Essential Sports Nutrition


3 tips to improve your Coach + Athlete relationship

Your coach plays a significant role in your athletic journey. While some athletes may have one coach for an entire athletic journey, the majority of athletes will likely have several coaching relationships throughout an athletic career. And while this statement may apply best to the high school and collegiate athlete, the concept of a strong coach + athlete relationship is extremely important for the adult athlete who is likely focusing on a lot more in life than just training.

Regardless if your coach sees you in action, monitors you via an online data software program or corresponds via phone or email, a strong coach + athlete relationship will help you become the best athlete that you can be. Hating your coach, not trusting your coach, feeling uncomfortable around your coach or struggling to effectively communicate with your coach are all signs that you do not have a good coach + athlete relationship.

While a coach has his/her responsibilities to treat the athlete like an individual, to properly communicate with an athlete, to be seen as a mentor and guide, to be available to his/her athletes, to provide constructive criticism and to be a supportive and encouraging, there are a few ways for the athlete to contribute to a healthy and strong coach + athlete relationship.

1. Don't deviate from the plan

When you are in a squad environment, there's a good chance that you wouldn't tell your coach, "I'm going to do what I want to do instead of your workout." Not only would this create a negative atmosphere among your teammates but it also shows your coach that you do not value his/her experience/expertise.
Sadly, this happens a lot when you are on your own, without your coach watching over you. Feeling the need to do more or less than what you are prescribed, going harder or easier than the effort you were told to do or skipping and adding sessions as you feel fit, is essentially your way of saying that you know better than your coach. 
While there are times to modify a workout, remember that your plan is designed to help you reach your athletic potential and also reduce your risk for injury and burnout.
Next time you look at your training plan, don't make assumptions as to what you think you should be doing and instead, just do it.

2. Trust and Communication

You likely love to train hard and you are probably very motivated to reach your upcoming season goals. But your ability to maximize your fitness will directly come from your coach, who has his/her plan (or road map) for how you will improve your physiology and develop you as you prepare for your most important races of the season.

Although coaches come from different backgrounds, some with more notable credentials and knowledge than others, it's important that you see your coach as an expert. The more you value your coaches experience, the more trust you will have for your coach. 
Trusting your coach is one of the most important components of having a great coach + athlete relationship. Most athletes will quickly recognize if a coach is the right fit, simply because they feel this sense of connection, immediately. When you trust your coach, you will listen and apply.

While trusting your coach is extremely important, good communication on your end (athlete) is critical. Keeping your mouth shut and simply checking off workouts because "coach said so" is not a healthy coach + athlete relationship. It's important to upload workouts and keep regular comments about your workouts to ensure that your coach knows if your body is properly adapting to the planned training stress. While it's important to listen to your coach (and not focus on the hundreds of other opinions/strategies as to how you think you should train) and trust his/her plan for you, you are encouraged to ask questions to your coach when you simply don't understand how to perform a workout properly.
Trust and communication go both ways - between the athlete and a coach. If you don't trust your coach, feel he/she doesn't want the best for you or you find it extremely hard and difficult to communicate with your coach, you may need to find a new coach.
(Note: When it comes to online coaching, many coaches have different coaching levels. It is important to make sure that every month, you are getting what you are paying for, from your coach. While you may be paying for daily monitoring but not receiving any feedback from your coach, many athletes expect more from a coach than what is listed in your coaching package. If you aren't sure if you are getting what you are paying for, ask your coach.)
3. Be more than just a great athlete, be a great human being.

At Trimarni, we are a family of athletes. Our athletes do not have an elitist mindset but instead, encourage and support one another. There are no favorite athletes on our team and no athlete feels excluded or not wanted. While it's important that we, as coaches, make a constant effort to set boundaries for our athletes so that they understand our expectations for them, it is equally as important that our athletes are exceptional human beings.

It's no fun to be around energy suckers or to be in a negative training environment. Be respectful to the opinions and personalities of your teammates but also be kind to other athletes in the sport.

