Essential Sports Nutrition


5 weeks away from Kona: Training update

Over the years, my training has changed tremendously. I wasn't sure how to approach the training as an endurance athlete so I followed the crowd and trained twice a day, long workouts on the weekends and dreaded the recommended "off" day on Monday. 

It worked for my first Ironman, so I decided that if more is better, I should do even more than before. However, I became injured and extremely fatigued for my second Ironman and now I pay for that race (2007 Ironman World Championship) a few times every year since.

With Karel's thinking outside the box, we have adapted a philosophy of "train hard, recover harder".

Training is periodized so that we peak at the right time and training stays balanced with life. Every workout has a purpose, there are no junk miles and we have fun seeing progress.

Sometimes there are off days but there are a lot of great days. The off days finish with the mindset that we accomplished something that we almost didn't start and the great days finish with motivation for the next workout. 

There is an understanding that for the body to adapt to training stress and improve performance/fitness, there must be training stress. There is commitment to the training plan and a realization that you can either make excuses or progress. But when there is too much training stress, it is hard to adapt in a positive manner. Therefore, we have learned how to create training plans for me (and for my athletes and pre-built plans) that provide workouts for gains in speed, endurance and fitness and balance in life. For if you are burnt out, sick, injured or on the verge of injury, adaptations can not take place. Our bodies get tired with our training load but it is not to the point that we can't recover to set up ourselves for a great next training session the following day. There are recovery days, there is an appreciation of other important areas in life that can bring fitness gains (balanced diet, understanding of proper fueling around/during workouts, compression, epson salt baths, restful sleep, massages, good attitude, mental strength, hip/core work, stretching) and most importantly, the training plan is designed for long-term success. 

Everything is coming together amazingly well for Kona in just 5 weeks! I do not expectations of being on the podium but instead, having a strong race. It is an honor for me to race at the Ironman World Championship for the third time and my #1 goal is to arrive to the starting line healthy, injury free and hungry to race. 

Just like every Ironman, I really love the journey. Still reminding myself that I just did an Ironman 6 weeks ago (with 2 weeks of recovery), I am constantly thanking my body for what it is allowing me to do. Thanks to Karel having a very good understanding of my body (which is important for any athlete who works with a coach to consider the long-term investment that is required for a coach to understand how you, the athlete adapts to training), he has developed a perfect plan for me to get even stronger, faster and more efficient before Kona. 

There are no two-a-days and my weekly hours are around 15-16 hours a week. I have yet to do a bike ride over 4.5 hours and my longest run was 15 miles last weekend. I run an average of around 15-30 miles a week, with most of my runs off the bike. Every workout has a main set and my sets are typically long on the bike and RPE focused for the run. I swim 2-3 days a week (depending on my choice of day off or active recovery) and my swims are around 3500-4500 on average - with more yardage because I love to swim and sometimes have trouble getting out of the water when my inner fish comes out. I do hip/core work every night for 15 minutes + stretching and I do hip/core work in the gym twice a week. 

The best thing about quality training is the energy that I have for life. Rather than having an expectation as to how much I need to train each week, I have my week laid out (hospital/home with my business) and I have a training plan that allows me to separate my work time from training time. Even though I work from home and have flexibility with my work day (which is typically 8-10 hours a day dedicated to Trimarni), I would rather walk Campy in the evening, cook a delicious creation and go to bed early instead of squeezing in another workout in the evening. I give myself 2-2.5 hours every morning for myself to train during the week and I like to be finished training by noonish on the weekends. This doesn't mean that I have train all those hours and as much as I love to train, I like to see progress. I also respect my body and understand that too much training stress does not make me a better athlete but instead, an active individual with a dampened immune system. 

I really love this article Recover Right which include tips from Coach Matt Dixon from Purple Patch Coaching who is a strong believer in the "less is more" approach. 

Just to be clear - training smarter doesn't mean that I don't take risks. Just like any athlete, I love to push my body and not always does it work in my favor. But the most important thing I can do as an athlete and fitness enthusiast is appreciate the value of recovery. Your progress as an athlete is only as good as your ability to recover from workouts. Every athlete is different and keep in mind that as life changes, so does your training routine. The best thing you can do as an athlete is make it all work by focusing on your needs, your body and your goals. 

Here's a recap of my training this week: 

Monday (finishing off a 3-day training block with the holiday) - 4:15 social/fun ride (solid effort with the group)
Tues - day off from all training. 20 minutes of stretching in the evening and a 40 minute Campy walk in the am and several mini Campy walks during the day around the block.

