Essential Sports Nutrition


Meet Mr. Llama

A few days ago I talked about the fun that I had at the Reedy River 10K. It was a training race so that meant back to business this week.

Well, I have no trouble getting my workouts done but if I am not having fun, there's no point to my training.'s what made me smile this morning.

I want to introduce you to Mr. Llama. 

One of my favorite things about cycling is what you see while you are just riding along. A former nutrition athlete of mine in Greenville told me that I had to see this Llama in a pasture on Old White Horse Road that will run over to you when you say "Hey Llama!". I'm so happy that she told me about this furry friend!

We had an athlete of ours (Justine) in town for a RETUL fit (performed by Karel) and a complete overhaul on her bike (new handlebars, new cassette, new chain, new bar tape) with a detailed inside/out cleaning. It's a highlight to show our friends/athletes our amazing country cycling routes so this morning we decided that we would train and have a quick stop to visit Mr. Llama for the very first time. 

I am a happy person and I love to smile. I try to find the good in everything and I enjoy surrounding myself with energy giving people. Every time I train, I am happy. I absolutely love moving my body and although I have no trouble working inside (no excuses - my motto is "find a way to get it done"), if I can be outside and move my body, I am one happy girl. 

But today was special. Why? Because normally when I ride, I just say hi to animals from the road. A little known fact, I do say hi (outloud) to animals when I train and race. But I am always polite and never say hi horse or hi cow. It's always Mr. or Mrs.

So that is why today I met Mr. Llama. Not Llama. Mr. Llama.
But I think in a few more rides, I will just use his first name since we will be best buds. 

Karel and I are so excited for our upcoming season. Karel has three half IM races (April, May, June) and then IM Placid in July. I have two half IM races (May, June) and then we are both dedicating our  August and September training to fully prepare for the 2015 Ironman World Championship (we qualified at IMWI). We are both extremely busy with our full load of amazing Trimarni athletes who will be starting their triathlon racing season here shortly.

Meeting Mr. Llama was important because it reminds me that as competitive athletes, who are willing to stay extremely dedicated to training, that you can't stop having fun when you train. Every journey is filled with highs and lows and come race day, we remember the special moments. 

I am pretty sure I am going to remember meeting Mr. Llama at one of my races. At some point in one of my endurance races, when I am racing for 4+ hours, I am going to hit a low spot. Having a memory like this, seeing Mr. Llama run over to us a happy as can be and want to take selfies and pictures with us, will be the picture perfect moment to make me smile when I am hurting. 

I find it extremely important that you never stop having fun with your training. It's just as important to be focused and disciplined with your training to make the most of your training time but to never stop enjoying what you get to do with your amazing body. 

Until next time Mr. Llama!


Happy National RD day!

3.5 years ago my passion turned into a career and I became a Registered Dietitian.

I am so happy that I took the time to go back to school after graduate school to further my knowledge and meet the requirements to be eligible to take the RD exam. 

Many people use the title nutritionist, nutrition expert or nutrition specialist but I am incredibly proud to be one of a select group of professionals who can be a nutrition expert and place "RD" behind our name.

My credential does not mean that I know everything. I am a Registered Dietitian that specializes in sport nutrition for endurance athletes. I follow a strict code of ethics and when I don't know something, I know that there are many other RD's who specialize in areas that I am not an expert in. 

Anyone can call themselves a nutritionist regardless of education, experience or background.  There are dozens of meal plans, books, articles, counseling sessions and tips provided by nutrition experts who have little formal education on nutrition but proclaim to be a nutrition expert.

Much of our public is confused and mislead by so much nutrition information and advice from these experts. Today is celebrating the many RD's out there who, by law, can analyze and assess a person's individual nutrition needs and provide nutritional counseling. 

There is a lot of great information out there on healthy eating given by individuals who are passionate about nutrition and there is nothing wrong with seeking tips from these individuals. You will many times see a disclaimer "I am not a RD" because this individual understands that she/he is providing nutrition tips, recipes, advice but is not counseling you or trying to treat your symptoms. Where the line is crossed is when you have symptoms that you need treated through a change in the diet, a clinical issue that you are concerned about or fitness goals that you want to reach through a change in diet or body composition. If you need dietary assistance, go and seek a RD who has met a rigorous set of standards to properly assess, diagnose and treat your situation. 