A great coach will do his/her best to create a positive atmosphere for athletes, both via the internet and in person.
In the event that you feel uncomfortable about a situation, don't complain about it on social media, hold it in or discuss it with another athlete. Talk to your coach. While some situations are minor and become more dramatic than what they should be, it is the responsibility of an athlete to be mature and respectful. For at the end of the day, you aren't just an athlete on a coaching team but you are a human being.
And human beings should not bully, gossip or make others feel less worthy. 


For the picky eater: Spaghetti squash with marinara, basil and cheese

When I was young, I wanted cheese on everything. I also loved starches. Cheesy french bread, lots of cheese on pasta, pizza topped with extra cheese, bagel topped with cheese and Cheeze-its were some of my favorites.

When I became a vegetarian at the age of 10, not much changed in my diet except the removal of meat and fish. While it's not a rule that vegetarians have to eat more veggies than the carnivore, it wasn't until mid college when I learned the nutritional value of veggies and that I should be eating them on a daily basis.

I transitioned myself to a very plant-strong diet around the age of 20 and I noticed a lot of great changes. While my focus wasn't on my body composition, I did notice a body composition change when I made a few dietary swaps and additions into my diet.
As the years went on and I transitioned myself from a competitive college swimmer to distance runner, I had to do some tweaking in my diet, once again, to make sure that I was eating enough to support the new demands that I was placing on to my body. I also incorporated sport nutrition (and better fueling before/after workouts) into my daily diet to support my new training regime (it didn't hurt that I was in graduate school and I was learning/researching all about exercise physiology and sport nutrition).
Then,when I transitioned from distance runner to endurance triathlete, I had to really make sure that I eating enough. It was a new daily diet to make the effort to eat a variety of foods to support my metabolic needs, to eat plenty of nutrient dense foods to keep my immune system healthy and to eat the right foods at the right times to ensure that I had energy for my workouts and that I recovered well from workouts.

For the parents out there, it's important to be a good role model for your children when it comes healthy eating. As a parent, your good behaviors around food support the development of good eating choices for your children.
Children learn as much from what you say as from what you do. While children may listen and repeat what you speak to them, children really pay attention to the way that you eat.

If you don't eat breakfast and simply rush out the door in the morning, your children will not see the importance of eating breakfast. They may even grow up with the tendency to rush out the door in the morning, simply because they assume that is how the day needs to be started.

More than anything, your attitude around food and your body is contagious and your children can easily pick up on your eating habits.

When you talk about good vs bad foods, children understand this concept. Although I don't have kids, I work with teenage/young athletes (ex. 12-18 years) on their diets/fueling and many of the kids that I speak with tell me about what foods are bad. When I ask why they term these foods bad, there's a list of reasons - explained by parents/teachers.

While it's great to teach your children to identify a healthy snack as a piece of fruit and a not-so-healthy snack as a candy bar, it's extremely important that you are careful with how you speak about foods....especially if you call a food (ex. sugar, carbohydrates and processed food) "bad" for you.

 Guiding your children to smart eating choices (foods that offer nutritional value) is important but it's equally important to encourage your children to diversify their food choices and to always have a great relationship with food (it's ok to have a treat or dessert!).

If you always use the word "bad" and have a category for what foods go into this subgroup of foods, your child may associate some type of shame or harm when he/she is presented with these foods and may see these foods as a never-eat food (this doesn't include foods which cause an allergy or need to be avoided for medical reasons).
While eating cake every day is not healthy, eating a small piece of cake at a birthday party is not "bad." If your child hears that cake is bad, he/she may feel extremely uncomfortable at events/parties because he/she shouldn't eat bad food.

I have the perfect dish to help your picky eater make smart decisions with food.
There are a few reasons why I selected the ingredients in this dish for the picky eater. For parents, this is a great role model dish to talk about food.

