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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: "ironman training"

Kona prep: the puzzle is complete!

Marni Sumbal

22 weeks is a long time. 140.6 miles x 2 is a long way for the human body to travel. 
My journey of training for two Ironmans is now complete.....and now I anxiously await the day when I can stand at my 7th Ironman starting line. 
I am so very grateful to my body for allowing me to train for 2 Ironman distance triathlons (with the second round being 100% injury free) within 6 month time span. I trained for 10 weeks specifically for Ironman Lake Placid and after a 2 week unstructured bike/swim routine from training (with only 1 run/walk at the end of that 2 week period) I dedicated 12 weeks to preparing for the Ironman World Championship. 
Aside from needing to clean my car (My triathlon bag explodes in there almost daily), I am very excited to be approaching my active recovery week and then race week which will be my official "taper". Active recovery week allows my body to recover from many weeks of structured, quality "train hard, recovery harder" training and to rejuvenate my body. Taper, on the other hand, will include high intensity efforts w/ plenty of recovery to prepare my body for race day. Through experience as an athlete who has struggled with tapering and peaking at the right time, over the past few years Karel and I have learned that my body does the best with a heavy load at the end of my training cycle (keep in mind - I did not do over 17.5 hours a week of training for the IM world championship so my typical weekly load was more intense and race specific than high in volume) and then following that with an active recovery week. As you may have experienced, after a hard training load the body needs to repair and that can bring heavy legs, altered sleep (body wanting a lot more sleep), perhaps a change in appetite (my appetite stays the same with IM training so I never get super "hungry" or cravings with training - thanks to proper sport nutrition and daily fueling) and mood changes (nerves, excitement, highs and lows). These are things that no athlete wants to or needs to experience on race day so to ensure the body feels 'hungry' to race on race week, I allow the 2 weeks before a race for total body and mind recovery and I welcome active recovery to help flush things out and to keep the body active without a lot of training stress. Then on race week, I get to wake the body up with a few bursts and keep with my motto of saving my best performance for race day. 

One of the best parts of our training style is seeing all the pieces of the puzzle come together when they need to come together. With MANY 3-4 hour "IM rides" behind me, my body was set to put it all together for my last long ride last week. It was raining and I was in a 11-mile loop for the ride but all things considered, I was not going to let excuses get in my way for my 2nd 5-hour ride during Kona prep (the other ride was 99.1 miles with Karel).

5 hour ride + 30 min run
Bike main set:
45 minutes at IM Pace watts w/ 3 min EZ in between for 5 hours.
(yep  - that's it! Put all those pieces together and all those 3-4 hour workouts were coming into play for my first solo 100 mile ride in the past 22 weeks).

Run off the bike was great - averaged 8:12 min/miles w/ 30 sec walk in between each mile as usual.

I switched over my Garmin to my main page (from my interval screen) and I couldn't believe my eyes. Holy cow....NEVER have I held 20 mph alone and finally I could fully experience how this quality training approach pays off! Karel was just as happy as I was for you never know how the body will adapt to training stress and I'm so happy that we have been able to put the pieces together very nicely with my 3rd time training for the IM world championship.

This past week was one of the hardest weeks of training (Mon - Fri) that I have ever put in and I could not be more proud of my body. It was a lot of commitment, dedication and mental strength and as usual, I do not let excuses get in my way. Trying to keep everything balanced, I focused on the controllables and did waste any energy on things out of my control. 

Oh - speaking of uncontollables - I must mention that I did have a mental break down on Thurs as I was doing my "planned" workout which was modified thanks to a power meter that decided to malfunction just 24 hours before I needed to drop off my bike at the Trek Store for Tri Bike Transport to pick up. But as usual, Karel saved the day just like he did at Branson 70.3 and IMWI when I had two mechanical issues the day before the race. 
When people ask Karel about what gadgets/bikes to buy, Karel is always honest in terms of quality gear but he also focused on customer service. I am so grateful to Stages for sending Karel (and me) a new powermeter overnight so that Karel could do his magic and install it, sync everything and tune-up my bike within 2 hours of sending my bike off to Hawaii. THANK YOU KAREL and STAGES!!!

As for this weekend, a glorious well-deserved gadget free 2:45-3 hr-ish ride on my road bike (yes - no gadgets not even a bike computer) followed by a Campy walk in the rain. I could have ridden forever on my road bike but the focus today was to ride like a kid and stop when I wanted to stop. I figured my ride was over when it started pouring but I really enjoyed today just riding for fun. Tomorrow I will enjoy a day off from training and cheer for Karel who is racing at the local HOT olympic distance triathlon at camp blanding (with Campy).

And about those taper blues and concerns about the diet/body composition before race week? 

Putting things into perspective if you struggle with your relationship with food as an endurance athlete, it's important that your mindset does not change throughout IM training....even if you are still training despite lowered volume. The entire focus of training is to put all the pieces together for race day and I could not be more excited to see what my body can do on October 12th, 2013. I did not put in all this work to stand around in spandex and show off my body. I trained to use my body, to test my limits, to overcome obstacles and to thank my body for the gift it has given me to swim-bike-run for 140.6 miles.

14 days until the Ironman World Championship and I will continue to eat the same foods that have fueled my workouts, have kept my immune system strong and have helped me recover. I will still love every day as triathlons are not my life, but instead my lifestyle.
My body will perform on race day based on how I trained it to perform and not based on a number on a scale. 
And most of all, my "reward" food will continue to keep me healthy until I get to the starting line.

A yummy post workout meal:
Local fresh whole grain bread
Scrambled eggs (1 whole egg + 1 egg white)
Sauteed kale w/ olive oil, goat cheese, leeks and red peppers
Sliced peaches

Thank you to all who have continued to follow and support my IM journey! Keep dreaming big!

5 weeks away from Kona: Training update

Marni Sumbal

Over the years, my training has changed tremendously. I wasn't sure how to approach the training as an endurance athlete so I followed the crowd and trained twice a day, long workouts on the weekends and dreaded the recommended "off" day on Monday. 

It worked for my first Ironman, so I decided that if more is better, I should do even more than before. However, I became injured and extremely fatigued for my second Ironman and now I pay for that race (2007 Ironman World Championship) a few times every year since.

With Karel's thinking outside the box, we have adapted a philosophy of "train hard, recover harder".

Training is periodized so that we peak at the right time and training stays balanced with life. Every workout has a purpose, there are no junk miles and we have fun seeing progress.

Sometimes there are off days but there are a lot of great days. The off days finish with the mindset that we accomplished something that we almost didn't start and the great days finish with motivation for the next workout. 

There is an understanding that for the body to adapt to training stress and improve performance/fitness, there must be training stress. There is commitment to the training plan and a realization that you can either make excuses or progress. But when there is too much training stress, it is hard to adapt in a positive manner. Therefore, we have learned how to create training plans for me (and for my athletes and pre-built plans) that provide workouts for gains in speed, endurance and fitness and balance in life. For if you are burnt out, sick, injured or on the verge of injury, adaptations can not take place. Our bodies get tired with our training load but it is not to the point that we can't recover to set up ourselves for a great next training session the following day. There are recovery days, there is an appreciation of other important areas in life that can bring fitness gains (balanced diet, understanding of proper fueling around/during workouts, compression, epson salt baths, restful sleep, massages, good attitude, mental strength, hip/core work, stretching) and most importantly, the training plan is designed for long-term success. 

Everything is coming together amazingly well for Kona in just 5 weeks! I do not expectations of being on the podium but instead, having a strong race. It is an honor for me to race at the Ironman World Championship for the third time and my #1 goal is to arrive to the starting line healthy, injury free and hungry to race. 

Just like every Ironman, I really love the journey. Still reminding myself that I just did an Ironman 6 weeks ago (with 2 weeks of recovery), I am constantly thanking my body for what it is allowing me to do. Thanks to Karel having a very good understanding of my body (which is important for any athlete who works with a coach to consider the long-term investment that is required for a coach to understand how you, the athlete adapts to training), he has developed a perfect plan for me to get even stronger, faster and more efficient before Kona. 

There are no two-a-days and my weekly hours are around 15-16 hours a week. I have yet to do a bike ride over 4.5 hours and my longest run was 15 miles last weekend. I run an average of around 15-30 miles a week, with most of my runs off the bike. Every workout has a main set and my sets are typically long on the bike and RPE focused for the run. I swim 2-3 days a week (depending on my choice of day off or active recovery) and my swims are around 3500-4500 on average - with more yardage because I love to swim and sometimes have trouble getting out of the water when my inner fish comes out. I do hip/core work every night for 15 minutes + stretching and I do hip/core work in the gym twice a week. 

