Essential Sports Nutrition


Hardest swim workouts of my life + gymnast spotlight

This past week welcomed a flood of memories as I was staying in the same hotel as a large group of Swimmers for long course nationals. Oh the memories......

Crushing on the boys in speedos
Decorating posters for hotel door rooms
Smelling like chlorine for days and days
Eating, sleeping and swimming....several times throughout the day
And just loving the sport of swimming

From around 11 years of age until my Senior year of college at Transylvania University (2004), I swam competitively. Despite 11 years of competitive swimming, 8 years later I have been getting in the water 2-3 days a week (although, much less yardage) for my triathlon lifestyle. 

What's so neat about triathlons is that it welcomes a new crowd to competitive sports. Perhaps individuals who did not do sports in HS or College or consider themselves "active" for much of their adult years. I know individuals who are in their 50's and starting to learn the skills of triathlon training and then there are those less than 10 years of age, getting into the sport. For someone like me, the cycling portion was my "unknown" as it has been a work in progress but a fun one. Watching Karel progress  with his swimming has been a lot of fun because I know we all have work to do when it comes to competitive sports. But what's great about tri's is that most people can consider the thought to train for a multisport event - even with little or no background in competitive sports.

For Karel and myself, we both grew up as athletes. From an early age, like many people, sports were part of our daily routine. It's easy for me to make time for training or exercise because there were very few times in my life, when I didn't "train" for something.

My parents were never forceful with my brother and me and our sports of choice. My brother was a gymnast and I was always a swimmer (although I tried other sports like track and volleyball but I was never good-enough for the coaches). Swimming was always something that I loved and I looked forward to it every single day. My parents encouraged my brother and me to do what we love and they provided us with countless opportunities to succeed in our sports. Ask any parent of a swimmer and certainly, the early morning wake-ups make for tired parents (funny - I still love to work out early!) but they never complain.

As for my brother, he excelled with gymnastics. A full scholarship to University of Michigan and one of his highest honors  - Aaron was the Big Ten Champion on the High Bar in 2007. Aaron trained at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado several times but after his senior year, his body had enough and he was ready for a "normal" life. Aaron's winning routine - with lots of difficult moves.

With so many thoughts coming back to me from my childhood - growing up with a very active family who encouraged my brother and myself to reach both academic and athletic dreams, it occured to me rather quickly that despite the hard workouts, the tiring days of balancing school and sports, the aches and pains that come with athletic sports (boy, I wish I knew then what I knew now! But glad I'm a coach now so I can be smarter with training and racing thanks to a full academic career in exercise physiology) and most of all, the isolation from "normal" kids/teenagers/college students who have a bit more "free time" - I would not have traded it all for the world. For what I remember on top of those more painful moments, are lots of great memories of being around great people who supported me and my brother in our sports of choice. The excitement of cheering for others has not left me nor has the enjoyment of using my body and seeing what I am made of.

Although I can remember a few extremely challenging workouts, the thing that kept me returning to swimming - year after year - was the fun of working toward a goal.
So often, triathletes and runners get overwhelmed with a goal (or a goal that is not well-defined) and it is easy to get wrapped up in the training. For I remember that with the pool time, came strength training, core work, physical therapy, massages, lots of food, off season training, skill work and most of all - being specific with my distance/strokes (100 breast, 200 IM, 200 butterfly).

I encourage everyone to focus less on the miles and rather, what you are doing within those miles. Next thing, address what you can do when you aren't "training" to become a faster, stronger, more powerful and more balanced athlete.

My most memorable swim workouts:

8 x 400's IM (fly, back, breast, free by 100) - can't remember the cycle, but it hurt!

8 x 200's butterfly - did this one a lot since I was a butterflier. Couldn't lift my arms after this practice.

4000 reverse IM - Free, breast, back, fly. This never ended!!!

8 x 50's no breath (off the block) - no cycle and you had 1 hour to complete 8 of them. If you took a breath, you had to repeat it until you finished 8 of them (I don't recommend this for anyone).

