Essential Sports Nutrition


Race season planning - tri in 30 days

Caitlin C. from Women's Health Magazine is continuing her journey of training for her first triathlon in 30 days. She is getting ready for the Iron Girl Sandy Hook sprint triathlon on Sept 8th and I have really enjoyed helping Caitlin prepare for this upcoming adventure. 

In case you missed her previous posts, here are the links:

Since I LOVE helping athletes and fitness enthusiasts prepare for starting lines, I can't stress enough that training for any type of event (just like in life) takes time, commitment and an understanding that there will be many ups and downs and obstacles to overcome. The most important thing in any training journey is that you are enjoying seeing yourself make progress (in other words - you are making progress with your health, fitness and nutrition and not just checking off the miles). Caitlin C from Women's Health comes from a running background and accepted this triathlon challenge in 30 days because it was something that she wanted to commit herself to. I'm so excited to hear about her race day experience on Sept 8th. Keep up the great work Caitlin C!!

And speaking of Caitlin...

Trimarni Coaching athlete (pre-built plan) Caitlin Boyle from Healthy Tipping Point has been training for her first 70.3 triathlon which will be in Miami at the end of the October. I am so excited to watch her race as Campy and I will be there to cheer on Karel as he also races the half ironman in Miami.

Reading about Caitlin's journey has been wonderful as she shares the highs and lows of life as a mom, business owner and fitness enthusiasts as she dreams big and works hard for her 70.3 medal. 

Training for a race is not easy and it isn't for everyone. There is a right time and a place for the right race and it is important that you do not rush the journey. Here are my top tips for planning your upcoming A race:
1) Time of the year - make sure your race falls at a time when you are not under a lot of stress in life (or you can minimize stress). 
2) Consider the race course -  Does the course excite you?
3) Prep - do you have enough time to properly prepare your mind and body, practice/perfect nutrition, get stronger, raise thresholds and accommodate for missed workouts due to life? 
4) Logistics - consider traveling, lodging, eating, race venue, spectating (family/friends), price, etc. Don't just sign up for a race because it is open for registration. Always do your research first. 
5) Set realistic short and long term goals - hopefully your next A race is not your last. There's nothing wrong with dreaming big but keep in mind that you are making investments for a future of racing (hopefully) and that every race builds off one another. Absolutely you can have a stellar "first race" experience but if you have the right coach/training plan, you can expect to get stronger and faster overtime so don't limit yourself for the future but do not put too much pressure on yourself at the beginning. 
6) Work hard, recover harder - not every body is designed for racing/training, especially swim-bike-run (or solo sports). Although hard work is required to arrive to the starting line with a nutrition and pacing plan that allows you to put all your training (8-12 weeks) to the test, be mindful that in order to race you have to actually get to the starting line. Discovering the "right" balance of training is very hard for athletes, especially if you are overly focused on miles or doubt yourself in training. Trust yourself that you can receive the most performance gains with the least amount of stress so long as you don't over-train yourself (especially in the first 3-4 weeks of training). 
7) Have a team - it takes a village to raise an athlete. Massage therapist, dietitian, coach, family/friends (Sherpa), PT, chiropractor, bike shop mechanic, running gait expert, exercise physiologist, etc. There are many people that you can involve in your training to help ensure that you will have a fun, enjoyable experience as you prepare your body and mind for your upcoming race. Do not feel you have to do it all alone as there are others who have knowledge to help people like you reach your goals. 
8) Don't take short cuts - nothing worth having comes easy or quick. Training for an event requires money for equipment/gear as well as time, patience and a good attitude. Enjoy the journey and remember that even if you aren't where you want to be on race day, you are probably somewhere that you weren't when you started. Never give up until you get what you want in life. 

Since I am all about season planning (since I typically do not race a lot but instead, make my races count), here are my big races for 2014-2015 (Karel will be racing a bit more than me):
St. Croix 70.3 - May 4th (me and Karel) - I've wanted to do this race for several years. Time to make the dream come true.
Ironman Austria - June 29th (me and Karel)
(IM Austria is a trip to visit Karel's family and the Europeans that live over seas are too fast for either of us to qualify for Kona so we will enjoy our first international race). 

