Essential Sports Nutrition


Pre-race nutrition: Train like you compete

Training is easy. You feel great when you get your endorphin boost, you can control your environment (or select your terrain), there is no pressure because no one is watching or tracking you and you know that if a workout doesn't go as planned, you always have tomorrow to try again.

On the other hand, race day is stressful! Competition, and being in an unfamiliar and/or uncontrolled environment, brings anxiety, nerves and expectations. It's easy to compare yourself to other athletes and experience a heightened fear of failure. Never in training do you feel what you feel on race day and that is why only a select number of athletes can compete better than they train. Far too many athletes will finish a race feeling like they underperformed, relating back to all the amazingly great workouts that they crushed, yet feel defeated as to why they were unable to perform on race day, despite feeling so prepared. 

One of the great challenges for triathletes is translating training into a great race day result. With three sports to master on race day, in unpredictable environmental conditions, this can be difficult. Thinking back to this quote posted above, far too many athletes are overly confident in training yet lack the necessary confidence, physical skills, nutrition readiness and mental strength on race day.

Competing like you train seems like an obvious strategy to bring confidence on race day but a better approach is to train like you compete.

If you think about all that you (try to) do on race week/day in order to set yourself up for success, why not put that same focus, energy and attention to detail into training? 
  • Restful sleep
  • Organized and planned diet
  • Good mobility
  • Relaxation and visualization/meditation
  • Good warm-ups
  • Proper fueling
  • Great daily hydration 
  • Reviewing the course maps
  • Rehearsing race strategy/execution
  • Ensuring gear/equipment is in great condition
It seems obvious that if you are going to do something on race day, you should repeatedly do it in training, but far too often is this not the case. Rushed and busy schedules, poor planning and lack of application causes athletes to gain confidence is subpar performances by the body. In other words, you are simply getting by rather than making physical investments for race day. 

If you want to perform well on race day (who doesn't?) it is important that you nail the little things in training. In reference to this blog, this means practicing your pre race and race day nutrition many times in training to ensure confidence for race day. The purpose of training is to build physical and mental skills, habits and strategies that will translate into an optimal performance by your body on race day. Sadly, many athlete get really good at performing workouts underfueled and undernourished and expect to put together a fail-proof pre race and race day fueling and hydration strategy. I think of this like riding a bike - if you are always riding with poor bike handling skills, you can't expect to master bike handling skills on race day, simply because it's race day. The same is true for nutrition. If you are putting together a complex, detailed and precise diet and fueling/hydration strategy for the 48 hours before a race and for race day, but you never practice this approach in training (repeatedly), you've been training half prepared but you are expected to compete 100% prepared. Unfortunately, success doesn't happen this way. You must give 100% to your training if you want to compete well on race day.

The more you treat training like it's race week/ race day, the easier you will find it to perform at your highest level when it counts. Simply put, don't do anything drastic on race week/day that you didn't practice in training. 

In route to my first half ironman (IM 70.3 Florida) to kick stat my 11th season of endurance triathlon racing (with Karel also racing), I made the effort to practice my pre-race fueling strategy similar to what I plan to do this coming Saturday (4/8), on the day before the race. With a 3:45 hr brick on Saturday this past weekend, Friday was the perfect opportunity to gain confidence in my well-practiced meals for race day. Considering our travel logistics (staying in a rental home with a full kitchen), knowing the area (Publix grocery store near by) and traveling by car, I put together three meals to ensure that I would easily meet my carbohydrate needs without feeling too full or uncomfortable. All of these meals have been consumed prior in training, but never all in one day. I gained a lot of confidence in practicing my nutrition for a full day as it kept me from overeating or second guessing what/how much I was eating.  Because I never worry about eating too much on a daily basis, I always want to make sure I am eating "enough" to ensure that my body is primed and fueled to perform in every single training session. I gain a lot of confidence from high quality workouts with my healthy, strong and fit body.

Here is what I plan to eat next Saturday on the day before IM 70.3 FL. 

I will first have a small snack before my pre-race workout, likely some saltine crackers w/ nut butter and a hardboiled egg and ~200 calories of sport drink on the bike and run for a ~75 minute morning brick. After the workout, I will have a recovery drink w/ a pre-made protein/carb mix along with milk. Then, I will have homemade pancakes (which I will make ahead of time and then freeze for our travel) topped with lots of syrup, butter on some and nut butter on the others, topped with fruit.

For a mid morning snack, I will likely snack on more fruit. Of course, lots of water and I will salt my food.

For lunch, breakfast tacos w/ eggs, spinach, avocado spread and cheese with a side of pretzels (or chips) and fruit. This goes down really easily and sits better in my belly than a sandwich or wrap. I will make the stuffing for the shells ahead of time and bring the tacos shells with me.

