10/4/14

Off season: Turning into a non-triathlete


Countdown to race Kona for me and Karel....One year and one week away! 



It's been almost 4 weeks since Karel and I raced IMWI and our lifestyle has changed dramatically.
If you lived a day in the life of Marni and Karel right now, you would be doing a lot of the following:
No structured workouts, no workout schedule, no intense exercise, very little gym time and no alarms for workouts.

Guess what... We are LOVING every day of it!

This is all part of our master plan to prep for Kona 2015....we are turning into non-triathletes for 6 full weeks. Although this may seem like a long time to do absolutely no structured training, it is very needed and perhaps long over due. 

I was extremely fortunate this year to have an injury-free season. Both Karel and I raced to our full potential at each of our planned races and our bodies did not disappoint us. We never experienced the slightest itch of burnout or fatigue and most of all, we loved the journey of becoming the best we could be this season. With Kona being my 10th IM and Karel doing IM Lake Placid and then Kona as IM #4 and #5, we both feel as if we have more fitness to gain in 2015.


After Karel and I reached our BIG dream of this year qualifying for the 2015 Ironman World Championships at IMWI, we found it quite deserving to take some time off from training.

And beyond taking a little time off, we are going to change up a few things next season as to how we train throughout our season, as we focus on performing the best possible, in the best shape possible, in Kona, Hawaii next October. 

And that training starts now. 

We are turning into non-triathletes for 42 days and do as little as possible with our body in order to be mentally and physically recharged, healthy and fresh for the transition (foundation) phase of our season. 


I realize that this is a very difficult time for athletes. The off season often bring sadness as if something is missing in life. Other athletes feel concern over appetite, perhaps weight gain and feeling out of control with eating. Some athletes feel as if fitness will be lost and will be hard to gain again. And then there are athletes who just refuse to take a break and after a few days off after the last race they are already training hard again for a running race or well, just because. 


 Taking a break from training does not mean you have to be sedentary and I would not recommend to be inactive. The off season should not bring worries or concerns about weight because you are not required to be at a racing weight if you are not expecting your body to perform at its best right now. The easiest way to summarize this is that as athletes, we eat to support our training load. Training load increases, we must eat more to support that training load. And more food means more nutrients to keep the body healthy, fueled and nourished. 

Reducing training doesn't mean stop eating or avoid carbs or do the complete opposite and eat anything in sight and do nothing with your body. It means eat similar foods that nourished you while training but in smaller portions and with slight modifications to macronutrient distribution (carbs, protein, fat) to keep you satisfied between meals (with small snacks to hold you over between meals).

The goal of the off season is to build good habits and to discover joy for body movement. 



After racing 4 Ironman races in 14 months, I feel I owe it to my body to take off more time than I think I need to take care of my health. Endurance racing is damaging and it is not healthy. I want to ensure longevity in this sport of triathlons so I want to do whatever I can to protect my body from too much intentional training/racing stress.

 I will also only be racing one Ironman next year to ensure that I peak appropriately for Kona. After Kona, I am taking a break from IM racing for at least a year but probably closer to 1.5-2 years just to give my body a break.  I love Ironman racing and I love my lifestyle as a triathlete but it is not my life. I absolutely do not need to race Ironman triathlons to be healthy, to manage my life and to de-stress. 

I will always feel comfortable calling myself a triathlete, even when I'm not racing in Ironman races. 




Although I do not feel it is necessary for all triathletes to take 6 full weeks off, I highly recommend giving yourself a break that is long enough for you to really enjoy being a non-athlete but not too long that you struggle to feel the itch to get back into training again. Typically 2-4 weeks is an ideal time to remove yourself from structure and to follow some of my off season tips. However, in the big picture of a season (which is typically 8-11 months), this is hardly the break your body actually needs to return to the sport healthy and strong.

Here are a few tips of mine as to what to focus on during your off season. 

1) Recharge - after waking up with an alarm for months and months and months, reset your body. Sleeping is not only great to help you feel alert and fresh but it also necessary to help manage your appetite and to help you feel fresh and recovered. Certainly you need to set an alarm for work and life responsibilities but use this time to discover what your body can feel like with restful, consistent sleep. 


2) Remove the schedule, be health conscious - Athletes are quite structured and often very rigid. While this can be beneficial when it comes to training and eating for performance gains, we do not want to feel as if this is the only way we can live life or need to live life. Allow yourself freedom with your body but never lose your love for staying active and healthy. Move your body as much as possible but with the least amount of stress. When you wake up in the morning (rested), decide on the best way to use your free time with your body. 

