Essential Sports Nutrition


The Art of Triathlon Training - Learning from Dirk Bockel

It's a pretty cool experience when you can learn from an Olympian and Ironman champion.

On Tuesday evening, we had the honor of hosting an event at the Carolina Triathlon store with guest speaker Dirk Bockel. Recently retired professional triathlete, Dirk brings 27 years of experience, knowledge, stories, wisdom and strategies to help triathletes feel prepared for a race.

But this isn't just another triathlon training book. Dirk's passion for the sport of triathlon has helped him navigate through the stressors of life, surviving many lows that went along with his highs. In his book, he shares with us his strategies for how to create a successful and enjoyable triathlon journey.

During the talk, there were a few big takeaways that I found very beneficial for athletes:
  • Dirk performed at his best when he switched coaches and reduced his weekly training volume almost in half.
  • Dirk placed 3rd in his first Ironman and ran sub 3 hours after overcoming a foot injury that kept him from running more than 30 minutes on land in the month leading up to his race (only water jogging).
  • Dirk was always told that he was a "bigger" athlete and would not be successful on the run. He consistently ran sub 3 hours in the Ironman distance.
  • Dirk had several serious injuries, most notable was breaking his hand 10 days out from Ironman Kona (while training in Kona). He had finished 4th in Kona the year prior and felt as if he was in the best shape of his life. Despite a broken hand, he finished 10th.
  • Dirk used mental skills to visualize himself in a race well before it happened.
  • Dirk recommends that brick runs are no more than 15-30 minutes off the bike.
  • Dirk made himself a medal before his first Ironman and used that as motivation to help him train for the event.
  • Dirk is donating profits to: To walk again and SOS Villages D'Enfants Monde

So much of Dirk's training was mind games and the mental/visual aspect of training and racing along with having great trust in his coach.

To hear more from Dirk's talk, you can check out the entire chat on our Facebook page:

For more information about the book and his Facebook mentorship page: visit HERE.
Check out this great interview with Dirk on the Intelligent Racer Podcast: click HERE.


Drive for athletic leanness

For much of my career as a Board Certified Sport Dietitian with a Master of Science in exercise physiology, I have spent a great amount of time and energy helping athletes with their relationship with food and the body. Knowing that athletes feel a strong relationship between food and body composition relating to athletic success, I have never refrained from speaking about this topic openly and honestly for many years in an effort to help athletes stay healthy throughout a sporting career (and for many more decades to come). I have even reached out to many magazines (and publishing companies) to write more about the topic of body image and athletes but my pitches are often denied and in exchange, I am asked to write about the latest diet fad or nutrition strategy to help athletes gain the competitive edge.

In light of another recent social media post involving a professional athlete discussing body image struggles and restrictive eating measures, I am reminded that I have a very small voice in the big world of athletics as it relates to being heard but I refuse to stop expressing my thoughts and concerns as to how athletes eat and fuel for endurance sports as there is a safe way to achieve athletic excellence without compromising health and performance.

Sadly, our culture is obsessed with leanness. It's far too often that an athlete is praised for being lean and competitively fit, which drives the athlete to assume that leanness is the key to athletic success, self-confidence and notoriety. On a daily basis, athletes receive persistent spoken/written/viewed messages about body composition and performance/fitness from social media, magazines, books, notable athletic figures, coaches and other experts which reinforces the need to look a certain way - often at any cost (health, performance and quality of life).

Without even the slightest disclaimer that there can be great physical and psychological damage that stems from being strict, ritualistic, rigid and anxious about eating when training for an athletic event, athletes literally feed off the reinforcement given by society when the body becomes more athletically "acceptable" in terms of body composition.

Every time an athlete is glorified for experiencing athletic success while achieving/maintaining a lean, toned and fit body composition, there's a good probability that society is rewarding unhealthy eating and training behaviors. Eventually resulting in low energy availability (RED-S), there are great health and performance consequences to overtraining and undereating.

