Essential Sports Nutrition


Train smarter to reach success faster

Back in September 2012, I spoke to a group of active women on the topics of eating and nutrition and performing beautifully. The focus of the talk wasn't to tell people what to do to reach performance goals or to lose weight but rather how to be smarter in the action steps or thought process to reach personal goals. If you are interested in checking out my recap of the event, here is the first of a series of blogs on the lecture. 

Not too long ago, I went to Iowa to talk to a group of runners at their annual banquet on the topic of "common mistakes made by runners - "how to train smarter to reach success faster." The event went better than I thought because I had no idea how many runners struggled with understanding topics such as designing a personalized training plan, how to understand and use training gadgets and how to focus on other aspects in life that can positively impact training/fitness gains beyond just focusing on the training miles. 

So, now that I am recognizing that triathletes and runners are becoming more and more overwhelmed, confused and exhausted by the sport....and everything that comes with it (training gadgets, gear, plans, sport nutrition, daily nutrition, stretching, strength training, sleep, mile-obsessed, periodized training)....I am trying to do my best to help others better understand how to train smarter to reach success faster. 

I am SO excited to  have the opportunity to speak at the upcoming Hammerhead Triathlon Club monthly meeting which has been connected with Trek Bicycles for a great, entertaining and educational evening. Trek Travel will be speaking about their upcoming travel trips and training camps and I will be talking about "Triathlon boredom - how to train smarter to train harder." If you can make it - we'd love to have you there! The event is free to the public and as always, come to meet other like-minded individuals who share a similar lifestyle and passion. You do not have to be a triathlete to attend - just someone who has fitness goals and a desire to reach them. 

For a little preview of some of the topics I will be discussing at my talk on Wednesday, I dedicated my latest Iron Girl article to the topic. I hope you enjoy it and thanks for reading! 

Train Smarter to Reach Success FasterBy Marni Sumbal MS, RD, LD/N

Are you an active individual who feels confused as to the smartest sway to train for your upcoming event?
Participating in a race requires more than just putting in the miles and finishing a workout with sweaty clothes. You should always feel deserving of your “athlete-in-training” status as you are no longer an “exerciser”. Instead of trying to be like everyone else, take into consideration a few simple suggestions of how you can train smarter to reach success faster.

1. It’s not just about the miles – Consider the many variables in your life that can positively affect your training consistency and health. Among the top priorities: Sport nutrition before, during and after training to assist in intentional physiological stress. Strength training to enhance your cardio-focused routine. Stretching to encourage proper range of motion and injury prevention. A restful sleeping routine to help control appetite, quicken recovery, assist in stress and attitude management and to encourage stable energy throughout the day. Intentional active recovery and rest to prevent overtraining and to encourage consistency in training. Purchase, use and a basic understanding of training gadgets (ex. GPS and HR-enabled devices) to avoid haphazard training.

2. Developing a healthy relationship with food and the body – Eat a wholesome and balanced diet for fuel and for health. When it comes to changing body composition to encourage performance gains, your body will take care of itself when you are performance-focused, not scale obsessed. Avoid words like “off-limit, bad, guilty, chubby, fat and ugly” to guarantee that you are appreciative of what your body is allowing you to do on a daily basis and that you fuel and nourish your body adequately. Always thank your body for giving you a tomorrow and for crossing finish lines.

3. Don’t rush the journey- To make the most physiological training adaptations with the least amount of training stress, focus on your individual response to training. Training adaptations vary between individuals and there is no perfect training (or diet) plan. A properly planned training routine and well-planned racing schedule will ensure well-timed, peak performances due to progressive, individualized overload. Your training routine should take into account your current level of fitness, frequency, intensity and duration of workouts, past successes and regrets, available hours of daily training, number of weeks until your A-races, short and long term goals, past or potential injuries/health issues and ability to recover properly between workouts.

