Essential Sports Nutrition


Train smart and enjoy the journey

Thank you to all the athletes who applied for 2015 Trimarni coaching! We reached our capacity before our deadline and we look forward to the opportunity to work with an amazing group of inspiring, motivating and hard-working age-group triathletes in 2015.

If you are interested in applying our coaching methodology to your training, we will be offering our NEW 8-week transition plan in the next few weeks, which features specific strength training exercises that will yield positive results in swim, bike, run fitness. The transition plan will also help you build a strong foundation as you work on form and skills.

We will also be offering the transition plan WITH our pre-built running and triathlon training plans.

Stay tuned!

What comes to mind when you think of the word “smart” in relation to an athlete? Perhaps doing this well or perfect or being able to execute or not miss a workout? Well, certainly smart athletes are not perfect and are not necessarily the best at everything.

Smart athletes are patient, they do not rush the journey, the focus on the little things and they do not continually search for a better/quicker way. 

As a coach and age-group triathlete, it’s wonderful to see a rise in the number of race-seeking, active individuals. However, with a growing community of athletes, you may find yourself immersed in a triathlon or running-bubble with SO many tips, tricks and suggestions. I can honestly say that there are way too many "coaches" out there with way too much information available as to how to train "right". This doesn't mean there are way too many bad or unprofessional coaches as I feel there are many wonderful, caring and passionate coaches but certainly with so many experts comes a lot of "smart" ways to train. Seeing that there are many paths that one can take to get to the final destination, the ultimate goal for an athlete is to always determine the best road for your goals, your body and your lifestyle.

By knowing a coaches philosophy and how he/she coaches athletes, you will be able to identify the best coach for you in order to train "smart."

From the goal-focused newbie who is determined to cross a finish line with a smile, to the elite who race for bragging rights, prize money and podium awards, there’s no need to feel overwhelmed when it comes to taking the smartest road to success. 

Bottom line is that it’s important that your extremely active lifestyle is bringing you closer to your goals. Therefore, training for a race requires more than just checking off assigned workouts and finishing a workout with sweaty clothes and sore muscles.

Now a days, it seems like there are a lot of heavy exercisers out there who are training for races. The training is haphazard and the plan is not periodized or even favorable for optional performance goals. There are a lot of hours spent training that do not correlate to subpar race day performances.  There is a quick rush toward volume and there is little emphasis on strength training, recovery, sport nutrition and most importantly skills and form. 

When was the last time you fully rested your body before starting a training plan? And then, when was the last time you spent 4,6 or even 8 weeks perfecting your strength, form and skills before starting your "real" structured training?

Depending on how you answered these questions, do you think that you are doing things the "right" way or focusing too much on the end results instead of the journey?

There is a large number of athletes out there, of all fitness levels, that never take the time to create a solid foundation before training stress is applied. In other words, before you start decorating the house (the fun stuff) you must make sure the foundation is strong (which takes time and patience).

If there are two things that you should carry with you throughout your season (starting now), here are two that should always be on your mind: 

It’s not just about the miles  Consider the many variables in your life that can positively affect your training consistency and health and can contribute to a balanced lifestyle. Among the top priorities: Sport nutrition before, during and after training to assist in intentional physiological stress. Strength training to enhance your cardio-focused routine. Stretching to encourage proper range of motion and injury prevention. A restful sleeping routine to help control appetite, quicken recovery, assist in stress and attitude management and to encourage stable energy throughout the day. There is no magic number of hours that you need to train a week to prepare for x-distance run race or triathlon. What's important is how you use your available hours. You must accept that the hours you have to spend on training are enough because any more hours would compromise sleep, diet, work productivity, family and social life. Periodize your season so that each phase builds on the last.
  Don’t rush the journey- To make the most physiological training adaptations with the least amount of training stress, focus on your individual response to training. Training adaptations vary between individuals and there is no perfect training (or diet) plan. A properly planned training routine, alongside a carefully mapped-out racing schedule will ensure well-timed, peak performances thanks to a progressive, individualized overload. Develop a training routine that takes into account your current level of fitness, frequency, intensity and duration of workouts, past season successes and regrets, current lifestyle requirements and available hours of daily/weekly training, number of weeks/months until your A-races, short and long term goals, past or potential injuries/health issues and ability to recover properly between workouts. 

