Essential Sports Nutrition


Mg12 - The magnesium cream that really works!

Far too many athletes are abusing and excessively relying on pain relieving/anti-inflammatory medications (ex. buprofen and Naproxen) before or after exercise to reduce muscle soreness, aches, pains and niggles. What's even worse is hearing the many stories of athletes using NSAID's to get through a workout or race! These drugs aren’t without serious side-effects.

Overuse can cause a delay in musculoskeletal tissue repair and bone healing. NSAIDs can also damage your digestive tract, liver and kidneys. Other adverse effects are ulcers and internal bleeding. Keeping in mind that inflammation 
is a normal and necessary adaptation to training (it's also your body’s protective response to injury or infection), it's to your performance and health advantage to explore a safer way to reduce pains, niggles and soreness. 
Instead of popping a pill, consider the skin as an effective organ to absorb nutrients. Since the skin is being used more frequently as a means to deliver substances into the body, topical creams/lotions/sprays can serve as a safe, effective, affordable and quick method for pain relief and muscle recovery for athletes.

Magnesium is an important element found in the human body and is known to help with muscle contractions, nerve functioning, cardiac activity, bone health and muscle soreness. Although found in dietary and supplemental forms, you can take advantage of the health benefits of magnesium through transdermal application of magnesium chloride.

According to the Mg12 website:
"We produce the purest and most effective Magnesium oil on the market. The most important aspect is the source of our magnesium chloride. There are numerous salt water sources available for the magnesium chloride needed to manufacture magnesium oil, but very few are considered to be as clean and effective. Only two sources have been found to be virtually free of both; the Dead Sea and deep underground basins. We have chosen the Dead Sea as the source of our magnesium chloride because along with its unsurpassed purity, it also contains a unique combination of 20+ macro and micro minerals that have been known for providing health benefits for thousands of years. The Mg12 process involves combining dead sea magnesium chloride salts with purified water, sending it through our proprietary filtration system that produces our ultra pure, pristine clean, and crystal clear MagneSoothe Magnesium Oil™."

"Mg12 mineral supplements are 100 percent pure magnesium, plus 20 essential mineral salts straight from the Dead Sea, the most ancient health retreat on Earth. Our Dead Sea Magnesium products are formulated and distributed from Tryon, North Carolina. We also produce other magnesium oil based products such as shampoo, soap, deodorant, and body balm for transdermal magnesium therapy."

Mg12 product features include:
• Formulated in the USA
• 100% natural
• No additives
• No synthetics
• Vegan friendly
• Never tested on animals
• Gluten free, non-GMO
• From an earth-conscious company

Mg12 Magne Sport Balm ingredients: 
  • Magnesooth Magnesium Oil
  • Water
  • Saponins
  • Aloe Vera Juice
  • Arnica
  • Essential Oils of Peppermint, Spearmint, Eucalyptus, Clove, Lemon, Cinnamon, Rosemary, Frankincense, Myrrh 

Ingredient profile of a commonly found/used "pain relief" gel:

Active ingredients: Menthol 4%
Inactive ingredients: Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Arnica Montana Flower Extract, Arctium Lappa Root (Burdock) Extract, Boswellia Carterii Resin Extract, Calendula Officinalis Extract, Carbomer, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Camphor, Glycerin, Ilex Paraguariensis Leaf Extract, Isopropyl Alcohol, Isopropyl Myristate, Melissa Officinalis (Lemon Balm) Leaf Extract, Silica, Tocopheryl (Vitamin E) Acetate, Triethanolamine, Water, Blue 1, Yellow 5.

From our personal usage over the past 2+ years, we can confidently say that these products work and there's no other product like it on the market. We routinely apply MagneSport Balm before and after exercise, as well as before bed. We never travel without it. With a safe ingredient profile, including no food dyes and free of a strong odor with a non-greasy-feel application, we highly recommend for you to try out the line of sport products before and after your workouts as well as during the day on any sore spots. The MagneSport Balm has become a regular staple in our recovery routine along with the Roll On and Bath Salts. 

To try out this effective product and to support this local company, use discount code: TriMarni. 


Is it socially acceptable to diet if you are an athlete?

