Essential Sports Nutrition


Mountain to Mainstreet Festival Expert Panel Event

Trimarni is proud to support the Mountains to Mainstreet 72.3 mile Triathlon festival, located in beautiful Greenville, run by Set Up Events.

In route to the 2nd Mountains to Mainstreet (M2M) event, there will be a series of educational talks, featuring local community experts to help athletes feel prepared for the upcoming festival. This educational series will benefit athletes of all levels.

If you didn't know, the M2M event (on May 19th-21st) includes a 5K run, 13.1 mile run, along with a 72.3 mile triathlon (including a relay and aquabike option).

Speakers for the first educational discussion include:

Kyle Cassas - Orthopedic Sports Medicine Doctor, Steadman Hawkins

Scott Kaylor - Physical Therapist, ATI Sports Therapy

Marni Sumbal, MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N - Board Certified Sport Dietitian and Endurance Triathlon Coach, Trimarni Coaching & Nutrition

If you are in or near the area on Feb 22nd, you can learn more about the event HERE.

I am honored to be part of this expert panel discussion which will cover a variety of endurance training and nutrition topics in order to help athletes maintain great health while training for upcoming triathlon and running events. If you are an athlete, a parent of an athlete, a fitness enthusiast or you just love learning about endurance training, sport nutrition and reducing risk for injury, you will not want to miss this event.

This event is open to the public.

We look forward to seeing you there!


Athlete spotlight: Stefanie Swanger: An everyday IRONMOM who uses triathlon for health, building confidence and well-being

Name: Stefanie Swanger 

Age: 35

City/State: Kathleen, GA

Primary sport: Triathlon

How many years in the sport: 9 years

What Trimarni services have you used: 
RETUL bike fit
Nutrition consult

Describe your athletic background and how you discovered your current sport?
Growing up, I was a fairly non-athletic person. I was always overweight as a child and pretty disinterested in sports. However, while I was in graduate school, I was fortunate to work the finish line of the 2005 Disney Marathon. I had an ah-ha moment while handing out medals during that race and decided if these people could do it, then my excuses had run out. I was determined to run. Four years later, in 2009, I ran my first Marathon at Disney. Post marathon, I wanted a new challenge. The college that I was working at had a triathlon class, so I enrolled. That class lead to my first triathlon that summer (2009) at Iron Girl Atlanta. This is where I met Marni, after following her blog for a while. I guess the rest is history.

What keeps you training and racing in your current sport?

Having always struggled with weight and body confidence, I want to set a good example for my young son and family. I love the supportive atmosphere of triathlon and confidence it has instilled in me. I have found immense joy in both training and racing and I now understand what working out does for me, mentally and physically.

What do you do for work?

I am a Career Consultant at Mercer University.

How does your work life affect training and how do you balance work and training?
I am fortunate to work in Higher Education where my work schedule can flex just a bit, which allows me to manage a healthy work/life balance. I try to do all workouts in the morning which means a lot of early wake up calls. If I have two workouts in the day, I put the second workout at lunch, when possible. Once 5pm hits, I am in wind down mode the minute my butt sits in my car to drive home. Over the years I have learned how to be comfortable in what I can and can not accomplish for the day. This means cutting a workout short or even missing a workout on occasion. Although 4 years ago I would not have felt this way, it no longer stresses me out when life gets in the way of training. I just do the best I can.

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

When it comes to triathlon, I am a planner. I know that I am far more successful if I make my nutrition bottles, prepare my food ahead of time and pack my bags in the car the night before a morning workout. I also look for opportunities to utilize downtime to my advantage. I have been seen using a resistance band for stretching, a tennis ball for tight spots and a foam roller at work during my lunch hour or between meetings. I keep sports nutrition products, peanut butter and milk at work so that there are no excuses for not being fueled for mid day workouts. I have also been known to wear compression socks under my slacks or long skirts. I try my best to maximize all opportunities for training and work life.

Do you have kids?
Yep! A fun little 4 year old named Colton.