Happy Training!


7 race season planning tips

Every athletes deserves and needs an off season. However long you choose to take off and your own definition of "off" is certainly up to you and your coach but it is critical that you give your body and mind time off from structure and training stress before starting your next season. 

With so much free time on your hands without daily hours of training, the off season is a great time to plan your upcoming season. 

To help you peak appropriately as well as avoiding burnout and to maximize your time training, planning your season is one of the most important factors that will influence your season success. Pick the wrong races for your body, that occur at the wrong times, and no amount of training will trump a poorly planned season. 

The reason why athletes of all levels must plan out the season is so that you can properly periodize your training. Based on your races and the priority of those races, alongside any other stressors or life events that may influence consistent training, having a racing schedule allows you to then plan out the different training phases of your season appropriately. 
(Did you know that your season should have seasons and phases?)

The ultimate goal as an athlete is to have the best performance possible at the races that matter the most. Haphazard, random, inconsistent or highly structured training is risky. Sometimes it works for some athletes (we all know that athlete) but most athletes will gain fitness and confidence as well as peak fitness to be used on race day with the proper placement of races. 

Peaking is extremely difficult to achieve so planning your season with optimal periodization is critical for season success. 

Here are a few of my tips for season planning:

Create an ATP 
This is your annual training plan. With every week of the entire year in front of you (on a template like Training Peaks ATP) write down every race that you are planning of doing on the respective race day. If some races do not have dates, check last years date to get an idea of when the race may fall (or contact the race director).

Prioritize your races 
 As mentioned in our 2015 Race schedule , it is important to give priority to every race as your prep, taper and race strategy as well as recovery will likely differ for each race based on the priority and when the race falls in your plan. As mentioned in my last post, you should only select 2-3 (at most) top priority A races and they should be placed appropriately with adequate time to peak and ultimately recover between races. Keep in mind that even if you have 2 or 3 A races, you do not have to be in top shape for each race and just because a race isn't top priority, it doesn't mean that you do not have the opportunity to do amazingly well. From experience, an A race does not need to be a PR or Podium race to be termed successful. 

Plan for yearly life events 
Now comes the fun part! If you know of any planned or tentative travel dates for work (or leisure), vacations, weddings, family events (kids tournaments/games/recitals), events or any yearly life stressors (big deadlines/projects at work), place those in your schedule. Life doesn't stop just because you have an A race or any race (for that matter) on your schedule and it is important that your race schedule is balanced with the rest of your life. It's not selfish of you to participate in races (or train for a race) but if you find yourself planning races during important times in your life (or your family/work life) you are going to feel as if you are forced to make compromises. By properly planning your race schedule with life (the best possible) you will not only increase the chance of proper peaking with consistent training but you will minimize stress and you will have others on board with your master plan. 

Now that you have your prioritized races and life events planned, rethink your annual training plan. One you rethink and re-plan your season (and possibly pick new key races and remove a few unnecessary races) you should also reflect on last year to remind yourself of anything else that may positively or negatively influence your season. This is extremely personal when it comes to reflecting on your season but you can think about anything physical, emotional or hormonal that affected your season around/during/after races.
With the available time that you now have left on your annual plan, do you feel comfortable with the timeline that you gave yourself to peak appropriately for your key races? Are you racing too much with not enough available time to consistently train? Do you have key races planned too close to stressful events or travel which may cause you to feel overwhelmed about training or your race performance? Are your races too close together that you are not giving yourself enough time to recover from your races which may increase the risk of burnout, sickness or injury? Are you trying to be superhuman and beat the odds of what is physically possible by your body?

