It's that time again.....Trimarni training camp!

On Wednesday, we will be holding our 12th group training camp. Since our very first camp back in 2013, we have enjoyed the "camp" experience for our athletes as it is a great opportunity for our campersto checkout of normal life stressors and responsibilities, disconnect from gadgets in order to explore nature, stretch the comfort zone, learn, boost fitness and bring some added motivation and excitement to training by training in a group setting in a beautiful training location.

For the past five years, our spring all-levels triathlon training camp was always held in Clermont, Florida but with Greenville being the perfect cycling playground for triathletes, we felt strongly that our campers/athletes would benefit more from training with us in the mountains on safe, quiet roads with comfortable weather conditions.

Planning a group training camp is not easy and it requires many months of preparation, time and energy. We take great pride in providing our campers with a variety of benefits as a Trimarni camper, including (but not limited to): 
  • An awesome swag bag filled with a variety of products from Trimarni sponsors and affiliates
  • Trimarni logo gear (ex. bags, hat, t-shirt, water bottle, swim cap, etc.)
  • Minimal driving to/from training locations (most rides start from the camp house)
  • Safe and easy to access training grounds
  • Reserved pool (the entire Furman pool)
  • Group living situation for camper bonding (included in camp fee)
  • Structured training with a specific purpose for every workout (not for the purpose of collecting miles)
  • Planned routes (no cue sheets given - we are out with our campers for all rides)
  • Challenging but fitness-appropriate workouts to stretch comfort zone
  • SAG support vehicle for all rides (with our amazing SAG leader Joey)
  • Assistant coach Joe to provide feedback/assistance
  • Pizza party (vegan/gluten free options provided)
  • Education - lots and lots of education
  • Skill work to break bad habits and to improve skills
  • Enthusiasm, motivation and support from coaches at all times
  • Ego-free atmosphere - no one is too fast or too slow
  • Packed schedule of training with appropriate time for fueling/recovery
  • Specific recommendations/guidelines for fueling/hydration
  • Typical camp size - ~15 athletes with 3 coaches (5:1 athlete to coach ratio)
To follow along with our camp activities, you can connect with us on Facebook at Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition. 


Weekend recap: Mini training camp

Whew. What a weekend of training.

A few weeks ago, our professional triathlete Ericka planned a visit to Greenville from Friday-Monday so that Karel could install electronic shifting on her bike. When we saw that the weather forecast was nearly perfect for outdoor training starting on Friday, Ericka was able to get off work one day early and head from NY to Greenville on Thursday.

Since Ericka trains indoors on her bike for all of the winter and requires layers to run outside, this was a great opportunity for her to train outside and put all that indoor training to good use before her season of racing starts in late April. We have been coaching Ericka since October and she is becoming a very durable and resilient athlete. With a great mind on her strong body, this weekend of training (aka mini training camp) was beneficial for us to see how she bounced back from workouts and mentally and physically dealt with a bit of an intentional training overload under our guidance. While Karel and I were able to join Ericka for all of her training sessions in this mini training camp, we had specific training sessions for her to do each day as this camp was all about her and her needs.

Here's the recap of the mini training camp (the bike/run routes were planned loops/routes so we didn't go by time/miles). The below run times/distances are mine as Karel and Ericka are much faster runners than me. All of our workouts can be found on Strava for maps:

Friday AM: 
4:47 bike (83.5 miles) with a planned 45-minute strong effort interval through Rocky Bottom to the Continental Divide (~10.5 miles, 1780 feet of elevation gain).
28 min run off the bike (3.68 miles, 260 elevation gain)

Friday PM: 40 minute, 2200 yard swim
Warm-up: 600
Pre set: 4 x 150's (snorkel, band, buoy)
MS: 1000 swim with paddles and fins

Saturday AM: 
1:20, 4700 yard swim
Warm-up: 400 swim, 300 as (50 kick, 25 swim with fins)
Pre set:  2 x 300's as (75 smooth, 25 strong x 3)
MS 2x's (first round with buoy, paddles, ankle strap)
200 smooth into 50 fast. Rest 10 sec
150 smooth into 50 fast. Rest 10 sec
150 smooth into 50 fast. Rest 10 sec
100 smooth into 50 fast. Rest 10 sec
100 smooth into 50 fast. Rest 10 sec
100 smooth into 50 fast. Rest 10 sec
100 smooth into 50 fast. Rest 10 sec
400 with snorkel (buoy and ankle strap)

Saturday AM (right after swim): 
1:30 hr run (10.2 mile run with 640 elevation gain)
WU: ~40 minutes smooth, form focused with stops and stretches
Pre set: 1 x .67 mile loop (slight downhill, gradual uphill, gradual downhill)
MS: 4 x .67 mile loop (same as above) with 90 sec rest
Then: 15 minutes form focused running

Sunday AM: 
5:10 bike (89 miles with 7200 feet elevation gain)
All endurance riding with the last (almost) 2 hours as sustainable strong.

Sunday AM (right after the bike)
35 minute run (4.47 miles, 351 elevation gain)

Sunday PM (about 3 hours after the morning brick)
20 minute run

Here are some pictures from the weekend to showcase our amazing cycling playground!

Stopped at the Firestation near Flat Rock to fix Ericka's headset that came loose. Thanks to Fireman Allen for having the right metric allen wrenches for Karel to fix her bike. 

Bakery stop at Flat Rock! 


Must watch - the 2018 Winter Paralympic Games

Since last Friday, we have been watching the Winter Paralympics every night thanks to our DVR and coverage on NBCSports. And as you may know from my previous Olympic blogs, I LOVE the sport of cross country skiing and biathlon.

There are six sports at the 2018 Winter Paralympic games - Wheelchair curling, para ice hockey, para cross country skiing, para alpine skiing, para snowboard and para biathlon.

If you have the opportunity to watch/follow online, I strongly encourage you to check out these incredible athletes in action.

Athletes are a great source of inspiration and motivation because of their hard work ethic, dedication, ability to overcome the odds and exceptional mental and physical strength. It's unfortunate that in 2018, many athletes experience disability discrimination - especially at the Olympics! There's little coverage, discussion or promotion of the 2018 Winter Paralympic games and I can't think of a more inspiring group of athletes to showcase in the media (especially with all of the negative press that is currently going on in the media).

