Essential Sports Nutrition


Carbo loading, TREK tri night and TV segment


Dr. Seuss makes it sound so simple and easy. Although at times, I am sure we all feel like the following...


As an athlete, I always tell myself I am teetering on the edge: the edge of injury, burnout, exhaustion, over-commitment, stress, anxiety, etc. etc. etc. the list goes on and on and on. We (as athletes and fitness enthusiasts) are very comfortable with a lot on our plate and while some people may struggle with one or two daily tasks, we love to see how much we can handle until we break. Of course, we never expect to break, right?

Really no point in the beginning of this blog post except to continuously remind yourself as to the best balance in your personal life so that every night you go to bed feeling satisfied with the day and excited for tomorrow. Find that right balance between diet and exercise so that your days aren't wasted but rather used with a purpose.

As you reflect on your daily routine, here are a few recent media links of mine, that I would love to share with you. Thanks for reading/watching.

Carbo-loading: Friend or Foe?
is a recent article I did for 904 magazine. A topic that is heavily discussed and one that can be confusing in today's society due to a number of factors. I hope you enjoy my take on carbo-loading.

Introducing new foods into the diet - maintenance
is a recent TV segment I did for News4Jax on behalf of the Baptist Heartwise  program. It's not just about eating certain foods but understanding why they are helpful in your diet.

Creating a positive home environmentHERE is my January article for my monthly column on Be sure to check out my tips on creating a positive environment at home to help you reach your goals. And while you are on the site, ladies be sure to check out the event series! Can't wait to see you at some of the events!

Build a better body imageHERE is my last article for my new column with This was one of my most favorite articles to write as it is a topic that can not be overlooked in the beginning parts of a training season (or New Year). Stay tuned on for my next article on destructive eating. I'll be sure to let you know when it is posted on my Facebook Page.

Lastly, I am really excited to be speaking at the next Hammerhead Triathlon Club meeting on Feb 6th, 2013 which has now become an exciting Trek Bicycle event at Trek Bicycle Store of Jacksonville!!


Trek travel will be presenting about their trips/camps as well as handing out some cool swag! I will be talking about "Breaking out of triathlon boredom - how to train smarter to train harder."

If you are in the area, I'd love to see you there!

Oh and one more thing.....

What good is a blog post without a Campy pic?


A few plant-strong creations

On Monday evening I had the opportunity to teach the Baptist HeartWise nutrition class to a room full of 20 passionate, energetic and open-minded women who want to improve their cardiovascular health. 

I don't feel as if a meat-free, vegetarian-style diet is the best diet for everyone but there is a tremendous amount of research that a diet strong in plants will provide the necessary vitamins and minerals to help keep the body well. You can't prevent disease but you can certainly minimize the risk. 

I feel our society needs a little kick in the butt when it comes to de-emphasizing the processed, convenient food and emphasizing a more wholesome diet. When I speak to people about eating a more plant-strong diet, I avoid telling people what not to eat but instead, speak in a way as if you have no idea what you are missing in consuming a more real food diet. 

But with this great attention placed on eating more wholesome food, this can also be a double-edge-sword in that anytime a person wants a quick fix with health or body composition, he/she will quickly think about everything and anything that is not a vegetable and feel the need to eliminate it from the diet in order to quickly change habits. So while we want to consume a more plant strong diet for overall health, we do not need to feel hungry, restricted, bored or act extreme when it comes to eating more fruits and veggies....alongside low fat dairy, whole grains and quality low fat/lean protein. The idea is to consider variety in nourishing your body with foods that make you feel good. Acting mindfully with food in order to eat with attention. Recognizing how food makes you feel but also thinking ahead as to how food can enhance your life. 

So as you consider adding more wholesome food in the diet, ask yourself where you are spending your energy, time and money when it comes to fueling your lifestyle? 

Here are a few of my recent creations to help inspire you to enjoy a more plant strong diet. All creations were enjoyed by me and my non-vegetarian husband (Karel) who has given me the "yum" approval to post the following dishes. Side note: All creations are helping to fuel our Ironman-in-training lifestyle. 


Red potatoes, tofu, spaghetti squash, broccoli, onions, mushrooms, roasted red peppers (jar), garlic.
Squash prepared in oven. Veggies and tofu prepared on skillet in olive oil. Potatoes sliced and cooked in 450 degree oven until golden brown.