Plan your season goals
It's likely that you picked your top priority races with a goal or two in mind. Next to all of your races, it is important to properly define the outcome of the race. Now here is where athletes often make mistakes. Perhaps you only have one or two top priority races but you may find yourself putting too much pressure or unrealistic (and unnecessary goals) on yourself at your races. The reason why I feel this is a big problem for athletes is because there is a B or even C race on the schedule but the athlete may feel competitive pressure or feel there is something to prove and instead of sticking to the plan that may be of lower intensity or it may be specific to practicing certain things on race day (like pacing, nutrition, transitions) the athlete may end up racing balls to the wall and essentially, expecting an effort and performance that would be worthy of a high priority race. If you are a competitive person and struggle holding back, I recommend picking very low key races (perhaps races that do not provide a purse prize, fancy awards or qualifying spots for a national or world event) for B races (which are often tune-up races) where you do not feel pressure to prove anything.
Now back to goal setting. There is a reason why you are not reaching your goals right now or you haven't reached them ever before. You want your goals to be challenging so you are motivated to work hard but they should also be timely, realistic and very specific.
Having a goal of winning a race or placing on the podium is extremely tough as you may not be able to always predict who shows up on race day. Race time goals are also difficult for race day because although you can certainly train yourself to become faster and stronger and set yourself up to be able to execute to achieve a certain time goal on race day, there are many variables that are out of your control (ex. weather) that may affect your time but may not negatively affect your overall performance. Many times, it is best to chase your closest competition instead of a time goal. I find athletes find success this way as a time on a piece of paper doesn't always tell the entire race story.
Aside from A-races, not every other race  needs a goal or a specific defined outcome. However, for athletes who struggle with season planning or haven't yet figured out how to peak properly, I do recommend to be precise with your race goals, even for B and C priority races so that you can identify what it is you want to achieve at the race which will ultimately helps you move closer to your high priority season goals.
Bottom line - be OK with not being your fittest at every race. You also do not need to justify your performance at every race based on the race priority. Just know that you are doing exactly what works best for you.  Check your ego at the door and be happy for those who are racing with you in their A-priority races when you are saving your best performance for another race. Accept the process that is needed to peak appropriately so you save your best performance for when it really counts. 

Periodize your training for the seasonOnce you have everything in front of you (yes, can you believe you mapped out the entire year?!) now it's time to periodize your training for the season. This may require the help of a coach as this is not easy to schedule appropriate workouts to fall at appropriate times throughout the season. There are helpful tools, books and suggestions as to the phases of the season (ex. off season, transition, base, build, peak, recovery) and specific workouts, so I recommend to do your best to give yourself a few weeks for each phase of the season to help you prepare (slowly) for your races. If you follow the Trimarni approach to training, we believe in building a strong foundation and that is getting our athletes stronger while focusing on skills and form prior to getting faster. Then, when the fast foundation is built, we go longer. 

Print your plan and save a copy for edits If you think your awesome, well-planned schedule is perfect, you may be right. But if you think that your schedule is not going to change throughout the year, sadly, you are wrong. Life changes, injuries (and niggles) happen and just when everything is going as planned, yep, it happens. This is all part of being an athlete but let's turn that frown upside down. Being in charge of your flexible schedule is extremely important as you have the ability  to keep yourself moving forward.  Having access to your schedule is critical for season success because you must rethink your plan every time "life happens". Stay on top of your season highlights but also any setbacks that require you to be proactive and reactive, all at the same time. Adjust and modify your schedule however you need to keep yourself moving closer to success. 

I hope you found this helpful. This is how we coach our athletes and this is how Karel and I are able to increase the odds of peaking appropriately at our key races, season after season.
It's important that you take the necessary time to plan out your season so you know where all that hard work is going AND so you can increase the odds of finding success in your 2015 racing season. 

Happy Training and Racing!


2015 Team Sumbal Race Schedule

What a great feeling to have our A+++ race planned for 2015!!!
Is it too early to start the Kona countdown?

So the question is....How much fitness can we gain over the next year as we save our best performance for the
2015 Ironman World Championship?

