Attention athletes! Don't overlook your special nutritional requirements.

As an athlete, you have special nutritional requirements compared to your fellow exercise enthusiasts. There's a good chance that you do more volume of exercise during a long workout than most people do in a week. Although this may make you feel a bit superhuman at times, it may also make you feel exhausted and worn out a lot of the time. Thus, it is important to take your "athlete in training" title, very seriously, recognizing that you can only adapt to training if you have a good understanding of your individual nutritional needs AND you meet them on a daily basis. 

In working with athletes, I am never surprised how many athletes struggle to meet daily energy needs. Not only is it tough to be an athlete but it's tough to eat like an athlete!
Consider how the following affects how you well (or not well) you meet your daily energy needs:
-Training load (volume, frequency, intensity)
-Family commitments

-Meetings/social events
-Work commitments/travel
-Lack of appetite
-Little time to eat
-Poor meal planning/prep

-Environmental stress (heat/cold)
-Dietary trends/body image concerns
-Timing of food
-Influence of professionals/other athletes/social media
-Availability/convenience of food/drinks
As I mentioned above, you are not like other people. The athlete mindset is to adapt to each training session to better prepare for race day. Thus, every training session is an investment to your development and ultimately, your goal is to maximize fitness with the least amount of training stress.

As an athlete, your active lifestyle is quite extreme and because of that, it is important that you understand why nutrition is so critical to helping you achieve success in your sport and why you need to make the effort, every day, to stay on top of your daily and sport nutrition needs.

As an athlete, you need an opportunity, an appetite, awareness, knowledge and availability to consume adequate nutrients and fluids in recommended amounts to meet your daily energy needs, which is dependent on your training load.

As an athlete, you have high energy costs because of your high energy expenditure. In other words, you must meet carbohydrate, protein, fluid and electrolyte needs every single day to ensure that you can stay healthy and consistent with training.  If you do not meet your daily needs, your body begins to fatigue, you struggle to keep your body in good metabolic and hormonal health and you increase risk for injury, sickness, burnout or over training. 

As an athlete, you must spend more time than other people to strategically plan your meals and your snacks and to also time your nutrition around workouts. So in your already busy life, yes, you still need to make YOUR eating a priority.

As an athlete, with the racing season quickly approaching (or you may already be in it), 
I strongly encourage you to not overlook how critical and extremely necessary it is focus on your food consumption and nutrient quality throughout the day. Busy schedules, lack of planning and intentional undereating will negatively affect training so do yourself a favor and make nutrition a key component to your active lifestyle. 
As an athlete, you have the energy to train so dedicate some of that energy to healthy eating and proper fueling/hydration. Consider that that extra energy on your diet can actually help you train harder, longer and faster!
As an athlete, you likely have a tremendous amount of information on how to fuel and hydrate for workouts, how to fuel properly before/after workouts and you likely understand the basics of how to eat a healthy diet throughout the day. Apply this information to your daily life so that eating, fueling and hydration does not become an after thought. I see it all the time but athletes do not make healthy eating, fueling and hydration a priority until something bad happens with the body. 
As you continue with your summer training, consider that a loss of appetite, heavy training, fatigue, poor access to suitable (or healthy foods) and distractions from proper eating can all negatively affect your ability to train well and keep your body in good health, during the time of the year when you expect your body to perform the best. 

As an athlete, there are no magic bullets or secret nutrition tips to boosting performance. Consistent training, proper fueling/hydration, planning ahead and understanding what works best for you will help you get to that next level.

Here are a few simple nutrition guidelines to help you achieve athletic excellence: 
  1. Plan your day of eating before it happens. Plan out your nutrition before/during/after workouts, 3 meals and a satisfying snack between your meals. 
  2. For every workout, don't just show up. Have a plan for hydration and fueling before/during/after all workouts. 
  3. If you have an off day or a bad workout, underfueling or overexercising will not make things better. Just move on with the methods that are working for you so that you can stay consistent with training. 
  4. If you have a bad workout and you feel like your methods are no longer working for you, reach out to a Board Certified Sport Dietitian for help. 
  5. Don't be afraid to focus on (and eat for) your own nutrition needs when eating with family, friends and co-workers. 
  6. Plan ahead! You must shop and prepare food before a hectic day happens.
  7. Plan ahead! You must prepare your pre and post snacks/meals before fatigue/tiredness/business sets in.
  8. Sport nutrition products not only help you perform high quality training sessions and keep your body in good health but they bring confidence for race day application. 
  9. Always consider how your environment and terrain will affect how you fuel/hydrate before, during and after workouts. 
As an athlete, if you are committing yourself to training for an upcoming event, consider the reward to your training investment when you can confidently say that your nutrition is enhancing your performance and health and that your mind (and not your nutrition) is your only limiter in training and on race day. 


Why you should break up with your food rules - forever!

For much of my educational career, I was taught guidelines based on scientific. By definition, a guideline is a statement by which to determine a course of action. A guideline is never mandatory, not binding and not enforced. Unlike a rule, which tells you what you are and are not allowed to do, a guideline is a recommendation or a suggestion. Whereas there are no consequences to breaking a guideline, rules, when broken, do not have the same consequences/penalties as laws. Rules are typically set in place as it is a way to enforce the way that things should be done.