The best thing about quality training is the energy that I have for life. Rather than having an expectation as to how much I need to train each week, I have my week laid out (hospital/home with my business) and I have a training plan that allows me to separate my work time from training time. Even though I work from home and have flexibility with my work day (which is typically 8-10 hours a day dedicated to Trimarni), I would rather walk Campy in the evening, cook a delicious creation and go to bed early instead of squeezing in another workout in the evening. I give myself 2-2.5 hours every morning for myself to train during the week and I like to be finished training by noonish on the weekends. This doesn't mean that I have train all those hours and as much as I love to train, I like to see progress. I also respect my body and understand that too much training stress does not make me a better athlete but instead, an active individual with a dampened immune system. 

I really love this article Recover Right which include tips from Coach Matt Dixon from Purple Patch Coaching who is a strong believer in the "less is more" approach. 

Just to be clear - training smarter doesn't mean that I don't take risks. Just like any athlete, I love to push my body and not always does it work in my favor. But the most important thing I can do as an athlete and fitness enthusiast is appreciate the value of recovery. Your progress as an athlete is only as good as your ability to recover from workouts. Every athlete is different and keep in mind that as life changes, so does your training routine. The best thing you can do as an athlete is make it all work by focusing on your needs, your body and your goals. 

Here's a recap of my training this week: 

Monday (finishing off a 3-day training block with the holiday) - 4:15 social/fun ride (solid effort with the group)
Tues - day off from all training. 20 minutes of stretching in the evening and a 40 minute Campy walk in the am and several mini Campy walks during the day around the block.

Wed - 4300 swim + 1 hour spin (brick)
Swim main set 3x's:
300 steady at IM pace
4 x 50's fast on :45 seconds

Thurs - (in Macon) - 1:15 run of intervals (I rarely have mile-based runs for weekly runs, instead I go by time)
1 mile warm-up
Main set 6x's: over/under thresholds
1/2 mile @ sub 7:30 min/mile, 1/2 mile "slower" w/ 1 minute in between
(I did this around the block at Stefanies which was a perfect 1/2 mile loop). I went 100% by perceived exertion and ended up descending the 1/2 miles (thanks to my fast twitch fibers waking up over the set) and getting a little slower on the 1/2 mile "slower". I averaged around 6:33-7:15 min/mile for the first 1/2 mile and around 7:40-8:15 min/mile for the last 1/2 mile.
Last mile cool down and then 1/2 mile or so with Campy.
8 miles total.

Fri - 5000 swim + core/hip work (20 minutes) + stretching
Main set:
10 x 100's on 1:30 (holding 1:20)
500 pull w/ paddles/buoy  steady (holding 1:27 pace)
5 x 100's on 1:30 (holding 1:19)
500 pull w/ paddles/buoy steady (holding 1:30 pace)
400 kick (50 free, 50 fly kick fast)

Sat - 3:15 bike + 1:20 run (AMAZING WORKOUT!)
Bike - (even though a shorter bike, this allowed me to push a little harder to receive a bit more stress without risking fatigue from long volume. This also allowed me to run on "tired" legs for training stress which is more valuable to my body than a "long" run on fresh legs).
1 hour warm-up building to IM pace watts
Main set 3x's
5 min Z4, 10 min Z3 low (IM watts), 5 min Z4, 10 min Z3 low
5 min EZ
(30 min main set + 5 min recovery)
Total 60 miles

Run off the bike (starting at 10:30 am)
8 x 1 miles @ RPE 80% effort (I managed to hold around 8 min/miles which really made me happy. I knew my HR would go up over time as it was nearing 92 degrees when I finished my bike according to my Garmin so I just monitored my HR to keep under 160 as I knew that was too high for me and I would have trouble recovering from a long run off the bike with a high HR even if I wasn't running "fast") w/ 30 sec walk in between. At 4 miles, I walked 1 total minute to refill my flasks.
Last mile + extra was "cool down"

Stats from my 910 XT (SO happy with this run as well as the entire workout today - what a solid workout for my body)
1:20 run
9.49 miles
8:26 min/mile pace (including walking)
Average HR 154

Mile 1: 8:04, 134 HR
30 sec walk, 138 HR
Mile 2: 7:56, 146 HR
30 sec walk, 138 HR
Mile 3: 7:57, 149 HR
30 sec walk, 140 HR
Mile 4: 7:57, 153 HR
1 min walk, 143 HR
Mile 5: 8:05, 154 HR
30 sec walk, 152 HR
Mile 6: 8:02, 156 HR
30 sec walk, 153 HR
Mile 7: 8:06, 157 HR
30 sec walk, 153 HR
Mile 8: 8:05, 157 HR
30 sec walk, 155 HR
Mile 9: 8:40, 170 HR (Super hot but felt really "EZ" but HR was not showing that it was EZ. Massive rush of blood to try to cool my body.)
2 minutes (.32): 8:20, 182 HR (officially done!)

Sunday (tomorrow) - 5 hour ride + 1 mile run

Total training hours: ~17 (including the 4 hours on Monday due to the holiday and three day training block)

You might be a triathlete when.....your car looks like this!

Trimarni tip: metabolism

Marni Sumbal

The human body is complex when it comes to metabolism but there is no reason why you can't make a complicated topic easy to understand.

My classes in graduate school were overwhelming to say the least but I loved how much I was learning about the human body relating to exercise.

Cardio physiology
Adv Exercise phsyiology
Lab methods
Respiratory physiology

A few of my favorite classes.

Because now I divide my attention between working with athletes and fitness enthusiasts on training and coaching and seeing patients in the hospital, I feel my brain really gets a good understanding of the "healthy" body versus the body that is compromised. It is also overloaded at times which makes for great sleep when I can turn off my brain.

When I am in the hospital, I learn a lot about the human body and I see a lot. I am amazed by what a sick body can do and I feel that makes me appreciate a body that is otherwise healthy and normal. I feel many people disrespect the body or do things to the body because they feel "life" is too stressful and/or busy to take care of the body.

Well, my thinking is that if you don't have time to take care of the body, you have to make for illness. I really love my job as a clinical RD and being able to help people but when I leave the hospital, I  have freedom to use my body however I want. I never lose sight of that freedom for no matter what is on my to-do list for the day, my morning is best started with some type of activity. My body is healthy and I want to use it for as long as I can for there may be a time when I can't and that time is not now.

Did you know that the body burns ~38-56 calories per hour while sleeping, 100-145 calories per hour sitting in meetings and the adult brain may demand ~20% of our resting metabolic rate every day?

I feel calorie counting is very over-rated and although it may work for some, I am not a fan of it. We must eat in a way that we are eating for the right reasons. My reasons: Health (#1), fuel (performance), pleasure.
I do not count my calories but instead, see food for nutritional value, to support my exercise routine and I eat food that makes me feel good inside.

On Mon (yesterday), Karel and I started our morning with 30 minutes of core/hip/glute work and stretching and Campy was spoiled with several doggy walks in the early am and pm. As for my main eats during the day to keep my body fueled and happy and my brain functioning properly: 

 Yummy oatmeal creation with apples, raisins, nuts and seeds and a little Hammer vegan protein powder. Happy tummy and brain for the morning hours of working.

Quinoa, leeks, baby tomatoes, sweet peppers, goat cheese, cashews, tempeh, mango, avocado and mixed greens. Whoa baby... Flavor overload in a bowl full of medicine!

Pasta w/ stewed tomatoes and oregano with roasted veggies cooked in olive oil (squash, mushrooms, sweet peppers)

As an athlete, my body requires days off from training for I train hard and recover harder. I never sabotage a workout or my immune system health by not fueling before, during or after a workout. But as a fitness and health enthusiast, I must move and fuel my body on a daily basis and I must always eat for health. Last week I had Sat off from training due to my talk and after a 4 hour ride + 45 min run on Sunday for Kona training, I looked forward to another day off on Monday to rest my body and mind for another tough week of training. Last week I trained 13 hours (which includes 1.5 hours of hip/core work and a recovery 30 min swim on Monday). As you know, I do not train high volume for the IM but instead, I train smart and even with Kona on the radar in 6.5 weeks, my goal is to arrive to the race healthy and hungry to race for Ironman #7. I'm thankful to my body that I have started and finished every Ironman I have signed up for. 

Consider that your human body can demand a lot of energy even when you are not breaking a sweat so be sure to keep yourself nourish and satisfied throughout the day to support all metabolic processes.

Even more important is if you are using your body for training purposes as an athlete, remember that your body requires a lot more during activity than it does at rest so don't overlook the importance of proper fueling before, during and after workouts.