Marni Sumbal, MS, RD, LD/N

Marni works as a Clinical Dietitian at Baptist Medical Center Beaches, is the owner of Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition, LLC and provides one-on-one consulting in the Jacksonville, FL area. Marni is a Registered Dietitian, holding a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology and is a Certified Sports Nutritionist (CISSN). As an elite endurance athlete, she is also a Level-1 USAT Coach and a 5x Ironman finisher. Marni is a 110% play harder, Hammer Nutrition and Oakley Women brand ambassador. Marni enjoys public speaking and writing, and she has several published articles in Fitness Magazine, Bicycling Magazine, The Florida Times-Union Shorelines, Lava Magazine, Hammer Endurance News, CosmoGirl magazine and Triathlete Magazine, and contributes to, USAT multisport zone and Lava online.



Endurance swim, pasta creation and upcoming talk

Looking forward to a busy day tomorrow (FRI). Swim, strength, work at the hospital and then speaking at the Jacksonville Running Company (Tapestry Park) along with Heartland Rehab, about maintenance and recovery at 6:30-7:30pm. I will be speaking with 110% Play Harder to talk about how I value recovery after training and how recovery gear (like 110% and compression) has  made a big impact in my success (and health) as a competitive athlete. Karel is racing on his road bike this weekend - 4 races in two days! I won't be going to watch so I will be awaiting anxiously (like always) for his call that all went well and he enjoyed his suffering :)

Wednesday was a tough swim! The pool was packed and I found myself stuck between too lanes...not quite fast enough to keep up with the fast guys but still wanted to be pushed. I had a great workout and the main set was exhausting!

Main set 2x's:
4 x 200's steady pace (on 3 minutes)
800 steady
50 EZ
Then repeat

With a main set of 3300 yards, our 4000 yard workout went by rather quickly. I was a little tired after swim for my plyometrics but surprisingly, I had a good strength training session. I walked a little slow out of the gym but recovery quickly with a yummy smoothie when I got home.

Last night's dinner was exactly what my belly needed....YUM!

Time to throw away the off-limit food list and learn how to prepare balanced, portioned controlled meals. Tonight's yummy creation: Roasted chunky veggies (eggplant, mushrooms and zucchini w/ garlic) to fill my dinner bowl. All topped with marinara and 1 cup pasta noodles and a little shredded cheese. Instead of having pasta w/ veggies, try a plant-strong meal of veggies topped with pasta. Same flavors but a belly that feels satisfied after eating a portioned controlled meal.

Pasta noodles
1-2 cloves garlic
Spices/herbs to your taste
Shredded cheese
1. Grill the veggies either in the oven (cut in thick slices, tossed in a little olive oil - be careful, eggplant loves to soak up olive oil!) at 425 degrees or stove top on medium heat in skillet until golden brown. Chop garlic and serve raw for more intense flavor. 
2. Cook pasta, drain water and portion 1 cup serving per person (give or take 1/4-1/3 cup). 
3. In a shallow bowl, serve a large portion of veggies, top with serving of pasta and spoon in a little marinara and cheese and toss. 

No need to go into a meal starving when you can make an appetizer salad in less than 5 minutes. This is helpful not only when you one home from work hungry but also to help with portion/craving control when eating outside the home. 20-40 min before your meal enjoy a nutrient dense appetizer: mixed greens, leeks, pre-sliced carrots, strawberries, baby tomatoes, raisins and pumpkin seeds.


Broccoli and cashew stir-fry and Tuesday duathlon

Monday was busy. Without a morning workout and the additional time that would have been spent driving, preparing for and cleaning up after the workout, I started my day early and finished late. But all was good by this morning because I had a great night of sleep last night knowing I tackled a lot on my to-do list and I woke up with a body filled with unused energy from Monday.

This morning I had a workout on my schedule that I was concerned about. Run-bike-run. Ugggh. I am NOT a duathlete, Karel!!!

But, there is always a method behind the madness so instead of starting my doubts and excuses, I went ahead and tried it.

2 mile build run + 1:15 interval bike + 4 mile descending run. 

The first two miles were OK. .Actually, the first mile was OK and the 2nd mile was great. I was sure to do extra dynamic stretching before the run to loosen up the hips and to get the blood flowing but for someone who requires a long warm-up, 7:37 went by and I was making my way back to my car in Nocatee to finish my two-mile (out and back) run. The 2nd mile came in at 7:12 and it felt much better. I am finally learning how to think about my form while running which keeps my HR better-controlled and helps me focus on efficiency and economy when running. The strength training and hip work pays off with every run as I feel myself landing on one leg - relying on my core, hips and glutes for stability and then doing it again with the other leg. Over and over again. Oh the little things we take for granted when we just train for miles. Thank you body for being strong.