2015 - Either IM Canada OR IMCDA to try to qualify for Kona 2015.

Karel plans to do another IM in late summer 2014 to try to qualify for Kona 2015 so that we can both live out our dream of racing on the big island together. It will take a lot of work, patience and time but if life is going to pass on by anyways, we may as well enjoy every day of it with our triathlon lifestyle. Triathlons are not our life, but our lifestyle and we love to race to travel, travel to race. 

Whatever race you decide to do this year or next, be sure to consider what will make for a great race experience, not only for you but also your friends and family that support you. You never want to let a goal or a lifestyle negatively affect the rest of your life. You are not forced to be a triathlete, cyclist or runner but instead, life is about living a healthy and active lifestyle with your one and only body. 

Have a great, safe, fun weekend! 


Kona IM training update + yummy creations

Wow - 45 days until the big day!! I'm so excited for my 3rd opportunity to race in the Ironman World Championship and I am incredibly grateful to my body for allowing me to have some awesome workouts so quickly after recovering from Ironman Lake Placid (IM #6). 

Last week was very challenging but I allowed myself plenty of rest so that the weekly volume wasn't so high that my immune system, motivation and body would suffer. 

Sunday was a mentally and physically tough workout thanks to Coach Karel for reminding me that you don't get very far without hard work....and you have to get faster before you go longer. 

Saturday: AM 4 hour bike + 45 min run (average pace ~8:15-8:20 min/mile) (brick)
Bike Main set: 
4 x 30 min @ 10-15 watts higher than IM pace w/ 4 min EZ in between

Nothing like a 2 hour and 16 minute main set to keep my mind focused. 

Monday was a day off (+ hip/core work and stretching). 

Tuesday: AM 1:45 bike (trainer) + 6 mile run (+ 1/2 mile campy run) (brick)
Main set 3x's:
5 min @ Z4 watts, 10 min Z3, 5 min Z4
5 min EZ spinning
(another mentally and physically tough workout!)

6 mile run off the bike:
First mile steady, perceived effort 7 out of 10. walk 1 minute.
Main set: 4 x 1 miles at sub 7:30 min/mile pace (Half IM pace) w/ good form w/ 1 min walk in between
(7:22, 7:21, 7:12, 7:18 min/mile)
Cool down + Campy run

Wednesday: AM 1 hour swim + 1 hour run (brick)
Swim: 3100 yards
Main set: (with 1 minute rest in between each set)
4 x 200's w/ 20 sec rest (IM effort)
4 x 100's w/ 10 sec rest (olympic distance effort)
4 x 50s w/ 5 sec rest (fast)
4  25's w/ 5 sec rest (fast)

20 min warm-up (walk as needed to keep good form, slow pace)
Main set (20-60 minutes):
3 min @ marathon goal pace, 2 min @ half marathon goal pace. Straddle treadmill 30 sec, keep repeating until 1 hour.
Total 7 miles with warm-up//cool down 
Stretching + light hip/core work

Body and mind feel healthy and happy. No signs of being run-down, overtrained or injured and I love the balance of training with life. Just enough training stress for my body to adapt but not too much that my life would feel overwhelming with the upcoming IM. I'm looking forward to a bike-only workout tomorrow, long swim on Friday and a solid 3-day weekend of training with focus on intensity and moderate volume (and day off Tues). My first "long" ride after Placid will not occur until Sept 7th and that will be 5 hours. 

I love to keep my body and brain fueled on a daily basis, in addition to fueling before, during and after EVERY workout that I do. No ifs, ands or butts about it...I love to fuel my body when it is under the most physiological stress as my body doesn't need  "extra" fuel when I am sitting around in the evening after dinner from 7-bed (~9;30/10pm) and it rarely asks for it because it received adequate fuel when I want it to adapt to get stronger, faster and healthier. There is no time during my day that I restrict myself from food so I am consciously aware of when my body needs it the most.