Since my first Ironman in 2006, I've developed a strong connection to my body. Rather than seeing it for what it looks like, I constantly thank my body for what it allows me to do. While it's not easy in a body-image obsessed society, Karel and I spend no time discussing body image in our house. We don't weigh ourselves so we couldn't tell you what our "race weight" was at any of our past races.  There's no dieting, restrictive eating, watching what we eat or cheat meals. I'd say that our house is a very good place if you'd like to eat where there are no food rules, off-limit foods or controversial food discussions. While our dedication to sport, love for an active lifestyle and enjoyment for wholesome eating greatly influences the way we look, we have never fallen victim to the idea of "competitive leanness"  - that the leaner we are, the more competitive (or faster) we will be in sport. We've never tried to change the way that we look through diet or exercise. 

In light of a recent video of a professional male triathlete discussing his recent dietary change and current struggle of body image relating to performance, I feel this provides a great platform to once again discuss the pressure that most athletes feel when it comes to body weight/body composition and the extreme shifts that occur with diet and exercise. Even without the performance component, many athletes put great emphasis on how they look - which can contribute to great psychological and physical stress, not to mention the risk for health issues and a performance decline. 

We live in an interesting time where it has become socially acceptable not to eat. In other words, it's not uncommon for an athlete to restrict food/sport nutrition and it's accepted, encouraged or advised. Some athletes are afraid to eat "bad" foods while others are afraid to eat "too much." There are tricks, rules and games that athletes play as it relates to food - all in an effort to keep, obtain or achieve a different look or weight. Athletes are fasting, eliminating food groups, strategically choosing the training sessions that deserve fuel and hydration and avoiding/reducing carb and calorie intake and it's often applauded as a way of taking control over health, being dedicated to sport or having a passion for healthy living. To me it looks like a miserable way to live but to others, it's become viewed as the right thing to do. I'm shocked to see how many endurance triathletes will train for hours at a time, only to eat a few hundred calories for fear of "eating too much." 

To the outsider, certain athletes may look fit, lean, strong, healthy and happy but it's very easy to hide behind a photo on Instagram or Facebook or boast amount recent performance and health improvements from a recent extreme dietary change. It isn't until an athlete admits that there is an issue or is forced to back away from the sport due to a health issue, the dieting athlete is often praised and admired for his/her dedication (watchers are tempted to copy similar diet changes), even though this athlete has created a socially acceptable type of disordered eating. With an overvalued belief that a lower body weight will improve performance, coupled with society emphasizing leanness, performance anxiety, athletic self-identity, low self-confidence and a negative self-evaluation of athletic development/performance, it's not surprising to hear that so many athletes suffer from eating disorders and mental health issues.

Our society has a very dysfunctional relationship with food and body weight/image but things only get worse when it affects athletes who place tremendous stress on the body. A super strict, rigid and controlled way of eating often comes at a huge emotional and physical cost and takes up a lot of mental space in daily activities and food-related decisions.

It's a common misconception that the dieting athlete is lean and ripped, skinny or emaciated. This is far from the truth. You can also be very lean or skinny and be very well nourished, fueled and healthy. This is why you can't "look" at an athlete and make assumptions about health, fitness, happiness or performance. Eating disorders and disordered eating isn't a look. There are many athletes out there who are restricting and obsessing over foodwhile spending an exhausting amount of time and energy on body image and getting praised for their "healthy" efforts or being envied for looking so fit. How many times have you looked at an athlete and assumed "wow - he/she must be so fast." 

Because athletes can easily hide under the umbrella of being very dedicated to healthy eating and extreme exercise because they are training for an athletic event, it's important to ask yourself if you are eating and fueling adequately for health and performance improvements or suffering from disordered eating (or an eating disorder).

There's a common saying "are you eating to be thin or eating to win?" Changing your diet and/or exercise regime in an attempt to achieve an "idealistic" body type fights against your current biology and places you at risk for physical and mental health, hormonal and performance issues. There's nothing wrong with changing the way you look for health or performance but the methods of your strategies should optimize health and performance.
Regardless of your fitness level, I'm here to tell you that it's ok to not have a body that fits into your sport specific body "ideal". Fuel for performance and eat to nourish your body. And above all, be proud of the way you look, especially when you can do awesome things with your body. 


