Essential Sports Nutrition


2019 Trimarni Coaching - APPLY NOW

It's that time of the year again. I can't believe that we are about to jump into the month of October. Where did the summer go? With the majority of triathletes nearing their off-season in the next 4-6 weeks, there's a good chance that you are thinking about your next-season goals and how you can train better, smarter or harder in 2019.

With the end of one season comes the beginning of another season. With that being said, we look forward to continuing to work with our returning Trimarni athletes and welcoming new endurance triathletes to our coaching team. While we have limited availability for accepting new athletes, we look forward to receiving your application.

Application will close on October 12th. 

Coach - Athlete Relationship

Your coach plays a significant role in your athletic journey. When I was in High School, I had one swim coach for four years. Then in college, I had another swim coach (one for my Freshman year before transferring to another college where I completed the rest of my education/collegiate swimming). Eight years = three swim coaches. While some athletes may have one coach for an entire athletic journey, the majority of athletes will likely have several coaching relationships throughout an athletic career. Different coaches means different opinions, attitudes, emotions, styles of training and coaching methodologies. Whereas the high school and collegiate athlete may not have a lot of life responsibilities or stressors, a strong coach - athlete relationship is extremely important for the adult athlete, who has a lot more to balance in life than just training and racing.

In today's society, coaching rarely occurs face-to-face unless you are in a squad environment or your coach is local. While your coach may occasionally see you in action, most coaches will monitor you via an online data software program and communicate with you via phone or email.  With internet-based coaching, your athletic success relies greatly on a healthy, trusting and safe relationship with your coach. Disliking the actions of your coach, not trusting your coach, feeling uncomfortable around your coach, not knowing your coach or struggling to effectively communicate with your coach are all signs that your coach is not the right fit for you. 

As an athlete, you likely love to train, you have great time-management and you are probably very motivated and driven. For the coachable athlete, it's assumed that your need of a coach is not to tell you to exercise but to help guide you in a way that will allow you to improve fitness and race readiness while reducing risk for injury, sickness and burnout. 

Although coaches come from different backgrounds, some with more notable credentials and knowledge than others, it's important that you see your coach as an expert and to fully understand his/her coaching philosophy and methodology. The more you know and value your coaches experience, the more trust you will have for your coach.
Trusting your coach is one of the most important components of having a great coach - athlete relationship. Since most coaches do a great job with marketing themselves, most athletes find it easy to know which coach is the "right" fit. However, don't fall victim to fancy websites, glowing testimonials, expensive fees/prices and trendy services as there are many "experts" that have poor coaching skills. Plus, coaching takes time, practice and experience. I look back at my early years and think "I had no idea what I was doing!" But thanks to mentors, years in the sport, ongoing learning and education and experience and always keeping an open mind (while being an active participant in an evolving sport), I've become better at coaching. Anyone can call themselves a coach but coaching an athlete is a lot of work and many times, it has less to do about writing workouts (anyone can be a great workout writer) but more to do about getting to know a person as a human being instead of just focusing on a person as an athlete with goals and a race schedule. 

Because coaching works both ways, there are many athletes who are not coachable.

As an athlete, you have every right to ask questions to your coach. When you don't understand something or you have a concern, you should feel comfortable communicating with your coach. But to go against your coaches guidance means that you are not ready or willing to learn a different or new way of doing things. Coaching is a dialogue - two way communication. But if an athlete is questioning his/her coaches decisions to the point where the athlete is telling the coach how to train him/her, this is not coaching. Because it takes time to get to know an athlete and time to develop an athlete, you need to give your coach time. If you the athlete hire a coach and then feel there's a certain way that you need to train to feel race ready or to reach athletic goals, you don't need a coach. You need to write your own training plan. There are many successful athletes who do not have a coach (maybe a mentor or two) but instead, figure things out along the way on their own. But being resistant to the methods/workouts that your coach feels is best for you is saying that you the athlete know better than your coach.  Typically, this occurs when an athlete feels he/she should be training longer or harder as athletes don't like to be told to do less or to rest.