Picture Source

Although it's incredible to see these athletes in action, we must remember that the world doesn't cater to disabled individuals as it does to able-bodied individuals. It can be very difficult and costly for a disabled individual to safely and easily find accessible ways to to travel/commute, not to mention the added cost, time and energy needed to train for and prepare for the Olympic Games. Disabled athletes may find it difficult  to access (and afford) coaching, therapy, gear, clothing, medical care and travel, compared to an able-bodied athlete.

The beautiful thing about sport is that it doesn't discriminate. Being involved in a sport can improve health, well-being, self-esteem, confidence and quality of life, especially among those with a disability. Sport shows us that there is ability within a disability. 

The 2018 Winter Paralympic games shows us that there are no barriers to sport participation and that no disability can keep an athlete from pursuing his/her athletic goals and dreams. We must encourage, support and promote athletes with disabilities and think of the disabled athlete as nothing more or less than the able-bodied athletes. Every athlete at the 2018 Winter Games is a human and should be treated with kindness, respect, admiration and support.

Over the past week, I have watched blind alpine skiers fly down the mountain with trust from their guide, biathlon athletes ski and shoot with missing limbs, snowboarders with a missing arm race against one another with no fear and hockey players slide across the ice with tremendous strength, grit and tenacity. And then there are the curlers....while I still don't understand the sport, it's still a sport I am watching because I support the paralympic athletes. 

Picture source

The next time you find yourself complaining about something meaningless, stressing over something small or worrying about what could have/should have been, consider the paralympic athletes who have chosen to rise up from hardship with focus, determination and a positive, can-do mindset.

Paralympic athletes push the limits as to what is humanly possibly by the human body.
These athletes are living life to the fullest because they are not willing to settle for average.
Paralympic athletes have goals and they don't let what could have been stop them from reaching their full abilities, while having a meaningful life.
These athletes are overcoming disabilities in order to live a very productive, quality and happy life, all while inspiring others in the process. 

We must remember that these athletes are human and regardless of the physical or mental impairment, we must treat them with the same respect, notoriety, attention and enthusiasm as able-body athletes. 


Happy Registered Dietitian day!!!

Today we celebrate the registered dietitians who are the nation's food and nutrition experts. RDN's are the most valuable and credible source of timely, scientifically-based food and nutrition information.

RD's are legally allowed to treat medical conditions. It is against the law for a nutrition expert or nutritionist to prescribe diets or supplements to diagnose or treat medical, health or clinical symptoms/conditions. In other words, if you are not a RD, it's unethical and against the law to prescribe a diet or style of eating to treat a condition. If a nutritionist/nutrition expert is not a RD, he/she is by law, not allowed to treat, prescribe, cure or diagnose health conditions. In some states, this includes providing meal plans or counseling.

As it relates to finding a nutrition "expert" to assist in your health, performance and/or body composition goals, make sure your nutrition expert has the RD (or RDN) credential behind his/her name. 

To learn a bit more about how and why I became a RD, check out this video where Joey and I answer questions about our RD journey: 

If you are in need of nutrition assistance, it can be a costly and time-consuming journey to find the right dietitian to be part of your nutrition journey. Here are my tips to help you narrow down your search so that you can find a good fit for your individual needs: 

  1. Credentials - Today, anyone can claim to be a nutrition expert. Health coaches, bloggers, athletes, personal trainers, holistic practitioners, chiropractors and even most doctors are providing nutrition advice despite lacking the intensive education/schooling to provide realistic, ethical and practical advice. Look for the RD (Registered Dietitian) or RDN (or LD/N) credential behind the experts name to ensure that your nutrition expert is actually a nutrition expert.....by law. Furthermore, if you are an athlete, look for advanced credentialing such as CSSD (Board Certified Specialist in Sport Dietetics) and his/her specialty area (ex. ball sports, endurance sports, dance, kids, etc.) to demonstrate specialized experience, knowledge, skill and expertise in sport dietetics.
  2. Experience - It goes without saying that you should be searching for an expert who has expert experience in the area that you need help with. If you are an athlete, your dietitian should be experienced in sports, not renal or pediatric clinical nutrition, as an example. A dietitian who specializes in cross fit, hockey or dance may lack the in-depth knowledge and experience to understand the needs of an endurance athlete. Just because someone is a RD, this doesn't mean that he/she can professionally counsel you. While she/he may have textbook or internet knowledge, make sure he/she is real life experience. Does your RD understand the demands of your sport and can he/she put her/himself into your shoes as it relates to the struggles/problems/concerns that you have?

  3. Avoid black or white thinking - When you reach out to a nutrition expert, you should be able to ask questions as to the why's and what's for treatment. A compassionate and devoted RD should treat you like an individual, listen to your concerns, ask you questions, have time for your past history and should always give you options and different problem solving strategies as part of the counseling process. Rigid thinking means solutions are either one way or another - no in between. There are always exceptions to the rules because with nutrition, there should be no rules. Flexible thinking and a personalized approach is important in the counseling process as it relates to long-term success. Nutrition is not a quick fix. Don't expect immediate, rapid or dramatic changes with your health. If your nutrition expert promises that you will be an overnight success, be warned that something is too good to be true.
  4. Philosophy - Since most nutrition professionals have some type of online presence, "follow" a dietitian to make sure you understand and believe in his/her nutrition methods and philosophy. Most of the time, the answer to questions #1,2 and 3 can be found online in a website, blog or on social media. Ask around for recommendations and referrals from athletes who have worked with your potential RD. Pay attention to contradictions in advice, extreme methods or affiliations to "sell" you a product. While many RD's partner with companies that they believe in, you should never feel a gimmick to buy supplements/products as a "cure" to your problems. Take some time to understand the set of beliefs and principles from your future RD to ensure your nutrition expert is passionate and practices what he/she preaches. Above all, a philosophy outlines the values that are important to that person/business. If you don't connect with his/her philosophy, there's a good chance that dietitian is not the right fit for you. 
RD's are trained professionals who specialize in nutrition. Sadly, there are many passionate but untrained/unqualified nutrition experts providing nutrition advice - advice that is often useless, expensive and sometimes dangerous. As with any type of professional help, it's important to find someone who is properly trained in a specific field and offers sensible, realistic, sound advice from a comprehensive educational program and not from a certificate. Lastly, don't choose your nutrition expert simply from his/her social media following/presence or a connection to a celebrity/professional athlete/coach.