After the run I got my bike out of the car and was happy to see Karel about to start his ride. We have been driving 15 minutes down the road to Nocatee to train because the roads are the safest we can find here in Jacksonville and the area makes us feel like we are someone away from "home". Sometimes a change in routine is good for the mind.

Karel is doing 2-days of road racing this weekend. Actually, he is doubling up so two races each day. He has spent little time on his road bike as he is loving his new triathlon lifestyle but I also know he is excited to be riding with the cat 1 guys (and Masters 35+) for a weekend of crit racing and pain.

My main set started as soon as I got on the bike.
10 min Z3 steady
5 x 1/1 (1 min ON - fast cadence 110+ rpm, 1 min OFF - EZ)
10 min Z3 steady
5 x 1/1
10 min Z3 steady
5 x 1/1
10 min Z3 steady
Z2 back to the car (a few minutes)

This is a great set to help with pacing and to teach the legs to pedal at a higher cadence (A work in progress for me in the past few years). In the past month I have done a lot more "strength" at lower cadence on the bike so that is also paying off for my Z3 intervals. Because I "race" a half IM at Z3 low to medium effort, I am working on my speed and cadence knowing that by race day I will be able to perform "faster" at the lower interval zone due to having more power in my legs. There's a lot of work to be made but I'm lucky I have the energy and motivation to keep on working at it.

The legs burned a bit on the ride for the higher intensity intervals and I knew I'd feel it on the run. I do a lot of brick runs and feel most comfortable running off the bike so mentally, I never have to talk myself into running off the bike. It just comes naturally as something that I do in the build phase of my training. I didn't do any bricks from Sept until Jan so it was a nice welcome back for the legs.

The set off the bike was 4 miles descending. The last mile was suppose to be under 7 but I cut myself a deal. I just love this about being an athlete. Here I am, all alone with no accountability for my workout completion except a Garmin to upload onto Training Peaks. Only a piece of paper "telling" me what to do.
So, I started my run and all the thoughts went through my head. How about 3 miles tempo and then walk and 1 mile fast? How about 2 miles EZ and call it a day? How about 4 x 1 miles with 1 min walk in between? I figured regardless of the run distance or effort, I'd be happy with anything after this workout. So, if I could get through 3 miles and descend to a fast pace and not break good form, I would "allow" myself to walk and then run the last mile EZ. Could I have done all four miles descending? Maybe - but this morning I I knew I'd be just as happy with 3 miles descending as I would with 1 mile EZ off the bike.

Mile 1 - 7:37
Mile 2 - 7:21
Mile 3 - 7:11

2 min walk
Mile 4 - 7:37 (Amazing what  a little walk will do. I thought I was running EZ and when looking at my watch, my perceived effort low comfortable but pace was still good. I'll take this one with me to Ironman Lake Placid as I have nothing wrong with walking if it allows me to resist fatigue as much as possible to maintain consistent pace).

As soon as I got home, I went right to the trigger point roller, the ball and my yoga mat. The workouts are getting tougher and I can not afford to overlook anything that will help me reduce risk for injury.

Last night's dinner must have fueled me well for this morning's workout. I hope you enjoy it!


Broccoli (steamed in microwave)
Chickpeas (rinsed and drained from can)
Leftover whole grain (I used my toasted barley - cooked in a little olive oil on medium heat in small skillet - pressed down like hashbrowns and cooked for 8-10 minutes until crunchy and golden brown)
Mushrooms (sliced, washed)
Corn (frozen)
Ginger powder
Soy sauce (1 tsp)
Tofu (firm, cubed - about 1/4th container per person)
Farmers cheese (or your choice cheese)
Cashews (or your choice nut)

1. On large skillet on medium heat, drizzle with 2-3 tsp oil (or up to 1 tbsp for 2-3 people).
2. Add tofu, mushrooms, corn and chickpeas and stir every few minutes to evenly cook all sides. Tofu should get golden brown. Add a little ginger and your choice seasonings.
3. Remove veggies and tofu mixture from pan and add broccoli and drizzle with a little oil to give it a little bit of a grill taste. This should take about 3-4 minutes.
4. Turn off burner and place 1/2 - 1 cup barley in your shallow dish and add your veggie, tofu and broccoli mixture to create your plant strong meal. Drizzle with a little soy sauce and sprinkle with cashews (broken in your hands, 3-4 per person will be a good amount for a nice crunch) and farmers cheese.

