Essential Sports Nutrition


Sweet and spicy wraps

I guess I should follow up with my previous blog topic when I discussed Karel feeling "off" on Tues. Well, after a massage on Tues and a meeting with his sport nutritionist/chef (aka ME), Karel was physically feeling much better after he got off work on Tues as his mind was never "off" and he still had motivation but just couldn't find that extra gear in his legs. After a great night of sleeping on Tuesday, he was looking forward to a perceived exertion mid-week "long" ride on Wednesday, followed by a short run (his day off from work since he works Saturday's). 

On Wednesday we left our place early in the morning for a 3 hour ride and as we neared 30 minutes, I knew something wasn't right.....Karel was feeling good. Actually, more than good. 

Not even looking at his power meter and simply going by perceived exertion, Karel was "dancing" on his peddles as I was thinking to, if I could only have a RPE ride averaging 22-23mph!

After ~3 hours and around 64-65 miles, we arrived back at home and he went for a 4 mile "go by feel" run...I walked Campy around the block.
I, on the other hand, did not have the day off work (not sure I ever do as a small business owner), as I needed to get to work (home office) and I was glad to skip a run off the bike because my body was not expecting Karel's "steady" pace on Wed. I suppose I secretly like it when Karel has "off" days but then again, I can't get faster and stronger if I am not being pushed. Thanks Karel for bouncing back as if you never had an "off" legs thank you for that ride. 

So to return the favor as I always do, I thanked Karel for letting me discover a new limit with my cycling by preparing a delicious "light" meal on Thursday evening. I took Thursday easy and only swam in the morning - although a 4800 and a great main set solo and then with Karel (I helped him pace 4 x 400's at his IM pace). 

After Karel got home from an evening 1:20 run on Thursday, I decided he needed something light on the stomach to ensure that he could refuel but still get a good night of rest. I made a smoothie earlier that morning so I froze ~16 ounces of it for Karel for the evening knowing he would be doing an evening workout. 

Dinner was super easy to prepare and deliciously tasty.


 I loved the flavors of the spicy wrap and Karel yummed his way through the dessert wrap. I hope you enjoy and feel free to modify to create your own spicy and sweet wraps/ 

Mexican wrap
1 wrap
Mixed greens
Spreadable cheese (I used farmers cheese) - you can also use avocado, hummus or any spread
1 egg +1 egg white (scrambled with a dallop of greek yogurt) - I did this in the microwave, on intervals of 45 seconds, scrambling every 45 seconds with a fork. 
Black beans
Green bell pepper

Dessert wrap1 wrap
Orange slices (you could do any fruit that you like to pair with chocolate - apples, pears, banana or pineapple would go great!)
2 dark chocolate hershey kisses (or any chocolate of your choosing) - melt chocolate (unwrapped) on wrap in microwave on plate for ~45-90 seconds until slightly melted. Quickly spread with knife before chocolate cools and gets clumpy.

(You can use any wrap of your choosing OR you can make your own "wrap" by using your favorite pancake recipe/batter and making it a light consistency by adding extra water and then cooking on skillet to make a very large, thin pancake)


What to do when your workout doesn't workout

Karel and I have always been active....although I think we had our priorities different when it came to bike riding. Since when did it become uncool to ride your bike without a stuffed animal?

One of the best parts about sharing an active lifestyle with someone else is seeing each other grow in a sport (or with fitness). We all have great workouts now and then but not always are they shared with others.

The other day, Karel had an "off" day on the bike. We did a swim+ bike workout and although he had an amazing workout in the pool, he just had no power in legs on the bike. Rather than try to push through it, I continued on with the workout as planned and Karel did his own thing which involved soft pedaling and a little drafting off my wheel. We all have those days when we feel a little "off" but knowing how to handle those days may be different for all of us. Since Karel and I coach ourselves, it is easy to modify workouts on a whim although making smart choices as athletes is not always easy (hence why it is important to have a coach, even if it is your significant other as we all need someone to tell us when to "rest" and not push through).

So what should you do if your workout is just not working out? Here are a few of my tips as to how to bounce back from an "off" day.

If you are having a nutrition-related "off" day, identify what went wrong. Generally, going long hours without eating, overeating a large portion (or late at night), eating a large amount of processed food or skimping on balanced meals can contribute to feel "off". Certainly, this is why it is so important to address the daily diet when it comes to performance/fitness as food is our fuel.