In your everyday life, you likely adhere to both rules and guidelines and hopefully, obey all laws. For example, it's a law to wear your seat belt when you are in a car and to not drink and drive. There are rules to the road when you ride a bike outside and at every athletic event, there are rules to ensure athlete safety and fair play. Then there are guidelines to help people make healthy choices in their daily lives to help prevent chronic disease and to improve longevity and quality of life and perhaps guidelines at your place of employment, to help you effectively do your job.

As a board certified sport dietitian, my job is to help athletes apply sound guidelines and practices to maintain optimal health while improving athletic performance. To ensure athletic success, every athlete needs to be treated like an individual. Therefore, I never enforce rules as it relates to how an athlete should or shouldn't eat. As a qualified individual to prescribe, treat and counsel athletes on daily and sport nutrition, I am often disturbed by the many "experts" that dish out nutrition advice, almost always with food rules.

Although daily and sport nutrition guidelines are needed to help an athlete stay healthy while maximizing performance gains in training and on race day, food rules, whether advocated by a coach, nutrition expert, on social media (ex. blog, website, etc.) or in a book/magazine/TV, encourage restrictive behavior.

With good intentions, many athletes use food rules as a way to eat better and to improve performance. For example, a rule to always refuel after a workout is great advice. But a rule of "no starchy food in the evening" or "bread is off-limit" or "you can only eat a cookie if you workout for 2+ hours" or"must workout fasted to burn fat" or "no sport nutrition during workouts less than 75 minutes" can place an athlete at risk for disordered eating patterns, potentially sabotaging performance and health because athletes see these rules as non-negotiable and will ignore biological cues for hunger and cravings in order to adhere to these rules. Seeing that athletes often take guidelines too the extreme, there can be great consequences to adhering to food rules. 

As an example, an athlete experiences a positive change in body composition by working out fasted in January and February. His/her sugar cravings appear to be controlled and the athlete feels energized and strong. However, come March, the athlete's training increases in intensity and duration and the athlete is now gaining weight, experiencing extreme sugar cravings and is struggling to maintain energy during workouts. Whereas once the food rule of "no food before a morning workout" was seen as a success, the athlete now has great anxiety and stress about eating before a a workout and despite knowing that the current lack of fueling is sabotaging performance and health, there is great anxiety to breaking the rule of not eating before a workout. Ultimately, the athlete, who is very resistant to change, allows him/herself to eat before the workout but feels safer with this food rule if workouts are over 90 minutes. Although one rule has been broken, the athlete now regularly workouts for over 90 minutes anytime food is eaten before a workout to feel safer about breaking the food rule.

As I mentioned before, there is no punishment for breaking a guideline or a rule. Thus, nothing bad will happen if this athlete eats before a workout. However, the athlete is now a victim of his/her rules and feels like a prisoner and slave to self-imposed food rules. In other words, the athlete is feels guilty about breaking the food rule, similar to the guilt felt from breaking a law that comes with a punishment.

In my line of work, I specialize in helping athletes overcome disordered eating patterns that are sabotaging health and performance. The biggest resistor, in my experience, is that these athletes fear a change in body composition by breaking food rules. In other words, certain athletes feel great anxiety and stress without food rules, for fear of gaining weight or not meeting the expectations of a coach, training partner or beliefs of what an athlete should/shouldn't look like.

Regardless of the source of the initiating of food rules, many athletes are unable and unwilling to deviate from the strict guidelines that they have created. Some athletes have difficulty breaking food rules set forth in the New Year, whereas other athletes have been living with food rules for many decades. Food rules can be as strict as no eating after 7pm, or never eating more than 30g of carbs at a meal, to something as simple as always drinking a full glass of water or eating an apple before a meal to trick your body into thinking it's full.

Food rules create structure, order and control. This is why diets work - temporarily. Food rules in a diet keep you "on track" by taking out the guess work of eating but this "good or bad" style of eating 
do not take into account your ever-changing life and unique nutritional and sport nutrition needs.

At first, food rules make eating easy, but the consequence for many athletes is disordered eating, which may develop into an eating disorder.

Following strict and unrealistic rules can result in physical, emotional and psychological issues, including nutrient deficiencies, hormonal disturbances, anxiety, depression and obsessive thinking. For an athlete, the stress you place on your body through training is more than enough for your body to handle. Food rules are like gasoline to the fire as you already risk health issues by pushing your body for performance improvements, why place it under even greater stress with food rules?

Food rules also result in extreme preoccupation with food and body image. This can be exhausting - mentally and emotionally. You may find yourself checking out of life to adhere to your food rules to ensure that you never break a rule. Understanding that unless you isolate yourself from friends, family and social events, you will eventually need to break some of your food rules, you  may experience feelings of guilt, self hatred, body dissatisfaction, anxiety and shame when you can't meet your eating expectations.  Due to intense fears relating to breaking your food rules, you may also experience unexplained GI issues due to food phobias, rules and eating strategies based on irrational fears (ex. eating gluten, drinking milk, eating too much sugar, consuming calories during training, etc.).