Just to clarify, we will never race injured or sick so this schedule is always subject to change.
Also, no race on this schedule is as important as Kona so we will never put our bodies in a situation that we may sabotage our Kona race day performance in a less important race.
Because we do not incorporate a lot of high volume training into our Ironman training plans, we will use most of our season focusing on skills/form, strength and speed prior to increasing volume.
Our typical IM prep is around 12 consecutive weeks.
Also, we know that life "happens" all the time and we always strive to find balance in life as age group triathletes so rarely does a planned schedule go 100% as planned. 

I will dedicate a blog here shortly to my tips on season planning. This schedule was not created overnight and was planned with much discussion with our season goals, strengths/weaknesses in mind.

Marni and Karel 2015 Racing Schedule
Open water swim events and any other events are not included in this schedule
March 22nd: 
Clermont Olympic Distance Triathlon, Clermont, FL - B priority race*
Marni and Karel will be racing
(This will conclude our 4-day Trimarni training camp at the NTC in Clermont, FL. All Trimarni camp athletes will receive a 20% discount to the race and will be racing - fun times!)

April (Date TBD):
White Lake Half IM distance triathlon, NC - B priority race
Karel will be racing

May 17th:
 Challenge Knoxville Half IM, TN - A priority race
Marni and Karel will be racing

June 14th:
 Challenge Williamsburg Half IM, VA - B priority race
Marni and Karel will be racing

July 26th:
Ironman Lake Placid  - A- priority race
Karel will be racing
(Team Trimarni house booked for July 22-29th)

August 17-23:
US Pro cycling challenge - Colorado (not racing!)
Marni and Karel and our friends with Team Gearlink - spectating and training 

October 10th:
Ironman World Championship, Kona, Hawaii - A+++ race
Marni and Karel will be racing(Kona Plaza condo booked for September 29-October 14th) 

We are excited to announce that we will have a large turn-out of Trimarni coaching athletes at the following races:
Clermont Olympic distance triathlon (finishing off our 4-day Trimarni March camp at NTC)
Haines City 70.3
Challenge Knoxville (recently Rev3)
Raleigh 70.3
Ironman Lake Placid 
Augusta 70.3

Ironman Kentucky
Ironman Florida

If you are registered in any of the following races or are interested in spectating/volunteering, stay tuned for get-together Trimarni events before/during/after these races. We hope to see you there!

*Our definitions of priority of races:

These are the most important events of the racing season. There should be only 2 or 3 A-races because  the training schedule should be designed in a way that you will properly prepare, peak and taper the body only a few times during the season.  You can not be on your A-game all the time if you are an endurance athlete.

MEDIUM PRIORITY EVENTS (B RACES) These are the events you want to do well in for a variety of reasons (to practice pacing, nutrition, to build confidence, etc.) but are not the main focus of your season plan. These races are built into your plan.  You should not treat these as “training” races but they are not top priority races in your season plan so the taper for each race may vary  (you should never go into a race "tired" but you should be able to recover quickly from B races to resume training without residual fatigue).

LOW PRIORITY EVENTS (C RACES) These are the events of least importance to you. They are fun events or include prior commitments with training friends, groups, etc. These races are often subject to change or removal because for many athletes, if there are too many races, they will not all fit into the season plan and can take away from structured training and can increase the risk for burnout, injury and illness. 


Sweet potato and edamame stir fry

What a delicious creation! 

Karel and I went grocery shopping a bit late tonight (around 6:30pm) so by the time we returned home and unloaded the reusable grocery bags, it was 7:30pm. We didn't shop hungry thanks to a small snack before we left but come 7:45pm we were ready for dinner. 

We both did our own meals this evening and I just wanted something simple. 

My original plan was to cook my sweet potato and have a side of veggies. I steamed the edamame, corn and mushrooms and I was ready to eat.

But then it came to me....why not combine everything together?
Oh, what a delicious, simple creation!!!

I cubed the sweet potato and combined it with a ladle or two of the veggie mixture. I seasoned with pepper and a pinch of salt and drizzled with olive oil. 
Not pictured is the slice of fresh Mozzarella cheese that I enjoyed as I was getting my dinner ready and also the big dollop of Fage 0% Greek Yogurt that I served as a dip on the side. 