Wed - 4300 swim + 1 hour spin (brick)
Swim main set 3x's:
300 steady at IM pace
4 x 50's fast on :45 seconds

Thurs - (in Macon) - 1:15 run of intervals (I rarely have mile-based runs for weekly runs, instead I go by time)
1 mile warm-up
Main set 6x's: over/under thresholds
1/2 mile @ sub 7:30 min/mile, 1/2 mile "slower" w/ 1 minute in between
(I did this around the block at Stefanies which was a perfect 1/2 mile loop). I went 100% by perceived exertion and ended up descending the 1/2 miles (thanks to my fast twitch fibers waking up over the set) and getting a little slower on the 1/2 mile "slower". I averaged around 6:33-7:15 min/mile for the first 1/2 mile and around 7:40-8:15 min/mile for the last 1/2 mile.
Last mile cool down and then 1/2 mile or so with Campy.
8 miles total.

Fri - 5000 swim + core/hip work (20 minutes) + stretching
Main set:
10 x 100's on 1:30 (holding 1:20)
500 pull w/ paddles/buoy  steady (holding 1:27 pace)
5 x 100's on 1:30 (holding 1:19)
500 pull w/ paddles/buoy steady (holding 1:30 pace)
400 kick (50 free, 50 fly kick fast)

Sat - 3:15 bike + 1:20 run (AMAZING WORKOUT!)
Bike - (even though a shorter bike, this allowed me to push a little harder to receive a bit more stress without risking fatigue from long volume. This also allowed me to run on "tired" legs for training stress which is more valuable to my body than a "long" run on fresh legs).
1 hour warm-up building to IM pace watts
Main set 3x's
5 min Z4, 10 min Z3 low (IM watts), 5 min Z4, 10 min Z3 low
5 min EZ
(30 min main set + 5 min recovery)
Total 60 miles

Run off the bike (starting at 10:30 am)
8 x 1 miles @ RPE 80% effort (I managed to hold around 8 min/miles which really made me happy. I knew my HR would go up over time as it was nearing 92 degrees when I finished my bike according to my Garmin so I just monitored my HR to keep under 160 as I knew that was too high for me and I would have trouble recovering from a long run off the bike with a high HR even if I wasn't running "fast") w/ 30 sec walk in between. At 4 miles, I walked 1 total minute to refill my flasks.
Last mile + extra was "cool down"

Stats from my 910 XT (SO happy with this run as well as the entire workout today - what a solid workout for my body)
1:20 run
9.49 miles
8:26 min/mile pace (including walking)
Average HR 154

Mile 1: 8:04, 134 HR
30 sec walk, 138 HR
Mile 2: 7:56, 146 HR
30 sec walk, 138 HR
Mile 3: 7:57, 149 HR
30 sec walk, 140 HR
Mile 4: 7:57, 153 HR
1 min walk, 143 HR
Mile 5: 8:05, 154 HR
30 sec walk, 152 HR
Mile 6: 8:02, 156 HR
30 sec walk, 153 HR
Mile 7: 8:06, 157 HR
30 sec walk, 153 HR
Mile 8: 8:05, 157 HR
30 sec walk, 155 HR
Mile 9: 8:40, 170 HR (Super hot but felt really "EZ" but HR was not showing that it was EZ. Massive rush of blood to try to cool my body.)
2 minutes (.32): 8:20, 182 HR (officially done!)

Sunday (tomorrow) - 5 hour ride + 1 mile run

Total training hours: ~17 (including the 4 hours on Monday due to the holiday and three day training block)

You might be a triathlete when.....your car looks like this!


Travel to race: Nutrition tips

So there was a lot going on this past week, hence the lack of blogging. BUT life is continuing to move forward and no day is being wasted. I have lots to catch up on via the blog but for the mean time, how about an old Iron Girl article of mine regarding nutrition when traveling for a race. Enjoy!!

In route to Kona, (Honolulu airport) for the 2011 Ironman World Championship.

TRAVEL TO RACE: Nutrition Tips

Pertaining to nutrition, the overall mission of an Iron Girl athlete is to develop a healthy relationship with food. Although body composition goals are often primary reasons for embarking in the Iron Girl lifestyle, longevity, performance gains and a commitment to keeping your body healthy are top priorities when creating lifelong, practical dietary habits. For the nutrients that you put into your body will help fuel your fitness routine as well as reducing the risk for disease or illness.

