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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: "inspiration"

Accepting a failed racing performance

Marni Sumbal

When I met Karel in 2006, I knew him as a corner hoping, crash dodging, race in the hurt-box type of guy. In other words, I feel in love with a cyclist. 

For a little over 6 years, I watched Karel race all over the east coast as a cat 1 cyclist. There were times when he would be on the podium, other times when he would just be happy he hung on to finish the race. There would be times when he missed a break and would have to settle for a sprint in the mid pack and times when he would be stuck behind a crash and his race would be over. No matter how good he felt going into his races, the tactics of cycling can be just as exciting as  they are frustrating. 

Karel's transition to triathlons in the summer of 2012 meant that Karel was embarking on a new challenge. Not only with his fitness but also with learning about the sport of triathlons. 

Karel brings a very interesting thought-process to the sport of triathlons and he owes a lot of it to his 20+ career of racing bikes and following the careers of professional cyclists. 

In cycling, you do not chase a finishing time. You don't need a computer to tell you to go faster. It's good to have gadgets to review training files in order to know how you squared up to the other rides but no one focuses on how fast they rode and in how quick of time. If a race is 60 or 90 minutes, that is how long you ride and you better be on your A game in order to see how long you can survive and still put out a strong sprint at the end for a possible podium finish.

Unlike triathlons, in cycling racing it doesn't matter how fast you are or how quick you can cover x-miles. There are no PR's but instead, races that you finish and races that you don't finish. In cycling racing, your best fitness shape ever may be overshadowed by someone who is just in a little better shape...or perhaps a person who responded to an attack before you or someone else who could stay in the hurt box just a little longer than you.

Karel has taught me well over the years and now that he has transitioned to a triathlete, I really embrace Karel's mentality toward racing.

Although there is nothing wrong with shooting for a PR or qualifying time, it's almost to a fault that an athlete who has a goal time in mind can very well put him/herself at a disadvantage compared to others. For you are chasing a time and others are chasing competition, the playing field becomes more of who's the smartest athlete instead of who's the fittest athlete. Many times, athletes who use competition as a positive, end up pushing their limits naturally...often with a faster time than what was planned for the day.

As I mentioned before, in cycling, there are no guarantees that you will finish a race. You may in the best shape ever and finish 20th and other times, depending on who shows up for the race, you may end up on the podium because of good tactics. In cycling you need skills and a bit of luck on your side.

In triathlons and running races, there's more to a successful racing performance than how fast you have trained to swim, bike or run in x-amount of time coming into the race. Instead of luck, you just need to know how to pace yourself to slow down the least amount possible with whatever is in your way - terrain or weather included.

In the Dec. issue of Runner's World Magazine (be sure to check out pg 44 for a few of my quotes on food pairings), there was an article called "BREAKING BAD RACES". 

 Even though cyclist don't like to fail, it's inevitable that at some time in a racing career, there will be a race that a cyclist does not finish - for whatever reason.  Unlike cycling, failing in triathlons and running races is not as accepted by the athlete her/himself.  I don't think anyone likes to fail but when a race is mostly within your control, it is up to only you to figure out a way to get from the start to finish line. And when you don't chase a time, this effort becomes a lot more manageable depending on how you handle the course, weather and your current level of fitness.

One of the side effects of chasing a PR, specific time or a person in front of you is the risk of not finishing a race or not having the outcome that you worked so hard for and dreamed about for months, if not years.

 Perhaps for many people, the worst outcome is bonking or slowing down but for other athletes, a DNF can be one of the hardest things for an athlete to handle. Even worse for an athlete's ego is finishing a race slower than expected and feeling like he/she let other people down (family, friends, coaches). Oddly enough, I started this blog in 2007 after I DNF my first and only race (Miami Marathon). But, as an athlete and coach, I really enjoy learning from my mistakes.

If you know how to move on, better times are to come.

Here is a little bit from the article (pg 51-52) that I thought would be valuable for any athlete and fitness enthusiast who has struggled in a race, especially when chasing a time or place (or, those who are nervous about their first race or a first-ever distance):

"A bad race is an opportunity to gather information, learn and improve. You need to embrace failure as part of the process." - Ralph Heath

"Turning a negative into a positive may seem impossible, especially when your war wounds still sting. But the sooner you accept the past and learn from it, the faster you can move on to a PR-filed future." - Bob Cooper (author)

"If you're invested in your running and don't get the expected return, these feelings of disappointment are natural and healthy to express. It shows your commitment and passion" - Gloria Balague

"Prolonged grieving lowers self-confidence and motivation. When you are unable to constructively evaluate what happened and point to a solution, it may signal some underlying emotional issues. Pinpoint the source of your anguish. Are you embarrassed by how others view your performance, ashamed that shortcuts in your training caused it or upset with Mother Nature for unleashing a heat wave? Whatever it is, isolating the source will help you work through your feelings and regain your emotional balance." - Balague

"Every race is a learning experience, so whatever happened is really ok. The first step is to separate what you couldn't control (poor weather, illness, a devious pothole) from what you could (uneven pacing, inadequate training, unrealistic goal) and make peace with the first and focus on rectifying the second." - Cory Nyamora

"Writing about the experience in a journal or blog can also be helpful. Your internal thoughts can be overly critical but when you write about an experience, you tend to be less negative and more objective" - Nyamora

"Think of the next race as separate and independent from the first - and not as a "do over". That mindset will make you feel extra pressure at your next event and that could hurt your performance. Space out events, don't rush to race again. You might be eager to redeem yourself, but if your muscles aren't fully recovered, you could be setting yourself up for another bad experience." - Nyamora

"Consider the emotional toll the bad race took on you. If you're feeling desperate to prove something to yourself or others, or you're still angry about the last race, wait. It might be best to take a break from racing until you feel emotionally recovered and really miss it. " - Nyamora

Sometimes the best successes come after initial failures. After you accept your failure, it's time to move on.

See you at the next starting line....

Kona Ready: who said it would be easy?

Marni Sumbal

In six days I will have the opportunity to challenge myself in one of the hardest endurance events in the world ALONGSIDE the best endurance athletes (age group and professional) in the world. The finish line is the goal, anything else that comes with it (ex. PR on that course) is a bonus. 

For the medal awarded to every athlete that crosses the Ironman World Championship finish line before midnight is the prize that commemorates months and months of hard work, discipline, passion, commitment and a body and mind that was trained to perform. 

Knowing that athletes and fitness enthusiasts, family and friends from around the world will be watching their own favorite athletes as well as the successes of strangers, it is likely that you will be inspired by watching every athlete cross the finish line...from the first professional male and female winner to the last finisher that crosses before midnight. 

While the inspiration will fill your body to the point that you have no choice but to set a goal so big that you can't wait to wake up on Monday morning and start working hard for your goal......

What you can not forget is that the Ironman World Championship does not only award those who set PR's all season, only award those who never got injured, only award those who never got laid off/who never lost a job, only award those who never suffered with cancer (or experienced a family member getting cancer) or only award those who face absolutely no setbacks in life. What's so great about the Ironman, alongside any type of event with a defined start and finish line, is that every athlete has his/her own reason for competing as well as his/her own reasons for not showing up in the first place. 

When you watch the spectacle that is the IM World Championship, you see athletes who are refusing to give up. As a three time Kona qualifier and two time Kona finisher, I know that this is one tough race with dozens of obstacles to face on race day. But when "we" the athletes are out on the course, trying to battle every obstacle in our way, you anxiously await "our" finish. And when we finish, you see success - no matter what time is on paper, there is a finish line that is now behind each and every one of us and that is what inspires you to work hard for what you want in life. No matter what is thrown in your way, you can not reach that finish line, no matter how difficult you think life is, if you give up or hope that things would be easy. 

Every athlete has his/own struggles in life. Not always do you have to share those struggles with others or vocalize them as an excuse to the world. But what is required of you as an athlete, is to finish what you started. 

If you signed up for a race, put in the time to train for the event that you paid for. 
If you start a race, race your own race and execute as you put your training to the test. 
If you find yourself with a setback with training, don't focus on the CAN'Ts, focus on the CANs. 
If you find yourself feeling great during a race, expect a low to come. 
If you find yourself feeling low during a race, keep on moving forward to reach your greatness. 
Thank your body and respect your body. 

And most of all, have fun. Set goals that are meaningful, practical and realistic for YOU and only you as you will likely inspire others along the way. 

Are you planning on racing anytime soon? Check out my recent article with a week worth of to do's for race week: 

To follow me during Kona week and on 10/12/13 (race day): 
FACEBOOK Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition  (LIKE page for quicker updates)
Twitter: @trimarnicoach
Instagram: Trimarni (also check out #Trimarnikona and my roomie and sport psychologist TRIATHLETEDRG) - BIB 1933 (MARNI SUMBAL, Female 30-34 age group)
Thank you for your support, encouragement and inspiration. 

Hard work works

Marni Sumbal

There are those who love hard work and then those who don't. Most likely, it's obvious to the eye as to who is most determined and dedicated to reaching a goal. There isn't much moving forward for the person who feels the task at hand is too difficult to achieve. Sometimes, there is even moving backward for the person who is not willing to accept difficulty before something becomes easy. But then there are those who are passionate about learning news skills, habits and traits in order to make a change, for a change. 

Hard work works for everyone, regardless of talent. Whether you think you "got it" in you or not in order to achieve, there's nothing natural or gifting about working hard for something that you don't have now. Medical doctors who treat cancer patients are not born as natural healers. They work hard to find answers. Teachers are not naturally talented to educate but instead, passionate about helping others. You can be anything you want to be but you have to put forth an amazing amount of hard work over many many years. And for many, there's some initial trying but it doesn't last long because things get hard and uncomfortable. Hard work is demanding, time-consuming and exhausting. But the outcome is rewarding, fruitful and special. Entertain the idea that you can achieve success. 

Skills, motivation, intelligence and discipline are learned traits. If you learn how to be great, you will become great. For some, they learn quickly and adapt easily. For others, learning is slow, adaptations is a work in progress. But no matter the speed, you will keep improving until you give up. 

Anyone can work hard but not everyone wants to. It's easy to look for the easy button, to wish things were different or to hope for a different outcome. It's so simple to want things to be natural and effortless or the way they use to be but there's not such thing as a successful outcome in life without practicing, working hard and gaining experience and skills along the way. 

Whoever you choose to compare yourself to, likely did not succeed overnight. Even those who are most accomplished worked hard in some capacity before they found success. For many, setbacks are keeping you from progressing. For others, setbacks motivate you to move forward. Spend 5 years learning how to succeed and you will often gain a lot more than you had hoped for when you finally do reach your goals. 

Easy doesn't cut it and you really don't want the easy route. Easy teaches you nothing about what you are capable of achieving. Easy is boring and not what you want in your only life. You may not believe this to be true but if you are dedicated to devoting the time, money and effort to a goal, it will pay off. Job, education, family, sport....learn how to reach beyond what is comfortable.

If you are ready to put in the work, you must be consistent and patient. You can be 100% dedicated, disciplined and focused but if you rush the process, you will likely find yourself in first place at a dead end road. Slow down the process and you won't miss the right and left turns that will give you the shortest route to your final destination. 

Starting today, be willing to work hard for things to work. Keep your goal in mind with an end date but accept where you are today with a mindset that will keep you moving forward. 

