Essential Sports Nutrition


Trimarni Athlete Spotlight: Alvaro Velez - Nationally ranked swimmer turned triathlete

We are excited to announce a new feature on the Trimarni blog where we will be shining the spotlight on one of our Trimarni athletes (coaching or nutrition) every week.

We hope that you will feel inspired by our athletes but also learn a few tips and tricks to help you reach your personal athletic and nutrition goals.

Our athletes are normal individuals choosing to do exceptional things with a healthy body.

Name: Alvaro Velez

Age: 40

City/State: Greenville, SC

Primary sport: Triathlon (swim is strongest)

How many years in the sport: 9 years as a triathlete (30 years for swimming with a 7-year swim hiatus from 2000-2007)

What Trimarni services have you used: 
Race day bike tune-up
Advance plan custom coaching (after IMKY until Cartagena 70.3)

Describe your athletic background and how you discovered your current sport?
I was a very strong High School swimmer growing up in Cartagena, Colombia. I was able to win Nationals in many of the events I competed in and was able to represent Colombian as a National team Member for at least three international competitions in South America. I won a few international medals and broke the 100 freestyle National record three times. I was able to use my swim resume to get a scholarship at Penn State University and provide many dual meet wins and a key member to a extremely tight Big Ten Championship title in 1999. I had two failed but close attempts to make the Olympics in 1996(100 free) and 2000 (400IM and 200 FLY). After 2000, I retired from competitive swimming and moved to New York City where I became an avid walker and sometimes runner. Many years later, I moved to Greenville SC because of work and started looking around for fun activities I could do in my free time. I started with running races and soon discovered triathlons.

What keeps you training and racing in your current sport?
Mostly I do it for better health as I have been use to the benefits of exercise since I was young. I have a lot of energy and I feel that endurance triathlons calm me down. I am also very competitive and enjoying racing. I also like the cool awards and recognition.

What do you do for work?
I am an Industrial Engineering who has worked in Manufacturing for many years and now have a Design Engineering role at General Electric designing Gas Turbines and Power Plants.

How does your work life affect training and how do you balance work and training?
Both me and my wife have full time jobs and its very hard to balance family and training without some sacrifices. During the week its not so hard as I can work early in the morning and during lunch. I have a semi flexible schedule that allows me to take 1 hour to 1.5 hour lunches. Also, it helps that the Gym is in the same building with hot showers for after working out. The pool is a 10 min drive but very doable as I can swim a lot in an hour. Weekends are trickier and it normally works better with the family if I do early workouts.

Any tips/tricks as to how to balance work and training?

Make sure your spouse knows your schedule. Train early.
Involve your spouse into sports. I sometimes run with her and have provided her with training tips and workouts for her half marathon training.

Do you have kids?
Two very active boys, Andy and Seby.

How does having kids affect your training? 

My wife normally takes care of the kids on the weekends when I am out training but then we switch when I am back home. No excuses to be tired as we do what she or the kids want to do and then I take a bigger role into the activity.

Sometimes we hire fun kid-sitters when there is a potential conflict with a spouse activity on a critical workout. The kids love their two sitters! I also do this to be a sports role model for my kids. My kids think that my job is to go out and cycle.

What tricks or tips do you have for other athletes who struggle to balance training with family?

Early training, babysitters, full parent role after workouts.

We do have an informal "brownie point" system. When there are sacrifices to make, like long workouts and/or a competition, I make sure my wife can go shopping, have dinner with her girlfriends or even an all girls trip.

I also try to incorporate races that have pre, during and post activities for the family. Example Florida 70.3 and then Disney Parks/ Lego land. Cartagena 70.3 and then the beaches.

Do you have a recent race result, notable performance or lesson learned that you'd like to share?
I had my first Full Ironman this year at Louisville in October and I was very proud of this achievement.

Also, I had my first Ironman 70.3 Worlds Qualification at Cartagena 70.3 this December. I was 8th AG and was able to get spot on roll-down. I was very proud of this as even though it was not my best performance as I showed resilience in my performance. It was hot and humid and I was not feeling great from an upset stomach the days before the race.

What are your top 3-5 tips for athletes, as it relates to staying happy, healthy and performing well?