-Spaghetti squash is often termed low carb and is used as a replacement for pasta. Children should not be hearing about low carb diets or terming starches as bad. Instead of using the words "low carb" or saying "pasta is bad", let's have you talk about the vitamin C and B vitamins found in squash and why these nutrients are important for overall health (ex. vitamin C protects your immune system to reduce your risk for getting sick).

-Cheese is a fantastic source of calcium. But a little goes a long way. Talk to your kids about how cheese is made. Fun fact for your kids - did you know that aged cheese, like cheddar, Parmesan and swiss can be tolerated by lactose intolerant individuals? When your child explains lactose intolerant, explain that too!

-Tomatoes are rich in lycopene and when tomatoes are cooked, the bioavailability of lycopene increases. Lycopene is the carotenoid pigment that gives fruits and veggies a red color. It's a powerful antioxidant which can help reduce the risk for many diseases. Save the science talk to your kids and tell them that tomatoes have a lot of powerful nutrients to keep the body healthy. Lycopene is a great nutrient to improve eye sight which can help with reading.
Go the extra mile and instead of buying tomato sauce from the can/jar, make your own sauce with the help of your kids, and add in lots of chopped veggies for a vegetable-rich tomato sauce.

-Herbs, like basil, provide great flavor to food. They are also a lot of fun to grow as children can pick their own herbs from an at-home garden (how cool - you can make the food that you eat!). Herbs can give a nutritional boost to any meal. Did you know that basil has anti-inflammatory effects? Next time you have sore muscles, tell your kids that you are eating basil (instead of popping a pill) to help reduce the inflammation to you can feel strong again at your next workout.


While there's nothing extravagant about this dish, it's a great meal to talk about food. And really, that's what we should be doing when we eat. Talking about the goodness found in food - not terming food good or bad.
I hope it will please your picky eater.
This dish goes great with your choice of protein and a beautiful hearty salad....for those who aren't so picky and need more substance to a meal than just squash, marinara sauce and cheese. 

Spaghetti squash with marinara, basil and cheese

Small spaghetti squash
Marinara sauce
Fresh Basil
Shaved Parmesan 

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil a casserole dish with olive oil. 
2. Cut squash in half (lengthwise) from stem to tail and scrape out the seeds. Drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of salt.
3. Place squash (cut side down) on casserole dish. Roast in oven for 30-45 minutes. 
4. Use fork to scrape out the flesh (to make "spaghetti") into the casserole dish. 
5. Spread the spaghetti on the dish along with another drizzle of olive oil. Mix together and then press down lightly.
6. Top the squash with marinara (spoon over) and spread chopped basil on top of marinara.
7. Bake for 10-15 minutes.
8. Top with cheese. 



Consistent healthy holiday eating

This is the time of the year when it's so easy to make bad decisions with eating choices.
But I'm not talking about devouring a dozen pieces of Halloween candy in one sitting, eating an oversized portion of Pumpkin pie topped with whipped cream or choosing 3 holiday cookies for an afternoon snack.

Nope, I'm talking about dieting.
A diet is a restrictive way of eating, designed to help you gain control over previously unhealthy eating habits.

Although it may sound like exactly what you need around the holidays, a diet is a big change in your eating routine - it's rapid, it's extreme and it provides temporary results. 

Healthy and mindful eating is a learned habit and once achieved, it makes it possible to enjoy the holiday season without guilt, anxiety or fear. 

A few tips come to mind when it comes to eating healthy around the holidays. 

1. Don't be locked down to one style of eating - having freedom with your eating choices will keep you from the overindulging and binging that often occurs from food restriction. 

2. Have a plan - it sounds so simple but if you have a plan as to how you will navigate holiday parties and events, you will be more likely to feel in control over your food choices. It's encouraged to include some treats in your plan as this strategy teaches you how to indulge responsibly. 