For many people in this world, life will seem easy. There will be no major setbacks only stressful temporary situations. As for others, there will be life-changing events that force a person to dig really deep to the point of questioning "can I do this?" alongside arguing against "is this worth it?"

I say yes. You CAN do this and it IS worth it. 

Perhaps life is hard enough and you have no desire to push any harder. Maybe there are extra steps that you are not willing to take or you are choosing to do the bare minimum to just get by. Perhaps there is a to-do list that never gets complete and a thinking of "tomorrow I will be better" started nearly a decade ago. 

Everyone has the potential to succeed and everyone has the ability to behave in a way that brings success. Great performances do not come from those who do not work but instead, from those who are willing to go the extra mile even if there is an easier route right across the street. 

The reality is that nothing in life is easy. We get comfortable being comfortable and if it isn't quick, easy or natural, it is too hard, difficult and not worth it. 

If you find yourself behind a bump or a mountain, stop but don't turn around. What lies ahead of you is demanding, it's tiring and it won't be easy. But if you have a goal or a dream, you have to want it and know that it doesn't happen by doing nothing. 

Life gives you chances to change your attitude, your path and your direction but this doesn't mean you need to change your final destination. 

Hard work works. Develop a work ethic that makes you wake up every morning, excited to get out of bed, excited to see what you can achieve for the day. Assure yourself that nothing feels better than working hard for something that you want to happen. Learn how to be better today than you were yesterday and when you feel weak or vulnerable, remind yourself that excuses do not work....only you do. 

Waiting for your wake up call

Marni Sumbal

Athletes are all too familiar with wake-up calls. Waiting until things happen and then wishing they would have started doing things earlier. Injured? Perhaps you said I should have been better with strength training, I should not have pushed through that workout and I need to be stretching. Burnout? Perhaps you said you knew you should have rested when you kept pushing through. Not at your racing fitness? Perhaps you wish you would have made slow progress earlier in the year than trying to make everything happen in the last few weeks of training. 

As humans, I feel it is perfectly normal to use wake-up calls appropriately for we all need a little kick in the butt to remind us that life has meaning and we need to appreciate it to the fullest.  For the 20+ year smoker has been known to quickly stop smoking when he/she finds out he has cancer and the individual who thought that diet and exercise didn't matter may feel instantly motivated to change habits after learning that his/her current state of health is at a result of not focusing on lifestyle habits earlier in life. Most people find it easy to change their lifestyle when they are given a wake-up call...but why wait? 

Everyday you are forced to answer hard questions with your lifestyle choices. Perhaps everyone is doing it so you want to fit in. Maybe your standards are lowered because of lack of confidence. Or maybe you are excusing your behavior because you just don't feel you deserve any  better. Maybe you feel great and you love the way you are living life.

 Life is hard because many times we feel fine and have no reason to change, to think or to act differently. But when we ignore many things for too long, it only takes one quick wake-up call to recognize all those former positive thoughts that could have made an impact on how you are living today.

There are no guarantees in life. We often receive wake up calls because we are being given another chance. The call is not typically welcomed and many times, it keeps us from living the life we had been enjoying. But if you do a little searching, there are many times when wake-up calls are given to you as a learning experience and not as a punishment for your previous actions or thoughts.  Sadly, sometimes you aren't given a wake-up.

 Wake up calls require you to rethink your priorities and that is something that you can do now, tomorrow and everyday. Whether or not you have been given a wake-up call in the recent months, don't wait for your first one or another.

Remind yourself as to what is important to you in life. Crossing a finishing line, traveling the world, being successful at work, being a role model for your family, keeping your body in optimal health, sharing love and education with others. Many times it doesn't involve a number on a scale, a size of clothing or a 'fast' racing time or place. Eager to be perfect or to do well at everything, many choices are often extreme or goals are often pushed off due to difficulty.

Your body is there to take care of you for the rest of your life. Subtle changes have cumulative effects on your quality of life. If your body is giving you a warning signal, if you feel like you are waiting for the right moment to start or if you feel like all is wrong in your least you have days to make things happen.

Start now, don't wait and enjoy the journey of life. Don't wait for the worst to make things better now.

Endurnace sports. What's stopping you?

Marni Sumbal

Before every endurance event I do, I like to read my old race reports. I was recently reading my IMWI and IMKY race reports and I just laughed while reading them because I guess two and three years down the road, my mind still wants Ironman racing to be "easy".  I always think about a past race and somehow, my mind tells me it was "easy" back then and now I am really going to hurt. But it's funny that when I read my race reports, it was not easy and it was never easy. I guess the saying is true...

 I guess when it comes to thinking logically, the body and mind do not like to suffer. Not a good combination when it comes to endurance racing. Not sure how many times you look for that "easy" button but if you find it while training for an endurance event or while racing, I am not sure you will want to use it because if "it" was easy, everyone would be doing it.

You see, the great thing about endurance sports is that you get to become someone that you don't believe you can become. You must be patient and respectful of the distance but you must also be willing to work every day to make some kind of progress. You get to experience highs and lows and you get to learn how to work your mind and body in magical ways. You get to inspire and motivate others and you get to join a special group of individuals who seek challenges outside their comfort zone.

I love working with athletes who are new to endurance racing because the human body must be trained and fueled in a way that it resists fatigue and stays energizes and does the minimum amount of work possible to receive huge performance gains. Sharing this journey with Karel has been so much fun because I have seen his body and mind strengthen in many ways and as I share my 6th Ironman with him for his first Ironman, I can't help but think that we will both be going through similar emotions on race day....a lot of why's and hopefully a lot of why nots.

I wanted to repost a blog I did after my 4th Ironman, which meant so much to me because I really pushed hard and received the best prize ever....a rolldown slot to my 2nd Ironman World Championship. Talk about emotions....battling thoughts to get myself on the podium and then being so satisfied with my performance that I went to bed fulfilled only to find out the next day I was going to Kona in 2011.

So I wanted to share my post with everyone (again) as to why I love endurance racing and that I hope this post inspires you to do something that challenges you. Get started with something now without thinking about where you are now and where you need/want to be in the future. The part of working hard for your goals is reaching your end point and being able to look back as to where you were when you started.


This part of the report means so much to me. Not only because I finished my fourth IM since 2006 but I get to write MY report on behalf of all of the triathletes out there, who aspire to one-day sign-up and finish an Ironman. And even if you don't aspire to do a triathlon or an Ironman, or you have done an IM, this is for all of the people out there who have set a challenging, and perhaps, unthinkable, goal.

It is hard to describe the feelings that come with finishing an Ironman. For many of us, we devote a good 6-12 months of training to one event. That's right, an entire year dedicated to one event! And to make things even more nerve-racking, you pay a lump sum of money for the event.... 365 days before the race! For myself, this race was 4 years in the making and I sacrificed many other local races (and wants) to offset the expenses for this event.

For many of you, you are forced to put the hurdles and obstacles that you experience day in and day out, behind you, in an effort to train on most days of the week. On some days, your training may last most of the day. On other days, you may be up at 4:30am just to be finished before the sun comes up. But at the end of the day, you know your priorities and you quickly realize that only in your dreams would you train like a professional. That's right, no scheduled massages, no sponsorships, no free race entries, no purse prize. You have a family alongside work responsibilities and somehow, you are happy just make it all work. Why? Because you have goals. For many of you, perhaps your love for living a healthy life was taken to the next level and somehow, your goals became a lifestyle.
For myself, it was my choice to balance a dietetic internship and training. Just like you, I had ups and downs with my training and the rest of my life and just like you, I didn't always think it was possible to achieve long-term goal(s). You developed a support team and perhaps, there were some people on your team that bailed on you. However, by staying in the positive, you surrounded yourself with people who gave you energy, rather than take it away from you. Without a doubt, with IM training you are always searching for extra natural energy!!!

When I crossed the finish line, I was satisfied. I had given everything I had during the race and I couldn't have asked for anything better. For in an Ironman, every person who crosses the finish line is a winner. Everyone gets a medal, everyone gets a finisher t-shirt and every person becomes a member of a select group of people. Even for those who don't reach the finish line during an IM, they are still in a select club...for only a small part of the population even considers signing up for an IM. Reaching the starting line of an IM is one of the biggest accomplishments you can ask for. Finishing an Ironman is just the icing on the "healthy" cake.

Ironman training is tough. However, through following a periodized training plan, you should find yourself improving on a weekly basis. By allowing your body to recover through active recovery, weekly planned rest days and planned recovery weeks you should find yourself enjoying your IM training and enjoying the journey.
Ironman training is 10x harder than the Ironman event. In an effort to get to the starting line of an IM, you must train your body to complete a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run. Because you have 365 days to train for a 140.6 mile event, most athletes arrive to the starting line trained and ready to go. Sadly, many people arrive to the race overtrained and/or injured, so certainly, balance and a smart mind (and coach) may be necessary when planning for your IM journey.

It's hard to describe the emotions and feelings that flood your body at the IM finish line. Perhaps you want to envision yourself crossing the IM finish line but you may be asking yourself....will my body ever let me do an Ironman??

For those who like to swim bike and runANYONE can do an Ironman.

Here's how I can describe the Ironman journey.
Remember, it's a LONG journey with a one-day finish line.

Imagine yourself driving 140.6 miles on a daily basis. For the first few weeks, it probably seems really boring and you ask yourself "can I really continue doing this every day?"
After a few weeks, the drive gets easier and you become content with the drive. Maybe you even look forward to the drive because you are alone with yourself, your thoughts and feelings. Maybe you come up with new ideas and thoughts during your drive and feel inspired to change something in your life.
Certainly, some days do feel longer than others but overall, you are happy with your decision to do the drive.
Eventually, a group of your close friends tell you that they are going to ride with you during your drive to keep you company. The drive becomes much more enjoyable because you can laugh, smile and share stories with your friends during the long ride.
Down the road, you notice that thousands of other people are doing the same drive as you. Although they are in different cars (some nicer and more expensive than others) and drive at different speeds, they are all going to the same place as you. Some how, you look forward to the drive even more and you almost don't want the drive experience to end.
One day, you notice that there are lots of people on the road wanting to help you. They want to make sure your car is fueled, it is in excellent working condition and that you have everything you need to feel happy during your drive. It's amazing how special you feel during your drive and you feel compelled to tell your friends about the drive, almost as if you are motivating others to do the drive with you.
On your last drive, you notice that your closest friends and family are on the road waving at you. You couldn't be more excited to see them and they bring tears to your eyes because they are supporting your decision to drive 140.6 miles. They think you are crazy for doing it but they love you anyways and they want to see you finish the drive.
When you get to the finish of your last drive, you notice that there are thousands of people cheering you on. You tell yourself "but it's only 140.6 miles" but you know that not many people would make the decision to do this drive. A drive that you once thought was never possible and you finally made it to the finish line. Happy that you don't have to do the drive anymore, you are kinda sad and are ready to sign up for another 140.6 mile drive.

But because there are so many other people out there with you, wanting to reach the same finish line, you feel the need to help the people behind you, reach the same finish line.

When I reached the finish line, I was ready to see all of the future "IMWI" athletes cross the finish line. A line that once seemed impossible, was in close reality.

