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Trimarni is place where athletes and fitness enthusiasts receive motivation, inspiration, education, counseling and coaching in the areas of nutrition, fitness, health, sport nutrition, training and life.

We emphasize a real food diet and our coaching philosophy is simple: Train hard, recover harder. No junk miles but instead, respect for your amazing body. Every time you move your body you do so with a purpose. Our services are designed with your goals in mind so that you can live an active and healthy, balanced lifestyle.

Trimarni Blog

A blog dedicated to exercise, nutrition and my life

Filtering by Category: "food is fuel"

Kona training update and food is fuel (yummy)

Marni Sumbal

This body is not disappointing me despite pushing it to higher limits and challenging workouts. Thanks coach Karel!

Today's workout was a breakthrough. I owe it to two great recovery days last week (Mon off, Tues 3000 recovery swim) and a balanced training plan since IM Lake Placid that has allowed my body to train hard but recover harder. I still don't forget that I didn't run for 90 days in Feb  - April but I thank my body constantly. Sometimes I even do it out loud. 

Wednesday - UNF masters swim team (joined Karel who has really benefited from this group and Coach Mel's assistance with his stroke)
Main set:
100 fast, 50 EZ
2 x 100 fast, 50 EZ
3 x 100 fast, 50 EZ
4 x 100 fast 50 EZ
The goal was to get faster with the fast as the set went on (2 minute cycle) but to be consistent. I really woke up my fast twitch fibers and oh boy was my body filled with lactic acid. I went from 1:16 to holding 1:14 on the last 4 and I was done after that. Whewww.

After the swim Karel and I went for a 90 minute bike, I included 8 x 2 min "fast" w/ 3 min EZ to wake up the body before Thursday's workout.

Thursday: Brick (bike + run)
Bike main set:
10 x 3 min Z4, 2 min Z3 low (Recover in IM watts) - loved this set!

Run off the bike
1 mile EZ (8:10), 1 min walk
Main set: 4 x 1 miles @ 7:30-7:40 min/mile pace w/ 1 min walk/rest in between
1 mile steady (8:10 min/mile)

Fri - 5000
Main set:
2 x 800's IM pace w/ 1 min rest
3 x 400's IM pace w/ 1 min rest
Hip/core work

Saturday: 3:37 bike (71 miles) + 1 hour run (7.2 miles)
1 hour warm-up (building to 15 watts below IM pace)
Main set 4x's:
35 min at IM pace (my new pace is now 12 watts higher - yippe for training smarter, less is more) w/ 4 min EZ
(this set went by super fast and my body felt strong, no residual fatigue as the set went on. Sport nutrition liquid fueling was spot on (I don't do any solid foods in my training/racing) and haven't had any stomach distress with any of my IM training in many many years.)

Run off the bike:
6 x 1 miles @ interval of goal IM pace (the focus was to run faster than goal IM pace and then walk until the goal IM pace cycle was up. My goal IM pace is 8:30 so I was running comfortably 7:57-8 min/miles and then walking 30-35 sec in between. Great set, loved it! It got hard on the last mile as I was super hot and running out of my drinks in my two flasks.
10 min cool jog down (this felt sooo good to run 8:50 min/mile pace after that)

The other day while I was working in the hospital (I work PRN as an inpatient Clinical RD) I had a patient who was admitted for Jaundice and electrolyte imbalance. This patient was also diagnosed with anorexia and bulimia.

As we all know electrolytes are vital as our nerves, cardiac muscle and skeletal muscle all rely on them on a daily basis. They also help control pH balance in the blood and body fluids. Our electrolytes are best obtained from food but as we know as athletes, we also find them in sport drinks. Electrolytes are tightly controlled in body fluids (ex. plasma, blood and interstitial fluid) and must remain in specific concentrations or else serious medical conditions may arise.

Now as a clinical RD, it is appropriate for me to let everyone know that restricting food or purging food will lead to an electrolyte imbalance (among many other issues) and may cause further stress on the kidneys and heart. 

I'm sure we can all agree that restricting food for anyone is not recommended for we can put the body into a very serious situation of poor health as well as vitamin and mineral deficiencies. 

So why is it that so many athletes feel that they don't need sport nutrition during workouts? As if the body is just fine with water (or nothing) and that dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, organ failure and even cardiovascular issues are not likely because training for a sporting event means that you are immune from these issues. 

Seeing that the body can "shut" down to try to resume balance without adding exercising into the mix when a person voluntarily restricts food (for whatever reason), this is why I am very adamant about not only consuming a balanced diet for athletes and fitness enthusiasts and learning how to fuel the body for health and for fitness/performance but also supporting the body with sport nutrition during training- when the body is under the most physiological stress. Sure, you can argue with me about fat burning and that your body doesn't need it but how about training the body to need it and then training the body so that the body takes care of itself to get stronger and more efficient?

I've said it before but I fuel before every workout, during every workout and after every workout. I never sabotage my body by not fueling it properly, especially when I want it to perform as beautifully as possible during training in order to get stronger and to recover faster.

Here are a few of my recent creations to help you continue your quest of learning how to develop a healthy relationship with food as an athlete. Remember - food is for fuel, for health and for pleasure. 

Brown Rice
Frozen Veggies
Boca veggie "meat" crumbles
Frozen edamame
Marinara sauce
Mozzarella cheese
topping: Sesame seeds
1. Microwave ingredients in bowl and top with sesame seeds.

