Essential Sports Nutrition


How to race for a lifetime

I'm so thankful that I slept in on Monday and recovered my body and mind. Monday is either a complete off day or a 2500-3000 recovery swim but it is always decided on Sunday whether or not I will exercise on Monday morning.

My choice to recover has allowed for 4 great training sessions where I was able to stick to my workouts as prescribed.

Tues AM track -main set: 6 x 800's w/ 400 jog/walk
Tues PM Bike - main set: 3 x 15 min Z3 w/ 2 min EZ
Wed AM hip strength, then swim - main set 6 x 200's, 400 drill, 3 x 100's
Thurs AM Brick - Main set on bike: 8 min Z3, 2 min EZ, 10 min Z3, 2 min EZ, 14 min Z3, 2 min EZ, 10 min Z3, 5 min EZ, 8 min Z4. Main set on run: mile 1 easy, mile 2 and 3 moderate, mile 4 hard. Cool down w/ Campy

Yep - it's a lot but body is fueled, mind is relaxed and life is balanced. No less than 7 hours of sleep a night and the main focus is always on the main set - not the time or miles. I make sure every workout counts.

Here lately, I find that athletes are developing an unhealthy relationship w/ exercise. Some would call it training for an event but I don't see it like that. For when you train, you work hard. There's a purpose and the reason why you train is to get something out of the workout. Sometimes it's not about pushing hard but rather adjusting the set so that you are able to be consistent w/ training. Sometimes it is taking a day of intentional rest rather than taking a chance that your "pain" will go away while you are training or that you will "rest it" after the workout. Understanding that yes, you can burn calories by training for an event, it is only when you prioritize your nutrition around workouts that you will do a body good by eating to train.....not training to eat.

I came across this article
Fire in the belly
by Dick Patrick

and could not wait to share. I wanted to disect a few parts of the article first, just to provide you w/ a few take home points.

"Meb Keflezighi had fitness worries entering Sunday’s marathon at the London Olympics. Following his Olympic Trials victory in January, Keflezighi had injuries and illness that disrupted his buildup."

Yes - Olympians get injuries just like the normal folks. Although all of us as athletes are teetering on the edge, always pushing our limits, athletes at the highest level often recognize that taking a chance can run a season. For many, it isn't worth it and they take all precautions to prevent injuries before they occur. When they are injured, smart athletes have people watching over them to make sure they avoid "testing it out" too soon. It takes  a team to build an athlete, it takes one small mistake of ignoring an issue until it gets too severe, for an athlete. to get hurt Trust your team - they care about you.

“That was an epic effort,” Keflezighi said. “I don’t get a medal, but I know how special it is to get a medal. This was also special. You put your heart and soul into it, and fourth place in the world isn’t too bad.”

It's not about the finishing time or the place but rather what you put into the race. The real success story is not found on paper but rather within the body of the athlete competiting in the race

Keflezighi predicted to his wife, Yordanos, a couple of weeks ago that he might get fourth as they discussed tactics. Keflezighi was shy of training with a high week of 117 and just four over 100 miles. He and Bob Larsen, whose 19-year relationship has evolved from athlete-coach to friend-mentor, needed to be careful so Keflezighi could get to the start line healthy, if undertrained.
“I’m healthy but not fit enough,” said Keflezighi, who had hip flexor and glute muscle problems in the spring and into the summer. “I had some setbacks and had to work with them. I did the best I could with the cards I was dealt.

Better to get to the starting line healthy and a little undertrained than injured or overtrained. Focus on your current level of fitness and create a race day plan based on what you can do with your body. Recognize that there will always be more races. Setbacks don't mean failures. Setbacks make you stronger because you address what isn't working w/ a desire, passion and goal to make it work.

“For me the goal for the year was accomplished, making the Olympic team. I also wanted to see what I could do here. I told coach if I could have another two weeks or five weeks, I know I could run 2:06 or 2:07 in ideal weather.”

There will always be more races. So what - you registered and paid for a race? Unless that is your last race ever consider missing the race if you are not properly prepared or injured. Perhaps address why you aren't peaking appropriately and use this as a learning lesson. Again - there will always be more races - that is, if your body can recover an heal. Weather, terrain, environment, competition - it's not just about the finish time or how many x-hour weeks or miles you trained. Race day is all about showing off your potential.

“I was struggling; even the second [chase] group got ahead of me,” he said. “I kept praying for God to get me connected to the second group and after that to see if I could be top 10 or 15. I kept working, changing strategies, focuses and goals.”

LOVE THIS - accept the day and deviate from the plan. It's not about preventing issues but knowing how to deal with them when they arise. A great performance can be diminished by a poor attitude or too high of expectations and the inability to adjust the plan.

Unlike Athens, when Keflezighi was accompanied only by Larsen, in London he had an entourage of nearly 50 people, including all 10 siblings and 15 other relatives.
“Everybody wanted to be part of it,” Keflezighi said. “It helped me be relaxed and do what I do best, which is run. It was a great experience.”