Who is a Registered Dietitian?
Registered dietitians are food and nutrition experts, translating the science of nutrition into practical solutions for healthy living. The expertise, training and credentials that back a registered dietitian are vital for promoting positive lifestyle choices

Trust a Registered Dietitian
When you need food and nutrition information based on fact or need to know how a healthy diet improves health and fights disease— rely on qualified professionals in the field.
Registered dietitians draw on their experience to develop a personalized
nutrition plan for individuals of all ages. They are able to separate facts from fads and translate nutritional science into information you can use. A
registered dietitian can put you on the path to lowering weight, eating healthfully and reducing your risk of chronic disease.

Registered dietitians know the science of nutrition. They have degrees in nutrition, dietetics, public health or a related field from well-respected, accredited colleges and universities. Anyone can call him/herself a nutrition expert but only RD's can use the title Dietitian. 

Looking for a Registered Dietitian?
When you need trusted, accurate, timely and practical nutrition advice, seek the services of a registered dietitian.
To find a registered dietitian in your area, visit and click on “Find a Registered Dietitian.”

Happy RD day!!!

Here are a few of my favorite blogs during my RD journey:

Breaking news - I passed!


Broccoli slaw tahini stir fry - batch cooking

Batch cooking is a life saver.
If you are an athlete, you know the feeling post-workout when you are hungry and two thoughts come to mind: You think about what you should eat to refuel and nourish your body and then you think about the time it will take to prepare the meal, cook the meal and eventually eat the meal.

We all know that a bowl of cereal can be "made" in less than 5 minutes but so can leftovers - heated in the microwave.

Healthy eating takes effort but when you are an athlete, you have to be dedicated to nourishing your body. The added stress from training makes the body more vulnerable to sickness, injury and fatigue. Food is your medicine and your fuel.
Although you may feel like the extra time in your life that could be devoted to meal prep is taken up by training, sorry - your excuse is invalid... you still have to make the time to cook.

Every now and then the stars will align and you jump with  joy that you have the free time to cook a home cooked meal or two. But of course, you need the energy and desire to use your time wisely for meal prep.

I recommend to spend 1-2 days a week to cook a few meals OR prep foods that may need a little more work so that when it comes to meal time, you see it not only as healthy time but a very easy process. You may find that at first you are spending 4 hours on meal prep but guess what, if you can spend 1 less hour a day during your busiest 4 days during the week, wouldn't you feel happy that you took the time (when you had the time) to devote several hours to meal prepping?

The nice thing about batch cooking is that you don't always have to be a slave to the kitchen. Use your oven, microwave, crock pot and stove top to prepare several items at once. Making food options ahead of time (like proteins, grains, chopping produce) is a life-saver.

When you are tired from working all day, after waking up at 4:30am for your morning workout and then sitting in traffic for an hour and maybe squeezing in an evening workout (or other extracurricular with friends/family), you will find it incredibly easy to whip together a meal when you have all the food options ready and all you have to do is heat or combine. 

To help you stay consistent with your wholesome diet, here is a simple dish that was prepared with the use of my wok that will help you boost your veggie intake for the next few days.

Broccoli Slaw Tahini stir fry

1 bag broccoli slaw 
1 bag broccoli and cauliflower (steamed first) 
1 small red bell pepper chopped 
1 small purple onion shopped 
1 large container pre washed mushrooms 
1 package tempeh chopped 
1 can chickpeas 
2 tbsp tahini paste 
1/4 tsp salt 
2 tbsp olive oil 

1. Mix all ingredients together in wok and cook on low-medium heat for 20 - 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

2. Store 1-2 cup servings in containers for easy meal prep.
(You can substitute your choice of animal protein for the tempeh)

Batch cooking ideas: 
Bean and lentil dishes
Rice and whole grain dishes
Potato and veggie dishes
Quiche and egg dishes
Stuffed peppers
Stew and soup
Root veggie dishes
Meat loaf or vegetarian loaf

Easy meal prep foods to have at home: 
Chopped/fresh fruit
Chopped/fresh veggies
Cooked raw  beans/lentils
Frozen veggies
Cooked grains
10-minute cooking grains
Deli meat/cooked meat
Cooked tofu/tempeh
Large container yogurt and cottage cheese
Hard boiled eggs
Tuna fish
Overnight oats


Reedy River 10K - race recap

This is me, smiling, suffering and doing my definition of "sprinting" downhill to the Reedy River 10K finish line in downtown Greenville. This is Bernhard Heulmanns who pushed me for the last .5 miles. I have never met Bernhard and only know his name because I looked him up after Pace Magazine tagged this picture of me and him on Facebook but I am grateful for his push because that's what I love about racing. 