Breakfast bread (nuts and dried fruit - Publix grocery store, made fresh daily)
Fresh fruit - raspberries, bananas
Greek yogurt (daily eats - 0% Fage)
Scrambled eggs (1 whole egg + 1 egg white)
Kale w/ olive oil (sauteed)

Roasted veggies - peppers, eggplant, onions (purple), mushrooms
Asparagus w/ garlic
Sunflower seeds
Goat cheese
Olive oil
Salt to taste
Marinara sauce
1. In 425 degree oven place veggies in large casserole and toss lightly in olive oil. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
2. Steam asparagus and then place in small casserole dish and top with chopped garlic and bake until golden brown (15 minutes).
3. Prepare millet (1/2 cup dry prepares 3 cups cooked) - 25-30 minutes
4. Place 1/2 - 1 cup millet in bowl and stir in marinara. Top with roasted veggies and asparagus and top with cheese and seeds. Season to taste.

Pre training snack: flat bread cracker + peanut butter, banana slices, cinnamon and honey

1/2 cup oatmeal (dry)
1 tbsp chia seeds
~10g whey protein powder
Water (to meet consistency needs)

I love supporting small businesses especially the bakers and bread makers at the farmers market. I went to the Bartram Farmers market on Thursday and as I was browsing the breads, many tables where trying to pitch me their treats/breads by what was not in the ingredients (sugar, salt, fat, gluten, etc). I guess they don't know my personal philosophy and what I am all about when it comes to eating for fuel, for health and for pleasure.
I decided on Hugo's muffins because I could tell he was truly passionate about his food and he knew I would feel great eating it.... And I did, gluten and all. C
heck out Hugo's story HERE!
YAY - Campy walks are the best!! The most looked forward part of my day (for both of us).
(Pampered shades from Oakley Women)

Fruity pancakes

Marni Sumbal

Is it really true that my body did an Ironman just 7 days ago? I am continuing with my no-sick/illness streak which started around 2007 (or earlier), my mind is fresh and the body is not experiencing any residual fatigue. Now this wasn't the case after my first two Ironman's when it took me a good 3 weeks to feel normal again but for the past few years, my quality approach to training is a combination of going into my endurance races hungry to race but also not overtrained so that I can bounce back quickly in order to function well in life soon after a race. Also, a good daily diet and sport nutrition regime assists in optimal training, racing and recovery.
This week has been easy in terms of taking it easy because I feel no pressure to rush back into training. The only thing that is a little off is still my sleeping which I am going to bed about 60-90 minutes later than normal at night (but then again, my life is super busy all day so if I am not training, my mind is often being occupied with a lot of other thoughts and ideas). I will continue to just go by feel (gadget free) for one more week and keep everything light, fun and comfortable.
As for post Ironman, this week Karel and I did nothing on Mon and Tues after the race. Well, we walked around on top of Whiteface mountain on Tues....slowly.

Wed was a travel day (from 6:30am until 8pm) and then Thurs we were itching to do something so Karel and I swam for around 40 minutes (stopping whenever we wanted). Friday I swam again (around a 3000 I think and Karel rode for 90 minutes) and then on Sat and today, I rode my road bike for ~2 hours (no HR monitor, power meter or attention to speed/distance). Karel rode on Sat with some friends and today he jogged for ~30 minutes.
I met up with a few strangers while I was riding, asked if I could join and drafted as my legs did no work for most of the ride. I feel re-charged but will be patient before I start training for Kona for next 8 weeks (Karel is already excited to help me train for my 3rd World Championships so my Training Peaks calendar already has workouts in it for the next few weeks thanks to him :) 

But what I am reminded of the most is that life can really rush by in an instant. I remember around 8 weeks or so out from Ironman Lake Placid, I felt like it was a light-year away and as the weeks went on, it just wouldn't come fast enough. Nearing the last two weeks before the race, I wanted things to slow down because I knew that in two weeks, it would all be over. All that training for a one day event and the experience that I thought would never come was completed in less than 10 hours and 43 minutes. 

Be sure that you are not rushing life, waiting for a vacation, longing for the weekend (on Monday) or finding yourself wishing for tomorrow. Make memories, live in the moment and set goals so that you are not counting your days but instead, making the most of your days here on Earth while you have them. 

Pancakes on Sunday are always enjoyed but 7 days post Ironman, yum, yum, yum. Real maple syrup, Karel's favorite butter and many special surprises in my pancakes to ensure that you are getting lots of nutrients in your breakfast meal. No need to reach for pills and supplements to give your body vitamins and minerals as you should always start with your diet to reduce risk for disease, to help change body composition and to live an active lifestyle as you work hard for your personal goals. 

Fruity pancakesServes 7

6 strawberries (chopped or sliced)
1/2 cup blueberries
1 egg
1/2 cup packed zucchini (shredded)
1/8 tsp salt
2/3 cup oat flour (you can use any flour, I like to mix up my flours when I made pancakes, I also love soy flour and rye flour)
1/2 tbsp honey
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp raisins
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
1/4 cup milk
Olive oil

1. Mix together ingredients in large bowl up until the milk. Stir with a fork to evenly combine.
2. Add milk to create a soupy batter (which will thicken as it sits).
3. Heat a large skillet to low to medium heat (in between) and drizzle a little olive oil on the pan to prevent batter from sticking.
4. Spoon 1/3 cup servings on to pan and cook for 3-4 minutes until the bottom is golden brown (you can lightly spread out pancake to be a little flatter with your fork).
5. Flip pancakes and cook other side for 2-3 minutes.
6. Serve with a serving of your choice of protein: glass of milk, greek yogurt, grilled tofu, tempeh, eggs or cottage cheese.

Hello from Lake Placid!!

Marni Sumbal

Race to travel. Travel to race.

Karel and I absolutely love seeing new places and making memories together. Since we both live a very active lifestyle, the combination of traveling and racing works very nicely for us for it allows us to see new sights in a very active way.

