6/16/17

Boost your pre-race mental game - YOU ARE READY!


When was the last time that you had that one workout when everything clicked and you wish race day was tomorrow? Don't you love it when that happens!
But then comes race week - Ahhh!!!
Where did that race-ready, everything clicked, workout go? All of a sudden, it's race week and now you have a mix of emotions - many of which make you feel so unprepared. 

It’s human nature to doubt yourself to feel like you should have done more. In our always-connected world, it’s very hard to keep things in perspective, especially when it appears as if everyone else is so much more ready than you are. 

Regardless of how your training did or didn’t go, it’s important that you adjust your mindset so that you go into your race confident and believing in yourself. 
Before every race, you need to believe yourself when you say “I am ready.”

For many now successful athletes, they started something before they felt ready. If something is important to you, you will never really feel ready. A side effect of doing something challenging is feeling excited and also very worried and unprepared.

As it relates to race day, you need to feel like you prepared "enough." To perform at your best, regardless of how ready you really are to compete, your mental game is extremely important so that you can feel ready "enough."

Here are some ways to boost your mental preparation before your next race. 

1. You control your own 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 or fear, let go of all those negative thoughts. Instead, 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 – A niggle, low energy, heavy legs or nerves is a feeling. Just because you feel nervous, you feel a bit off or you feel a bit of a niggle in your shoulder, this doesn't meant that you will have a bad race.  If you find yourself doubting your abilities because of how you feel, you are putting blame or excuses on a scenario that is inside your head.  Never let your thoughts be confused with actions. You can still feel tired and perform amazingly well. 

3. You are ready – When something is important to you, you will find the time and you will put in the work to get what you want. 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. Reflect on your previous training, which helped you stretch your comfort zone and gain the necessary skills to feel prepared at this point in your journey. Even though race day may be tough, struggling does not mean that you are not prepared. Trust that you have done the work and remember that every great success requires some kind of struggle in the journey.

4. Try your best - Your greatest fear should not be fear of failure. Not trying is failing. Great things will come to those who work hard and give it a go - no matter what. Always race with your current level of fitness and remember that you are a developing athlete, getting to where you want to be, one day at a time. Remember, a person who makes no mistakes is the person who is not 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 his/her own battle or has to overcome some type of obstacle before a race. What incredible battles have you overcome lately or this season? What are you thankful for?

The next time you find yourself with self-defeating thoughts, stop and get those thoughts out of your head. To enhance your performance, start with your mental game. Talk to yourself in a way that will boost your confidence. Quiet those negative thoughts in your head so that you can make room for the positive thoughts - You are strong, You can succeed. You are brave. You are dedicated. You are resilient. You are ready. You can do it! 

6/15/17

Seeking bike savvy triathletes



It's hard to believe that in just one week, we will be holding our third Trimarni camp of the year! Ever since we moved to Greenville, SC in May 2014, we have been amazed by our bike-friendly roads and beautiful mountain and farm scenery. Once we started to notice the significant improvements in our overall resilience and endurance thanks to our challenging terrain, we knew that this was the perfect playground for a triathlon camp.....and why have just one camp when we can have three Greenville camps!

Our upcoming Greenville camp will span over 4.5 days (Wed-Sunday), with no shortage of swim/bike/run endurance-focused workouts, We have some amazing sponsors providing swag for our campers and we have planned some challenging workouts to help our campers stretch their comfort zones. Like with all of our camps, there will be no shortage of laughs, smiles and a few grumpy moments, with plenty of time to build memories and friendships. The only responsibilities of our campers are to 1) Eat 2) Train 3) Sleep.

Camp is an extremely special opportunity for most age-group triathletes as there are very few times when an athlete can check out of life to train in a group format, with coaches "watching over" to give helpful advice and to train like a professional athlete. Karel and I love camp just as much as our campers as it is a rewarding experience to see our campers in action.

Then, in late August, we will have our last Trimarni camp of the year, which will be our Advanced Greenville Trimarni camp from August 23-27th. We are seeking bike savvy triathletes for this camp! 

We have a few spots remaining for our upcoming Advanced camp, which is timed perfectly with the Ironman 70.3 World Championship (2 weeks out), Ironman Chattanooga (4 weeks out), Ironman Wisconsin (6 weeks out) and Ironman Kona/Ironman Kentucky (11 weeks out).

If you consider yourself a bike savvy triathlete, with great skills and endurance on two wheels, this is the perfect camp for you.

This camp will be very bike-focused with lots of time in the saddle as we will plan the routes, provide SAG support and be your guides as you navigate our challenging terrain. We will take you on some of our favorite cycling routes which will make you want to move to Greenville! Of course, we will not forget the swimming and running training. We look forward to providing you with one of the most amazing training camp experiences that you will ever experience and we have Greenville to thank for that!