Fuel for a day of work at the hospital:
Oatmeal creation (1/2 cup oats, mixed frozen fruit - strawberries, peaches, blueberries, 1 tbsp ground flax seed, 1 spoonful whey protein powder, cinnamon, sliced almonds), Baggy of carrots and sliced apples for munching to control blood sugar, 2% Daisy cottage cheese (1/2 cup), mexican salad w/ beans, corn, bell pepper, onion, dark greens, chopped egg, pear slices, farmers cheese, toasted pumpkin seeds, salsa. 

Egg omelet packed w/ roasted veggies
1 whole egg + 2 egg whites made w/ greek yogurt (Fage) instead of milk for a more fluffy omelet (about 1 spoonful yogurt).
Roasted veggies - zucchini, onions, mushrooms, red sweet pepper, garlic
Brown rice w/ herbs and spices

Mixed veggies (frozen) cooked in olive oil and drizzled with rice vinegar tossed in broken lasagna noodles. 

Sweet potato (cooked in microwave) mixed with beans, grilled tofu, peas, corn, onion, red sweet pepper and garlic in olive oil - cooked in skillet. Served with jasmine rice. it is your turn!! Time to get creative in your kitchen! Make the time instead of trying to find the time. You only have one place to live for the rest of your life - take care of your body.  


Fearing the possible

Fear-based training.

I have mentioned it in the past and it is something that is very familiar to athletes who are training for individual-sporting events.

I think of it like a college student with a big exam on the radar. Two months to prepare seems like an eternity so it is unlikely that one would start studying that far in advance. Plenty of time, right? So instead of studying a little bit every day in order to retain information, days slip by and the student begins to get more fearful of the big day. One month away and the motivation is there but it is a bit sub par - the book is open but there is more goofing around and scratching the surface than really accepting the challenge ahead and that time is running out. Two weeks left and it is crunch time. Eek!
Long hours, exhaustion in both mind and body but there is not other choice at this point. Try to squeeze in 60 days worth of studying into 14 days and the only thought is "I wish I would have started sooner."

Fear-based training is not unlike the student who procrastinates until it is crunch-time. It's not uncommon for athletes to have a race on the schedule- months in advance- but there is a tendency have excuses or reasons for not focusing on the little things that will play out on race day and instead waits until he/she has no other choice but to at least prove to him/herself that she/he can do "it" in order to reduce anxiety.

Well, this blog post isn't about fear-based training. Instead, it is about fearing the possible.

What if you lived your entire life thinking about the what-if? What if you just got started a bit earlier? What if you dedicated yourself a bit more to the task at hand? What if you had a more open mind or a more positive attitude? What if you didn't wait until the perfect time to get started?

What would you do if you were not afraid to fail?

Over the past year in a half, I have been working with a mental coach, my friend Gloria who has helped me trust myself as an athlete and to believe in my ability to put my training to the test on race day. With the help of Karel, as my supportive hubby and coach, he has given me sets that I would have thought were never possible with my body and thus, he has shown me that I have the ability to reach higher limits with my training. These same athletic characteristics of believing in myself, wanting to challenge myself and being dedicated to the task at hand have also been very important in my personal life, specifically in my past education and continuing career.

As athletes, fitness enthusiasts or anyone who enjoys a healthful lifestyle, we are always wanting to better ourselves in both body and mind. Whether you are training for a race, looking for a new career, thinking about a life-changing decision or questioning an upcoming opportunity, we all have opportunities in our life to take something that we fear and to get out there and just try to go for it.

In our society, it seems as though many people are raised to want success. Seems kinda obvious, right? You wouldn't want to strive for failure in life when successful people are the ones who get the credit and attention.

But this comes with a bigger issue in that we have missed opportunities in life because of fearing failure. We question the "what if" and that scares us so we put off trying. We get frustrated at the first try and give up.

What's the worse that can happen? You don't get the job, you have to walk when you want to run, you don't lose those last 5 lbs, you get turned down, you have to wait until next time? Life goes on but at least you tried.

But then - what if the best thing happens? You get the job, you run faster than you could ever imagine, you lose those last 5 lbs, you get the opportunity you were wanting for, you don't have to wait until next time. Life goes on and now the possible has happened.

What I love more than anything about sports is the continuous opportunity to try. To try to become better, smarter, fitter, stronger and healthier. The opportunities are endless when it comes to seeing how close you can come every week, month and year to reaching your full potential and then you get to do it all over again the next year.

I remember at Branson 70.3 in September 2012 and having the run of my life. I had trained hard, worked on my mental strength with Gloria and I was hungry to race on a very challenging course. I had all the pieces together and all I had to do was put them together for 70.3 miles.

