Essential Sports Nutrition


Hello from Madison - It's IMWI week!

Wow, I can't believe it's finally here. It's race week! Just three more sleeps until race day.

A little update from this week.

Karel, his mom and Campy started their journey to Madison, WI on Monday morning with a long drive to Indianapolis. They spent the night and then finished the drive on Tues. With traffic and a few stops, it was a long two days of traveling. The house was pretty quiet for me for a day and a half but I kept myself busy with a few light workouts and work until I left for the airport on Tues afternoon. My athlete and friend Thomas and I flew from Greenville to Detroit to Madison on Tues evening and all went smoothly. Since Karel had our bikes and all my race stuff, I traveled pretty light with only a backpack.

To be honest, the week was a little stressful to start because of all the flooding in Madison and the great possibility of a cancelled swim and the unknowns of the bike and run course. Thankfully, the Ironman staff went above and beyond and the course is on for the entire 140.6 mile distance. Sure, anything can change between now and race day but the weather is looking good for an amazing day of swimbikerun come Sunday.

Our homestay and friend Ed picked Thomas and I up at the airport on Tues evening around 8:30pm and it was nice to reunite with Karel and Campy when we arrive to his home. With all the chatter about the weather/rain in Madison, all it took was a drive through downtown - in route to Ed's house in Fitchburg - to remind me why this race is so special. No matter what happens on race day, Madison knows how to put on a top-notch Ironman event. This will be my 3rd time racing IMWI and although it's a challenging bike/run course combo, the crowds are unbelievable!

Campy has been on squirrel (and rabbit and chipmunk duty) since he arrived and he is loving looking out the windows for any intruders.

Ed made us the most amazing pumpkin waffles on Wed after our wet run. YUM!

After a good night of sleep on Tues evening (the one-hour time change wasn't too hard to get use to!) we woke up to a very rainy day. This was expected according to the weather channels so we adjusted our planned training and instead of riding a loop of the bike course we went out for a morning run and finished the day with a late afternoon swim at Pinnacle Fitness.

Run workout (mostly on a bike/run path):
~15 min warm-up w/ walking to reset form and to control breathing
MS: 3 x 6 min build by 2 min to strong w/ 90 sec walk/rest between
~10 min smooth form focused running

Swim workout:
600 warm-up
Pre set:
200,175,150,125,100,75,50,25 w/ snorkel and buoy
MS: 2x's
2 x 100's build to strong w/ 15 sec rest
50 smooth
50 fast

Cool down: 100 EZ

Between the run and the swim workouts, we stocked up on groceries from HyVee and Karel's mom made us the most delicious vegetable and potato soup for dinner.

Because Karel is not racing, he is able to shuttle me around and also get in a few workouts of his own this week in route to his busy end-of-the-year race schedule with Augusta 70.3, Kona and IMFL all within about 8 weeks.

This morning we drove to Verona to bike one loop of the course. I really enjoyed being on my new Ventum and seeing the Wisconsin landscape of cows, farms and fields. Several of the roads have been paved (and others are still super bumpy) which was really nice. The course is challenging but it's also a lot of fun because it's constantly changing - up and down, left and right. It reminds me a lot of Greenville so it's not far from what we train on on a daily basis.

After the bike we drove back to Ed's house and had some lunch and then ventured to downtown Madison for the athlete briefing and check-in. Although this is my 14th time going through the athlete check-in procedure, I still get excited as if I am a first timer. I always go to the athlete briefing as you never know what updated or race-specific information will be provided. In the case of IMWI, a lot has changed such as the new bike course (first and last 3-miles) and the new swim course and rolling start (instead of waves). Also, IMWI has indoor transitions so it's also worth scoping out the layout before race day.

It was also fun to run into so many Trimarnis this morning. We have 13 athletes racing! 

While it seemed like a busy last two days, it has actually been rather smooth and relaxing. I have stressed myself out in the past by trying to do too much in one day and leave little time to myself to rest so I have tried to do a better job of this before my races.

Thanks for following along!


Case Study - a nutrition change to improve the triathlon run

Running does not require a gym membership, it's fairly inexpensive and you can do it almost anywhere (and anytime). It comes with a list of benefits including body composition changes, fitness gains, stress relief and improved self-confidence. Plus, when you run outside, you get to explore nature with your senses. Running is also a great way to feel connected to your community. 

While running can provide you with a great endorphin-rush, making you feel like you are capable of tackling everything on your to-do list after you finish your workout, running does come with a few downfalls.

Running is very corrosive on the body and comes with a great risk of injury. Running requires good range of motion as well as exceptional cardiorespiratory endurance and muscular strength. Injuries due to overtraining, poor biomechanics and improper shoes or increasing mileage too quickly are very common in runners of all fitness levels.
For triathletes, aside from injuries, one of the biggest concerns that I hear time and time again is the complain of nutrition issues. Those dreaded side stitches and gut-related issues like bloating, belching, diarrhea/loose stools and vomiting are no fun during a run workout or running race. 