I feel if our society would spend less energy worrying about food and the "perfect" way to do things and instead, establish realistic, meaningful goals which force us to make good decisions on a daily basis to bring progress, we would all have a more quality filled life. We can not control our future or our genetics but we can certainly reduce our risk for disease. My goal is a balanced  life so that I can work hard with my healthy body to reach my performance goals but also stay healthy enough to be productive with my career. And most importantly, I do not want the days to rush by and not appreciate the little things in life.

Like doggy play time while enjoying dessert on the floor while stretching. 

GYMBOSS Interval Timer: Product Review

Marni Sumbal

I love intervals for workouts. For anything to break up the monotony of a timed-workout keeps me motivated and excited for each and every upcoming workout. My mind never gets bored and I am forced to be mentally and physically "in the moment" for every set.

Although I see nothing wrong with swim, bike, run for x-minutes (as I rarely go by miles with my training or my athletes training), I find the best way to train for quality is to have a purpose for each workout. You warm-up and cool down as needed and the focal point is the main set....the intervals.

When athletes or fitness enthusiasts think intervals they generally think hard, leg burning, sweaty and intense. But intervals can range from steady and long to short and intense...and everything in between.

Here are a few of my favorite, recent Ironman-focused swim, bike, run workouts:

Key IM bike workout
IM focused long brick
Breakthrough IM swim
Run intervals

But in addition to using intervals for cardio workouts, intervals work great for strength training. I am a firm believer that strength training should be included in the weekly fitness routine - regardless of what type of athlete or fitness enthusiast you are. I have been strength training since I was 11 (when I started swimming competitively) and I feel it has given me strong bones (along with dietary focus) and muscles which have kept me from experiencing any stress fractures or broken bones in my life thus far. I also feel that strength training is valuable to improving power, speed, endurance and form as an athlete or fitness enthusiast and helps minimize time spent training for cardio (ex. junk miles) as the body needs little time at home or in the weight room to gain strength whereas for cardio, physiological adaptations can often come rather slowly after the initial first 3-4 weeks of training.

Although full body strength training and plyometrics are ideal for the off-season and base phase for athletes, I believe that hip and core work should be continued year round. Certainly, as athletes, any type of "strength work" should enhance cardio and not sabotage us for upcoming workouts so there must be a nice balance as to when the strength training falls and what type of exercises are performed.

Here are a few of my favorite hip and core focused exercises which you can include as intervals into your weekly workout routine. Rather than focusing on reps, go by time. Seeing that for most people one side of the body is often weaker/stronger than the other, time-based intervals are ideal for hip and core work so that you can finish an interval with good form rather than just trying to get to a certain number of reps while the body is fatiguing with poor form.

Here are some of my favorite hip/core exercises:
Perform 3-4 days a week, 10-20 minutes.
Up to 30 - 90 seconds -  on each side (if appropriate) or for each exercise.
-monster walks
-hip hikes
-lying on side, top leg lifts (straight and bent leg)
-plank, belly down
-plank w/ one leg lifted (belly down)
-side plank (optional w/ top hip thrust)
-reverse crunch (if equipment bench is available) or reverse crunch on stability ball
-bench v-ups
-mason twists (optional w/ weight)
-lying on back, leg drops

So, to help you out with your interval "strength" work at home (or any type of intervals, especially for personal trainers or aerobic instructors), I have the perfect tool for you!

Gymboss contacted me and asked if I would review their interval timer stopwatch. I said absolutely as I am always interested in new technology that can make for better, smarter and more quality-focused workout. As much as I love to exercise, I think like an athlete and therefore, I want to adapt with the least amount of training stress. I do not want to waste my time exercising and not making performance gains. Just like you, I want to put in the work to receive the benefits and be able to do it all again (but better) the next day.

To learn more about the Gymboss you can check out the Operating tips video which gives a great explanation of all the wonderful features of this product. You do not have to use all the functions as it works just fine as a stop watch but for those who want to do the work and think very little, this will really help you out. All you have to do is set up the timer for your workout and it will automatically alert you as to when you should be performing an exercise and what you should stop and rest. It's like having a trainer with you but without the fun chatting in between intervals. :)

Enjoy! Any additional questions, send me an email and I'd be happy to help you out.

100 mile ride + Blueberry Strawberry pancakes

Marni Sumbal

There's something special about the last few weeks before an important race. Actually, thinking about all things in life, how neat is it to reflect on where you were 3, 6 maybe even 12 months ago and then stop to think where you are today. I really love when things come together and despite obstacles, set-backs and low moments, keeping focused on the journey can be the defining reason as to why some individuals succeed in life. As for success, you can't always define that and for many athletes, it means a PR, age group place or beating competition. For others, it is just the satisfaction that they are somewhere where they never thought they'd be several weeks or months ago. 

Nearing race day, I can only reflect on the work that was done with Karel as my teammate, coach and biggest supporter. I'd like to believe that he thinks the same way about me for we have really enjoyed sharing this journey together. It's awesome when we both have amazing workouts and after the work is done, drenched in sweat we can share thoughts from our workout. But it is still entertaining when one of us has a great workout and the other, well, not so much. Thankfully this happened only  a few times but two athletes in the same house with similar training plans means a lot of highs and lows, not always at the same time. But I guess in a good way, it is great to hear about a high with someone when your workout didn't go as planned. There's no reason to beat yourself up for your "off" feeling when a loved one is having a great day. I really enjoy this part of training because being able to share all moments with Karel has kept me enjoying this journey more than my past 5 IM experiences. As usual, I have never felt burnout, questioned "why" am I doing this, felt fatigued or exhausted. I have woken up excited for every workout and I feel progress was made in every workout. I owe a lot of this to sharing the workouts with someone as it is amazing how we all can use a little pep talk (or sound advice) when things don't go as planned as many times, it only takes one negative thought to ruin a workout but one positive thought to keep on going. 

Nearing our taper, these last few weeks are very race specific in terms of training. This means no more group rides to ensure we both enter the race with skin on our body (not risking group-ride crashes). We have been extra careful on rest and rather than having 1 day of rest or active recovery, we have been taking 2 days, with race specific workouts falling every 2-3 days  + 1 day active recovery. Because many athletes do too much too soon (or too long) in training, taper often becomes a time of "necessity" - I finally get  to rest or I need to keep going hard. Realizing that no more significant performance gains can be made and endurance has already been built over the last 10 weeks of IM specific training, the elements we are trying to balance include resisting fatigue, maintaining fitness, staying healthy, staying mentally strong/focused and keeping good form. All of this can be done with the right type of training plan in the weeks leading up to a race and for many athletes, the taper can be the time when previous weeks/months of training are either put together for a peaking performance on race day....or fear-based training (at any point in training) takes over the athletes' mind and come taper, too much "I need to rest" ruins the athlete's race day performance. It is a tough combination to balance but it can be just have to trust yourself that it will all come together on race day. 

Every athlete will peak differently, primarily based on previous training, current fitness and racing/season goals. Obviously, Karel and I want nothing more than to peak on July 28th so we are maintaining fitness while doing everything possible to reduce fatigue. We entered this week with a rested body thanks to a day off on Monday, an active recovery swim on Tues and an EZ endurance (2 hour) bike on Wed. We both did an intense brick (3 hour ride + 8 mile run) on Thurs (Karel ran 4 miles upfront before the bike) and then Fri was an endurance swim. Saturday was our "long run" with fresh legs again (for Karel, he split it up into 4 miles upfront, 3.5 hour ride, 10 mile run...then off to work for the day - what a trooper! For me, 2 hour ride + 15 mile run)  and Sunday was our 2nd and last 100+ mile ride with our 10 week IM specific training. I don't believe  in junk miles and none have been wasted on this training. With most of our "long" rides being around 3-4 hours with higher intensity intervals we are able to put the pieces nicely for these longer rides without feeling drained or burnout and with a lot of confidence and endurance in the tank. It's a beautiful thing when fitness comes together over a period of time but what's not so fun is when fatigue happens quickly and lingers around.

Although athletes struggle with resting (some more than others), I must say that without a doubt, you have to put in the work to progress with fitness and to train for endurance events. But without the right balance of training, your risk for poor form increases (and motivation declines) because the body is unable to adapt properly. If you are currently training for an endurance event or seek fitness gains with your exercise routine, be mindful that the body needs to rest in a way that is beneficial to you making gains with your fitness. Not too much, just enough and when I say rest, this means not wasting time on doing miles/time that don't contribute to your race day fitness. Get the workout done, rest and do it again tomorrow. 