TIP: Plan for leftovers so that you have enough for lunch tomorrow. To save time, use frozen veggies and cook in microwave and assemble with 10-minute cooked brown rice and make it a "hot" dish not prepared on stove top. Add your choice of protein. If you have picky eaters in the family, you can prepare some veggies on separate skillets and then prepare your protein in the oven (and a mix of proteins if you want, but plan for leftovers) so that everyone can make their own plate. I recommend serving grains/starches separately so that everyone can portion for their own individual needs as they create a plant strong meal.

Awwww. just so freakin' adorable! I just want to put him in my pocket and take him with me wherever I go!


Two fueling creations - rainbow kale and toasted barley

Not sure which way you want to look at it...refueling or fueling? Either way, the body is always in need of food. Recovering from one workout and preparing for another OR eating because it is an opportunity to nourish your body. No need to stress about "healthy" eating - appreciate the foods that you can put into your body to fuel your workouts and lifestyle routine.
The following two creations received a "YUM" from my non-vegetarian, yet "plant-strong" hubby who is also training hard for the upcoming triathlon season. As I train for my 6th Ironman, he is training for his first Ironman and we both know how important it is to fuel the body and keep the body healthy and well.

Saturday evening creation:
Rainbow kale, roasted potatoes and cooked polenta and tempeh with greek yogurt. 

Rainbow kale (purchased at the farmers market in Nocatee)
Tempeh (2 ounces per person, ~10g protein)
Small baking potatoes (prepared 3 of them) - washed and sliced
Sliced polenta
Olive oil

1. On skillet, heat to low heat and drizzle with olive oil. Remove kale from stems, wash lightly (you can use regular green kale) and tear into pieces. Cook until crunchy and firm (avoid overcooking) - season with a little sea salt and cracked pepper.
2. In an oven heated to 425 degrees - toss sliced potatoes in a little olive oil and season with chili spice and paprika. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
3. On same skillet as kale, remove kale when finished and cook tempeh and polenta (on both sides) until lightly brown.
4. Spoon Oikos Greek yogurt (tastes like sour cream) on plate for potato dipping.

Pre-heat oven before sliced potatoes and removing kale from stems.
To save time, prepare another small skillet and make polenta and tempeh on small skillet while kale is cooking.
To save more time - prepare all items in oven on seperate baking dishes (use olive oil or non stick spray to prevent sticking) and check regularly to prevent overcooking/burning.

Sunday morning creation
Veggie stuffed omelet with toasted barley served with sides of yogurt, fruit and granola

2 egg whites + 1 whole egg
1 spoonful greek yogurt (about 1 tbsp)
Mixed veggies - I used spinach, mushrooms, baby tomatoes and onions
Fruit of your choice - I used frozen blueberries (defrosted by the time I ate them), sliced banana and strawberries - about 1 cup total fruit
1/2 cup or so of Fage Greek yogurt (tastes creamy unlike Oikos which is more sour)
Granola - google Trimarni Granola and you will find several of my creations if you want to make your own. (In the past I used Skippy - I recommend Smuckers Natural)
Cooked barley - or your choice of whole grain

1. On large skillet, heat to medium heat. Drizzle with olive oil and cook mushrooms, onions and tomatoes. When mushrooms are slightly brown, add handful of spinach and toss a few times before removing.
2. On same skillet, turn heat to low. Scramble eggs w/ yogurt (1 tbsp) until yogurt is combined.
3. Add eggs to skillet (use a little spray or olive oil to prevent sticking - I used a little olive oil). Lift up pan as you add eggs to remove from burner and spread eggs all over pan until evenly distributed to make a large omelet. If the eggs separate, use your spatula to combine.
4. When eggs are cooked on one side (2-3 minutes), flip to other side. Cook for 1-2 minutes and turn off burner. Add cooked veggies and close omelet. Slide with spatula and remove onto your plate.
5. For cooked barley, used small skillet on medium heat and with a little olive oil (lightly covered the bottom - about 1 tsp) cover bottom and add barley. Press down to cover a light layer of barley on pan (kinda like cooking hash browns). Cook for 8-10 minutes or until barley begins to turn a little golden brown, then scramble to cook all parts of barley.

