11/15/14

Warm & delicious pear sunflower seed granola


What a shocker to my body this morning!!!

Over the last 10 years, Karel and I have found ourselves bundling-up to train outside on those occasional cold "winter" days in Florida. 

This morning it was 27 degrees when we woke up in Greenvills, SC. After we walked Campy, I headed to the Y for a treadmill run and Karel ran outside. When I saw that the leftover water in my water bottle was frozen, it quickly hit me that this was our new normal.

Campy, it's time to break out your sweaters! 

We are looking forward to swapping out our summer training gear for our winter gear and enjoying all of the season foods that are best enjoyed when it is cold outside.

As an athlete, one of the interesting parts of training throughout the seasons is understanding what foods feel the best around workouts. I often find that athletes enjoy more rich-flavor gels, bars and drinks in the cooler months whereas fruity options are more enjoyable in the hotter months.
I feel the same is true for post-workout drinks as most athletes aren't rushing home to guzzle a cold post-workout smoothie. When it's chilly outside, it's natural to crave something warm but you still don't want to skip that critical part of your workout when you can repair and rejuvenate. 

Although the amino acids in protein powders stay intact when heated but instead change shape, it's recommended to not denature your protein powder by heating. Instead, add the powder to something warm (ex. oatmeal) after it's been cooked.  The same is true for most proteins, like eggs. You don't want to overcook your proteins but instead, cook to the recommended temperatures or low heat. 

 I hope you enjoy my warm and delicious pear sunflower seed granola with a glass of "chocolate milk" (milk and chocolate protein powder - we typically have Solgar on hand as it mixes great with water and/or milk). It is a delicious creation to warm-up your belly post workout!

Pear sunflower seed granola

2 cups oats
1 soft pear (I used red)
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup honey (spray your measuring cup with non stick spray before measuring honey. This will help it come out easily)
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
2. On a non stick cookie sheet (sprayed with a little non stick spray), spoon out granola and spread out so it isn't too clumpy. 
3. Bake for 15-23 minutes (around 15 minutes, be sure to check the granola as you do not want to overcook it. It will not be 100% firm when it is ready but you don't want to burn it). When it begins to get golden brown, remove from the oven. 



11/14/14

The versatile egg salad


A salad: 

"A dish of various mixtures of raw or cooked vegetables, usually seasoned with oil, vinegar, or other dressing and sometimes accompanied by meat, fish, or other ingredients."

I realize that for some, the thought of eating only veggies for a meal is boring but for others, the thought of eating only veggies for a meal is satisfying.If you love veggies, you are probably smiling right now thinking of veggies whereas those who have yet to appreciate veggies, are cringing at the thought of eating those crunchy, tasteless food stuffs. 

Plants are Mother Earth's best sources of vitamins and minerals so consider them to be the most delicious way that you can take a multi-vitamin. 

What's not to love about a salad? The beauty of a salad is that YOU can create a meal that leaves you and your tummy happy. 

Essentially it is a plant-strong meal but you can dress it up however you want. 

As a 22-year lacto-ovo vegetarian, you'd think that I eat a lot of salads, soups and stir fry's since I don't eat meat (which is true) but why should salads be limited to only those who choose to not eat meat? 
Well, that's just silly! 

The only two things that differ from me and Karel when we eat are sometimes our protein choices are different and so are our portions. 

Both of us our plant strong athletes because we both need plants to be healthy and to perform well as endurance athletes. 

Here are a few delicious salad ideas using my versatile egg salad recipe (pictured above): 

(On the side of the salad are roasted yellow and purple potatoes. I cut into quarters, tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper and paprika and roasted in the oven at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown on edges.  We LOVE potatoes.)

Basic Trimarni egg salad

6 hardboiled eggs (3 whites, 3 whole)
2 stalks celery - chopped
Small handful baby carrots - chopped
1/4-1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup cooked corn
1/2 cup peas
1/2 cup chickpeas
1/2 cup chopped red peppers
1-3 spoonfuls 0% Greek yogurt
Salt, pepper, parsley- any other seasonings that you like

1. Mix together and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. 


For meat eaters: 
Keep (or omit) the eggs, add chicken or tuna fish

For vegans: 
Omit the eggs and add crumbled firm tofu and use veganaise instead of yogurt.
Optional, add cooked lentils and beans.

For non-veggie lovers: 
Omit the eggs and the yogurt and add 1/2 - 1 cup of your favorite store-bought salsa for a veggie-packed salsa to serve with chips or on a baked potato. Add a little spicy mustard, hot sauce or horseradish for an extra kick.
(Veggie lovers can still enjoy this delicious salsa idea)

There are so many variations of this egg salad. Start with the eggs (or tofu) and finish with the Greek yogurt, veganaise or olive oil based mayo and have so much fun creating your own delicious salad!

Happy Eating!