Because I only believe in doing 1-2 workouts in endurance training based on miles (and not time), this workout happened to be a 5 hour ride (not a designated 100-mile ride), despite Karel pulling me along for over 100 miles at his pace (but still my appropriate power zone for the IM by drafting on his wheel). I don't believe in going by miles as you never know what the day will bring and I find it more beneficial for an athlete to accomplish a strong 5 hour ride than to suffer in the wind for 6+ hours just to ride x-miles. Riding 112 miles or 56 miles for an endurance triathlon gives you confidence (sometimes - if done at the right time when you can actually "test" your fitness) but you should not be expected to ride by miles for every long workout. Focus on your main set and then be smart in your training conditions and with your body and how it is responding for that day. 

Our 2nd, 100+ mile ride over 20 mph is in the books thanks to Karel holding a strong pace for our 3 x 25 min intervals at just above IM pace. It was hot and super windy and our route included a lot of rollers which really made things fun and passed the time quickly. We did the intervals after a 1 hour warm-up and included 5 min EZ spin in between each interval. After the 3 intervals, Karel rode steady for the rest of the ride home. Having head-wind all the way home was no fun but it gave us great practice for pacing, nutrition and mental strength to be used on race day. 

Karel went right to his 110% Play Harder  gear to recover and I headed out for a 2 mile run. I actually felt quite good on the run and I use these short runs (up to 30 minutes) off the long bikes as confidence builders. I do not focus on pace but keep an eye on my HR and form. I just run happy knowing that from Feb - April, I was unable to run a step or even walk without pain.  

After I returned from my run, it was time to make my homemade pancakes......enjoy!!
Talk about a fair trade...Karel pulls me around for 100 miles and watches the TDF while I make us pancakes :) 

Blueberry Strawberry pancakes

1/2 cup rye flour (you can use any flour)
1/4 cup instant oats
1/8 tsp salt
1 egg + 1 egg white
1/4 cup Fage 0% Greek yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp honey
Small handful (about 1/8  cup or so) raisins or currants (optional small handful of dried cranberries)
2-3 tbsp chopped walnuts
1/2 cup blueberries 
1 cup strawberries (sliced)
Water to help with mixing (if needed - maybe a tbsp or two)

1. Preheat two large skillets to low-medium heat. 
2. Mix together above ingredients in large bowl until "creamy" consistency (may need to add water so batter is gently dripping off mixing spoon/fork). 
3. Drizzle a little olive oil on pans and use ~1/3 cup for each pancake. 
4. Let each pancake cook for 2-3 minutes on one side and then flip when firm. Let other side cook for ~1.5-2 minutes (or until golden brown). 

Makes ~8-10 pancakes depending on serving size (I generally press my pancakes down a bit so they are more flat and wide than thick)

My top ways to recover after a long/hard workout

Marni Sumbal

I don't think I know of any athlete or fitness enthusiast who doesn't like to recover quickly. I know in some weird way we love the post-workout "hurt" but if it lingers on to a point that form suffers, motivation declines and fatigue ensues, it's likely that you are wishing that a) you didn't overdo it with your workout or b) when will I feel "normal" again. 

So for those who have tried to tweak their recovery routine, I thought I'd share some of my favorite ways (aside from nutrition) that I use for recovery. 

Now I must preface this and say that training or working out "hard" is only one component of making performance gains and often times it doesn't lead to successful performances or reaching goals. Training smart, on the other hand, is where the magic is made. When designing a training plan, it is important to factor in time for pre and post workout nutrition (sorry - I had to put in one nutrition suggestion in this blog :) but also for warm-up/cool down and of course, your recovery to ensure that you can be consistent with training. I see/hear far too many athletes who are pressed against the clock and rush out of bed to squeeze in a workout/training and then rush off to work or daily tasks. Totally fine in my  book to "get 'er done" early and to maintain an active lifestyle BUT it is important that you consider the necessary time spent on preparing your body before and after workouts for quality training. Thus, if you have 90 minutes for a run or bike or swim in the morning, consider the 10-20 min you may need to warm-up, the 10-15 min you need to cool down and then additional 10 minutes or so to properly recovery. I don't think that you'd be upset with a 60 minute workout although it isn't the 90 minute workout that you planned. However, considering the time you spent on taking care of your body, you can thank me later when you see consistent performance gains and more enjoyment with your balanced training plan. 

Today's workout was all about "race prep". Many coaches like to call this period of training "peaking" and although I do not want to peak right now (but instead on the 28th in Placid), it is important that I am considering every aspect of race day such as my nutrition, clothing and pacing. I practice, practice and practice these things all the time but nearing race day, I realize that my body may not make drastic gains in fitness but to ensure a great race day, I need to know what my body is capable of doing for 140.6 miles. Therefore, finding that right power zone is important on the bike to let me know what I can do for pacing off the bike. Similarly, designing the perfect run/walk strategy is important to me as well as "testing" all types of scenarios, including the ones that Ironman athletes hate to do....hold back on the first 6 miles of the Ironman run and holding back on the first half of the 112 mile bike. 

I am really pleased with today's workout, despite being hot and windy (like usual), my body performed well and it was a big confidence builder for race day. 

2 hour bike: 
30 min 'warm' up at 10 watts lower than predicated IM race pace
Main set: 3 x 20 min @ IM race pace watts w/ 2 min EZ in between.
Steady effort home, pace similar to warm-up although it felt much easier after doing the IM race pace intervals which was not too taxing on my body. 
Total: 42 miles

Transition to run: 
15 mile run, 2 hours and 14 minutes (including walk breaks)
Strategy: run ~8:20-8:30 min/mile pace, walk 30 seconds in between (to resist fatigue and to maintain good form since I believe in saving my best performance for race day)

Post workout......time to RECOVER!!!

1) Active recovery

This is not a consistent thing for me but there are some workouts (ex. running) where I like to go for a short EZ spin afterward for 20-30 min to loosen my legs OR jump in the pool to let my body enjoy non weight bearing activity. I try not to sit (although I did for this picture to show off my lovely triathlete-in-training compression socks + tri/cycling short tan lines) within the first hour after a workout as I find I get extremely tight so this active recovery helps my body out. I usually do no more than 30 minutes of some type of active recovery or I just walk Campy. 

2) Epson Salt Bath

We always have bags of Epson Salt in our house. I typically buy from Wal-mart, Big Lots or CVS/Walgreens. Epson salt baths are great to help relax the muscles and you can choose warm or cold water, whichever makes you happy. If I am short on time after a hard workout, I just grab a handful and use it as a scrub on my legs to soak in my pores. It works wonders. 

3) Compression
On goes the mobile ice bath after my muscles are a bit more relaxed. I LOVE 110% Play Harder and I have been using them for years. I wear compression while I train (always) such as tri shorts while running and cycle/tri shorts while cycling. I never wear running shorts because I believe compression works for me. I also wear calf sleeves in races and compression socks (CEP) in training/racing as well. I wrote an article a while back on compression and I have always felt like it helps me. I also have compression tights (Zoot for me, CEP for Karel) and several types of compression shorts. What's great about compression when you aren't training is that you can easily wear it while traveling or under many types of clothing to help with recovery, at least for the first few hours post workout/racing. Although, I am not afraid to rock my compression in public :)

                                    (on my way to Kona for the IM World Championships in 2011)

4) Trigger point therapy

I typically wait a bit (after I eat a meal) to do some type of TP therapy on my body, particularly for longer workouts. For more intense workouts or weekly workouts, I may use the roller or ball soon after for my back and piriformis just to reduce any soreness. The thing I always do though is dedicate 10-15 minutes EVERY evening to using this kit and stretching. Yes, I am human and many times I do not want to do it and I just want to tell myself I'll do it in the morning. But it really helps me out and I want to be consistent with my training so thus I have to be consistent with my recovery. The Trigger Point Therapy kit comes with a helpful DVD which you can also find great videos on line as to how to properly get out your trigger spots. 