With so many self-made experts, it's difficult to recognize who is trustworthy or not. Just because someone is a RD, this doesn't mean he/she is the right RD for your needs. Whenever anyone helps you with your nutrition, remind yourself that this person is helping you with your health. He or she can make you better....or worse.


Racing under pressure

After the culmination of many months (or years) of training, your race day is almost here! But now that the “fun” training is behind you, you now feel an enormous amount of pressure to perform. 

If you find yourself experiencing a flux of positive and negative emotions before an important race, these pre-race jitters are simply a mix of irrational and rational thoughts relating to your goals and expectations for race day. And when racing anticipations are at their highest, there is a subjective fear of failure that stems from by many uncertainties, doubts and worries.

For some athletes, pressure enhances motivation, enjoyment for the sport and focus. These athletes thrive off pressure and turn it into positive energy to boost performance.

But for many, the pressure to succeed is so intense that performance is negatively affected.

Although pre-race jitters are normal, they are commonly associated with disturbing symptoms like GI issues, mood swings, trouble sleeping, elevated heart rate, lack of appetite (or emotional eating) and nausea. None of which you want to experience before a race.  

Here are a few tips to help you better race under pressure: 

Gut-brain connection
Got butterflies in your stomach? The GI system is very sensitive to emotion so any extreme change in emotion or feelings can trigger abnormal symptoms in the gut. This is because the brain has a direct effect on the stomach.

Because the gut and brain send signals to one another, it is extremely important to minimize psychological factors, like stress, anxiety or worries before a race to reduce the risk for gut distress, including nausea, loose stools/diarrhea and headache.
  • Train your mind and work on focusing on the present moment and not on the outcome. 
  • Direct your energy to what is within your control. 
  • Get off social media to avoid comparison. 
  • Practice relaxation techniques (“me” time). 
  • Remove yourself from energy suckers. Surround yourself with people who shower you with positive energy.
  • Do not strive for perfection, aim for excellence.
  • Identify your strongest skills and assets as an endurance athlete. Bring this confidence with you to race day.

Sleep and performance
Sleep is crucial for athletic performance. Poor sleep can negatively affect your performance, appetite, food choices and mood. 
  • Don't be a rushed traveler. Give yourself plenty of (extra) time to get to your race environment and adjust to your new environment. 
  • Travel with your favorite pillow case, sheet or blanket for a more comfortable sleeping environment at your home away from home. 
  • As soon as you arrive to your race destination, start a routine that will help you perform well on race day. Set a bed time ritual like reading a book (non-electronic) or listen to soothing music with dimmed light to help with sleeping. 
  • Keep napping to less than one-hour/day, minimize caffeine in the afternoon and be consistent with your sleep schedule on race week.
  • If you have too much on your mind before bed, write down your thoughts on a piece of paper to give your brain a well-needed, 8-hour thinking break.
Eat smart
Despite meticulous food planning and hand-washing, an upset stomach (or worse) is common on race week - especially when you are racing under pressure. Unfamiliar foods, as well as unknown food handling/cooking, can have unwanted consequences on your gut. Additionally, it’s important to recognize what foods digest the easiest in your gut in the 48 hours before the race. 
  • If eating out, communicate to your server about special dietary requests.  If possible, shop local (or bring your own food) and prepare your own meals.
  • Reduce the risk of traveling constipation/bloating by drinking plenty of water, consuming your normal diet (within reason) and moving your body as much as possible. Warm water, tea or coffee can simulate the bowels but don't overdo it on caffeine. 
  • Taper your “healthy” high-fiber diet on the 48 hours before race day. Reduce the quantity of foods that create frequent bowel movements (ex. fiber), minimize foods that may irritate your gut on race day (ex. dairy, fructose, sweeteners like xylitol and sorbitol, artificial flavorings) and control portions of foods that require a lengthy digestion (high fat).
  • Resist buying and eating food on a whim. Identify the foods that have worked well in your diet around your “key” workouts/races and continue to enjoy those foods on race week.
  • Research the cuisine/grocery options at your final destination and plan in advance for your grocery list as well as any restaurants that will cater to your dietary pre-race needs. Enjoy an unfamiliar new meal/food after your race. 
  • Stay well-hydrated to help with dehydration and the digestion of food. 


Early season racing mindset

In just a few weeks, we will be heading down south to Haines City for our first triathlon of 2018.

It's been seven looooong months since we raced in a triathlon and I can't help but think about that early season racing mindset. I forgot what it feels like to push through the low moments, to make the mind work with the body, to be very uncomfortable, to embrace the unknown and to put a lot of mental energy into everything that is needed to have a great swimbikerun in a competitive setting.

Racing is a skill. It requires practice and time to perfect.

The best part of an early season race is to get back into the racing environment, dust off the rust and to test yourself.......without pressure to be at your best. Because racing is something that you get better at the more you do it, early season races provide a great opportunity to figure out what works best for you without any pressure on the outcome/final results.

As an athlete, it's easy to feel pressure to perform at every race or to achieve a goal time/place, but it's much better to make mistakes, welcome the unknown and to learn about yourself in a race setting in an early season race so that come later on in the season, when you have more accumulated experience and fitness, you can really showcase your abilities.

An early season race is great for the following: 
  • Gain experience/feedback/data for yourself and for your coach. 
  • Try something that you may not be comfortable with in a more important race. 
  • Practice your pre-race rituals and warm-up strategies.
  • Work on your mental skills, especially as it relates to pre-race anxiety, nerves and stress. 
  • Practice your race week and race day nutrition and hydration (if it doesn't go well, reach out to a Board Certified Sport RD for help). 
  • Try out clothing and gear to see what works (or doesn't work) for you. 
  • Remind yourself what it takes to suffer/dig deep/overcome low moments. 
  • Remind yourself how much you love racing (and the training that is needed to feel prepared come race day). 
  • Play with different efforts and racing/pacing strategies. 
  • Celebrate being outside, especially if you have been training indoors all winter.  
  • Gain motivation for future workouts/races.
  • Learn lots about yourself in a race setting. 
Because nothing will simulate a race environment like being in the race environment, remove the stress to be at your best at your early season race. Rather than going into an early season race with high or low expectations, remove immense pressures to be fast and instead, arrive to your race with the freedom to race without expectations.

The first race of the season is generally a test of your current fitness without any should have, would have, could have thoughts. Let the race give you feedback about your current strengths and limiters as it's absolutely not a predictor how the rest of the season will go or a test of your athletic worthiness. 