Sport Nutrition
If you are having a sport-nutrition-related "off" day, address what foods/products are not working for you. Maybe it is the intensity/duration or workout or maybe a food isn't sitting right. Generally, it is recommended to reduce fat/fiber before a workout  to help with digestion and be sure to drink water to promote digestion/absorption of nutrients before and during the workout. Many times, athletes under-fuel during workouts so it is important to recognize the importance of sport nutrition before, during and after workouts when your body is under the most training stress.

If there is one area in your life to blame for feeling tired while working out, it is not getting enough restful sleep. Although exercise is important on a daily basis, one should never skimp on sleep just to workout early in the morning (or late at night). Try to create an exercise/training schedule that allows for a restful night of sleep most days a week. For many people, 7-8 hours is the magic number which may mean going to bed a little earlier or cutting a workout short a little in order to get to work on time in the morning.

Stretching/flexibility/strength training
Although stretching and strength training can certainly enhance workouts by encouraging strong muscles to move in their full range of motion, strength training should only enhance your cardio routine. Be sure to allow adequate rest after strength training so that you are not sabotaging good form while training during cardio. Also, make time for stretching post workout and include a dynamic warm-up before working out. Many times, the body just needs to wake up and get the blood flowing so before counting yourself out of a workout, be sure to actively warm-up.

Pump yourself up
A good song, a good quote, a call from a friend/family member. There are many ways to turn an "off" day into a great day. Try to see if you can bring yourself into a positive state of mind before working out as many times we can allow stress, emotions and thoughts to keep us from working out when we all know that we are always one workout away from a great mood.

Modifying workouts
I have a suggestion to everyone in that all you have to do is think small when working out. Whether you are having a hard time getting motivation, nervous about your training workout or feeling tired, just tell yourself that all you have to do is workout/exercise for 10 minutes. If you can at least get yourself started, more often than not you will find yourself working out longer than planned. If you aren't feeling it by 20 minutes, just call it a day or if anything, just go for a walk. Lastly, we all need to know how to make progress with fitness. Many times, saying "I can't" will keep you in the same place. To move yourself forward, how about modifying your workout. If you planned to run, just walk. If your workout called for intervals, reduce the intensity. Make progress, don't aim for perfection.

Keep it fun
Don't forget your goals or reasons for working out. I love to train for triathlons but I really love to exercise. I just love using and moving my body so anytime I am not "feeling it" (which is not that often thanks to a balanced training plan with quality workouts), I just feel grateful that I am moving my body.

Forget the gadgets
Ever see a kid running with a garmin while playing tag? Sometimes you just have to have fun and that means going by perceived exertion. It may be helpful to have gadgets with you to reflect on the workout but don't worry about pace, time, HR, speed, etc. Just enjoy your time out with your body.

Rest and recovery
A massage can be a beautiful thing. Karel and I get massages 2-3 times  a month as part of our pre-hab. It is very important to me that with all the work I do with my body, that I keep it as healthy as possible with recovery and sometimes I can't do that alone. We have amazing sport massage therapists in our life which are worth the money. Other methods of recovery include trigger point, foam rolling, compression, espon salt, compex, sport legs, arnica cream and simple rest and relaxation with a clear mind.

I hope you find these tips helpful. Don't let an "off" day ruin your week. Be appreciative of the progress you have made and keep your eyes on where you are heading. If you are having trouble getting the motivation you need to get started, send me an email. I have pre-built run/tri plans available if you need something to help you stay consistent or we can discuss your missing link in your diet/fitness routine.

Happy training/exercising.


Athletes and fitness enthusiasts: a few good reads

I remember this day like it was yesterday. 2006 Ironman Florida.

Months and months of training were put to good use when I crossed my first Ironman finishing line in PCB Florida. What an exciting day...a day that I will never forget. Everyone thought I was crazy for "racing" 140.6 miles but my 24 year-old mind and body fell in love with endurance triathlons and since then, I still continue to find myself  looking forward to another IM journey.

I've been a bit busy with work at the hospital, my business and training...oh, and of course, cooking and snuggling with Campy. Luckily, I get to spend many "dates" with my hubby these days as we are swimming, biking and (not at the same speed) running together on a daily basis. We get to share the highs and lows of Ironman training together and I have really enjoyed every moment (the good and the lessons learned) since signing up for IM Lake Placid last July.

(2006 Ironman Florida - Karel and I were dating. He made me this will see a few important references such as a burger from McDonald's to make me laugh, animals to make me smile and a sign pointing to Kona to keep me focused at my first Ironman). 