Breaking food rules can be very difficult. There can be great resistance to stop engaging in food rules and rituals related to food. But it's time to put yourself back into control. As you break your food rules, you will find yourself with less anxiety and more confidence with your food choices. During your break-up period, it is very important that you do not focus on your body as your body is likely in a state of undernourishment and low energy. The first step in your break-up is giving your body the nourishment it needs to heal from the damage that has been done by disordered eating (ex. restrictive eating caused by food rules). Eventually, likely with the help of a professional, you will be able to engage in healthy, structured and enjoyable eating patterns that are not rigid, strict, controlled or obsessive. As an athlete, it's likely that you want to do amazing things with your body. It is important to see food as nourishment and fuel. As an athlete, it is a responsibility to your body to relearn what it feels like to be hungry and satisfied and what it requires from you to eat "enough."
It's time to overcome your fears of certain foods and start to incorporate them into your normal life. Stop reading the blogs, articles and websites that encourage you to avoid x-food. If you find yourself worried about eating a certain food, like bread, rice, potatoes, pasta, dairy, oil, peanut butter, fruit or chocolate, it is important to your health and well-being to get rid of the mindset that forbids you to eat certain foods. Labeling food as good or bad or setting rituals for yourself as to when you are or are not allowed to eat certain foods is not health or performance promoting. 

As an athlete and coach, I am always looking for ways to experience performance improvements with the least amount of training stress. Food rules place a lot of stress on your body and make it much more difficult to experience performance gains. If you are finding yourself uncomfortable or afraid around certain foods, for fear that it will make you gain weight or you will lose control when eating certain foods, these food rules have likely caused you to avoid certain foods. Ultimately, your off-limit food list may have foods on it that are necessary and critical for you to achieve a healthy weight, maintain good health and to maximize performance. It isn't until you break up with your food rules that you will learn to create a style of eating that is free of guilt, shame, anxiety and rules and will (finally) let you live a life of food freedom. 


Athlete Spotlight: Kara Diamond-Husman: Leadville 100 Trail run finisher, now pacing through life with a Type 1 Diabetic daughter.

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Name: Kara Diamond-Husman

Age: 39

City/State: Denver, CO

Primary sport: Running
How many years in the sport: 12 years

What Trimarni services have you used: Training plan

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Describe your athletic background and how you discovered your current sport?

I was a competitive tennis player growing up. My parents were against me partaking in any running activities, even if it was required in a team sport. They would write notes to excuse me so that I wouldn't run. My parents believed that running would causes eating disorders in girls.

My urge to run began in 2005 when I was 20 weeks pregnant and on bed-rest. I was in the midst of a complicated pregnancy with twins and was either laid up on the couch in our Wash Park home or I was at the hospital, under close watch. When I was at home, I would watch people through my house window as they ran by to do a few laps in the park. During that time, I decided I wanted to run my first marathon once our twins were born. While my husband and I did quite a bit of hiking in the high country, I never was a “runner” and I never competed in a race. Six months after our twins were born I ran my first half marathon, the Boulder Backroads Half. I loved it! I loved the energy I felt from running a race. Six months later, in 2006, I signed up for the inaugural year of the Colfax Marathon. I amazed myself by placing third in my age group and qualifying for Boston. My journey of traveling to marathons and seeing new cities began. After running Boston and then New York, I was completely hooked. I found running to be extremely invigorating, I loved the positive energy of the race environment and it helped build my self-confidence.

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What keeps you training and racing in your current sport?
Over the next couple of years, I ran many marathons and half marathons around the country, often placing in the top three of my age group. In 2012, I was named one of Colorado’s fastest marathon runners in Colorado Runner Magazine. Then in 2012, I raced my first Ironman race, Ironman Arizona.The day was so unbelievable and so emotional. It was everything I thought it would and could be. I loved the entire race atmosphere and loved all the encouraging people around me – including my family who flew out to support me. Crossing that finish line was like nothing I’ve ever felt before. Those six words, “Kara Diamond-Husmann, You, Are, An, Ironman,” will always be with me. My life was changed forever.

My Ironman Journey continued with Ironman Mount Tremblant in 2013, Ironman Boulder 2014 (Kona Qualified), Ironman Kona World Championships 2014, and Ironman Wisconsin 2015. However, recently, one of my daughters was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. After this diagnosis I needed to be on call for her at all times of the day. I stopped going to the pool and I have not been back on my road bike. When I have free time, I enjoy doing things I love and that is RUNNING! As my passion for running was growing exponentially, I felt an urge to share this passion with others. Shortly after my running career began, I heard of a program called Girls on the Run, a national organization that teaches 8 to 13 year old girls self-respect, confidence, and healthy lifestyles through running. I immediately knew that I wanted to be part of this organization.  I could integrate my love for teaching young kids (I am a former teacher) with my love for running and help build self-confidence in girls. I’ve been a coach and site director for Girls on the Run since 2006 and brought the program to my own children’s school in 2010. The Girls on the Run program ends each year with the girls completing a 5K run at an organized race event. It is very rewarding being an inspiration to all the young girls that I get to work with. And, watching all the young girls cross that finish line with a sparkle in their eye, an uncontrollable smile on their face, and an “I can do it” attitude is so inspiring to me.

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What do you do for work?
GOTHR coach and Type 1 Diabetes mom.

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How does your work life affect training and how do you balance work and training?