How do you balance family and training?
I try to keep workouts in the morning after my son goes to daycare so that they don't affect evening family time, which is also why I favor lunch workouts as well. On weekends, I aim for early morning workouts so that they don't disrupt the entire day or force us to alter our afternoon plans. Often times, my husband will make special plans in the morning with Colton (while I workout) so that they can bond and have "guy time". Then, I will have my mommy/son time in the afternoon if my husband has something he needs to get done. At this age, Colton is an active participant in my active lifestyle. He wants to help me make my sport nutrition bottles or carry my workout gear. I know he won't always be this excited to help and learn about my triathlon workouts, but I am hopeful that we are raising Colton to understand the importance of physical activity and making time for healthy lifestyle choices so that later on in is life, it is innate and part of his lifestyle. I don't see my training as selfish but instead, I am trying to be a good role model for him. We also find opportunities to make him the star at an event. He did the kids race at Athens Twilight and has done a kids mountain bike ride, which prompted him to ask for swim lessons so that he could be an Ironman like his mom and dad. 

What tricks or tips do you have for other athletes who try to balance training with a family?
Communication with my little guy has been important so that he understands exactly when I will be back and what he can expect. I try to incorporate him into the plan by promising a few laps together on the bike once I return or we play outside. When my husband Kenny and I were both training for an Ironman two years ago, we would often split training schedules to get things accomplished. I would ride on Saturdays while he ran on the treadmill or used the jogging stroller to keep Colton involved, and then on Sunday the training would be reversed.

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

I have found through the years of training and marriage, that communication is key in making this whole thing (triathlon hobby) work. Kenny and I talk about my workouts and what I need to do to prep, and I keep him updated when I know it will affect family time. I never plan my race calendar without a family discussion because I know what a great asset he is to both me and our family. My goals wouldn't be possible without his support. I also understand there is a fine balance in accomplishing my long distance racing goals while keeping harmony in my family. This leads me to making decisions like opting for weekend trainer rides early in the season so that I can remove the excess travel time to drive to a safe place to do a long ride. I am also there for the family without being away from the home. I know that later on in the season I will be riding outside for long hours and the trainer won't be a suitable option for me then so it's all about compromising. Basically, I do what I can to preserve my idea of "family time" and make concessions in my training when I have to, so that my family doesn't suffer. I also know that my husband can be bribed/rewarded with a good beer! :)

Do you have a race result, notable performance or lesson learned that you'd like to share?

While not recent, I have two race results that will forever stick with me. The 2012 Labor Day 5k is special to me because I was 40 weeks pregnant at the time. I ran the race at 8:30am and ended up giving birth to my son 22 hours later. I had completed several races during my pregnancy and I wanted one last hurrah with my little guy. My husband insists this is why our little guy does not slow down.

Then, 14 month later, I completed my first Ironman at Ironman Florida in 2013. I had a long standing fear that pregnancy and childbirth would completely derail any progress I had made with body image and self esteem so I wanted a goal to focus on. Ironman Florida was just as much about proving to myself that I could do the distance but also showing that I can be a good mom and still care about my own health and well-being through fitness.

What are your top tips for athletes, as it relates to staying happy, healthy and performing well?
1) Listen to your body. While I can not always pick-up on all the clues that body gives me, I have learned how to listen to my body. I am very in tune with my body. I know when my jaw hurts, I am lacking specific nutrients. I can tell when my watch is too tight on my wrist by the way my bicep feels. Your body gives you hints if you just listen to them.

2) It's ok to miss a workout. For the longest time, I felt like I had to justify a missed workout by describing a catastrophe. Now, it's ok to say, "today is just not my day" or "life got in the way." I am not one for excuses so if I have to miss a workout, I am not hard on myself. I know that life does happen sometimes. Big picture: It's all about how you roll with the punches.

3) Remember to smile and if you are feeling down, encourage others. The simple act of smiling and saying "good job" does wonders for my attitude. I may be having a crappy workout but by taking a second to tell someone else something encouraging, has a positive effect on me. I do the same thing on race day.

How would you define athletic success as it relates to your personal journey?
Year after year, my goal is to always reach the finish line with a smile on my face, while knowing that I enjoyed my personal journey to the start line. I am no Mirinda or Chrissie - this isn't my job. And not until I am in Harriet Anderson or Sister Madonna's age group, I am not even close to competing for a Kona spot. What is on the line is my health, well-being and my ability to be a positive role model for my family and for my community. Getting faster is a perk of training and one that I do seek, but I know that ultimately my success is being happy with the journey and inspiring others to work for athletic goals. I like to say I humanize the Ironman triathlon goal by showing everyday people that yes, it is possible to train for an Ironman with hard work, determination and grit.