Sport Nutrition Product Review - Hot Shot

Flex Innovation Group, LLC
Boston, MA

About the Company from the website:Invented by a nobel-prize winning neuroscientist/endurance athlete and his friend, a neurobiology profession at Harvard.Dr. Rod MacKinnon and his friend, Dr. Bruce Bean, were deep sea kayaking in the winter when they were both seized with life-threatening muscle cramps. They experienced such debilitating pain that neither could steady their kayaks. Over the next five years, Rod and Bruce worked to unravel the mystery and discover this surprising truth: when it comes to preventing muscle cramps, it’s not about treating the muscle, it’s about treating the nerve.

Certified Organic by QAI
NSF Certified for Sport


Label Claims:

Sports Shot with a Kick

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1.7 fl oz (50 ml)
Calories: 30
Total Carb: 7 g
Sugars: 6 g
Sodium: 40 mg

Filtered water, organic cane sugar, organic lime juice, organic gum arabic, sea salt, pectin, organic stevia extract, natural flavor, organic cassia oil, organic ginger extract, organic capsaicin extract.

How It Works: 

  1. Drinking HOTSHOT stimulates sensory neurons in the mouth, esophagus, and stomach.
  2. Stimulated neurons send impulses to the spinal cord.
  3. These impulses overpower and inhibit repetitive signals coming to and from the cramped muscle. 
  4. This stops repetitive signals and prevents and/or treats the cramp.

Our notes:

  • Spicy
  • Use caution with GERD
  • Appropriate for athletes prone to cramping


It's National Nutrition Month!

Once a year, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (the organization by which I am credentialed and qualified to provide nutrition advice) dedicates the month of March to a themed campaign that brings attention to "the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits."

For 2018, the theme is "Go Further with Food."

I really love the theme this year because it can mean so many different things for everyone. To my, the theme means giving a purpose (and appreciation) to everything that I put into my body. In other words, I choose to make every bite count.

Prepping food in advance, planning ahead, cutting back on food waste, managing food resources appropriately, protecting the environment and supporting local farmers are some of the many ways that you "Go Further with Food."
Here are a few suggestions from Eatright.org: 
  1. Include a variety of healthful foods from all of the food groups on a regular basis.
  2. Consider the foods you have on hand before buying more at the store.
  3. Buy only the amount that can be eaten or frozen within a few days and plan ways to use leftovers later in the week.
  4. Be mindful of portion sizes. Eat and drink the amount that’s right for you, as MyPlate encourages us to do.
  5. Continue to use good food safety practices.
  6. Find activities that you enjoy and be physically active most days of the week.
  7. Realize the benefits of healthy eating by consulting with a registered dietitian nutritionist. RDNs can provide sound, easy-to-follow personalized nutrition advice to meet your lifestyle, preferences and health-related needs.

  • For more educational handouts and materials, click HERE.
  • Here's a great article on the importance of reducing food waste: Click HERE.
  • Here's a great read on reasons to support local farms: Click HERE

How will you Go Further With Food this month? 


Low(er) volume, high intensity training for endurance triathlon events

The definition of "high" or "low" volume training can vary from athlete to athlete. While I consider our training volume to be low compared to what some athletes do when training for an endurance triathlon event, it may also be seen as "high" volume compared to what other athletes do for long workouts. Since much of our weekly volume occurs from frequent training sessions (instead of two "long" workouts each week), I'd say that we have the right mix of intensity, frequency and volume to encourage training adaptations without risking injury or burnout. Certainly, this was years in the making with lots of trial and error and many athlete case studies to learn from.

Last year I was interviewed for a Triathlete magazine article on this topic of high/low volume training. I really enjoyed providing my insights on this topic for I feel many endurance triathletes adhere to haphazard training which includes high volume workouts. weekend after weekend. often in a sleep-deprived, poorly nourished state, that lack specificity and structure. In other words, the investment into training "long" does not pay off on race day as the athlete ends up burnt-out, injured or sick.  On the flip side, many athletes procrastinate with training and then suddenly ramp up training volume, which over-stresses the body and doesn't allow adequate time for physiological adaptations.

While there may be a right way to train for an endurance events and a wrong way to train, what's right or wrong for you is specific to you and only you. In today's social media, always connected world, it's easy to compare your training to someone else, feeling as if you are never doing "enough".  I believe that it takes time to "build" an endurance triathlete and it can't be done in one or two seasons. Just because you sign up for a half or full distance Ironman, this doesn't mean that the "right" type of training for you is loads of high volume workouts. Typically, we feel it takes a good 2-3 consistent-training years to gradually build a solid foundation of endurance training stress to be able to feel fully prepared to "race" in a half or full Ironman distance triathlete. And even if you don't plan to "race" a long distance triathlon event, this doesn't mean that you should skip steps or rush the process of preparing your body to handle long training sessions.

"In a time when likes and comments on social media give us instant validation of a workout well done, it’s easy to become wrapped up in the mindset that when it comes to training volume, bigger is better. After all, if your buddy is racking up the kudos for his weekly 20-mile runs and 75-mile rides while your Tuesday night three-miler goes unloved, it’s only natural to want to ramp up the mileage. But with heavy training comes the obvious risk of injury or burnout. And, often, those extra miles are just not worth it—or necessary."

To read more on this topic, you can check out the entire interview/article and my sample workouts below.....

Execute low volume-high intensity training


20 tips to get out of your own way

Have you ever said to yourself "I know what I should be doing but I can't seem to do it!"

Life is busy, stressful and exhausting so it's no surprise that excuses and barriers keep you from doing what you know you should be doing. But what if your life didn't have to be this way?

If you are tired of getting into your own way, here are my tips to lift yourself up, gain control over your mind, work through fears and doubts, break down barriers and move closer to your goals.  