5) Extra's
Aside from nutrition, I get massages once or twice a month and I try to make sure that I keep up with balanced training because there is nothing better than going to a massage therapist who is sport specific and having him/her just "find" something to focus on. The thing that is the worst is going to a massage therapist as if they are the healer of everything and will cure all your aches and pains in 1 session. I have a few great massage therapist and they all know my body very well which is great, because my body can be quite difficult to understand at times (hence visiting many doctors and getting multiple imaging testing done for my chronic hip issues). 
I know napping is important but I just can't do it. I sleep wonderfully at night, almost always 8 hours a night is exactly what I need. I never do less than 7 and I get restful sleep which is important (aside from the occasional cat making noises at 3am and waking us up or Campy deciding that a King size bed is not enough room for him so he has to press against me under the covers). Karel is a great napper, just 20-30 minutes at a time and he is good to go. I guess my brain has a hard time shutting off so I just make sure that I get to bed at a reasonable hour (often times a bit earlier on the weekends) to maintain consistent I believe the sleeping is the key to keeping me sick-free for the past 6-7 years as I have yet to have the flu (no flu shot) or cold. I'm sure diet helps but I really believe that quality sleep is one of the best things you can do for your overall health and mood. 
A good attitude is important. I don't like to dwell on workouts that did not go as planned or "off" training. I try to keep my mind in a positive state which is important as if you start to doubt your fitness or think too extreme, you may find yourself doing unnecessary things the rest of the day such as restricting food, overtraining (junk miles) or pushing harder than needed. Try to reflect about past situations in order to better plan for the future. And to help with better quality workouts, be sure you train hard and recover harder. 

Happy training! 

Weekend training recap and my cycling tips

Marni Sumbal

As human beings, we all make mistakes. But there is a big difference in making mistakes but knowing better, making the same mistake over and over and making mistakes to learn. 

I think we could all put ourselves in one of those categories at various times in our life from training/racing with injuries, saying something you regretted/didn't mean, making choices regarding food, etc. But the best thing about making mistakes is knowing that you are trying and that you can make yourself better in the long run. 

I remember a few weeks ago when Karel and I were doing a long brick and after our intervals, we joined our normal Saturday morning ride (which is around 50-70 minutes total depending on when we meet up with the fast group) and Karel was feeling the need for speed so him and a few other cyclists broke away and as the pack chased Karel, he was just ripping the pack apart...he was untouchable and seeing him in the distance, I knew my cyclist of a hubby was loving this suffer fest.....for us chasers. Unfortunately, Karel pushed beyond his IM limits and completely bonked after the ride and wasn't able to run off the bike. He laughed about it afterward and since then, he has stayed within his limits for his IM specific training. Of course, he was smart as to not try to be stubborn and try to run x-miles off the bike and of course, no amount of nutrition is going to help him bike and run at a pace that he didn't train himself to do in training. Just like many athletes, we can swim, bike and run at a certain pace solo but if you are a triathlete, it is knowing how to put the pieces together that really matters. There is something impressive about someone who can individual swim, bike and run fast but that doesn't matter much with endurance triathlon training/racing. Sure, it can impact your fitness but you have to know how to put the pieces together and that is what IM training is all about. Creating new limits but knowing how to stay within them. I take IM training very seriously as there is a lot to learn within the journey. Many athletes get so caught up in the miles and fearing the distance but I believe that we must not rush the journey and recognize how important it is to focus on the key workouts that make up great race day performances. 

On Saturday morning, I joined Karel for our 4.5 hour  brick. 4 hours on the bike and a 30 minute run. Well, that was the plan. 

After I stuck to Karel's wheel for the first hour, we did the most difficult set that my body has ever done....
10 minutes steady, 5 minutes hard....continuous for 1 hour. 

On paper, this doesn't look hard but Karel has been peaking and I knew after seeing my watts for the 10 minutes steady that this was going to be a toughy. However, I made an IM-rookie mistake of pushing beyond my limits in a brick workout but I just couldn't help but be the athlete I am inside....I just wanted to see if I could do it. 

Pushing watts I have not done in training for the past 10 weeks or so, Karel was impressed that I stayed on his wheel for the 1 hour set and by the time we joined the group ride, I knew I overdid it. I managed to stay on for the group ride but when we were heading home in head wind, I had enough. Knowing the physiology of the body, this was not nutrition or motivation related. I just overdid it and now I had to stay with my mistake. So, for about 1 hour of riding in headwind (talk about a hard way to gather your thoughts), I went back and forth in my head as to if I should run off the bike and within 3 miles from home, my "smart" coach thinking won over my "stubborn" athlete thinking and I decided that since that bike had nothing to do with IM training, it would be best to scratch the run off the bike. However, although the mistake was made, I was still able to think of plan B. Water jog. So I hoped in the complex pool for a refreshing 20 minute water jog as it was much kinder on my body than pounding the pavement for 30 minutes. Karel ended up having an amazing workout for both bike and run and when we connected that evening after he got off work, all was good and I was happy I made this mistake. For it was fun while it lasted but Sat. showed me that like many athletes, you have to respect your own fitness level when training for an endurance event. I love training with Karel but with 4 weeks til race day, the training is very specific to both of our bodies. We can continue to share this journey together but at different paces, intensities and volume. 

Thankfully, Sunday I was able to regroup and have an amazing brick workout - 1 hour bike, 13.3 mile run, 2 hour bike. As for Karel, he did his first ever 20 mile run with a 1 hour EZ spin after the run. Success for both of us to wrap up 3 hard, quality weeks of training. Gotta love progress. 

So as I was collecting my thoughts after my suffer-session with Karel, I couldn't help but think about the progress I have made on my bike so I thought I'd share some of my top tips for becoming a better, smarter and stronger cyclist. By no means am I a professional cyclist or cycling coach but having been coached by Karel on the bike since we met in 2006 and Karel riding a bike all his life, I have learned a lot about cycling and how to properly ride/train on a bike as well as being more and more comfortable on the bike (since cycling was very new to me when I started tri's and I was very scared on the bike). Most importantly, you can always get better as a cyclist so don't ever give up. 

-Train with a power meter
-Learn how to change your gears appropriately
-Learn how to switch from big/small ring while drafting 
-Learn how to anticipate changing terrain and adjust gears appropriately
-Be sure your bike is set-up with a hydration system that is easy to access (ex. rear bottle cages) and that all bottles are secure
-Learn what your nutrition needs are for each individual workout
-Learn how to become "one" with your bike
-Learn how to adjust gears before stopping
-Learn how to break properly, especially before stopping or if slowing down in a group
-Relax on the bike
-Maintain good position of your seat bone on the saddle
-Learn how to pedal smoothly
-Learn how to climb based on your size/height (I generally climb in my small chain ring and standing)
-Don't be afraid to ride with others but be sure you are not taking your time away from your own specific training
-Don't ride scared
-Learn how to change a flat tire
-Learn how to anticipate other objects around you, possibly getting in your way (react quickly but smart)
-Learn how to embrace the pain to get stronger (good pain, not injury pain)
-Just ride your bike for fun - get more comfortable on your bike in all types of conditions (be smart)
-Practice scenarios similar to race day - set up your bike, wear clothing, wear HR monitor, stuff jersey pockets, etc. similar to race day to get use to what "it" feels like. 
-Be sure to have a bike that fits you - don't buy a bike and then try to fit it. 
-Trust your mechanic (or be married to him/her :)) and be sure he/she understands your individual needs and goals
-For most triathletes, there is no reason to be "aero" on the bike with a flat back. Avoid an aggressive/aero position on the bike and get a retul fit by a fitter who is qualified to fit you with the Retul system. 
-Know how to dress appropriately on the bike and invest in comfortable shoes and helmet. 
-Use your gadgets appropriately. Use a bike computer, separate from a running garmin so you can fix it to your bike and not on your wrist. Rather than being stuck on speed, consider lap times every 10-20-30 minutes so you can better pace yourself. 
-Create sets that will allow you to progress with fitness and remember that athletes will peak at different times. 
-Do not get frustrated on the bike as cycling is one of the best activities that you can do for a lifetime (like swimming) that is easy on the body. 
-Ride safe, wear a Road ID and have fun!

Breakthrough IM swim and baked pasta casserole

Marni Sumbal

The funny thing about training, or fitness in general, is all the highs and lows that come with it. Of course, who doesn't love to have a good workout but then again, considering the complexity of the human body, perhaps we should be thanking the body more often for any workout for it is easy for the body to fail and I think many times, we take it for granted. All the muscles, organs and metabolic processes working perfectly just for us to swim, bike and run or zumba, yoga or jazzercise. 

As a long-time athlete, I recognize that great performances are not made in weeks or months but overtime. The key is consistency and always giving your best effort. I find that for many athletes, there's an expectation as to how the body is to perform each day and for others, just getting out the door is success...anything else that follows is a bonus. But no matter your reason for working out (or training), the most important component is making progress to reach your short and long term goals. There's no point of an action plan if you don't have a goal to reach. 

As usual, I have been enjoying my swim sets in the pool. I have designed swim sets to help both Karel and I improve in the water but also to improve our efficiency as triathletes. The past three weeks have been challenging and they were all leading up to the big set which was done yesterday (Friday). 