My 12 year old daughter has Type 1 Diabetes. Type 1 Diabetes is 7 days a week 24 hours a day for 365 days. It never sleeps and it never has a vacation! I have not slept a night since her diagnosis 20 months ago. I carry my phone with me on the trails and monitor her blood sugar while on runs. My runs are often interrupted with phone calls from school about her high or low blood sugars and I talk them through it from my runs. Thank goodness for technology.

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

Not let work get in the way of training. Booking your workouts as appointments with yourself. or with training partners.

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Do you have kids?
Twin 12-year old girls. 

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How does having kids affect your training? How do you balance it all?

My daughters are my biggest cheerleaders! I train after I drop them off at school during the week. On weekends in the summer, they hike 14ers with me and in the winter, they telemark ski with me. They run at night with me and we decorate ourselves in cool flashing lights and call ourselves "FIREFLIES."

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

Incorporate your kids into your training. 

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How do you balance your training with your partner? Any tips or tricks for keeping your partner happy while you train to reach your personal goals?

My husband and I both race, so he trains early in the morning and on some nights after work. We are lucky that my parents live near us so we can drop our girls off at their house and have dates on the trails (it's our HAPPY PLACE!!!)

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Do you have a recent race result, notable performance or lesson
learned that you'd like to share?
I always wanted to run 100 miles and in the Emergency Room, at Hailey's diagnosis, it was then that I decided to run the Leadville 100 to raise money for Type 1 Diabetes.
I raced Leadville 100 Trail Run August 20, 2016 to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. I had 30 hours to complete the 100 mile trail race in the Collegiate Peaks of Colorado with almost 18,000 feet of climbing. I finished in 29 hours 59 minutes and 50 seconds. I was the last finisher to get in at the 30 hour mark and only 50% of racers finished in 30 hours! And I raised $16,776.20 for JDRF!
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What are your top tips for athletes, as it relates to staying happy, healthy and performing well?
1. Set a goal.
2. Always have fun with training.
3. Include your family members in your training.

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

Setting a goal that you are committed to and stay determined until you conquer it! "I will not quit and I will not give in until I reach the END!" is my motto. Keep putting one foot in front of the other until the end.

What's your favorite post-race meal, drink or food?
Frozen yogurt with sprinkles and a 7-11 coffee.

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What key races do you have planned in 2017?

I just completed the Boston Marathon. I will be racing the Run Rabbit 100 in Steamboat, Colorado in September.

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What are your athletic goals for the next 5 years?
Running the Boston Marathon every year and running Ultra races, in exciting new places.
Anything else? 

During training, I learn more about myself than I ever know. The long training runs give you plenty of time for self introspection. Training has taught me discipline, time management, and mental toughness. It has also built my self confidence and has made many of life’s big “obstacles” seem not so big any more. Training is very difficult at times, but I love every minute of it. I feel so alive. And, I make a lot of new friends on the way who have the same goal orientated attitude and zest for life as I do.
You can follow Kara on social media: 

Instagram @ 


Boost your pre-race mental game

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When was the last time you had a workout when everything clicked and you felt unstoppable?
Although we all looooove that feeling and hope for it on race day, it's natural
 to doubt yourself and to feel unprepared before an important event. Certainly, in our always-connected world, it’s also very hard to keep things in perspective as it may seem like everyone is doing more than you and you are not doing enough. 

Regardless of how your training did or didn’t go, I encourage you to adjust your mindset so that you can confidently say, "I am ready!"

Here are some ways to boost your mental game before an important race: 

1. You control your thoughts – Feelings come from thoughts. All conflicting and negative thoughts start internally, in the mind. The next time your mind starts racing and you notice self-doubt, anxiety, fear or stress, try to let go of the negative feelings and uncertainties. Choose positive, quality thoughts that will help you excel on race day. And never let another athlete or person get inside your head. 

2. Feelings are not actions – Every time you let yourself think that some type of feeling, whether it is a niggle, low energy, heavy legs or nerves, will turn into an action, like not being able to perform on race day, you’ll find yourself doubting yourself before you even have an opportunity to prove yourself otherwise. Putting blame or excuses on scenarios before race day is easy but the truth is that the only day that matters is race day. Never let your thoughts be confused with actions. You can still have niggles, a previous setback or heavy legs and perform amazingly well on race day.

3. You got yourself ready – When something is important to you, you will find the time and you will put in the work. It takes a lot of hard work to be prepared for an event but the truth is that nobody ever feels 100% ready for something that is meaningful. Since you can't go back in time, you need to reflect on all of your previous training to remind yourself that you have the necessary skills to execute on race day. Even though race day may be tough, struggling does not mean that you are having a bad race. Trust that you have done the work and remember that every great success requires some kind of struggle to get to the finish line. 

4. Try your best - Your greatest fear should not be fear of failure. Not trying is failing. Great things come to those who work hard and never give up. Always race with your current level of fitness and remember that you are a developing athlete, getting to where you want to be, one race at a time. An athlete who makes mistakes is the person who willing to fail in order to win. It’s better to have a season of small mistakes to learn from, than a season of playing it safe, with regrets of never really trying.