Lake Placid was a race that we decided to do last year around June. Karel was seeking a new challenge after spending most of his teenage - adult life training and racing cycling, with the past few years as a cat 1 cyclist. Karel jumped in the water last May for his first swim "workout" and after working hard in the water for a few weeks, he was ready for his first ever triathlon in mid July. Never did I ask Karel to do a triathlon, let alone an Ironman for I believe that with two active individuals being married, they don't have to have similar passions but instead, excitement for similar lifestyles. But one day, Karel said he wanted to train for an Ironman and knowing that it would take a while, he set his eyes on a June/July race for the following year ('13) so that he could train for an entire year, primarily learning the skills of triathlon. After tossing around a few ideas, we narrowed down our choices based on logistics, timing, weather and terrain and Ironman Lake Placid was on the top of our list. We both seek challenging, hilly courses and IM Lake Placid was not going to disappoint us based on what we new about the race. Additionally, we really enjoy visiting places where the town comes together to support the Ironman. Knowing that not every town is in favor of having 2500+ athletes take-over 140.6 miles, it is very special to be in a place that thrives off the Ironman weekend.

Lake Placid it was........our first Ironman together.

It was a long day of traveling, starting with a 3:45am wake-up call to drive 2 hours to Orlando (much cheaper flights in Orlando vs Jax). Before we even left Orlando to head to La Guardia, I received a message on my phone from Delta that we would have a delay in NY before heading to Vermont. So our 5 total hours of getting from Orlando to Vermont turned into 7.5 hours. Then, we had to take a ferry from Vermont to New York and I choose the longest ferry which took an hour. But we just missed the 4:10pm ferry so we had to wait until 5:30pm - which was the last one! We killed time by heading to the local grocery store for some groceries for the morning and before we knew it we were driving on board the ferry for a very beautiful trip to NY. I enjoyed a salad from Moe's which made my tummy happy. After arriving to NY, we traveling about 1 hour and 10 minutes to Lake Placid which put us to our rental cottage around 8pm. But despite all the delays and mistakes with my travel arrangements, it was an absolutely beautiful welcome to get to Lake Placid and we purposely drove on the bike course to our cottage (3 miles from the race venue on River Drive) to check out the course. Beautiful, challenging, tough.

We went to bed just before 9pm as we were both exhausted from the day. But up early without an alarm at 6am to get the coffee going w/ a small snack before we met Trimarni Coaching athlete Laura G and her bf Duran for a swim at mirror lake.

Karel and I didn't have our wetsuits because they were packed with our gear bag with Tri Bike Transport and I was really worried that the 43 morning temps would freeze me from a morning swim. Laura let me borrow her speed suit and Karel wore a tri suit and actually, the swim felt great (albeit a tiny bit chilly but nothing that would keep me from swimming 1.2 miles in mirror lake). It was really nice to get the blood flowing as I am itching to push hard and release my contained energy but doing nothing will only get me tight and unfocused.

After warming up back in the cottage, it was time for a real meal, followed by check-in, expo exploring and grocery shopping. So grateful for Laura being a local (grew up playing hockey around Placid but now lives in NC) as she was an excellent tour guide, driving us around and explaining the course to us (which was an added bonus since I have been reviewing her training files on training peaks for the past 2 weeks since she has been staying up here with her family).

After a light lunch, we picked up our bikes at Tri Bike Transport and Karel put on our pedals and we were ready for a ride with Laura as our tour guide.

Karel and I needed to do a little climbing to wake up our legs as it is always a shock for the body to climb, especially when you don't do it for a while (or regularly). We rode the last part of the course by heading down the last climb to Wilmington to then head back up as if we were actually on the course (2 loop course). We rode from Wilmington towards whiteface mountain on Route 86 for around 11 miles of climbing, a few rollers and not a lot of flat. This course is extremely challenging and race day calls for a big chance for rain so this course certainly requires a lot of patience and love for mother nature. All-in-all, I love this course already!

After the ride, it was nearing 5:30 pm by the time we cleaned up so Karel and I each made some dinner and the rest of the evening was relaxing.

We are looking forward to a very easy workout in the morning with a very short swim in the lake at 7:30am followed by a 45ish minute "flat" ride on river road (well- as flat as you can get around here with a few rollers).

The pictures speak louder than words and I hope you can enjoy Lake Placid via my photos for we are absolutely loving it here!

(Karel's eats)

Fueling for an Ironman

Marni Sumbal

I believe that training and racing in an Ironman Triathlon is a gift. The more that I think about it, any time you challenge your body with an athletic goal, it is a very special thing. From 5K running to marathon running and any other sport that makes you happy. Your body is a gift that allows you to get stronger, faster and more skilled.

Therefore, the opportunity that many of us have to use our body for sports is something that should not be taken for granted. So rather than making training and racing your life, it is important to recognize that training and racing is your lifestyle. A lifestyle that is given to you because you are healthy and well enough to train and race in your sport of choice.

You can't out-train a poorly planned diet. If your body does not receive the necessary nutrients to stay in optimal health, there is no way that your body will perform and adapt during exercise like you desire.

So rather than spending all of your energy, time and money on sport nutrition products, training plans and expensive equipment, consider the power of food to fuel your active lifestyle.

In 6 days I will be doing my 6th Ironman. My diet has not changed throughout this IM journey from what I normally eat on a day-to-day basis without training for an Ironman. The only thing that changes with training is my sport nutrition as I always adjust what I eat/drink before, during and after training based on my workout load/volume and intensity. I always fuel my body before workouts, I always fuel during workouts and I always  fuel post workout but what and how I fuel differs depending on the training.

What never changes is my appreciation of real food to fuel my muscles, brain and body. It not only helps me prevent disease but it tastes good and leaves me satisfied and happy.

I wanted to use this blog to share a few of my recent creations that have been fueling my Ironman journey. Enjoy!

