3/10/17

Athlete Spotlight: Lisa Comer - Putting the puzzle pieces together with family, sport and life.


Name: Lisa Comer

Age: 45 

City/State: Corning, NY

Primary sport: Triathlon

How many years in the sport: 9 years

What Trimarni services have you used: Nutrition consult, training plan, one-on-one coaching, group training camp

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

I grew up playing softball and swimming. When I graduated high school, I was a little burned out on sports. I took a long break from sports through college and several years beyond. After getting married and having my son, I started running in late 2006 as a way to get back in shape but, also to have a little quiet time. I started with a goal of wanting to run a whole 5K without walking any of it. I started training with 5 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking with my sister, sometimes encouraging and sometimes pushing me as needed. From there, I set my sights on and completed a half-marathon. After I had my daughter in 2008, I set another goal to complete the Wineglass Marathon. In early 2009, I found myself searching for a new challenge. Along with trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon, I decided to try a triathlon. I found a local sprint race, the Keuka Lake Triathlon, bought a bike and a book about training, and got to work. Three months later, I completed my 1st sprint race and was hooked on triathlon!



What keeps you training and racing in your current sport?
When I started running, it was for the quiet time. I often joked that no one could ask anything of me unless they were willing to chase me. I quickly realized that I loved the challenge. Now, I keep training and racing because I have developed a passion for triathlon. I want to continue to challenge myself. I love that into my 40's, I continue to push my limits and still think I have more to gain and learn both as a person and as an athlete. I have also met some great friends along the way. They make the training and racing very fun. They push me to be a better athlete and person. Along the way, I hope I have done the same for them. Triathlon also allows me to be a good example for my children and my students because it is a way for me to be healthy and active. I hope they see that being active is something that is important and rewarding but also challenging and fun.



What do you do for work?
I am an elementary teacher, currently teaching 3rd grade.

How does your work life affect training and how do you balance work and training?
Teaching is both physically and emotionally demanding. It can sometimes be tough to gather the physical/mental energy for a workout after teaching all day. I know I will feel better once I'm done with the workout so I tell myself to just get started and to see how I feel. Once I get started, I can put the day aside and just focus on my workout. After I'm done, I always feel better. I balance work and training by planning out my week ahead of time. I can usually follow the schedule I've made but sometimes things come up, like something unexpected happens at work and that has to take precedence. When this happens, I first think about how I can rearrange my available time and if that can't happen, I think about how I can adjust my workout to make the most of a situation. If neither of those can happen, I just let the workout go and move on with my day.



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

On Thursdays, I make sure my teaching plans for the next week are ready and everything is prepped. On Saturday or Sunday, I sit down with my family calendar and training schedule, and make a tentative plan for how everything will fit into the day. This way, I have an idea of how my training will fit best into each day but I can also minimize the impact on my family time. I like to think about it like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Each piece has it's place on the calendar puzzle. Sometimes, I run while my son is at soccer or swim while my daughter is at dance. I know the purpose of each workout in advance and how each workout fits into the weekly schedule. This helps me so that if I need to adjust the workout in some way due to life, I can adjust without feeling overwhelmed. When this happens, I don't stress over what I can't accomplish. I do the work when I can do, always enjoy it while I'm doing it and move on.  
I also spend a few hours on Sunday meal planning. I plan the meals on a chalkboard in my kitchen and then I make my shopping list and shop accordingly. I prep as much as I can ahead of time, including snacks and lunches. I am very blessed to have a husband who is very supportive and helpful. With the meals laid out, he can make dinner when needed.



Do you have kids?
Yes. Grant is 10 yrs old and Jenna is a few weeks shy of 9 yrs old.



How does having kids affect your training? How do you balance a family and training? 

Having kids helps me keep everything in perspective. I am a wife and mom first. This means that, although I have personal goals for myself, I can't take them too seriously. Triathlon is a hobby and not my entire life - just a part of my life. Having this perspective helps me keep everything in balance.


