffer from medical conditions and do not have a physician's approval to start/resume activity, reassess your training plan and goals in order to truly enjoy your running experience. Although this may not be the best time for you to "train" for an event, there is likely something that you CAN do in order to maintain health and fitness.

Running Economy

Your running performance is made up of your vo2 (max oxygen used during exercise), anaerobic threshold (lactate production exceeds removal) and running economy (movement velocity for a given energy consumption). Even if you aren’t an elite runner, your performance during a marathon (or any race) depends on how well each of those variables have been trained and how they will perform during the given task. As for running races longer than a 10K, nothing is more important than the efficiency of the lungs, heart and blood to deliver oxygen. The best runners (from people who are fast to those who truely enjoy running regardless of finishing time) show a high running economy which means that they have trained themselves to run a given speed with less oxygen demand. In part of improving your running economy, combine intervals, threshold runs and speed work into your long, slow sessions. For lactate training, in addition to fartleks and intervals, add in a weekly hill sessions. Drills, proper running form and proper breathing all contribute to good economy. . Just because two people have the same VO2 or max HR doesn’t mean that they will perform the same. The person with the best running economy will use less oxygen during the race and will be the most efficient runner come race day.

Injury Prevention
In addition to proper training and proper fueling, the greatest challenge of running is getting to the start line uninjured, not burnout/overtraing, hungry to race and rested. Why do injuries occur when you are training for an event and not in the off-season? Athletes often think that more is better when it comes to running, sign up for multiple races without dedicating the time to training for a few key races and focus on the miles rather than the entire "training" process. Too often, mileage increases too rapidly and there is little emphasis on recovery. One of the reasons why I believe in doing a long run on the weekend (after spinning the legs easy on the bike for 30-60 min) is so that you have ample time to recover without the stress of getting to work on time, waking up super early and not being able to focus on proper nutrition before, during and after the workout.
Although a coach can help design the best laid plan for you in order to stay balanced with life and to experience performance gains, while meeting personal goals, it's important to recognize that if the body isn't ready for a race or arduous training, you will spend more time on the couch recoverying from an injury rather than recoverying from training. Another cause for injury is inconsistent training or pushing too hard with training. Building mileage too rapidly (more than 10% mileage per week), training hard for more than 2-3 days in a row and consistently skipping and making up key workouts are some of the most common factors contributing to injuries. Listen to your body. If you feel extremely tired and fatigued or you feel life is getting a bit busy or stressful, take a day off, get some extra sleep or just walk and enjoy exercising. One or two skipped workouts may save you from being severely injured and possibly missing your event. Other tips for injury prevention are staying hydrated, stretching after your workout regularly, lifting weights to train opposing muscle groups, getting massages, wearing compression, warming up (ex. biking) before running, take ice baths and replacing your shoes every 3-4 months (after you have a professional shoe fit). Also, cross training should be an important component of your training plan. Not only to keep you sane with your running routine but you will help prevent overuse injuries. Active recovery, through cycling, swimming or walking are great ways to rest your torn-down legs, maintain your fitness and decrease your level of fatigue. I encourage no more than 5 times a week of running, for most athletes seeking running gains. Again - less is more if you have a quality-designed training plan. Also,sSpinning your legs after your long/intense runs, swimming a few laps after a speed session or walking 10-15 min. after a hill workout will work wonders for your legs!

Good luck and have fun!!


Eggplant and butternut squash - dinner and leftovers

I absolutely love, love, LOVE winter produce. The closer I get to the winter months, the more time I spend in my kitchen..coming up with yummy creations.

I can honestly admit that I enjoy all fruits and veggies....when someone else prepares them. There are lots of staple produce items in my diet but in the case of some veggies like squash, cauliflower and zucchini, I haven't yet learned to appreciate them yet - in my own creation.


After a lot of creativity, I finally learned to appreciate eggplant. Rubbed in olive oil, seasoned with no-salt seasonings and topped with a little mozzarella cheese...I now LOVE eggplant.

When my friend Laura ( prepares butternut squash soup for me..I absolutely love it! I recently purchased a butternut squash at the farmers market so it was up to me to make sure it didn't go to waste (as no food goes to waste in the Sumbal household).

For my yummy creation the other night, I prepared grilled eggplant and butternut squash. Super simple as both cooked in the oven and I had time to prepare a lunch for Karel and myself, for the next day.


Eggplant and butternut squash

Grilled Eggplant

2 large eggplants
Olive oil
no-salt seasoning
optional: part-skim mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Line a cookie sheet with tinfoil and place sliced eggplant on sheet.
3. Rub a little olive oil on each eggplant and season with your choice of no-salt seasoning.
4. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until lightly golden brown.