3. Don't exclude, include - trying to control/limit calories in order to save room for the off-limit, bad or calorie dense foods will backfire. It always has and it always will. When a holiday meal (or dessert) is in your near future, be sure to include healthy foods in your diet (which also will help support good immune system and metabolic health) to help promote satiety, stabilize blood sugar and steady your energy prior to your indulging eating experience

4.  Think long term, not short - short term thinking is why you feel like a failure when you indulge. This is no way to live your life. Instead, think long term so that you have a clear path as to how you will maintain a healthy body composition and your good health throughout the holiday season. Note, a clear path includes indulging as one or three spread-out occasions of eating a little more than normal will not keep you from reaching your long term health/body comp goals. 

5. Patience with body composition - your ability to stay consistent with food choices throughout the holiday season will enable you to feel great in the New Year. Don't get discouraged if your body doesn't look the same as it did a few months ago and certainly don't convince yourself that the holidays is the time to have the "why bother" attitude because you are already doomed for failure with all the bad food choices. Be patient over the holidays as your motive for healthy eating should be to keep yourself healthy - not for a look. 

Far too many people become irrational around the holidays, assuming that the only way to survive the holidays (or to feel better after a big meal) is to follow a diet strategy (ex. juice, detox, avoid carbs or starve yourself). 

The holidays are a special time of the year to be around family and friends. 

Not a time for deprivation and dieting.

While the holiday food choices are irresistible, the best approach to consistent healthy holiday eating is to remind yourself that one meal will not keep you from maintaining great health or reaching your body composition goals.
Learn to eat in a way that makes you feel better after you eat, than before you started. 


How to plan your 2017 race season

Do you love to race as much as you love to train? 

Training is fun because you are in control, in your own environment. No one is watching or tracking you. You have nothing to prove. 

Racing can be scary as it's filled with unknowns. You are nervous and you feel a lot of pressure to perform. You have expectations that you feel must be fulfilled or else you term the race as unsuccessful. 

While it's great to be passionate about your training, don't forget why you you can be physically and mentally prepared for race day. 

And just because you race, it doesn't mean you have to PR, podium or beat your closest competition.

Carefully selecting your races is a great way to set yourself up for a great upcoming season as it’s the map that helps guides your training. It's also the easiest way for you to envision and visualize yourself developing as an athlete so you know where your training is going.

Planning ahead also shows your coach (and yourself) that you are committed to your long-term journey as an evolving triathlete.

While racing is a great way to test your fitness, be mindful that fitness improvements happen over an extended period of time. For example, I have been racing endurance triathlons for 10 consecutive years and my best race results have occurred in the past 3 years.
Certainly, the bigger your goals, the more patient you need as big goals aren't achieved in just a few seasons.

1) Select 5-6 possible key races for your season (which you will then narrow down to only two or three). These races will be the most important races in your season. You are willing to make the necessary investments (time, energy and money) for these races.

-Consider any and all family, work and life obligations before selecting your key races.
-While you cannot plan ahead for everything in life, consider that your greatness commitment to training will occur in the 8-10 weeks before each of your key races.

-Consider the distance of your race so that it makes sense in your season development (choosing a key half ironman in March/April or an Ironman in May/June will not make sense in your season development – some exceptions may apply in the case that you were injured or sick late season so you don’t need the typical “off-season” in Nov/Dec).

-Consider the timing of your event based on where you live (if you train indoors until April/May, choosing a key race in May/June may not make sense if you need to acclimate to the heat).

-Consider the logistics (and cost) of getting to your race and allow adequate time to see your race course, settle into your race environment and to not feel rushed with travel to and from your race venue. We suggest to arrive to an Ironman race venue at least 4-5 days before your race – if your race is on Sunday, you should plan to arrive on Wed or Thursday. For a half IM, plan to arrive at least 2 days before the race.

-Think about your key races - Consider races which have a swim/bike/run course that you feel confident racing on (flat, long climbs, rollers, etc.). While  it's not always necessary, your race should have a similar terrain that is similar to your home training environment. If not, plan a few long workouts to train somewhere else in a similar race environment. Also consider typical weather (cold vs hot), water conditions (wetsuit legal or not, lake, ocean or river), competition (if you are wanting to qualify for a World or National championship), elevation (altitude at race venue and total elevation on the bike and run course), or anything else that is important to you when selecting your race.

