Essential Sports Nutrition


Energize your body with real food

Every day there is a magazine, article, blog or book talking about the good, bad and ugly when it comes to food. In today's society, I worry that athletes are spending way too much energy worrying about what not to eat and consequently removing healthy foods from the diet, rather than focusing on what they can, should and need to eat in a real food diet.

To spend your energy focusing on what real food option you should not eat is not how you should be spending your time, money and energy. I'm so over athletes dissecting every food in the diet in terms of how bad the food is for the body.
Can we just make peace with real food?
So I ask....if you are currently overwhelming yourself with good vs bad food, how passionate are you for fueling your body in motion?
Are you currently sabotaging your health and performance because you are refusing to give yourself permission to eat certain foods that will energize your body?

I promise, unless you have an allergy or intolerance, nothing bad will happen if you eat a plain baked potato, eat a bean salad for lunch or enjoy a banana before a workout. 

It is within the food that we eat, that we fuel metabolic reactions. For us athletes, this is critical to using your body to perform at high levels.

When you restrict food, you restrict yourself from energy.
If you have a healthy relationship with food, you will understand that with every bite, you have the wonderful opportunity to provide energy for a chemical reaction to take place to move your body, to sustain activity, to help you recover and so much more!

Healthy eating is not limited to eating lots of fruits and veggies nor is it entirely focused on how much/little carbs, protein or fat you consume on a daily basis.

Healthy eating is fueling your body, protecting your body and nourishing your body.

Healthy eating is not just important for your overall well-being but as an athlete, it is vital for your performance and health.
If you do not spend energy appreciating, planning and consuming real food, rich in vitamins and minerals, do not expect your body to reach it's full athletic potential.

Restricting food increases your risk for nutrient deficiencies and poor energy to help you keep good form and energy during workouts. Additionally, an unhealthy diet (too much/too little) leads to injury, sickness and chronic conditions. If your body does not receive the nutrients that it needs, your body becomes weak and your risk for serious health issues increases. 

It is within your daily diet that you can maintain the energy that you need to follow your training plan. When your training volume and intensity increases, your diet should compliment this added training load. A nutrient rich diet not only helps you keep high energy levels during workouts and throughout the day but when your body is nourished, you will find yourself with better sleep, more focus/clarity and a better overall mood (less depression, moodiness, anxiety).

Fruits and veggies should be part of your daily "athlete" diet. I recommend to aim for 3 handfuls of dark leafy greens a day + at least 2 cups mixed veggies. For fruits, at least 3 handfuls of fruit per day.
As for your macronutrients, keep it simple by focusing on 3 meals and a few planned snacks throughout the day to meet your daily needs:
Carbohydrates - 3-8g/kg/day
Protein - 1.3-1.8g/kg/day
Fat - ~25-30% total calories

It does not matter what type of athlete you are to appreciate the goodness found in real food, knowing that you are meeting your metabolic needs.

Free yourself of food fears and make peace with food.
Enjoy your carbs, protein and fats and don't forget to eat your fruits and veggies. 


Race prep tips - get yourself race ready

When you think about the top age group, elite and professional athletes, they all have one thing in common. 

They are all fast!

But push good genetics, consistent training, experience and phenomenal dedication to the side and great race day performances stem from excellent preparation.

Successful performances are not limited to the professionals. Any athlete can be great. It's time to discover your inner excellence!

It's important that you make sure you are using every training session to get yourself race ready. For the average age-grouper, life is so busy that you may find yourself rushing through training to just get it done or skipping valuable steps in your development.
If you have recently found yourself feeling a bit overwhelmed for your upcoming race, it's time to believe in yourself that you will know how to use that fitness on race day. 

Most athletes spend at least 4 months training for a key race. That's a minimum of 16 weeks or around 120 days to prepare your body and mind for race day.
If you train 6 days a week, that's approximately 96 days to build fitness, perfect your skills, test your fueling strategy and practice pacing. 

Here are a few tips on how you can feel more race ready in the 8 weeks leading up to your big race. 

-6-8 weeks out: Every training session creates training stress to get you faster, stronger and more resilient. You should see every workout as a valuable opportunity to learn, experiment, observe, reflect and test yourself when it comes to pacing, fueling and mental strength. Every workout should make you feel more prepared for race day. Avoid just going through the motions. Make sure you are gaining something from every workout. 