What's your favorite post-race meal, drink or food?
CARBS! Pizza and Beer. Burger and Beer.

What key races do you have planned in 2017?
Ironman Gulf Coast 70.3 and Ironman Florida.

What are your athletic goals for the next 5 years?

I would love to get faster and try out a new Ironman course. But on the flip side, I know my son is getting older and he will soon want to do his own sport explorations. I am hopeful in the future that we can run a 5k together or that I can incorporate him into Ironkids events. Triathlon will also be my sport and my goal but I am open to new adventures and seeing where the next few years take me and my active body.

Anything else?
Remember to give back to the sport. I think so many times we can get wrapped up in our own little bubble of racing that we forget that every racer needs spectators to get them to the finish line. Every athlete needs an experienced sherpa. Every race needs volunteers to keep it running smoothly. New athletes need mentors. Take one or two give-back-to-the-sport opportunities each year to keep our sport healthy and growing. When we give back, we ensure that our sport will be around for future generations.

To follow Stefanie:
Instagram: @stefanieswanger 


Eggplant lasagna with a creamy red pepper spread

It was nearing 5pm yesterday and I had no idea what I would make for dinner until I remembered that I had a big eggplant in the fridge from this weekend, from what I planned to make eggplant pizza but instead, I decided that I really needed real dough. 

Karel spent all afternoon moving our empty 75 gallon fish downstairs tank (our big Flowerhorn fish passed away a few months ago) upstairs to our bedroom, to swap it out for our 55 gallon tank.

Let's just say that our African Chichlid fishes (and our big Green Terror fish) got a nice house upgrade! They are already enjoying the room and redecorating by moving around the sand.

It took over 5 hours for Karel to get the tank ready as moving fish from one tank to another is not a project that can be rushed and you really can't stop once you start, so I figured Karel would be ready to eat when he was finished. I was hungry by the time dinner was ready so I yummed first and then when Karel was finish with the tank project, he enjoyed his dinner. 

So here is how the dinner creation went down.

With no clear direction on what I was going to make with the eggplant, I started to pull out ingredients from my kitchen. 


Red bell pepper 
1 can chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
1 can northern beans (rinsed and drained)
Curry powder
Olive oil 

White onion
Nutritional yeast
Tomato sauce 

With all my ingredients on the counter, I started to get creative. Instead of dressing the eggplant with the beans, I decided to make a spread instead (which could also be used as a yummy dip). 

This dip was so easy that it inspired me to make more variations of this in the future. Especially on the higher volume workout days when my appetite for fibrous foods is low but a nice spread on bread would be super tasty (and nutritious). 

Red pepper spread

Small red bell pepper (sliced with top and inside seeds removed)
1/2 can chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
1/2 can northern beans (rinsed and drained)
2-3 tsp Curry powder
1 tbsp Olive oil 

1. Place chickpeas and beans, along with entire red pepper (sliced/chopped), curry powder, olive oil and a pinch of salt in a food processor and blend until creamy. If needed, add a splash of water to help with mixing. You may need to use a spoon to mix if the top of the contents doesn't get mixed in. 
2. Taste the spread and add more curry and salt if needed, to your liking. 
2. Spoon into a Tupperware container. 

Now it was time to make the eggplant lasagna. 

Eggplant lasagna with a creamy red pepper spread

1 large Eggplant (sliced somewhat thinly, not too thick)
1/2 white onion (thinly sliced)
2-4 tbsp nutritional yeast
1-2 cup Tomato/marinara sauce 
Kale (about 2 cups chopped, washed, stems removed)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 
2. In a large glass dish, spray or use olive oil to coat the bottom. 

3. Place eggplant slices on the bottom of the dish (cover bottom - it's ok if some overlap). 
4. Smear a little of the spread on each eggplant. Now top with sliced onion, handful of chopped kale, crumbled farmers cheese and a spoonful of tomato/marinara sauce over each of the eggplant slices. Top with 1-2 tbsp of nutritional yeast all over the eggplant slices. 
5. Now repeat this process: Eggplant, kale, farmers cheese, sauce, nutritional yeast. There is no wrong way to do this so layer however you wish. 
6. Try to finish with 1 layer of eggplant slices on top, topped with spread and then a spoonful of marinara. 
7. Bake for around 30-35 minutes. 