Nutty Fruity Oats

Sunflower seeds
Flax seeds
1/2 cup oats
Water (no milk at work)
~10g whey protein powder
(I used a little of everything)

Homemade 90-second popcorn
1/3 kernels in a brown bag and fold over twice and pop for 75-90 seconds.

Cabbage, edamame and quinoa stir fry
Karel's mom's cabbage recipe (steamed cabbage with seasonings)
Edamame (bagged, frozen)
Stir fry - mushrooms, onions, garlic in olive oil with toasted quinoa
(My picture doesn't look that pretty but me an my belly enjoyed it so I wanted to share the wonderful mix of flavors and color). 

Warning: DO NOT EAT this little delicious ball of cuteness. 


Trimarni tip: metabolism

The human body is complex when it comes to metabolism but there is no reason why you can't make a complicated topic easy to understand.

My classes in graduate school were overwhelming to say the least but I loved how much I was learning about the human body relating to exercise.

Cardio physiology
Adv Exercise phsyiology
Lab methods
Respiratory physiology

A few of my favorite classes.

Because now I divide my attention between working with athletes and fitness enthusiasts on training and coaching and seeing patients in the hospital, I feel my brain really gets a good understanding of the "healthy" body versus the body that is compromised. It is also overloaded at times which makes for great sleep when I can turn off my brain.

When I am in the hospital, I learn a lot about the human body and I see a lot. I am amazed by what a sick body can do and I feel that makes me appreciate a body that is otherwise healthy and normal. I feel many people disrespect the body or do things to the body because they feel "life" is too stressful and/or busy to take care of the body.

Well, my thinking is that if you don't have time to take care of the body, you have to make for illness. I really love my job as a clinical RD and being able to help people but when I leave the hospital, I  have freedom to use my body however I want. I never lose sight of that freedom for no matter what is on my to-do list for the day, my morning is best started with some type of activity. My body is healthy and I want to use it for as long as I can for there may be a time when I can't and that time is not now.

Did you know that the body burns ~38-56 calories per hour while sleeping, 100-145 calories per hour sitting in meetings and the adult brain may demand ~20% of our resting metabolic rate every day?

I feel calorie counting is very over-rated and although it may work for some, I am not a fan of it. We must eat in a way that we are eating for the right reasons. My reasons: Health (#1), fuel (performance), pleasure.
I do not count my calories but instead, see food for nutritional value, to support my exercise routine and I eat food that makes me feel good inside.

On Mon (yesterday), Karel and I started our morning with 30 minutes of core/hip/glute work and stretching and Campy was spoiled with several doggy walks in the early am and pm. As for my main eats during the day to keep my body fueled and happy and my brain functioning properly: 

 Yummy oatmeal creation with apples, raisins, nuts and seeds and a little Hammer vegan protein powder. Happy tummy and brain for the morning hours of working.

Quinoa, leeks, baby tomatoes, sweet peppers, goat cheese, cashews, tempeh, mango, avocado and mixed greens. Whoa baby... Flavor overload in a bowl full of medicine!

Pasta w/ stewed tomatoes and oregano with roasted veggies cooked in olive oil (squash, mushrooms, sweet peppers)

As an athlete, my body requires days off from training for I train hard and recover harder. I never sabotage a workout or my immune system health by not fueling before, during or after a workout. But as a fitness and health enthusiast, I must move and fuel my body on a daily basis and I must always eat for health. Last week I had Sat off from training due to my talk and after a 4 hour ride + 45 min run on Sunday for Kona training, I looked forward to another day off on Monday to rest my body and mind for another tough week of training. Last week I trained 13 hours (which includes 1.5 hours of hip/core work and a recovery 30 min swim on Monday). As you know, I do not train high volume for the IM but instead, I train smart and even with Kona on the radar in 6.5 weeks, my goal is to arrive to the race healthy and hungry to race for Ironman #7. I'm thankful to my body that I have started and finished every Ironman I have signed up for. 

Consider that your human body can demand a lot of energy even when you are not breaking a sweat so be sure to keep yourself nourish and satisfied throughout the day to support all metabolic processes.