I just love meal time. 
What a fun, happy and exciting time to be creative in the kitchen!  


Avoid overtraining and burnout

As a coach, I find that my hardest job is telling athletes to rest. Certainly, my athletes are not seeking an expert to tell them how to take a day off from training but instead, to give well-designed, challenging and well-placed workouts in a periodized, individualized training plan in order to take their fitness to the next level. 

When an athlete begins to adapt to training stress, the consistency in training can be very motivating. 
Athletes know that to improve fitness, there must be a consistent load placed on the body and often with intensity and at an uncomfortable volume. 

So in addition to rest and recovery days, I now have a great respect for rest in the off-season. 

And this doesn't mean a few weeks of swim,bike, run workouts without gadgets or group workouts "just for fun."

For the past 6-weeks I have done minimal exercising. Less than an hour a day and much of it was not related to swim, bike and run. 

Lucky for me, I had a partner in crime for our extreme, but needed, lazy routine
Karel joined me on this 6-week off-season break. 

After IMWI, I thought that 4-weeks was enough to properly recover from the race but also from competing (and racing) in 4 Ironman distance triathlons in the past 14 months. 

But then I started thinking that perhaps  I needed more time, like 6 or 8 weeks. 
Never have I taken more than 4 weeks off from structure before (but even if week 5 was still light it was still structured in some way) so I wasn't sure what I was expecting in this LOOONGG off season break.
(really, it wasn't all that long as we have been super busy with our coaching and nutrition business)

We will not be returning to hard-core training tomorrow but instead, following our very structured foundation plan (which will be available for purchase here in a few weeks). Our big race isn't for another year so certainly there is a lot more skill/strength/drill work to do now (as oppose to bricks and long runs and bike workouts) as we do not need to be building a base without the foundation in place.
And just like 2014, we do not plan on racing any running races in 2015 but instead, dedicating all of our training and focus to our key triathlon races. 

As for what is happening starting tomorrow.....
First will be two weeks of intro which we will transition from our non-athlete lifestyle to athletes again. That means more attention to our diet, sleep habits, stretching and anything else that can contribute to consistency with training. This new lifestyle will take some time for our bodies to get use to, even though our minds are really ready to return to structured training.
We are involving a few new experts to assist in our personal Kona 2015 journey this season so we are both super excited about what's to come. 

But first we must slowly re-introduce training stress as our bodies are a bit out of shape....
 but that was our entire plan. 

I remember when I started training for endurance sports. Everything was so fun and new and it seemed to come so naturally to my body. My body had only years of competitive swimming behind me so the introduction of bike and run training was very welcomed. 

I can honestly say that I have never experienced burnt out since becoming an endurance athlete and over the past 1.5 years I had no injuries that created any setbacks for me.
I love training and racing just the same now as I did when I started training/racing although now my priorities often change as I have a lot more to balance on my life-plate. 

So as a coach and athlete, I like to be proactive. And 6-weeks was the appropriate amount of time to ensure that mentally and physically, I would be setting myself up for a great 2015 season. Even though I felt very recovered about a week after IMWI (and certainly on a high knowing that Karel and I were going to both be racing in the 2015 IM World Championship), little did I know how run-down, mentally and physically exhausted and tired I was in the inside. 

And the only way I discovered that was giving my body more rest than it needed. 

Getting fitter, faster, stronger and more powerful is simply the result of a training stimulus. 
It's very easy to fail to consistently perform to our best ability, when we do not have a body that can adapt well to training stress.
And thus, the training may still be checked off the daily to-do list but sadly our risk for burnout, injury and sickness increases and we reduce the many opportunities to achieve peak fitness. 

Little does a competitive athlete recognize the continued fatigue that lingers around week after week, month after month and even year after year. Although athletes may perhaps feel as if they are fresh and healthy here or there throughout the season (better think twice if one or two days off a month is really "recovery"), it is extremely hard to know if your body/mind is truly recovered if you don't give it more rest than you think it needs. 

Not too much rest that you get sick and unhealthy but enough rest that you lose a little fitness to adapt quickly to training stress and you can train consistently with more intense motivation and excitement. 