3) Change the routine - It doesn't matter how much you love your sport or your active lifestyle, but without a break, the body and mind will get stale. Many times, athletes will discover (or search out for) ways to keep a tired body moving (like energy drinks, skipped workouts and then overload the next workout, just logging miles to get it done, etc.) and this is absolutely not what a healthy and performance focused athlete should be doing throughout the season. By changing up the routine in the off season, we have the opportunity to discover other ways to feel healthy and accomplished, we can catch up on neglected to-do's and we also get hungry to train again. 

4) Reflect and plan ahead - Often times, athletes are extremely fit but very unhealthy. Athletes accomplish workouts but can not execute on race day. Athletes do the same thing over and over and want better results without changing anything. Although these are situations that may not apply directly to you (right now), the best thing you can do is reflect. When I think about my recent successes over the past two years in endurance racing, I can always reflect as to what worked really well in my season and what I can try differently for different results. I am very open to change and never feel as if there is a by the book approach to training. My only goal is understanding what amount of training load works the best with my body. As you reflect on the season and explore new, different or better/smarter approaches, plan ahead. I encourage athletes to not race a lot. Minimize your tune-up races, multiple endurance events and for triathletes, there is no need to turn into a "runner" with running races in the off season. Plan and prioritize your season around your 1-2 KEY races so that you peak appropriately and utilize all phases of your season appropriately. 

5) Create a strong, healthy relationship with food and your body- Athletes are all over the map when it comes to eating habits. Underfueling, undereating, overeating, overfueling, cravings, too much snacking, not snacking enough, afraid of carbs, too carb heavy, etc. I could go on and on about the eating habits of athletes. Although eating habits of athletes may stem from optimal performance gains, there appears to be an underlying focus of ideal body composition which affects eating and fueling habits. Although athletes may have a different standard as to what their ideal body should look like to perform well, it is important that in the off season, you keep in mind that this time in your life/year is temporary. This is an optimal time to understand your diet and appetite without hours and hours of weekly training and stress on your body (which are hopefully always supported with adequate food intake and sport nutrition). Use this time to develop a great relationship with your body and real food and identify your individual missing links that can assist in performance gains, optimal health and a healthy body composition during your season. I realize that I left this category wide open for suggestions and tips but I feel that if you can learn to create a real food diet, love the food you put in your body every day and feel great about your food choices...without hours and hours of training, you will feel SO great about your body during your off season. If you take this time to work on your relationship with food, then come "training" time again, you will feel much more in control of your eating and not feel so confused as to how to fuel your body as an athlete.
Lastly, as mentioned above, a healthy body comes in a variety of sizes and right now, you are not expected to perform with your body. Gaining a few lbs is not the end of the world and for many, can be extremely healthy. Also, 2-6 weeks off now is preceding 8-10 months of structured training. I would suggest to not be so focused on what may happen now but instead, think about what you should do now to help set you up for a great upcoming season. No need to overindulge but no need to be strict. Learn to eat like a non-athlete and feel great about it so that come race season you will have a body that is healthy and primed to perform.
Certainly you should always be eating healthy to nourish your body but during the season you get a bit of slack every now and then with the diet due to expending so many calories. But if you hold a high standard as to what your body should look like right now (as well as all year long), I encourage you to consider the different phases of your season and how the body changes according to the work load which is supported by adequate fuel. There is going to be a time when you want your body to perform and that time will come with moths of previous training, good nutrition and fueling and a lot of attention to detail in your life, eating and training. Now is the time to enjoy a bit of "healthy" food freedom and learn to love the body you have, not as an athlete but as a healthy human being. 

Here's what I have been doing over the last 4 weeks:

-Hiking (not technical) with Campy in Paris Mountain state park
-Riding my road bike (twice, 30 min ride and 90 min ride)
-Swimming (no more than 30 minutes  or 2000 yards, ~6 times)
-Light hip/glute/core work (no more than 20 minutes) - 2 times per week
-Walking - daily with Campy
-There have been about 8-10 days when I have done nothing except short walks with Campy
-When I'm not working (which is not a lot since this is our busy time of the year as we prepare our business for 2015): spending the weekends at Farmers Markets,  watching Netflix at night (staying up later than normal), cooking yummy food, catching up on to-do's around the house, taking care of my Garden, exploring new places in Greenville, entertaining friends who come to visit us in Greenville, hanging out with our neighbors and reading books.

9/30/14

Exciting news for Trimarni...Coming soon!


How true is this?

To devote so much time, energy, money and effort to one goal and to finally have it pay off.
What a great feeling!

I realize that not every athlete has the race of his/her life all the time and sometimes we have a bad race and we just have to let it go.  But we must remember that hard work goes somewhere. It may not be immediately seen but the hard work is not without a purpose. Maybe it doesn't show on a piece of paper that the world sees but within yourself you have become a better, stronger and smarter person and athlete.

