Essential Sports Nutrition

4/30/18

Hello race week!

Picture taken on a ride in Greenville. I love stopping to say hi to farm animals. 

Seriously....it seemed like Jan-March lasted a year and now it's already May!!?!?! Time sure does fly! I can't believe we are about to race again. And in 8-weeks will be off in Europe at Ironman Austria for the 3rd time! Another block of training is behind us and I can't help but be thankful and grateful to my body for letting me show up to another race feeling strong, fit and healthy (and still loving the sport of triathlon). This will be our 2nd time racing Ironman 70.3 St. George and now that we know the course a bit better, I am excited to give it another try as last year I felt I raced too timid and didn't showcase my abilities. I feel stronger and more confident this time around and I can't wait to share the course with eleven of our Trimarni coaching athletes (and several of my nutrition athletes).

I always try to take time during my last "long" workout before a race week to reflect on the journey and to make note of what's going well. It's far too easy to address limiters and what could have, would have, should have been. Spending too much energy on negative thoughts simply removes energy that can be used for race day. In my reflection, I wanted to share three things that I am focusing on in my 2018 triathlon journey to help me reach my athletic goals while keeping my body in good health. You  may be surprised (or not) to hear where I am putting my energy this season (not unlike seasons in the past).
  1. Do things well - From sleep, nutrition and fueling to skills, form, mental skills and workout execution. I make an effort everyday to do things well. As an example, last week I had an intense brick workout with a hard trainer bike followed by a specific treadmill run with some race efforts. The first five minutes didn't feel good, which worried me since I usually feel rather good running off the bike. I gave it some time and started the workout but at ten minutes, what should have felt controlled and steady felt hard and difficult. I started to get some feedback from my body that form was falling apart and I immediately decided to stop my 30-minute brick run at around 9 minutes. This is just one example where it pays to do things well as one workout doesn't make or break a season. Consistency is key. By focusing on the little things and always showing up to workouts with the mindset of "do the best you can and do things really well" has been a motto that I take to every workout. I believe this mindset has helped me reduce risk for injury and sickness over the years.
  2. Be great at not slowing down - Like any athlete, I want to get faster. I've already accomplished "going long" many times as I have completed 12 Ironman distance triathlons and have two more on the schedule this summer. But in endurance triathlon, it pays to be great at not slowing down for the fastest performance by your body is the one that comes with delaying fatigue for as long as possible. It's not a fast effort but one that is steady. To be great at not slowing down, the body must be resilient and strong. Running has been an area of weakness for me for almost all of my endurance triathlon career. While I have still accomplished a lot in the sport, I continue to believe that I have a "faster" run in my body for 13.1 or 26.2 miles (likely, it's going to be in a marathon off the bike than a half marathon as there's much more room for time improvement there for me). Rather than focusing on becoming a faster runner, my approach to run training (with the help of Karel as my "coach") has enabled me to run with better form, which allows me to be more economical. Because I have the fueling/hydration part down, my biggest focus this year has been to train the run so that I can keep great form. This includes specific runs sessions and strength training (which I still do - all season long). So far so good as I am running "faster" than in years past without any specific speed work training. I am also staying injury free (since June 2013) so that allows me to stay consistent with my run training. And for the first time in a very, very long time, I am actually loving running and I find it "easy" on my body. This focus also applies to bike and swim as I'm much more focused in strong sustainable efforts than trying to get faster just to prove to myself that I can go faster.
  3. Enjoy the process - For anyone who has been in a sport for a long time, joy for the sport is just as important as having big goals. Although the winter months of foundation building are always tough, I find enjoyment in the developmental process. I don't try to skip steps, look for marginal gains or seek quick fixes. I love the daily grind, day in and day out. Triathlon is not my life so it's something I have to find time and energy for but it's something that I enjoy and thus, I do make time for it in my busy day. The fact that I am still improving in my 12th year of long distance triathlon tells me that something is working. Plus, I still love the sport today, as much as I did when I did my very first triathlon.