I remember on the 13.1 mile run that I was hurting...bad. It was not tolerable at times and I wanted to slow down. But I resisted. My mind had convinced my body that I would push and push until my body phsyically gave up. I trained too hard to not keep trying. My mind was not going to let my body surrender. I ran a huge PR off the bike, had the fastest female amateur run of the day, along with a new age group course record and placed overall female amateur. All because I refused to give up before I had to give up. It was a decision that I had to make over and over and over for one hour and 36 minutes..... and it was not easy. But when I crossed the line, I felt the feeling that I dreamed of as I was gasping for air and bracing my completely exhausted body. I was so happy that I went for something that I never thought was possible.

It was around 48-degrees this morning when I started my ride. Karel and I drove to Nocatee and we each did our own workouts (Karel did a run-bike-run and I did a bike-run).
I could have stayed inside on the trainer or I could have skipped the bike to go for a run. But instead, I told myself to not fear the possible. Why should I let the weather stop me from having a great workout? I dressed appropriately and I felt great on the bike. 

The set was hard...thanks Karel for making my legs burn. 
10 x 1 min ON/1 min OFF intervals (ON intervals are 110+rpm, power was way high and OFF are EZ spin)
Then right into 10 min Z3 steady.
Then 5 x 1 min ON/OFF intervals
The right into 10 min Z3 steady.
The rest of the ride was Z2.

I hit my power zones and my legs were burning on the on/off intervals. It was windy and cold out but I didn't let it stop me from achieving the possible.

Then came the fearful part. A set that in my mind was not possible. No way, absolutely not. What was Karel thinking when he wrote my workout in training peaks? I suppose my athletes think the same for me when I write their workouts :)

4 miles off the bike - start at 7:30 for first mile immediately off the bike. Then mile 2 at 7:25, mile 3 at 7:20 and last mile "fast/hard". No stopping in between miles.  

I had 1:30 on the bike to think about this set but I didn't. I kept my mind in the present and just like in Branson 70.3, I just went for it when it was time. What's the worse that could happen? I don't make the intervals so I run slower? I don't make the intervals so I have to walk? Certainly, it's not the end of the world and there will always be another workout. So, with running shoes, visor and Garmin 910XT was time to fear the possible. 

Mile 1: 7:30 min/mile
Mile 2: 7:19 min/mile
Mile 3: 7:07 min/mile
Mile 4: 6:55 min/mile

These are the workouts that remind me why I love sports. Sunday it took me 4 long miles to find my rhythm and today, immediately off my bike I had it in me. I love the workouts when I have nothing to prove to an audience or a crowd of spectators but instead, to myself, all alone, outside and a few birds watching me from above. Always keeping in mind that I will save my best performance for race day, these are the workouts that remind that fear can be good or bad.

So, how do you want to live life? Fearing failure or making the possible happen?
Really, what's the worse that can happen?

You are so much stronger than you think. Don't be afraid to try.


Long slow distance - base building

Are you in the beginning phase of your season training? Likely you have been told that your training should be long and slow. Especially if you are an endurance athlete, in order to build aerobic capacity, you should be training at a very low heart rate, teaching the body to metabolize fat for fuel and should teaching your body how to get more comfortable being aerobic in order to prepare for your upcoming next phase of training.

Unless you are a very new athlete to the sport of triathlons  and are learning how to get more comfortable on the bike or in the pool, the focus right now in this "base" phase should not be 100% long, slow distance.  (I don't believe in "slow" running if it comes with poor form due to purposely trying to run slow as that can be damaging to the body. Keep in mind, the word slow is relative..what is slow for you may be fast to others.) If anything, steady is a better word and slow should be removed from your training vocabulary. Also - I don't believe in active recovery "run" days for triathletes. Get your sleep and stretch. Form-focused runs (which include drill work) are fine as a "workout" included in your plan but not on a day "off" from training to recover.

The focus of training is to make gains in fitness. A lot needs to happen with the physiology of the body in order to get faster and stronger. Certainly you can still want to get faster and stronger even if your primary goal is to finish an upcoming race. It's not all about racing fast and hard. It's all about training and racing smart.

I'm always thinking about ways to reduce training stress but still make gains. Fatigue is not something that I want to "train through" and I feel fatigue brings injury for fatigue brings poor form. Also, fatigue can come with slow distance because too much time is wasted in that "comfortable" Z2 zone.

