Essential Sports Nutrition


2017 Season Recap - Marni and Karel

It's easy to confuse perfection with success.

For many athletes, there's a constant allure that the more perfect you are with your training and diet - if you do everything "right" - success will come your way.

If you ask any "successful" athlete about his/her road to success, there's a 99% chance that he/she will tell you that true success involves taking risks and it also involves failure. The best part about failing is that it gives you an opportunity to learn from the given situation and not being perfect means that you are always learning and there is room for improvement.

In looking back at our 2017 racing season, Karel and I both feel that it was a very successful season of racing. While there were some less than ideal situations that we faced before and on race day, we have learned all too well that you don't have to have a perfect race for it to be a successful race.

With the 2018 triathlon racing season awaiting us, I thought it would be a great time to reflect on our 2017 season.

Great Clermont Triathlon
Marni - 1st overall female - 2:21.47
Karel - 2nd overall male - 2:08.16


"Good things come when you least expect them."

After 3.5 rewarding and exhausting days of non-stop training, education and supporting our campers at our All-Levels Clermont camp, we concluded the camp with the Great Clermont Olympic distance triathlon. This was a no-stress race for our athletes (and for us) to dust off the rust and to be in the race environment. We had a blast racing with our athletes to conclude our training camp and the results were just an added bonus.

Marni - 1st AG (35-39), 3rd overall female - 4:48.08*
Karel - 3rd AG (40-44) - 4:19.46*
*IM 70.3 World Championship qualified

"No expectations. No disappointments."
For some reason, I was incredibly nervous for this race. A new age group for me and my first time racing on this course. It had been a long time since I had raced in an Ironman branded half ironman event so I knew the competition would be fierce for this early season race. Karel, on the other hand, had no nerves and he felt no pressure to perform. With a few Trimarnis out racing with us, we had a lot of fun out on this course and can't wait to head back in April of 2018. Since I was dedicated my entire season to half Ironman distance racing and hoping to qualify for the 70.3 World Championships at St. George, this was a nice surprise to kick-start my season. Karel ran a speedy 1:24 on the course (run time) and for the first time, he placed top three in an IM branded half IM event and also earned his spot to the 70.3 WC.

Ironman 70.3 St. George
Marni - 1st AG - 5:04.41*
Karel - 3rd AG - 4:32.23*

*IM 70.3 World Championship qualified

"Challenges are not set to destroy you but to challenge you."

St. George had been on our bucket list for a long time. We were so excited to finally experience this challenging course. As a key Trimarni race, we were equally excited to share the experience with eleven of our athletes. The course lived up to its hype and we will be returning back to St. George in 2018 for another chance to tackle the course and to experience all of the beauty that St. George (and the community) has to offer us triathletes. Karel and I were happy to land on the podium again (a repeat of IM 70.3 Florida 4 weeks prior) but the best part was winning the division 5 category for the Tri Club rankings!

Mountains to Mainstreet
Cancelled race due to weather

"You may not end up where you thought you were going, but you will always end up where you are meant to be."

Well that sucked. We selected Mountains to Mainstreet as a key Trimarni event as a way to bring our athletes to Greenville so that they could experience our amazing cycling routes. Sadly, Mother Nature had other plans for us with a nasty storm on race day morning. We couldn't let all that pre-race pizza go to waste so we all headed out to the Swamp Rabbit Trail for a wet and soggy run on part of the M2M run course. In looking back, maybe it was meant to be for me not to race as my legs needed a good 3.5 weeks to fully recover from St. George. We felt bad for all of our athletes who traveled to Greenville for the race but I'd like to think that this only made them hungrier for their next race.

Ironman Lake Placid 
Karel - 3rd AG - 9:41.35*
*Ironman World Championship qualified

"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."