2% of athletes qualified for Kona at IMWI. That statistic is pretty consistent at most IM events. I'm guessing that around 8% of athletes are shooting for a Kona slot.
An amazing 98% of athletes at an Ironman are there to finish. 98%!!! If you feel as if you can't do an IM, you have absolutely no idea of what you are capable of doing. The body is truly amazing. Although many components play a role in finishing an Ironman, the Ironman event is very mental. With all of the training behind you, you are simply putting your training to the test and enjoying the day with 2500-3000 of your closest friends... a day that you have dreamed about for x-year(s).
If anyone has ever told you that you were "slow" for finishing an Ironman above the average IM finishing time of 13-14 hours or questioned why it took you 14,15,16 or 16 hrs and 57 minutes (that was the last finisher at IMWI 2010) to complete an Ironman....I give you permission to stare that person in the face and tell them "I am an Ironman and no one can take that away from me!"

"I just swam 2.4 miles, biked 112 miles and ran 26.2 miles.....what did you do today???"

Keep moving forward - it's what we do best!

Marni Sumbal

As athletes and fitness enthusiasts, we are notoriously stubborn. Perhaps that is why many of us need a coach in that we love to go, go, go and push, push, push and we do not like to slow down. With an admirable worth ethic, we love to be "on" all the time. Certainly, we need a return on all that investment so with every off day comes the build-up of energy for another quality week of training.
In light of the recent Boston Marathon events, I can't help but feel an amazing amount of energy from social media and from others who refuse to let this event slow them down.
As a coach to a group of amazing athletes (feel free to read their inspiring bios HERE) it is my responsibility to make sure my athletes are on when they need to be on and are off when they need to be off. Sometimes I prefer to keep their switch on dim as I know they all love to work hard for their goals. I am sure you are the same in that you'd rather keep moving forward than to find yourself making steps backward.

With everything that went on in the past few days, I wanted to make sure that all my athletes were still driven to succeed. Seeing that everyone grieves differently and is affected by events differently based on past experiences, it was important to me that I do not assume my athletes are on when they need to be off.
Although not surprised, when I emailed each of my athletes in the afternoon yesterday, they all responded back before the end of the night yesterday. The responses I received were amazing and although not my intent to share, I just can't help but spread some of the energy that my athletes are feeling right now. Although each of them are sad and feel horrible for the individuals affected in the event (myself included), they are all choosing to move forward as that is what they do best.

I hope you can do the same for that same stubbornness that keeps you from slowing down when you should probably stretch more and rest more is exactly what you need right now to keep on moving along in your journey of life.
*The newsreels showed incredible courage and bravery as everyone pitched in to help so the folks responsible not only did not scare us but showed how incredible we are. We are praying for all the people who suffered loss. They would like for us to be afraid and change our lifestyle and if we did then they would be the winners. So, I am with you and refuse to back down in any way and I will be at my upcoming event and with all the crowds in total defiance to what they would like.
*I am both saddened and still shocked but uplifted by the wonderful stories of hospitality the people of Boston have shown.  I am more determined than ever not to let this stop me from living my dreams of racing.  They won't win!  I won't let them.  
*This inspires me more to continue with the lifestyle I have and if you stop doing what you love you allow them to win. If anything it has reminded as many things do, that it is okay to go for your dreams and reach big. It has reminded me that if you are not 100% happy in a situation then do something about it because you get one life. It has reminded me to thank my body for what is CAN do and not what it COULD look like if. It has reminded me to love with my whole heart because there is not room for anything less in your life. 
* While I am deeply saddened by the Boston event, I won't be letting it affect my lifestyle.  
*Honestly I think everyone around here is a bit shaken, myself included. I certainly have had a multitude of emotions concerning the events and really tried to avoid the gruesome photos. I didn't even watch any of the videos of the explosion because I just didn't want to know. I followed the updates on CNN but just tried to bypass the photos and videos. Overall, feeling ok. I'm very thankful that I was able to move my body this morning in honor or it all. I know I can take nothing for granted and that tomorrow is never promised. I also know that I can't live fearfully that it might happen to me. SO really just overall staying positive and trying to be of support to the running/triathlon community around me. 
*So many bad things happening around the world, but this one really hit close for me as well for a lot of people. I woke up last night and thought about the people in their hospital rooms and tried to imagine the pain they were experiencing and what was going on in their mind.  It must be extremely difficult for them and the families affected. I know you have an emotional connection with the Boston Marathon since you have done that race before.  So I'm sure it must be tough for you to comprehend something like this happening.This event has not affected my motivation to race and train and live a healthy lifestyle, but I do have a feeling of sorrow in my heart and ask myself why this has to happen. 
 Thanks for being so kind and supportive and reminding me how valuable life is and not take it for granted. 
*My heart goes out to everyone affected by this tragic event. I will not let this deter me from doing what I love. Plus, I think the chances of this happening again will be pretty low. You cannot live your life being afraid of what could happen. You got to do what you love and hope God keeps you safe. 
Again, thank you for checking on me. That really does mean a lot. As for training and racing. Well, I'm kind of an adrenaline junky, so I will keep doing it :)

thanks for reaching out. yeah. i'm not gonna lie, it really affected me yesterday. hard. not that any life should be more important than any other, but targeting a group of athletes at such a prestigious event and one that tends to be equated with so many dreams just feels even more devastating. i just felt numb yesterday. sad, angry, disappointed, and heart broken... but not for a second did i have any sort of emotion that made me question running and training. in fact, it was the only thing i wanted to do. this morning's run i ran for all the people affected. i ran for them, i ran for their families, i ran for those who were responsible, and i ran for me. it was the first moment of clarity and peace i felt since yesterday afternoon. i found myself running toward 2 white bearded men who were running the opposite direction and i started to let them take the inner section of the road's shoulder while i veered towards the traffic side, but they both pointed towards their center and motioned for me to run between them. one of them was missing his arm (guessing war injury). it all happened quickly, but the simple act of being friendly and protecting me made me smile but then i started to tear up. i imagined the runners and spectators yesterday who will be going home with one less limb than they arrived with. some may never run again. i choked back the tears and focused on what my body was capable of and it made me want to use it b/c as sad as it is, we never know what tomorrow holds. 
....and, marni, with that. i want to state right now that my goal is (now more than ever) to qualify for boston. i imagine next year will be an entirely different event but i don't want it to change the running culture and i don't want it to scare me away from something that is still my dream. it's giving me more fuel. 
will you help me choose the race and help me reach my goal?

Being thankful for life - Boston Marathon explosion

Marni Sumbal

I was so excited to write my next blog today, talking about my training over the weekend. In view of the fact that many people are suffering from the explosions at the Boston Marathon today, I can't help but be extremely saddened by this horrific event. As a writer, I express myself the best with words on paper (or computer) so it only feels natural to write my blog but with a different take away message.

Life brings challenges, stressful situations and emotional times. It also brings success stories, inspirational moments and memory making experiences. Everyone is unique and comes with a story.

When I started my business, I thought long and hard about my philosophy and what I wanted to provide to others in this world. Over time, I took mental notes as to how athletes and fitness enthusiasts were living life and I loved the fact that so many people in this world have goals related to diet and exercise and wanted me to help them reach their personal goals.

With yet another eye-opening event that proves the fact that life is short with no guarantees, I am quickly reminded as to my mission with my business and how I choose to live my life.

Over the past few days, what have you complained about? Have you gone to bed upset at yourself? Have you felt stressed with things out of your control? Have you felt depressed that everything was "off" and not going your way?

I'd be lying if I said my life was peachy-keen and perfect. Far from it. For 8 weeks (Feb - beginning of April), I didn't run because of my long-time history with on and off hip/back issues. There were days that were exhausting and stressful with my business, sad days at the hospital and there were times when I asked myself "why me?"

Of course, I can't motivate others to be excited to change their life if I am complaining all the time so I use my social media networks (instagram, twitter, facebook, blog) to make sure that I am living a great life, hoping that I can inspire you to do the same. I don't choose to be fake so when I share something via social media, it is not only for you but for myself. If you are an athlete, you know the feeling when you cheer for someone who is hurting during a doesn't only lift them up but it gives you a sudden surge of energy. That is what I love about life - we all can be cheerleaders for others just as much as we can be cheerleaders for ourselves.

So for every day when I thought about what I "couldn't do" with running, I found something I could do to stay active without pain and to promote healing. With every tiring day with my business, I thought of how grateful I am to do what I love to do every day and how much I love my athletes and fitness enthusiasts. And with every day that I thought "why me", I thought about my worst day being someone else's worst day.

You see, we all have off, bad and stressful days. If you don't, you are not normal. I don't consider you lucky if you have perfect days every day because I feel the lucky ones are those who experiences things in life and overcome them. For that makes you stronger, wiser and smarter. In racing, every bad moment has a good moment to follow. You just have to get there. And sadly, be prepared for when you are feeling good there is likely a bad moment around the corner. That's the way it goes as an just have to keep moving until you reach the finish line.

One of the best parts of my business is helping others change the way that they are living life. Because it is normal to have personal issues, thoughts and worries with diet, exercise and life, I love connecting with people and making sure that athletes and fitness enthusiasts are making progress in life and not wasting days on Earth. There's nothing worse in life than going to bed feeling like you took a step backward or not making progress. By identifying what you are not happy with and what it would mean to you if you changed it, you can easily find a few ways to tweak your life to move to a better place of waking up excited to live life in a great way and to go to bed being grateful for another tomorrow. 

I don't feel that we should feel guilty for living an awesome life. I think the issue is not feeling as if you have the ability and confidence to live a great life. The ability to worry less about your body weight and to focus more on your relationship with your one and only body. The ability to worry less about nailing every workout or reaching a PR or podium spot at every race and to focus more on the bigger picture and be lucky to push your body to higher limits. Yes, sometimes we get injured but many times we can prevent injuries by just training smarter. And lastly, the ability  to worry less about things out of your control and to spend energy on what you can control.

If you are complaining about your life or making excuses, ask yourself if it is important as to what you are complaining about? If it is, how will you change it? What would your life be like if you stopped wishing for things to happen and you just started to make things happen? Sometimes we have to let our ego stay at home, our comparisons to others be forgotten and memories of the past inspire us (or if hindering, don't let them hold you back). 

No one wants to say it but if you died tomorrow, would everything that you complain about be worth it? Striving for that perfect lean body, overtraining for an upcoming race or waking up every day hating the way your life is it worth it? 

Let's be a bit more grateful for life, the opportunities that come our way and most importantly, your current state of health. 

You can still be competitive, goal-oriented and strong-minded and still live a balanced life. Just make sure that whatever you are wishing for is something that you will actually enjoy if you eventually get the chance to get what you think you want and how will your life change if you get it. 

Thoughts and prayers to all people affected by the Boston Marathon explosions and let's not forget the dedication, passion and inspiration by the 25,000+ runners who had no fears but only high expectations for an awesome day...doing what they love. 

Oakley Women contract and kiwi avocado salsa

Marni Sumbal

Ladies - how do you use your training gear? Do you put it on and go out shopping? Do you wear it to events? Do you worry about sweating in your training gear?

Let's be honest - you can absolutely care about how you look during exercise (it's true - if your race outfit matches your bike, you will bike faster! : )
but most importantly, you should care about how you feel during exercise. Sweating, laughing, legs-shaking, stretching.....when the workout is done you feel accomplished and worry more about what you got out of the workout than how you look in front of a mirror or around others.

If this does not pertain to you, likely you will not want to fill out the Oakley Women contract.

I have seen SO MANY amazing contracts posted by active women via social media and I couldn't wait to fill out my own contract. As an Oakley Women ambassador, I have learned how amazing it feels to not only feel great in your active wear but to also use it appropriately.