Athletes who hire coaches do so because they need assistance, guidance or accountability and they recognize their strengths, weaknesses and limiters. A coachable athlete is willing to change. A non-coachable athlete is resistant to change. An athlete who is unwilling to deviate from what they think they need is a red flag that the athlete does not trust his/her coach. Communicating your concerns is good but a good coach should not have to change his/her coaching methods/philosophy in order to please you and to give you what you think you need. If this is the case, you hired the wrong coach. While there are bad coaches out there and sometimes coaching relationship (like in real life) do not work out, there are also a lot of really great coaches that you can choose from, that will give you what you need from a coach. Take your time selecting your coach and then put your trust into your coach so you can put your energy into your training.

Application will close on October 12th.


My Book Sneak Peak - Creating Your Food Plan

As I wrote this book on sports nutrition, my goal was to give you scientific and real-world based nutrition advice and strategies to help you optimize your performance. But with every tip, guideline and suggestion, there are no extreme practices or restrictive measures. While it was important to me to provide you with appropriate advice, I also wanted the book to be easy to read and to apply. Many athletes struggle with healthy eating and proper fueling and I feel confident that my book will make it easier to eat, fuel and hydrate as you work hard for your fitness and sport goals.

This book is not a quick-fix book or one with lots of rules and confusing guidelines. Sure, rules take away the guessing for how to eat "right" but these strategies often ignore long-term health and performance consequences. Regardless of your fitness level, sport or dietary choices, my all-inclusive approach in this book will give you practical strategies to enhance sports performance without compromising your health. Because there is no definitive standard prescription for sports nutrition, I hope that this book will help you move closer to creating a personalized daily eating plan as well as giving you knowledge and appreciation for sport nutrition.

Here's a little sneak peek before you receive your copy on October 23rd.......

In the section Creating your Food Plan, I teach you how to prioritize the important food groups into your meals and snacks. This includes fruits and veggies, lean proteins and muscle and bone building goods, whole grains and energy giving carbs, healthy fats and water and hydrating promoting beverages. And guess what, there’s even room for the "extra’s" that bring enjoyment to your taste buds, add calories and fat to your diet and boost flavors. Within each of these food groups, I provide their role in your active lifestyle, food examples, how to plan your plate based on a percentage so you don’t have to meticulously count every calorie or gram of food and suggested serving size recommendations to ensure that you eat enough. I also give tips for easy meal prepping within each food category. While I want athletes to prioritize real food and to cook at home, all of this information can be applied to eating out and for traveling.

If you haven't placed your order yet, you can place your pre-order HERE. 


IM Chattanooga '18 reflection/interview

Wow. Has it really been a year since Ironman Chattanooga?

As a little recap, my entire 2017 season was dedicated to qualifying and then racing the 2017 IM 70.3 World Championship in Chattanooga. However, on race day day morning, just after 4am I found myself on the kitchen floor, with a smashed and bruised face and bloody lip due to fainting soon after getting out of bed. You can read more here. Racing an Ironman in 2017 was not on my season plan as I spent the season focusing on the half Ironman distance. But after my incident at Worlds, I knew that I couldn't finish my season on such a low moment.

Thus, Ironman Chattanooga will go down as one of my most memorable Ironman races, for so many reasons.

First off, Karel and I shared the course with 14 of our Trimarni athletes and we watched every one of them cross the finish line. It was incredibly special to be there with so many Trimarnis (and to even have a few of our athletes attending just to cheer).

Secondly, Karel and I both won our age groups and each qualified for the 2018 Ironman World Championship. Karel accepted his slot whereas I let mine roll down to another deserving female in the 35-39 age group. Because racing Ironman Chattanooga was never on my 2017 racing season plan (more on this in a minute), I wanted to focus on my two Ironman this summer (Ironman Austria and Iroman Wisconsin) and to get more Ironman racing experience before returning back to the Big Island. I recently accepted my slot at Ironman Wisconsin to race my 5th IM Kona in 2019.