As an endurance athlete, I see my body as a bank. I am constantly making withdrawals and investments with every workout. I always strive to make more investments than withdrawals so that I can cash out on race day. But, there is always the appropriate time to make a few withdrawals that are well-timed and needed. 
Ultimately, I don't want to be broke and wishing I would have saved my money come race day and many times, athletes are very unwise when it comes to banking workouts with their body. 

The problem with many endurance athletes is that there are way too many withdrawals that are seen as necessary, normal and needed. But the truth is that the body can only tolerate so much training stress until it can no longer adapt. 

And then comes an even bigger issue of burnout and overtraining. 

Burnout is not as serious as overtraining but it is certainly not something that a competitive endurance athlete wants to experience. 
When an athlete gets burnout, he/she lacks the motivation to train. He/she sees little satisfaction in continuing training or even racing and the previous excitement and focus for training is gone. 
Athletes who are burnt out may find themselves depressed, anxious or fatigued and a burnout athlete feels as if there is little purpose to training, often saying "I don't care anymore."
The positive to  burnout is many times an athlete just needs a break from training. Many times, volume or intensity is too high and the athlete just needs to rest. Perhaps the athlete needs a change of distance, scenery or schedule...just something to switch up the "routine" that has become stale. 

Here lies the bigger issue which can occur if a burnout athlete continues to push because "no pain is no gain".
Overtraining may be common among the following athletes:

-Athletes who balance a lot on their plate (families, work, life, etc.)
-Athletes who are new to the sport and tend to do a lot of fear-based training (ex. worried that he/she is not ready for the distance so there is a rapid increase in volume in a short amount of time)
-Athletes who are obsessive with eating and exercising, often too rigid with structure and lack of flexibility as life changes
-Endurance athletes - the best reason I can make is that endurance athletes have to train with a higher training load than short distance athletes and on top of this, they are balancing a lot in life, may struggle with body composition issues and may underfuel
-Athletes who never (or rarely) take time off, down time or beaks in the season
-Athletes who race too much
-Athletes who do not follow a well-designed, periodized training plan and do not have a team (sport dietitian, coach, sport psychologist, massage therapist) to provide expert advice

Overtraining is serious and I feel many times it is so overlooked by athletes and coaches because as I mentioned before, dedicated athletes know they need to consistently train and are not afraid to take risks and to push the limits for performance gains. 

So what is overtraining? 
Well, beyond a decreased or impaired performance, there is also extreme fatigue that affects the athlete in life and in training. Unlike burnout when an athlete may just lose motivation and enthusiasm for training for a short period of time, there are many physiological, psychological, nutritional and immunological issues that can occur. 

-A rapid change in HR and blood pressure
-A change in reproductive hormones (estrogen, progesterone or resulting in amenorrhea) or a change in testosterone (for men)
-Changes in cortisol, thyroid, pituitary hormones
-GI issues
-A decrease in strength/power/speed
-Inability to perform or meet personal standards for the time/effort that is committed to training
-Decrease/change in appetite
-Unintentional weight loss/gain
-Prolonged recovery, abnormal muscle soreness, joint aches
-Mood changes - depression, anxiety, exacerbated stress
-Decrease in motivation
-Decrease in self esteem and compassion for others
-Suppressed immune system - more frequent sickness or more time to recover from sickness
-Increased injuries
-Loss of enthusiasm for the sport and little desire to continue

For the respect of your one and only body, the worst thing you can do as an athlete is be motivated, passionate and hard working and not reach your goals because your training plan is not well-designed and your mind is not accepting of rest and recovery. 

So much time, energy, sacrifice and effort is needed, day in and day out, for you to peak appropriately at your key races but overtraining is not going to get you to where you want to be.  

The ultimate goal is not to seek ways to train harder or longer but instead, learn how to train smarter. 

Maybe you don't need 6-weeks like we did but I'm pretty sure that your body can benefit from a little time off from structure as you thank your body for what it allowed you to do last season. 

Happy training...and off-season!