To save time after a workout, turn on burner to prepare veggies and another burner to cook barley as soon as you are ready to jump into the shower. Drizzle with olive oil and place veggies on one skillet and barley on other. Obviously, be safe as you don't need a fire or burnt food. I showered and by the time I was finished (a few minutes) I was ready to toss my veggies and barley.
You can use any leftover grain and toast it in the oven at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes to give it a nice crunchy and powerful taste. Same with on the skillet.
If you are someone who craves a lot of salty/crunchy food after workouts, replace granola with YOUR CHOICE of crunch - chips, crackers, pita chips, cereal.
For Greek yogurt - I like Fage non fat because it is creamy like yogurt and Oikos non fat because it tastes like sour cream. I choose both plain flavors and use them differently depending on how I am using them (ex. like yogurt or sour cream). My other favorite yogurt is plain Dannon non fat if I am not seeking extra protein in my meal from yogurt.
Do not go into your meal starving. After your workout (or before a meal), plan a small snack. Post workout - have a glass of milk or your yogurt or smoothie with fruit, a little cereal or your favorite slice of bread. Pre dinner, have a few chopped veggies or pear slices.

Send me an email with any questions on meal prep or food concerns/modifications. Enjoy!

No-guilt nutrition on recovery/off days

Two weeks of quality training are behind me. It doesn't seem like a lot but I still have 6 more months to go before Ironman Lake Placid and without emphasis on recovery, there is no way I can progress with intentional exercise-induced stress and fatigue.

My body is going strong but to be proactive, I will rest my body and mind before I really need it. A solid 9 hours of sleep last night and I know a day off from training was needed since I am not a napper and nighttime is the only time I can rejuvenate and repair. I am a fan of active recovery (ex. swim, non-weight bearing activity) as a replacement for a day off but never when it comes with waking up with an alarm. Seeing that the drive to and from the gym may take more time than the actual swim, alongside feeling rushed, meal prep, etc. I didn't even need to think twice about not doing an active recovery/drill-focused swim this morning since I asked myself last night "What will I gain from this swim?" NOTHING. I'd rather walk Campy and stretch.

Sometimes active recovery does a body good but I do not associate active recovery with body-image control, feeling guilty about eating on off days or feeling "off" without a workout. All I have to think about is my upcoming week of training on Training Peaks and the day off is exactly what I need to help me out with the next 6 days of training.

A while back I wrote an article on nutrition on off/recovery days and I feel it is an appropriate time to share the article again. Seeing that we are almost into February, if you are sticking with an exercise resolution or if you just started your triathlon training/running/cycling plan to gear up for the upcoming season, it is likely that you still going strong and perhaps, haven't considered the beauty in rest and recovery.

The key with off days is to not lose focus of recovery. The idea of a planned rest day (whether Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday - depending on when you need the recovery to ensure a quality, consistent week of training) is to keep up with all the things that you need to do to ensure a great next x-days of training. Sleep, stress management, stretching and diet are key as you can not assume you will recover from the past 6 days or so of training just by not doing cardio or strength training and eating whatever you want and sitting around with tight muscles. Take that control that you have with the diet and exercise/training (which is likely the reason why you struggle with taking planned "off" days) and use that for your recovery day so that you will increase the chance of having consistent training all month long.

Thanks for reading!

Nutrition on rest days from exercise/training


Weekend training recap

I'm happy to report, another consistent week of training. I love the freedom of the weekends but my life never stops when it comes to my business. I look forward to the weekends like everyone else but I also find enjoyment in every day of the week. I find that life becomes very rushed when we only look forward to the weekends for with 4 weeks in a month, only being happy about 8 days a month seems kinda upsetting when you think about it. 