11/12/14

Zucchini flaxseed muffins


There's something so special about the oven. It's kinda magical how the oven can turn something flavorless into something so flavorful!!

I just love the process of baking muffins as the final product smells absolutely delicious!!
In real life, 20 minutes goes by rather quickly but when it comes to baking, 20 minutes feels like forever!!

These zucchini flaxseed muffins didn't last long in the Trimarni household so that means two things...
1) I need to go grocery shopping for round two of making muffins
2) These muffins are 100% Trimarni blog-worthy

Enjoy!


Zucchini Flaxseed Muffins

(adapted from Martha Stewart recipe)


Ingredients

1 3/4 cu all-purpose flour
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cu packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
 1 1/2 cup grated zucchini (1 zucchini)
1/3 cup mashed ripe banana (1 banana)
3/4 cup reduced fat milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a 12-muffin tin with cooking spray.
2. In large bowl mix together flour, flaxseeds, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
3. Add zucchini and banana. Stir to combine.
4. In small bowl, whisk together milk, eggs and vanilla.
5. Add milk mixture to flour and stir until combined. Do not overmix.
6. Fill muffin tins ~3/4 full and bake for 20-25 minutes. Let muffins cool in pan (removed from oven) for 30 minutes (if you can wait that long). 

(optional: add a few chocolate chips to the top of each muffin before baking)

Although these muffins are packed with great ingredients to leave your tummy happy, I like to eat my muffins with greek yogurt or scrambled eggs for a balanced, healthy and satisfying meal.  

11/11/14

Trimarni 8-week Triathlon Transition Plan - Available NOW!


Why do I need the Trimarni 8-week transition plan? 

To improve next year's performance by making good use of the transition phase between 'off season' and your first phase of triathlon specific training.  The transition plan is designed specifically to help you develop the proper skills to progress smoothly throughout the year. Consider this the blueprint of building a strong house for your body. 




What makes this plan different than my regular base building triathlon training plan? 

Transition plan highlights:

-The swim focus is on improving your aerobic threshold, drills, kicking, upper body strength and form and improving your aerobic capacity.
-For the bike workouts, you will see some high intensity intervals mixed with skills/drills and cadence work. You will be doing single-leg drills, heavy leg drills and a little higher volume bike training on the weekends to improve aerobic threshold.
-The run workouts in this phase will be focused on form and improving your economy and efficiency as a triathlete. The strength training will pay off greatly in running improvements.
-The strength training will be periodized throughout the plan to ensure that you are strengthening key muscles groups that will yield favorable gains in swim, bike, run fitness.
-Checkpoints are determined in week 7 to establish realistic, current zones.
-Your first week of specific triathlon training (with bricks) takes place in week 8 to help you transition to your more specific training plan.





Remind me again why I need the 8-week transition plan?


This plan is vital to your season success. Because we do not build a roof before building the foundation of a house, we want you to think of this phase as the bottom tier of your season pyramid of training. Out of every phase of training, this is the most important, yet overlooked phase. We are confident that this plan will pave the way for a great season ahead!



Will I see Campy in your exercise videos? 

Yes!! But this one didn't make the final cut....



What do I get when I purchase the 8-week Transition Plan?


GO-TO GUIDE:
No training detail is left out of this plan. We created this plan as if you were a one-on-one Trimarni athlete. In this 10-page document, you will get the inside details on how we train and educate all of our Trimarni athletes.
Most importantly, you will understand why we have our athletes strength train throughout the entire season and what type of strength exercises are most appropriate throughout each phase of the season.
You will not only be instructed on what equipment we use when we train our athletes but also how to set up your gadgets for proper, effective training.  You will also learn how we (and our athletes) use Training Peaks to monitor training progress (Training Peaks is a FREE software program to upload your workouts for review).
In this plan, there are specific training details for swim, bike and run workouts that will help you better understand how to train smarter not only in the transition plan but also throughout your entire season. You will learn a lot in this guide, not only specific to the 8-week transition plan. 


FOUNDATION STRENGTH & DYNAMIC WARM-UP EXERCISES: 
Every strength workout includes specific exercises, sets and reps to follow. This will occur throughout your entire 8-week plan. You will have access to over 20 videos (corresponding to the strength exercises in your plan) in which Marni is demonstrating the strength exercise and giving important tips. As a bonus, you will also receive a very basic stretching routine as well as 7-9 videos specific to dynamic warm-ups for swimming, biking and running. We want to make sure you know how to warm-up properly before all workouts as well as for race day. We hope you enjoy the videos!