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

Getting organized is the biggest tip I can offer. Being intentional with my time is how I stay balanced with training and family. When needed though, I have learned that it''s also OK to ask for help. It isn't always easy to ask for help. I have to remind myself that I can't always do everything myself. And, asking for help doesn't make me a weak person. That help can come in the form of babysitting help from your sister, advice from a friend or help from a coach. There was once a time when I spent a lot of time setting up my racing schedule and subsequently, my training schedule each week. In order to do that, I also did a lot of research to know how to write my own training plan. Sometimes I got it right but, sometimes I got it wrong. When I got it wrong, I missed out on the opportunities to improve my skills and to take my fitness to the next level. Just as important, I also missed out on opportunities to stay healthy and present with my family as I unintentionally dug myself into a hole of fatigue once or twice. Having Marni and Karel as coaches has not only allowed me to grow and learn as an athlete but, has also given me back some valuable family time.


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 is amazingly supportive. I am so lucky to have him in my life. He always encourages me to shoot for my goals no matter how big or small. He believes in me, even when I start to doubt myself. He also helps me keep everything in perspective, especially during those times when I start to take things too seriously. I try to be very respectful of the time he needs to enjoy his hobbies as well. Thankfully, our hobbies happen in opposite seasons. When fall rolls around, my training and racing take a backseat to his needs. I love seeing him enjoy his hobbies and passions. A big tip is to communicate. When I make my tentative race schedule for the upcoming season, I talk it through with my husband. He offers a different perspective so his input is invaluable. He also looks at his schedule to be sure there are no conflicts at his work. Sometimes he and my kids come to my races but sometimes I go with friends so he has solo kid duty when I'm gone. This makes it extra important to coordinate with his schedule. Again, I couldn't do this sport without his support.


Do you have a recent race result, notable performance or lesson
learned that you'd like to share?
I am very proud to be named as an All-American from USA Triathlon with my best score to date since I started triathlon. My best recent race result was a win at the New Jersey Devilman Half lite 50 last spring. Even in tough weather conditions, it was one of those dream days that don't come along very often.
  
What are your top tips for athletes, as it relates to staying happy, healthy and performing well?
  1. Consistency is king. Epic workouts have their place but it's the work you put in day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year that will keep you healthy, happy and performing better each year.
  2. Enjoy the journey and friendships that you make in your sport. The race is just the icing on the cake.
  3. When a disappointing result happens, allow yourself a little bit of time to be disappointed, mad, sad, whatever you need to feel. Then let it go and move on.
  4. Celebrate the small accomplishments along the way. If you're the only one to see it happen, do a little happy dance all by yourself. They're what will keep you training long before and after your race happens.
  5. Great joy comes from encouraging others to try something new, reach for a goal, or finish something when it gets hard. 

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

As long as I can continue to grow as an athlete and enjoy the journey, I consider it a success. I don't know how much longer I will continue to get better but I'm willing to find out. After that, I guess I'll find a different reason to keep making triathlon a part of my life because at this point, it's part of who I am.


What's your favorite post-race meal, drink or food?

Pizza or ice cream.
What key races do you have planned in 2017?
Rev3 Quassy half iron distance in June. Ironman Mont Tremblant in August.


What are your athletic goals for the next 5 years?
I would love to qualify for Kona. It may or may not happen but I love the idea of having a goal that is big and scary. It helps keep me stay motivated to train. My other goal is to enjoy this journey all along the way. It's so easy to get wrapped up in this sport. I never want to loose the joy of the journey and the progress that I have made.



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3/8/17

Happy Registered Dietitian Day!


This picture was taken 7 years ago, on my first day of my 10 month, 1200 hour dietetic internship. 

As I look back on those 10 months, which required a lot of time, energy, focus, hard work, money and brain power, I could not be more happy with my decision to return back to school after earning my Master of Science degree in Exercise Physiology, to become a Registered Dietitian. 