This will make leftovers if you are only feeding 1-2 people. 

Enjoy! Don't forget to yum. 

(Note: farmers cheese doesn't have a bold taste but instead, a creamy texture. If you are feeding to cheese lovers, you may want to use a more bold cheese like Parmesan or sharp cheddar. You could also broil some cheese on top. Farmers cheese is very common in Europe, thus why Karel often buys it here in the store. Another popular brand is Friendship farmers cheese, which can be found by the cream cheese). 


Reduce the busyness in your life

Do you feel like your life is rushing by? 
Do you feel like every minute of your day is filled with something to keep you busy, like work, exercise/training, family, commuting, emails, phone calls, bills, social events and maybe some cooking/eating and sleeping? 

As an athlete, there's a good chance that you excel in managing a lot, every single day. You also may also have the tendency to say "yes" a lot, feeling like you can do it all, while saying no makes you feel inadequate. You may notice that if you have free time, you feel uncomfortable, insecure, unproductive, anxious and maybe even worried.

I've been working on the concept of busyness for several years. Not to be more busy but to become less busy. Yes, having more free time. I love staying busy and I thrive off a packed to-do list but I have learned over the years, that life was rushing by me way too fast and I felt like I was not able to really enjoy it. While I will never lose my work ethic (especially as a small business owner) and I know I have a lot to get done every day, I have learned how to say no more often, manage my time better, put myself first at times and to not overbook myself with responsibilities. 
Certainly, this did not happen over night and it was very uncomfortable to change my normal thinking and ways of going about life. 

My dad passed away from cancer in May 2014. I was very close to him. We talked every day on the phone. He was very proud of me for all my educational, work and athletic accomplishments and he did an excellent job of bragging about me to his patients. 

Of course, to succeed with my past accomplishments, I had to devote myself to what I was doing, with high motivation and a high achiever attitude. But at the same time, my dad always encouraged me to not work "too much." 

Not only was my dad always happy but he was extremely successful as the chief optometrist of a VA clinic (formally at a VA hospital for over 20 years). He just loved his job and he loved working. He had so many responsibilities at work and he hated to miss work, but he never seemed to be "too busy." 

My dad had a lot of hobbies - he loved old cars, old movies, listening to the radio, fixing things, electronics, stamp collecting, taking care of the lawn, coin collecting, astronomy and jogging. Despite being so successful at his job and having a family to raise and take care of, he was never "too busy" to enjoy things that he loved to do. 

Although my dad loved working, he passed away just two years away from his retirement, so he never really got to enjoy "the good life" as a retired adult. 

However, in my eyes, my dad had the good life. 

He never ever took a day for granted. 

He was never ever "too busy" to enjoy life. 

It's interesting that I married a European because I feel like my dad was always telling me to "work to live, don't live to work" which is a similar strategy of the European lifestyle. 

Of course, Karel didn't have this lifestyle when he came to America as when he pursued the "American Dream", he was simply an immigrant working 2-3 jobs a day, just to survive in the USA.

I learned a lot from my dad but I have also learned a lot from Karel. 

If you feel like there is always something to do, always overwhelmed and never enough time to do everything, take some time and begin to simplify your life. I encourage you not to put yourself second but instead, to think about your happiness and how it improves your overall quality of life. 

In order to reduce the busyness in your life, it is important to stop the equation of:
busy = happy= successful. 

You can be happy and not be busy and you can be busy and not be successful. 
And you can be busy, not happy and successful.
My equation looks a little something like this: 
Productive = fulfilled. 

Prioritize your life so that the most important things in your life are on the top of your to-do list. Be sure not to overload your to-do list with extra stuff. Manage your time wisely, be productive with your time, learn to say no and don't feel the need to fill in every free minute of the day. 
And above all, never ever neglect your own health. 


Weekend training recap - the cold couldn't stop us!

It was so nice to sleep in until almost 7am on Saturday morning. We were in no rush to get up since we had planned to ride indoors on our trainers. Another reason why we could sleep in was because our cat Madison let us sleep in way past her normal internal alarm clock (aka "feed me now!") went off (which is usually around 5:30-6am).