NUTRITION GUIDE (optional addition to your transition plan)
We do not believe in being extreme with your eating or modifying the diet only for a number on the scale. We also do not believe in any extreme use of sport nutrition products (or lack thereof) but instead, to use sport nutrition properly to support training demands and to keep the immune system healthy.
We want you to fuel smart and eat smart to train smart!
For 12 weeks, you will be given specific suggestions as a way to create a balanced diet, to develop a healthy relationship with food and to learn how to eat for fuel and for health.
To help you learn how to eat for fuel and for health (or to improve your knowledge), use the information in this guide as a way to help you reach your health, performance and diet goals.
The information in this guide is not a replacement for medical advice.  Always consult with your primary physician and registered dietitian before starting/modifying an exercise or nutrition regime.  
This guide is the beginning of a new way of thinking about food and your body. It’s time to learn how to create and maintain a healthy relationship with food and your body. We want you to appreciate a more real food diet and to eat the right foods that are timed appropriately with your workouts and lifestyle. There are no meal plans or off limit food lists but instead, every week you will have something specific to focus on or to address when it comes to your daily diet/eating routine.
As a bonus in the nutrition guide, you will also get a 30 minute hip/core workout and 30 min core workout that you can do anytime.

Can I see a sample workout? 

Sure!
Here is a bike workout from our transition plan that was featured on Triathlete Magazine online:
Transition Phase One-Hour Bike Trainer Workout

Are you excited to start the plan?

11/9/14

Improve your bike skills - CLIMBING



While on our long "foundation" building ride this morning, we made good use of our time on our bikes by enjoying the mountain views on top of Cedar's Head. 



As we were climbing the 6-miles to the top of the mountain, I couldn't help but think about my progress as a swimmer, turned runner, turned triathlete, turned cyclist. Although my love for swimming has not gone away, I absolutely love riding my bike.

And now  that we live in beautiful, bike-friendly Greenville, SC we love riding our bikes even more! We leave from our doorstep on the Westend of downtown and in less than 7 miles we can climb Paris Mountain and in 45 minutes we are on challenging roads and hilly terrain on beautiful country roads.

There was a time, not too long ago a few years ago, that I was not very skilled on my bike. By no means, am I an expert now but my riding skills have improved dramatically over the last few years and I owe it all to Karel helping me learn how to be a better cyclist. 

So I thought that I would share a few tips that have helped me not only race better but also train smarter. 

Switchbacks


Not every race (or training session) will have switchbacks and unless you are iPyrénées, they probably won't look like this (above) BUT it is important that you know how to properly bike up hills that require turning corners. In my racing experience, athletes often get thrown off with gearing (or struggle) on an unexpected incline turn as well as turns that are not well-viewed. 

When riding switchbacks or turns on an incline it is important to know where you should be positioning yourself so that you are in the least steepest grade possible.

When the road turns to the right, you want to be closest to the middle. You want to always be on the outside of the turn So imagine the trees are on your right yellow line is to your left. If the road is turning to the right, you want to ride yourself away from the trees. Certainly be careful, watch for cars and in races, do not cross the yellow line or get in the way of other riders.
Now the opposite situation, if the road is turning to the left, yellow line is to your left and trees to the right, you will want to ride yourself toward the trees as this is the least steep grade when it comes to how the road pitches up. 



Climbing position 



Sitting or....


Standing?

We get this question a lot and certainly it depends on the climb and the rider size, as well as what you are most comfortable with. It's funny that I picked these two pictures because typically I am the one out of my saddle when I climb and Karel is sitting, however, we both sit AND stand.

Every climb is different so my suggestion is to practice. Learn how you prefer to climb on different grades. The ultimate goal is to climb in a way that allows you to keep a smooth cadence and conserve your energy. The opportunity for you to stay aero while "climbing" will likely only come if there are rollers in that you can gain momentum from a previous climb and comfortably work your way up another climb. Another situation, a very low grade climbg. Otherwise, if a climb is long or steep, sit up and stretch your hip flexors and focus on a very fluid pedal stroke.

The reason why it is advantageous to sit up while climbing is because your natural position when climbing is to scoot back a little on the saddle (as oppose to being on the middle/nose of the saddle while in aero). This position you have placed yourself in while climbing in a seated position allows you to open the hip angle and you have more power.

For athletes who feel comfortable out of the saddle (or when the road pitches up rather steep or on punchy climbs when getting out of the saddle is an easy way to get over the top), keep in mind that it does take more energy to climb standing. But standing  stretches the body (ex. legs/back) and takes you out of your seated position. Therefore, it is good to get out of the saddle every now and then while climbing.  Focus on all parts of the pedal stroke while standing although you may find yourself more powerful on the top of your stroke as you push down on the pedals. You will also find yourself rocking your handlebars a little as you move your arms side to side to help move your front wheel up the climb. You need good core and lower back as well as upper body strength to be a good climber and this is very true if riding out of the saddle. Typically, shorter or lighter athletes are good climbers out of the saddle but also those who have great quad strength may prefer coming out of the saddle here or there while climbing. This is not a rule, just a generalization.