3 x 1000's @ IM pace

I have had mostly good days in the pool over the past few weeks but I did have a few days when I couldn't get into the groove. Although I found myself a bit frustrated based on my own fitness level at times, it's really hard to for me to regret any workout  for I love using my body and if I am not able to "train" I still love to exercise. Oh, and the fact that I have been swimming for about 20 years makes me a big lover of water....I'm a fish. It's not hard for me to get in but very hard for me to get out. 

After a 500 warm-up, I told Karel we would go right to the main set. Karel was having an off day (which is normal and expected due to 3 tough weeks of training so he was just being smart by backing off) so I kept to my side of the lane and Karel did his own thing.

Having the extra motivation of high school (and young) swimmers in the pool made it easy to push myself but I sure to wish I was young again! Those kids were just blowing by me in the other lanes!!
Not knowing what my body would give for this set, I made up  my mind that I would not count myself out until I tried...for all three of them. I didn't have the best swim (to my standards) on Thurs so I found myself getting into doubting thoughts during warm-up but I  knew if I wanted to have a good set, I would need to jump out of self-doubt and enter a place of "I can". 

1st 1000 - 1:26 pace per 100 yards

Wow, shocker. I could not believe it!! I was so thrilled considering I didn't think I had it in me as was just hoping for 1:30 pace.

After resting 2.5 minutes and sipping on my sport drink (I fuel before and during every  workout in endurance training), it was time for #2. 

2nd 1000- 1:23 pace per 100 yards. 

Holy cow! Again, another shocker! I started to get my groove on for #2 and I felt so smooth in the water and I was able to pace myself so well which was a great confidence booster. I use my Garmin 910xt in the pool and I am able to look at my watch to see my pace (and distance and time). As a long-time swimmer, I think this is just natural in that I can feel my pace, just like an experienced biker can control his/her watts and a runner kinda knows varying paces without looking at his/her watch. 

Ok - so time for #3. I figured I had surprised myself enough that anything around 1:25 would be great. BUT, I told myself, just try and see what happens. 

After 2.5 min rest....

After catching my breath on the wall and Karel telling me I was swimming way to fast in the water, I decided, time to call it a day for me. Scratch the 4500 yard workout planned on the schedule. I warmed down after this last 1000 and went for a recovery spin (90 min) with Karel. Training is a lot like gambling. Stop while you are ahead before you dig yourself into a hole. 

I must have looked at my Garmin 10x's in the morning after the swim because I seriously did not think I had it in me to do those times because I have not been able to execute like that in training. But then again, it only took my mind to help me step up to another level. Amazing how the mind can play an impact on our actions. Positive or careful with your thoughts. Thank you Gloria for continuing to help me realize the power in our/my thinking in all areas of my life. 

After a busy day, it was nearing meal prep time in the evening and I still had a few more emails to respond to. Karel and I have been eating similar foods before weekend training as we would/will before race day, for the past few weeks so for his Friday evening eats, I know he likes either rice or pasta. I have a few favorite pre-race foods but I know what always works best for me before an endurance event (sweet potato, egg, salad, bread/rice) so I am happy to enjoy Karel's pre race meal with him....sacrifices in marriage :) 

Rather than the standard pasta, I decided to do a pasta bake. What made this even better was that I could forget about it for a while and didn't need to "cook" while answering emails. Feel free to add your own veggie options and protein. Enjoy!

Baked Pasta Casserole
(ingredients to serve 2)
Pasta - 4 ounces dry (2 ounces equals about 1 cup cooked - plan for leftovers)
Marinara sauce (1/2 - 1 cup)
Veggies - spinach, corn, peas, onion
Bread crumbs (a few spoonfuls)
Cheese (I used asiago for a nice peppery taste)
Garlic (1 tbsp powder or 1 clove chopped)
Protein of your choice (for animal protein, ~3-4 ounces per person, for other protein, about 20-25g per person of protein)
*Preheat oven to 425 degrees

1. Cook pasta as normal. Drain. 
2. Lightly spray bottom of casserole dish with cooking spray. 
3. Place protein on bottom of dish. 
4. Layer veggies. 
5. Spoon pasta on veggies until covered (I used about 1.5 cups I think). 
6. Spoon marinara on pasta until covered. 
7. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on marinara (light covering). 
8. Top with garlic and a little cheese. 
9. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until pasta is a little crunchy on top. 

Swim set, podcast link and tri-colored quinoa w/ tempeh

Marni Sumbal

As I have mentioned several times, I just love the Ironman journey. This time around, sharing it with Karel has been extra special for we have both been able to see progress within each other and that is really neat to see. Karel continues to push me on the bike and in return I get the reply "great job, babe" as I smile every-so kindly to thank him for the suffering. But on the flip side, Karel has really worked hard on his swimming and I can't believe he just started swimming 1 year ago!! I have really enjoyed helping Karel learn to swim and to be there to witness his major swimming breakthroughs. Karel started very slow, working on form for he knew he had a year to train for the IM and there was no need to rush speed when form is the most important part of swimming efficiently. 

The issue for many triathletes who struggle with swimming is the exhaustion that comes from swimming. No matter how fast or slow in the water, how long or short, it is just exhausting and it's not the same kind of exhaustion that you get from pushing yourself during a run or bike set. Although swimming is non weight bearing, one would think it would require less energy to perform. However, any form of exercise increases your breathing rate and as you know, when you swim you do not have a lot of opportunities to breath (or to take in a full inhale and exhale). Seeing that swimming (like any exercise) increases your heart rate and your blood circulation in response to your effort/intensity, your lung capacity, the efficiency in which you take in oxygen and transfer it to blood vessels as well as your form/strength in the water to push past the water's resistance, determine how fast and how far you can swim.

Overtime, your respiratory system will get stronger and you will find your lungs working more efficiently to help you with exchange of gases (oxygen/carbon dioxide). Thus, before you get focused on being fast in the water, it is very important to work on your stroke and swimming effortlessly (as possible) so that you can train the body to perform with the least amount of energy expenditure. The speed will come, just be patient. 

I have been giving Karel swim sets for the past few months and they are really paying off. It is amazing that he is so strong in the water although he does get tired which is to be expected. But, he refuses to give up so he is in the pool 3 times a week working on his form and just being as comfortable as possible in the water. 

On Tuesday before our brick run (immediately after swim) we had a great swim set focusing on a little speed and then pacing. I am trying to help Karel learn how to tolerate lactic acid in the water but not exhausting him (which is what happened a few months ago when Karel would just do fast swims and we figured he wasn't doing any good with consistency for he was just exhausting himself for upcoming workouts). 

Here's the set we did: 
3000 yards

500 warm-up
Main set 3x's: 
3 x 100's fast w/ 15 sec rest (I did them on 1:30, Karel did them on 1:45)
300 steady IM pace (ideally, going the same pace as your cycle, about 15-20 seconds or so per 100 slower than your "fast" pace). 
50 EZ recovery before repeating (or rest 2-3 minutes)

500 pull stretching things out (w/ buoy/paddles)
100 cool down

On Wednesday I had the opportunity to do a podcast with Real Women on Health and Iron Girl and it was a lot of fun as I got to talk about my favorite topics......nutrition, fitness and health! Here is the 30 minute podcast for your listening pleasure if you want to hear my thoughts on eating for fuel, health and pleasure.

I made the most delicious creation the other night and I am so excited to share it with you. I visited wholefoods the other day to explore some new foods to add to our diet and I picked up tri-colored quinoa. Prepared the same as regular quinoa with a nice nutty taste. Speaking of nutty, Karel and I just love tempeh for its taste but it is also packed with protein. It can taste a little bland so I recommend cooking it in a little olive oil (cubed) or you can try to find flavored tempeh (just watch the added sodium). 


Tri-colored quinoa stir fry
Sweet Peppers

1. In cooking pot, prepare quinoa 
2. In large skillet, turn to medium heat and add a little olive oil (~1-2 tsp per 3 ounces tempeh per person) and cook cubed tempeh until golden brown (toss occasionally). Season with a pinch of salt, turmeric and oregano (pepper optional). 
3. While tempeh is cooking, prepare asparagus by chopping off ends (1 inch) and microwave in shallow dish for 3 minutes until tender (maybe 4 minutes if needed). Then chop. 
4. When tempeh begins to turn golden, add ~1-2 tsp olive oil and add pepper and mushrooms. Toss and reduce heat to low and cover (may need to add a little cooking spray to prevent sticking) and toss occasionally. Let cook for 5-8 minutes or until soft but not browned. 
5. Add asparagus to pan, toss and cook for 1-2 more minutes and then turn off heat. 
6. Assemble plate with ~1/2 cup quinoa + veggie and tempeh mixture. Enjoy!