Don't forget that you are an inspiration to others - the spectators. Your worst day may be someone's best day. Always enjoy the journey and don't put too much pressure on yourself to be perfect. Success in sport comes w/ experience just as it does w/ a good attitude, a good race day plan and balanced training. Oh - and good nutrition, of course. :)

Keflezighi, who was 12th in the 10,000 at the 2000 Sydney Games, says it will be his last Olympics. He’d like to do a fall marathon and maybe a couple of major marathons in 2013. Then it may come time for retirement.

For most of us, we are racing for a lifetime - not for one finish line. Retiring from a sport like running or triathlons likely means not racing.....ever again. If anything, many people reading this blog are just getting started - in their 40's and 50's! In order to not give yourself a stopping point, be sure to focus on both short and long term goals. Always keep your eye on the bigger picture and if anything, your sport is simply an extension of your love for an active lifestyle. If you get injured, hurt or sick, this likely affects your quality of life and activities of daily living. Remember the bigger picture - always. Sports should be challenging, confidence boosting and fun.

“It takes so much commitment, so much hard work,” Keflezighi said of training. “You get injured, it takes twice as log to recover. I don’t want to abuse my body other than the 26.2 miles of the race.”

Couldn't have said it better myself. To train properly you place intentional stress on the body in order to adapt. It can be a fun kind of abuse but be sure it enhances your life. Committ, work hard and enjoy the journey......


Belated BREAKING Ironman news

" I have found that if you love life, life will love you back" - Arthur Rubinstein.

I just realized that I forgot to share an important piece of information on my blog. Although it is easy for me to educate, motivate and inspire the world via my Trimarni Facebook page, my blog is my journal, my life story.

So without any Ironman hiatus is finally over. Ahhhh, deep exhale - I feel alive again. Although I welcomed this intentional break from racing my favorite distance, I feel I have achieved what Karel had planned for me by racing "shorter" running and triathlon races. I am not injured, I have developed speed and I am stronger than ever before. Keeping my eye on the (kona) prize, I realize that every training has a purpose. I don't burn calories, I train. I fuel to perform, I recover to get stronger. And I do all of this by creating balance in my life.....and having a lot of fun along the way. Oh the memories.......

2006 IM Florida - first ironman11:00.47

2007 IM World Championships - IM #212.26.58

2009 IM Kentucky - IM #3


2011 IM World Championships - IM #5

And, my journey will continue on July 28th, 2013.......
Ironman #6

This was a tough decision as to what race to select - taking into consideration the time of the year, logistics, course, weather, etc. I am sure a blog post will be in the near future as to my recommendations on selecting the best long-distance event.

But w/ Karel as my coach and hubby, this was a decision that we both made together. For training for an Ironman is not without the help and support of friends and family. My parents were excited (not surprised) for the news and they are always my biggest fans.

And with the help of Karel, I have successfully completed every Ironman that I have signed up for and started. I realize a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run is not for everyone, but I've trained my body to accept the distance and I enjoy racing  the Ironman distance.

Although every Ironman is exciting (from start to finish), I love the Ironman journey to get to the starting line. Next year will be even more extra special......

.....Instead of Karel being on the sidelines cheering me on (and helping me shuffle to the massage tent post-race), we will be sharing the same Ironman course for his first ever Ironman!

What a journey this will be......with Branson 70.3 (Karel's first half ironman) in about 6 weeks, I look forward to next year and the memories we will be making together.

"I have found that if you love life, life will love you back" - Arthur Rubinstein.


A triathletes body

After my long run on Sunday morning (12 mile group run) I recovered in my favorite type of salt bath...and did a little thinking.

Over the past 12 years, I have spent most of my days learning about the physiology of the body. Whether it is during exercise or in relation to nutrition, over the past 4380 days, I can't really think of a day when I wasn't learning.

Although the stressful learning (aka exams) is behind me, I know have 3 credentials behind my name that qualify me to provide advice to the public in the fields of exercise science (BA), exercise physiology (MS) and nutrition (RD, LD/N). I also have a list of athletic accomplishments to help me say "been there, done that".

But with credentials come experience. At the ripe age of 30, I certainly have a lot of learning to do. I've had learning lessons along the way and I have been stubborn in several life-changing decisions/experiences. But I've been very careful to always learn in order to try to not make the same mistake twice.

In the quest to help individuals reach athletic, nutrition and health related goals, I have realized one very important thing......

It is easier to learn from the mistakes of others, than to make those mistakes yourself.

I have aways expressed my love for triathlons and that it is my lifestyle, not my life. I have a very supportive family that encourages me to reach my swim-bike-run goals but I also know how to keep things balanced.

As an outsider and a professional, I am learning the positives and negatives that come from being a triathlete, runner or endurance athlete.

Achievement, overcoming obstacles, dedication, excitement, fun, strength, courage, skill, mental and physical toughness.....

Just some of the many positives that come with signing up for a race, setting a goal and putting in the work to achieve the goal.

But then there are the negatives.

I recently read this article on the physiological impact of an Ironman on the human body and it really got me thinking.