5. Be thankful – Don’t worry about anyone else. Everyone person fights a battle or has to overcome some type of obstacle before a race. What incredible battles have you overcome this season? 
The next time you notice self-defeating thoughts filing your mind, or you find yourself overwhelmed with thoughts that you are not good enough, ready enough or prepared enough, take a pause so that you can put things into perspective. Always choose to focus on good things in life, that make you feel great, and surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you.


Final St. George 70.3 training - weekend recap

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A few months ago, I reached out to my friend Katie (Thomas) Morales to see if we could arrange a weekend of training together here in Greenville. Not only did I want her and her hubby Chris to come and visit us so that we could all hang out, but I thought it would be great to train with Katie, since she is extremely fast and strong. Although we both favor hard, hilly and challenging race courses, I race as an age grouper and she races as a professional triathlete. She is one fast and strong female!

Katie and I have been friends for many years. Just before she turned pro, we raced together in Lake Placid and then again in Kona in 2013. 

Katie, Kendra and I before the awards at 2013 IM Lake Placid.

Looking ahead and thinking about the timing of training, I thought it would be so fun to be pushed by Katie and to have some company in town while enjoying our amazing cycling roads two weeks out from St. George.

With this being my final weekend of big training before IM 70.3 St. George on May 6th, Katie and her hubby were able to take time off work to come and visit us on Thursday evening and stay until Sunday. Not only did Katie celebrate her 34th birthday with us but we had 3 full days together, for some swim, bike, run fun. 

Although our work at Trimarni never stops or slows down (especially with 5 of our athletes racing IM Texas this past weekend), we were able to squeeze in some training and finish off our last big training block with lots of fun, great food, smiles and a little bit of suffering. Thankfully, we had great weather on Friday and Saturday and minus the rain and cooler temps on Sunday, we were able to get in three days of quality training. Next week is all about recovery and starting the sharpening phase of our training to help us feel sharp, fresh and fit for the hills of St. George, Utah. 

Here's a recap of our training::

Friday AM: 
4750 yard swim

500 warm-up

Pre set:
6 x 100s (25 kick, 50 swim, 25 kick) w/ fins
6 x 100's (25 kick, 50 swim, 25 kick) no fins

MS 3x's:
16 x 25s on 25 seconds
200 swim EZ w/ paddles/buoy
1 min rest

Post set:
3 x 100's as (25 strong w/ 5 sec rest, 50 build to fast w/ 10 sec rest, 25 fast) into 50 EZ
Rest 1 minute

Friday late morning: 
2:27 hr ride (43.7 miles), 2864 elevation gain
Social ride, exploring the roads and having fun on two wheels. Karel and I rode our road bikes.

Saturday morning: 
4:09 hr ride (76.3 miles), 7755 elevation gain
Double bakery route starting from our house with a stop at Flat Rock bakery.

20-25 minute progressive run off the bike (each on our own)

Sunday morning: 
Katie had her own workout (trainer bike + run) so Karel, Chris and I all did our run workout outside. Karel ran 75 minutes (very EZ) and Chris joined me for 90 minutes (1 mile run, 30 sec walk - all conversational with about 600 feet of climbing) and then he finished his run at 2 hours. 

Here are some snapshots of our training weekend. Can't wait to take pictures in St. George in a week from Tuesday! 

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Post swim smiles. Katie made me work hard and I could hardly keep up!

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Group pic with a mountain photo bomb. 

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We love to climb!

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Enjoying the views.

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Quick stop to refill bottles. 

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Starting our Saturday ride in the fog with perfect weather for a long ride. 

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Chasing the mountains all morning. 

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Heading to the Watershed to start our climb into North Carolina. 

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Starting the climb

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Bakery stop to refill bottles. 

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Stop at Hotel Domestique to refill bottles/bathroom.

No pictures from our Sunday morning run due to the rain. 


Don't be afraid to be competitive on race day

On race day, every athlete will have a reason for enduring the pain and the physical challenge that comes with racing.  I encourage you to love competition for competitive feelings help you feel energized, confident and ready to take on a challenge. 

Far too often, athletes get in their own way before and on race day. Nerves, anxiety, fear, self-doubt can shift a race ready body into a frozen body that is unable to perform.  

The thoughts in your mind may play ping-pong between positive and negative but this nervous energy is totally normal and needed. Gloria (Dr. G, my mental coach) believes that nerves are a good thing as it means you are ready and that you care. 

The beautiful thing about competition is that the stress that is felt before a race is a sign that you are willing and able to face a big challenge. This nervous excitement can be a great thing as it is a sign that you are ready and willing to stretch your physical limits and possibly, do something that you have never done before. 

Embracing the competition means that you will let other athletes have the race that they trained for without feeling bitter, jealous or upset. Never should you compare yourself to someone else and decide that you are too slow, too heavy or that you will never be that good and you don't belong out on the course.  Every athlete at a race can be competitive. No matter how long it takes you to get to the finish line, not only do you deserve to be there but you worked hard to be there. 

It's good to put a little pressure on yourself with a no expectations attitude. Never lose trust in your abilities. Be confident and enjoy the race experience. 

In a recent article by Dr. G, she discussed some simple tricks to stay mentally tough, no matter what obstacles get in your way. 