There's no denying that a fit and strong body is what every athlete strives to achieve come race day and to achieve a body that can survive the demands of race day, training and nutritional adaptations can be made to foster performance improvements. But without optimal health, the body image that you achieve is all for nothing if you can't do much with it on race day.

What's the point of having a lean body if you can't do anything with it when you are asked to perform at your best?  Far too many athletes are training and not eating for an image competition instead of an athletic competition.

Although more and more athletes are speaking openly about personal struggles with eating and body image, there is still a strong taboo with disordered eating and eating disorders. There are some brave athletes who openly admit to some type of body image struggle or disordered eating/eating disorder habits during or at the end of a sporting career (often concurrent with a serious health issue, debilitating injury or mental health disorder) but we can not overlook the fact that a great amount of athletes are secretly training with a very restrictive diet in an effort to change body image, often encouraged, inspired and counseled by a coach or nutrition expert.

Knowing that goal-oriented, highly disciplined and competitive athletes who like to feel control in life and base self-worth, athletic readiness and confidence on a certain body image, are at greatest risk for an eating disorder, it's critical that coaches and professional experts address their own personal relationships with food and the body prior to delivering nutrition advice. I personally believe that due to the many uncredible nutrition experts and weight-focused coaches providing unethically safe advice to athletes, athletes are led to believe that the best/only/most effective way to experience performance gains is to change body composition through dietary/fueling manipulation and training.

Because there is such a very thin line between maintaining your health, having longevity in your sport and maintaining quality of life and achieving athletic excellence on race day with a forced body composition change, if an athlete has even the most smallest struggle or occasional thoughts about body image or restrictive eating strategies in an effort to improve performance or to change body composition, it's highly recommended and encouraged to seek help from a trusted, credible and sport dietitian who specializes in your sport and understands how to counsel athletes who suffer from poor body image thoughts and a tendency/desire to intentional restrict food/fuel.

Before a serious health issue negatively affects your performance, now is the time to ask yourself....

What's driving your need for athletic leanness? 


Super simple homemade cinnamon rolls

Over the past few weeks, Karel and I have been enjoying the occasional longish swim to start our Saturday morning. There's something about a long swim that revs up the appetite (not complaining).

I remember back to my high school and college swimming days when that Saturday morning swim was complete it meant two things:
1) I could officially start my weekend.
2) Eat. All. The. Food!

During our swim this past Saturday, the image of cinnamon rolls kept popping into my head. If you know me well, you know that I love cinnamon rolls because well, I love cinnamon and bread.

Rather than heading to a bakery to buy a cinnamon roll, I decided to take my first attempt at making homemade cinnamon rolls from scratch. I found a recipe that was super easy to follow so after my recovery drink, I started baking (well, first I had to make a quick stop to the grocery when I realized we were out of flour!).

Enjoy this tasty recipe!

Super simple homemade cinnamon rolls



2 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp white sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp butter (softened)
3/4 cup milk
1 egg

1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon

(Note: I did not make the icing as Karel and I are not big icing fans. While I won't turn down a yummy cinnamon roll with icing from a local bakery, I'd rather enjoy my cinnamon filled bread without the extra sweet icing. If you'd like to add icing, I suggest a cream cheese icing like this one).

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Brush a 9-inch square baking dish with melted butter (or cooking spray). 
  2. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. 
  3. Work in 3 tbsp softened butter into the flour mixture using your hands. 
  4. Beat milk and egg together in another bowl. 
  5. Pour into flour mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until a soft dough forms.
  6. Turn dough onto a floured work surface and roll dough into a 1/4th thick rectangle.
  7. Whisk together the filling ingredients. Sprinkle 1/2-3/4th the cinnamon sugar mixture over the dough (I didn't use all the sugar mixture. Instead, I saved the extra cinnamon sugar mixture in a jar to use for oatmeal and other breakfast toppings.)
  8. Roll the dough to form a log and cut into small rolls (I made mostly medium size cinnamon rolls and a few mini rolls).

  9. Place rolls in baking dish. 
  10. Bake for 22-25 minutes.
  11. Remove from oven and enjoy (this would be the part where you would add icing if you choose). 
Don't forget to yum! 