If you prioritize heart-healthy choices on an everyday basis, you should welcome traveling (or when celebrating a special event) as an opportunity to try new foods and to enjoy a temporary change in routine. While it is advisable to maintain a few healthy habits to control blood sugar levels, maintain energy and limit overindulging, it is important to be "ok" with not abiding to your every-day eating routine. By feeling confident with the foods that you put in your body on a daily basis, you should find yourself at ease when eating on the road.

Regardless if you are traveling for an athletic event, for fun or work, a little creativity will help you apply your personal healthy eating habits while on the road. If you haven't quite figured out how to balance everyday eating with eating on the road, here are a few helpful tips to get you started before creating your own routine for traveling nutrition:

1) Plan ahead to have an idea where and when you will eat. Google the surrounding area to have an idea of your dinning/grocery/food options. Do not go into a meal starving.
2) Bring along single-serving and/or portioned-controlled snacks such as fruit, veggies, yogurt, canned fruit/applesauce, trail mix, cereal, string cheese, nuts, homemade granola bars, sandwiches and water (if traveling for an event, don’t forget to bring water for race day!)
3) Pack your own meals for the road. Make your own wrap, bagel or deli sandwich (purchase a quality cooler and/or insulated lunchbox).
4) Be creative. Gas stations typically have microwaves, fill up on gas and cook your oatmeal, minute rice or heat your potato and choice of protein.. Also grocery stores have many pre-chopped/washed options for easy snacking or meal additions. If your hotel doesn't have a microwave/fridge, think outside of the box. Use your ice bucket to keep small items cool and invest in portable electric water kettle for coffee/oatmeal.  Don't forget plates/bowls and silverware.
5) Be frugal. If you are going to spend your money on a healthy meal, it’s suggested to pass on the $8 lettuce and tomato salad. Create a meal that will make you feel most satisfied. Consider a yogurt parfait, a PB&J or egg and veggie sandwich at a bagel shop or mix and match at a local grocery store.
6) Snack on fruits and veggies. It's really easy to have a colorless diet when you travel, not to mention lacking in variety. Ask the locals for the nearest grocery store and pick up a few servings of fruits and veggies for a colorful and fibrous snack.
7) Don't forget about protein. It’s really easy to indulge in carbs while on the road (especially if you choose to not eat meat, or a varied diet). Mom-and-pop restaurants (or diners) often cook-to-order. Cottage cheese, yogurt, tofu, skim milk, tofu, veggie burger and egg whites are great sources of protein to add to your meal.

Happy Traveling!


Recovering from your event tips

 To cap off three quality days of training, Karel and I joined a group ride in the Clearwater/New Port Richey area (while visiting my family) to see our second family - the Gearlink Cycling team. Karel and I were set up on a group ride in 2006 on my birthday and we are so lucky to have them all in our life. What great people.....who also taught me how to enjoy riding my bicycle!

After a 4:15 ride (with around 60 minutes or so with the 80+ rider fast group ride), it was time to cool off in the pool with my favorite furry friend.

My latest article from Iron Girl has to do with a few tips on recovering from an event to ensure that your hard work during a race does not leave you sore, depressed or injured after the race. Enjoy!

Recovering From Your EventBy Marni Sumbal, MS, RD, LD/N
Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition, LLC

No matter how hard you push, there is stress on the body (emotional, physical and mental) during racing. Since it takes a long time for the body to prepare for an event, keep in mind that it also takes a time for it to recover.

Many athletes rush back into training too quickly and experience injuries, sickness or burnout a few weeks to months down the road. Recovery depends on many factors and not always can you "feel" yourself being 100% recovered. Here are a few tips to kick start the recovery process.
  1. Relax - Take your time post-race and move around, celebrate, cool off, rehydrate and refuel.
  2. Exercise – You can't train a damaged body or one that is low in fuel. Exercising is fine but give yourself at least 3-7 days before you do anything structured. Stick to non-weight bearing, gadget free activities.
  3.  Recovery tools - Compression, ice, epson salt, elevation are great to boost recovery.
  4. Sleep - Even if you experience post-race insomnia, try get a little extra sleep with an earlier bedtime for a few nights or with short naps when possible.
  5. Refuel - Replenish glycogen, hydrate and help with tissue/muscle damage by focusing on a mix of low residue carbs w/ a little quality protein and water with electrolytes (ex. fruits). Eat/hydrate every few hours for the next two days, as tolerated and monitor the color of your urine for hydration purposes.
  6. Natural anti-inflammatories- Pass on the bottled anti-inflammatories and choose ginger, pineapple, celery, fish and cherries to help with inflammation.
  7.  Protect your immune system - You are highly susceptible to illness and infections post-race. Be sure to keep your immune system healthy by keeping chaffing areas clean and being aware of any blisters or lost toenails.
  8.  Goal setting - Set a goal so you are motivated to train again but wait at least 4-6 weeks before racing again. The body and the mind need recovery and with new goals, a bit more training. You have plenty of time to race again, be patient and respectful to the body.
  9. When in doubt - give yourself 2 more days after you feel 100% recovered before you return to structured training. It's always better to take it easy for a few extra days and give yourself a little more time to soak-up your recent accomplishment and to thank your body.