What a challenging course for a 10K!
720 feet elevation gain!
With every up and downhill (especially the final long climb to main street) and sharp turn, I could feel my training paying off. Triathlon training, that is. 

Standing at the start line of a running race can be a humbling experience. No taper, plenty of swimming, strength training, running and cycling training occurred over the 5 days leading up to the race and the uncomfortable "unknown" of what my body was capable of without having any planned speed work in my training plan this season. 

I woke up at 6am and after my morning coffee and water, I had my pre-race meal of a dressed-up rice cake w/ peanut butter, honey, granola and banana (around 250 calories).

Around 7:30am, I walked Campy (when he got up with Karel) and then I did 15 minutes of hip/glute warm-up exercises at home (mobility work). It was a comfortable 46 degrees out so I got myself dressed with my Brooks Pure Flow 4 shoes, CEP compression socks, Ironman World Championship finisher hat, Oakley Women Commit sunglasses, Oakley align sport bra and long sleeve top and Trimarni shorts. I put on my charged Garmin 910 and heart rate monitor, grabbed 1/2 sleeve (3) of Clif Block Black Cherry shot blocks and filled up my run flask (8 ounces) with 1 scoop Cran-Razz electrolyte drink from Clif Bar and water. I put on my Saucony running gloves and off I went for a 1.2 mile jog to downtown + .8 miles of warming up.

I didn't go into this race with any expectations or goals. The 10K served as the state championship and since I am a triathlete - not runner, I had nothing I needed to prove at this race. I was simply there to enjoy a run race in my community and to run with hundreds of other athletes. Although my Garmin is a helpful advice to check-in with, it's also serves as safety net and object to feel discouraged by. I didn't need to play it safe and stick to a pacing plan and because I have never ran on this course before and the course was very technical and challenging, I wasn't going to let paces on a watch detour me from the freedom of racing my closest competition. 

With 30 minutes to spare, I kept myself moving in downtown and with 15 minutes to go before 8:30am (start time) I kept myself close to the front of the race start line....a few rows behind the "elite" runners. I had 1 Clif block while waiting for the start and took a few small sips of my flask and saved the rest for the run. 

When the gun went off, I just ran. And boy oh boy, did I feel good just running hard. Although I was pushing myself, I could really feel how my training thus far, this season, was paying off. My hips and glutes were working really well. My quads, core and lower back felt really strong and I felt light on my feet. All the swim training w/ our pool toys was paying off as I felt like my arms were really balancing the work load with my legs on every hill (and there were a lot of punchy ones!).

I was all around happy and suffering for 6.2 miles and by the time it came to the last long climb, I took a 5-10 sec breather (walk) and gave it my best effort up the hill and then for the final sprint. For the first time in a very long time, I felt like my form at the end of the race was no different than my form at the beginning of the race - and this made me smile. Even though my stranger friend  Bernhard was making me step way outside of my comfort zone, I was so thankful to my strong body for letting me race strong in a training race. 

After the race, I ran home (slowly) and checked the results on my phone (through the Go Green Timing app) and couldn't believe what I saw....

Not only did I average 6:52 min/mile pace without any type of speed work this season but with the top 10 females receiving a cash prize, my 12th place female finished also put me first in my age group!

I told Campy the great news at home (since Karel was off for a long bike ride) and he joined me for another run back to downtown for the awards. 

After a little over 10 miles of racing, warming up, cool down and fun running with Campy, I called it a very successful training day and started my recovery with a piece of fresh bread and glass of organic milk with whey protein powder (while sitting in the tub for an epson salt bath) and then had my post workout meal of french toast (more bread) with scrambled eggs and fruit (strawberries and banana). 

Garmin stats:
Mile 1: 6:36
Mile 2: 6:38
Mile 3: 6:45
Mile 4: 7:05
Mile 5: 7:00
Mile 6: 7:26
.2 mile: 6:11 min/mile pace
Total: 42:38 (6:54 min/mile average)

This race was not mentally and physically taxing yet I gave a strong effort and stayed mentally strong. I recovered very quickly and had a great 3:15 bike ride (on rolling hills since we have nothing flat here) followed by a 4 mile transition run on the track (with 3 x 1200 descend 1-3 w/ 90 sec rest in between. 70-85% effort).