15 x 100's  - I remember this one as we did it a lot on Saturday morning's when I was in high school. If you missed a cycle (I'm thinking my cycle was 1:10 or 1:15), you had to start over at the beginning! One time I remember I had to start over :(

8 x 100's fly off the block - all had to be under 1:10. 7 minutes rest in between. This one BURNED!

4000-5000 kick - I remember in college we would do an entire workout with kick sets!

And of course, the new year day swim practices. Back then - 95 x 50's, 96 x 50's, 98 x 50's, etc.

My arms, back and lungs are hurting just thinking about this! But I still love swimming and will always love swimming.


What have I been doing?

What have I been doing??

I realize I have no obligations to my blog as to how much I blog or how often. But, I feel so incomplete when I don’t “journal” at least once every 2 days. If it was up to me and more free time, I would blog several times a day since blogging is so relieving to me. For if I couldn’t write (blogs, articles, plan for talks), I think my head would explode with information that I want to share with others. But, because life requires balance, sometimes the blog is the only thing on my mind but the thing that must go when I try to make the most of every day.

So, why the lack of blogging?

Article deadlines. I am so thrilled to see my next two column articles published on Lava Magazine online and I think you will enjoy both articles as they both include yummy creations but also some great information that is relevant and applicable. My Lava article is on Zinc and I look forward to your reaction or thoughts as to the approach I took to discussing this immune-boosting mineral. For my Iron Girl article, the theme is Olympics for August so I include two delicious Red-White-Blue inspired creations – fruit kabobs and a smoothie.

Work. It would be obvious to say I am busy but that isn’t a bad thing. Right now the triathlon season is peaking (until October) and I am enjoying helping active bodies cross finishing lines as well as helping fitness enthusiasts create more healthful lifestyles. Certainly, it is a great feeling to know that with lots of hard work,  my business is successful but to define success from a monetary standpoint is not my intent.  For my passion is helping others live a better life and that makes me feel successful.

Speaking of passion…

Where am I now?

I’m attending the Federal Occupation and Workers Compensation Conference in Atlanta Georgia. I arrived via plane on Tuesday evening and I will be heading home on Thursday evening. I was asked to speak several months ago and with lots of prep work behind me, I am thrilled that the talk went beyond smooth. I had a packed room and the audience was engaged. My talks are not boring (to say the least) and they are interactive, passionate and of course, fun. I suppose my lifestyle of active and healthy living helps me educate, motivate and inspire others to take a more balanced approach as to how they want to live their life. For I’m all about improving the quality of life and I don’t believe I need to lecture people in a 90-minute talk about what not to do in order to change lifestyles.

Ever since a young age, my parents encouraged me to pursue my dreams. Whether it was with swimming, school or with life-decisions, my parents have never told me I couldn’t do “it”.

If it wasn’t for my parents and now, the support of Karel, I don’t think I’d be doing what I have dreamed of doing for much of my adult life. I absolutely love public speaking and writing and slowly, my career is evolving. Being able to touch others through my words is the best feeling in the world. 

Ever question your purpose in life? Certainly that’s a deep question but I think it is one we should constantly ask ourselves. Why should waste a body, a mind and a heart to do things we don’t enjoy doing?

I truly believe I was put on this earth to help others. I remember when I was young (like 4 or 5), wanting to help my mom take care of my baby brother (2 years younger than me). In middle school, I volunteered my time at school by helping out with the mentally and physically challenged students. When I was in high school, I would visit nursing homes to play piano for the residents. In college, I was a member of several clubs and organizations, just to get more involved. Now, I have a business that allows me to play an instrumental role in how people are living their lives.

Although this is my blog and my journal, I don’t want this post to just be about me. I appreciate that you read my blog but my hope is that after you read this blog, you will ask yourself “What have I been doing?

Keep this question open to many answers. Have you been making changes to improve overall health? Have you been wasting your time not doing the things that will make a positive impact in your life? Have you been not addressing the areas in your life that will help you reach your goals?

Don’t waste your life. Don’t waste your years. Don’t waste your months. Don’t waste your days. Don’t waste your hours. Get out there so you can firmly answer the question “What have I been doing?

Hopefully your answer will be “I’m making things happen.”