Here are a few articles that I have been quoted in as well as a few helpful articles that I wrote for all the athletes and fitness enthusiasts out there who are working toward individual health, fitness, diet and body composition goals. 

Move out of your comfort zone
Hydrate yourself for summer training


Adapt to the least amount of training stress: the "long" run

When you mention the word endurance athlete, I think most people would instantly think "long" workouts. As that would be expected if you are training for a "long" event. In my multisport world, Ironman and Marathon are the two big endurance events but I would also like to include anything over 2 hours, such as a half marathon or olympic distance triathlon for many.

When it comes to building endurance, there are many approaches as to the best way to improve the cardio, muscular and respiratory systems as well as building confidence for the big, long day. But before we jump ahead as to the best way to build endurance, I think I must point out the best way to train for any event.....

Forget about what your training partners are doing, what you read in a magazine or what a friend of a friend told you to do to improve fitness. The general and most basic approach to training involves periodization. If you do the same thing over and over, expect the same result. However, infrequent workouts bring infrequent results. Consistency is key as you continually stress the body.
That is, the most appropriate way for you to appropriately adapt to a sequence of training is in a way in which your body is overloaded to adapt to training stress but not at the cost of injury, burnout and fatigue. In order for this periodization principle to be executed properly, athletes must recognize that there must be a healthy balance between training and recovery so that you peak at the right time and training intensity/volume is specific to training and racing goals. In other words - there is no "best" way to train but instead the right way for your body to consistently (key word) progress with training....and still function as a normal human-being in life.

Structurally, your body must be flexible, strong and biomechanically "healthy" to move with proper form and skill and metabolically, your body must be able to provide energy to meet the demands of training.

For many athletes, the motivation is there but the body doesn't always perform. For others, the mind and body struggle to maintain energy as training progresses. I find that most athletes have about 3-4 "great" weeks in their system when they start a new training plan or start training for a race. Thus, this is where many adaptations quickly take place. However, athletes are known to be a bit inpatient and instead of progress continuing to be made after 3-4 weeks, athletes begin to plateau with fitness (and often, struggle with body composition issues) and recovery is delayed, motivation dwindles and goals are forgotten (or the opposite - the athlete continues to push with a body that is not responding appropriately to training stress).

In order to maintain optimal health as you see/feel yourself progress with your athletic training, it is important that you recognize that the best performances by athletes are done with individualized training. Therefore, how your body responds to training stress may be different from your training buddies. You can follow a similar training plan but your approach - the duration, frequency and intensity - may be different. Thus, it is important to recognize that throughout many cycles of "epic workouts" and finishing workouts you never thought you could start along with resting and recovering the body when it needed to rejuvenate, this is where the magic happens. It is not one or two great long workouts (or "yay, glad that is over") but instead, many orchestrated workouts that allow you to recover and then peak at the right time and eventually, race at your full potential on race day.

When it comes to endurance training, there are many approaches to improve running endurance.
For example, I have many of my athletes doing different styles of run training depending on how they adapt to training stress as well as their primary goals for race day.

A few different strategies for improving running endurance:
-mid week "long" runs
-long runs off a short bike warm-up
-mile repeaters during a long run
-fast intervals, a few times per week
-two a day runs, once or twice a week instead of a long run
-run/walk workouts
-plyometrics/hip strength
-cross training
-track workouts
-group runs
-hill workouts

As you can see, there is no right or best way to improve running endurance and despite what your training buddies may tell you, those long runs, weekend after weekend can be very damaging and non-productive.

Rather than blogging about the physiology of the body (I sure do love that stuff!) , I will keep things simple so that you can have a few take aways from this blog to figure out the best way to improve our running endurance.
- The primary prescription for building endurance is based on training frequency, training duration and training intensity.
-Research has shown that running twice per week may produce similar changes in VO2 max as training 5 days per week. However, if training intensity is low, you will need more frequent workouts to increase aerobic capacity.
-Depending on your workout intensity, this will determine your workout duration. If your intensity is above lactic threshold, the duration should be kept short due to fatigue.
-Although an increase in intensity will likely shorten the duration of activity, keep in mind that if training intensity is kept low, a greater frequency of training may be needed to elicit the desired physiological adaptations to enhance endurance performance.


To maximize aerobic capacity, whatever workout you are doing should create an overload on the physiological processes of the body in order to result in adaptation. This is where it is up to you, as the athlete, to consider the risk-to-benefit relationship that exists when training for an endurance event. Increasing the duration of training too quickly may increase risk for overtraining and injury. Increasing the intensity too quickly or too hard, may cause premature fatigue. Not increasing the duration or intensity may have you wondering why you aren't making progress with your fitness.