Did you know that anyone can call themselves a nutritionist regardless of education, experience or background? As you know, there are countless meal plans, books, articles, blogs, classes and seminars provided by nutrition experts who have no to little formal education on nutrition or simply hold a certification in nutrition.

Much of our public is confused and misled by the nutrition information and advice from nutrition experts which ultimately devalues the qualifications and experience among RDs. Today is celebrating the many RD's out there who, by law, can legally provide nutritional counseling. 

"Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day was created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to increase the awareness of registered dietitian nutritionists as the indispensable providers of food and nutrition services and to recognize RDNs for their commitment to helping people enjoy healthy lives. Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day and National Nutrition Month® promote the Academy and RDNs to the public and the media as the most valuable and credible source of timely, scientifically-based food and nutrition information" - Eatright.org


Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day key messages developed by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:

  • Registered Dietitian Nutritionists are the food and nutrition experts who can translate the science of nutrition into practical solutions for healthy living.
  • Registered Dietitian Nutritionists have degrees in nutrition, dietetics, public health or a related field from well-respected, accredited colleges and universities, have completed an internship and passed a national examination.
  • Registered Dietitian Nutritionists use their nutrition expertise to help individuals make unique, positive lifestyle changes.
  • Registered Dietitian Nutritionists work throughout the community in hospitals, schools, public health clinics, nursing homes, fitness centers, food management, food industry, universities, research, media, professional sports, and private practice.
  • Registered Dietitian Nutritionists are advocates for advancing the nutritional status of Americans and people around the world.
Looking for a Registered Dietitian?
When you need accurate, personalized, realistic and practical nutrition advice, it's highly recommended to use the services of a Registered Dietitian. If you are an athlete seeking daily and sport nutrition advice, pursue a RD who is a Board Certified Specialist in Sport Nutrition (CSSD credential).

To find a registered dietitian in your area, visit EatRight.org and click on “Find an Expert.”

Here are a few of my most popular blog posts detailing my long dietetic journey which I pursued after earning a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology:

FDA conference - 1200 hours to go!

Ironman and dietetic internship

Week 1

Busy intern/IM athlete

At least I didn't serve tofu

12 weeks to go!

No longer a dietetic intern

RD exam report

Breaking news - I passed

My long road to becoming a dietitian




HAPPY RD DAY!

Don't forget to thank your favorite RD today.  



3/7/17

Top 10 Nutrition tips for athletes - link to video and recap


The human body is an amazing machine. In our daily life, we only use a very small part of our true physical capabilities. 

But as athletes, unlike our daily life, our training is a big stressor on our body.

Understanding that training for an athletic event places such a high demand on the cardio, respiratory muscular, immune and other organ systems, it’s important to recognize that preparing your body for an athletic event is so much more than just checking off workouts.

I am sure I don't have to tell you this but your athletic success depends on proper nutrition. 


Last night, I had the opportunity to give a presentation at Run In on my Top 10 nutrition tips for athletes.  

Before getting into the talk, it is important that I tell you a little about myself and why I am so passionate about nutrition and sport nutrition. 

As a Board Certified Sport Dietitian with a MS in Exercise Physiology, I have dedicated much of my educational career to studying the human body and how food, or nutrition, affects physiology. I love learning about the science behind training and nutrition.

But, I am also an endurance triathlete. For the past 11 years, I have pushed my body to great physical and mental limits by completing 11 Ironman distance triathlons, including 4 Ironman World Championships and I have place overall female amateur at several half IM distance events. 


As a motivated, disciplined, competitive and goal-driven endurance triathlete, you can say that my activity routine is quite punishing and what I do with my body is very extreme. More important than any personal best, podium placement, overall win or World Championship qualification is my health. This hobby is a choice and seeing that you may also choose to do something similar with your body, it is important to remember that your ability to perform well with your body is dependent on good health.