Weekend training recap - 3 weeks until IMWI!

I can't believe that in less than 3 weeks, I get to start my 14th Ironman. I am incredibly grateful to my body and mind for letting me train so hard for such an extreme endurance event. I've come to the conclusion that it takes my body time throughout the season to peak. Now is that time. I feel strong, healthy and confident for Ironman Wisconsin and I plan to use my experience, Ironman racing "lessons" and enjoyment for this sport to help me race at my best for 140.6 miles. And whenever I'm having a low moment (which I am sure there will be many!) I'll just look for one of our 14 athletes who I get to share the course with.

It took me a few days to mentally and physically recover from our 4.5 day training camp. While it's physically exhausting to keep up with 20 campers, it's even more so mentally exhausting to be so alert, attentive and aware of everyone during each workout (especially on the bike). I felt completely empty for a good 48 hours post camp. After a few nights of extra sleep and super easy workout sessions and lots of eating/food, I started to feel back to normal again which was a sign that I can ease myself back into more structured training.

On Tuesday evening, I was super pumped to take my new bike outside for the very first time. Yes, you heard new ride!! I couldn't be more happy about my decision to join the Ventum family as Karel loves his Ventum and I continue to hear such great things from other athletes about the bike and how it rides. I had the opportunity to test out a demo bike in Chattanooga in May and I was instantly sold - I just loved how it felt on the road. Although the frame arrived when we were in Europe, it took Karel some time to get all the parts he needed/wanted for and then for him to do a RETUL fit on me. With so much going on over the past two weeks, the frame hung on the bike stand until Karel had a few hours to start building my bike. On Tues, I had my first official ride on it and I loved it. While only about 70 minutes, it was still a fun ride.

No workout this week was super long (the majority of my sessions were around 75 minutes), the intensity was high. As I have mentioned in past blogs, building my endurance is not something I need to continue to work on as 12 years of endurance training (plus 10+ years of competitive swimming) has given me a good engine. The focus now is on adding a little more specificity while working on my mental game to dial in efforts based on feel, form and fluidity. It may sound simple but when you are fatigued, it's extremely difficult to find an effort that can be maintained with good form.

Before my swim on Friday morning, I told Karel that I was not expecting a good swim. I had felt horrible in the water all week and my paces were far from impressive to my standards. Despite how I felt, I kept swimming away because many times a blah feeling means a breakthrough is coming. Well, that breakthrough happened on Friday. It was also a good reminder that feelings are not actions. After a good warm-up, I had one of (if not) my best swim workouts in a very long time. I also contribute that to a fairly packed pool and sharing a lane with my friend Kristen (former pro triathlete who is a super speedy swimmer!). Karel was in the lane next to me sticking to his own cycle.

My swim workout totaled 5100 but surprisingly, it went by really fast. Here's the main set: 

Part 1:
6 times through
200 fast w/ 5 seconds rest
175 choice effort on same cycle as the 200
(Example, I did the 200 fast on 2:40-2:45 cycle so I had about 15-20 sec rest for the 175, which I used as active recovery but also had to keep a steady effort - not too slow). 

100 smooth

Part 2:
6 times through:
150 fast w/ 5 sec rest
125 choice effort on same cycle as the 125
(I did the 150 fast on 2-2:03 cycle so I had about 10-15 sec rest for the 150).

It was a tough swim but one that kept me mentally engaged throughout it all. It felt good to get that one finished and I felt very accomplished to start to the day.

So now on to the weekend. I had the first opportunity to really test out my new Ventum and it was everything I had hoped for and more. I instantly felt good on it (love my new custom Dash saddle) and I liked how Karel had the bottle placements (cages). I tested out the straw but I prefer bottles to avoid sucking down air so I plan to only use the straw-system in emergency situations and to rely on my 3 bottles from my cages. The bike is very smooth and handles like a road bike. I am still getting use to how it turns but other than that, it was an easy transition from my Trek. The bike climbs really well (again - feels like a road bike) and I felt really fast going downhill. While it was only my first real ride on it, I was happy from start to finish. For someone like myself who doesn't like change, I was really happy with my recent bike change and plan to ride my new Ventum at IMWI. 