As a coach and athlete, your primary goal on race day is to slow down the least and to pace yourself. The focus of training is to make progress so that as you continue with training you are becoming more efficient and economical with your sport. Eventually your current Z4 effort may turn into your Z3 effort on race day and you may find yourself pacing your way to a great race all because you trained your body properly throughout your periodized training plan.

We will all struggle with fatigue in training and racing. But why waste all your best efforts in training and so early in the season? Long slow distance may give you some miles on the bike to brag about in January but if you neglect some higher intensity efforts you may find yourself struggling with performance gains and the change for overtraining due to combining high volume and intensity on the weeks leading up to your big race. That's a BIG no-no....get faster now w/ a strong body (once again - strength training should be part of your training routine and a priority) and then gradually build volume. If you are training for an endurance event, your final prep should not be intense and extreme - avoid fear-based training. It should be specific to the distance ahead. When I trained for my last 2 Ironman's (Kona 2011 and IMWI 2010) I only did 1 ride over 100 miles each time. All my rides were around 4-5 hours, including steady state intervals (anywhere from 20-50 min w/ 2-5 min rest in between) with the power that I built throughout my periodized training plan. I saved my best performance for race day and had a nice big PR in Kona in 2011 and found myself racing very strong on the difficult IMWI bike course.

Use a little speed work to help your aerobic capacity. Instead of trying to resist fatigue with long hours on the bike or long running miles, focus on quality training. Every workout should have a warm-up where there is little focus on pace or speed. Monitor your HR, walk.slow down to control yourself, focus on good form and stretch dynamically (for running) before the main set. After your main set, cool down. That's how I schedule my workouts and same for my athletes. I don't care about miles but what they do within those miles. I'd rather do a 3 hour steady interval bike ride than 6-7 hours on the bike right now. Actually, for my fitness ability, I don't ever want to "train" for 6-7 hours on the bike because I know that I will benefit very little from being on my bike for that long. For running, I'd rather do 10 quality miles w/ intervals at a bit faster intensity than 14-18 miles of long slow running (OUCH).

The problem with long slow training is poor form and over/under emphasis on nutrition. It may work for some but I'd like to make better use of my time when I do my longer workouts. As much as I LOVE training, I like to feel accomplished at the end and know that my fitness on race day isn't made up of a few great workouts but rather many, consistent good workouts. I know my workouts are good because I review my training files. Great is something I say when I am feeling it during or immediately after a workout. It is how I describe how I feel about the workout - not necessarily a sign that I am making improvements aside from building mental strength.


It was a tad bit on the chilly side but after my weekend in Iowa last weekend (-6 windchill), I can't complain about the cool 50-degree temps yesterday morning.
It was super windy so combined with the cooler temps I knew it would be a challenging workout. Again, no need to waste time on the bike riding slow for hours and hours when I could have a great workout sitting on Karel's wheel.
After Karel did his TT on his fixie (for the Ponte Vedra Beach Fixie World Championships - "aka" bragging rights among guys/girls who like to ride fixies) and I warmed up, I took off a few items that were keeping me warm and it was time to head to Nocattee for a few steady intervals.
Sitting on Karel's wheel has been years in the making. There are still intervals that he does that I can not "hang on" for but when it comes to Ironman or Half Ironman training, his Z3 effort is my low Z4 effort for power zones so it works really well that both of us can get a quality workout. I don't race an IM in Z4 but instead upper Z2 and my zones are determined from a 20 x 20 minute sustainable max effort power test w/ 2 min EZ in between.

The main set was the following
15 min Z3 (Karel)
2 min EZ
15 min Z3 (Karel)
2 min EZ
20 min Z3 (Karel)
2 min EZ

Steady upper Z2 for the remainder of the ride (Karel)

So while Karel was focused on his zones in Z3, here's how my workout on Training Peaks looked:
15 min - 168 watts, 138 HR, 88 cadence, 23.24 mph
15 min - 172 watts, 139 HR, 86 cadence, 22.4 mph
20 min - 164 watts, 139 HR, 87 cadence, 22.54 mph

There's a few things I'd like to point out as I know triathletes love comparing numbers. I've been working on my lactate threshold for years as cycling was not a natural sport for me so for me, my HR may look "low" but it is certainly not a HR that I enjoy to tolerate behind Karel's wheel. The wind was really strong and we did long loops in Nocatee so with every change of direction, there would be a need to change gears to keep a steady cadence. I am working on my cadence as I was a slow masher and now I am getting much better with a higher cadence. I do ON/OFF intervals to work on a fast spin (ON) which burns like OMG but it is making me better.
Speed is irrelevant in my mind when training as I can not hold those speeds on my own so I guess I will enjoy getting in more miles due to higher speeds sitting on Karel's wheel. So more importantly, the power is what I care about. My ability to maintain a certain wattage for a period of time. No matter the terrain, wind, etc. I need to be consistent with my effort. Karel is super steady so riding behind him gives me a great workout for this base phase of training.