For anyone who is racing in the near future, here are my two favorite paragraphs from the article (I recommend reading the entire article):

Only you know what got you to the race and will get you to the finish line. Everyone has character strengths and experiences that they can capitalize on in challenging situations. First, have awareness of what your strengths are and secondly, use them. Embrace your competitiveness, your humor, your grit. Remember, it was your time, money, training, and planning that got you to the race, so own it. Enjoy the process and focus on doing you on race day!

Successful athletes know their goal so well that they can close their eyes and create a mental picture of it in their mind. The more vivid and clear your goal is, the more your brain and body know where to aim. Motivation increases when you know where you're are aiming your efforts. This means creating a picture in your mind, putting visual cues of your goal in your environment, or writing it out specifically and clearly in your training log. Then leading up to the race, you can recall your goal to help focus and direct all that energy so you're more excited and less freaked out."


Share the road tips for motorists

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Every time I get on my bike to go for a ride, I feel safe. Understanding that accidents do happen, I always ride cautious and alert. Although my reaction time on two wheels is not as stellar as Karel's, I do feel like I have the skills to ride safe on the open road.

Prior to moving to Greenville, I felt scared on my bike. With limited options to ride, I always felt like I was risking my life on two wheels as it seemed like every car needed to get somewhere fast and the person behind the wheel was distracted. 

Although we, as cyclists, can not control every person behind the wheel of a car, I do feel strongly that we live in a very bike friendly area and that the cars share the road with cyclists. From our door step, we have an unlimited amount of routes that we can ride, at any time of the day. Although we know the routes to avoid during higher traffic times, we select country roads (and the roads less traveled) as the drivers are less distracted and less rushed and the views are breath taking. 

One of my favorite things about riding in Greenville is that it is fun. Although it is very challenging to ride where we live, it's always an adventure to see the mountains, say hi to all the animals and to look at all of the scenery. We can change our route on the fly and thus, we never have to repeat our routes if we don't want to. Riding in Greenville has given me a great love of cycling because the riding is never boring. For someone who loves nature, being on the bike is great therapy, even when I am working hard and trying to stay on Karel's wheel. 

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Greenville has a very active bike community which means we often have bike-related events. For example, this Friday, in celebration of Earth day, to raise awareness about alternative transportation options in Greenville, a cyclist, bus rider and motorist will see who has the shortest and quickest morning commute in downtown Greenville. For more info about this event, visit this link.

Although the easiest solutions to safer roads is to stop the distracted driving by prohibiting the use of cell phone usage while behind the wheel and enforcing harsh penalties if a cyclist is hit, I believe that education of sharing the road with cyclists is very important. As an example, in Europe, specifically in Czech where Karel is from, cars and trucks understand how to safely pass a cyclist. Many times, the cyclist has the right of way. The cars work together on both sides of the road so that the cyclist can ride safely, without harm, to get to where he/she needs to be. Seeing that a bicycle is used as a form of transportation in many places around the world, it's understandable that the bike is more than just a form of physical activity but it is also an inexpensive and environmentally friendly way to get to places quickly and easily. 

Whether you are riding a bike for fun, to commute, to enjoy the fresh air or for training/exercise, you should never have to ride scared. Instead, ride on bike friendly/accessible roads, be seen and always make sure to be alert, skilled and prepared for the unexpected. 

To help improve the safety of cyclists on the road, here are 10 important safety tips from Yield to Life. 

10 Safety Tips for Motorists from Yield To Life

1. Different but Equal

In all states, cyclists are deemed by law to be drivers of vehicles and are entitled to the same rights on the road as motorists. Expect cyclists on the road. Watch for cyclists on the road. Treat them as you would any slow-moving vehicle.

2. Patience, not Patients

Patience, especially on the road, is a virtue, and can save lives.
Your patience may involve:
  • Waiting until it is safe to pass a bicycle and refraining from tailgating.
  • Giving cyclists the right of way when the situation calls for it.
  • Allowing extra time for cyclists to go through intersections.
  • Recognizing road hazards that may be dangerous for cyclists and giving cyclists the necessary space to deal with them. In conditions where there is not enough room for a cyclist to ride to the right, they are allowed to ride closer to the lane of traffic, and sometimes even in the lane of traffic.
Never engage in conduct that harasses or endangers a cyclist. Above all: Be tolerant. Be understanding. Be careful.

3. A Passing Grade

Do not pass a cyclist until you can see that you can safely do so. You should allow ample space between your vehicle and the bicycle and make sure you do not place the cyclist in danger. If you pass too closely the drag from your car can pull a cyclist off course and cause the rider to swerve out of control.

4. The Right Behavior

Watch out for cyclists when you are turning right. A bicyclist may well be to the right of you and planning to go straight at the same intersection. Do not speed ahead of the bicyclist thinking you can negotiate the turn before they reach your car. The cyclist may be going faster than you think and, as you slow to make the turn, the cyclist may not be able to avoid crashing into the passenger side of your vehicle.

5. To The Left, to The Left

Also look for cyclists when making a left-hand turn. Cyclists who are crossing straight through the same intersection in the opposite direction may be going faster than you realize. It is particularly dangerous on a descending slope, when cyclists pick up more speed.

6. A Back-up Plan:

Bicycles, and the people who drive them, come in all shapes and sizes. When backing out of your driveway always look to see if someone is riding in your path. Children on small bikes might be hard to see. Drive slowly and look carefully.