Affordable holiday gifts for the health conscious athlete

For a health conscious athlete, it can be tough to find that perfect holiday gift that supports an active and healthy lifestyle. Whether your friend/family member appears as if he/she already has everything training/nutrition/cooking/gear related or you are stumped finding that special present that caters to caters to a healthier lifestyle, I have a few affordable gift options that may just do the trick (and when you purchase a gift from these companies, you are also supporting small/growing businesses).

Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow. 
Price: $22.49

If your health conscious athlete likes to cook (or eat healthy), there's probably a good chance that your special athletic someone already has the Run Fast Eat Slow cookbook. Although the next version of this cookbook will not be released until August 2018, surprise your friend/family member with a pre-order the cookbook so that he/she will be the first to try out the new recipes (for hangry athletes) next summer. 

Mg12 Sport 
Price: $9.95-$13.95 (athletic bundle $45.95)
Discount code: Trimarni

Every athlete is bound to have sore muscles after an intense or long workout or race. Niggles and aches are just part of the territory as it relates to training for an event. But aches and niggles are not limited to athletes as any fitness enthusiast will agree that it's no fun dealing with pain.

Mg12 Sport Balm (along with the roll on and salts) have played an important role in my training over the past two years. When I first approached and introduced to Mg12, I was a bit skeptical of another pain relieving cream but after reviewing the ingredient list and seeing the quality of ingredients, along with trying out the product and experiencing instant feedback that the magnesium cream was easy to apply with no strong odor or greasy/sticky after effect, I was hooked on the product. I use the balm before every workout and then I rub on any sore spots before I got to bed. I highly recommend supporting Mg12 as they are a small company but they have created something extra special in the pain-relieving category for athletes and fitness enthusiasts.

Price: $12.99-$26.99
Discount code: trimarni

Ingredients matter to me and the products that I support, recommend and use. When I was approached by Amrita, I was pleased to see the delicious flavors of minis and bars as well as the quality ingredients in each product. As I nibbled my way through each flavor, I was delighted that the taste and consistency matched my expectations. Certified non-GMO, kosher, dairy free, gluten free, soy free, vegan, high protein (plant based), no artificial flavors or sugar alcohols - each Amrita product will please the taste buds of your friend/training partner/family member who has dietary restrictions or is looking for a guilt-free, nutritious and healthy indulgence.

Price: $6.50-$27 (12  x 8 ounce bottles)
Discount: Trimarnicoach30

You've probably heard that there are many benefits of tart cherry juice. Well, Cheribundi has your needs covered with a wide range of products. With powerful health benefits, all Cheribundi products are natural, not from concentrate and made in the USA. We have experimented with the regular cherry juice, rebuild and relax and have been pleased with the taste and effects. As you may have seen, Karel and I will often bring a Cheribundi rebuild with us to a race to immediately consume post race to help with the muscle damage that occurred during a race. I also enjoy sipping on the tart cherry juice after an intense workout. Karel has found the relax drink to help him fall asleep during peak training blocks and before a race. This makes for a perfect gift for your athlete-in-training. 

Price: $7.50-$21.50
Discount: Trimarni2017

If you love trail mix like I do, you will love Veronica's Health Crunch. A healthy alternative to many processed sugar-filled snacks, Veronica has been a long time Trimarni supporter, ever since she approached us about her "idea" to make hand-made, all natural trail mix varieties for active individuals. And now with three delicious flavors (the cinnamon apple cranberry is my favorite), you can feel great about this healthy meets delicious product while supporting Veronica's small business. Perfect for traveling, snacking or a topping to oatmeal, yogurt or pancakes/waffles, you must believe me when I say that this crunch is so tasty that you won't stop yumming with every bite.

Lastly, here are a few good reads available for athletes/triathletes:

The art of triathlon by Dirk Bockel - $27.99

Fast track athlete by Matt Dixon
- $13.56

The brave athlete by Simon Marshall and Lesley Paterson - $16.96

How bad do you want it by Matt Fitzgerald - $12.88