If you (or someone that you know) are interested in our Advanced Triathlon Training Camp from August 23rd-27th, you can learn more and sign up HERE. 


What are you waiting for?
Our bike-friendly roads are ready for you!!

6/14/17

Is your salad a balanced meal? Tips for constructing the perfect salad.


Almost every day of the week (minus my long workout days), I have a big beautiful salad for a meal. Typically, my salad meal occurs at lunchtime as it is far out between my morning and evening workout, which allows for adequate digestion time due to all of the roughage in the meal.

A salad is a super, convenient, easy and affordable way to work in a few servings of vegetables into your daily diet. I won't mention all of the health benefits that come from a plant strong diet but for athletes, vegetables act as a low calorie method to pack in fiber, antioxidants and an abundance of vitamins and minerals into your daily diet, to support proper immune system functioning while optimizing metabolic and hormonal health.

When constructing the perfect salad, we must differentiate between eating a salad as part of a meal versus eating a salad as the main component of the meal. As I mentioned above, most days during the week, a salad is my lunch meal but on my longer workout days, when energy expenditure is quiet high and I need to focus on consuming more energy dense, nutritious foods, a salad complements my my main meal (which is typically rich in carbohydrates and plant protein).

From a nutrition perspective, as it relates to creating a salad that acts as the main component of your meal, here are a few tips to ensure that you are meeting your individual nutrient requirements.

Keep in mind that a balanced diet is one that meets your individual needs in a cultural, enjoyable and financial way. There is no one-size-fit all "balanced diet" as a healthy eating plan is a sustainable style of eating that allows your body to function optimally on a day-to-day basis. 

Constructing the perfect salad 
  1. A perfect salad starts with a bed of greens. Don't limit yourself just to the popular options like spinach, kale and romaine as there are so many different greens that can add a nice texture and taste to your salad. Check out this list of greens, featured in a previous Trimarni Newsletter. As mentioned in the newsletter article, combine together 3-4 different greens. A mild lettuce like red or green leaf will compliment a crisp choice like romaine. A peppery or bitter green like arugula or radicchio will add a little kick. Take advantage of pre-washed greens when you are in a hurry, as they are convenient and easy when it comes to meal prep.
  2. Is your diet lacking color? Phytochemicals give plants their distinctive colors and may act as antioxidants, which have many disease-preventing properties. Phytochemicals and vitamins and minerals work together, so a varied diet, rich in color, will help optimize health. Make sure your salad is bursting in color - red, purple, orange, yellow, green, white - so that you can eat the rainbow! This step in your salad making process is where you can add a variety of vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices.
  3. If your meal is lacking a crunch, it's likely that you will be searching to fulfill your crunchy craving soon after you eat your salad meal. Crunchy foods, like nuts and seeds, provide a nice texture to a salad meal. Plus, when added to a salad, you can easily control the portion (unlike snacking on nuts and seeds). These crunchy foods also offer a healthy amount of calories and fat to help you absorb fat soluble vitamins. Add a small handful of crunch to your salad - your taste buds will thank you with every bite.
  4. Speaking of fat, avocado, oil and cheese can help promote satiety. It's common to feel incredibly full after eating a nutrient-dense salad but if it's lacking fat, you will likely feel hungry soon after the contents in your gut begin to digest.
  5. Don't forget the protein! Beans, legumes, edamame, tempeh, tofu, eggs, cottage cheese, yogurt, chicken, turkey, red meat, fish - there are so many options! Opt for around 20-30g of protein in your salad meal. To make sure that protein gets on your plate, I suggest to prep your protein ahead of time and to always have a few go-to options (ex. cottage cheese, hardboiled eggs, frozen edamame) when you are in a hurry.
  6. Last comes the dressing. Since many commercial salad dressings are high in calories, fat and salad, opt to make your own dressing or keep it simple with olive oil, balsamic or salsa. To help evenly coat your greens, make your salad in a container (with a lid) so that you can pour on the dressing before eating and then give it a big shake. Another tip is to drizzle your dressing on your salad and then use a pizza cutter to "cut" the dressing into the salad. If all else fails, have a large zip-lock bag to give your salad a shake with your dressing (probably not the best strategy if eating out at a restaurant - instead, I would go with the dip the fork into the dressing and then pick up your greens).
If you search most websites on constructing the perfect salad, almost every source will feature greens, color, fat, protein, something crunchy and a dressing.

But where are the carbs????

As it relates to athletes, who have different energy needs compare to their sedentary counterparts, we must remember that every meal should provide our body with a healthy carbohydrate option. A meal lacking in carbohydrates will only lead to sugar cravings, not to mention low energy in your upcoming workout. Plus, every individual, athlete or not, deserves to eat carbohydrates.