7. Egress Etiquette

After parallel parking, make sure the coast is clear for opening the car door to exit. Make sure there are no cyclists riding alongside your car or fast approaching. By using the rear view mirrors and by turning around, a driver can spot an approaching cyclist and circumvent a disaster. A cyclist cannot anticipate when a driver will open a door, but a driver can easily detect a cyclist who may be in the line of danger.

8. Respect

Cyclists have a rightful spot on the road. Cyclists also positively impact the environment with each revolution of their wheels by opting to ride rather than drive. Do not resent cyclists. Replace frustration with a smile every time to see a cyclist.

9. Honing Your Horning Habit

Do not to honk unnecessarily at cyclists. If the need does arise to honk your horn to alert a cyclist that you are about pass, do so at a respectable distance. If you are too close, the noise itself can cause a cyclist to lose his or her bearings and create a hazardous situation for both you and the cyclist.

10. Try it, You’ll Like it

If you can’t beat them, join them. Ride a bike. It may just change your life. Riding is good for you and good for your environment. At the very least, it will give you a better appreciation for the problems cyclists face everyday on the road with respect to motorists.


Riding 107 miles in Greenville - a milestone!

Ride stats: 
5:53 total ride time
107 miles covered

7274 elevation gained
18.1 mph average speed
2 refueling/hydration stops
Too many animal friends to count but I said hi to all of them.

After 11 years of endurance triathlon racing, I am still finding myself improving in training and on race day. I remember back in 2004, while in graduate school and training for my first marathon in January 2005, I was told by several exercise professionals that I would struggle in endurance sports as a female vegetarian athlete. While endurance training/racing is not easy for any individual, I don't see myself as a female vegetarian athlete but instead, an athlete, who happens to be a female and a 25 year vegetarian.

Without a doubt, self-improvements have kept me enjoying each season of triathlon racing and training as I never feel bored or stale in a 3-sport sport. Although there have been many setbacks since I started endurance racing, I've learned that development from season to season and training consistency are key components to experiencing success on race day. In order to continually experience performance gains, my health has always remained my #1 priority. With a healthy body and mind, performance gains will come. Knowing that I can't always do the same things over and over and expect different results, every year as life changes, I carefully pay attention to better, smarter and more effective ways to nourish my body, fuel my workouts, train and race, never with rigid rules, methods or strategies. To me, training is a fun hobby that allows me to use my body, explore nature, travel and I use it to help me manage life stress and release energy, so I never like to put added pressure on my training/eating when it comes to performance improvements. Finding this balance between great dedication and just enough flexibility has been extremely important to my athletic development over the past 11 years. 

On Saturday, Karel and I ventured out to Lake Keowee,, which is the start of the Mountains to Mainstreet bike course. Since the start is ~45 miles away, instead of driving, we rode our on our tri bikes. Because the M2M triathlon course is a point to point to point course, we decided that the best way to pre-ride the 58 mile bike course was to bike to the start and then bike home. This made for a long ride but we were both mentally and physically excited for a morning together, on two wheels. Plus, we absolutely love exploring new roads/routes and the scenery and mountain views that come with riding in Greenville, so we knew the ride would be just as fun, as it was long. Oddly enough, the ride went by really fast! And the M2M course is so beautiful and scenic but also very challenging - just what we love in a bike course!

As athletes, it's easy to get overwhelmed by the journey of training as it's normal to have an outcome goal in mind for race day. Without specific goals, it's difficult to find the motivation to train, especially with those early morning wake-up calls and squeezing in a workout with a tired body/mind after work. 
Knowing that race day success is the sum of many small efforts, repeated over and over, it's important to always consider your own fitness journey and that every day, you are getting closer to building a better, smarter, stronger and faster version of yourself. Instead of wishing for quick results or comparing yourself to other athletes, celebrate your own accomplishments in your own journey.

There have been many times in the past 11 years when I have said to myself "I feel so strong" or "I have never felt this fit before." Just when I think that I can't feel any fitter or any more strong, I develop and find myself capable of even more with my body. Patience, hard work and consistency bring results and while it is great to have big goals and dreams, you must celebrate the small improvements and victories to let you know that you are making progress. 

Since moving to Greenville, SC in May 2014, I have only completed one ride over 100 miles (summer of 2014). Despite training for four Ironman's since we moved, riding 100 miles in Greenville was never a focus as the terrain is extremely challenging and the miles go by very slow here. We always go by time for our long rides as this makes for quality training and a better return on our training investment.

Throughout our long Saturday ride and especially after our ride, I couldn't help but think, over and over, where I am with my cycling fitness and where I was in 2014 and even more so, in 2006 when I did my first Ironman. I kept telling Karel after the ride "I can't believe I did that!"
Now, I can ride with Karel and he doesn't have to wait for me. Now, my skills allow me to ride safe and efficiently. Now, I feel one with my bike.

As much fun as it is to PR, stand on the podium or qualify for an event, every small achievement in training moves you closer to becoming better than you were yesterday in training and even closer to achieving something with your body, that you never thought was possible. In the big picture, athletic development and athletic success is not about the results but it's about progress.