We are currently working on our 2015 racing schedule which I will share with the world, as I did last this past season. But in the mean time, I want to share some exciting new things that will be happening with Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition for 2015. 

COACHING

We are really excited about our new coaching services for 2015. We will have 3 different services to offer athletes in addition to pre-built plans. Stay tuned, we plan on sharing these via our website in the next week or two.

SPORT NUTRITION

I love seeking out the best ways to help athletes with my nutrition services. I continue to tweak my services based on what I feel athletes need but also based on my ongoing learning in the field of sport nutrition relating to endurance sports and what will be most practical and effective.

CAMPS

We decided to postpone our October Greenville camp until June. The best thing we can offer campers aside from great swag and lots of learning, is the opportunity to be around other like-minded individuals. We feel June is a great time for athletes who are gearing up for a summer/fall half or full Ironman to come to our endurance focused camp.
We also plan to have this camp (tentatively) on June 17th - 21st or on the 24th - 29th.
We are also planning a spring camp for triathletes of all levels on March 18th - 22nd, in Clermont FL. We will swim at the National Training Center and our plan is to finish the camp

EXTRA

We also plan to have several camps and clinics (in and out of Greenville) so if you are interested in a specific type of clinic for you or your training club/group, just send us an email.

Trimarni gear is available at the Trimarni store and we just got water bottles which will be posted soon!

Karel and I will be racing and spectating at a few races in 2015. I will announce our race schedule as well as the key Trimarni races (which will have a pronounce Trimarni athlete turn-out) for 2015.

Since Karel and I will be finishing our season in October as we race the 2015 Ironman World Championships, and we love sharing our journey with others, stay tuned for lots of updates via social media/blog on our prep for Kona 2015!

We are really excited to be working with some great companies in 2015 and I hope to provide the Trimarni athletes/followers with some discounts in 2015. 

Campy is really excited about his 2015 season. He will be 7 years old in a few weeks and his life gets better and better every year!

My mom is moving to Greenville in two weeks - yippee!! We will ALL be together here in Greenville (my dad would be so happy).

As always, thanks for your Trimarni support. We absolutely love what we get to do to help athletes reach health and performance goals.

Who's excited about 2015????

WE ARE!!!!

9/29/14

Women's Fitness Summit - quick recap, beyond body image



The fitness and diet/nutrition industry (and the many books, products, foods and pills) is primarily marked toward women. There appears to be an ongoing pressure that women should achieve this ideal look or size according to the media. Although there are many mixed messages as to the image of a female, many women feel that if they do not look a certain way, she is lazy, doesn't take care of herself, ugly, fat, a failure and unhealthy. I realize that not everyone feels this way and certainly this sounds absolutely absurd to think that we (as women) would feel this enormous amount of pressure to look a certain way to improve our self-worth or to improve success....but sadly, body image is getting in the way of health, happiness, performance and quality of life.  And this is not limited to women. 

It seems as though so many athletes are always looking for the next best thing. The latest and greatest, the easiest, quickest and most simple method to improve health, body composition and performance/fitness. The problem with this approach is that there are so many pro-claimed "experts" out there that do not provide sound (and even healthy) advice and confuse the public when it comes to the most appropriate methods to help health and fitness focused individuals reach personal goals. 

We all know that we need to eat healthy and exercise to be healthy. But for many women (especially reading my blog right now), you are using your body for something more than "a look". I'm not quite sure why women need to post photos on social media holding up their shirts to show off their abs. What is the message behind this?  Surely, I hope, that women are working toward something more meaningful in life as to what they can do with their body (like crossing a finish line, being a good role model for children, reducing risk for disease, working hard for personal goals). 

I firmly believe that women athletes need to stop chasing an image but instead, recognize how to fuel and train the body in a way that is enhancing quality of life. Those exciting performance gains and a healthy change in body composition is merely an added bonus of taking great care of your health. 

What's interesting about body image is it's very subjective. A thought about one's appearance. The difference between athletes and non athletes is that athletes often have a different standard as to what their body should look like or perhaps once looked like when it performed the best. But many times, this image is often influenced by someone else's body, perhaps even someone who is fitter, faster or healthier. Certainly there is nothing wrong with feeling motivated to work hard for goals but when the approach to achieving the "ideal" image becomes to quick, restrictive, obsessive or extreme, that is when health and performance goals are going to be difficult to achieve. 

So many female athletes (and non athletes and males included) have this thought process when it comes to food and the body. As if a rule book is in place for every action and if a role is broken the immediate thought it "I know I shouldn't be doing this."
Who is watching you all the time that you feel this crazy amount of pressure that you "shouldn't be doing this?"