Karel was ready for his return to Lake Placid after his planned DNF after the bike, in 2015, due to his torn plantar. Lake Placid holds a special place in our heart as it is where we raced our first Ironman together in 2013. The lead-up to Placid was going great until Karel found himself with a very bad sickness that knocked him out for several days during his taper (a week out from the race). With the help of some homemade potato and garlic soup (his mom's recipe for when he was sick as a child), Karel was able to improve his health by the time that we arrived to Placid. There was a lot of uncertainty for the day but Karel didn't overthink the race. It was a gusty performance and somehow, Karel managed to get to the finish line and land on the podium. He also managed to land inside the medical tent (no IV's needed, just lots of rest and broth) as he was completely depleted and exhausted from giving what he could, with what he had, on race day. It was great to share the race experience with our Trimarnis out on the course. Karel declined his IM Kona slot as we are planning to return to Kona in 2018 so the slot rolled down to Karel's friend Roman who traveled to Placid all the way from Czech! 

Lake Logan Half Ironman
Marni - 3rd overall female - 4:53.10

"Some days you just have to create your own sunshine."
As another key Trimarni race, I was super excited to return back to Lake Logan for another opportunity to race on this extremely challenging course. Although a beautiful bike course, there's nothing easy about the course as it beats up your legs before a 2 loop, up and down run. Knowing that there would be some competition out on the course (my good friend Katie Morales), I was excited for the opportunity to race to defend my overall win title (even though I knew that Katie would take that title from me). To summarize the day, I felt very flat on the bike and it was frustrating. Although I was able to put together a very strong run off the bike, I just didn't have it. Oh well. I was pleased to finish 3rd overall female and to have this race behind me as my next focus was my big race of the year - the Ironman 70.3 World Championship.

Marni - DNS
Karel - 8th AG

"Never give up on something that you can't go a day without thinking about."

With my entire season devoted to this one race, using the word disappointed would be an understatement. After smashing my face on the floor on race day morning due to blacking out quickly after getting out of bed, I not only felt sad about missing this race but I also was concerned about my health. Luckily, after lots of testing, I was cleared to return back to racing but without another race on my schedule. Karel had no pressure for worlds as his focus was on Ironman Chattanooga just two weeks later. Surprisingly, the course suited him very well and he shocked himself by placing 8th in his AG. It was a fantastic way to finish the weekend despite me not being able to race. Thanks to Karel's good thinking, I registered for Ironman Chattanooga (foundation entry) as my comeback race. While I didn't train specifically for Ironman Chattanooga, it felt so right to be racing an Ironman as my last race of the season.

Ironman Chattanooga
Marni - Female amateur champion, 1st AG - 10:28.50*
Karel - 2nd amateur male, 3rd overall, 1st AG - 9:20.55

   *Ironman World Championship qualified      

"Good vibes, positive energy and amazing souls are all I ever want around me."

Words can't describe how great it felt to start and finish Ironman Chattanooga. We had 14 other Trimarnis racing, including 2 first timers and I had some unfinished business in Chattanooga to take care of. I was super excited for Karel and that I could be on the same course as his first AG win and oh-so-close to finishing 1st overall male. I was shocked beyond belief to have won my first Ironman as an amateur as it's something that I have been dreaming of and was a big goal of mine for 2018. A big thank you to my body for allowing me to do amazing things with it on race day. The IM Chatty run course was so challenging, especially with the heat, but I had a reason to finish what I started despite all the pain and hurt that comes with Ironman racing. Karel accepted his slot to Kona (as that was his plan for the season) whereas I declined my spot so that another deserving female in my age group could experience racing on the big island of Kona. I'll be returning to Kona as a spectathlete!

Hincapie Gran FondoMarni - 3rd overall female
Karel - Finished 

"The mountains are calling and I must go."

Nothing makes me happier than riding my bike in the mountains, especially in and around Greenville. Although a fun event in Greenville, I was excited to "race" the Hincapie Gran Fondo with Karel as my domestique to pull me along. It was so much fun to suffer with Karel and I felt strong throughout the entire 80-mile (8,000 feet of elevation gain) route, all while tackling three of our difficult climbs (and everything else in between). What a great way to end the season!

