Essential Sports Nutrition

7/5/19

The traveling triathlete - going international


One of my favorite things about being a triathlete is traveling for a race. Today, there are so many incredible places to visit so it's extra special when you combine a love for traveling with a love of racing. 

Traveling to another country is not a simple process. Now add in the gear for swimming, biking and running and travel can become a very overwhelming (and expensive) experience.

Over the years, Karel and I have enjoyed many incredible race-cations - Austria, Prague, Canada, Lake Placid and Kona to name a few. Here are a few tips to help you feel more prepared for your upcoming international event.

TRAVEL
  • Review your passport to make sure that it won't expire when you are away. Review country requirements for travel.
  • Review all airline policies for your bike (and bags) before booking your plane ticket, call the airline in advance to notify them that you will be traveling with a bike and when you arrive to the airport, have printed-out information about bike fees/sizing, etc. Arrive to the airport with extra time (at least two hours).
  • Traveling with your bike is not cheap or easy so be sure you educate yourself on how to best travel with your bike to your final destination. Compare prices (and ease-of-travel) with Tri Bike Transport (if available).
  • Consider how you will get to your final destination from the airport with your bike, bags and yourself and others. Rental car, bus, van, etc. Reserve modes of transportation in advance whenever possible.
  • Always confirm your reservations and arrangements at least two weeks before your travel to make sure there are no mistakes made in your travel itinerary.
  • Consider cost vs. ease-of-travel. Sometimes it costs a bit more for an easier travel experience. Do not expect stress free but many times you can plan for a smoother trip by paying for convenience. Budget in advance for your trip so you don't book things last-minute.
  • Review your lodging arrangements. Can you eat healthy while dining out or do you have to be creative in your hotel room?
  • Always allow extra time. If you think you only need 3 days to get yourself adjusted to a new time zone, give yourself 4. I also recommend to enjoy your race-cation after the race (instead of touring before the race). Give yourself a few days to explore with your family/friends after the race.
  • Consider races that are family/friends-friendly so your team is not bored, with nothing to do in an isolated area, in the days leading up to the race. Having a team travel with you can be a very enjoyable experience. You can also use the extra help (ex. driving around/dropping off, cooking food, running errands, etc.) in an unfamiliar environment.
  • If you (or family/friends) have dietary/health issues, be sure to be prepared by notifying airlines, lodging, etc. and reviewing/planning as much as you can, in advance.  Have all medications with you.
  • Notify your bank (credit card) before you travel so that the 'foreign' charges do not cause your credit card to be frozen. Also, be sure to have a written paper of all emergency numbers to carry with you in case of an emergency. Keep a family member back at home in the loop of where you are each day.
  • Make a list of what you need to bring with you as some items may not be available at your final destination (ex. nutrition, gear, etc.). Never make assumptions when you travel. Always be prepared by doing your research. 
  • Don't carry all of your cash with you/in one place. Divide up your cash (but still keep on you at all times) in different places in the case you accidentally lose your wallet. 
  • Consider the best places to exchange currency, instead of relying on the airport kiosk.
GEAR
  • Don't forget chargers and gadgets. Make sure you are prepared for different power plugs and sockets. Don't forget a universal travel adapter. 
  • Bring your most important gear items with you on the plane, instead of in your suitcase. It's recommended to have at least one set of extra clothing with you in case your luggage gets lost, as well as swim or run gear so that you can still workout when you arrive if your bike/luggage doesn't arrive with you.
  • Pack sport nutrition products in your suitcase and label everything. Double bag your products in case of a spill.
  • When packing, make sure to allow extra room for gifts/swag for your return trip. When considering what to bring vs. what to buy when you arrive to your final destination, factor in the exchange rate if you plan to buy something when you arrive.
  • Have phone numbers available with you in the case your luggage/bike gets lost or you need to reach your accommodations. 
NUTRITION
  • Stay hydrated during your travels, with water and electrolytes. 
  • Bring snacks with you during travel, and a few bars (ex. Amrita protein bars - discount Trimarni) for emergency/snack situations.
  • Research the typical cuisine at your final destination and nearby grocery stores.
  • Be mindful of food and water safety while traveling. Consider how food is prepared when you are eating out in a new country as well as any hidden ingredients that may not be well-tolerated in your nervous/traveling belly. Wait until post race to explore a new cuisine. Depending on the water safety at your final destination, plan to have bottled water with you at all times.
  • Eat mini meals every 2 hours to adjust to a new time zone instead of sticking to your normal meal schedule (or grazing throughout the entire day of travel). Do not overdo it on caffeine to stay awake during traveling. When you arrive to your final destination, try to quickly get on the new time zone. Be aware that everyone adjusts differently. Avoid mid-day naps when you arrive. It's better to go to bed early than to struggle to fall asleep.
  • Try to follow a similar eating pattern (but in a new time-zone) to your regular routine in your home environment.
  • Check the airline/country requirements of what you can/can't bring on to the plane (food). Always have food on you in the case of an emergency (even if you need to purchase at the airport). Never assume your travel will go smoothly without delays. 
  • Be firm on your dietary needs and requirements and be confident with your food selections. If a food/meal concerns you, do not eat it. I am all for enjoying a new culture but not at the expense of a body that is not well-fueled or sick on race day. 