  1. Celebrate small accomplishments. 
  2. Don't aim for perfectionism.
  3. Silence the negative self-talk. 
  4. Stop procrastinating. Look for patterns when you push aside what is uncomfortable or difficult to accomplish. 
  5. Address self-sabotaging, habitual behavior. 
  6. Avoid over-committing yourself. 
  7. Learn to say no. 
  8. You are not your thoughts. 
  9. Focus on the present moment. 
  10. Push aside thoughts that are non-productive or make you feel bad. 
  11. Call out your self-defeating thoughts, like distractions, stress, fear, stubbornness, anxiety, self-consciousness, that are not serving you well. 
  12. Take responsibility for your bad habits and choices. 
  13. Do everything with great self-confidence, pride and appreciation. 
  14. Stop the rational lies that make it easy to stray from your path when you have an excuse for everything. 
  15. Address the daily decisions that you make and why you make them.
  16. Don't give into instant-gratification. 
  17. Be your biggest fan. You are good enough. 
  18. Don't be so critical/hard on yourself. 
  19. Catch yourself in negative thinking. Reframe situations. 
  20. Focus your thoughts and actions on what really matters the most to you. 


The windy long ride

My week of coaching, nutrition consults, writing articles and training caught up to me and on Friday, I was a bit more tired than usual. I adjusted my Friday workouts from 3 (swim, bike/run and strength) down to one so that the only thing I did was an EZ 60-minute spin on the trainer in the morning to loosen out my legs. Knowing that Saturday was another long workout for us (4.5 hour ride + run off the bike and then a PM run) but the predicted weather was cold in the morning, Karel and I decided to swim first and then ride in the late morning - pretty much we aborted our scheduled training for plan B. After 12 years of endurance triathlon training, I've learned not to get too fixated to what's on the schedule as sometimes plans need to change. I've also come to appreciate a change in weekend workouts as this prevents me from feeling burnt-out from putting my body through the same workouts weekend after weekend. 

Around 9am (when the Furman pool opened), we started our swim. While the swim was a little intense (MS was 15 x 100's, total 3300 yards), I left the pool feeling excited to ride. After another snack, it was time to head out for our ride around 11:30am.

Sadly, we didn't consider the wind that came through after the cold left us in the late morning/afternoon. Although the temperature was nice for an outdoor ride, the wind was not-so-nice. For the first 2:20 hours of ride, navigating up and down lots of climbs as we headed into North Carolina to Flat Rock Village Bakery, we battled some intense head winds. It was mentally and physically exhausting. There was little talking between me and Karel throughout this ride as it was one of those workouts where you try to quiet all the negative thoughts in your mind and just embrace the tough conditions. As if our terrain is not hard enough, I was finding myself frustrated by the wind, the bumps on the road and Karel's pace. So many times I just wanted to give up but I kept making deals with myself to just go a little further and a little further. As someone who doesn't enjoy riding in the wind, this was a great opportunity for me to embrace my fears and work on my weakness.

Once we arrived to the bakery for our quick stop, I was relieved that we would get some tailwind for the ride home. After a few bites of our bakery treats (pecan walnut bar for me and chocolate coconut macaroon for Karel), it was time to head back for our ride home.


So much for wishful thinking of tailwind. While we were getting a little push, the wind was to the side and it was fierce. Descending quickly down climbs, especially ones where the road twist and turns, was uncomfortable for me but I stayed calm and embraced our tough training conditions. Making sure to stay fueled/hydrated with my sport drink was critical to keep my brain sharp to better manage the conditions and our terrain, along with supplying carbs to my working muscles and to prevent a drop in blood sugar.

As the ride continued, I found myself more mentally than physically exhausted from our ride. The gusts of wind at my side had me riding very cautious. Even though our roads are fairly quiet from cars, I was still hesitant to take more risks in the wind as I wanted to get home in one piece. Normally, I love this route (I suggested this route to Karel before we left our house for our ride) but on Saturday, not so much. But there's always something to learn from training to apply to race day and my lesson learned was to stay in the moment and self-manage -  mentally and physically. This ride also gave me a lot of opportunities to practice my bike handling skills.

By the time that we got a few miles away from home, I was relieved to have this ride (almost) behind me. After returning home more exhausted than normal, we decided because of the windy ride and morning swim that we would not run off the bike and just call it a day - which was fine by me. It was nearing 4:30pm and I was ready to eat, cuddle with Campy, answer a few emails and rest my tired body. Ten hours of sleep did the trick and on Sunday morning, I felt much more rested for my morning workouts (1:40 hr trainer ride with high cadence intervals followed by a 45 minute treadmill run).

Many times, we train in a controlled, comfortable environment which brings confidence for race day but rarely is race day comfortable and controlled. While we should never put our health at jeopardy, sometimes it's ok to step outside of the comfort zone and embrace what you are not good at. For me, it's the wind. I'd like to think/hope that one day I will master riding in the wind and get excited for windy conditions on race day (and in training) but for now, I will continue to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and (try to) make friends with the wind. 


Attempting to reach your race weight - part II

A change in your body composition to ensure a performance improvement (race weight) should be the outcome of a well planned and executed fueling and training plan, alongside a healthy and balanced, non-restrictive daily diet. Just because you lose weight or achieve a certain body fat percentage, this doesn't mean that you are physically, mentally, emotionally and nutritionally prepared to perform well on race day. You may "look" a certain way but this doesn't mean you will preform a certain way.

When a healthy change in body composition is desired, it should not involve restriction, elimination and obsessive strategies. While some sports may reward a "leaner" build, this doesn't mean that you can't be successful in your sport with a little more cushion with your strong bones. As it relates to the sport of endurance triathlon, you are not penalized if you are carrying around a little more body fat on your frame for a strong body can better tolerate training stress versus a weak and fragile body that may be lighter. Furthermore, if you desire weight loss for a performance boost, you should not be unsupervised in this process as it can lead to performance and health declines. You should reach out to a team of professionals to help you safely lose weight without sabotaging your health. Most athletes do not take the "hard work" approach as they want a quick, inexpensive and easy fix to assist in weight loss.

When an athlete steps on the scale (or looks in the mirror) and responds with "I'm too fat/heavy" or "I don't look like an athlete" or "I will never perform well at this weight", this thinking may trigger the need to make an instant and drastic change in the diet and/or pushing harder or going longer than the workout calls for. When a vulnerable athlete feels uncomfortable in his/her skin or feels pressure to lose weight, the next step is not a patient and long-term approach. Typically, athletes will go the route of calorie restriction, carbohydrate elimination and improper fueling and hydrating strategies to try to gain control over eating and body composition - none of the former strategies assist in weight loss OR performance gains but instead, the body becomes weak and you lack the energy and motivation to stay consistent with training.