As it relates to carbohydrates in the athletes diet, I find that many athletes will opt for the most convenient carb out there......bread. While there is nothing wrong with bread (fresh local bread is a daily staple in our house), I find that our society (America) has an unhealthy relationship with bread. 

Whereas in many cultures, bread means family, love, tradition and togetherness, in America, bread is a big no-no. It's often made in machines, stored on grocery store shelves for weeks at a time (without spoiling) and often serves as a way to hold meat and condiments together when you need to eat with your hands, on the go. It's a great delivery system for butter, cream cheese and nut butter but it's also a cheap option to fill you up or to keep you distracted as your restaurant meal is being prepared.
Sadly, in America, we just don't have a good relationship with bread and a lot of this is because of the function of bread in the Western diet. Bread isn't seen as something sacred and special like in other countries. Meetings, rushed schedules, emails, working too much, sleeping too little.....why spend hours mixing, kneading, waiting, watching and making bread when the accessibility of buying bread from the grocery store will save you so much time?

For many cultures, bread is not suppose to be low-calorie, gluten free or filled with chemicals that inhibit mold growth, not to mention sliced and stored in a plastic bag. Perhaps I have a different appreciation of bread because of my European husband, who grew up on fresh, local bread that was purchased every day by walking to the nearby grocery/bakery and his mother wouldn't never buy something if it could be made at home, with love. 


Thanks to the convenience of factory-made bread and the ease of using bread as a delivery method for other food stuff, American's have relied too much on bread as their main carb. And now, when many athletes are choosing to avoid bread because they are told it is unhealthy, athletes struggle to eat enough carbohydrates in the diet to meet daily energy needs. 
So what's an athlete to do? To eat bread or not to eat bread...that's the question!?!?

Let it be known that I am not anti-bread. I love bread and it will never be removed from our diet. However, I find that many athletes rely too much on bread and forget that there are so many other amazingly healthy, nutrient rich and delicious sources of carbs. And one group in particular is Whole Grains! 

7. So, for the final topping on your beautiful, satisfying and balanced meal salad, don't forget to include a serving (1-1.5 cups) of whole grains.  Because whole grains require time to cook, make sure you change your lifestyle to allow for the steps needed to get cooked whole grains on your salad plate/bowl. 

Since I am all about small lifestyle changes when working with athletes on nutrition, start off your (new or improved) nutrition journey by getting a little help from the grocery store by purchasing pre-made whole grain options. For example, check out the Path of Life product options in the frozen food section (by the vegetables) at your local grocery store. I just came across these 3 options (pic below) and tried them out over the weekend. A great salad topper! 

  

Taste-tested by me, these options are full of flavor and can be prepared in the microwave in only 4 minutes! Once you recognize the game-changer of incorporating either store-bought whole grains or home-prepared whole grains into your daily diet, you will find yourself feeling more satisfied, with less "sugar" cravings and more energy throughout the day. Not to mention the fact that your daily salad is now a perfect balanced meal, rich in health promoting nutrients, thanks to a healthy dose of carbs.
(Botanically speaking, quinoa, the "grain" featured in the Path of Life products, is a relative of spinach, beets and chard and it's technically a seed. But, it's still a great addition to your daily diet, along with whole grains.).

Happy salad eating!

6/13/17

Is your body image limiting your athletic potential?



As an athlete, your closest relationship in life will always be to your body. Your body lets you do so much on a daily basis but you can never take for granted the complexity of the human body and how much it does for you during exercise. 

Having said this, your body is going to give you mixed signals - very often. Some days you will feel amazingly strong and other days you will feel blah.

Although it is normal to feel a certain way about your body through the highs and lows of training, it's not normal to feel dissatisfied with your body image, appearance and weight, leading you to conclude that losing weight will enhance performance and will make you feel better about yourself and your body. If you are one of the many athletes who experience great anxiety and pressure to change your body to be "more lean" or "more muscular", read on. 

Due to excessive media exposure that glorifies lean and toned athletic bodies (often with the aid of weight loss pills, extreme restrictive diets, overexercising and sometimes disordered eating habits), you may find yourself constantly criticizing your appearance, assuming that if you weighed less, you would be able to do more with your body (and perhaps "look" more like an athlete). 

If you have recently found yourself engaging in restrictive eating, avoiding foods/food groups and over exercising in an effort to feel better in your skin, this can lead to patterns of disordered eating and weight obsession and may develop into anorexia, bulimia, orthorexia, compulsive overeating or binge eating disorder.

Your perception of your body plays an important role in your self esteem and confidence. If you are too critical of your body, you are likely to feel inadequate. No matter how hard you train, there will always be a limiter in your performance due to the energy that you spend on your body image. 