-5 weeks out: Consider the planned fatigued that is building to help you physically prepare for your upcoming event during this time. Not every workout will feel 100% but you can certainly give your best effort for each workout, depending on the day. You should be extra focused on consistency with your before and during training nutrition as well as with your lifestyle habits like sleep and stress management so that your body stays in excellent health.

-4 weeks out: Around this time, you should find yourself with more race-specific workouts. The purpose of these longer workouts (or a training race) is to give you confidence that you can put it all together on race day. Great performances come from athletes who know how to be proactive and solve problems quickly on race day. If you find yourself with an oh-no moment in training, learn from it to be better prepared on race day. 

-3 weeks out: This is the time when your mind and body play games on you...a lot! You are getting closer to taper and begin to experience a lot of mental dialogue which can affect how you train. You may experience self-doubt and the itch to test yourself with fear-based workouts or you may feel a sense of burnout and question "is this all worth it?" Remember how far you have come and with every conversation you have in your head, convince yourself that you are ready and it will be worth it.

-2 weeks out: Speaking of mental strength, this is an excellent time to go through "oh no" situations for race day. How will you handle a flat tire, cramp or tummy ache on race day? It may be valuable to consult a professional when it comes to situations like GI distress, pacing concerns or weather worries to help you feel more prepared, especially if you have been experiencing issues in training that worry you for race day. Visualize yourself on race day and embrace all worries, pains of the race or fears that you have because everything you are feeling is normal and anticipated. If you trained smart over the past few months, trust yourself that you are more than ready for your upcoming race. This is a great time to start your packing list and to keep your race day plan for nutrition as simple as possible. Do a few workouts in your race gear/equipment to make sure you are comfortable performing race intensity in your race gear/equipment.

1 week out/Race week: Do you like to be in control? Every athlete has his/her own definition of control but for some an itinerary and a written plan is extremely helpful. With so many thoughts in your head, write things out to walk yourself through your packing list, pacing strategy and fueling plan.  I believe that athletes need to surround themselves with positive energy on race week and avoid energy suckers. For some, this means staying off social media and for others, this means sharing the experience with others.

Not too long ago, I provided our team of Trimarni athletes a handout titled "Race week/day planning" with 10 specific questions that help my athletes think about, prepare and plan for their race.
Here are a few of the questions to help you out:
1. What gear are you planning to use/have with you during the race (you may include extra gear for warming-up, pre race and extra items as well). 


2. Are there any special items that you need to have with you before the race that won’t be 
used during the race (ex. medicine, clothing, nutrition, gear, nutrition chargers) that will 
make an impact on your race day performance/plan? 

3. What are your goals for each portion of the race – mental, nutrition and physical. 


4. What is your nutrition fueling/hydration strategy for during each portion of the race (amount, timing and type of nutrition)? 


5. What concerns you right now that may cause you anxiety/nerves on race day? Are there 
things within or out of your control that are on your mind (ex. course terrain, weather, 
the swim, nerves, timing goals, injuries, GI distress, first race, new location, travel, etc.)

6.  Based on your responses above – how will you address/overcome these challenges 
during the race?

Best of luck at your upcoming race!!!

"The will to succeed is important but what's more important is the will to prepare." 


Ironman Haines City 70.3 - (spectator) race report

There are athletes who love to train and athletes who love to race. Some enjoy one or the other and some enjoy both.
It's very easy to get so overwhelmed and anxious about the end result of a training journey that you may find that you are only defining progress or success by a finish time or place (or both). This puts tremendous pressure on you, as the athlete, to always think about how you need to perform on race day to have a great race.  If your only way to define development is in a certain time or place, you may limit your ability to discover true greatness. Sure, we all want to be fast and strong and this can happen with a smart training and fueling plan and race day execution but there are times in every athletes's season when you have to simply race for the best effort possible that you can give on that day and not chase times or placing. Every race is different.
Sometimes, that best effort will give you a personal best time or podium spot but many times, that race will help you grow, learn and develop to someday, reach your ultimate athletic potential.

Rarely do I hear athletes thanking their body that they were able to cross the starting line. There is so much that can happen between the day you sign up for a race until you step foot on the starting line. And when you are so focused on results, you overlook a critical and necessary part of reaching your full potential....being healthy and strong enough to meet the demands of your upcoming race.

The scary and exciting part about racing is there is no way to know what can happen with your body during the race until you get started. And at no point during the race can you predict the future.