Training was good. Hard both mentally and physically but sleep, stress management, diet and proper training scheduling has allowed me to see gains within every training session. Campy is an expert recovery partner so as I stay busy on the computer, he does extra resting for me. I was "on call" at the hospital this weekend. A patient I had to attend to yesterday had alcohol abuse and liver disease and was intubated after admit so the MD on the case consulted the on-call RD (me) for tube feeding recommendations (formula and rate). Being a clinical RD really makes me appreciate the freedom we have to make choices every day to live our life to the fullest....and the voluntary desire we have to live a healthy and active lifestyle.

Thanking my body for another week of training was in full effect after my workout on today (Sunday). I find many people do a lot more body bashing than thanking. Certainly we should be thanking our body for what it allows us to do on a daily basis, despite our eating habits, sleeping habits or tendency to overwork and stress-out which may cause the body to feel fatigued, weak, injured or tired. Yet we still expect our body to perform well during work, chores, errands and of course, exercise/training. 

Saturday workout: 
3 hour bike - 30 min warm-up. Join the Lodge-ride group in Nocatee.
-With the group I did my intervals on the left side of the group as to not draft directly but to still push myself. This group is a great group and I love the guys on the ride. They are all really nice and supportive and a mix of cyclist, bike lovers and triathletes. Sometimes there are fixies on the ride and that always amazes me! I have a hard enough time at times keeping up with all my do they do it with 1 gear and no brakes??

Main set: 
2 x 12 min Z3 w/ 2 min EZ (for the EZ I joined the group, although I am not sure it was recovery for the full 2 minutes)
2 x 20 min Z3 w/ 4 min EZ
10 min EZ
4 x 8 min Z4 w/ 2 min EZ
Z2 for the remainder of the ride
(60 mile ride)

30 minute form-focused transition run:
7:38 min/mile average pace, 4 miles
7:50, 7:44, 7:34, 7:22 min/mile (out and back, headwind out, tailwind back)

Sunday workout: 
(I did my long-run of 11 miles on Thurs which included 3 x 10 min half marathon pace w/ 2 min walk recovery. Then 5 min recovery jog. Then 5 x 90 sec @ 10K pace w/ 45 sec walk recovery)

1:45 bike - 30 min warm-up in Nocatee.
(windy morning but great weather!)

Main set: 
5 x 3 min Z4 w/ 2 min EZ
5 min EZ spin
20 min TT effort (time trial effort - sustainable max power)
15 min Z2 steady
Cool down

50 min transition run:
2 mile warm-up (8:10 min/mile, 8:02 min/mile)
2 min walk break/stretch/lower HR

Main set:
3 miles continuous, steady sustainable pace (very windy):
7:41.09 (HR 137)
7:41.30 (HR 145)
7:41.83 (HR 149)
1 min walk break
1 mile "hard" - 6:54 min/mile (HR 155)
Cool down
Total: Average pace 7:59 min/mile, 6.74 miles, 53:52 total time

I really enjoyed both sets that Karel gave me this weekend. What I liked the most was having a perceived effort run today since it would be hard to nail specific splits like I did last weekend. My body is tired but still recovering very well after workouts. Thankfully I don't get lingering fatigue but I also do a lot of stretching and still keeping up with strength training.
This is all part of training - consistency and adapting with the least amount of training stress. The goal with performance gains is to not train hard when you feel great and then make excuses when you don't feel good. You have to train smart.
I believe in using my garmin wisely and setting up proper screens to help with pacing (Ex. One of my four screens on my Garmin 910XT has lap time, current pace, lap pace and current HR to help me with pacing. One of my screens on my Garmin 500 on my bike has normalized power, 3 second power, current cadence, current speed, lap time, lap distance) and I also believe in not counting myself out from any workout until I am forced to make a decision. I also get great sleep which is my top secret to not getting sick (for the past 5 years, no flu shots and no daily multivitamins - although everyone is different so I am not advocating anything without discussing with your physician) and when I say sleep - it is restful and deep for 7-8 hours most days of the week. Oh and in my bed...not on the couch with the TV on. I believe in a balanced lifestyle and all of this contributes to performance gains and consistent training.