Adapt to the least amount of training stress: the "long" run

Marni Sumbal

When you mention the word endurance athlete, I think most people would instantly think "long" workouts. As that would be expected if you are training for a "long" event. In my multisport world, Ironman and Marathon are the two big endurance events but I would also like to include anything over 2 hours, such as a half marathon or olympic distance triathlon for many.

When it comes to building endurance, there are many approaches as to the best way to improve the cardio, muscular and respiratory systems as well as building confidence for the big, long day. But before we jump ahead as to the best way to build endurance, I think I must point out the best way to train for any event.....

Forget about what your training partners are doing, what you read in a magazine or what a friend of a friend told you to do to improve fitness. The general and most basic approach to training involves periodization. If you do the same thing over and over, expect the same result. However, infrequent workouts bring infrequent results. Consistency is key as you continually stress the body.
That is, the most appropriate way for you to appropriately adapt to a sequence of training is in a way in which your body is overloaded to adapt to training stress but not at the cost of injury, burnout and fatigue. In order for this periodization principle to be executed properly, athletes must recognize that there must be a healthy balance between training and recovery so that you peak at the right time and training intensity/volume is specific to training and racing goals. In other words - there is no "best" way to train but instead the right way for your body to consistently (key word) progress with training....and still function as a normal human-being in life.

Structurally, your body must be flexible, strong and biomechanically "healthy" to move with proper form and skill and metabolically, your body must be able to provide energy to meet the demands of training.

For many athletes, the motivation is there but the body doesn't always perform. For others, the mind and body struggle to maintain energy as training progresses. I find that most athletes have about 3-4 "great" weeks in their system when they start a new training plan or start training for a race. Thus, this is where many adaptations quickly take place. However, athletes are known to be a bit inpatient and instead of progress continuing to be made after 3-4 weeks, athletes begin to plateau with fitness (and often, struggle with body composition issues) and recovery is delayed, motivation dwindles and goals are forgotten (or the opposite - the athlete continues to push with a body that is not responding appropriately to training stress).

In order to maintain optimal health as you see/feel yourself progress with your athletic training, it is important that you recognize that the best performances by athletes are done with individualized training. Therefore, how your body responds to training stress may be different from your training buddies. You can follow a similar training plan but your approach - the duration, frequency and intensity - may be different. Thus, it is important to recognize that throughout many cycles of "epic workouts" and finishing workouts you never thought you could start along with resting and recovering the body when it needed to rejuvenate, this is where the magic happens. It is not one or two great long workouts (or "yay, glad that is over") but instead, many orchestrated workouts that allow you to recover and then peak at the right time and eventually, race at your full potential on race day.

When it comes to endurance training, there are many approaches to improve running endurance.
For example, I have many of my athletes doing different styles of run training depending on how they adapt to training stress as well as their primary goals for race day.

A few different strategies for improving running endurance:
-mid week "long" runs
-long runs off a short bike warm-up
-mile repeaters during a long run
-fast intervals, a few times per week
-two a day runs, once or twice a week instead of a long run
-run/walk workouts
-plyometrics/hip strength
-cross training
-track workouts
-group runs
-hill workouts

As you can see, there is no right or best way to improve running endurance and despite what your training buddies may tell you, those long runs, weekend after weekend can be very damaging and non-productive.

Rather than blogging about the physiology of the body (I sure do love that stuff!) , I will keep things simple so that you can have a few take aways from this blog to figure out the best way to improve our running endurance.
- The primary prescription for building endurance is based on training frequency, training duration and training intensity.
-Research has shown that running twice per week may produce similar changes in VO2 max as training 5 days per week. However, if training intensity is low, you will need more frequent workouts to increase aerobic capacity.
-Depending on your workout intensity, this will determine your workout duration. If your intensity is above lactic threshold, the duration should be kept short due to fatigue.
-Although an increase in intensity will likely shorten the duration of activity, keep in mind that if training intensity is kept low, a greater frequency of training may be needed to elicit the desired physiological adaptations to enhance endurance performance.


To maximize aerobic capacity, whatever workout you are doing should create an overload on the physiological processes of the body in order to result in adaptation. This is where it is up to you, as the athlete, to consider the risk-to-benefit relationship that exists when training for an endurance event. Increasing the duration of training too quickly may increase risk for overtraining and injury. Increasing the intensity too quickly or too hard, may cause premature fatigue. Not increasing the duration or intensity may have you wondering why you aren't making progress with your fitness.

When an athlete builds endurance, several things are taking place in the body to adapt to stress:
-Increase in cardiac output
-Increase in stroke volume
-Increase in blood volume and hemoglobin concentration
-Increase in blood flow to exercising muscles
-Decrease in resting heart rate and blood pressure
-Increase in mitochondrial size and number
-Increase in oxidative enzymes
-Increase in capillary density
-Increase in reliance on stored fat as an energy source
-Possible increase in myoglobin content
-Increase in VO2 max
-Rise in toleration of lactic threshold
-Improved ratings of perceived exertion
-Improve metabolic efficiency
-Improved mental strength

Out of all those adaptations that take place as we work on building endurance, there is no guarantee that running 20+ mile runs before a marathon will help you out on race day or running 3 hours as you train for IM will ensure that you will have a strong run off the bike.

It is without saying that you body must learn to tolerate stress if you are training for a long distance event and you have a lot to work on when it comes to training your body and mind but it important to consider the many types of workouts (ex. intervals,repeaters, tempo runs, hills, fartleks, short/easy runs, cross training, longer runs, brick workouts) that contribute to an increase in endurance. Many times, athletes forget that each workout stacks on the other to build endurance.

And most importantly, if your body is not physically ready to adapt to stress, it is important that you strengthen your body prior to pushing your body. Weak muscles do not respond well to weight-bearing activity for weak muscles bring poor form. The same is true with slacking on nutrition and how it affects your form, mind and recovery during a long run.... trying to progress too quickly with an endurance running routine will only bring haphazard results.

As I continue to blog about my 6th Ironman journey, I enjoy sharing my workouts with others but also with the hopes that I can inspire you to train in a way that allows for consistent success as you have fun with your training. Yes - there are hard workouts and the body will not like you at times but never should you feel as if training takes over your life and never should you stop liking training, especially when you paid money to train for an event.

Sunday's brick - My workout:

2 hour bike + 2 hour run
2 hour bike - 1st hour warm-up (as I progress with IM training, I often need longer warm-ups to get my body excited to train). 2nd hour w/ Karel on his wheel - nice and steady at a little faster than my IM pace (power).

2 hour run - solo
Run 1 mile, walk 10-12 seconds in between each mile. Per my mental coach Gloria, I am only allowed to focus on one thing at a time. When I am biking, I can not think about the run off the bike. When I am running, I can't think about how many miles I have left. It's amazing how much I can think about within a mile - it is a great way for me to stay focused and in the moment.

13.15 miles
Total time: 1:52
Average pace (including walk breaks) 8:32
(I refilled my bottles at mile 7 and mile 10, 2 minute break each time. Goal was to hold around 8:20 pace)
Mile 1: 8:19
Mile 2: 8:23
Mile 3: 8:17
Mile 4: 8:21
Mile 5: 8:19
Mile 6: 8:17
Mile 7: 8:13
Mile 8: 8:23
Mile 9: 8:28
Mile 10: 8:31
Mile 11: 8:21
Mile 12: 8:19 (I cut a deal with myself as miles 10-12 were getting really hard - it was very hot and I was running into the wind and my body was tired but still I was holding good form. The deal was if I could run sub 8:20 on mile 12, I could go "easy" on the last mile...done!)
Mile 13: 9:02
(my walk breaks ended up ranging from 10-22 seconds which I walked every mile from 1-13, from my Garmin which still gave me a consistent 8:32 pace and a body that recovers quickly so that I can have another consistent week of quality training)

Sunday's brick - Karel's workout

10 mile group run + 3 hour bike + 6 mile run

Another style of training based on Karel's goals and his fitness and how he adapts to training. The first 10 miles were a comfortable pace for Karel, between 7-7:30 min/miles for most of it (don't hold me to that though :) which he did with a group of runners at 6:30am at the beach. He then went for a 3 hour ride (I sat on his wheel for 1 hour of it) which was a nice steady ride at his IM pace. The 6 miles off the bike were by feel and Karel said he ended up feeling better on the 2nd run than the first run.

Two different approaches to the "long" run and both of us finished our 2nd big week of IM training. We are both feeling great and we have been recovering really well from our workouts..just enough stress to adapt but not too much that we feel lingering fatigue or injuries.