-While we love the idea of a race-cation or racing with teammates/friends, you should select races which suit your athletic strengths and provide a race venue which makes you excited for training and racing.

Write down your top 5-6 possible key races (name, distance and date/month)--------------------------

2) Establish a few goals for your key races. Are you chasing a time goal, a PR, a podium or overall placement, a qualification to a national or world event or something more personal?
We encourage at least three goals for your key races, with at least one or two being a non-metric or non-placement goal.

Write down your personal goals for your key races---------------------------

3) Based on your responses for #1 and #2, you should now have a good understanding of the two or three clear choices for your key races for your 2017 season. 

You should plan to commit to these races now, which means registering for the race after you get the OK from your coaches.

Write down your top 2-3 key races and goals


4) Now it's time to select a few lower priority races throughout your season.
These races can be used to practice pacing, to put yourself into a race environment, to break-up the monotony of training (especially if you train indoors or alone a lot), to practice transitions, to get out some racing nerves and anxieties or to test your fitness.

Some athletes see these races as tune-up races before a key because there should be little emphasis on time goals and placements. Never use a low priority race to validate your fitness or readiness for a key race. Low priority races are a great way to learn, which means it's ok to make mistakes.
You should plan to go into these races with no expectations (and not always with a taper) and these races should not require a big cost (money, time and energy) from your life.  Many times, low priority races will be incorporated into your training.

While these are low priority races, you may surprise yourself as to how well you perform at these races, especially when the pressure is off, you are building fitness and you are not overly focused on the end result.

I find great importance on selecting low priority races as they assist in your journey as you prepare for your key races. Many athletes don't like to spend money on low priority races because there is a "why bother" attitude (why spend money on a low priority race?) but there is great value in putting yourself in a race environment as no workout will ever simulate the same motions and emotions you feel on race day. On race day, you are put into situations that you never experience in training and only on race day, do you have to figure out how to get through those oh-no situations.

Although you can register for your low priority races ahead of time (ex. if the race is known to sell out and it's your only feasible race option or to keep you mentally committed to racing and not just training), you should never ever risk your health or race with an injury in a low priority race. The same goes for a key race as very few exceptions apply that it is worth racing sick/injured.

Please keep in mind that lower priority races should still be sport specific and should assist in your development in your primary sport.

Write down your lower priority races (name, distance and date/month)

5) Now the fun part. Select a few “fun” events that you can incorporate into your training in the off-season or early season (Oct-Feb). 
You do not have to register for these races ahead of time but instead, you fit them into your training when they make sense in your season. Fun events include: a local 5K or 10K, a swim meet, a cycling event (ex. Gran Fondo) or sponsored group ride, a duathlon, an aquabike, a sprint triathlon. You can do fun events with friends or family as not ever race has to be a "hard" effort. These fun events are great for involving loved ones who sacrifice their time so you can train and race.

Write down your fun events (name, distance, date/month)

6) Now that you have your season planned, you need the OK from your family, spouse, boss, etc. to make sure that your planned season makes sense. Once a race is approved, it’s never too early to start planning your upcoming travel so that you can get you (and your family/friends) to and from your races. Always be sure to discuss/consider the financial costs that are needed to help you achieve your goals/dreams.
Consider planning a few days after your race to enjoy with your friends/family for sight-seeing as you recover from your race. 

Example of a well-designed racing season for an athlete who is training for two half ironman distance key races.
November - Start 2017 training, 10K Turkey Trot (fun race)

December - No race – family time over the holidays

January - keep on training

February - Swim (pool)/run event (fun race)

March- Olympic tri (low priority)

April - Half Ironman tri (low priority)

May- Half Ironman tri (key priority)

June - Open water swim event (low priority)

July - keep on training

August - 4 day triathlon camp

September - Olympic distance (low priority), then Half Ironman tri (Key priority)

October - 50-mile bike event (fun race)