The number one thing that keeps me excited to train is consistency. Being able to bounce back from off workouts and to challenge myself in the great workouts. I constantly battle with my mind when I think to myself "I don't know if I can do that" as I think about an upcoming set or workout. So, instead I allow myself to stay in the present and wait until that  moment happens. Funny thing - more often than not, that moment (when I thought I would be struggle) doesn't occur or doesn't hurt as bad as I thought..or if it does hurt, it is still something that I can overcome. 

Stay tuned tomorrow for two of the yummy creations that helped me fuel for my workouts this weekend. Hope you had a great weekend and be sure to enjoy (and make the most of) the next 5 days!

Discover your talent

When I was younger (in High School), I never felt talented. I loved being a competitive swimmer for more than just winning. Likely that's because I didn't win very much....if at all. I would qualify for prelims and maybe finals in the 200 butterfly (my specialty) but never did I stand on the podium in first place. I remember my senior year of college qualifying for prelims in the 200 butterfly and then finding out after I had swam that someone had scratched for finals and for the first time ever, I would be swimming in my first state finals! What a great experience for me and I had a best time of 2:19 (I think - from what I can remember).
The only results I can find from my swimming career online are from the NAIA National Championships from college (in Canada - we swam in a meter pool, not yards) and this was also a very special experience for me as I trained really hard in the pool alongside balancing my school-work at Transylvania University (Lexington, KY).

Despite having some good first-time/newbie results in my triathlon and running career, talent was never a word I used in my vocabulary when describing my success as an athlete. Bottom line: I had goals and I worked hard for them. I didn't sit around wishing for things to happen. When I set my mind to something, I allow myself to be patient with the process of working hard for what I want. I don't like to rush things in life because they best moments and experiences are felt after you have committed yourself for weeks, months, if not years to one goal. A goal that perhaps, others have wanted yet were not willing to wait and work for.

It's time to discover your talent. You can't reach your talent if you are always comparing yourself to others.
In the book MIND GYM (Gary Mack and David Casstevens) there are two really great chapters that keep me reminding myself how important goal setting and hard work are to success as athletes and in our personal life.

Appropriately titled "Progress not perfection", pg 60 reads:
Goal setting is a master skill for personal growth and peak performance. I can't stress this too much. Without goals, where will you go in life? If you don't know where you are headed, you're probably going to wind up somewhere other than where you want to be. 
Goals keep everyone on target (Dick Hannula)
pg 61:
Goal setting is a way of bringing the future into the present so you can take action now. Goals improve performance. Goals improve the quality of practices. They clarify expectations and help increase self-confidence by seeing yourself get better. Goals also increase the motivation to achieve.
Basic principles of goal setting:
1) Develop performance goals as well as outcome goals. A performance goal, or action goal is something you can control. The outcome will take care of itself. 

2) Goals should be challenging but realistic. Greg Norman says "The trick is in setting them at the right level, neither too low nor too high. A good goal should be lofty enough to inspire hard work, yet realistic enough to provide a sense of hope and attainment. Dick Hannula "Goals must be high enough to excite you, yet not so high that you cannot vividly imagine them. Goals must be attainable but just out of reach for now."
3) SMART - Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Realistic. Time-bound. 
4) Set daily or short-term goals. The way to achieve long-term goals is to break them down into small steps. Effective goal setting is like a staircase. Each step is an action step - an increment of progress. "Inch by inch it's a cinch."

Pg 65: Don't shirk the work:
We all want to win. Every athlete wants to succeed. But the ones who do are those who separate wanting from being willing to make the sacrifice that winning demands. Pg 67:
In sports, as in life, there is no substitute for commitment. Vince Lombardi called it heart power. "A man can be as great as he wants to be. If you believe in yourself and have the courage, the determination, the the competitive drive and if you are willing to sacrifice the little things in life to pay the price for the things that are worthwhile, it can be done. Once a man has made a commitment...he puts the greatest strength in the world behind him. It's something we call heart power. Once a man has made this commitment, nothing will stop him short of success.

It takes years of hard work to become an overnight success. Are you willing to make the commitment and pay the price?