Baked pasta casserole
Cooked pasta and macaroni noodles
Red bell pepper (sliced)
1 can tomato Parmesan soup
Cheddar cheese
Nutritional yeast  (~2 tbsp)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. In casserole dish (rectangle) pour can of soup and add veggies. Cover with noodles (about 1/2 cup per person) and sprinkle with nutritional yeast.
3. Slice a few pieces of cheddar brick cheese to place on the noodles and season with your choice of herbs/spices.
4. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until noodles are crispy. 

PB&J  morning eats
2 slices whole grain bread
Smuckers Natural PB
100% Fruit jam
Raisins, walnuts and honey
Greek yogurt plain (0% Chobani or Fage are my fav)
Fresh fruit

Fresh fruit and breakfast bread
2 slices bakery breakfast bread
Fresh fruit and plain yogurt

Roasted potatoes w/ mixed whole grains and veggies
White and sweet potatoes (sliced)
Mixed whole grains (cooked - I mixed brown rice, spelt berries and wild rice and cooked for about 90 minutes)
Tofu (firm)
Red bell pepper
Frozen corn  
Sunflower oil 

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place potatoes on baking sheet and toss in about 1 tbsp oil. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and season to your liking with a little salt and rosemary.
2. In casserole dish, place veggies and tofu and bake until soft (they won't brown in the glass dish).

Eggplant lasagna
1 large eggplant - sliced
Marinara sauce
Firm tofu (crumbled before placing in dish)
Corn (from the cob, cooked and then sliced off)
Garlic (chopped)
Shredded cheese
Nutritional yeast
Olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. In large casserole dish, light coat with a little olive oil before layering.
3. LAYERS: Eggplant, marinara, tofu, corn, spinach, garlic, nutritional yeast. Repeat. Then top with a little cheese.
4. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until eggplant is lightly brown and soft. 

Risotto with veggies and tofu
Corn (cooked)
Tofu (grilled on skillet in a little oil until brown)
Risotto (or jasmine/orzo)
Mushrooms (cooked)
Zucchini  (cooked)
1. Combine in a bowl starting with the veggies and then top with a serving of rice. Mix together with marinara. 

Summer salad
Mixed leafy greens

Sweet and spicy tempeh w/ fruit
Olive oil

1. Grill tempeh on skillet on medium heat in a little olive oil.
2. Cook quinoa according to package (1:2 ratio of quinoa to water) while tempeh is cooking.
3. Slice fruit and steam broccoli. 

Summer veggies w/ quinoa
Beets  (fresh, cooked)
Sliced cheese
Red quinoa
Fresh basil
Corn on the cob
Hard boiled egg
Olive oil
1. Cook veggies and beets and tofu in large skill skillet on medium heat until soft.
2. Prepare quinoa while veggies are cooking.
3. Cook corn in microwave (husks removed) for 7-10 minutes or until cooked.
Season with your choice of seasonings. 

Ironman prep- long run + yummy berry-licious pancakes (recipe)

Marni Sumbal

After my quality brick workout on Saturday and my normal post workout recovery routine (recovery drink, stretching, foam rolling on my bac, Epson salt bath/shower, 110% Play Harder gear, food and then trigger point, I rested briefly after a nice long Campy walk and then I had to attend to "work" duties for Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition, LLC while Karel was working at Trek. After a delicious dinner last night, we both were ready for bed around 9pm as our eyes were sleepy and the body was begging for rest. Have I ever mentioned that Campy is a professional sleeper?
Without an alarm, we both got up around 5:30am this morning as I guess our bodies were ready to start the day.
For the training this am - tempo bike + long run. With the run being the primary focus of the run today.
Seeing that I am gradually progressing back with my running, I am very careful to not do too much too soon. However, I have noticed that with all my hip strengthening work, I find myself running with better form than ever before. It's as if my glutes are finally working and my back is finally liking me again. Crazy as it seems - my body always seems to function the best when I train for an Ironman...short distance, speed events - not so much.
Considering that the Ironman distance is all about putting together the pieces of swim bike and run into an endurance event, I do not do many "long" runs. The longest I have ever ran in training for an Ironman has been 2:45 as I feel it is better to go by time than by miles. However, I find that 16-17 miles is a good distance to aim for and to get comfortable with in training for an Ironman and to really get comfortable running off the bike. I do most of my runs off the bike because it works for my body to get warmed up on the bike. I don't feel that every Ironman athlete needs to bike before every run but it is good to run off every bike - even if it is for 5 minutes (and it can be  a walk, not always a run).
Because my long runs are typically off the bike, I believe that running steady is better than running fast for an Ironman. In years past, I have always tried to focus on a goal time for the marathon in the IM and I tried to simulate that in training. Well, oddly enough - I've never been even close to running that time in the Ironman. I've managed to run 3-sub 4 hour marathons off the bike in Ironman's but always running the pace of a 3:30-3:40 marathon in training. Anyone can teach themselves how to run fast or a certain pace in training but off the bike - well, that's a whole other story. For me, I run better off the bike (not always faster) so I prefer to run a long run at a steady pace.....not slow, but steady. I will always do intervals in my long runs but I am focused on my running being efficient. Thus, I can run continuous if I want but that doesn't always give me a quality week of training with an efficient body, the following week. Thus, every long run has the purpose of making sure I am able to run off the bike in an Ironman and most importantly, arrive to the race hungry and not injured, to race.  I have been keeping check of my HR in training and also on my form for I know if either of those two get off, so does my pace. Of course, the best IM runs come after a bike that has been paced well so it is important to recognize that in order to run strong off the bike (or run/walk as I will do on race day) you have to be able to put together a training plan that allows for endurance fitness gains over time. You do not want to overkill yourself with a 20 week (or even 10 week) Ironman plan with long, slow junk miles. Make your workouts count and you will be able to put that training to good use on race day.
1:15 bike
20 min warm-up
5 x 2 min leg openers (high cadence) w/ 2 min EZ
Main set: 30 min IM pace (low Z3 watts)
5 min cool down
Transition to run
Long run: 11 miles
Total time: 1:36 (average pace 8:34 min/mile - which includes my walk breaks)
The focus was to keep my HR as close to 130-145 as I could and to hold around 8:30 min/miles. There are a few faster splits because I was imagining myself on race day and I guess I got excited so I had to dial it back. Also, I ran two bridges (up and down) which was helpful for controlling my form and HR. I was running from 9am - 10:30am so it was getting very hot and humid but my body does well in the heat (not ideal as it isn't the fun type of suffering like pushing in cooler weather) so keeping my HR in check as I stayed in a steady pace was the goal for the long run.
(BTW - this is my longest run since January. What a great feeling to be able to thank my body for this run, especially after I wasn't able to run for 3 months from Feb - April. THANK YOU BODY!)