Butternut squash
1 butter nut squash (sliced down middle, seeds removed)
1 tbsp butter (my fav is Olivio)
Sea salt

1. On a baking sheet, lined with tinfoil, place butternut squash with inside facing upward.
2. Lightly pread butter all over inside of squash.
3. Season with a pinch of sea salt.
4. Bake for 40 minutes or until inside is soft.
5. Cube squash and serve.

My lunch:
Butternut squash w/ cinnamon
Yogurt w/ 2 dried prunes
Salad w/ chopped egg and salsa
Grilled eggplant
Not-pictured - baggy of grapes, sliced peaches and celery sticks. Baggy of unsalted mixed nuts.

Karel's lunch:
1 can tuna (w/ can opener)
Grilled eggplant
Yogurt w/ peaches and prunes
Mixed salad w/ chopped egg
Not-pictured - baggy of grapes and celery sticks. Baggy of unsalted mixed nuts.


Sea vegetables

(picture from

One of my passions in life is learning. I was out of school for 1 1/2 years between the years 2000-2011 and I was bored and striving for something more. Although I absolutely loved working as the wellness coordinator at the North Pinellas YMCA (after I graduated with my master degree in exercise physiology in Dec 2005), I was not receiving the right amount of stimulation for my mind.

Although my dietetic internship was extremely stressful and time-consuming, I learned a lot (more than I imagined!) and realized that I wanted to continue learning in the field of clinical nutrition. I have really enjoyed the opportunities that I have experienced since obtaining my RD credential and regardless if I am in the hospital as a clinical dietitian, coaching athletes to cross their first or 50th finish line or helping people reach personal weight/exercise goals, I always keep myself educated so that I don't let my personal opinions/thoughts affect how I help others. Understanding that every person is unique, my goal is to help individuals achieve balance, both in life and in sport.

Working at a hospital keeps me on my toes. I learn something EVERY time I am there and I love how I can interact so closely with the patients. Last week I received a consult from a doctor, regarding a diabetes education. To my surprise, the patient did not speak English so I had a family member as my interpreter. As if carb counting isn't hard enough!...but it was just another entertaining experience for me during a busy day of assessing patients. I absolutely love working and as a new clinical dietitian, I still get amazed by my patients and what the human body can endure.

While reading the November 2011 issue of Environmental Nutrition I came across an interesting article: Vegetables from under the Sea. Most of this information was new to me, so I thought that I would share some of it with you.

Sea vegetables, forms of algae, are one of nature's most valuable foods. Thousands of different sea vegetables have been identified, classified into categories based on the colors brown, red or green. Depending on the type, sea veggies may posses the following attributes:
-naturally low in calories
-Some contain up to 47% protein
-Many are rich in vitamins A, the B group (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, B6, biotin, B12, folic acid), C,D,E, and K.
-They typically contain minerals like calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium.
-Brown sea vegetables, such as kelp and arame, are very high in the mineral iodine (1/4 cup kelp contains 279% DV).
-While they don't appear to contain the same polyphenol antioxidants found in terrestrial vegetables, some have other antioxidant compounds, such as alkaloids and phlorotannins.
-They contain fucoidans, starch-like molecules that appear to have anti-inflammatory and anti-viral benefits.

Due to the harsh environment in which they grow, sea vegetables produce interesting bioactive compounds. Peptides derived from sea vegetables appear to have blood-pressure-lowering effects.

pg 7

-Arame (type of kelp) - dark brown strands with a mild, semi-sweet flavor and firm texture.
*Use in salads, stir-fries, rice, vegetables, tofu and vinaigrette.

-Nori (seaweed) - mild, nutty, salty-sweet taste, usually available in sheets.
*Wrap suchi rolls and add slices as a garnish for noodles and soups.

-Kombu (brown kelp) - Dark sheets with mild flavor.
*commonly used in Japanese soup stock; add to salads, rice and beans

-Kelp - flat, leaflike plants, sold fresh, dried as powder.
*Try roasting, pan-frying or boiling; season rice, soup, grains and veggies

-Hijiki (black seaweed) - has a firmer texture with strong flavor that sweetens during cooking.
*Simmer with tofu, vegetable, rice and noodle dishes.


Monday Product Review

One of the many things that I love about the sport of triathlons is that I find it fun and enjoyable to swim, bike and run. For me personally, as long as I was able to monitor progress, set and achieve goals, I could remove "competition" from triathlons and still want to pursue triathlon training on a daily basis. As much as I love meeting new people and being in the amazing triathlon environment at a race, I truely love the mental, physical and emotional rewards from swim, bike and run.