Let's consider two athlete scenarios as it relates to attempting to reach race weight:

Athlete A is motivated to lose weight in order to improve athletic performance for an upcoming endurance event. This athlete is not aware of how much energy is needed to support the metabolic demands of training and despite consuming around 1500-2000 calories a day, he/she is not losing weight and always feels as if he/she is "too big" for the sport.  This athlete only uses the scale to asses weight loss and each time she/he doesn't see the scale change, he/she makes more and more food restrictions during the day and around/during workouts in order to see a drop in body weight on the scale. Eventually, the athlete does lose weight through his/her tactics. But seeing that a number of key hormones play an important role in the regulation of body composition and energy production, the glands in the endocrine system (ex. adrenal, hypothalamus, ovaries, pancreas, parathyroid, pineal, pituitary, testes, thymus, thyroid) are slowly being compromised - unbeknownst to the athlete. Athlete A doesn't realize that his/her diligent dietary adherence to a restrictive diet and poor fueling/hydration strategies alongside strict dedication to training are actually destroying his/her health.  While this athlete may have arrived to race day at his/her "race weight", this athlete is in poor metabolic health and race day performance is likely to be compromised. There's also a good chance that this athlete will need to spend the next few months or year, trying to fix his/her overtaxed, overloaded and damaged endocrine system (and potentially poor bone health). It's worth mentioning that even for athletes who are not seeking weight loss but do not understand the great energy demands that are needed to support endurance or high intensity training, many endurance athletes may suffer from health issues during training as a result of unintentionally damaging hormonal or metabolic health by not "eating enough" or timing food appropriately with training, to support training stress.

Athlete B follows his/her training plan by keeping the easy sessions easy and hard sessions hard. She/he works with a sport dietitian to better understand how to time nutrition with training, to understand individual energy and nutrient needs (to eat "enough"), he/she always eats before/after workouts and learns how to use sport nutrition properly to support long and intense training sessions and to maximize recovery. This athlete can train consistently throughout the entire season and puts the focus on performance over weight. Although the athlete would like to lean-up or lose weight, she/he is not making it a focus. Ironically, athlete B notices a change in body composition over an extended period of time through sustainable healthy eating habits that support training demands (especially as the volume and intensity of training increase in the hot summer months). This athlete increases lean mass while reducing overall body fat without intentionally trying and has improved strength to create a more resilient and durable body to withstand training. She/he also has great training sessions to build confidence for race day and also has a great relationship with food and the body. There is little risk for injury or sickness because the athlete is properly supporting training stress with proper eating and fueling. This athlete arrives to race day in great health, with a strong body and feels prepared to perform and just like with training, can bounce back relatively quickly from the race to get back into structured training.

Intense/high volume training + extreme caloric/carb restriction places athletes at risk for losing lean tissue, bone mass, depleted energy stores and a possible gain in body fat. So why would any athlete want to compromise health with this approach? Isn't the point of training to become a better, stronger and faster athlete? Your race weight should not come at a cost of damaging your health and performance. If you are training 10+ hours a week and struggle to see a change in favorable body composition, there's a good chance that you are not eating enough to support your training demands and/or not using sport nutrition products properly and/or improperly timing food with workouts to delay adaptions to support lean muscle mass and strength gains.

If you are attempting to reach your race weight through extreme measures, you may placing yourself at risk for illness, injury, poor recovery, decreased performance and a host of hormonal, bone, cardiovascular and metabolic health issues. ....All of which will negatively affect training and can compromise overall well-being.

For you to perform at your best AND to adapt to training, while still functioning well in life, focus on lifestyle strategies to achieve/maintain a healthy weight and let your race weight take care of itself. With optimal fueling and hydration strategies, a healthy and well balanced diet, consistent quality training, good sleep, stress management, a healthy relationship with the body and food and great recovery habits, you will not only reach athletic excellence but your great daily habits will continue to bring you long-term health benefits with a body that you can be proud to call your own. 

For more on this topic of when to reach your body composition goals, check out a past Ironman article that I wrote on this topic. 


Still trying to reach your "race weight"?

In a media driven world, body image has become a critical issue as it relates to athletic performance and health. Whereas one would think that athletes would be obsessed with eating enough to perform well in training sessions to prepare for race day, athletes are constantly worried about eating too much, constantly obsessing with being "too big/fat" or not looking like an athlete. Far too many athletes are training for leanness instead of training for performance. With the idea of body weight and performance having an inverse relationship (the less you weigh, the better you will perform), you may be attempting to reach your race weight in order to be thinner, leaner and lighter for race day.

With so many misguided strategies on sport nutrition and daily eating for athletes, it doesn't surprise me when I see/hear athletes intentionally underfueling/undereating in an attempt to lose weight or change body composition. 

As it relates to your healthy weight, it's very hard to define a healthy weight as an athlete. Most charts (ex. BMI) do not account for the extra muscle and denser bones that you will develop through training. I know for myself, I am always on the high end of a "healthy" weight for my height because of my athletic build and from my genetics. As an athlete, for much of the year, a healthy weight is one that puts you at little risk for disease or illness, is a weight that allows you to function well in life without following dietary rules or restrictions, is one that allows you to have great energy throughout the day and is a weight that is easy to maintain with your activity regime. Only at certain times during the year will/should your body naturally change as you peak for your main event.

Unfortunately, many athletes try to maintain and achieve a weight that is based on a look or a number on a scale for much of the year.  Self-identity to a lean/strong body image (or race weight) is often a struggle for athletes because your healthy weight may not be the one that you accept for what it looks like, but it may be the best weight for you to maintain great health for much of the year. My advice for athletes is to work on body acceptance and to not try to fight for a certain "lean or defined" image, size or weight for the entire year. Let your body change as you maintain healthy lifestyle habits. Through good lifestyle habits and a great relationship with food and your body, a healthy weight will be easy to achieve and easy to maintain regardless how much or little you are training.

As it relates to race weight, far too many athletes are using a number on the scale to determine athletic readiness for an event. Unfortunately, this approach does not tell you what type of weight is being lost - is it fat, muscle or water?

Your body composition provides very specific information about your body make-up, much more than simply looking at a number on a scale. As it relates to body composition, you are focusing on the proportion of fat and lean body mass in the body.

Your body is made up of body fat and lean body mass.

Body fat can be found as storage fat and as essential body fat.