We rode for 2 hours and 50 minutes by the time we finished the workout and cooled down and it was time for a 25 minute form-focused run off the bike (7:30 min/mile pace average) for me and for Karel (who has not been traveling like me so he has been doing a few more bricks than me) he ran for 30 minutes and covered more distance because he is faster.

After the workout - time for the Farmers Market!


After sleeping in to get a solid 8 hours of sleep, we took our time in the morning and headed back to Nocatte for a run and a 30ish min recovery spin.

Karel did a bit longer run than me because I believe that every athlete needs to consider their own consistency with training before jumping in on group workouts (especially long ones). I have not had consistent weekend training for a few weeks so I can not rush my mileage.

Karel and I went our separate ways along the roads and paved trails in the neighborhoods of Nocatte and Karel finished with 1:30 of running and I had 1:20.
I am a firm believer in pace training and monitoring the HR. I am strict on form right now for me and my athletes so anytime form begins to struggle or get sloppy, it's time to walk or slow down.
I consider myself a better runner off the bike due to being warmed up on the bike so it takes me a while (more like 3-4 miles) to feel good on a long run.
I noticed my HR was a bit higher on warm-up than I wanted it to be in looking at my garmin when I started - despite me feeling good with  my perceived exertion/form. My perceived effort was fine but my HR was not where I wanted it. This could be contributed to several factors (a bit warmer today, legs weren't sore but felt a bit heavy - more quad dominant this morning, likely my hamstrings were a bit tight) so instead of pushing through with a high HR and struggling with form later in the workout, I opted to walk for a few minutes (1-2) every mile until I finally felt like I was ready for my main set. That came around mile 4. Like usual, I don't care about my pace or distance in warm-up..the warm-up is there for me to warm my body up for the main set. If no main set - there is still a focus for the run.

Main set: 
4 x 1 miles sub 7 min/mile pace (with good form - build into each mile) w/ 2 min walk recovery.
I carried my gel flask filled with hammer heed (1 scoop) for this run and refilled as needed.
I have my Garmin 910XT set on proper screens which allow me to properly pace my efforts.
I have a screen that shows current pace (so I don't go out too fast in each interval), current HR and time and another screen that shows lap pace (which is great for shorter intervals around 2-6 minutes), distance and time. I tend to use the second screen more. I also hit lap anytime I do an interval. Because it is set up on auto-lap for each mile, I do not need to hit lap when a 1 mile repeater is completed but instead, when I start the next 1-mile lap. Same applies for any other interval distance (2 minutes, 1/2 mile, etc.) - I always hit lap for it is much easier to review in Training Peaks. I also have a screen with the normal functions that most people refer to in training - total time, total distance, average pace and average HR. I tend to flip to this in warm-up and cool down without focus on my total distance. I stop when I am cooled down or my time has been reached and it is time to cool down. I don't run to complete x-miles in training. I have stopped plenty of times with x.90 miles or x.40 miles on my watch but no need to prove anything to get to the next mile. 

Mile 1: 6:53 min//mile pace, 149 HR
2 min recovery walk - 123 HR
Mile 2: 6:47 min/mile pace, 153 HR
2 min recovery walk - 123 HR
Mile 3: 6:47 min/mile pace, 155 HR
2 min recovery walk - 127 HR
Mile 4: 6L43 min/mile pace - 158 HR
2 min recovery walk - 126 HR

I couldn't ask for a better week of training. 11 hours training (which was my peak hours in Branson 70.3 prep), good sleep, good nutrition and good balance. A day off Monday, strength training Wed/Fri (including plyometrics on Wed) and 2 solid brick workouts (thurs/sat). The 35 min recovery spin with Karel after our run was the perfect way to end our training week. This was a week of quality and structure. I had a plan and a purpose and I look forward to doing it all over again next week. 9 more weeks of half IM specific training and then it is time to gradually move into more specific Ironman training. Build the form, strength and speed now and endurance will follow. Train smarter to get faster.

Quality - base building.