Along with our races, we put on 4 training camps this summer. It was a lot of work but so rewarding and fun!

Clermont - March (all levels)

Greenville - May (skills camp)

Greenville - June (endurance camp)

Greenville - August (advanced camp)

Onward to 2018........
Karel and I like to set big goals in early season in an effort to keep the motivation high throughout the upcoming year. However, we never want to lose the fun and passion of this hobby so all goals come with no pressure or extreme changes in our lifestyle.

For next year, Karel's "big goals" are to get close to the 9-hour mark at Ironman Austria and to try to place top-10 at IM Kona. He realizes that the Kona goal is a big stretch goal but it's something that means a lot to him and hopes to one day achieve it.

For next year, my "big goals" are to break 10-hours at Ironman Austria and to place overall female amateur at Ironman Wisconsin. Although I can't control who shows up and what will happen on race day, these two goals are getting me super excited for my 12th consecutive season of triathlon training and racing.

Thanks for reading!


Body composition through the competitive year

Changing one's body composition will only offer a performance advantage, however, if we first establish the goals and methods uniquely suited to each athlete's individual needs. Numerous so-called "magic bullets" circulate in the health and fitness world for losing fat; triathletes should be cautious of "strategies" that promote quick results. These methods pose a great risk for losing lean tissue, bone mass, and gaining body fat, lingering fatigue, illness, injury, compromised recovery, and ultimately, performance decline. Perhaps even worse, a reckless weight reduction program can trigger disordered eating habits, paving the way to a dangerous eating disorder.

Although a certain perceived "leanness" may in fact be athletically advantageous, every athlete has an ideal body composition range where he or she will feel, function, and perform the best. It cannot be overstressed that the bathroom scale provides irrelevant information about your true body composition and should not be used as a method for measuring body composition for health and/or performance improvements. If you are still convinced that reduced body fat will offer you a distinct advantage, before your get started, it's very important to accurately measure the proportion of your body that is excess fat in relation to muscle, bone, and essential fat.

In an attempt to prevent the aforementioned evils of quick-fix weight loss and to ensure athletic longevity (a.k.a. continued enjoyment!) for cycling, running, and other endurance sports, planned body composition changes should be the direct outcome of a well-executed training plan, proper recovery, restful sleep, well-balanced eating, and effective fueling/hydration strategies.

In a past article, I outlined how you can use your entire season—however it looks for you—to build fitness while creating healthy eating behaviors and sustainable strategies to meet your unique nutritional demands.

To read my guide to making peace with your weight all season long, building your fitness, and creating healthy eating habits, read more HERE.


Real Food For Real Life - Podcast Interview

Thank you Real Food For Real Life for the podcast interview!

Scott reached out to me for a podcast interview in late August and a few days after Ironman Chattanooga, our schedules aligned for us to have our podcast interview. I really enjoyed this interview as we kept the focus mostly on nutrition, specific to how to eat and fuel to maximize performance for athletic events, while keeping the body in good health.

We discussed the following in the interview:
  • Details on my recovery post Ironman Chattanooga
  • What I eat after an Ironman to help with recovery
  • Keeping your immune system healthy after an extreme endurance event
  • Importance of fueling/hydrating properly during training/racing
  • How my education/knowledge as a sport dietitian has helped me create success as an endurance athlete
  • Why athletes need to create a healthy relationship with food and stop the off-limit food lists
  • Pre-race and race day nutrition issues and tips
  • Sport nutrition product suggestions
  • Snack suggestions to eat on the go 
Podcast link - Click HERE


A little about eMeals — as America’s largest online meal planning service, we’ve been creating plans for more than a decade by offering a wide range of food styles to meet users' budgets and health goals. In terms of user groups and content, our four key areas of strength are Healthy Eating (in general, particularly around heart health and fitness), Paleo (and its active lifestyle), Family (fostering that bond around the dinner table), and Entertaining.
Real Food for Real Life is for people who never stop searching for solutions and inspiration to improve their lives. While we focus primarily on the Paleo and Clean Eating lifestyles, our goal is to give you real food alternatives for your real life—whether that means eating healthier, managing your weight, simplifying your life or simply getting your family around the dinner table. We’ll do this each episode by bringing you a lively mix of informative interviews with some of the most notable names in food, health and fitness.