After each mile, I walked 10-13 seconds after my garmin autolapped the mile and then I hit lap to restart another mile.
On my garmin 910xt, I have my garmin set to see the following on my interval screen when I run which helps me pace myself:
Lap time      Current pace
Lap pace      Lap HR
Mile 1: 8:26 min/mile, 120 bpm
Mile 2: 8:22 min/mile, 129 bpm
Mile 3: 8:34 min/mile, 134 bpm (the intercoastal bridge is ~.68 miles from one side to the other)
Mile 4: 8:34 min/mile, 137 bpm (back up the bridge again for ~.68 miles)
Mile 5: 8:27 min/mile, 139 bpm
Mile 6: 8:25 min/mile, 144 bpm
Mile 7: 8:19 min/mile, 146 bpm (got excited thinking about the IM!)
Refilled my flasks with water/sport drink - 2 minute break at most. I had a total of ~250 calories for my run, consuming gel or sport drink, a little every mile and then water/sport drink as needed - I am never strict on when I drink/take in calories - if my body needs it, I take it but no more than every 15 min on the bike or 1 mile on the run)
Mile 8: 8:27 min/mile, 142 bpm
Mile 9: 8:25 min/mile, 146 bpm
Mile 10: 8:23 min/mile, 147 bpm
Mile 11: 8:14 min/mile, 148 bpm (got super excited....allowed myself to go for it)
 After cooling off and stretching before getting into my car to drive home from Nocattee (where I love to train), Karel and I exchanged training stories from our morning bricks and we were both quick to get to the freezer for our 110% ice pads.
While we iced, I made some berry-licious rye pancakes. They came out really good as I put together this creation without looking at any recipes.
1/2 cup rye flour (you can use any flour)
1/3 cup blueberries (I used frozen)
3 large strawberries - chopped
1 tbsp. chia seeds
1 tbsp. unsweetened coconut shreds
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup water
2-3 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. sunflower seeds
Makes 7, 1/4 cup wet batter pancakes.
1) Mix together ingredients.
2) Heat your skillet to medium heat (or a tad below) and drizzle with olive oil. Pour 1/4 cup serving of batter on to skillet and press down lightly with back of measuring cup to make a flatter pancake. 
3) Cook for 3-4 minutes on one side and flip when bottom of pancake is firm. cook other side for 2-3 minutes.

I can't believe this is my 6th time training for an Ironman! I am so grateful to my body for allowing me to do this. I absolutely love the journey of training for an Ironman and I never get wrapped up in the end result. I realize that competing in an Ironman is a gift and I am the first to say that the human body does not have to allow "us" to train for anything and push our bodies to higher limits. With everything that I have been through over the past 7 years since I have started racing in Ironmans, I can honestly say that it never gets easier when you keep raising your limits. However, it is always fun, I never get burnt out and I wake up super excited and motivated to see what my body is capable of for that day.

Happy training, exercising and healthy living!



Key Ironman bike workout + mental training

Marni Sumbal

I came across this article the other day and it really struck me with a big ?????

I believe that any athlete who signs up for an Ironman should physically prepare the body to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles. As to the "best" approach to getting to race day, well there are many schools of thoughts to this so I thought I'd briefly share my approach.

Karel has been coaching me for the past few years with my training. I have yet to be burnt out or not arrive to a race hungry to race. I feel I have progressed a lot in the past few years with speed and endurance and most importantly, I always have fun.

I realize that my body has it's limiters with my hip issues relating to my spine and a lifetime of back-issues but I also recognize how to train smart. It doesn't always work out as I'd like since I am a competitor and love to push my body to higher limits but in the past few years, with every down moment that I have experienced with my body, I have only become a stronger and smarter athlete. Thus, my injuries have not been setbacks but rather enhancers.

My approach to training myself and my athletes is simple. Keep things balance. Be patient, keep your mind focused on the journey and never lose sight of your goals. I understand sport nutrition so I feel my training is only enhanced in that aspect but no amount of nutrition will help me train consistently well if my training is not balanced and specific.

I use a lot of tools when I train such as HR, garmin, power meter (910XT Garmin and Garmin 500 bike computer) but as we all know, it is only on race day that your trusted gadget will fail you...never in training!

The whole focus of training is to make progress and to not let your end goal keep you from enjoying the journey. I have taught myself (as an age group athlete who has been fortunate enough to have a body that has gotten me to Kona twice and finishing 5 Ironman's) how to recognize great workouts and how to adjust any workout to ensure it will become a great workout. In other words - completing my assigned workouts means that I understand that what is ahead of me is within my limits. Although many variables such as stress, sleep and nutrition can affect my performance (controllables), I know that each workout on my plan has a purpose. A purpose that the workout is allowing me to make progress. Many athletes are so stuck on the end result that they lose sight of the journey, worry about things out of their control and also push too hard (or not enough) and often question if they are making performance gains. I suppose little progress gains are often hard to "see" but then again, who says that you have to use times/speed as the marker of improving fitness?