For an afternoon snack, I will likely snack on some granola and raisins along with a little nut butter (probably straight off the spoon) and some more fruit. I try to keep my veggies low in the 48 hours before the race to reduce the residue in my gut.

For an early dinner, I will either have pasta w/ tempeh and marinara topped with cheese or basmati rice. Although I practiced with pasta to see how it sat (felt fine), Karel and I both like pizza/pasta two nights before a race so I may stick with rice on Saturday evening. 

I'm looking forward to using IM 70.3 FL as a great opportunity to dust off the rust, take some risks, put the past 5 months of consistent training to good use and experience the hurt of half IM distance racing (I haven't raced an endurance tri since winning Lake Logan 70.3 in August!). Although my mind keeps taking me to St. George 70.3, which is on May 6th, I'm trying to keep myself in the moment, understanding that this race is a great opportunity to be in the race environment and compete like I train.
I'm also excited to share the course with Karel, along with several of our Trimarni athletes (Chris, Stephanie, Kim, Julie and Freddy).

If you are racing, volunteering or spectating at IM FL 70.3 next weekend, I hope to see you. I don't mind hellos pre-race or cheers on race day! :) 


Athlete spotlight: Elizabeth Kenny: Police Chief inspiring her daughters to always "tri" hard and never give up.

Name: Elizabeth Kenny

Age: 48 years old

City/State: Saint Johns, Florida

Primary sport: Running and triathlon

How many years in the sport: 9 years

What Trimarni services have you used: RETUL, training plan, nutrition consult, coaching


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

I have been an athlete all my life. I grew up participating in team sports like basketball, volleyball, and softball. I played basketball in college and then I coached high school level basketball for 5 years. I always ran to stay in cardio-shape for other sports, so once my basketball days came to an end, it was an easy transition to become more serious about running. I started with local 5k's and then progressed up to marathons. At the age of 39 I had a neighbor talk me into entering my first sprint triathlon. I had never done organized swimming or been on a fancy bike but I figured, why not? I'm always up for a new challenge and experience! I talked another friend into allowing me to borrow a bike (which was too big), but it had two wheels and meet my basic needs at the time. For the first few times at the pool, I would inevitably pop myself in the face while putting my swim cap on - I was a fun site to see! But I showed up on race morning ready to give it a go. To say I got hooked right away is an understatement. I have since completed 3 Ironmans, 7 Half Ironmans, and several Olympic and Sprint triathlon races.

What keeps you training and racing in your current sport?

I keep training because my body, mind, heart and soul crave the entire experience. It is a part of who I am and what I want to be. Not only is it the satisfaction of pushing the body to a certain limit and realizing that you are more than who you thought you were, but the other athletes and spectators involved in endurance sports are a special breed. We have a uniqueness that is so inviting and attractive to anyone introduced to the sport. It is the one sport that welcomes every level of athlete to participant with open arms. What other sport has as many, if not more, fans for the last athlete that crosses the finish line last compared to the winning athlete? With this atmosphere, in some special way, we all become family and build strong friendships that last beyond swimming, biking, and running. So I train and race not only for myself and my teenage girls but for all the others that I have met in my journey in the sport of triathlon.

What do you do for work?
Police Chief for Jacksonville Sheriff's Office

How does your work life affect training and how do you balance work and training?
Now that I am permanent M-F, my work schedule does not interfere with training like it used to. There are times when there are emergencies, such as in the hurricane season or unscheduled meetings that pop up, which require me to pull long shifts for several days in a row, which kept me from training. This happened a lot in the past. It was hard when I was on shift work, with hours at night, because there were days when I just did not want to train. But now I find that as long as I make a schedule, stick too it, and am flexible with emergencies (without stressing), I tend to balance my life and training pretty well.

Any tips/tricks as to how to balance work and training?
Allow yourself flexibility. Make a schedule and be dedicated to it, but know that there will be days when you have to adjust. Be honest with yourself and your training progress. Don't make goals that you are not ready for in your development. Be willing to change goals if life happens.

Do you have kids?2 teenage girls (Blake and Peyton)

How does having kids affect your training? How do you balance it all?
My kids schedule affects my training more than my work schedule. I have two active teenagers that participate in sports. They have practice 4x a week and travel every weekend. This calls for early morning training sessions and indoor trainer rides. Again, the balance comes with a set schedule and being flexible if something important comes up.

What tips and tricks do you have for other athletes who struggle to balance training with family? 
First the schedule. That goes for all of family activities, as well as your own. But most importantly, remember that you need time for yourself. Do not feel guilty about taking time out of your day to train and to make yourself better/healthier. When you feel better about yourself, you are able to help your children and family feel better about themselves. I want to be a positive role model for my girls. I want them to see that I can set goals and work hard for them.