Read more: HERE


Weekend recap - physiology of the heart by training in the heat

Some people have no trouble training in the heat whereas others think it is just brutal and not welcomed. I'd like to think that most athletes prefer the ideal temperature of 50-65 degrees for running and around 70-75 degrees for triathlons but everyone has their preferences....just like their style of training.
As I prep for Kona which is 6 weeks away, I am not training in the hottest part of the day for I feel there is no need to lose form or risk dehydration/exhaustion from the heat. Instead, I will train when I feel the best and that is in the morning but of course, it is to be expected that as my training volume progresses, I will be training in the heat whether I like it or not. Gotta love living in Florida for it is a sweat fest everyday.....and I love it!
For this weekend's training, I'd like to explain a little about my workouts and to also explain a little about the physiology of the body (the heart) in the heat to better help with your training/working out.
For my cycling, I go by power which measures my watts on the bike. My zones are determined from a max sustainable power test but I also with all my interval training and past Ironman, I have a very good idea as to what I can sustain (watts) for different intervals. I love training with my power meter because it takes the guessing away from training and also allows me to run stronger off the bike because I can pace myself on the run. I do believe in perceived exertion and keeping a steady cadence but I do not get hung up on speed...but it is nice to see that since IM Lake Placid I am riding much faster and stronger than before.
For my runs, I have to be smart with my running, not only for my past history with hip/back issues but to maintain consistency with my  training and now, Kona prep. I do not do long hours of working out each day but instead, I do  a lot of intervals at various paces. This allows me to recover better from working out because although I stress my body everytime I train (thus why I value recovery days off from structured training), I do not risk the gradual fatigue that occurs due to running out of oxygen or not getting enough nutrients to support metabolism during training by training high volumes (relative to many athletes in my sport of choice).
For my run off the bike on Saturday, I choose to go by RPE and only monitor my HR as I feel the HR should be focused on but it is not the best way to train 100% of the time. I am more of a RPE and pace kinda of endurance athlete and I feel that by understanding the physiology of the body, it is easier to get in a quality workout when you are not 100% focused on the HR, especially in the heat. However, you must always be smart with training and listen to the body - whether it is speaking to you with pain or it is showing you something unhealthy with your training data on your Garmin.
On Saturday, knowing it was 11am and 95 degrees out, my body was limited by my core temperature increasing and thus my HR increasing and not because of lactic acid buildup. Because running will naturally cause an increase in HR over the course of the run due to "cardiac drift", the smartest strategy for me was to walk each mile in order to help control my HR. As you can see from mile 5-6, my body was compromised by the heat as my HR was elevated but I was running much slower and perceived effort felt the same. I always run with sport nutrition but also water for cooling my body. Anytime you workout, your cardiovascular system is stressed. This is why I am not a fan of long workouts for Ironman training because this also dampens the immune system. I realize you must properly prep for the distance ahead but I believe it can be done by getting faster before you go longer and then adapting with the least amount of training stress. 

The heart is a powerful muscle and not always appreciated. Not only does it need to deliver oxygen to the working muscles but it also needs to help transport heat to the skin and to help ensure that the GI system is working to digest and absorb nutrients to fuel the body/brain during exercise. The stroke volume of the heart (volume of blood delivered by each beat of the heart) increases when you exercise to help circulate blood to your metabolic systems so that you can continue to have a great workout.
Eventually when you workout, there is going to be a plateau in stroke volume. Unlike anaerobic exercise which is limited by your ability to tolerate and flush lactic acid due to lack of oxygen (thus the need to slow down when you can't breath anymore and your legs are burning), we all have a limit as to how much blood our body can pump during exercise and eventually you are going to notice that your HR will not increase and your body will not go any faster. 
As you train, remember that working out and getting faster/stronger is not just about motivation. You have to be smart with your training in order for your body to actually respond favorably to training stress. Secondly, your main limiters with longer distance exercise is lack of oxygen and nutrients. If you are pushing too hard without adequate recovery and/or not supplying your body with nutrients (ex. fluids, electrolytes, carbohydrates) to support the metabolic demands of your body (or not able to properly digest and absorb those nutrients), you are sabotaging yourself for performance gains. Many athletes feel frustrated when the workout doesn't go as planned and then blame the body for having a bad day. With smart, quality training, you should find yourself consistently improving, recovering well from working out and having your mind as the only limiter and constantly thanking your body. This equation is not always perfect so keep in mind, you must NEVER give up by finding the perfect balanced training plan to help you move closer to your racing goals.
3:45 bike + 50 minute run
Time started: 7:45am