"My gear is for running, not running errands. My gear is exercising, not socializing. It's not carpool chic or grocery store casual. It was made for more than that. It was made for me." - Oakley Women
That's right Oakley Women - you nailed it!!!

We are not putting on clothing for a fashion contest or model search. We need clothing for sweating, for pushing our bodies and for finding out what we are made of.

I will use my gear to run across finish lines, not to stand in shopping lines.

What will you use your gear for?

If you are an active woman, ...sign your own contract and let everyone know how you use your training clothing and be entered to win a prize pack! Check out the Oakley Contract page and share #oakleywomencontract on twitter, instagram & Pinterest.

And after you fill out your contract - check out my delicious kiwi avocado salsa from my latest Ironman column.

(Pic on left from Ironman website, pic on right - my delicious homemade salsa)

Discover your (natural) talent

Marni Sumbal

From cyclist....

To triathlete.....

To runner.....

I can't help but smile when people ask me if I get jealous or upset about Karel's "natural" talent to go from 20+ years as a competitive cyclist to a triathlete who can run crazy fast. Karel and I both grew up as "athletes" so we both understand what it means to work hard for results. Of course, 6.5 years ago, when I met Karel on the bike, I never thought that I would now be married to a triathlete.

It's often said that cyclists can run.....but I would have to disagree that just because a cyclist is fit on the bike, it doesn't mean that fitness will transfer over to a weight bearing activity like running. Karel found running uncomfortable and often unbearable during the off-season in years past but then again, he only liked to run for beer and he never "trained" for running races, just used it as "exercise".

Since starting a new multisport lifestyle in June of 2012, Karel has mastered his running form and has found great enjoyment of running. With no injuries, he has had some incredible racing performances....
11/17: Native Sun 10K: 36:39 (5:53 min/mile)
12/16: Jax bank half marathon: 1:22 (6:17 min/mile)
2/16/13: Donna half marathon: 1:21 (6:14 min/mile)
3/9/13: Gate river run 15K: 55:35 (5:59 min/mile)

Although I love my husband very much and believe he is naturally talented, I will confess one thing about Karel....he trains harder than anyone I know....and he trains smart.

Karel does not mess around with training. There is no junk mileage- just one workout a day for 1-2 hours during the week and no more than 5-5.5 hours of training on the weekend (for half IM training). For a whopping total of around 10-12 hours of quality training, Karel trains hard in both body and mind. Training is consistent, it is balanced and it doesn't consume his life. As his wife and "Sumbal" teammate, I love his approach to training as it is something he has enforced with me over the past few years.

So enough about my fabulous husband, let's talk about natural talent.

Do you have it?

Natural talent is often used when describing an athlete who succeeds at his/her first try. But aren't we all talented in our own way by starting something that perhaps others feel is impossible?

Maybe you don't run sub 6:30 min miles like Karel (only in our dreams, right?) but perhaps your 10-13 min/miles is enough to carry you through a marathon or half ironman and that is enough to say you are extremely talented to be able to train for a race and finish what you started.

We all have talent in some extent. Although the beginning may be the hard part, you have the ability to get started and that is what makes you talented and from there, you grow confidence, skills and fitness and then your talent turns into a lifestyle. Talent doesn't have one definition - whether you run a 14 min/mile, bike 25 miles per hour or have the capability of run/walking a marathon. Perhaps you may not have been born with the physiology to run, swim or bike "fast", but that is all relative to who you are comparing yourself to. You get up every day, wanting to make yourself better than yesterday, even though  no one is paying you to workout or to train for a competitive sport. Sometimes you train alone, for an audience of one and when no one is watching you push yourself to the limits, drenched in sweat and satisfied with your effort.
So maybe you feel you weren't born with natural talent but your talent for something has made you interested in the possibility that you can improve and succeed.

Natural talent may be a term that you use for those who make it seem easy but you only get one shot at showing off your natural talent. Second, third, fourth time have to work forbetter results. Therefore, if you don't work hard, you don't build your skills. Secondly, if you don't want it, don't expect to keep improving. Anything is learn-able if the want, desire and motivation is there.

Not to take the attention away from people who may appear "gifted" but never lose sight of your own personal goals. It's up to you to create a routine that is balanced, practical and realistic so that you move forward with your own talented body - the body that gets you up in the morning whereas others sleep in and lack the energy to get in a 1-2 hour morning workout. The body that may get sick at times but not sick to the point that you can't recover on your own, without the help of a hospital. The body that can consistently train for 8,12, 4 months at a time, day after day, letting you do what you love to do and rarely will it fail you.

There are many people in this world who lack natural talent but love what they are given in life. Some have more natural ability than others in a certain areas. But no matter your skill set in an area, if you never take that chance to test out your talent, you will never discover your true abilities.

Maybe you aren't heading to the Olympics or even to a World Championship but maybe down the road you will win your age group. The bottom line is that we all take risks to try something new and the reason why we have stuck with it is because we want to grow our talents.

As a society, we like to judge the end result. The race performance time or the age group or overall result reflects past training so if the end result isn't good, the effort of preparation was a failure.

Sadly, this is why athletes get way too wrapped up in mileage and junky training because the thinking is that it's much better to fail when you have overtrained than to enter a race slightly undertrained yet question your ability to have done more.

We tend to focus on final outcome instead of thinking about the process and the journey. Perhaps your drive for your career gave you the skills needed to succeed in sports, later in the life. As for many athletes, perhaps it was a passion for fitness that paid off in a huge way at your first running, cycling or triathlon race. Regardless of natural talent, if you are lazy or unmotivated, you can't get anywhere in life. Talent can only take you so far until the non-"gifted" athlete outrains you or finds a way to outsmart you in his/her race week/day approach.

Not everyone is willing to work hard for a goal and often the fear of the end result expectations is so great that athletes start to doubt the process, try to rush the journey or stop having fun. Not everyone is capable of designing a consistent training plan that keeps life balanced. Sure, it's easy to judge talent by a race results but behind closed doors, tenacity and patience is a gift that not everyone has and often has nothing to do with natural talent.

I qualified for the Boston Marathon after my first marathon. I qualified for the Ironman World Championships after my first IM. I never took for granted the work that was required to have a strong race at my first marathon and my first IM and I never stop appreciating the opportunities I have had to compete in two of the most desired races in the world by athletes. Races in which many people train their entire life to "qualify" for but never get the opportunity. I may not have natural talent but just like you, I have a gift to wake up every day with a body that allows me to push hard and to test my limits. 

It's interesting thinking about sports and the lessons they teach you in life. I know for Karel and myself, it's hard to imagine our life in any other way for the skills we use in sport (mental toughness, hard work ethic, flexible, determined, etc.) we also use on a daily basis with our careers.

As I mentioned before, some things come easy for some and challenging for others. Regardless of the athlete, if you want it, you have to get after it in the most practical way possible, at this point in your life. Never lose sight on your goals, whether they happen now or 10 years down the road.

Consider yourself talented. If you want something out of your life (and for many, it involves a finishing line or body composition goal), consider the natural gift that you have in front of you to work hard for something that you are passionate about. As long as you don't give up and enjoy the journey along the way, you too will find success.

This is why I do Triathlons

Marni Sumbal

As a coach and an athlete, I feel inspired by others on a daily basis. I try to do my best on a daily basis to inspire others by encouraging others to focus on personal goals and dreams. My friend and fellow Oakley Women Ambassador Fitz is an amazing woman and she has accomplished so much when it comes to inspiring others (specifically children) to live a healthy and active lifestyle. Fitz is using her social media platform and credentials/education as a way to inspire others and it was a great pleasure of mine to fill out her questionnaire as to "THIS IS MY WHY" in relation to my sport of choice. 

The questions she asked made me think but they also made me recognize why I love to get up every morning to push my body, train smart, fuel well and to live an active lifestyle. If you know me well, you know that my life is not perfect and I have dealt with injuries with my hip and back for over 6 years.I have had setbacks due to my educational career as well as plenty of obstacles. Yet I still continue to believe that I can improve and so I keep working hard with whatever I can and whatever is given to me for that day.

Every year I get a "flare-up" which can last from 4 weeks to 10 weeks with my hip. Not going into too much detail as it can become quite lengthy but in relation to a long-history of back issues from swimming competitively, to poor posture, sitting too much, leg weakness, anterior pelvic tilt that feels so normal to me but is a pain in the butt (Literally) and glute weakness due to glutes not firing despite working them in the weight room. Right now I am on 4.5 weeks of no running due to a "flare-up" of my iliopsoas tendon but all is good. I guess after 6 years of dealing with hip issues, I have learned resting is not necessary and only makes things worse for me. Sitting is the crime for my body and I do it too often. Cycling is my best friend and swimming, as much as I love it, can be hard on my back but I can't stay out of the water so I just have to hold back at times. Running has been up and down -  I love it but my body doesn't always love it and I refuse to race and train with a pain so that is why running is always the first to go.

 I have a great team behind me of PTs, MDs, Chiropracter and of course my hubby. I don't like to talk about it too much (although I have in years past on my blog) but rather, discuss how grateful I am when I can perform without pain and without limitations. I suppose "my why" of doing triathlons came at a great time when Fitz contacted me for every year I question my desire to continue competitive sports (running, swimming, biking) that are not in agreement with my body at times. I love to exercise, but I love to train.

So as an athlete, I am dedicated, passionate and determined (not stubborn) and I will focus on the CANs and take life day by day, hoping that not a day is lost that I am not enjoying life to the fullest. Last year I was "out" from running for 5 weeks (Dec - Jan) and had the best season of my life from Feb - Dec. The year prior I was "out" for 3 months from running (Feb - May) and trained for Kona in 16 weeks (without running for over 10 weeks) and raced strong (picture above) with a huge bike PR. The year prior to that, 4 weeks out from running (July) and a 10:53 PR at IMKY just 20 or so days after not running for 30 days prior. It all started in 2007 with a hip injury that caused me to be stubborn and not respectful to my body just 30 days before my first IM world Championship in 2007 (aka Racing injured which I will NEVER do again - nor even "test" an injury more than 5 minutes) and I still pay for that mistake today. 

So I guess my "Why" is more than just a finishing line, award or medal but rather the ability to do what I love on a daily basis, share that experience with others, and to always feel great with what I can do on any given day. My body does not have to let me do triathlons and sometimes I am frustrated with that fact. But at the end of the day,  my body is amazing in that it can heal itself without extreme medical interventions, it has never had a stress fracture or broken bone and I haven't been sick in over 6 years. So despite lack of running here or there every year and the pain that keeps me from running, I'd say my body is pretty special and I'll take a great race and training session, whenever my body is ready for it.