A while back, I started working with triathlete Joel, who is a well-experienced long-distance triathlete. Joel and his wife Ali are accomplished triathletes and love to race. Joel was frustrated that he was unable to put together a solid marathon off the bike in an Ironman. Physically he felt like he was able to complete the distance but as the miles progressed, he consistently suffered from fatigue - turning his run into a walk.

To learn more about what Joel changed with his nutrition to help him excel on race day, you can read the full article here on or on page 47 of the August 2018 Triathlete Magazine Issue in print.

If you are interested in incorporating a hydration belt into your workout (or race day) wardrobe, here's a recent blog post on the topic and a discount code for the Naked Running Belt: Benefits of wearing a hydration belt


Race week self-doubts? Boost your confidence with these tips.

I can't believe that it's race week!! Just 6 more days until my 14th Ironman on one of the most awesome race courses on the US Ironman circuit. I can't wait for the cheers from the crowds as Madison knows how to put on a top-notch event.

Thanks to the recent live Facebook coverage of the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, I think I am officially antsy to race. Whereas last week was filled with normal pre-race emotional highs and lows, I was so inspired by the gutsy and strong performances by the female and male athletes at Worlds that I now want my turn to feel the pressure and excitement of racing. If you didn't watch the coverage, go watch it as it'll fire you up for your upcoming workouts or races. Karel and I are huge fans of the sport of triathlon and we just love watching other athletes in action. There's always something to learn from the professionals and now with the live coverage, we can really see all parts of the race (and not just see the results) to truly understand what is really going on within the race and what each athlete endures to get to the finish line. Many times, you realize that the professional athletes are human just like the rest of us, dealing with similar issues and obstacles.


Are you preparing for an upcoming race? Will we see you in Wisconsin for the Ironman? If yes, hopefully the phantom pains and niggles and self-doubts are behind you as you gear up for your upcoming race and you are working on your mental game to put yourself into a calm and relaxed state before race day.

For some athletes, it's easy to ignore the doubts and negative thoughts that can creep into the head on race week but for others, with the race quickly approaching, you may be feeling a lot of emotions such as self-doubt, negativity, worry and anxiety.

Keeping in mind that your race performance is a reflection of your previous training, don't let negativity suck the fun away from what you get to do with your body and mind on race day. While it's perfectly normal to feel some stress, nerves and mental pressure before a big event, use that powerful energy to fire you up so it brings out the best version of you (and your current level of fitness) on race day.

Because lack of self-belief and worry can have a disastrous effect on your race day performance, here are a few tips to improve your confidence for race day.

  1. Stop worrying about the uncontrollables - If you find yourself emotionally stressed out in the week or two before a big event, there's a good chance that you are dealing with the nagging negative thoughts of "what ifs". Worrying about details that are out of your control, like the weather or competition, is self sabotaging. Turn those negative thoughts into something positive so that those thoughts do not paint a bad mental picture for you before or during your race.
  2. Stop focusing on the outcome - Too much mental energy on paces, speed. times or results can leave you emotionally drained, worried and anxious. It can also keep you from making good decisions in the moment. Remove any extra pressure on the end result and focus on the process of delivering yourself to the finish line. Remind yourself of all the tools that you have gained over the season and that a great race day performance is all about being in the moment and dealing with obstacles as they come about.
  3. List your mantras - Every athlete will have low moments in a race - lots of them. There will be voices in your head that will try to convince you to stop, and maybe even quit when the going gets tough. How will you challenge these voices? What will help you take your focus off your self-doubts and refocus your mind to get you to a positive state of flow? By repeating a powerful statement to yourself over and over again in your mind, you'll find yourself pushing through these low moments and getting yourself closer and closer to that finish line.
  4. Reflect on your journey - Look at your training log to see how far you've come. Remember that time when you couldn't do....... or you completed that tough workout on tired legs? Or how you overcome a setback? Focus on the highlighted moments instead of dwelling on what should have or could have been.
  5. Visualize yourself succeeding - Picture yourself at various points during the race and go through all types of scenarios - the good and the bad. Look at course maps, videos and pictures to help you put images to places on the course. And don't forget to visualize yourself crossing the finish line.
  6. Focus on what you can control - Take care of yourself. Focus on what you can control such as your gear and equipment, your sleep, nutrition and hydration as well as stress management. Surround yourself with energy givers, not energy suckers and avoid forums/media that cause self-doubt, worry or stress.
  7. Have fun - Remind yourself that this is just a hobby. Your self-worth and athletic worthiness is not determined by a race. Enjoy being on the roller coaster of emotions as it's your body's way of preparing you for action. Make sure to remember why you signed up for the event and how special it will be to cross that finish line. Don't let your nerves and worries suck the fun out of racing. Focus on what you can control, trust your training, visualize success and don't forget to have fun.