My approach to Ironman training is that of quality. There are no Ironman days as I don't want to be training all day in the sun on the weekend and I want to save my best performance for race day. I don't need to prove to myself or on social media that I can swim, bike and run this many hours or miles each week but instead, prove to myself that I have made progress with the workout to set me up for a stronger and faster tomorrow.

Many of my Ironman and half Ironman bike workouts (over the past 3 years) have been relatively "short". Most of my Ironman rides are around 3:5 - 5 hours and most of my half Ironman rides are around 2.5 - 3 hours. The key is the learning how to pace yourself on the bike to get "faster" as an Ironman athlete but also to become more efficient and to run steady off the bike. Thus - I do A LOT of brick runs with each run having a purpose.

With 7 weeks left until Ironman Lake Placid, I really loved today's brick workout given to me by my hubby, coach, bike mechanic and training buddy.

3.5 hour ride + 30 min run - 4 hour KEY Ironman workout

15 minute warm-up
5 x 2 min leg openers (100+ cadence rpm)  w/ 2 min EZ
Main set: (I was drafting behind Karel so as he stuck to his zones, my zones were a tad higher than they needed to be but still doable - drafting behind Karel makes me stronger and it has really helped my cycling. I enjoy going "fast" behind Karel as I can't do his speeds alone but I understand that drafting properly keeps me in my proper zones as Karel is extremely consistent so I enjoy the bonus of covering more miles behind him as I prepare myself for my own race day effort. All zones are power based zones determined by a 2 x 20 min max sustainable power effort w/ 2 min EZ in between)

10 min Z4 low w/ 2 min EZ
15 min upper Z3 w/ 2 min EZ
10 min Z4 low w/  2 min EZ
20 min mid - upper Z3 w/ 2 min EZ
5 min recovery
35 min group ride (this effort was low to mid Z4)
5 min EZ
5 x 2 min (high cadence) w/ 2 min EZ
5 min cool down, transition to run.
Total: 73 miles, 3 hours and 31 minutes
(If training with power and/or HR on the bike and you have your zones set-up in proper endurance zones, you should be racing your endurance race in upper Z2 - Mid Z3, typically low Z3 for most athletes. If you want to get faster, you have to train smarter so that by race day, your low Z3 is "faster" than where you were when you started your endurance specific training. As for running in an Ironman - don't get caught up in paces. Used perceived exertion as much as possible while monitoring the HR and walk to help keep good form and to be steady with pacing).

4 x 1 miles w/ 10 sec walk in between
(I often walk with my IM training in most workouts as it helps me reduce gradual fatigue, it helps me better tolerate nutrition, it helps me control my HR the best I can and it helps me keep good form to reduce risk for injury. I may walk anywhere from 10-60 seconds depending on the workout and although 10 sec is brief and often I wish I could walk longer, it serves the purpose of helping me have a quality workout as I help simulate aid station walks for IM race day).
Mile 1: 7:51
Mile 2: 7:48
Mile 3: 7:51
Mile 4: 7:47
(around 10-13 second walk in between)
Total 4 miles, 32:28, average pace 8:07 min/mile (with ~40-60 seconds of walking)

Should you still do a Key "LONG" workout like a 100 mile ride + 2 mile run or even a 112 mile ride + 10-15 minute run? Yes. Those will be coming for Karel and I in a few weeks. BUT, if you can't do 3.5-4 hours of quality riding + a steady "short" run off the bike, what makes you think that your body is "Trained" to ride 100 miles, weekend after weekend? Those short IM intensity focused bricks will pay off when it is time for the long workouts. Remember - save your best performance for race day. Don't waste your time with junk miles just getting the miles in..make those miles count. And if you can prove to yourself that you can do it in training, trust yourself that you can do it on race day. Don't be a super hero in training and not be able to execute on race day.

After stretching and cooling off with Karel and enjoying a little watermelon and recovery drink (before Karel headed to work today), I had to stop by the Trek Beach store for Karel and when I finally arrived home, it was time to officially refuel!

Do you enjoy thanking your body for a great workout with delicious food prepared from home?
Today's creation:
An Omelet with tomatoes, arugula and goat cheese with oregano and rosemary. Rye bread with fruit jam and plain Greek Fage yogurt with fresh cherries and a drizzle of honey.
If you are wrapped up in the idea that Ironman (or endurance) training has to involve a lot and a lot of miles, how about thinking about other areas in your life that can make a positive impact on your training and racing. Certainly, we all know that even with the best preparation, there can be a variable or two on race day that can count you out from putting all that hard training to the test. Certainly - your mind and nutrition are two important components of training and racing that can help take your fitness to the next level..likely more so than in any long workout for without the right mental focus, pacing strategy and nutrition plan, there's really no point in putting your body through all that long and hard training if you are not equipped properly to handle that training stress (mentally and physically).
As you know, I work with my friend, Licensed Psychologist Gloria (Psy. D) on my mental training as she is an experienced mental coach and sport psychologist.
Here is a great video to show you the importance of mental training for fitness/performance. Even if you aren't racing or training, I recommend watching this video as it has a few helpful slides on how your mind can either enhance or limit you in terms of reaching your personal goals in life.

What's it like to ride 100 miles behind Karel?

Marni Sumbal

For the past 5 weeks, I have been focused on periodized training as I train for Ironman Lake Placid. Like every athlete, I have had some obstacles thrown in my way but I just focus on the cans and making progress - for some progress is better than no progress. In other words, making small gains forward and not going backward. With not running for 8 weeks due to my iliopsoas strain/tendonitis issues, I had a lot of ground to make up but I believe in making investments and not withdrawals. I got myself very strong in my glutes/hips/adductors/abductors and although the progression back to running has been slow, I have designed my return to running with a purpose for each run - I must feel stronger and more confident with my running with every workout. I stop before I need to stop, I walk to ensure less residual fatigue and I am focused on form, not speed.