Although we can't sacrifice our development as athletes to jump into races just to push for a PR or to enjoy the social aspect of racing with others, there is something special about being able to push harder than you can in training, in a race situation. If you have the right mentality, training races can benefit you in many ways. But you have to be emotionally detached to the results as a training race is simply part of your development and it, in no way, should sabotage your future training.

If you find yourself in a training race, remove the pressure that you may put on yourself to run a certain pace or to reach a specific time. Free yourself from your gadget and just race. It can be scary at first without your safety net if you are a slave to the numbers on your gadget and for those who never use a pacing device, this isn't to say that you should be training and racing without valuable feedback that you can use for your development. If you truly want to redefine your limits and reach your full potential when it really counts, mentally remove yourself from your perceived expectations and just be in the moment in a training race.

Don't let your mind convince you of what it's going to feel like when you get there or what's going to happen when it hasn't even happened. Every time you think and then believe a negative thought or emotion, it may come true because you are setting yourself up for something that you think may happen. There will be highs and lows in every race - from the short races to the all day races and everything in between. Embrace the hurt, toughen up and believe in yourself. Remove yourself from the emotion of how uncomfortable it is to hurt, specifically when you are not injured and just working hard. When your body gives you defined signals that you are racing beyond your potential, just slow down. You should have plenty of training sessions in your memory bank to know what is sustainable versus not practical. Every time you race (training races or when it really does count), use the feedback from your body and your gadget to help you train and race smarter.

Remember - you are always developing. One race does not define you. 

Thank you Trimarni sponsors!

Did you give/receive a hug today?


Hugging is healthy. 

It helps the body's immune system. 

It keeps you healthier. 

It cures depression. 

It reduces stress.
It induces sleep. 

It's invigorating. 

It's rejuvenating.

It has no unpleasant side effects. 

And, hugging is nothing less than a miracle drug. 

Hugging is all natural. 

It's organic. 

Naturally sweet, no pesticides, no preservatives, no artificial ingredients and 100% wholesome. 

Hugging is practically perfect. 

There are no moving parts, no batteries to wear out and no periodic check-ups. 

Low energy consumption, high energy yield, inflation proof, non-fattening, no monthly payments, no insurance requirements, theft-proof, non-taxable, non-polluting and of course....

Fully Returnable!!

This is not an original poem. My mom was given this to her and she passed it along to me. I thought you would enjoy this message so be sure to hug someone today!


Are you meeting your hydration needs?

You may think you are just working hard and that's why you are exhausted or need a long nap but the symptoms you are feeling may be from dehydration.... or not meeting your fluid and electrolyte needs. 

Increased thirst
Dry mouth
Tired or sleepy
Decreased urine output
Urine is low volume and more yellowish than normal
Dry skin

When it comes to meeting your hydration needs, there are two important things to remember: 
1) You have to stay on top of your fluid intake early and frequently
2) You need to find a way to carry adequate fluid intake to meet your needs (fuel belt, hand held, bike cages, camelback). 

For swimming, I recommend to plan 1 x 20-28 ounce bottle of water per hour mixed with a sport drink of 25-30g carbs and 100-200mg sodium for 1-2 hour workouts.
For cycling, I recommend to plan 1 x 20-28 ounce bottle of water per hour mixed with a sport drink containing at least 25-50g carbs and 200mg sodium for 1-2 hour workouts around 50g carbs and 200-400mg of sodium for workouts 2-3 hours (each hour) and around 60-80g carbs and 400-800 mg of sodium each hour for workouts over 3 hours. 

For running, I recommend to plan for at least 8 ounces of water mixed with 10-20g of carbs and ~50-80mg of sodium for every 30 minutes. 

The most efficient way to meet your fluid, electrolyte and carbohydrate needs are from liquid calories - sport drink/powder or gel mixed with water.

Plan to sip every 8-15 minutes, or as needed.
1 sip should be around 3-4 ounces (or at least 2-3 swallows) to ensure you are getting enough liquids/electrolytes/carbs. 

It can take up to 6-8 weeks to train the gut to tolerate nutrition while training so don't waste time on understanding your fueling needs in training/racing and making sure you are always staying hydrated during workouts.