When an athlete builds endurance, several things are taking place in the body to adapt to stress:
-Increase in cardiac output
-Increase in stroke volume
-Increase in blood volume and hemoglobin concentration
-Increase in blood flow to exercising muscles
-Decrease in resting heart rate and blood pressure
-Increase in mitochondrial size and number
-Increase in oxidative enzymes
-Increase in capillary density
-Increase in reliance on stored fat as an energy source
-Possible increase in myoglobin content
-Increase in VO2 max
-Rise in toleration of lactic threshold
-Improved ratings of perceived exertion
-Improve metabolic efficiency
-Improved mental strength

Out of all those adaptations that take place as we work on building endurance, there is no guarantee that running 20+ mile runs before a marathon will help you out on race day or running 3 hours as you train for IM will ensure that you will have a strong run off the bike.

It is without saying that you body must learn to tolerate stress if you are training for a long distance event and you have a lot to work on when it comes to training your body and mind but it important to consider the many types of workouts (ex. intervals,repeaters, tempo runs, hills, fartleks, short/easy runs, cross training, longer runs, brick workouts) that contribute to an increase in endurance. Many times, athletes forget that each workout stacks on the other to build endurance.

And most importantly, if your body is not physically ready to adapt to stress, it is important that you strengthen your body prior to pushing your body. Weak muscles do not respond well to weight-bearing activity for weak muscles bring poor form. The same is true with slacking on nutrition and how it affects your form, mind and recovery during a long run.... trying to progress too quickly with an endurance running routine will only bring haphazard results.

As I continue to blog about my 6th Ironman journey, I enjoy sharing my workouts with others but also with the hopes that I can inspire you to train in a way that allows for consistent success as you have fun with your training. Yes - there are hard workouts and the body will not like you at times but never should you feel as if training takes over your life and never should you stop liking training, especially when you paid money to train for an event.

Sunday's brick - My workout:

2 hour bike + 2 hour run
2 hour bike - 1st hour warm-up (as I progress with IM training, I often need longer warm-ups to get my body excited to train). 2nd hour w/ Karel on his wheel - nice and steady at a little faster than my IM pace (power).

2 hour run - solo
Run 1 mile, walk 10-12 seconds in between each mile. Per my mental coach Gloria, I am only allowed to focus on one thing at a time. When I am biking, I can not think about the run off the bike. When I am running, I can't think about how many miles I have left. It's amazing how much I can think about within a mile - it is a great way for me to stay focused and in the moment.

13.15 miles
Total time: 1:52
Average pace (including walk breaks) 8:32
(I refilled my bottles at mile 7 and mile 10, 2 minute break each time. Goal was to hold around 8:20 pace)
Mile 1: 8:19
Mile 2: 8:23
Mile 3: 8:17
Mile 4: 8:21
Mile 5: 8:19
Mile 6: 8:17
Mile 7: 8:13
Mile 8: 8:23
Mile 9: 8:28
Mile 10: 8:31
Mile 11: 8:21
Mile 12: 8:19 (I cut a deal with myself as miles 10-12 were getting really hard - it was very hot and I was running into the wind and my body was tired but still I was holding good form. The deal was if I could run sub 8:20 on mile 12, I could go "easy" on the last mile...done!)
Mile 13: 9:02
(my walk breaks ended up ranging from 10-22 seconds which I walked every mile from 1-13, from my Garmin which still gave me a consistent 8:32 pace and a body that recovers quickly so that I can have another consistent week of quality training)

Sunday's brick - Karel's workout

10 mile group run + 3 hour bike + 6 mile run

Another style of training based on Karel's goals and his fitness and how he adapts to training. The first 10 miles were a comfortable pace for Karel, between 7-7:30 min/miles for most of it (don't hold me to that though :) which he did with a group of runners at 6:30am at the beach. He then went for a 3 hour ride (I sat on his wheel for 1 hour of it) which was a nice steady ride at his IM pace. The 6 miles off the bike were by feel and Karel said he ended up feeling better on the 2nd run than the first run.

Two different approaches to the "long" run and both of us finished our 2nd big week of IM training. We are both feeling great and we have been recovering really well from our workouts..just enough stress to adapt but not too much that we feel lingering fatigue or injuries.

Of course, having good nutrition during the day and proper sport nutrition helps but we can't blame everything on nutrition. Train smart, train hard and recover harder.

6 more weeks.....thumbs up for fun, consistent training :)