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?
I am not married but in a relationship. Be honest with your partner about your goals. Take them and their needs into consideration when you make your schedule and the races you enter. Even during the key parts of your race season, do not forget to take time for them. I would encourage athletes to have their partner be a part of the journey so that they do not feel like an outsider.

What are your top tips for athletes, as it relates to staying happy, healthy and performing well?
  • Consistency
  • Rest
  • Don't put too much pressure on yourself.
  • Don't worry about other peoples goals. Define your own goals.
  • Have fun!

How would you define athletic success as it relates to your personal journey?
Athletic success to me is not quitting!!! Actually quitting is NOT an option! Life happens and roadblocks get in our way at times, but never give up. Even if you have to adjust your goals, DO NOT QUIT!

What's your favorite post-race meal, drink or food?
Post race I really like to treat myself to a Yuengling Light beer.

What key races do you have planned in 2017?
Currently I am only registered for Augusta 70.3 this year. I just had shoulder surgery at the end of March so my race calendar will depend on my recovery.

What are your athletic goals for the next 5 years?-1st goal is to focus on recovery from shoulder surgery in a smart but aggressive way. Included in this goal is to get stronger and more fit.
 -2nd goal is to compete in and finish another full Ironman - not certain of the race venue. -3rd goal is to reach out get as many new athletes, of all ages, involved in the sport of triathlon.
-4th goal is qualify for World's at the 70.3 and/or 140.6 distance.
You can follow Elizabeth on social media: Facebook @ Elizabeth Kenny
Instagram @ 
Twitter @



Weekend workouts - Building confidence for race day

Confidence as an athlete is having a strong belief in your ability to achieve your athletic goals. Confidence keeps you focused, motivated, focused and positive, even when obstacles are in your way or setbacks occur. Confidence keeps you excited to embrace challenging and pressure situations/workouts as you remain emotionally in control.

Confident athletes think differently about workouts, obstacles and uncomfortable situations. Confident thinking is key for athletic success. For many athletes, negative and doubtful thinking influences performance, ultimately sabotaging your potential to improve and to perform to your ability. Whether it's low self esteem, self doubt or fear of failure, it's important to explore your inner doubter that is keeping you from thinking positively in order to build your confidence. 

One of the best confidence boosters is preparation. While training and checking off workouts counts as preparation, athletic readiness also includes the technical, tactical, gear, nutrition, equipment and mental aspects of your sport. Thus, putting in the time only to train will not make you as prepared for your upcoming event compared to putting time into every aspect of training. Imagine arriving to your upcoming event thinking "I am as prepared as I can be!" - now that is confidence speaking! 

Athletes often make the mistake thinking that completing workouts provides athletic readiness but what is missing is the ability to learn and to grow from the failed and subpar workouts, which are needed in order to succeed. How an athlete responds to situations is just as important, if not more important, than building confidence from perfectly executing a workout and nailing the metrics in perfect environmental conditions. 

Most athletes would agree that confidence comes from success. When you are succeeding, you feel validated that your hard work is paying off. When a setback occurs, you feel defeated and question your abilities. Although success encourages you to continue to train hard and to put in the work, success as an athlete is much more than just training and racing. If you are constantly chasing great workouts and beating yourself up for the days when you don't excel, you will never experience true success. Little victories, like showing up for a workout on a busy day or when you are exhausted, or finishing a workout despite your legs/arm feeling like they can't move a minute longer, are the winning moments that build confidence. Improvements build confidence. Overcoming adversity builds confidence. Small victories in training accumulate so that every day, you can move closer to your big goals.

If you constantly find yourself thinking negatively or expecting yourself to achieve your high expectations  in training and on race day, reduce the negative and pressure cooker thinking and replace it with positive self talk and process driven, in the moment thinking. Understanding that adversity increases your belief that you can respond positively to difficult, uncomfortable and tough situations, I encourage you to not fear adversity, especially when a setback occurs during those "why now" moments. 


Saturday morning was our last "long" ride before we compete in Haines City 70.3 this coming weekend. Karel and I are anxious to shake off some rust and go through the motions and emotions of endurance racing as we kick start our upcoming endurance triathlon race season. Although Haines City is not a key race for us and we won't be prescribing to a normal taper for this race, we will adjust our training this week in order to execute to the best of our abilities for this strategically planned race. As you may (or may not know), St. George 70.3 is in 4 weeks and that is a very important race for me. This race has been on my to-do list for many years as I love difficult race courses. Due to the challenging course, it is a race that I would like to place overall female amateur. The course suits me very well so I will gather confidence and take some risks here at Haines City as it is a stepping stone in my developmental plan for St. George, before I continue on with the rest of the season of training and racing. 

Our Saturday ride was a little eventful as Karel's rear bottle cage got unhinged from his saddle after our first interval. This broke our momentum during our ride and it turned into a frustrating situation as that cage held Karel's two other bottles. We both stopped and tried to assess the situation and instead of calling it a day due to the obstacle, we continued on riding to finish off our intervals and then we would pick up the cage on the way home.