Sometimes, you just have to be thankful for what you get to do, with the body that you have. There's nothing wrong with having goals and feeling ready (or not) but regardless of how you feel before the race, you just have to show up on race day and let what will happen, happen. It's with the "best" races that you spend less energy on what could or may happen and remain confident, brave and strong with what you want to happen. You do your best to pace your own race to set yourself up for success and with every moment during the race when the odds aren't in your favor, you find a way to overcome those odds to prove to yourself that you are capable of so much more than you ever thought you could do with your body. 

After a 6 hour drive to Jacksonville, FL on Friday, we spent the night at a friends house and then on Saturday around 8:30am, we made our way 3 more hours to Haines City, Fl. Wow - it was hot coming from Greenville, SC!! This is our first time in 10 years (for me and more for Karel) living outside of Florida for almost a year so adjusting to seasons vs being warm all year long has been strange. 

When we arrived to the race venue we attended the athlete briefing at 12pm for any last minute changes/rules (ex. new drafting length rule in effect) and met up with several of our 12 Trimarni athletes who were racing. I was the designated sherpa for our group but it is part of our normal pre-race routine to always attend the athlete briefing. 

After the briefing, Karel and I put on our riding gear and heading out for a 1 hour spin. With Karel racing, he did a few pick-ups and I treated this as a workout for me since it was super challenging to stay on Karel's wheel for his 2-3 minute pick-ups. My legs were burning but it was so fun to ride aero on flat/rolling roads and to find a rhythm (something we don't get to do where we live near the mountains). Karel didn't even have his race wheels on but wow, he was fast! 

After our ride (and Karel did a short run for 10 min off the bike with a few pick-ups) we made a stop at the local Publix grocery store for food for the next 24 hours including food for Karel's pre-race dinner meal (rice, chicken, bread and salad) and his pre-race morning meal (similar foods but never the same amount for each race - this race: Bolthouse yogurt drink, oatmeal, bread with jam and milk). We both were super hungry after the busy day of traveling and working out so we both ate a meal around 4pm and then just snacked the rest of the evening.
Karel's typically diet is very carb-heavy with lots of bread, grains and starches, moderate (but enough) protein and a very plant strong diet with lots of fruits and veggies. Pastries, coffee and chocolate are also part of his normal diet so race week is no different for him in many ways. There are no off limit foods for Karel - just no alcohol race week (he makes up for that day after the race).

We stayed with a friend from Key West (Roger) at a rental home which was nice to have a kitchen and room to spread out. 

The positive energy was building with a few other athletes in the house also racing and by 9pm, everyone was in bed for an early wake-up call. 

At 3:50am, we woke up and by 5:20am we were out the door to head to the race. I fueled my spectating duties with a bowl of oatmeal with almonds (from Veronica's Health Crunch), milk and raisins and made a PB Sandwich for later with lots of fruit. 

It was fun to be on the sidelines and be there for our 12 athletes. At 6:30am, most of the group met up for a team picture and then everyone did their own thing (warm-up) before their wave start. 

I positioned myself at the swim exit to catch all of our athletes when they got out of the water. The swim course is a bit strange with many turn bodies (the course looks like a M) so lots of spotting is involved. 

With Karel in one of the last few waves, I was able to spot all of our athletes before seeing Karel. 
Karel felt really good in the water. He said he felt very smooth with a good catch and never felt anxious in the water. Although Karel would love to be faster in the swim to position himself better with the top athletes, he will often swim for efficiency over speed to ensure that he does not exhaust himself in the water on race day as newer swimmer. Karel and I swim a lot (often 5 times per week) just so he can keep his feel for the water. Some days he doesn't feel good but just being in the water helps him feel more confidence for race day. 

1.2 mile swim: 
Time: 35:43
41 age group, 212 male, 250 overall 

After all our athletes exited the water and started the bike, I had time to kill so I went for an hour run on the run course. It was so neat to see so many other spectators running - something that I don't get to experience when racing. After my run, I put on a non-sweaty shirt and got rid of my Nathan Fuel belt and grabbed my food/drinks and headed out to watch our athletes come in from the bike with a few other Trimarni athletes who weren't racing (Ryan, Mike, Heather and Adam). It was so great to have so many Trimarni teammates out on the course and on the sidelines. 

I spotted Karel as he neared his last turn toward the dismount line and we all cheered loud. 

I know what you are thinking.....Karel is smiling!!! I guess we made him laugh.

Oh and that orange kit is specially made for Karel from Canari. We love our Canari family and they spoiled us with a full line of seasonal training/racing gear in a "Kona edition" orange for us both. Thank you Canari! Karel absolutely loved racing in his short sleeve tri suit - he found it super comfortable and absolutely no chaffing or overheating. 