Marni Sumbal, 30, Clinical RD, triathlon coach, business owner, writer, speaker, Jacksonville, Florida

Why do you take part in triathlons?? I love the lifestyle of swim-bike-run and the enjoyment I feel (in both mind and body) when I finish a workout. I love training for a race and overcoming obstacles and setbacks along the way.
How long have you been taking part in triathlons? ~7 years competitively
Tell us about that. Not only do I coach others to reach personal fitness goals in the sport of triathlon and running, but I am also a competitive triathlete who enjoys racing in long-distance triathlons. I typically race 4-5 times a year (in both triathlon and running events) and since 2006, I have finished 5 Ironman triathlons.
Most challenging aspect of triathlons: Teetering on the edge of being injured as I like to push my body to see what I am capable of – in both mind and body. Also, knowing when to hold back in order to focus on quality workouts. I enjoy training smarter to train harder.
Most fun aspect of triathlons: Being able to “train” with other adults who “get it”.
Most rewarding aspect of triathlons: Knowing that my body is capable of racing for 140.6 miles in one day…and thanking it before, during and after every race.
Who/what inspires you when you’re feeling weak? My athletes as well as those who are unable to exercise due to medical/health reasons, but would give anything to be outside and to voluntarily move the body.
Advice for others who’d like to get started: Think small and work on weaknesses and strength training prior to starting a structured training plan. Determine how many hours a week/day you can realistically devote to “training” the body after you factor in sleep, work, family time, meal planning, eating, commuting, etc. There are no rules as to how many miles/hours you have to train per week, focus on your own individual goals and consistency will allow you to make progress.
Your must-have equipment for completing triathlons: I love my gear! Trek Bicycle (pink of course), 910XT Garmin, Nootca swim cap, Oakley Women Commit shades, Road ID, my Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition triathlon kit, Pink laser helmet, Speedo vanquisher pink swim goggles, Brooks Launch running shoes, Louis Garneau triathlon shoes, Garmin 500 Edge bike computer.
Favorite training song: Any kind! I love to listen to the radio when I train (iheartradio).
Favorite healthy food: Hard to pick just one, but I love nuts, seeds and veggies.
Favorite not-so-healthy food: Banana bread (not the healthy kind).
Funniest /weirdest/most awkward experience participating in triathlons: During my first Ironman, my boyfriend (at the time), Karel was watching me race. We had been dating for six months and as I was finishing the 26.2 mile run at the end of the race, he shouted to me that I was in the lead for my age group and I was “going to Kona” (IM World Championships). I yelled back “I love you!” – it was the first time I ever told him I loved him. Now we are happily married.

Discover your talent

Marni Sumbal

When I was younger (in High School), I never felt talented. I loved being a competitive swimmer for more than just winning. Likely that's because I didn't win very much....if at all. I would qualify for prelims and maybe finals in the 200 butterfly (my specialty) but never did I stand on the podium in first place. I remember my senior year of college qualifying for prelims in the 200 butterfly and then finding out after I had swam that someone had scratched for finals and for the first time ever, I would be swimming in my first state finals! What a great experience for me and I had a best time of 2:19 (I think - from what I can remember).
The only results I can find from my swimming career online are from the NAIA National Championships from college (in Canada - we swam in a meter pool, not yards) and this was also a very special experience for me as I trained really hard in the pool alongside balancing my school-work at Transylvania University (Lexington, KY).

Despite having some good first-time/newbie results in my triathlon and running career, talent was never a word I used in my vocabulary when describing my success as an athlete. Bottom line: I had goals and I worked hard for them. I didn't sit around wishing for things to happen. When I set my mind to something, I allow myself to be patient with the process of working hard for what I want. I don't like to rush things in life because they best moments and experiences are felt after you have committed yourself for weeks, months, if not years to one goal. A goal that perhaps, others have wanted yet were not willing to wait and work for.

It's time to discover your talent. You can't reach your talent if you are always comparing yourself to others.
In the book MIND GYM (Gary Mack and David Casstevens) there are two really great chapters that keep me reminding myself how important goal setting and hard work are to success as athletes and in our personal life.

Appropriately titled "Progress not perfection", pg 60 reads:
Goal setting is a master skill for personal growth and peak performance. I can't stress this too much. Without goals, where will you go in life? If you don't know where you are headed, you're probably going to wind up somewhere other than where you want to be. 
Goals keep everyone on target (Dick Hannula)
pg 61:
Goal setting is a way of bringing the future into the present so you can take action now. Goals improve performance. Goals improve the quality of practices. They clarify expectations and help increase self-confidence by seeing yourself get better. Goals also increase the motivation to achieve.
Basic principles of goal setting:
1) Develop performance goals as well as outcome goals. A performance goal, or action goal is something you can control. The outcome will take care of itself. 

2) Goals should be challenging but realistic. Greg Norman says "The trick is in setting them at the right level, neither too low nor too high. A good goal should be lofty enough to inspire hard work, yet realistic enough to provide a sense of hope and attainment. Dick Hannula "Goals must be high enough to excite you, yet not so high that you cannot vividly imagine them. Goals must be attainable but just out of reach for now."
3) SMART - Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Realistic. Time-bound. 
4) Set daily or short-term goals. The way to achieve long-term goals is to break them down into small steps. Effective goal setting is like a staircase. Each step is an action step - an increment of progress. "Inch by inch it's a cinch."

Pg 65: Don't shirk the work:
We all want to win. Every athlete wants to succeed. But the ones who do are those who separate wanting from being willing to make the sacrifice that winning demands. Pg 67:
In sports, as in life, there is no substitute for commitment. Vince Lombardi called it heart power. "A man can be as great as he wants to be. If you believe in yourself and have the courage, the determination, the the competitive drive and if you are willing to sacrifice the little things in life to pay the price for the things that are worthwhile, it can be done. Once a man has made a commitment...he puts the greatest strength in the world behind him. It's something we call heart power. Once a man has made this commitment, nothing will stop him short of success.

It takes years of hard work to become an overnight success. Are you willing to make the commitment and pay the price? 

Fearing the possible

Marni Sumbal

Fear-based training.

I have mentioned it in the past and it is something that is very familiar to athletes who are training for individual-sporting events.

I think of it like a college student with a big exam on the radar. Two months to prepare seems like an eternity so it is unlikely that one would start studying that far in advance. Plenty of time, right? So instead of studying a little bit every day in order to retain information, days slip by and the student begins to get more fearful of the big day. One month away and the motivation is there but it is a bit sub par - the book is open but there is more goofing around and scratching the surface than really accepting the challenge ahead and that time is running out. Two weeks left and it is crunch time. Eek!
Long hours, exhaustion in both mind and body but there is not other choice at this point. Try to squeeze in 60 days worth of studying into 14 days and the only thought is "I wish I would have started sooner."

Fear-based training is not unlike the student who procrastinates until it is crunch-time. It's not uncommon for athletes to have a race on the schedule- months in advance- but there is a tendency have excuses or reasons for not focusing on the little things that will play out on race day and instead waits until he/she has no other choice but to at least prove to him/herself that she/he can do "it" in order to reduce anxiety.

Well, this blog post isn't about fear-based training. Instead, it is about fearing the possible.

What if you lived your entire life thinking about the what-if? What if you just got started a bit earlier? What if you dedicated yourself a bit more to the task at hand? What if you had a more open mind or a more positive attitude? What if you didn't wait until the perfect time to get started?

What would you do if you were not afraid to fail?

Over the past year in a half, I have been working with a mental coach, my friend Gloria who has helped me trust myself as an athlete and to believe in my ability to put my training to the test on race day. With the help of Karel, as my supportive hubby and coach, he has given me sets that I would have thought were never possible with my body and thus, he has shown me that I have the ability to reach higher limits with my training. These same athletic characteristics of believing in myself, wanting to challenge myself and being dedicated to the task at hand have also been very important in my personal life, specifically in my past education and continuing career.

As athletes, fitness enthusiasts or anyone who enjoys a healthful lifestyle, we are always wanting to better ourselves in both body and mind. Whether you are training for a race, looking for a new career, thinking about a life-changing decision or questioning an upcoming opportunity, we all have opportunities in our life to take something that we fear and to get out there and just try to go for it.

In our society, it seems as though many people are raised to want success. Seems kinda obvious, right? You wouldn't want to strive for failure in life when successful people are the ones who get the credit and attention.

But this comes with a bigger issue in that we have missed opportunities in life because of fearing failure. We question the "what if" and that scares us so we put off trying. We get frustrated at the first try and give up.

What's the worse that can happen? You don't get the job, you have to walk when you want to run, you don't lose those last 5 lbs, you get turned down, you have to wait until next time? Life goes on but at least you tried.

But then - what if the best thing happens? You get the job, you run faster than you could ever imagine, you lose those last 5 lbs, you get the opportunity you were wanting for, you don't have to wait until next time. Life goes on and now the possible has happened.

What I love more than anything about sports is the continuous opportunity to try. To try to become better, smarter, fitter, stronger and healthier. The opportunities are endless when it comes to seeing how close you can come every week, month and year to reaching your full potential and then you get to do it all over again the next year.

I remember at Branson 70.3 in September 2012 and having the run of my life. I had trained hard, worked on my mental strength with Gloria and I was hungry to race on a very challenging course. I had all the pieces together and all I had to do was put them together for 70.3 miles.

I remember on the 13.1 mile run that I was hurting...bad. It was not tolerable at times and I wanted to slow down. But I resisted. My mind had convinced my body that I would push and push until my body phsyically gave up. I trained too hard to not keep trying. My mind was not going to let my body surrender. I ran a huge PR off the bike, had the fastest female amateur run of the day, along with a new age group course record and placed overall female amateur. All because I refused to give up before I had to give up. It was a decision that I had to make over and over and over for one hour and 36 minutes..... and it was not easy. But when I crossed the line, I felt the feeling that I dreamed of as I was gasping for air and bracing my completely exhausted body. I was so happy that I went for something that I never thought was possible.

It was around 48-degrees this morning when I started my ride. Karel and I drove to Nocatee and we each did our own workouts (Karel did a run-bike-run and I did a bike-run).
I could have stayed inside on the trainer or I could have skipped the bike to go for a run. But instead, I told myself to not fear the possible. Why should I let the weather stop me from having a great workout? I dressed appropriately and I felt great on the bike. 

The set was hard...thanks Karel for making my legs burn. 
10 x 1 min ON/1 min OFF intervals (ON intervals are 110+rpm, power was way high and OFF are EZ spin)
Then right into 10 min Z3 steady.
Then 5 x 1 min ON/OFF intervals
The right into 10 min Z3 steady.
The rest of the ride was Z2.

I hit my power zones and my legs were burning on the on/off intervals. It was windy and cold out but I didn't let it stop me from achieving the possible.

Then came the fearful part. A set that in my mind was not possible. No way, absolutely not. What was Karel thinking when he wrote my workout in training peaks? I suppose my athletes think the same for me when I write their workouts :)

4 miles off the bike - start at 7:30 for first mile immediately off the bike. Then mile 2 at 7:25, mile 3 at 7:20 and last mile "fast/hard". No stopping in between miles.  

I had 1:30 on the bike to think about this set but I didn't. I kept my mind in the present and just like in Branson 70.3, I just went for it when it was time. What's the worse that could happen? I don't make the intervals so I run slower? I don't make the intervals so I have to walk? Certainly, it's not the end of the world and there will always be another workout. So, with running shoes, visor and Garmin 910XT was time to fear the possible. 

Mile 1: 7:30 min/mile
Mile 2: 7:19 min/mile
Mile 3: 7:07 min/mile
Mile 4: 6:55 min/mile

These are the workouts that remind me why I love sports. Sunday it took me 4 long miles to find my rhythm and today, immediately off my bike I had it in me. I love the workouts when I have nothing to prove to an audience or a crowd of spectators but instead, to myself, all alone, outside and a few birds watching me from above. Always keeping in mind that I will save my best performance for race day, these are the workouts that remind that fear can be good or bad.