Do you have a sugar addiction?

When I was younger, I lived for Halloween! I loved candy - all kinds! If it was tangy, sweet, salty, sour or peanut buttery, I had to have it.

Growing up, I couldn't eat enough candy. I'm pretty sure I fueled my swim workouts off candy. I craved it, loved the taste of it and I always looked forward to my next candy fix. Oh so good!

Oddly enough, despite candy having a big place in my diet, I nixed my sugar addiction when I was in my 20's.

I don't have anything against candy but it's has no power over me. It's just candy.

But I know this isn't the case for many as it's normal for many people to struggle with some type of sugar addiction. Although I wouldn't call it a sugar addiction, my hubby Karel has a mouth full of sweet teeth and while he is not a big fan of candy made in the USA, he can't get enough of his Czech candies and chocolates when we travel to Europe.

With Halloween as the start of the "holiday" season (which means no shortage of sugary-rich foods for the next 3 months), I wanted to share my tips on how I broke my sugar addiction with mindful eating.

Mindful eating
Life is busy, stressful and exhausting. There's a good chance that most people eat mindlessly more than mindfully. As an example, do you listen to your body when you eat and eat until you are satisfied or do you eat past full? Do you eat with others at set times and places or do you eat alone, at random times and places? Do you eat foods that are emotionally comforting or nutritionally healthy? Do you eat and multitask or eat and just eat without distractions? Do you consider a meal as an end product or consider where the meal came from? Can you listen to your body to know what your body needs to eat or do emotions and cravings dictate your food choices? 

For any individual who has a food addiction (ex. sugar), there's a disconnect between the mind and body as it relates to eating. The addiction may come from the food itself or from lifestyle habits and patterns related to eating. I know that when I was younger, my diet was not very well balanced. I would often go long hours without eating, which would cause sugar cravings and I wasn't very attentive to what I ate. 

Do you find it normal to have a dialogue of thoughts in your head when it comes to eating, especially with sweet?  Do you have thoughts of your body image, fat, calories, sugar, carbs, etc. making you feel guilty, anxious or stressed around sweets?

Slowing down and listening to your body, along with eating slowly is one of the best ways to retrain your body to help you start eating more mindfully. It's important to give your body and brain time to communicate so that you get the right signals to understand when you are full (and hungry).

Once you start listening to your body and its signals, you can start making changes in your diet so that you can create sustainable and productive eating patterns. Many people ignore hunger and eat when they are not hungry. This needs to stop if you want to break a food addiction. Establish set times for eating so that you never eat when you are starving but you avoid eating out of stress, boredom, sadness, frustration or loneliness. Learn to recognize your biological hunger signals, such as when your blood sugar drops, when your energy is low, when you are feeling lightheaded and when your stomach feels empty or is growing. By listening to your body, you can establish a set schedule for when you will eat so that you can mostly eat for reasons of fueling and nourishing your body. Make your diet enhance your life, not control your life.

One of the best ways to eat mindfully and to stop a food addiction is to create a healthy eating environment, which will also help your mood, relationship with food and sleep patterns, not to mention your energy levels with your exercise/training regime. One of my favorite ways of eating mindfully is to take pictures of my food/meals. Instead of grazing (instead of eating a meal or snack) or eating wherever or whenever, I take pride in my meal by taking a picture of it. This also forces me to make a meal, eat with silverware and a plate. I also find that I maintain a great relationship with the food when I am proud of what I put into my body. And this includes indulging too! The holidays are tough because for so many people, there is a change in normal eating habits/routine, which brings new eating habits that are not supportive of mindful eating. Or maybe you have never had an eating routine, which results in indulging and overeating in the presence of food overload. 