Lastly, Ironman Chattanooga was my first ever overall amateur female win. Karel placed second overall male amateur. Talk about a surprise for both of us, especially since I registered for the race just two weeks before the race! Thank you body for being so amazing - from a very low low to an amazingly high high!

To learn more about my Ironman Chattanooga race as well as a few of my thoughts about the course and venue, you can check out this interview that I did with Crew Racing.

Ironman Chattanooga interview with Marni Sumbal

You should also scroll through their other blog posts for additional information on triathlon training and racing, as well as on returning back to sport after injury. Caitlin and Drew have a successful coaching business as both of their careers revolve around athletes.


IM 70.3 Augusta '18 - race report

It seems like every year we are celebrating Karel's birthday at a race venue. I guess September 22nd is a popular time of the year for triathlon racing. This birthday was extra special for Karel as it was the first time in 18 years that his mom could celebrate with Karel. Although we didn't do anything special for his birthday, we did what we love to do - swim/bike/run (well one of us more than the other).

Happy 42nd Birthday Karel! 🎈

Although Karel is getting older, he doesn't seem to be slowing down. While he expects that soon the time will come when PR's will become a thing of the past, I contribute his continued improvements to not changing the winning formula. In other words, ever since Karel started triathlon training and racing in 2012, he's never been one to change his methods. Sure, the training changes and he is constantly evolving based on life, his fitness and health but he's never been one to be on the hunt for the next best thing - training, diet, fueling, supplements, etc. Karel is one who wants to nail the basics and is never looking for quick fixes or extreme methods for marginal gains. He's all about the journey, putting in the work day after day and not spending energy on what other people are doing. He could care less what other athletes are doing (in terms of his competition) as he's very invested into his own development, keeping up with the sport (what's really working for athletes - not what's trendy or popular) and doing what he needs to do to keep himself healthy as he continues to get older. There's nothing special with the way Karel eats, trains or goes about his active and busy lifestyle as it's all pretty basic. Put in the work, fuel smart, eat well, and get good sleep. Oh, and never take yourself or the sport too seriously. It's only a hobby.

Mmmm. Carrot cake muffins from my book.
If you haven't already, you can pre-order my book HERE.

Seeing that this race was a low priority race for Karel, we planned a quick trip to and from Augusta. Karel is gearing up for Kona (his 3rd IM World Championship) in three weeks so this race was part of his training as he did not taper for this race and went into the event with a tired body. After arriving to the Ramada on Broad around 3pm on Friday, we unloaded all of our stuff and then made our way to the Marriott convention center for Karel to get his race packet. With this being my first time to Augusta, I really enjoyed the small town and all of the neat stores and restaurants while walking on Broad street. Campy was loving all of the smells. Nearing 5pm, Karel and I made our way to the river for an open water swim. The water temp was perfect (around 77 degrees) and the current was moving us down the river. Rather than getting out and walking back to where we started, we swam against the current to get ourselves back to the dock. Although a little bit harder this way, I enjoyed it. But then again, anytime I am in the water I am swimming happy. Karel has been swimming very strong lately so I was happy to have him by my side during our ~1000 meter swim.

Rather than waiting for food at a restaurant, we ordered take-out from the Southern Salad and then walked to pick it up. The meal was delicious. Since I brought plenty of food from home, we were stocked with plenty of food for snacking in our room and to minimize eating out at every meal. Having Campy around made the trip much more relaxing as he loves to travel and to check out new sights. He was (mostly) on his best behavior for this trip and he made a lot of triathletes smile. It was also fun having Karel's mom around as every trip is a new adventure for her and she's becoming quite the triathlon fan.