So, how do you want to live life? Fearing failure or making the possible happen?
Really, what's the worse that can happen?

You are so much stronger than you think. Don't be afraid to try.

Win at all costs - is it worth it?

Marni Sumbal

In light of all the Lance Armstrong talk that is going around, I couldn't help but think about the "win at all costs" philosophy that keeps our society driven to reach the standards of others.

Certainly, we feel pressure to please others or meet expectations and then we feel like failures if we come up short. The pressure that we put on ourselves is often unbearable yet we do it all the time.

Beyond competitive athletes, our society is built on standards. Living a certain way, acting a certain way, looking a certain way. The interesting thing is that we all live in our own community bubble so depending on who we surround ourselves with on a day-to-day basis, that is our standard.

Live in a runner or triathlete bubble? Perhaps you are constantly comparing your body, training schedule, paces or performance to those who are better than you.

Live in a wealthy bubble? Perhaps your lifestyle isn't "good enough" for your neighbors or coworkers.

Live in an extreme bubble? Perhaps you consider compromising your health, well-being or lifestyle to fit within the masses.

No matter what bubble you fit into, if you constantly try to live up to the standards of others, you are going to find yourself defeated. Defeated that you are living the life that you feel others expect you to live, instead of living your own fabulous life.

As a healthy lifestyle professional (if there is such a thing - certainly I didn't go to school for that profession but my background has helped me change the lives of so many), I understand the pressure you may feel to "win at all costs." Not just at your upcoming race but to succeed like those who you admire....likely seen on facebook or a blog (because we all know that our society loves to "show off" on social media).

Winning can be interchanged with succeeding. You don't want to fail at weight loss, performance, education or relationships so you will do anything and everything to "win" at what you want.

Humans are expected to be rational. We grow up learning how to have good judgment and to be sensible. But when we want something, badly, we are not afraid to act beyond common sense and do whatever it takes to succeed. Extreme fad diets, overtraining, neglecting obligations at work or at home, acting arrogant around loved ones. Likely you expected me to say something along the lines of performance enhancing drugs but I feel as if our society does a lot of unhealthy things to the body and mind which may seem "common" but really, are far from "healthy". Yet we try so hard to fit in and that often means compromising our integrity, health and beliefs to be accepted by others.

We have pressure in society to do whatever it takes to succeed because if it doesn't look like we are trying hard, it only looks like we don't want it bad enough. So, if we can at least act the part and be a little hard core, we at least feel challenged by the idea that we are going to succeed because that is what others expect us to do.

Who doesn't love to win? It is fulfilling, satisfying and inspiring. However, if it comes with being inflexible and being an unhealthy competitor in life, it's only a matter of time until you have to pay the price.

To succeed in life, use your common sense. Guess what? There is no perfect way to eat, there is no perfect body image, there is no perfect lifestyle and there is not definition of "athlete".

What there is is a lot of selfishness and greed that comes from a person who is headstrong about reaching their goals and is willing to win at all costs. Sadly, there may be short term gains,  but likely there may be more consequential long term losses.

Take a step back and think about your life. More importantly, your lifestyle. Is your training routine moving you closer to your goals? Is your diet allowing you to have a healthy body composition and additionally helping you to live a long, active life in a hopefully disease/illness free body with a healthy relationship with food? Is your lifestyle conducive to enjoying your days on earth or are you finding yourself bored, stressed and frustrated with how you are wasting your days?

The only person you need to please in life is you. Your family and friends will love you so long as you are not being destructive to your body and mind. Your body will likewise love you if you are doing everything in your power to take care of it.

I know you can win in life. Just be sure you know what you really want and that you are willing to work for it until you get it. Your enjoyment of "winning" is felt by you but it can also be shared by others.

Win at all costs so long as you do not end up bankrupt at the end. What's the point of having everything now when you have the rest of your life ahead of you to keep on playing the game?

Custom Trimarni Triathlon/Running kit

Marni Sumbal

In 2007, I made a life changing decision. Going back to school for another degree was a decision that was hard to make after being in school for college and graduate school from 2000-2006. It was a decision that many "experts", "gurus" and "professionals" overlook as it is a big time and money commitment and it does put life on hold for a while....longer than I planned.

But, like many things in life, never did I realize a challenging journey that required so much patience and hard work, would change my life. I blogged about being nervous about my first day of school as I was earning pre-reqs for my dietetic verification statement. For around 3 years I blogged about all the ups and downs in my dietetic journey as it was no easy road to go back to school to earn my RD credentials. Although I knew that the MS and RD behind my name would help me further my career as a writer and speaker, never did I realize how it would change the way I live my life. With experience and knowledge that can not be found on the Internet, I firmly believe that if you want something in life, you can not take the easy way out and just "google it". To go after your dreams, you have to accept hard work and taking the right path. There is no best path but rather the one that is recommended by the true professionals who are also your mentors and want the best for you.
With an educational background in nutrition and exercise physiology and a passion for sport nutrition and understanding a body in motion, having my own business is a dream in the making. Almost a year ago (with the help of others), I learned the ins and outs of having your own business and I took a risk and created my own website to provide nutrition services to fitness enthusiasts and athletes as well as opening my coaching services to more athletes. Blogging, facebooking, tweeting are helpful for my business as social media helps connect me to the world but above all, my passion lies in connecting with others from around the world and helping inspiring individuals reach personal performance, health, fitness, body composition and life goals. I absolutely love communicating with my athletes and fitness enthusiasts from emailing to skype and to analyzing training logs. I enjoy the process of helping individuals change habits to live a better, healthier and more productive lifestyle. I love changing lifestyles because I know how great it feels to live a quality, balanced life.

Dream Big
With the help of Karel (as the brains to the inner-workings of my business) I have been able to focus on what I love to do and to always dream-big for what's next with Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition. For the past few months, we have talked about having our own Custom Triathlon/Running Kit. An outfit to promote my business but more importantly, a kit that has a deeper meaning and will be used for a be worn by active and healthy bodies, who love crossing finishing lines.
As we  brainstormed for a few days as to the graphics that would be perfect for all types athletes and fitness enthusiasts, we wanted to create a custom graphic that would encourage athletes to dream big. With the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii as the event that gets active individuals interested in competitive sports and motivates athletes to never stop giving up on dreams, a Hawaiian flower with a tribal look was the perfect graphic for our jersey. 
For myself, I know what I want in training/racing gear so we choose a quality company who makes clothing in the USA. Canari. As a firm believer in communication w/ my athletes and fitness enthusiasts, we were really pleased with the great communication with Canari in helping us pick the right "look" and colors of our jersey. Karel was really involved in every step of designing our jersey and bottoms and it was his creative mind that allowed this dream to come true.

About the kit
We choose cycling shorts w/ a triathlon (thin) chamois that provides just enough compression to keep you comfortable while training and racing. A carbon look on the paneling of the shorts and sides of the jersey will not only make the jersey stand-out among your competition but will make you feel fast. There are pockets on the back of the jersey to hold your nutrition during training/racing and the front of the jersey has a zipper for easy, quick cooling as you are racing.
I realize that many people enjoy different products and this is a difficult part in applying for "sponsorships". I love being an ambassador for brands that I use and love and as you know, if I like something you will see me using it all the time.  Understanding that we should all endorse and support companies (and especially small businesses) that provide quality products to enhance our lifestyle, I decided I would not put any logo's on the jersey so that no matter who purchases the jersey, you can still be a loyal customer of your favorite brands.

Incredibly thankful to all the Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition fans/followers out there, it is on Small Business Saturday that I can't thank you all enough for inspiring me as I try to inspire, motivate and educate others to live a more balanced and healthful lifestyle.

So, without hesitation...for the first time ever.......
Coming soon for 2013.....
The Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition Custom Triathlon or Running Kit

How to place a pre-order:
If you or a friend are interested in either the pink or black kit (or single items), send me an email with your color preferences and if you'd like the full kit or single items.
Pricing depends on pre-orders so the more pre-orders we receive, the more the price will drop. Canari provides quality gear at an affordable price but you are not locked-in if you send me an email and then decide to not order the clothing after you are given the quote on prices.
The clothing itself is not different for the different colors and the pink and black kits are not exclusive to women and men, respectively. Understanding that there are guys who like pink and women who like black, I wanted to give everyone two different options based on your style. I'm a firm believer that if you look good on race day in your outfit, then you will race fast. :)
Pre-orders will stay open until December 7th (allow 6-8 weeks for production/shipping) so if you are interested, I look forward to hearing from you. Feel free to pass the clothing pre-order invite along to your active friends and training buddies. The clothing is not  limited to Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition athletes but instead, to any person who desires a balanced, healthy and active lifestyle and chooses to dream big.

Thank you for your support!
-Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition, LLC
-Marni and Karel

Focusing on the positives

Marni Sumbal


With Thanksgiving approaching and the New Year around the corner, we can not deny that time is flying by!! I feel like it was just yesterday when I was registering Karel and myself for Ironman Lake Placid for July 2013.
If you are a goal setter or someone who gets anxious with a lot of to-do's, this can be the hardest time of the year to feel balanced. But not to worry - focus on the positives in your life.

Last night I was reading Mind Gym by Gary Mack with David Casstevens. As you all may know, I have discussed many times in previous blogs about my work with my friend Gloria with Life With No Limits Coaching who has helped me take my training to the next level. In working together, I have also learned how important having a strong mind is when it comes to developing a healthy relationship with your body and food.

When I was studying exercise science in college to earn my bachelor degree, I decided to earn a minor in psychology so that if I were to ever work with athletes, I would know how to "counsel" them. Who would have thought that 8 years later I would still find the importance of developing a strong connection between the body and the mind.

Now as a RD and endurance athlete, it is amazing how much I use and believe in psychology when it comes to helping people reach goals. Gloria has not only taught me how to stay mentally strong in races but also to keep my mind positive during training. In working with my own athletes for coaching and nutrition, I know first hand how important it is to focus on behaviors rather than to blame actions. Taking a more proactive approach to life, I have a deep passion for changing lifestyles...not just habits and not just telling people what to do. If you have ever encountered hardship or obstacles in your life and felt defeated, it is only with a positive mind that one can turn any negative situation into a positive.


Here's a little from the book that will help you in your quest to develop a strong mind and to create more positivity in your life....

Pg 6.
Studies have proven that mental training will not only enhance performance and improve productivity but also add to your enjoyment. Whatever your age, whatever your game, you can learn how to use your mind more constructively. You can learn how to stay focused. You can learn to deal with adversity. Stay motivated during difficulty times. Avoid fatal distractions. You can learn how to follow your dreams and live your life on purpose.
Achieving inner excellence is a process. Building mental muscle, like building physical muscle, requires time and effort. The more you work on the inside, the more it will show on the outside. First you will make a commitment. As Yogi supposedly said, when you come to the fork in the road, take it.

As we approach the holidays, do you struggle with negative thoughts when it comes to healthy eating or developing a positive attitude to their body? Do you strive to wake up in the morning and say to yourself "I'm proud of myself from how I acted yesterday" or do you wake up and think "I can't believe I was so bad yesterday." Are you someone who says "I'll be better tomorrow" or do you think before you act to make for a better tomorrow?
Here's the thing......
it's not the actions that you are making but rather the thoughts that are likely consuming your brain prior to making decisions.

For the next few days, start learning how to avoid negative thoughts. Surround yourself with positivity.....even if you are in the process of changing habits.