It's easy to lose motivation and enjoyment for your sport if you believe what you are doing isn't working or if you don't see big improvements so the next time you find yourself questioning why you do your sport and why you should continue to put in the work, take a moment to reflect back on the progress you have made over the past few weeks, months and years. Thinking about big goals can be overwhelming so make sure to celebrate the little milestones and track and share your progress along the way. 


When training becomes excessive and obsessive

Every athlete needs a high level of dedication, passion, desire and commitment in order to perform at a high level in training and on race day. For many athletes, the motivation to athletically succeed is borderline obsession. Since training for an athletic event may resemble excessive exercise, an unhealthy obsession with exercise may go unnoticed by a coach, training partner or friend. You may even think that your commitment to training is normal and even encouraged by your coach and those who look up to you as a fitness role model.

For every athlete, it can be difficult to understand whether or not your motivation and commitment to your sport is "normal", especially since many athletes are interested in diet and training strategies in order to improve health or performance.

Excessive exercise has many health consequences, such as bone and muscle injuries, hormonal issues, cardiac and other organ problems. On the mental side, the addiction to exercise may cause withdraw, isolation, loneliness, depression, low self-esteem, anxiety and guilt.

Since the need to train (or exercise) is necessary to help you mentally and physically prepare for your upcoming event(s), all athletes should recognize that something is not normal when training becomes unenjoyable and instead feels like a chore or obligation.

Athletes who tend to overexercise will use exercise as a way to feel a sense of control over their body. In other words, life feels so out of control that diet and exercise need to be tightly regulated to avoid feelings of guilt and anxiety. For the athlete who is seeking performance gains, it's completely normal to want to become more dedicated to training and healthy eating, in order to feel athletically ready for an upcoming event. Persistence and consistency are two sure ways to gain fitness and confidence for race day.

However, now a days, it seems like more athletes are tying self-worth to physical performance and/or a body image, while obsessively comparing to a "successful" athlete or a past version of themselves. As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, coaches can add fuel to the obsession by encouraging the athlete to train harder or longer or to adhere to a strict, rigid or controlled diet in order to reach x-goal by race day. When a coach (or magazine article) suggests that an athlete can become a better athlete through training and nutrition, it's easy for an exercise addicted athlete to exercise more and to restrict food and create food rules, in an effort to perform better.

As a sport dietitian who often works with athletes who are experiencing the negative mental, emotional and physical consequences of severely altering the diet and training excessively, it's important to explore the shift, when a natural desire to be better turns obsessive and excessive.

For example, here are some symptoms of Anorexia Athletica, which co-exists with disordered eating patterns and is characterized by obsessive and excessive exercising and often co-occurs with calorie restriction, induced vomiting and body image issues.

  • Overexercising to the point that fulfilling sport-related goals become more important than almost anything else in life.
  • Exercise is specifically used to control body weight. 
  • Exercise provides a sense of power, control and self-respect.
  • Constant obsession with food and weight. 
  • Refusal to miss a workout.
  • Difficulty scaling back workouts due to sickness, injury, fatigue or poor sleep.
  • Conflicts between family, friends, kids and/or training partners or feeling alienated. 
  • Anxiety and guilt when a workout is missed or if exercise volume isn't "enough".
  • Little to no enjoyment for exercise but continues to train/exercise. 
  • Haphazard training with little structure/quality. 
  • Self-worth is tied to physical performance and body image. 
  • Constant comparison to other athletes. 
  • Lack of satisfaction with personal achievements. 
  • Rigid food rules and dietary restriction
  • Feeling out of control in many areas of life. 
  • Denial that there is a problem. 
  • Never feeling good enough.
Whereas many athletes take diet and training to the extreme in order to improve performance, other athletes may use exercise to feel better about body image and weight, thus creating an addiction to exercise, often along with calorie/food group restriction, in order to boost self-esteem. Athletes may even use words like "eating clean" or "getting back on track", never realizing that there is an underlying issue that needs to be explored. 

Understanding that it is very difficult to define "excessive and obsessive" exercise among highly competitive, dedicated and motivated athletes, I encourage you to explore your current lifestyle to determine whether your current eating patterns and training regime is helping you achieve (or move closer) to an optimal level of performance and athletic readiness without sabotaging your health and quality of life. With far too many coaches wrongly encouraging athletes to lose weight and increase training loads in order to become faster or stronger, you should never ever have to take extreme measures to become a better athlete. 

What you believe about your appearance, how you feel about your body and how you feel in your body are important components to athletic success. Exercising more, adhering to rigid food rules and restricting calories will never help you appreciate and feel proud of your body. To get to the root of your exercise addiction issues, explore your feelings of self acceptance and athletic worthiness to understand if your dieting desires and inner belief that you are not training "enough" are tied to your body image and poor self-esteem. 

Training for an athletic event should be a challenging, fun and enjoyable experience for your body AND for those around you, who care, love and support you. Sport does not discriminate among body types or fitness levels. If you have recently found yourself paying more attention to your appearance than to your own health and/or performance or comparing yourself to other athletes, never feeling fast, strong, lean or good enough, your desire to become a better athlete may have shifted into an unhealthy obsession. Too much of anything can be negative so it's important to be able to differentiate between an unhealthy addiction to exercises versus a healthy desire to perform at your best, with great self-esteem and a great relationship with food and the body.