The human body stores fat in the form of triglycerides within fat (adipose tissue) as well as within the muscle fibers (intramuscular triglycerides). Through endurance training (without any dietary manipulation), there is an increase in fat oxidation from intramuscular triglycerides. As exercise intensity increases, fatty acid mobilization from adipose tissue slows but total fat oxidation increases due to the increase use of intramuscular triglycerides. Let's not forget that dietary carbohydrates influence fat mobilization and oxidation during exercise.

Storage fat is located around organs and beneath the skin, which protects the body and acts as an insulator. Excessive accumulation of visceral fat is associated with negative health issues, which is why it is important to keep your body composition within a healthy body composition range - not too high but not too low.

As for essential fat, this is fat found in the marrow of bones, the heart, lungs, liver, spleen, kidneys, intestines, muscles and lipid rich tissues throughout the central nervous system. Essential fat is critical for normal body functioning. Women tend to have higher essential fat compared to men.

Your lean body mass represents everything in your body that is not fat - the weight of your muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons and internal organs. Certainly, you don't want to lose any of this "weight" through dieting or exercising.

As you can see, a healthy weight may be your race weight but your race weight is probably not your healthy weight. A healthy weight is not a number or a look but a feeling - it's a weight where you feel healthy. A race weight is where you perform the best. 

In my next blog, let's consider two athlete scenarios for achieving race weight and the big takeaway as it relates to "race weight" for athletic performance.


How to stop overeating

If you have ever skipped a meal (or snack), you've probably noticed extreme hunger later in the day with a good chance of overeating late into the evening hours. Overeating (and undereating) contributes to low energy and low motivation - neither of which make it easy to reach performance, health or body composition goals.

As it relates to training, anytime you overeat, there's a chance that you will feel uncomfortable and tired - you may even feel guilt or shame. None of the mental and physical effects of overeating will help you perform well in your upcoming workouts, especially if you don't do what you know you should do as it relates to pre and during fueling and adhering to your workout prescription. As an example, skipping meals during the day can lead to low energy before your evening workout, possibly forcing you to skip the workout due to low motivation or trying to perform the workout with no energy in the tank. Eating too much late at night before a long morning workout the next day may cause you to intentionally underfuel (or not eat) before and during the workout because you feel "too full" or you think that not eating will help you burn off the calories you consumed the night before. You may even find yourself working out a bit harder than planned which can lead into poor recovery from an underfueled body trying to work out intensely or for a long duration. Furthermore, overeating contributes to lethargy, sleep disturbances and disrupts a healthy eating regime which can all affect your consistency with training. It's very difficult to meet your energy needs and perform well in workouts when meals or snacks are skipped or overeating takes place at some point in the day.

Yesterday, I came across a great article about overeating and gave a lot of great tips and suggestions on how to prevent and manage overeating. Although it's not geared toward athletes, I find it effective enough to shine light on a topic that affects many athletes: Here's the full article if you are interested in reading it. To summarize the article:

How to deal if you overeat
  1. Don't fast or skip your next meal.
    Do make your next meal healthy and satisfying.
  2. Don't exercise really hard to "make up for it."
    Do take a walk.
  3. Don't try to "detox".
    Do drink a reasonable amount of water.
  4. Don't say "screw it!"
    Do think about your next meal. 
How to prevent overeating 
  1. Don't label foods as good vs. bad.
    Do remember that there's room for indulgences in a healthy diet.
  2. Don't undereat during the day.
    Do spread your food intake out.
  3. Don't suffer in silence if you are struggling.
    Do understand your triggers. 


Long workouts/weekend training reflections

Resilience and mental toughness come to mind when summarizing this past weekend of training.

Here's the run down:

Bike: 4:05 ride (70 miles) with 5700 feet elevation gain and one tough 4.5 mile (35 minute) climb up Sassafras mountain. Prior to that climb, we did a hard effort up to Rocky Bottoms - around 4 miles of climbing.
Run off the bike: 2 x 15-20 min smooth effort running with 6 x 30 sec of hill bounding (with 45 sec rest) in between the intervals (total: 48 minutes, 5.64 miles, 407 elevation gain
PM run: Smooth running for 43 minutes, 4.94 miles, 276 elevation gain)

AM Run: Smooth endurance on rolling hills for 1:45, 12.7 miles, 617 elevation gain
PM group swim: 1 hour/2800 yards

Prior to this weekend, I had a solid week of training - a lot of frequency workouts. As the week went on, I was carrying around a lot more fatigue and working through a bit more niggles than normal but that's all to be expected at this point in my training block. Strength continues to be a focus in all of my workouts (including strength training) so I am feeling very fit and strong right now, but not so fast....and this ok!

Thinking back on this weekend, it's not surprising to see endurance athletes training with this much high volume at various points in the season, especially in peak training before an endurance event. However, I feel it's important to recognize that higher volume training is not a guarantee to athletic success on race day. Many athletes check off long distance workouts on the weekends that involve little structure or specificity or lack the necessary consistency in training to gain true physiological improvements. Instead of gaining fitness, confidence and race readiness, the athlete ends up exhausted, burnt out, injured or sick. In other words, just because you are an endurance athlete, you don't need to be collecting a massive amount of miles/hours over the weekend just to prepare for your upcoming event. Long workouts make sense if you are have prepared yourself to absorb the longer time spent training.

While endurance workouts are a component to preparing for an endurance event, we must not forget that it's the work you do prior to these longer sessions that help you better prepare for race day. Without the right foundation, you may be piling training stress to a weak and fragile body. Although the work that is done in the early part of the season is not as glamorous (or epic) as the longer sessions that make one feel hard core, like an "endurance" athlete, these workouts should be seen as your criteria for the longer sessions. Do your homework in the early season so that your body can better withstand the higher intensity/higher volume training when it's appropriately planned in your training.

Every athlete has the ability to work hard all season long but some choose not to apply the work ethic until there is some type of pressure of an upcoming race. Falling short on the preparatory work prior to the more specific race sessions is not the formula for athletic excellence on race day. While you can still check off those longer training sessions in the 4-8 weeks before your race, these sessions will do little to change your physiology or will allow you to dial in the many components that make for successful racing - like nutrition, pacing and mental strength - compared to if you did these sessions with months of previous work behind you. While I know injuries/sickness/life happens, you can't skip steps in building your foundation. There are no short cuts or quick fixes when it comes to the work that needs to happen to properly and safely prepare your body for an endurance event.