Pg 9.
One key to achieving success in sports is learning how to focus on the task and not let negative thoughts intrude. The mind can concentrate on only one thing at a time. So, rather than suppress what you don't want to happen, you must focus on what you do want to happen or on some neutral thought.
The brain can do remarkable things but, unlike a computer, it doesn't come with an instruction manual. Unfortunately, too often we pull up the wrong "programs" at the wrong times.
What we've learned in psychology is that actions follow our thoughts and images. If you say, "Don't hit it in the water" and you're looking at the water, you have just programmed your mind to send the ball to a watery grave. The law of dominant thought says your mind is going to remember the most dominant thought. Think water, remember water, and water likely is what you will get.
Rather than say "don't hit it in the water," try another instruction, like "Land the ball ten yards to the right of the pin." You get what your mind sets. The mind works most effectively when you're telling it what to do rather than what not to do.

As you enjoy time with friends, family or your furry little ones, be sure to give thanks to your body for getting you to November 22nd, 2012. Never stop focusing on the positives and creating a strong mind to get you to where you want to be tomorrow.

Staying strong

Marni Sumbal

Happy Halloween from my cute little spider!!
In light of the recent damage from hurricane Sandy, I have been struggling to finish Karel's race report as well as blogging about Halloween Nutrition Tips or talking about my training. I've been updating my Trimarni Facebook page several times throughout the day with articles, tips and motivational posts (be sure to LIKE for daily updates) but I just didn't have the energy to talk about happy events in my life when others are struggling.
Early this morning I was voluntarily swimming with access to a pool. I was drinking clean water, I refueled with fresh food and used appliances that were charged with electricity. I drove my car to and from the Y and I was comfortably warm with the cooler temps outside.
Throughout today, I have been keeping up with the Sandy aftermath but more so with the updates on the NYC marathon. I typically do not write blogs about my opinion on controversial topics but I do want to express my concern of having a 26.2 mile running race when many people are suffering up North. I feel it is in the best interest of the runners to cancel the event for a marathon experience (let along the NYC marathon) is not just about the miles and the medal. Traveling for a race is all about experiences and making memories. But for a 26.2 mile event, this is a big toll on the body. My concern is the amount of water that is going to be used for the event when many people are without water and heat. IV's, medical and first aid - typical overlooked needs of athletes post (or during) a race yet vital components of the medical action plan to help the many survivors of Sandy's destruction. Eating out, supporting local businesses, keeping the body (and immune system) in good health (and not risking chance for disease with the destruction of the hurricane) and enjoying a race experience to the fullest with an event staff that is experienced and planned for all controllables.
This blog post is not designed to make anyone participating in the NYC marathon feel guilty about their decision to run. Certainly, with all that training, you are ready to put your strong body to good use.
One of the many great things of calling myself an athlete is being able to carry with me a strong passion for life. Obstacles occur every day and for many, they may seem impossible. For the athlete, he/she finds a way no matter how difficult the task is at hand. If anything, the harder the challenge, the more exciting the journey ahead.
I posted this quote before Karel's race on Sunday (Rev3 Florida) which turned into a duathlon due to strong winds. The day was expected to be brutal for the athletes due to the forceful winds but I felt so much positive energy from the athletes.
In sports, we (athletes) do not stop ourselves from doing things because of the risk of "chance" happening. We take chances every day because we see the outcome of success as something bigger than the chance of something going wrong and things not going our way.
Races get cancelled. Races get modified. Training gets disrupted. Yes - life happens.
As we all know, life throws curve balls but it also has grand slams. Could you imagine your life if you never took a chance? Never signed up for a race for the chance of getting injured, the race being cancelled or being sick on race day? No. You sign up for a race for what you hope to become by race day. The finish line is simply a bonus for becoming someone you never thought you could become.
In life, we have many controllables and then we have a few uncontrollables that stress us out. Ugh, rain on a race day when the entire week was sunny. Ugh, a flat tire when you have not had a flat in years. Ugh, an upset stomach while running when your nutrition strategy has never failed you.
Thinking about the individuals affected by hurricane Sandy, my thoughts and prayers go out to those (both human and animals) who are forced to stay strong.
Donation tips can be found HERE
I've learned a lot in life as an athlete. One reminder I'd like to share with everyone is to always be grateful for the controllables in your life. Be thankful for your health, your family, your close friends and your job. Sometimes life will not go as you like and uncontrollables will ruin your perfect plan. But if athletics can teach you anything, never forget that you are strong enough to handle anything that is thrown your way. It may suck at first and you may repeat to yourself "why? This is not fair!" but keep in mind that your worst day may be someones best day.
Life  is likely moving on. It is up to you if you want to move on with it. Likely, there will be more races, more opportunities and more chances to show how strong you really are.

Where do you spend your energy?

Marni Sumbal

Does your life give you reason to smile everyday?

With the off-season in full force, I was excited to get on my bike today for the group ride in Nocatee. I suppose my bike was a bit lonely for the past week since I haven't ridden it since last Saturday but all is good because I am enjoying the needed break from structured training. Also, after a well deserved almost two week break from running I'm using this time to work on my HR control, pacing and form/efficiency with running as I gear up for a fall half marathon, which will ultimately help me out at Lake Placid next year for the Ironman.

The morning started out cool which was pleasant. Karel was a bit speedy for his warm-up, likely because he is peaking at the right time before he does Rev3 Florida Half Iron next weekend. I am looking forward to watching him race his second half ironman distance for he is continuing to get stronger on the run and his swim training is really paying off. He's still crazy fast on the bike which is helping me get faster as well.

Still lots of room for improvement for him but he is still having fun with his new (since June) triathlon lifestyle. As for me, I gave everything I had in both mind and body out on the course in Branson 70.3. I think my body would enjoy racing again (especially with this beautiful fall weather in FL) but I don't want to take any risks  for I know my mind wants nothing to do with a race right now. Because I like to focus all my energy in both mind and body on a race, if I feel that just one part of me isn't prepared (mind), there's no point for me to put my body through another triathlon race, just for a shirt and a medal. Campy and I are looking forward to the weekend, cheering on Karel and of course, traveling and to support the other athletes.

Speaking of energy......

I feel as if there has been a lot of negative energy in the triathlon community lately. Funny thing is that the tri-world is rather small if you think about it, but thanks to social media, forums, blogs and word of mouth, things go around quickly and it's hard to step outside the triathlon bubble. Certainly, the tri bubble comes with positivity, motivation and inspiration but it also brings bullying, bad-mouthing and lots of assumptions.

I have a lot of natural energy. No, I don't drink energy drinks or sodas or pop pills to give me a boost. Certainly good sleep and a balanced diet help me out but I also try to direct my energy to things, people, tasks that will make me feel better about myself and my life. I hope you do the same.

Sadly, many people waste a lot of time not doing things that will make their life better. Isn't that what life is about? Time is such a precious thing and considering that we are about 2 months away from 2013, we can't go back in time. We can only use our energy to enhance our life, thus stopping habits that move us backward. Relating to the diet, the body, work or performance, almost everyone is guilty of wasting energy, giving excuses, making assumptions and comparing to others, which give little purpose to life in terms of making memories for a quality filled life.

Stop comparing yourself to others. Be proud of what you have, what you look like, what you are able to do and what you can become. You will never find enjoyment in your own life if you constantly waste energy thinking, trying and wanting to be like others.

Since I work in a hospital as a clinical dietitian, I feel as if many people would stop wasting energy on trivial things (including extreme quick fixes with body weight, wanting to always know what others are doing to be "successful" as well as feeling the need to rush performance gains) if they put themselves in the shoes of others. Sure, I deal with alcoholics and drug seeking patients but I also have newly diagnosed cancer patients and patients with a life changing diagnosis. Consider the time you spend wanting to have what others have and think about what makes your life so great. Perhaps people are looking at you, wanting what you have but you are too busy wanting to change your life to be like others.

Stop the assumptions, the bad-mouthing, the bullying and taking the time to speak/write negative words about others. You won't find me posting negative words on facebook, discussing others on my blog or wasting my time on things that I feel will not enhance my life. Words can be very unattractive so if you want to feel beautiful (guys included), stop the negative energy in our life by focusing on how you can make your life better. Sure, we all have freedom of speech but I feel the world would be a happier place if we would all smile more, live more and love more.

The impatient athlete

Marni Sumbal

2004 - first triathlon (sprint)

April 2012 - Iron Girl Clearwater - Overall winner

September 23rd, 2012 Branson 70.3 - 1st amateur female
I don't need my mental coach (and friend) Gloria to confirm that I have a type A personality.

"Type A individuals tend to be very competitive and self-critical. They strive toward goals without feeling a sense of joy in their efforts or accomplishments."

I think many active individuals (runners, triathletes) would feel comfortable using the title "type A" at times when it comes to training, racing, the diet, work and life.

However, I feel over the past few years, I have learned to become a more relaxed type A. In other words, this is what I try to be less of on a daily basis......

"Type A personalities experience a constant sense of urgency: Type A people seem to be in a constant struggle against the clock. Often, they quickly become impatient with delays and unproductive time, schedule commitments too tightly, and try to do more than one thing at a time, such as reading while eating or watching television.
Type A individuals tend to be easily aroused to anger or hostility, which they may or may not express overtly. This appear to be the main factor linked to heart disease."

Interestingly, Type A personalities may have traits that lead to better performances in life and sport. Type A personalities generally have higher need for achievements and their behavior pattern is often associated with the success of an entrepreneur.

(Reference here)

Since I started competitive swimming at the age of 10 or 11, I have always been an athlete. I don't consider myself a hardcore athlete, for my competitive spirit desires the opportunity to be beat by those who are faster than me in order to help me push myself to be better. I try to look at the positives in every race rather than a finish place or time.

Because of my natural desire to be challenged in life, I have learned to enjoy the journey of reaching goals. If you know me well, I am an open book when it comes to goals and I am not afraid to talk about my goals and how hard I am willing to work for them. I firmly believe that life has not been easy for me. Sports, school, life....I have encountered many struggles, obstacles and set-backs while trying to reach my goals.

Patience is the most powerful weapon that I carry with me in my journey of life.

If you are impatient and wish time to fly by, it's likely that you will struggle with reaching goals. Accumulation of hard work leads to great performances. Life, work, sports...even if you work hard but are impatient you will find yourself trying to take short-cuts or too many risks to try to progress too quickly.
You don't have to be an athlete to carry the unfortunate trait of impatience. Want to lose weight quickly? The fitness/supplement/diet industry can help you with that. Quick fixes and extreme efforts sell well. Instant gratification is what our society thrives off of as very few people desire to be the tortoise when you can be the hare. When people want results yesterday, it's no surprise that something that can be accomplished quickly is much more fulfilling than something that takes time to achieve.
Some progress is better than no progress. But if you have a goal and don't see extreme results in a week or two, how long will it take you to forget your goal and move on to another method to see if "that way" will be faster. Bouncing around from attempt after attempt is nothing more than feeling defeated by a challenge without realizing your true potential to achieve success.

There are no short cuts in life. I learned this about a year after obtaining my Master of Science degree in Exercise Physiology.
Wanting to do more with nutrition for active bodies and desiring to take my passion for public speaking and writing to the next level, I was told by many that I would need to obtain a Registered Dietitian credential to be qualified and licensed to "practice" nutrition.