Whewww. What a weekend

I remember a while back when I use to think of the week as 5 days + 2 days. It was easy to look forward to the weekend, whether it was to train, relax, eat..whatever. But one thing I've learned over the years is that a week that becomes chunky, is simply a rushed week. Life rushes by super quickly and I find it important to enjoy every day you are given. Your life, your actions, your results.

Since Thurs (or late Wed evening), Karel has been enjoying himself in the mountains of North Carolina with a few of his friends.

Yep - he left me and Campy at home and from the looks of it, he is really roughin' it :)

But not to worry - Campy got in some quality training and a little vitamin D as I stretched outside...sporting my new Oakley Women Changoever shades

Saturday morning was an early start with a 3 mile run.
A little change to the normal bike + run, Karel had me running first and right after, getting on my bike for some tempo intervals.
It was an akward feeling to run first but I always enjoy a change in the schedule. The workout looked easy on paper but because the zones were low in intensity, I just couldn't seem to hold them steady.  Maybe my ego got in the way this morning as it is always hard to hold back when you know you can push harder.I suppose Karel is slowly teaching me more about pacing as that is something I continue to struggle with on the bike....but always a work in progress.
2:30 bike
Main set:
2 x 8 min Z4 w/ 2 min EZ
15 min upper Z3 w/ 4 min EZ
18 min mid Z3 w/ 4 min EZ
22 min low Z3 w/ 4 min EZ
20 min low Z3 w/ 4 min EZ
Rest of the ride Z2.

Then off for another run and wow - was it hot out!!
6 miles. 2 mile warm-up. Then 3 miles descending (7:29, 7:18, 7:10). Then cool down.

Lucky for Campy, he got two mini runs this morning....I love having him as a training partner!

Sunday morning was another early start and another new change in my routine.
Karel has been running with the Turtle Run group at Atlantic Beach on Sun mornings for the past two weekends so he encouraged me to go to my first ever group run.

I was excited and not nervous but certainly, a group run at 6:30am on a Sunday made for an early 4:50am wake-up on the weekend.

I ran with Jeff and 2 other guys and although most of the run was conversational, it was certainly a run that kept me at the top of my comfort zone.

Total time: 1:40
Pace: 7:49 min/mile (woah baby - can't do that alone!)
Distance: 12.88
average HR: 140 beats

Splits per mile: 7:45, 7:31, 7:39, 7:41, 7:53, 7:52, 7:53, 7:35, 7:27. Cool down: 8:03, 8:04, 8:06, 7:08 (for last .88 mile)

After the run, I got on my bike for a necessary recovery spin. 1 hour and a speedy 14.8 mile per hour average :)

After the morning workout, I had the pleasure of having a late pancake breakfast w/ my friend/co-worker Susan who is having her baby this week (I will be filling in for her at Baptist Beaches during her maternity leave).

While I was making dinner (or whatever you want to call a meal around 4pm), I was thinking to myself about the yumminess that was about to enter my body. Rather than seeing the food as "fuel" or as something "healthy" occured to me that my lifestyle was effectively using the food that I was putting nto my body. Because I am nourishing my body, I am able to live the active life that I crave on a daily basis. Perhaps we can all start taking a more proactive approach to living a more balaned life.

Starch: 1 sweet potato (microwaved)
Veggies: broccoli (steamed), red pepper, corn, onions, garlic, kale
Protein: Tempeh
Whole grain: Millet (prepared ahead of time)
Oil: Olive oil
Seasonings: marjaram, chili powder, pepper, parsley

1. In a large skillet, sautee veggies (except kale) and tempeh on medium heat in olive oil (enough to coat bottom of pan, lightly.)
2. When veggies begin to brown, add kale and toss in a little more olive oil.
3. Turn off heat when kale begins to wilt a little and add seasonings.
4. Place serving of millet in a shallow dish, add veggie mixture and chopped sweet potato pieces (I made lots to have leftovers for tomorrow so I used 1/2 sweet potato and saved the other half for tomorrow).
It's ok to yum out loud when you eat this. Campy was confused as I ate this...way too much yumming.