As for swimming - I love to swim and not sure how much I will improve over the next 2 months but for me to get faster, I have to swim a lot and I just don't have all the time in the world so I have specific sets for each workout and that has given me some great key workouts...and some OK workouts where I just enjoy being in the water (after almost 20 years of competitive swimming).

In terms of biking, building endurance for an Ironman is much easier than building speed and I have come very far since first learning to ride a tri bike in 2006. Considering I have done 5 Ironmans and have been with Karel for all of them, you'd think that I'd be knocking out "long" rides every weekends and I'd be super fast on the bike. But it's not that simple to just ride long or hard every weekend/day and ensure the body will be ready for race day. As athletes, we all seem to have a few epic/stellar workouts in our system and at any point in the training plan, we can knock out some long workouts. Perhaps some are spot-on and amazing and others are ehhh, OK and glad to have got that one over with. I don't believe in the later for I want to gain something from every workout and it's very rare that my body will give me an ehhh, sub-par workout with periodized training.

Over the past 5 weeks, I have done 4 "long" rides of ~ 4 hours. Each ride had a purpose, teaching myself to be more efficient, working on nutrition and learning how to properly pace myself at the Ironman zone 3 (power zone) effort along with the rest of my swim-bike-run training.

Before even deciding to do a century this year, I wanted to make sure my mind and body were prepared for 100 miles and I knew if I couldn't pace and fuel myself properly for 4 hours, there's really no point in knocking out a 100 mile ride. Because I always go by time and not distance on the bike for a workout, I wanted to have a strong 100 mile ride and not waste time out there riding "slow" but instead, put my training to good use and to see what I was capable of. I feel this was the best strategy for mental toughness in that if I could be focused and strong for 4 hours, I knew with the right pacing, nutrition and focus, I could have a strong 100 mile ride. I just don't believe in long rides that are slow. I also don't feel that they need to be fast. There needs to be a purpose with every workout if you are sticking to periodized training and it's not about speed or miles but rather what you put into those miles.

So Friday evening I was excited for the century ride that I invited Karel to pace me on but totally exhausted from a long week of working/training. Fri night came around and I was in no mood to cook. BUT, food is fuel and my medicine and it only takes a little creativity and a pre-meal snack to get me excited to fuel my body with yummy nutritious fuel. 

For dinner: 
Grapefruit and strawberry salad w/ dark leafy greens, almonds, farmers cheese and golden raisins.
Pasta and veggie casserole

For the casserole, I boiled some pasta noodles until al dente. While those were cooking I sauteed firm cubed tofu in a little olive oil and seasoned with turmeric (hence the yellow/orange coloring of the tofu). While everything was cooking, I preheated oven to 425 degrees and in a casserole dish I filled it with sliced mushrooms, yellow squash, purple onions and kale. I spooned some marinara sauce on top, placed the cooked noodles on top (drained) to fill the dish (about 2 cups worth) and then topped again with a little marinara and seasonings of oregano, basil and red pepper flakes. I baked for ~25 minutes and then turned off oven, sprinkled with cheddar cheese and then kept in oven for 5 additional minutes. Voila! I super easy dinner with very little cooking.

So, onto the ride. 

5:30 wake up (I do best with at least 60 minutes before I start any workout to get myself moving, to foam roll, walk Campy, eat a pre training snack and get myself ready for the workout)
Pre training snack - 1 Matzah (I prefer flat bread or french/pita bread over whole grain bread, oatmeal or bagel) + small spoonful PB, cinnamon, raisins, honey, sliced bananas, 3 large strawberries and 1 cup milk + coffee/water. around ~65 g or s of carbs and low fiber and fat, energy dense carbs are key (ex. raisins, honey, banana, milk). I also had $5 with me for a gas station stop if needed.
7am - start time!
Nutrition for the ride - 3 bottles with ~250 calories in each bottle (~60g of carbs) + 3 gels + FIZZ (to refill bottle w/ water at stop around 3-3:30 hours). I also had 6 Hammer endurance aminos to take throughout the ride. A total of around 1100 calories. (based on my power meter, I am able to see how many calories I burn in the ride, and I try to replace around 50% which is about how much I can properly digest and absorb. Of course, the higher the intensity, more glycogen use but harder to digest so that is why pacing and nutrition consistency are super important on long training sessions. Be efficient and save your best performance for race day. I don't train to burn calories. I train to perform).

Warm-up (not so much) - once we were a few miles down the road, Karel picked up the pace. I didn't ask any questions about the ride and was thinking the ride would be around 5 hours but within the first hour, my mind was coming up with a million excuses as to why I shouldn't be riding "this fast" and there's no way I can keep this up. I had a mini breakdown around 1:20 into the ride and told Karel the pace was too fast and I probably shouldn't be doing this ride with him. He assured me (like always) that I can do this and to just stay focused. He said based on previous rides, there was nothing holding me back and I should just believe in myself. Seeing that my very first 100 mile ride was with Karel in 2006 and we averaged a blazing 16.5-17 mph (Karel was totally bored on that ride - he joked that he fell asleep a few times) I had to remind myself that I have come a long way on the bike and I had no limiters in my way.

After around 1:30, we joined the group ride in Nocatee which wasn't the normal fast pace because riders were either racing triathlons or in Athens for the Twilight Crit. Although the pace wasn't ridiculously fast, it was a little unorganized and my lack of fast twitch fibers do not do well with random accelerations. This is why I love riding with Karel  - he is so steady with his power meter and he is smart with pacing.