For three years, I was forced to be patient. You can't rush time, especially when it comes to education. Unlike sports, doing more and wanting it now was not going to happen. The saying quality of quantity could not have been more true than during my 10 month dietetic internship. I learned more than I ever imagined and my initial dreams of having my own business and taking my passion for speaking to the next level were combined with a new love of clinical nutrition.

Throughout my dietetic journey, I realized the true value of patience. Hard work in both sport and life will pay off but you can't expect results tomorrow if you haven't put in the time to learn lessons, to overcome obstacles, to feel defeat and perhaps, become someone who you never imagined you could be.

Life is not easy. "I can't" is part of my vocabulary but I have never allowed it to override "I can." If there are any takeaways from this blog post, my hope is that you will never give up on your goals. Its much better to achieve a goal in 1,2 or 10 years than to think to yourself in 1,2 or 10 years....."what if I only tried a bit harder to be a bit smarter with my approach and didn't give up."

I have dreams in life and then I have goals. A goal like qualifying for my third trip to Kona at Lake Placid next year is a long term goal that will be on my mind over the next year as I put in all the hard work that is necessary to race strong against my competition in the 30-34 age group next July. Dreams, on the other hand, are a different story. Unable to determine a finish-date as to when a dream will come true, I figure why not work hard with my passion for public speaking until an opportunity is presented to me show my love for speaking.....speaking about topics in which I am very passionate about.

On October 16th, 2012, a dream of mine came true.

I hope you enjoy my first ever live TV segment (featuring four of my very own new Trimarni creations) which is part of the Baptist Heart Wise Program for Women with Baptist Medical Center Beaches.

Healthy eats with whole grains

Inspired by Kona

Marni Sumbal

Likely, the most sedentary day of the past year, after a 45 min run + 2 hour group ride, I was glued to my computer from noon until 10pm. Then, I woke up at 4:10am to head to Amelia Island to support Karel (who was working pre-race bike support for Trek jax) and I was stuck to my iphone to watch the final finishers.
Karel saved the day for many triathletes this morning at the DRC Atlantic Coast Triathlon. Flat tires, cassette issues, brake issues, saddle issues, etc. You name it, Karel was there to solve the problem and relieve the worries from many newbie triathletes.

Someone was a bit tired due to missing his morning nap. He struggled to keep his eyes open but made sure to give a few barks to cheer for the athletes.
We had a big crew from Jacksonville, FL participating in the Ironman World Championships yesterday and everyone finished! Watching and cheering for friends (many who I have never met) from around the globe was so motivating and inspiring. I had chills when the gun went off for the age group mass start, I had tears in my eyes for almost every Kona Inspired story, I was celebrating with Pete Jacobs as soaked up his first place finish for over 2 miles (loved his post race speech about "love") and I was on the edge of my seat, rooting for Leanda Cave as she was relentless out on the course - focused and determined. She is the first female to win the 70.3 and 140.6 Ironman World Championships in the same year and she gave a dramatic effort out on the run course.
From the young to the old, to the nail-biting performances and to those who made it look easy. I have watched this race year after year and I have been given the opportunity to cross two World Championship finishing lines, alongside 3 other Ironman finishing lines. Amazingly, I am still having so much fun as a triathlete - learning more about the sport and learning more about myself. I continue to dream big and I absolutely love the journey that I get to go on with my body and mind as I prepare for the bigday.
The Ironman is a distance is far from normal. Ironically, those who choose to race/participate in an Ironman consider it a lifestyle. Work, sleep, eat.....140.6 miles in less than 17 hours - all for a medal and t-shirt. For the majority of us, we choose to do this voluntarily and we pay a lot of money to do the race and prepare for the race.....long before we actually get to the starting line. But with that confirmation of registering for an Ironman, your life suddenly changes. You start the process of building endurance, mental strength and of course, overcoming obstacles as they pop up and interfere with the commitment to train for an Ironman.
From my first IM finish in 2006 at Ironman Florida, to my last Ironman finish in Kona in 2011, I can't stop smiling when I race in triathlons.

I can't stress the importance of balance when it comes to training for a long distance event. It's not about the miles, being lean or bragging about past performances.
What does it take to feel successful (regardless of finishing time) as an endurance athlete?

-Sport nutrition - understanding individual needs before, during and post training
-Daily diet  - learning how to eat for fuel and for health, throughout the year.
-Off-season - importance of resting the mind and body
-Periodized training - understanding the importance of long "steady" miles in the base phase and building in order to peak at the right time
-Mental training - learning how to stay focused,be confident and to trust yourself
-Sleep and stress management
-Recovery - train hard, recover harder
-Training smart - knowing when to push and when to back off and how to train for quality
-Strength and skill training - year round training (specifically in the off season) to work on  weaknesses and to build off strengths
-Massage, stretching - keeping the body in an anti-inflammatory, relaxed state as much as possible
I could go on and on but my focus for this blog is to remind you that "fitness" (however you choose to do it - at the gym or training for a race), should be fun. Sure, there will be downs but you will remember those downs on race day....and how you pushed your way through those walls. But above all, do not feel pressue when it comes to training or living like others, who also do endurance events. There are no pre reqs as to how long it takes to reach your starting line and surely there is no age for retirement. Whether you are hoping to do an endurance event or feel inspired to jog your first 5K or join a gym, never stop having fun and DON'T rush the journey. Be patient. Sure, you may want to "get healthy", change body composition or improve risk for disease. Those things will likely happen so long as you are consistent and you are respecting your body. Consistency is your best friend when you are training for a long distance event but more important than putting in the work, you have to love what you are doing, know where you are going, be kind to your body and reflect along the way.


Dream big, success will follow

Marni Sumbal

In less than 24 hours, athletes from around the globe will be anticipating the start of the 34th Ironman World Championships. And then there are the athletes who are actually competing in the 2012 Ironman World Championships. Every athlete who has earned his/her place to be at the starting line  will discover his/her inner strength as the Big Island will likely not hold back with fierce winds and heat for 140.6 miles of swim,bike and run.

For the athletes experiencing their first Kona, this will be an unbelievable experience. Nothing can describe what it feels likes to be at the center stage of Ironman. For many, October 13th 2012 is a day that many have dreamed of for 5, 10, 15+ years....finally earning a spot to race amongst the best in the world.

For the athletes who are veterans to the Ironman World Championships, it is the positive energy that radiates from every person on the island, that keeps athletes inspired and determined to return, year after year.

I wasn't able to come up with an inspiring blog post or provide words of advice for the athletes who are racing tomorrow at the Ironman World Championships. I didn't feel like putting together a list of last minute nutrition to-do's or pacing suggestions.

I think we can all assume that the athletes who are approaching their last sleep before the biggest Ironman event of their career/year, are excited for the big day.

But believe it or not, negative thoughts, comparing yourself to others, lack of confidence, fear or feeling unprepared, can ruin great performances..... no matter how lean you are, how many miles you swam/biked/ran or how many past races you have won. Regardless if you are walking your first 5K or participating in the Olympics (or anything in between), the person who dreams big will find success no matter the day, so long a positive attitude, a strong mind and a trained (yet rested and well-fueled fueled) is part of the equation.

After I train in the am, I will be glued to the computer from 12:45pm EST until my eyes can no longer stay open. I will wake up early enough to see the last hour of finishers cross the finishing line from 6-7am EST. I know I am not alone when I say that watching the Ironman World Championships on NBC for the very first time, sparked a fire that made me dream big. I believe that no matter who is reading this blog right now, success is within your reach.

Dream big and get excited for the success that will follow.

As I reflect, here's a little from my Kona 26.2 run recap:

"It's very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit."

As a coach, exercise physiologist, dietitian, 5x Ironman finisher and 2x Ironman world championship finisher, I respect the human body for all that it allows me to do on a daily basis. Throughout this Ironman journey, I have developed a deep relationship with my body and with the right balance of my lifestyle of triathlon with my passion for living my life to the fullest and helping others, I feel I was able to enter this Ironman in the best mental and physical shape of my life.
What I find so amazing about the body is that for many of us, we have a gift. Regardless of finishing time, those of us who reach an Ironman starting line have a gift, comprised of mostly perseverance. This is a gift that many people don't recognize and for others, that many people would love to have, but lack the desire, motivation or means of wanting to train for a 140.6 mile event.

For most of us, we are age-groupers. The Ironman event series gives us a challenge, a way to feel successful and a way to see the body become something that we never thought was possible. We surround ourselves with people who support us, believe in us and are inspired by our decision to sign-up, train and compete in an Ironman but then there are those who are in our lives, that call us "crazy" for putting our body through such pain and torture. When it comes to race day, our reasons for getting to the finishing line include a raffle of thoughts and ideas. While we shoot for personal bests and an inner strength to dig deep, we also consider the time, money and personal and emotional investment that we contributed to the last x-months in training for this Ironman event.

Although I feel the 140.6 mile Ironman distance fits my body and personality the best, out of the many available triathlon distances, I do not take for granted that anything can happen on race day. Sure, anything is possible on race day, but I see my body as this amazing machine that should be taken care of as if it was glass.

This Ironman journey included much more than "training hard and long". Actually, I feel as if the training was beyond hard because it forced me to break down the sport and focus on the little things that would make for a great race day performance. With only 1 ride over 100 miles and my longest run of 16 miles off the bike, my goal with my training was to develop the confidence that I needed to believe in myself that I could put my training to the test.

I believe that anyone who sets out to do an Ironman, needs a solid base. Once that endurance base is built, he/she must focus on quality training, in addition to focusing on a goal with the right attitude. I believe that Ironman training should be fun, but it isn't without its up and down moments. Because we often question the reason for participating in the most self-fulfilling, one day endurance triathlon event, we must have a goal. This goal allows us to be consistent with training, to rest when the body can no longer perform at an optimal level and to go into the race with a practical plan.
With every training session in my 14-weeks B4KONA training plan, I saw myself in the Kona race...I could see myself crossing the finish line with a specific time and every interval in Jacksonville took place - in my mind - in Kona, on the Ironman course. I was not afraid to "RACE" Kona because I had believed in myself that I could race my plan. I recognized that obstacles would be thrown my way on the amazing BIG ISLAND of Kona but I always plan to race within my stretchable limits.

The Ironman is an indescribable accomplishment because it is more than just a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run. Because we can't compare race to race, season to season, event to event, you are always forced to put your current training to the test and be one with your mind and body on that given day. The deciding factor on race day isn't how far you swam, biked or ran or how much money you spent on gear or how much body fat you have on race day. When it comes to racing or participating in an Ironman, you have to want it....bad Although many people want that finish or best time...."PR or ER" as some may say, I believe that the Ironman should explore our boundaries of what we are capable of achieving.

One thing I have learned in my triathlon and Ironman career is that athletes are not made in season, nor are they defined by one race. Many people look at results, rather than what happened within the race.

On October 8th, 2011, I did not have the race that I dreamed of having. On paper, my time did not reflect what I had trained my body to do. But after relishing in my accomplishment of finishing another Ironman over the past few days, I have done plenty of reflecting to decide that this was the best race of my life. This was a true test of my ability to overcome obstacles and this is what will drive me, motivate me and will allow me to succeed in the future. This race forced me to use the most significant training tool that I had included in my 14-week training journey. For if it wasn't for my mind and ability to listen to so many conversations in my head, I would have left KONA as a DNF athlete.

"Determination, patience and courage are the only things needed to improve any situation."