For some reason, Karel and I both felt off on the bikes. The bumps on the road felt bumpier than before, it was hard to feel comfortable and it was just one of those rides where we both felt blah. BUT, we continued on with the workout. 

Bike workout:
WU: ~45 minutes
MS: 3 x 20 minutes at half IM effort as
(5 min <65 5="" min="" rpm="">95 rpm, 5 min <65 5="" min="" rpm="">95 rpm)
6 min EZ in between
1 x 20 minute half IM effort (choice cadence)

Total: 2:55, 50.6 miles, 3547 feet elevation gained

Off the bike, it was time to run. Our run was very effort specific and we performed it on the rolling terrain outside of our neighborhood. We have been doing more effort specific runs and I really enjoy them because they go by fast as you are constantly thinking about what you are doing and what is next. Of course, our hilly terrain makes it nearly impossible to go by pace when we run so the effort specific workouts are more practical for our training. Although I can't keep up with Karel, we did out and backs on a stretch of road (with two turns and two u-turns) so it was nice to see each other throughout the set. I always get a boost of confidence when I see Karel running.

Brick run workout: 10 min build to half ironman (HIM) effort
2 min endurance effort
5 min at HIM effort 
2 min endurance 
4 min at HIM
2 min enduranace
3 min at HIM
2 min endurance
5 min HIM effort, build to strong
EZ cool down jog
Total: 46:24, 5.88 miles, 381 feet elevation gained

On Sunday, our athlete Thomas, who is training for his first IM in September (Chatty) joined us for our long run. If you may have noticed, our long runs are very specific and only but a few times do we sprinkle in a run where we simply just run. The long runs are always based on time and pace is rarely, if ever, a focus. I hardly ever run on flat terrain so my focus when I run is always on my form vs what is on my Garmin. To be honest, when I finish a run, I have no idea how far I go because I do my warm-up, then do my pre and main set and then I cool down. When my main set is over, I simply need to get home and that is my cool down. This approach provides a lot more fun to running for it keeps me engaged on what I am doing in the moment vs having to chase prescribed miles or paces to hit.

This run was very specific to the location where we were running so it is a bit hard to explain but I will try to do my best.
We left from our house and ran an easy 23 minutes/2.63 miles to the location of our main set. Which for the locals, we started our main set on Pine Forest Road, which is a .66 mile stretch of road that connects to Little Texas and has 127 feet of climbing. At the bottom of the road, off Old Buncome, there is a park with a sidewalk trail around a park (and public bathrooms).

Now that you understand the location (park with a ~.3 mile loop trail around it and a .66 mile uphill road), I can explain the main set:

MS: 4x's:
~4-5 minutes (or 2 full loops) around the park
Climb to the top of the hill steady/strong with the last 20-30 seconds very strong
Then run down the hill but still keeping a steady effort w/ good form
Then back into another 2 loops or 4-5 minutes around the park to start the next round.
No breaks throughout this entire set. Four rounds total.

The climb took me about 5:30 to complete and another 5 minutes to run down and then we ran about 4.5 minutes around the park so each interval lasted about 15 minutes. Thomas finished each climb about 10 seconds ahead of me but we ran the downhill and park section and almost 1/2 each climb together. It was awesome to have him for motivation to not give up.
Did I mention we had no breaks in between those 4 rounds?

I actually gained a lot of confidence in this workout, thanks to seeing Karel looking so strong and having Thomas as my rabbit/running buddy. I was also super impressed with how my legs were able to run well after the main set, especially on our rolling terrain back home. Although this workout was very challenging, I was so proud of my body for staying so strong throughout the entire set.

After over 7.5 miles of our main set, we had another few miles to get home which gave Thomas and I 1:50 total running, 13.4 miles and almost 1200 feet of climbing. Karel, the speedster, had about a mile more on us since he finished the set before us and ran a little extra and also covered a little more in the park loop during those 4-5 minutes. 

And to finish off the weekend training, a 4000 yard swim on Sunday afternoon. As usual, it's always hard to get to the pool but we always feel better when it's over.

WU: 400

Pre set: snorkel and fins
1 x 200
2 x 150
2 x 100
2 x 50
All with 10-15 sec rest (building effort as the duration decreases)

500 buoy - smooth
6 x 75's at 90%, strong w/ 15 sec rest
300 buoy - smooth
10 x 50's at 90% strong w/ 10 sec rest
300 buoy - smooth
12 x 25's at 90% strong w/ 5 sec rest
300 buoy - smooth
100 strong

Another great week + weekend of training behind me and now to keep myself in good health this race week as I go into my first half ironman distance event in my 11th season of endurance triathlon racing. 

Thank you body!