After the group ride, I started to feel better. We headed on A1A toward St. Augustine and the wind was blowing. It was a weird wind (like usual here in Jax - the legs never get to stop moving because it's always windy, hence why we don't "need" hills to learn how to ride strong - although I'd take some hills any day) and it was not easy to draft on Karel's wheel.

Because Karel was riding steady today, I knew my effort was going to be a bit higher because that is how it works with drafting off Karel. A steady ride for him, a challenging ride for me.

So far, the century ride was going better than planned. I had no idea how far we had gone or total time as I left that all up to Karel so I could stay focused. As I mentioned before, I rarely care about speed or miles but instead time and what I do with my time. I kept my power meter on a screen where I saw cadence, HR and lap speed, 3 sec power and normalized lap power. For every interval we did today (which included some recovery between our fast warm-up, group ride and other intervals) I hit the lap button to better analyze my ride. In races, I hit the lap button every hour which helps with pacing for long races as well as reviewing my file.

The A1A section was tough but all I was told to do was to stay focused. 2 x 22-25 minute intervals (to Gate Station and back) w/ a few minutes recovery in between. Karel was strong and I had no choice but to stay focused...or get dropped. Karel was not taking it easy on me and kept reminding me that this would be my best ride ever if I would only stay focused.

After A1A, we headed back to Nocatee, then on to Philips Hwy for another steady state interval. This time right into the wind but luckily, a little tailwind on the way back. But with only 20 miles left to go (told by Karel before that last out and back section), my brain was still focused and body felt good (thus I was doing a great job with fueling) but the legs were really talking to me and wanted to stop a million times in the last 40 miles. But, I had no real reason to stop as the body was still hanging in there and I knew I just had to stay focused.

I think as humans, we often struggle with being uncomfortable, being out of our comfort zone. But I have learned from many successes in the past that it is only when we take a chance to be out of our comfort zone that we realize that we are capable of much more than we thought we were.

Still not knowing our total time, average speed or miles, it was on our road back to our home that Karel finally said - "100 miles!! You did it!"

I switched over my Garmin 500 screen and couldn't believe my eyes.

Although Karel said that he finished the ride and felt like he could have gone 1 hour more (thanks for rubbing it in hubby), I was not as tired as I thought but ready to start the recovery process (epson salt bath, recovery whey protein drink, foam rolling, TP ball, stretching, icing and compression - and a recovery meal and consistent eating of primarily carbohydrates and protein throughout the day, every few hours). Because I was on-call at the hospital, I had to do tube feeding recommendations for two patients after being consulted by the doctors that afternoon so I really gave a big thank you to my body for allowing me to have a great workout and recover quickly. Also, with the right fuel at the right time, I felt like I nailed my nutrition without any worries on "calories" but instead, keeping my brain and muscles fueled.
My recovery partner and favorite 110% Play Harder recovery compression socks.

Here's the details of the ride:

Total time: 4:37
Average speed: 21.7
Variable index 1.02
Distance: 100.44 miles

Warm-up: 1:31 - 30 miles, average speed 20.6
Group ride- 54 minutes, 22 miles, average speed 22.82
Interval 1 on A1A (out)- 23 minutes, 9.3 miles, average speed 24.31
Recovery 2 minute
Interval 2 on AIA (back) - 25 minutes, 9.5 miles, average speed 22.05
Potty stop/refill bottles (~6 minutes)
Interval 3 (nocatee) - 28 minutes, 10 miles, average speed 22.03
Last interval (out and back) - 50 minutes, 18.3 miles, average speed 22.07
Cool down - 3 minutes (13 mph)

Peak 3 hours: 67 miles, average speed 22.34 mph

As you can see, it's OK to take recovery breaks and it's not always about the miles and getting in those "long" rides. It's good to pace yourself and break up the long-ish rides in a periodized training plan with race type intervals to teach the body how to stay steady. Also, it's so important that you practice fueling when it's windy or on bumpy roads for if you don't feel taking in a gel or grabbing a bottle when you are training, you are not only hurting your performance during that training session but you likely won't feel comfortable doing it on race day. I stay fueled every 10 minutes on the bike and then whenever needed from my bottles or gel.

Also, I would like to note that Karel can bike much faster than what he did with me. But even if I was slowing him down a little by making sure I stayed on his wheel, the focus of IM (or endurance) riding is not to prove how fast you can be. When it comes to triathlons, you want to bike steady and run strong. Although we'd all love to show off how strong we are on the bike (or how much time we can "gain" on the bike), it's very important that if you are training for an upcoming race, get us to a Z3 effort (or around 75-83-85% max HR to get yourself more efficient with this uncomfortable, comfortable pace). We do several 20-50 min intervals with 1-2 minute recoveries - not at a leg-burning pace but instead, a steady pace with a smooth cadence and just enough recover to shake out the legs and not fatigue throughout the ride while taking in proper nutrition to maintain a steady pace.

Thanks Karel for the great workout and a BIG thank you to my body for allowing me to have consistent quality workouts. WOW, talk about a lot of progress since 2006! Life's a journey.....


Food is Fuel - keep your tank full.

Marni Sumbal

Don't start, continue or finish your workout on E just because you feel you don't "need" any fuel. Training requires an expenditure of energy above resting levels as oppose to sitting around by your TV or computer and feeling the "need" to eat. This required mechanical energy is provided through the conversion of metabolic fuels into ATP, the base currency of chemical energy. The sources of chemical energy that fuels exercising skeletal muscles are available through endogenous sources (intramuscular glycogen and triglycerides) or exogenous sources (plasma glucose and free fatty acids). Rather than worrying about extra calories put into your body while you are expending energy, consider how important it is that these exogenous and endogenous fuel sources are replenished through dietary intake. Next time you think about needing "energy" around mid afternoon because you are tired from sitting all day, consider important relationship between diet and fuel metabolism in skeletal muscle before, during and after training.