MAKE IT FEEL LIKE HOME

  • Bring your recovery routine to the new country. Foam rollers, trigger point therapy sets, compression socks, epson salt, etc. to help you stay relaxed.
  • Trust your training and your race plan. Don't second guess yourself just because you are in a new environment.
  • Review weather well in advance and be prepared for anything.
  • If you have a favorite sheet or a sound machine, bring it with you. Familiar is comforting.
  • Bring ear plugs and an eye mask to help with restful sleeping.
  • Get good sleep to help you feel relaxed and to keep the immune system functioning well.
  • Review all course maps, the race week event schedule and any other race details that will give you a more enjoyable and calm race experience.
  • Search out safe training environments or train with others so that you do not compromise your health/safety before your race. Use a race forum/social media page to ask questions about the best places to train in the days before the race. Look for a pool option if open water swimming is not available before your race.
  • Be sure to thank your team, even if they are not with you in your final destination. Facetime/Skype, call, email - be sure to communicate with those who support you and believe in you. Don't forget to bring home lots of souvenirs for your team.
  • Thank your body. You are not able to do what you love to do without your body. Even if things don't seem to go as planned (they probably won't), this doesn't mean that you are doomed for a bad race.
  • Have fun!  Life is all about experiences and making memories and how cool that you get to race and travel at the same time! 


7/3/19

The aging athlete


This past weekend was an exciting one as there were many triathlon races occurring around the globe. In Michigan, I had three athletes (one coached and two nutrition) racing IM 70.3 Steelhead.
A big congrats to Diane, Julia and Karen for placing 5th, 3rd and 1st (respectively) in the 50-54 age group! These ladies are showing that age is just a number. Even at 50+ years of age, you can still feel fit and perform well with your body.

It's often said that every athlete will "peak" by a certain age and will then decline in speed, endurance and strength. In the mind of an athlete, you may believe that you are losing fitness and you will no longer experience success in your sport. This couldn't be more far from the truth.

One of the great aspects of triathlon is that you can start the sport later in life and still feel like you are still gaining fitness, endurance and strength. Triathlon is not a sport that rewards the young and genetically gifted.

Most of us never come close to our true fitness potential. Therefore, you can't put an age as to when your fitness will begin to decline. It's all about being smart with your training, lifestyle choices and health. And of course, "use it or lose it."

Although several physiological changes occur later in life, this doesn't mean that the aging athlete (ex. over 50 years) should stop setting goals for self-improvement.

As it relates to the fitness and performance decline that many older athletes experience, I believe the biggest mistake that aging athletes make is failing to accept that lifestyle, nutrition and training regimes need to change. You can't train, sleep, eat and recover like your 20-year old self. No longer will your body let you push hard, day after day, as it did when you were younger. There is less margin of error. Whereas a younger athlete may be able to thrive off limited sleep and a poorly planned diet, you need to be smarter when it comes to the best approaches to adapting to training stress.

As you age, you must be willing to change and adapt. For example, when it comes to training, you will only get slower if you just focus on long or aerobic training sessions. Instead, you need strength and intensity added safely into your training. The aging athlete can not compromise sleep - which is often the first to go with a busy life schedule of work and kids and extracurricular activities. Lastly, the aging athlete must constantly fine-tune the daily diet, taking into account energy expenditure, macro and micronutrient needs and fluid intake. Age-related changes in body composition, resting energy expenditure and volume/intensity/frequency of training influence how much and when you eat.

For more information on this topic, I have two past articles for your reading pleasure:

Case Study: The Proactive Senior Athlete

Nutritional needs for the older female athlete.

7/2/19

Greenville Endurance Triathlon Camp - recap


We recently finished our 13th group training camp. We had triathletes travel to Greenville, SC from all over the U.S. for 4.5 days of swimming, biking and running. The campers left feeling accomplished and exhausted - with new skills, knowledge, memories and friendships.

Although putting on a triathlon training camp for 15 athletes is incredibly time-consuming, stressful and exhausting, it's always a rewarding experience to see how our campers stretch comfort zones, push physical and mental limits and are open to trying new things. Most of all, we feel incredibly lucky that such incredible human beings attend our camp. Every camper is kind, supportive, humble and supportive. While there are times that we want our campers to shine and show-off their strengths, we believe that no camper ever feels too slow or too fast at our camp. It's the perfect mix of learning, working and fun.

The final stats are in and over 4.5 days, our campers accomplished.....

~4 hours of swimming
~12 hours of cycling (~12,000+ elevation feet gained on the bike)
~3.5 hours of running
Total: ~19.5 hours of training!!

This camp would not be possible without the help of our SAG support Joey (and photographer), our on-course support (and giver of positive energy) Al and our amazing assistant coach Joe (who is an expert problem-solver).


Also, a huge thank you to the following Trimarni affiliates who supported our camp with sport nutrition products for our campers to use throughout their intentional training overload: 

Infinit Nutrition
BASE Performance
Breakthrough Nutrition
Skratch Labs
CarboRocket
CLIF Bar

As a sport dietitian, I feel it’s important to align myself with a variety of companies who offer well-formulated sport nutrition drinks. By offering these products to my athletes, they can try out different products, during all types of workouts, and then decide which ones will work the best based on personal experience.




A big thanks to Mg12, AMP performance and Veronica's Health Crunch for supplying products for the camper swag bags!

Here's a quick recap of camp: 
Thursday:
AM: 90 minute OWS-specific pool swim at Furman
AM: 75-minute hill run workout
PM: 3 hour terrain management/heavy gear work bike workout


Friday:
AM: 3 hour terrain management bike + time trial
AM: 30 min brick run (race pacing)
PM: 90 min endurance focused swim + smoothies from Dane at Run In!


Saturday:
AM: 5 hour ride
AM: 30 min interval brick run
PM: Pizza party (Yum Sidewall pizza!)




Sunday:
AM: 1 hour open water swim workout
AM: 90 minute progressive interval hill run





Congrats to our campers for surviving camp!
We can't wait to see you next year!