Saturday was pretty uneventful. Karel did his bike warm-up on some of the course - which he said was not the most pleasant as the roads were high in traffic and there were one too many railroad crossings. While Karel was riding, I did an hour run workout on the River Walk. I was really enjoying the opportunity to train in Augusta and check out the venue since we will be racing Augusta as a Trimarni team race in 2019.

This was from The New Moon Cafe on Sunday while spectating. 

After Karel's bike workout, he came back in the room, prepared his bike for check-in and then road his bike to check-in (in his running shoes) and ran back to the hotel (plus a little more) to finish up his pre-race warm-up. The location of T1/T2 was a little over a mile from our hotel. He said he felt pretty good during his bike/run warm-up which was surprising for him since he had been pretty tired earlier in the week from his previous training.

While Karel was checking in his bike and running, I ordered us all lunch from The New Moon Cafe. With the town flooded with triathletes, ordering out meals was much easier than sitting and waiting for food. We were eating lunch in our hotel room by 12:30pm which allowed Karel to rest for the remainder of the day. We also watched some of the recap of Ironman Italy on Ironman Now (Facebook). So that Karel could stay off his feet and stay in the AC (it was very hot out), I attended the athlete briefing at the expo/convention center at 2pm. I actually enjoy listening to the briefing (although many times they are boring) as I feel there can always be updated information worth hearing before the race and I enjoy being around all of the first-timers and feeling their nervous energy. I then relayed the information to Karel (I took notes) on any important information.

We went to sleep around 9pm for an early wake-up at 4:45am.

Race day
I laid in bed with Campy until 5:20am to let Karel use the room to get whatever he needed to get done to get himself race ready. After a few cups of espresso (portable espresso machine), bowl of oatmeal and a Guava pastry, Karel suited up in his race day kit and filled his bottles with nutrition. Around 5:50pm, Karel listed to his music and visualized his race while letting the Normatec boots move blood in his legs before we headed out to walk to the transition around 6:15am. Our athlete/friend Thomas joined us for the walk (along with Campy. Karel's mom stayed back in the hotel room and walked to the swim start by herself around 7:30am) and it was nice to see so many familiar faces. We had over 10 athletes racing! After Karel laid out his gear and pumped up his tires, he handed Thomas his pump to bring back to the room and I grabbed Karel's backpack. Karel went off to do his pre-race jog and we all met back up at the morning clothes bag drop-off area. It was nearing 7:30am when the pros went off and Karel got in line in the 27-minute and under group.

Swim: Karel felt strong on the swim. He felt comfortable in his new Roka swimskin, which was good practice before Kona. Although the downstream current helped, Karel felt like he had good rhythm in the water and could swim very steady but strong. While the sun was in his eyes at times, it was an easy course to stay on course. The main focus for this swim was to test his new swimskin and to find a good rhythm in the water while swimming strong but steady.

Bike: After a quick transition, Karel was off on the bike. Although Karel felt good and didn't have any low moments on the bike (aside from his left hip giving him a little feedback), Karel wasn't a huge fan of this course. While some sections were nice, the railroad tracks and non-technical, flat-road nature of the course did not suit Karel's strengths. This doesn't mean it was a bad or unsafe course, it just wasn't a course that suited his strengths. But that's ok as he wanted to race Augusta and get the most out of it as a solid day of training. He said that he rode a lot of the course by himself as the guys who passed him were riding really strong and because he was near the front of the swim (rolling start), there wasn't a lot of people on the course. He didn't let this get to him as he was happy with how he executed the bike. As he was nearing T2, he was getting more and more excited about getting off the bike and running (his strongest discipline).