Even more important is if you are using your body for training purposes as an athlete, remember that your body requires a lot more during activity than it does at rest so don't overlook the importance of proper fueling before, during and after workouts.

I feel if our society would spend less energy worrying about food and the "perfect" way to do things and instead, establish realistic, meaningful goals which force us to make good decisions on a daily basis to bring progress, we would all have a more quality filled life. We can not control our future or our genetics but we can certainly reduce our risk for disease. My goal is a balanced  life so that I can work hard with my healthy body to reach my performance goals but also stay healthy enough to be productive with my career. And most importantly, I do not want the days to rush by and not appreciate the little things in life.

Like doggy play time while enjoying dessert on the floor while stretching. 


2013 Speaking of Women's Health event recap (w/ recipes)

When I started triathlons, I was rather obsessed. My life revolved around training morning and night. Twice a day, everyday. The training lifestyle was not too much different than my college life of swimming twice a day, 5 days a week and then a long workout on Saturday, day off Sunday. Although I had about a year of discovering triathlons after college in 2004, I welcome my new triathlon lifestyle when I was in graduate school as I loved having something to prepare for and look forward to every day, all day. 

That passion, excitement and motivation has not gone away for if it did, I would not be doing triathlons now 7 years later. But instead, my approach to training has changed as I have discovered that triathlons is not my life, but instead my lifestyle. Life has presented many obstacles, highs and lows over the past few years and as much as I had my swim-bike-run routine to look forward to every single day, I had other commitments in life that required more of my attention and energy. 

Before I started my journey to be a RD I remember my dad, Dr. James Rakes, sharing his wise words with me (as he always does)...

"Marni, make sure you have something in life besides triathlons that makes you happy."

Like any stubborn daughter, I listened to him but it took a while to grasp what he was saying. 

My dad never wants me to stop dreaming big and instead, he is my #1 fan that will be cheering me on as all my dreams come true with everything I do. He has encouraged me to dream big but has installed a "hard work" mantra to everything that I do in life. Nothing worth having comes easy. 

After receiving my RD credential, I discovered that he was right, like always. Triathlons are my lifestyle and I never want that love of sports to go away. But, I have so many other things in my life that make me excited and motivated every day to see what the day will bring. And although I have not slowed down my life in the past 7 years, I have learned to create a routine where I can train hard with the least amount of training stress to experience big performance gains. With quality training and a less is more approach, I have so much room left in my day to spend the unused energy that I could spend training more for triathlons to other things that carry the same value (or more) as triathlons. 


One of the reasons why I went back to school to earn my RD, LD/N credential (Registered Dietitian, Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist) was to become more credible as a speaker and writer. Now a day, any person with a strong voice and personality can provide info to the public and receive fame and recognition but I never wanted to the loud voice. I wanted a higher education to learn more to give the right advice with a caring voice. A voice that shows that I "get it" and I also practice what I preach. Two things that required time, patience and hard work...skills also used in triathlon training. 

I was invited by 2013 Speaking Of Women's Health to speak on behalf of Baptist Heartwise for Women a few months ago. I love public speaking but with my audience full of women, there was no way I could say no. I love my job and what I get paid to do and changing lifestyles is what I am all about. 

Months of preparation on a power point presentation, time spent preparing for the cooking demo. Practicing, setting things up, rehearsing over and over. The excitement and nerves of when the day will come and then the rush before it starts and the comfort of when it actually begins. Then, the sadness when it is all over.

Public speaking is my release from triathlons. It brings me a similar excitement, passion and energy that I can not explain but welcome when I have the opportunity to provide my philosophy and knowledge about food, health and exercise.

I don't feel that everyone needs to be a public speaker or a writer but instead, finds a few things in life that bring you happiness and require hard work. Perhaps for you, signing up for that upcoming running or tri race is your hard workout and happiness and for others, finding a different outlet to bring happiness, besides training is needed. Whatever you choose to do, remember that to be successful in life, you must love what you are doing. If you are wasting your time doing something you don't love or haven't learned to love and appreciate, step back, re-evaluate and consider your goals and dreams. Sometimes hanging in there is needed and other times, it's time to move on. If something is very important to you, you will find yourself looking back sometime down the road, thinking that you couldn't believe where you were when you started.