Reach out to a dietitian professional, specializing in body image/disordered eating/eating disorders, if you are currently struggling with your body image. Getting treatment for distorted is a necessary step to recovery so that you can start living your life to the fullest.


Here are 20 ways to love your body

Compiled By: Margo Maine, PhD
  • Think of your body as the vehicle to your dreams.  Honor it.  Respect it.  Fuel it.
  • Create a list of all the things your body lets you do.  Read it and add to it often.
  • Become aware of what your body can do each day.  Remember it is the instrument of your life, not just an ornament.
  • Create a list of people you admire:  people who have contributed to your life, your community, or the world.  Consider whether their appearance was important to their success and accomplishments. 
  • Walk with your head held high, supported by pride and confidence in yourself as a person.
  • Don’t let your weight or shape keep you from activities that you enjoy.
  • Wear comfortable clothes that you like, that express your personal style, and that feel good to your body.
  • Count your blessings, not your blemishes.
  • Think about all the things you could accomplish with the time and energy you currently spend worrying about your body and appearance.  Try one!
  • Be your body’s friend and supporter, not its enemy. 
  • Consider this:  your skin replaces itself once a month, your stomach lining every five days, your liver every six weeks, and your skeleton every three months.  Your body is extraordinary—begin to respect and appreciate it.
  • Every morning when you wake up, thank your body for resting and rejuvenating itself so you can enjoy the day.
  • Every evening when you go to bed, tell your body how much you appreciate what it has allowed you to do throughout the day.
  • Find a method of exercise that you enjoy and do it regularly. Don’t exercise to lose weight or to fight your body. Do it to make your body healthy and strong and because it makes you feel good.  Exercise for the Three F’s: Fun, Fitness, and Friendship.
  • Think back to a time in your life when you felt good about your body.  Loving your body means you get to feel like that again, even in this body, at this age.
  • Keep a list of 10 positive things about yourself—without mentioning your appearance.  Add to it daily!
  • Put a sign on each of your mirrors saying, “I’m beautiful inside and out.”
  • Search for the beauty in the world and in yourself.
  • Consider that, “Life is too short to waste my time hating my body this way.”
  • Eat when you are hungry.  Rest when you are tired.  Surround yourself with people that remind you of your inner strength and beauty.

6/12/17

Avoid junk miles. Train smarter to go harder with quality workouts.



Every athlete is likely to suffer from "junk miles" training as some point in his/her athletic developmental journey.

The term "junk miles" can have many definitions. Athletes and coaches often think of the word as something that describes adding extra miles to a workout (or weekly training) solely to reach a mileage target. For example, a workout may read "Ride 100 miles" or "Run 20 miles" or "Swim 4200 yards" - an arbitrary number that should be reached no matter how the athlete accomplishes the distance.

Many athletes see every type of workout as beneficial, even the "just complete the miles" workouts as they build confidence. Instead, a better way to describe "junk miles" is an excessive amount of miles that are completed in excess of what is needed to optimize fitness for race day. With this definition, every workout, even the intense, recovery, tempo, steady and long workouts, can fit into the definition of "junk miles" if it is not optimizing fitness for race day.

As it relates to helping athletes improve fitness, we like to focus on the following to ensure that every workout counts:


  1. The training volume should fit into an athlete's life. We do not focus on the hours/miles that need to be accomplished for an athlete to prepare for a race but instead, we go by time based workouts. 
  2. Every workout should have a focus and it should be clearly written before the workout description so that the athlete understands the purpose of the workout for proper execution.
  3. Perceived effort should guide every workout with metrics (speed, HR, power) as a byproduct to simply check-in with and to review after the workout has completed. 
  4. Easy sessions must be kept easy so that the body is not mentally and physically depleted for hard sessions. 
  5. Hard sessions should be hard. 
  6. Great sleep, mobility and nutrition have an immediate effect on workout quality. 
  7. Every athlete is different. Finding the balance between higher volume workouts and intense sessions is key. You can not compare your training to another athlete or your current training to past training. 
  8. You must trust the process and remain patient. Avoid fear-based training to "prove" to yourself that you can do a certain distance/pace/power. 
  9. Training should always be periodized throughout the season. Our approach is to get athletes stronger, before trying to get faster, before going longer. 
  10. Understand the requirements of your sport and preferred racing distance. Although endurance is needed for long distance racing, resilience, strength and skill development will also help an athlete delay fatigue and will allow for better race execution. 
Although we do find that longer workouts have their place in training (for all distance events), the important take away is to not assume that longer workouts are the only way to prepare for a long distance race. Additionally, if you want to get faster, don't assume that only doing hard/intense workouts will help you go faster on race day. 

To learn more about this smart(er) approach to training, Triathlete Magazine recently interviewed me on the topic. I also provided three "quality" training sessions (Swim-Bike-Run) to help you bring more specificity to every workout.