1 hour warm-up (building to upper Z2)
Main set:
20 min Z3 w/ 2 min EZ
25 min Z3 w/ 2 min EZ
30 min Z3 w/ 4 min EZ
3 x 10 min low Z4 w/ 4 min EZ
Steady upper Z2 until time is complete. 

Run (off the bike):
Mile 1: steady, perceived effort 7/10, walk 1 minute
Mile 2- 4: steady 90% effort, walk 1 minute in between
Mile 5-6: Comfortable (get it done)

Garmin 910XT data:
54 minutes (6.12 miles)
Average pace 8:49 min/mile (with walking)
Average HR: 152
Mile 1: 8:07 min/mile, 136 HR
30 sec walk: 137 HR
Mile 2: 7:56, 150 HR
30 sec walk, 147 HR
Mile 3: 8:03, 154 HR
30 sec walk, 150 HR
Mile 4: 8:02, 159 HR
30 sec walk 155 HR
Mile 5: 8:50, 155 HR
30 sec walk, 150 HR
Mile 6: 8:35, 157 HR

Sunday: 2 hour run (or 15 miles) - whichever feels "right"
Time started: 8am

Total time: 2:10
Distance: 15.11
Average pace 8:38 min/mile (including walk breaks, not including a 3 minute stop for bathroom at mile 10 and to refill handheld flask bottles w/ nutrition)
HR 142 average

Set for today: hold around 8:15 min/mile (give or take 5-10 sec) which is my "ideal" run off the Ironman bike in a marathon but haven't yet accomplished that...but I still have it as my goal with training to see where I can take my body overtime and I am not afraid to work hard for it. I typically go by RPE on the marathon run in an IM based on my current level of fitness and bank these great workouts for mental strength on race day. Especially when my body is hating me around mile 20 of a 140.6 mile race.
My plan was to walk 30 sec after each mile and every 40 minutes to walk 1 full minute to help postpone fatigue. I have to be very careful of my body to not overdo it and since my longest run before Placid was 15 miles, I was using this as a confidence builder but also to assess my endurance and fitness. Let's just say I was very impressed with my body and thanked it about 15 times this morning. 
I have my watch set on auto lap each mile and then I hit lap to start a new interval.
I monitor lap time, current HR, lap pace and current pace.

Mile 1: 8:48 min/mile, HR 126 (warm-up)
30 sec walk: HR 116
Mile 2: 8:16 min/mile, HR 131
30 sec walk: HR 123
Mile 3: 8:10 min/mile, HR 137
30 sec walk: 125 HR
Mile 4: 8:07 min/mile, HR 141 + 5 minutes at 8:19 min/mile, HR 144
1 min walk, 124 HR
Mile 5.5 (ish): 8:13 min/mile, HR 143
30 sec walk: 133 HR
Mile 6.5: 8:15 min/mile, HR 143
30 sec walk: 129 HR
Mile 7.5: 8:14 min/mile, HR 146
30 sec walk: 138 HR
Mile 8.5: 8:10 min/mile, HR 149
30 sec walk, HR 142
Mile 9.5: 8:11 min/mile, HR 150 + 2 min walk 8:30 min/mile, 150 HR
3 min break
3.5 minute ease back into running, 8:38 min/mile, HR 134
Mile 10.5 (ish) - 8:17 min/mile, HR 146
30 sec walk, HR 142
Mile 11.5 - 8:14 min/mile, HR 148
30 sec walk, HR 143
Mile 12.5 - 8:13 min/mile, HR 148
30 sec walk, HR 143
Mile 13.5: 8:16 min/mile, HR 148
30 sec walk, HR 147
Last 5 minutes with Campy - 8:45 min/mile (he wanted to go faster...I didn't), HR 138