Nearing the start of my 12th consecutive season of endurance racing, I've always been one to embrace the grind and appreciate the process of preparing for a half or full distance Ironman event. Training is also a needed escape to reduce stress, give me energy, boost endorphins and let my creative thoughts flow. But on top of the joy I have for training/exercising, I think about my workouts of the day as a way to move me closer to my season goals. It isn't within one workout that will get me fit but instead, it's the accumulation of consistent workouts that allows for continued growth and development with my athletic skills and fitness. At 35.5 years old, feel stronger, fitter, healthier and more resilient now than when I did my first Ironman at the age of 24. Throughout my journey as an endurance triathlete, I've learned that success on race day doesn't come from checking off weekend long workouts in the 8-12 weeks before a big event but instead, nailing the basics every single day while building the strongest foundation possible to withstand future training stressors.

I am very excited to see what this season has in store for my body. I am bringing 12 years of learning, exploring and challenging my body - along with setbacks and obstacles that have helped me become a smarter and more grateful athlete. I am proud of my body for where it is right now in my training and I am extremely thankful to my body for letting me do what I do with it on a daily basis.

And to finish off my weekend recap, I can't forget about my new furry friends that I met during our shake-out spin on Friday afternoon/evening.


Product Review - CarboRocket Half Evil Sport Drink

Fuel Smarter Go Farther. 
Next Level Nutrition For Athletes.
CarboRocket Salt Lake City, Utah

About the Company from the website: 
Founder, Brad Keyes, an avid endurance athlete, literally couldn't stomach anything during training and racing. Come race day, vomit was almost guaranteed. He would then spend the rest of the day, useless, curled up in a ball on the floor, much to the chagrin of his wife and kids. After figuring out it was his nutrition that was causing the problem, Keyes began his journey of researching and consulting with top nutritionists and exercise physiologists. This led to him testing ingredients and formulations (on himself and unsuspecting friends) and ultimately their first product, CarboRocket. Finally, something that could be used all day for hydration, fuel and electrolytes that didn't cause any stomach or familial distress! The current sports drink market is saturated with chemical-filled, poor-tasting beverages. CarboRocket is the next generation of sports drinks. The latest sports science research combined with the best tasting, all-natural, proven ingredients makes CarboRocket the perfect alternative for hydration and nutrition needs. 

  • CR 333 - Half Evil All-In-One Endurance Drink 
  • CR Hydration Electrolyte Drink 
  • Re+HAB Post Workout Recovery Drink 
  • Rocket Red-Pre-race/workout Superfoods Drink 
  • RocketLytes-Electrolyte Capsules with ginger and peppermint 
Label Claims:
  • All Natural 
  • Gluten free 
  • Vegan (Black Cherry Half Evil 333)
  • BCAA's

Nutrition Facts: CR 333 - Half Evil All-In-One Endurance Drink​ (Lemonade + Caffeine)
  • Serving Size: 3 scoops 
  • Calories: 333 
  • Total Carb: 82 g 
  • Fiber: 0 g 
  • Sugar: 21 g 
  • Protein: 0 g 
  • Sodium: 427 mg 
  • Calcium: 217 mg 
  • Potassium: 210 mg 
  • Magnesium: 110 mg 

Usage: Start with 2 scoops (222 cal) per 20-24 oz of water, consume 16-28 oz per hour depending on heat and activity level. Adjust calories depending on need. 

Claimed Benefits per website: 
  • 333 calories in 1 bottle that tastes and drinks like 100 calories 
  • Simplifies your training and race nutrition 
  • Mixes instantly 
  • 4500mg blend of Branched Chain Amino Acids and L-Glutamine 
  • 1600mg of electrolytes 
  • 50mg of caffeine (lemonade and raspberry only) 
  • Black Cherry is VEGAN and caffeine free 
Product Flavors:
  • Orange
  • Grape
  • Black Cherry
  • Raspberry + Caffeine
  • Lemonade + Caffeine 

I have been trying out various CarboRocket products in training (bike and run) and I really enjoy the Grape, Raspberry and Black Cherry Half Evil 333 flavors. I have been using 2 scoops per bottle (26 ounce) per hour of training and the powder mixes well (no clumps) and has a very light consistency, no strong aftertaste and not overly sweet. I also like that you can adjust the scoops to your workout needs - I have been using 1 scoop in a 10-ounce flask for running and 2 scoops per bottle for cycling.

Discount code: 
TRIMARNI for 25% off


Should you swish or swallow?

When was the last time you felt a sudden drop of energy during a workout but after a quick sip of a sport drink, swig of a gel or chop of a chew, you felt an instant pick-me-up?

Because skeletal muscle glucose uptake during exercise is not an instant process, it's important to consider the practicality of sport nutrition products as it relates to meeting your fluid, electrolyte, carbohydrate and motivational eeds.

Because of the time that it takes to digest and absorb nutrients (nutrients must move from the mouth to the small intestines, where absorption occurs), this is one of the primary reasons to rely on well-formulated sport nutrition products (instead of real food) in a convenient/portable form, to supply your body with a steady intake of "fuel" regularly throughout training/racing.

Ironically, when you consume sport nutrition, your muscles don't receive a quick jolt of energy, but instead, your brain was rewarded by something sweet (glucose), giving you a well-needed motivational/energy boost.

Although fatigue can be delayed through regular consumption of sport nutrition products during training/racing, it's the perception of glucose, rather than the metabolism of glucose in the body, that often gives you the instant energy boost as soon as you sip your sport drink or put some type of sugar in your mouth. In other words, in addition to ingesting calories, electrolytes and fluids, you can keep your brain communicating with your muscles to keep you moving during moments of low energy/motivation by swishing and spitting your sport drink (or sucking on an energy chew).

A lot of athletes question our strong desire to wear a hydration belt/pack when running - regardless of the volume/intensity of the workout/race. 

Well, it doesn't take much (sugar) to keep you going when you could be giving up due to low energy/motivation in training and racing and your low moment can be very unpredictable. I can't tell you how many times during a long distance race or intense workout that I was glad to have my fuel available around my waist when I needed it (between aid stations/intervals) due to a sudden drop in blood sugar or just a low moment. Just a sip, swish and either spit or swallow, and I found myself with an instant boost of energy to keep me going in the face of fatigue.

To learn more about this topic "Swish or Swallow" you can check out my article in the March/April issue of Triathlete Magazine.