Do it because you like it.
Be in the moment for the workout.
Challenge yourself in workouts.
Don't be afraid to try new things in B races, practice it before doing A races.

Keep your spouse and kids happy as they are your support crew.

Listen to your coaches and stay positive.

How would you define athletic success as it relates to your personal journey?

It's a combination.  I always want to compete to my capabilities in that moment in time based on the training I have done and don't expect more than that. I feel that I am realistic and humble in my goals and am very realistic of what I am capable of.  I have certain reach goals but understand that it will be a challenge that will require many sacrifices.  Even if I try and don't reach those goals I will consider it a win if I give it my best on race day, have fun training and can share it with my family.  If my kids can follow in my athletic footsteps and beyond, it will be a home run!!

What's your favorite post-race meal, drink or food?
Beer, Pizza and Vanilla Ice cream

What key races do you have planned in 2017?

Mountains To Main Street Half

Lake Logan Half

Ironman 70.3 Worlds at Chattanooga
Ironman Chattanooga

What are your athletic goals for the next 5 years?
Be fit and injury free so I can:
Win some Setup Events triathlons
Qualify for IM 70.3 Worlds (check)
Sub 4:30 half
Qualify for IM World Championship, Kona, Hawaii
Sub 10:00 full

Anything extra advice to athletes?
Share knowledge with your triathlete friends and learn to give and receive advice.

Where can others follow you on social media:
Facebook: Alvaro Velez
Instagram: alvivelez

Click here to learn more about Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition.
Be sure to subscribe to our Newsletter for ongoing information, education and motivational support.


Stop chasing results

You are on a mission.
You want results and you are ready and willing to achieve results.
You have commitment, discipline, focus and passion.
This is the year when you are all-in to experience success.

A motivated mind and a body on a mission is the perfect recipe for health and fitness improvements.

However, if you are only focused on results, this forward-thinking, result-focused mentality forces you to believe that it's only when you achieve results that you will happy or feel more successful.

Consequently, this thinking often influences extreme choices in order to achieve quicker results, like overtraining and underfueling/undereating, as it relates to wanting the result of being a better, stronger, leaner or faster athlete.

Although S.M.A.R.T. goals are important, a result-driven mindset can fog good judgment choices.

I imagine there are many athletes who aspire to be better, leaner, faster or stronger.
But it's the obsessive focus on the end result goal that often drives these athletes to work with me as it relates to declining health and performance caused from extreme training and eating behaviors.

Unhealthy, unrealistic and unsustainable strategies may bring results but a healthy process-driven mindset creates long-lasting change.

I can't say it enough but results DO come to those who don't focus on the results.

-The athlete who focuses on better fueling and dietary methods will unintentionally change his/her body composition to perform better.
-The athlete who hopes to qualify for Kona will enjoy his/her journey more if he/she focused on the process of development, instead of feeling pressure to perform on one day.
-The athlete who wants to improve his/her run off the bike in a triathlon will do so if he/she stops focusing on trying to be a "faster runner" and focuses on improving resilience and strength.
-The athlete who sets a goal race time will perform best when there are no expectations set forth on race day to distract what needs to be done on that day, to ensure a successful race execution effort.

Although it seems counter intuitive, a processed-drive approach will reward you more than any method that is only designed to give you results.

A processed driven approach....

  • Can help you focus on new and improved skills, which will allow for long lasting development and progression. 
  • Encourages experimentation and allows for failure to figure out what works best for you. 
  • Let's you enjoy the journey as you remain an active participant in your life, with every present moment bringing happiness. 
  • Puts you in the driver seat as to the best strategies and methods that will work for your body and your lifestyle. This brings higher self-esteem as you aren't focused on what everyone else is doing, but instead, all of your energy is on yourself. 
  • Allows you to enjoy the result, no matter what the result may be. In the big picture, things rarely work out like we imagine so we are often in for disappointment and frustration when happiness is contingent on a successful results.  Great enjoyment, content and happiness can come from the journey, when you let go of the need to achieve a specific outcome. 
  • Is less stressful. You are more willing to take risks, stretch your comfort zone and be flexible. It's freeing to not be driven by results. By staying confident in your process, you build confidence that you are staying on your path to athletic greatness. 