Run: It didn't take Karel too long to find his rhythm and to start passing athletes ahead of him. Although the rolling start made it difficult to know exactly who was in front or behind Karel, the Ironman tracker made it much easier to know exactly where Karel was in his age group and overall. The run course was so spectator friendly in that we could see Karel (and the other athletes) almost every 2 miles (or less). It was easy to get from one street to the next and the streets were closed to traffic - even Broad street (the main street in the downtown). This made it a lot of fun to cheer and to keep Karel updated with how he was doing. It was also awesome to see the pros in action. Although this was a low priority race for Karel, this didn't mean that he didn't give his best. Anytime Karel shows up to a race, he is there to race. Tired or fresh, he's there to give his best. The main difference at this race (similar to when he raced Raleigh) was the fact that Karel didn't taper for it so he knew he was going into the race tired. However, Karel seems to race his best in the half distance when he doesn't taper.

It didn't take more than a few miles for Karel to start passing athlete after athlete. Although he was near the front of the age-group for most of the swim and bike, there was still a big gap between him and first place. The course was flat so I wasn't expecting any changes in Karel's pace - once he found his rhythm, he was going to stick with it. I gave Karel information that I felt would help him in the moment, depending on where he was on the course.

Since I knew that the overall places would change a lot as the race went on, as more athletes got on the run course, I focused mostly on his age group and then once he secured his first place spot (around mile 8), I gave him info about his overall ranking just to keep him motivated to continue to give it his best. Karel didn't have any low moments on the run and while it got hot and he pushed it at the end, he welcomed it all as it was perfect training for Kona. He felt controlled throughout the entire run and felt he executed it really well. He was also really thankful to have his hydration belt (which he wears in every training session and race). I never worry about Karel when he races for he's a smart racer and knows how to listen to his body, stay up with his fueling/hydration (thanks to his hydration belt) and adjust. He never gets stuck on times, places or metrics, which I feel is his best weapon as it relates to racing.

Photo: Katja

Video: Thomas

After Karel crossed the finish line, he cooled off with a few bottles of water and then greeted his mom, me and Campy. Our athletes Katja, Thomas and Fiona were also there spectating and it was so much fun to have them around. While Karel walked back to the hotel (just two blocks away) to shower, eat another pastry, drink a Mexican coke and recover with a chocolate recovery drink, I stayed out on the course to cheer for the other Trimarnis. Eventually, Karel came down and we all cheered to ensure that all Trimarnis reached that finish line on a very hot day.

Karel was very proud of his performance. It gave him a lot of confidence in his fitness before Kona, especially since it's been a while since he last raced (end of July). After the awards, we packed up the car and headed back home. Campy was exhausted.

Swim: 23.58
T1: 2:50
Bike: 2:23.06
T2: 1:56
Run: 1:21.29 (PR, 2nd fastest AG run)
Total: 4:13.17, 5th overall amateur, 1st AG (40-44).

Run paces (according to Karel's Garmin):

Race Gear:

Goggles: MP Xceed mirror lens
Swimskin - Roka viper X short sleeve
Race kit - two piece Trimarni canari kit

Ventum One Frame size 51 (custom paint by Kcycle)
Ventum base bar and speed shop 51 FSM aero extensions with Tririg ultra light elbow pads with CeeGees pads
Wheels: Front: Alto CT 86, Rear: Lightweight Autobahn disc.
Groupset: Shimano Dura-Ace 9100 Di2, crank length 165mm, gearing 54x39, Ceramic Speed oversized pulley system
Powermeter: Garmin vector pedals (not working during race)
BB: CeramicSpeed bottom bracket
Saddle: Dash Stage Custom saddle/post combo
Cages: Gorilla
Hydration: built-in Ventum System
Helmet - Giro air attack
Shoes - DMT triathlon

Belt: Naked
Shoes: Nike Vapor Fly 4% with Xtenex laces
Sunglasses: Oakley Radar Lock

Nutrition bike:
Infinit (2 bottles worth in hydration system)
1500 Precision hydration (1 bottle between aero bars)
Skratch chews

Nutrition run:
1500 PH (precision hydration, flask)
1000 PH (precision hydration, flask)
2 Enervit cheerpacks (consumed half) in small flask topped with water
(all stored in hydration belt)