Karel didn't have any goals for this race (that he discussed with me) but he did tell me that he wanted to be between 2:20-2:25 to feel happy about his bike performance. Not knowing how he would ride on flat roads with all the climbing we do in Greenville (and averaging 16.5-17.5mph for most of our rides), Karel rode in and looked really good off the bike so I knew this was a great sign that he was feeling good.

Karel ended up riding 2:19 which he was really happy about. He said that he felt really good and he didn't have to push as hard as he thought for the ride that he had. It's always a fine line for Karel as to how hard he can push with his bike racing background but still be able to have fresh legs for the run. Karel doesn't go by power when he rides but still has his gadget for race day to check in as needed. But Karel typically goes by feel as he knows what he wants it to feel like and what it should feel like to run well off the bike. With more experience, Karel continues to dial this in.
Karel consumed 2.5 bottles of his custom INFINIT drink (around 280 calories each bottle) on the bike and a few Clif blocks. No extra water from aid stations.

56 mile bike: 
2:19:11 (24.14mph)
13th age group, 45 male, 45 overall 

Hello game face!
This run course is super spectator friendly with 3 loops and a perfect section for seeing athletes twice within a 10-15 min time-frame around mile 3-4.
The only thing Karel said to me was "it's hot" but other than that, he was a man on a mission. I guess all our hill work and "slow" form focused running paid off as Karel was able to hold sub 7 min/miles for the entire half marathon even though the majority of Karel's long runs are often slower than 7:30 min/miles.
Karel said that he felt really good until the last loop of the run and then things felt hard (which is to be expected). It was nearing 90 degrees out which was hot for everyone but certainly something that Karel and I are no longer acclimated too after moving to Greenville last May. 

Karel wore his fuel belt (as he always does in every training sessions - even the short runs) with 3 flasks, each with OSMO (80 calories). He grabbed ice/water from the aid stations and used the Base Salts capsule and licked salt from it when needed.
He said he felt really strong and his form stayed good throughout. He was even able to build his effort by holding back in the first loop (by feel) and stopping at aid stations (yes, even speedy Karel stops/walks when he runs).

As Karel was making his last loop, I cheered on a few more Trimarni athletes and then headed to the finish to watch Karel finish. I was thankful for our friends Kristen and Trent who were sending me text updates of Karel as I was so busy cheering that I couldn't check my phone for stats with all the pictures I was taking. (a big thank you to Ryan and Adam for also taking awesome pics of the Trimarni team). 

As a coach, it's great to be on the sidelines for my athletes as several needed me throughout the day. Sometimes it was just a high-five or cheer or a quick discussion on nutrition, pacing or mental strength but whatever the reason, I just love being there to see them in action. 

Racing with them is also fun and I can't wait to race at Challeng Knox in May. 
 Because of the wave start, the clock showed the start of the race (at 6:50) so with Karel starting after 7:30am I had no idea what time on the clock he would finish. I watched and watched and finally, Karel came sprinting down the finish. 

It was only a matter of time before Karel gave himself the reward of racing hard and giving everything he could for 70.3 miles.....he finally let his legs rest.

13.1 mile run: 
1:29:39 (first time breaking 1:30 in a half for Karel!), 6:50 min/mile average
Total: 4:28:38
7th age group, 20th male, 20th overall
Wow - a sub 4:30 time got Karel 7th age group. Crazy fast times!
There was some tough competition out there to challenge Karel to dig deep. 

This is proof that sometimes a best effort isn't about the place or the overall finish but instead, what you put into the race to get the best outcome possible, on race day with your healthy and strong body.

Sending a HUGE congrats to all the Trimarni athletes who raced amazingly well.
Everyone finished what they started!!

Trimarni coaching athletes: Haines City 70.3: 
Tricia Ann - 7:50:56
Maggie A - 7:18:43
Stefanie S - 7:00:47
JoAnn J - 6:40:53
Jim N - 6:27:20 (first time half ironman finisher)
Nick - 5:41:00
Colleen - 5:38:24
Christian (pre-built plan) - 5:36:38
Mike M - 5:36:34
Rob J - 5:26:03
Kevin D - 5:22:12
Josh G - 5:03:2
Wlad - 5:01:56
Karel - 4:28:38

For more pictures of our awesome athletes in action, check out the Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition facebook page.