Knowing that I need to exercise for good health, weight management and longevity, I find it extremely important that I am having fun while moving and using my body. Having said that, I do not need to swim, bike and run in order to manage my weight and relieve stress. I also find enjoyment in water jogging, using the elliptical, walking w/ campy, anything outdoors and strength training.

Although I work with a large number of newbie triathletes/runners, either wanting to lose weight, get more active or achieve personal goals, I strive to show others that it is possible to be competitive (at any level of fitness) and reach personal goals and still live a balanced lifestyle.
It should not be forgotten that great athletes, who demonstrate great performances, are not just putting in the miles. In order to find personal success, in both life and sport, there must be a balanced approach as to how you will set and reach your goals. Alongside balanced training, a successful performance comes from an athlete who sets realistic goals for training and has a realistic racing plan based on training.

Over the past few years, I have discovered that athletes are becoming extremely efficient with training. No longer is it "scary" for an athlete to do a 100 mile bike ride or 2 or 3 hour run. Although the distance may feel exhausting, many athletes are extremely caught-up in a game of numbers, often at the expense of adequate recovery. Taking into consideration that athletes progress over months and years, not weeks or days, it is important to recognize that only "putting in the miles" may ultimately result in an increase risk for injury, fatigue, illness and possibly, burnout from the sport that you started all because you wanted to do something that you never once thought was possible.

As a competitive athlete, I find balance extremely important in my training. Therefore, I do not create training programs (for me and my athletes) dedicated to volume. By understanding the principals of quality training and the physiology of the body, I absolutely love seeking ways to help me (and others) receive the most physiological performance gains with the least amount of training stress (as Matt Dixon from Purple Patch would say).

I'd like to share two key components of my "balanced" lifestyle that have allowed me to take my quality training to the next level. Today I will briefly discuss compression...tomorrow - TRAINING WITH POWER.

CEP compression bib shorts

CEP compression tri shorts

Karel turned me on to compression about 2 years ago. With CEP, Zoot and 110% Play Harder as my three favorite companies for QUALITY compression gear, I have to say that I am a firm believer in compression. I just finished an article on compression and can't wait to share it with you all next month.

This weekend Karel and I both tried out our new CEP active compression wear. Karel absolutely loved his cycling bibs and I LOVED the triathlon shorts. I rode in the tri shorts and ran in them and felt the comfort and compression was better than any product I have ever tried (and I have tried a lot!).

Although literature is ongoing, in terms of the ability of compression to enhance blood lactate removal, decrease risk for injury, improve coordination and biomechanics, we must keep an open mind with compression- as with any product, sports nutrition product or gear - in that research studies should be read with an open mind. Research is typically done in a laboratory with controlled situations and trained or untrained subjects. WE do not live in a laboratory, for most of us we have no idea how we will feel tomorrow or what tomorrow will bring.

For me personally, I have noticed a dramatic improvement in my recovery from exercise (alongside proper daily and sports nutrition) by wearing ZOOT compression tights while sleeping. Graduated compression (from tights and socks) ensures that the right amount of pressure, at the right spot, will help increase blood circulation. 110% play harder just came out with full-length ice pants (CLUTCH) and I'm super excited to try them out. CEP offers a wide range of compression clothing and I believe that quality clothing is worth the price in a balanced training plan.
My personal line of compression clothing:
Zoot compression tights
Zoot compression long-sleeve top
Zoot compression socks
CEP Calf sleeves
110% ice shorts
and soon 110% clutch pants

Once again, I love to train and exercise. However, training for triathlons is not my is my lifestyle. Therefore, because I am not a professional athlete and do not aspire to be one, I enjoy finding quality gear that will help take my training to the next level. I once considered "cheap" compression but decided when I moved to compression in my every-day training and recovery-wear, "quality" compression was worth the money. Over the past 2 years my old chronic aches from my hip injuries, have subsided. Both Karel and myself find recovery from activity MUCH easier with compression, even as we age (I am 29, Karel is 35). From a training perspective, I always feel better with compression. Every time I wear compression when training, I feel an ability to train a little harder and smarter. Some people believe it is a fad but I personally believe that regardless of research, there is scientific proof in real-life settings, that compression works.

In my opinion, you have nothing to lose with compression. If it is a comfort issue, than perhaps try to get use to it and see if you like it. If anything, I would suggest recovery compression and at least compression socks or calf sleeves, as your first purchase to try out. It is important to discuss compression with a trained professional as compression gear has different purposes, based on the product. Additionally, compression is supposed to have the right "fit" so proper measurements are critical when finding the best compression wear for your body.

110% play harder
CEP compression
Zoot Sports Compression