In our current world, female athletes are tearing down traditional gender stereotypes. More than ever before, we continually hear about female athletes doing incredible things with their bodies. And these things receive national attention!
It's hard to believe that at one time, our society thought that females should not play competitive sports and if they did, no one would watch them.
Glad those ancient times are a thing of the past!

The problem in today's society, however, is that many female athletes are so focused on being small and tiny that they lose strength, power and speed. Not to mention the unfortunate side effects of "shrinking" your image instead of strengthening your image......
Stress fractures, amennorhea, disordered eating, overexercising, orthorexia, an unhealthy relationship with food, forbidden food lists, hatred for the body.

An athlete that is so heavily focused on body image eventually carries around an exhausted body that is broken (in more ways than one) and can no longer serve them in life, let alone in sports. 
When was the last time you looked in the mirror and said
"Body...you ROCK! Thank you body for what you allow me to do!"?



This past weekend I had the honor of speaking at the Women's Fitness Summit along with several other ladies who are authorities in the health and fitness industry. I will be sharing the recap of my talk which was focused on mental toughness, body image, menstruation, daily nutrition and sport nutrition. I will also share a recap of the other presentations as well. 

The most beautiful thing about this event was that I was speaking to real women. Women of all shapes, sizes, background and passions. And let me tell you.....this was one STRONG group of women!!

Now, I think of myself as a strong athlete. My body is pretty incredible in that I have a strong heart and muscles that help to carry me 140.6 miles. But let me tell you...so many of these girls can lift some serious weights (probably more than I weigh!) and they train super hard to be the best they can be in the weight room, for no other reason than loving the idea that lifting weights is empowering! 
I was so inspired and motivated by the women at this event and although I won't be jumping into heavy lifting anytime soon, I appreciated that we all were united for one reason. 
We LOVE to use our bodies! 

It was extremely refreshing to learn new information at this event. We celebrated the role of carbohydrates in the athlete's diet, we learned about the importance of fueling the athlete's body, we recognized the importance of keeping the body in good health as an athlete, we talked about our periods (and I shared that I have had a regular menstrual cycle for the past 6 years, every month without any pills. Also that I started my menstrual cycle 2 days before I raced IMWI...ugh, thank you body for being so healthy :)
 And lastly, we shared a common interest all weekend in that we are just so tired and sick of society telling women what they should look like to be healthy, happy and to perform well. 

Isn't the basis of physiology that the body is going perform a certain way based on good fueling, good daily nutrition, good recovery, consistent training and good health? Is the look allowing you to succeed or is it is good practices that support intentional training stress? 

Isn't the goal of any female athlete (or male) to be able to perform to the best of your ability with a healthy body? What good is your body when it is underfueled, sick, weak, tired, emotionally drained, overtrained or injured? Do you want to celebrate your body image on social media in a picture or do you want to be out in the real world, doing incredible things with your body?

This will not be the first and only Women's Fitness Summit. 
Hopefully there will be branches of this summit, geared toward specific athletes and professionals. I would love to present my talk to female triathlete groups.
How special to think that we can have female experts in certain fields and they are the authorities on certain topics? In other words, just imagine how amazing it would be if you could reach out to professional women when you need trusted, safe and helpful advice that is 100% dedicated to helping you achieve your goals?
(Just want to give a little shout-out to all of my male coaching and nutrition athletes who respect my approach to training and nutrition.)

 And most importantly, don't you just want advice that keeps you healthy while performing well? No quick fixes or extreme approaches just the old fashioned sensible approach of work hard, focus on yourself, no excuses and never lose sight of your dreams.
Oh and methods that allow you to actually function well in society.

So I ask  you to do the following......
Ask yourself if your current diet is moving closer to your fitness goals?
Ask yourself if you are eating for fuel and for health?
Ask yourself if you are training so much, but not moving closer to your fitness goals?
Ask yourself if you are keeping your body in good health while training for an event?
Ask yourself if you are enjoying life with your current eating habits?
Ask yourself if you are enjoying life with your current training plan?

If yes, awesome. Keep inspiring others.
If not sure or no, search within yourself. You know you have some knowledge to make healthy choices. If you still feel stuck, consult a sport RD (or other professional) who can guide you in the right direction.

If only we could have women fitness events every week.
What an incredible world this would be!
If you are a female athlete, imagine surrounding yourself with strong, passionate, active, healthy women who love using their bodies for a goal MORE than moving their bodies for a look.

Let's stop the body bashing and body hating and let's celebrate the female athlete's body. It comes in all shapes and sizes and the only speed that matters is the pace that you choose to take to reach your goals and dreams. 

Celebrate what your body can do and never forget what your body has achieved in life. 

Thank you body.