The next time you find yourself obsessively focusing on your training and eating in order to achieve results, ask yourself if your methods are letting you make the most out of the process?

By focusing on process you will unlock many great performances by your body.


Holiday gifts for the athlete in your life

For some people, it's extremely easy to find the perfect holiday gift. But for athletes, gift giving may be tough because it seems as if they have everything that they need to live a healthy and active lifestyle and to succeed in sport.

You may be scratching your head right now thinking, what more could she/he possibly need?

Oh don't worry. Your athlete in your life can always find something that he/she needs.

Here are some of my ideas for the athlete in your life who you think has everything he/she needs:

Bluetooth Earphones - 
Athletes love music when training. Wireless earphones are great as you remove the cord, that often gets tangled on clothes (or other equipment). Although headphones are great for traveling, earphones are light, resilient and built for exercise.

Portable kitchen equipment - There's probably a good chance that your athlete has everything he/she needs at home in the kitchen, like a coffee pot (or espresso machine) and blender. But let's not forget that athletes travel for races and proper pre-race fueling may require a home-away-from-home kitchen. A portable blender, an electric kettle, a French Press and maybe even a skillet may come in handy in a hotel room that is limited to a hotel coffee maker. Don't forget the dinnerware set.

Magazine subscription/books - This seems like an obvious but there are always new health, fitness, nutrition and motivational books available and you'd be surprised how many athletes don't subscribe to all their favorite health and fitness magazines (there's a lot out there!). It's best to ask around to your athlete's like-minded friends/training partners for recommendations. For the runners/triathletes, I recently heard about The Road to Sparta by Dean Karnazes which sounds really interesting. You can learn more about the book here.

New clothing/gear - Athletes can always use new gear. Unless you know exactly the clothing (or shoe) brand and size that works best for your athlete, it's best to give a gift certificate for online or a local store (whichever your athlete prefers). Also, if you can't remember the name of which gadget model or bike part that your athlete mentioned that she/he wanted, you can also consider a fun gift certificate reading "Your next gadget/hydration belt/bike part is on me!" Although you may think that your athlete has everything, he/she may need a new swim bag, pair of pool/gym shower sandals, medal hanging rack, resistance band set or a restock on his/her favorite sport nutrition products.

Fun clothing - Athletes are proud to be athletes and they are also proud to be health and fitness minded. Your athlete may love a fun exercise inspired shirt or a fun pair of socks. Although a bit more serious, jewelry is also a thoughtful gift, as many athletes like to wear something that reminds them of their self-identity as an athlete. I know for myself, I love local jewelry, mantra bands or jewelry that supports a cause.

Meal delivery service - Athletes are busy and it can be tough to find the time to shop, prep, cook and even eat a meal, especially in the evening after a long and exhausting day. Let's not forget to mention when your athlete is also a parent, which takes being busy to the extreme. Whereas once a meal delivery service was seen as a weight-loss method (or diet plan), now a days, many athletes are opting for a quicker and more convenient method to prepare healthy meals with healthy ingredients, especially in a time-constrained and rushed lifestyle. There are many meal delivery services out there, which also cater to specific diets. The great thing about a meal delivery service is that it doesn't have to be used long term. This gift is perfect for the athlete who finds that there's always the occasional week each month that is incredibly busy, peak training when your athlete struggles to gather enough energy to cook or finds him/herself in a food rut and needs inspiration.

The experience - It's likely that your athlete already has a practical training environment at home (or has a gym membership). The great thing about athletes is that they love to be active.....anywhere. And they also love the experience of being an athlete. Consider giving your athlete a memorable experience like a planned weekend train-cation trip or to the mountains/beach to explore new sights and routes. How about a yoga retreat (if your athlete is into that), a massage package, a few house cleaning services, VIP treatment at an upcoming race/event, an all-day hike adventure, bike tour, a training camp, a Retul bike fit or a cooking class? You probably know what your athlete likes so instead of buying more gear for your athlete, treat him/her to a memorable experience that she/he will never forget.
(Consider a pet-friendly train-cation as your athlete may want to bring his/her furry four legged friend along for the trip!)