My 45 minute presentation was not long enough for me but I did my best to squeeze in as much as I could for a room of 225 chairs. Amazingly, there were people standing in the back and guesstimates were around 240-250 people in the room. Thank you HeartWise for asking me to speak for this was my largest audience I have ever spoken to and I loved every minute of it!


I have to give a HUGE thank you to Mai Oui Gourmet Catering for they were hired by Baptist HeartWise to prepare 4 of my creations for the participants in the talk. They perfected my 3 recipes (tempeh stir fry, avocado mango salsa with pita chip and homemade granola bar) and also provide trail mix for dessert as the participants were leaving. I never like to talk to hungry bellies so even though my talk was at 10am on Saturday, everyone was very happy during my talk...and lots of yumming was occurring too.


Who doesn't love a lecture that has free samples?


What a beautiful presentation!


Yummy trail mix for dessert.


After spending about 20 minutes discussing my philosophy for eating for fuel, for health and for pleasure and providing a few tips supported by the research of a Mediterranean style of eating, it was time for my cooking demo. When I speak, I try to make sure that my audience leaves feeling inspired and has information that they can easily apply to their every day lifestyle. I don't waste too much of my time talking about grams, portions and recommendations beyond what I feel is most important. Therefore, I stress the importance of the lifestyle component and considering the thoughts behind our actions. I feel there is enough info out there for people to learn what it means to eat healthy but it gets wrapped into a tangled mess because there are too many "experts" out there trying to make a simple concept of eating a more real food diet far too complicated. I try to make eating fun and easy to understand and to break the cycle of women having a negative food vocabulary and to stop the body bashing.

I had a few GREAT volunteers to help me with my cooking demo.

I showed how EASY it was to prepare a homemade trail mix and to bulk it up with cheerios (one of my favorite processed foods for it is fortified very well and is very wholesome) OR popcorn from a brown paper bag (1/3 kernels, roll down back twice and pop for 75-90 seconds in microwave).

While we were preparing the trail mix, I had a volunteer read the ingredients on a protein bar. She was still reading it after we prepared the trail mix in less than a minute.

The Hyatt kitchen hooked me up with a hot plate and I had a blast actually "cooking" in front of everyone. I am not a trained chef but I know food and love to talk about food so my volunteer (Who was a male, a husband of a wife who always attends this conference) was outstanding and we had so much fun cooking my tempeh stir fry. I kept it super simple: 1/2 package of tempeh (chopped) and sautéed in a few tsp olive oil on medium heat with with a cup or two of frozen mixed veggies. We seasoned it with ginger, oregano and garlic and then added prepared quinoa in the skillet for a little toss and voila....a beautiful creation serviced on a bed of greens to make our dish more plant strong.

And lastly, who doesn't love salsa? Salsa actually means sauce but many people think of it as a dip. My volunteer was incredible as she had great cooking skills and I could do all the talk. What a great combo!

I kept the salsa SUPER simple - mango, peaches, cilantro, avocado. All seasonal ingredients for a delicious topping to any sandwich, dish or salad...or straight from the bowl to help boost your vitamin and mineral intake. 

I had such a great time talking that I ran out of time and had to quickly clean up before the next speaker began. What a bummer because I didn't get to answer questions so if anyone has any questions...send me an email as I'd love to help you out.

I also want to send another BIG thank you to Mai Oui and HeartWise for helping me out with my talk. I couldn't have done this without both of them! Also, for the event putting on a top-notch, inspiring, life-changing event for women. I love being part of events like this for I love helping to inspire women and I feel everyone deserves to have good health, happiness and fun in their life and I want to make sure that no day is left wasted. 


At the catered lunch, there was an inspiring video with a segment on Julia Child. I just love her message and what she was all about in life and most importantly, how she approached life and cooking. There are too many quotes of hers to choose from as I love them all but pertaining to my talk, I feel this one is most appropriate.