After getting some work done on the computer and eating a yummy pre-workout snack, it was around 8:30am when I went to our workout room to get myself ready for my bike workout. As I was writing my bike trainer workout on the white board, Karel looked outside and said "it's sunny, let's ride outside." What a relief as I wanted to ride outside but with the temps nearly 30 degrees, we both first thought it would be too cold to ride outside but without a cloud in the sky, we decided to bundle up and enjoy a few hours on our road bikes.

Although our toes were a little cold even with our shoe covers on, we both dressed well and stayed rather comfortable throughout our entire 3 hour ride. Of course, it helps to have lots of hills to warm us up. 

With  no set plans as to where our bikes would take us, we made our way onto roads that we had not ridden on in over a year. It was so nice to be outside and to enjoy what felt like new roads in Greenville. Since we have so many options for riding, every ride seems like a fun, new experience.

Karel lead the way for our ride and I followed along. I felt really strong during our ride thanks to so much trainer work (and variable cadence sets, with lots of heavy gear riding) so it was a big confidence builder for me to be able to stay on Karel's wheel for most of the ride, even on the climbs. Plus, I love riding my road bike so this was one of those rides that I just didn't want to end. 

With it being so cold (temps nearly breaking 40 degrees), I knew that I would need something solid in my tummy in addition to my bottles of sport drink (a bottle of Infinit Trimarni base fuel and a bottle of strawberry Levelen). I went with this yummy Luna bar as the chocolate peppermint stick was just perfect on this cold morning of riding. I snacked on it throughout the ride, along with drinking my sport drink at frequent intervals throughout the ride.  

A nice 4400 feet of elevation gain in 3 hours and 6 minutes of riding. We only covered 48 miles but that is pretty typical in Greenville as our terrain is very challenging so the miles go by very slowly, despite us working hard for every mile.
I finished the ride with a 25 minute treadmill run just to keep myself comfortable with running off the bike whereas Karel didn't run off the bike and he was just fine with that decision. 

After a good night of sleep on Saturday evening, Karel and I started our long run around 9am in 40 degree temps. Although we started and finished the run together, we didn't run together. Without a plan as to where I was going to run, I let my legs lead the way. Since I don't enjoy running on flat roads, I stayed on the hills and Karel went to the flat Swamp Rabbit Trail for the majority of his run (he warmed up on the hills first). We both ran for 2 hours but Karel covered almost 3 more miles than me due to his speedy legs.

My run workout included a 40 minute warm-up of nice, form focused running followed by 1 hour of endurance running, broken into 1 mile at a time, with the last 1 minute of each mile as a surge to fast effort followed by a 30 sec walk. It was a nice way to add in some speed into my legs but nothing too hard that would damage my body more than what was done with 2 hours of running. I was able to keep good for throughout my entire run and it was another confidence builder. I have been very patient with my run fitness and extremely diligent with my run training and strength training this season and it's finally all coming together. 

It's always fun to recap our workouts to one another after we train so I was really happy for Karel that he had such a great run. 

Here's my run recap, which includes the walk breaks. I sure do love my Greenville hills! 

Like usual, Campy was SO excited for us to come home. We just love the feeling that after 8.5 years of having Campy in our life, he still gets so excited to see us and showers us with kisses and hugs. We feel so lucky that we rescued this little 9 year old, golden (with a little white hair) nugget. 

As for the weekend eats, Karel had to run some errands on Sat afternoon so he stopped by the European Market (new to Greenville) and enjoyed finding some of his favorite European eats. It's fun when Karel finds a food that reminds him of his upbringing in Czech Republic as he always has a great story to tell with that food. 

After our Sunday afternoon swim (2300 yards), we made a stop at the grocery to pick up a few items for our Sunday night dinner which was homemade grilled pizza. We buy the dough at Publix and then grill it up on the outside grill and top with veggies and protein. It was SO good like usual!!

I also made this European-inspired salad with thinly chopped onion, tomatoes and cucumbers dressed with a little vinegar, olive oil and salt topped with crumbled farmers cheese.

It was another great weekend of training and we could not be more grateful to our bodies for allowing us to stay so consistent with training this season. I wouldn't consider us obsessive with our eating and training but we do place a lot of attention on proper fueling and hydrating during our workouts, effective eating before and after our workouts and healthy eating throughout the day. With good daily nutrition, the body can perform to its full ability during workouts and there's a good chance that it will be easier to stay consistent with training. Consistent training = performance gains.