If sitting, the most important thing to remember is a very smooth pedal stroke. To help increase your cadence while climbing, I recommend single-leg drills on the trainer (sitting up) to help you train your legs to be engaged on all parts of the pedal stroke. We typically do 3-5 rounds of  each leg, 30-60 sec single leg drills (clipping out the foot that is not being used) to not only become more aware of  any"dead" spots in the pedal stroke (typically at the top) but also to strengthen the glutes and hamstrings.
It took me a while to get my cadence higher on the bike on flat roads so as you can imagine, it took a very long time to increase it while climbing.....and I'm still working on it.
You never have to just sit or just stand when you climb so be sure you are focusing on being comfortable.  Every rider will have his/her own style of climbing but to conserve energy, try to keep the upper body relaxed without a lot of rocking back and forth while sitting. You want your arms very relaxed on your bars while the legs do the work to move your forward.
Practice sitting and standing when you ride outside on hills so you can get more comfortable on different grades.

Shifting and gearing


When athletes (or race directors) talk about a climbing cassette, you will want to have a 12-27 or 11-28 (it should end with 27 or 28) cassette on your bike. The reason for a climbing cassette is so you can have easier gears.You will also see that some athletes prefer a compact crankset which is another option for relatively smaller chainrings.
If you are riding on any course that is not flat (in other words, the road goes up and down), a climbing cassette is a great affordable investment and if you are not comfortable changing your own cassette, just have your LBS (local bike shop) do it for you (you can typically buy one there as well).
Speaking of your cassette, it is extremely important that you know how to shift your gears properly. This is probably the easiest thing you can work on every time you ride outside but a common error of athletes on race day (does a dropped chain come to mind? Don't worry, it happens to us all at times...even with a chain catcher.).

When it comes to shifting your gears, you will find that your comfortable gear of course will differ depending on the terrain grade. Although it is absolutely possible to climb in your big chain ring, the focus should be on keeping your cadence as comfortably high as possible for a smooth pedal stroke. Therefore, most efficient riders will be changing from big to small, small to big, throughout the ride to keep that nice steady cadence. As pictured above, if you have electronic shifting, it is simply a button to press on your aero bars or base bars to change your gears. This allows the rider to keep his/her hands on the base bars when climbing or aero bars on rolling hills and still be able shift. You can also shift while standing out of the saddle when you have electronic shifting. Now when I talk shifting, I am not just referring to big and small chain rings but also all the gears you have on your cassette.
You must avoid your chain crossing (and your chain being dropped),. If you are on the big chain ring and you keep shifting up, there is more force on the chain and the chain is crossing. This is not good. Don't wait to shift from big to small chain ring until the last moment. You need to be sure you are in a gear that allows you comfortable shift big to small, small to big without noticing a big difference in your pedal stroke.
As an easy suggestion, be sure your chain is somewhere near the middle (not to the extreme top or bottom) of the cassette before shifting from big to small/small to big.
An efficient rider will likely change his/her gears a lot during racing/training to keep that nice steady cadence. Sometimes, I try to shift and realize I am already in the smallest gear while climbing and I wish I had just one more gear! Always a let down. 

As you become a more skilled rider, you will become a more efficient rider. And when you ride efficiently, you train more consistently. Ultimately you become stronger, faster and more powerful. 

So while you are out there enjoying the climbs, a few more things to remember:
-While descending, NEVER break during a turn. Gently break before the turn and then let it go. You can not control your wheels while breaking in a turn and this is setting you up for a risky, dangerous situation while going downhill or even on flat roads
-While descending, look ahead. Be sure to become familiar with new roads before bombing a descend (unless you are Karel) so you are aware of any bumps, ditches, sharp turns, etc. This is extremely important when it comes to improving your confidence before a race.
-Practice fueling while climbing/descending. It is much safer to fuel up a climb than down a steep, technical climb as you need to pay attention when you descend. However, some descends are "easy" and provide a great opportunity to fuel/hydrate And when I say fuel, this is liquid nutrition. You need to practice staying hydrated while climbing and that means grabbing a bottle from your cages while climbing. There is a significant amount of energy being used while climbing so you don't want to go 10,20,40 minutes on a climb without fueling or hydrating. Since there is so much blood being used by the muscles, liquid nutrition will digest much easier than solid food. However, if heading out for a long ride in the mountains, I recommend to bring a sport bar to nibble on as you may get hungry on the descends and you are using a lot more energy compared to flat roads. But for race day, I recommend to rely on liquid nutrition as your primary source of fuel (a little solid food here or there is perfectly fine).
-Don't dread the climbs. What goes up, must come down. The more practice you have climbing and descending, the more comfortable you will be on your bike. I am not telling you that it will be easy to climb (or race on hilly courses) but you may learn to enjoy the suffering on the way up and the fun on the way down.