Karel and I rode together for the long ride and it was a pretty solid session. While we didn't do any specific intervals, we let the terrain dictate our efforts and we kept the intensity high throughout. I made sure to apply a similar fueling/hydration to IMWI as I believe in using all my long sessions to dial in and test nutrition to give me confidence for race day. Despite pushing hard on the bike, I never worried about the run. I've gotten to the place in my Ironman journey where I would rather take small risks than play it safe for I can learn more from a workout gone bad than a workout that was too easy to complete. Thankfully, my workouts continue to get better and better as I am learning that my mind can often mislead me to thinking I am tired when in reality, I have plenty of energy still in my body.

Karel joined me for my run off the bike - all of it. As much as I wish I could say that I held his normal paces, it was the other way around - he stuck to my efforts. I had a very specific run set off the bike and Karel wanted to hold me accountable to staying mentally tough on this run, despite feeling tired. I welcomed his company and although we never talked throughout the entire run, it was nice to have him following me for every mile. It was an exhausting morning brick but one that left me feeling confident, strong and happy. I didn't feel too broken afterward and was able to feel relatively good in my muscles for my PM (super easy) treadmill run. Karel went out to the trail for his run and his mom walked around the trail while he ran.

On Sunday morning, I had one of those moments where I questioned if I would be able to complete my run as planned. While the distance didn't worry me, it was the mental energy that I needed to put into this workout and whether or not my body wanted to join in on the "fun" of trying to hold a steady effort. I don't go by paces when I run but instead, I go by feel. One thing that I am really trying to work on this season is running by "feel." I have gotten a lot better about feeling certain efforts and then I can review my file on Training Peaks to see if I was able to execute as planned and to evaluate my workout. I surprised myself once again but it sure did require a lot of mental energy. Karel also had a tough and mentally challenging run on Sunday morning and we both came home pretty exhausted. We mustered enough energy for an afternoon swim but the body was not giving too much for the swim so we adjusted our workout as something is better than nothing. 

While the workouts were rather intense this week, I never felt broken. I was still able to bounce back from my workouts and function well during the day. More than anything, by not chasing metrics (or an exact distance), I was able to work on some key aspects that are necessary in Ironman racing. I tested out clothing and gear/equipment (I love my new Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo shoes, thanks Dane at Run In! - I plan to wear them at IMWI as they are cushy but supportive and I feel like I get good propulsion from them with my shorter running stride), I practiced my nutrition similar to race day (for bike and run), I ate a lot (and often) when I wasn't working out, I worked on my mental strength skills (especially working through low moments) and I used each workout to find that rhythm and form that I hope to achieve on race day.

Here were my workouts from the weekend:

-AM Bike - 3:56, 70.4 miles, ~4800 feet of elevation gain
-Run off the bike - 1:01, 7.73 miles.
Workout: 10 min build to stronger than IM effort, 30 sec walk.
20 min IM effort w/ 30 sec walk every 10 minutes.
10 minutes stronger than IM effort. 30 sec walk.
Finish off with FBRF (fatigue-based running form - the best form you can hold and the best sustainable effort while fatigued). 
-PM treadmill run - 4 min walk into 20 min EZ jog followed by 1 min walk. 2.5 miles

AM run - 1:58.07, 14.1 miles, 587 feet of elevation gain
Workout: 3 miles warm-up w/ 30 sec walk between
10 x 1 miles at Ironman "effort" w/ 30 sec walk between (I plan to walk all aid stations at IMWI)
Smooth running to finish off

-PM Swim - 2600 yards
600 warm-up
3 x 200's single arm drill w/ fins/snorkel
8 x 25s build to fast w/ fins/snorkel/paddles (FINIS agility paddles)
MS: 1 round of
1 x 100 fast w/ paddles
200 smooth w/ buoy
2 x 100 fast w/ paddles
200 smooth w/ buoy
3 x 100 fast w/ paddes
200 swim with buoy
10 sec rest for the fast
20 sec rest for the smooth