"Do triathletes and runners take for granted the impact of "training" for an event, on the human body."
In my opinion, any event that you register for, places stress on the body. Why should a 5K be any different than an Ironman or marathon when it comes to properly preparing the body for the upcoming distance (and planned intensity/effort + recovery).
With a multitude of races occuring every single weekend, around the world, it is so easy to sign up for a race. .........perhaps, too easy that people overlook the importance of thinking through the process of what it takes to prep the mind and body for an event - at any distance.

The problem occurs when athletes do not respect the human body and whether it is a 5K or Ironman, ahletes far to often obsess about the miles and forget about the journey.

I am really starting to get worried and concerned for athletes who are new to the sport of running or triathlons as well as those who get caught up in the training miles (veterans). For it is so easy to just jump into a race or "train" for an event, without having an understanding OR appreciation of the physiological, mental and emotional impact that it can place on the body.

This is an area that I am a really passionate about because I have studied it for the past 8-12 years. You won't see me doing "B" races or racing back to back weekends. I give myself at least 3 months to "train" for most events, I give myself ample time to taper and recover from every race and I plan my schedule far in advance so that I feel little pressure to rush the recovery or training process. Right now, I am working with my athletes on their 2013 schedules so that no mistakes are made as to put races too close together or to overlook the fundamental reason why athletes sign up for races....
I believe in doing everything possible to prepare the body to perform optimally on race day, keep the body at a healthy weight and reduce risk for injury and illness.


Are you preparing for a "race"?

If you don't care about reaching performance goals, you may as well be exercising. For training requires a certain amount of stress on the body to reach performance gains. However, this stress should not occur at the result of relationship problems, sickness, injuries, illness or constant fatigue. Oh, and burnout.

A few weeks ago I spoke to a wife of a recent Ironman finisher and she told me that she didn't even notice her husband was training for an Ironman. With 2 kids at home, not much changed from the normal training routine except one or two 5-6 hour workouts in the final parts of his training. This athlete was Karel's boss Jeff, who finished IM Texas in around 10 hours and 40 minutes. He trained smart and performed extremely well on race day. No injuries, sickness or burnout - just consistency and fun w/ training and not getting sucked up in the chatter as to how one must train for a triahlon.

In training for Kona and IMWI, I did 1 ride over 100 miles and it was 112 miles. I did a few rides around 5 hours and my longest run was aound 2 hours, off a 2 hour bike ride. I don't count time or miles, but rather I go by specific workout, for the day. My training is not a part-time job so I am not clocking time.
You may say that I am conditioned as an athlete, but my newbie and veteran athletes do the same thing and they consistently improve and enjoy the journey - without difficulty training for races and feeling great balance with the rest of their life. I don't do pre-made plans for my long distance athletes. Every athlete is an individual and I work with their schedule. 8-10 hours a week or 18 hours - we make it happen.

Of course,  I also emphasize the other areas that allow for great performances such as strength training, sport nutrition, daily nutrition, good attitude, mental strength and of course - RECOVERY and SLEEP!

If you are training for an event, I ask you to think about the consistency in your training routine, your ability to progress and your daily committment to training. For it doesn't matter what everyone else is doing. Address how much time you can train (and recover) from training and then make the most of it.

I had a tough week of training last week. Today was a day off. I will resume training again on Tues for another 6 days of training. Performance gains don't come in 1 day or 1 month. Athletes aren't made in seasons. Considering that many of "us" don't exercise, but rather we train, keep in mind that your body goes through a lot on a daily basis. Please don't take your body for granted...only to cross a finish line because you paid for it.

Best advice: As a triathlete, I have a routine and a schedule that changes frequently, to allow me to be as consistent as possible. Because my lifestyle changes, I try to receive the most prominent physiological adaptations to the body with the least amount of training stress.

Final note: In the hospital, I see patients who are severly dehydrated from diarrhea/vomiting and are placed on IV's. I see patients with ongoing digestive problems that require tube feedings or extreme dietary changes. I see patients who are "frequent" fliers, experiencing ongoing illnesses because of the lack of desire to change and learn from past experiences and mistakes. And most of all, I see patients who aren't given second chances and would love another opportunity to do it all over again or have one more chance at life.

Oddly, the risks athletes take are not much different than my patients in the hospital. Do you assume it is ok or common to experience severe cramps, dehydration, extreme fatigue, lack of appetite, extreme weight loss (or gain) and brain fog.....just because you are training for a race - or racing to a finish line? In my opionin, there is no "easy" race or training session. I am an athlete by heart and will be one for the rest of my life - I love to push my body to its limits. But in my mind, I do not appreciate it when athletes compromise the body intentionally or without a proper plan, only to finish a race or training session to check-off the miles. Sure, some training sessions will be tough but if don't know how much is too much for your body to handle, it is time to consult a professional.

Consider the mistakes that you have made or the mistakes of others and address what you can do now to be the athlete who have aways aspired to be....knowing that you only have one shot at life, with your one and only body - I invite you to start training smarter, fueling better and living a quality and balanced life.
Never forget that life is a journey - don't rush it!

First triathlon ~2004

5th Ironman - Oct 2011

DEAR BODY: The letter I wrote my body before my 4th Ironman - a few days before I qualified for my 5th Ironman - the IM World Championships.

Thanks for reading :)