Lastly, one of the best strategies for eating more mindfully and breaking a food addiction (like sugar) is to focus on eating a varied diet. With a varied diet, I never feel that any food is off-limit. I am allowed to eat whatever I want, anytime of the year. With no "bad" foods, my taste buds never feel overly excited around the holidays (or deprived), which helps me avoid overeating, especially when in the presence of an overwhelming amount of food. My diet is made up of mostly nutrient dense foods that support my active lifestyle but I also feel very satisfied (and not deprived), thanks to a wholesome and varied, real food diet that has no off-limit foods. My diet is not restrictive so I never feel deprived.

I feel there is something very special about considering where food comes from instead of just seeing food for calories, carbs, fat, sugar, etc. For most people, it's easy to feel disconnected from the food that you eat, especially if it is a food made in a factory and not from a farmer or if you eat according to calories or numbers. A big part of eating mindfully is to feel grateful and connected to the food that you put in your body. I never count calories or measure my food when it comes to meals/snacks as I see food for much more than a number. When someone else prepares food for you (ex. event, holiday party), consider the traditions, culture or love helped bring you the food that is in front of you.

Sadly, people are very distracted when it comes to eating, there is little appreciation for a home cooked meal and there is little effort or time dedicated to eating, which makes mindful eating an afterthought. I encourage you to start listening to your body, create a structured style of eating that works for you and your body and eat in an environment that allows you to taste, enjoy and savor your meals. 

While mindful eating may or may not directly help to cure your sugar addiction (it won't happen overnight!), I have a feeling that it will help you feel more control over your food choices and will help you create a better relationship with food and your body. 


2017 Trimarni Coaching: It's a wrap!

Throughout the year and particularly at the end of a season, Karel and I find it imperative to reflect - what's working and what's not working.  Reflection is a necessary part of learning, growing and enhancement. While it's easy to reflect (anyone can do it), the difficulty comes in knowing how to change what's not working and then acting on it.

Since Karel and I both come from different athletic and educational backgrounds and upbringings, we are able to combine our experience and knowledge in order to critique our coaching methods, workouts and relationship with our athletes so that we can explore the areas that can be improved.

For coaches, it's normal to spend so much time on training plans and workouts that it's easy to forget to change what needs to change. Every coach loves talking about his/her proud coaching moments and athlete success stories but if you don't reflect on what occurred over the past season and assess how specific athletes responded to their training, it's difficult to keep athletes on a successful path of athletic development. Growth comes from implementing changes based on what you have learned.

Through our online coaching, interactions with our athletes at group and private camps and seeing our athletes in action at key events, we have had many opportunities to identify strengths in our coaching methods and recognize areas that we need to improve on. Reflection is fun but it is also time consuming as you have to do something with the information that you gained throughout the reflection process.

In researching the reflection process, here are some important reflection areas that I feel are important for coaches (and athletes):
  • Celebrate success
  • Improve/build on success
  • Assess areas of improvement 
  • Address what failed/didn't work
  • Make a plan for improvements
  • Make changes
  • Track changes and continue to reflect
We are extremely excited to kick-off another season of coaching, starting today. Yep - the majority of our 2018 Trimarni athletes will be starting their training today, as they prepare for their upcoming season. The reason behind starting our athletes in November (for the upcoming season) is to ensure that we have plenty of time to get to know our new athletes and to allow adequate time to build a solid foundation in which to work from as the season progresses.

As we wrap-up the 2017 season, I am so proud to share some of the results by our Trimarni athletes (thank you Trimarni athlete Meredith with Narrative Strategic Communications for creating this infographic):