Chili cook-off: Lessons learned

Our local run store, Run In, hosted their first annual Chili Cook Off on Saturday afternoon. We could not pass up the opportunity to use our crock pot (and make our house smell yummy) so we entered the cook-off with our "Meat - ain't no body got time for that" chili (vegetarian).  

My only role in making this chili was soaking the bag of mixed beans/lentils over night. 
Not too hard of a job! 

Karel took care of the rest as he always makes a GREAT vegetarian chili for us to yum over.
As you can see from the picture above, he includes the traditional chili recipe ingredients, like peppers, onion and beans but in addition, celery root, parsnips and leeks (very European). He uses a mix of spices for flavor but the key is sauteing and cooking all the veggies on a skillet (with olive oil) first before letting the crock pot take over with the beans. Cooking the veggies on the skillet brings out a lot of flavor. 
While this may not be your typical chili recipe, we absolutely love the flavor and "meaty" texture with each bite. Plus, like any chili, it's very filling.  

16 bean soup mix (about 3/4 bag used, soaked overnight in water)
Peppers - yellow, red, cubano
Celery root

While this was a great opportunity to bring together our great community of runners in and around Greenville (chili makers and chili testers), I learned a lot from this chili cook off. 

1) Chili takes a long time to get right. You can't rush through it and hope it will taste good. Chili needs time for all the flavors to come together so you have to plan ahead and cook in advance. 

2) Chili is so versatile. Similar to stews and soups, it's hard to get bored of chili as there are so many different combinations. For example, at this cook-off, there were 9 different Chili recipes! 

3) Chili requires that you taste it. You can't eat it fast and it always tastes better the next day. It's a meal you want to savor as your taste buds always pick-up new ingredients with each bite. I love eating chili and thinking about the ingredients that I am tasting, as I am eating it (vegetarian recipes of course). 

4) Chili brings people together. Chili is one of those meals where you want to share the goodness with others. It's a very comforting meal that is best yummed over in a group setting. 

5) Chili leaves you satisfied. You don't have to eat a lot of it to feel very comfortable inside your belly. 

With so many lessons learned, it got me thinking that for any individual who is struggling to adopt healthier eating habits, you should participate or plan a chili cook off. Encourage your work to have an office chili cook-off or organize a cook-off with your training buddies or a local training club.. Chili cook-off's can be as simply as having an opportunity to enjoy a variety of chili recipes but you can also encourage monetary donations for tasters in order to help out a local organization or an animal shelter.

I feel there is so much to appreciate, learn and to enjoy in regard to making your own meal, sharing it with others or enjoying a creation that was proudly made by someone else.

If you are interested in hosting your own chili cook off, here are some ideas to get you started:

-Create a fun evite (with the date/time of the cook-off) and invite participants/guests to bring in their best chili creation in a slow cooker. The chili should be hot and ready to serve. Don't let your guests forget to bring a serving spoon/spatula.

-Be sure to have extra extension cords and several plugs for the crock pots to stay warm (you may want to consider your participants to bring an extension cord).

-Encourage chili categories (these will be used for awards): Meat, vegetarian, extra spicy, guess the surprise ingredient, semi-homemade, all fresh, etc.

-Provide bowls, small cups and spoons for tasting. Make sure you have a large enough (sturdy) table or counter top for the crock pots.

-Provide water, milk and orange juice (and cups) to cleanse the palate between tasting.

-Ask your guests to provide information before the cook off for you to print off and set-up by the crock pot of the respective creation: Name of chili, category (meat, vegetarian, etc.), heat level (mild, spicy, very hot).

-Provide toppings - chives, cheese, crackers, sour cream, corn chips, etc.

-For a side dish, offer corn bread or encourage a cook off for the best corn bread.

-Provide ballots for each taster to select the best tasting chili based on the category (and corn bread). Make sure you have a box for collecting the ballots.

-Announce the winners at the end of the cook-off. Awards can include a kitchen utensil kit, a gift certificate to a cooking store, a wooden spatula, an apron, pepto (for the very hot winner).
There are many more ideas on Pinterest.

Who's ready for a chili cook off??