I invite you to listen to my 1-hour presentation which discusses the following topics:

  1. How to organize youd diet as an athlete
  2. Incorporating whole grains into your diet
  3. Daily hydration needs
  4. Natural anti-inflammatory foods
  5. Incorporating more vegetables into the diet
  6. Easy to digest pre-workout snacks
  7. How to master post-workout nutrition
  8. Tips and tricks for dialing in sport nutrition and hydration during workouts 
  9. How to make your own energy bar out of real food
  10. Why it is important to create a healthy relationship with food and the body
I selected these ten topics because I felt they were important to discuss at this time of the year. There is a lot of misinformation and unsafe dietary advice regarding nutrition for athletes and unfortunately, many athletes get sick, injured or burnout because they lack the require energy and nutrients to adapt to training stress.

As a nutrition expert who is qualified to give nutrition advice to athletes, I feel it is important to stress that I encourage a mostly real food based diet with absolutely no off-limit foods, I believe in the use of sport nutrition products during training and never do I prescribe “magic bullets”, quick fixes, make claims for fad diets or encourage rigid and extreme styles of eating and fueling. 


When I work with athletes, health, well-being, longevity and enjoyment for sport are most important to me because I want you to keep your body in amazing health AND perform amazingly well with your body on race day, and for many more years to come. 

I hope that you find my tips practical, easy to implement and effective for your upcoming training and racing journey.

Any questions, don't hesitate to send me an email via the contact form on my website. 




3/6/17

Enjoying the athletic journey


It was around this time of the year, 11 years ago, that I found myself just a few weeks away from what would be the most amazing 8 months for my body.

In April, I finished my first Boston Marathon (my 2nd marathon).

                                                    
In May, I finished my first half IM (Disney half ironman). Who knew that a week or so later I would meet Karel!

In November, I finished my first Ironman (IMFL) and qualified for the 2007 Ironman World Championship.




As a competitive athlete for much of my lie, I enjoy performing with my body. I always set big goals for myself and I make no excuses when it comes to working hard for my goals. Success is all relative as it relates to expectations for race day but for the past 11 years, I have experienced a lot of success as an endurance triathlete. 

Now that I am in my 11th year of endurance triathlon racing (only focusing on half IM distance racing this year), I think back to when I started and I find myself with the same level of excitement, happiness and joy for training as I did when I started. Actually, now that we live in Greenville, I am sure that my love for training is greater than ever before. 

Seeing that my body is 11 years older than when I started, I believe the only thing that has kept me enjoying this athletic journey is the appreciation that I have for my body and what it allows me to do. Knowing that many athletes create great stress when it comes to high athletic expectations, stretching the comfort zone and over analyzing results, I've always tried to keep training fun and enjoyable. Even though I push my body and it often leaves me exhausted, sore and with some niggles, the preparation for race day is truly an enjoyable experience for me. 

In sport, especially the sport of triathlon which involves three separate sports, there are always distractions and uncontrollable factors that can make training and racing extremely stressful and unpredictable. I think it's normal to never feel fully "prepared" and to always feel nervous for an upcoming event, regardless of how well you trained or your previous racing experience.

But when we have an element of pleasure and enjoyment for our journey, we can be more focused, push harder and above all, feel a greater sense of personal satisfaction. And above all, training for an event is much more than being prepared for race day. Training for an athletic event helps us be prepared for the unpredictability of life. Sport teaches us patience, problem solving, how to be comfortable being uncomfortable, how to overcome tough situations and so much more. 

In 13 days, I will kick of my 11th season of endurance triathlon racing with the Great Clermont Olympic distance triathlon, which will conclude our 4.5 day Trimarni Clermont training camp. Two weeks later, I will be racing the Haines City 70.3 with Karel.

Over the past 11 years, I have developed a great love for challenging myself and for stretching my comfort zone while my focus for every workout is not for a specific outcome on race day but to be prepared to perform. Only time will tell what my body can do this season but for now, I am truly enjoying the journey.