Of course, having good nutrition during the day and proper sport nutrition helps but we can't blame everything on nutrition. Train smart, train hard and recover harder.

6 more weeks.....thumbs up for fun, consistent training :)

IM "long" brick and PB&J french toast

Marni Sumbal

Karel and I are getting, 42 days until race day! It feels like yesterday when we signed up for the IM (last July!).  For each Ironman I have trained for, I have considered it a blessing that my body can "race" and compete in an 140.6 mile event. No workout or day is taken for granted and continuously thank my body for what it allows me to do. Without a doubt, I love the feeling of being able to take my body and mind to new places as I get stronger, smarter and fitter as an endurance athlete. But with this being my 6th Ironman and I get to share it with Karel for his first IM, I guess you can say that Ironman Lake Placid on July 28th, 2013 is going to be a very special day for both of us. 

After the morning pre-workout snack around 5:45am (alarm set for 5:15am which included doggy walk, start the coffee, feed the furry ones)  I was off to Nocattee (6 miles down the road) via car to get set for another key Ironman brick. We will be doing the "big" long ride of 112 miles next week (I think - I need to check with Coach Karel and Training Peaks on that one) but this weekend included another quality bike + run workout. Because the process of building endurance can not be rushed, I feel that you can still adequately prepare for Ironman races and learn a lot about yourself (and what to expect on race day) by focusing less on multiple centuries (100 mile rides) and "long, slow" workouts and instead, make your miles count by building endurance. I believe every athlete needs a confidence booster workout but in order to build confidence you also have to have a body that can withstand the stress of repeated training.  Nutrition before and during, pacing, mental focus, body toughness, clothing, gear, etc....There are a lot of little things that are often forgotten when athletes train for an Ironman and I love considering every possible area that I can work on before race day in order to have a great race day performance. 

Today's workout for me:
4 hour ride + 30 min run

Karel's workout (He had to work around noon today):
3.5 hour ride + 5 mile run

My workout (super windy day today) which was mostly with Karel:
25 minute warm-up (solo)
Main set: 
3 x 8 min @ Karel's pace (which was low Z4 for me for power) w/ 4 min EZ
20 min @ Karel's pace (which was mid to upper Z3 for me for power) w/ 4 min EZ
Group ride: ~49 minutes (which was mid Z3 for me for power)
Regroup with Karel for his last interval: 25 min @ Karel's pace (which was mid Z3 for me for power) w/ 4 min EZ
35 min Z3 low (solo) w/ 4 min EZ
25 min Z3 low (solo) w/ 4 min EZ
Cool down
Total 4 hours, 83 miles

4 mile run off the bike:
Mile 1: 8:07 min/mile
10 sec walk
Mile 2: 7:59 min/mile
10 sec walk
Mile 3: 7:55 min/mile
10 sec walk
Mile 4: 7:56 min/mile

I know it seems like a lot of intervals but it works because the body adapts quicker than doing long, slow rides or trying to do too much (too fast) at one time. There's a lot that needs to take place within the body to prepare for an Ironman and luckily, adaptations can be made with hard workout and you don't have to be an exercise physiologist to know why or how things are working. However, eliminating the "junk" and focusing on the quality will not only help you experience more consistent performance gains but it will also keep the training fun and exciting for you won't feel as if your Ironman journey is taking over your life. 

After the workout, I cleaned myself up to make my way to the farmers market to buy a delicious-looking watermelon. After a recovery drink, FIZZ and some stretching, I made my way to Ponte Vedra to meet with one of my athletes who is doing his 2nd Ironman next weekend. I love helping my athletes (online/in person) with race day strategies for I feel the best way to go into a race is to know that you are able to race with your current level of fitness. 

I finally got home in the early afternoon and someone was super excited to see me. On went the 110% Play Harder gear (ice  + compression = love it!) and I was excited to get a meal into my belly. I was really happy with how my nutrition went today as one thing I pay close attention to is any signs of my tummy being "off" which rarely happens before workouts. It is expected that the body can do some crazy things after a long workout with sport nutrition but the past few weeks have been ideal for my tummy post workout as the recovery meal is just as enjoyed (and welcomed) as the pre training snack.

Although certain foods are ideal post workout (carbs and protein, minimal fat/fiber) it is important that you recognize what foods "work" the best for your body post workout. I feel that in the Ironman prep journey, you must make a lot of mental notes as to what works and doesn't work. The athletes who get wrapped up in the miles often overlook critical areas such as gear, nutrition, the mind, pacing as areas which can make or break your race day performance. The Ironman doesn't care how many 100+ mile rides or "long" runs you did in training if your tummy is hurting, your body is fatiguing, your mind is wandering and your muscles are aching on race day. It's very easy to be obsessed with how many miles you need to swim, bike and run to check-it off your training daily to-do list but you must ask yourself, what can I accomplished within those miles that will set me up for a good race day? Certainly, race day is being able to execute your training and race with your current level of fitness. If you don't have an effective nutrition and pacing plan, all those "long" training sessions will quickly be forgotten. Set yourself up for success by focusing on quality workouts. If you are confused as to how to do this for an Ironman, I strongly recommend getting a coach who can guide you through the process and to keep you motivated and excited to take part in this exciting journey. 

So...on to more yummier topics. 
I think I will call this PB&J French Toast - yummy in my belly creation. 

2 slices rye bread (this sits well in my belly post workout)
Peanut butter (smear)
Fruit jam (no HFCS)
Red currants (you can use raisins)
Banana (I try to consume some type of fruit post workout)
2 egg whites + 1 whole egg + dallop greek yogurt
Kale (I try to consume some type of veggie post workout)
Olive oil
Green yogurt
Goat cheese (This sits  well in my belly post workout)

1. Scramble eggs w/ dallop of greek yogurt (about 1 tbsp) and add a tbsp of water to help with mixing. (I love to use greek yogurt with my eggs - it makes them fluffy).
2. Turn on pan to medium heat and saute kale in a little olive oil (~2 tsp) until slightly crispy.
3. Remove kale from pan.
4. With a little olive oil, drizzle pan for bread.
5. Dip breads into egg mixture and cook bread on one side for 2 minutes until slightly firm and then flip to cook for 1 minute. See step 10 if you want to create your french toast as eggs are cooking.
6. With a little olive oil, drizzle pan for omelet (you can use cooking spray if you just need a little).
7. Pour leftover egg mixture onto pan and sprinkle a little cheese into the egg mixture before it gets firm.
8. Flip after 2 minutes (or when eggs are firm).
9. Place kale in center of cook egg mixture (turn off heat) and place some greek yogurt on kale and then close egg  as you use spatula to remove from pan and onto your plate.
10. Smear a little nut butter on the bread as well as jam and then top with sliced bananas, red currants and a drizzle of honey.


Remember - no workout is complete until you recover. Even if you stretch post workout and eat "well" - don't forget about keeping the body recovered throughout the day. We LOVE our trigger point set (+ foam roller/grid) which we use several times during the day (morning and night). I highly recommend investing in recovery tools for you can only train hard if you recover harder. 

The patient athlete

Marni Sumbal

First Triathlon  2003
Ironman Wisconsin 2010

Ironman World Championship 2011

Are you a goal setter? Do you keep your eye on the prize day in and day out? My life functions the best with goals. I wake up excited to see what the day may bring and I go to bed, anxious for another opportunity tomorrow. I would assume that if you read this blog, you are motivated and passionate about health and fitness and I hope that you are spreading your wonderful energy to your friends and family in order to inspire others to live a more balanced active and healthy lifestyle.

In the case of making progress as an athlete - such as building endurance, speed, confidence, mental toughness and skills, it takes a lot of work and much like studying for an exam, you can't cram for a race in 1 week and expect great results. You may be able to fake your performance (unlikely in longer distance races) but the body is not going to retain much after the race. You have to be patient and not always do things happen when you'd like for them to happen.

There is a lot of continuous work that goes into great race day performance and the work is not always achieved in one season or in a few months. It takes a lot of effort to reach goals and many times, impatience keeps athletes from reaching what is very possible in the mind and in the heart.

We all know how to push when we are about to break and often times, we make progress this way. But then there are times when we push and make no progress and instead, move backwards. Not sure about you but I wouldn't want to be in a marathon and move  backwards when everyone is moving forward. The same thought applies to training. We each have our own ways to move forward but get caught up with rushing the process as to the "best" way or being like others and so, while others move closer to their goals by doing things their way, you may find yourself struggling to keep up. The mind may be strong but the body is tired, exhausted and burn out. Does too much too soon come to mind? Or perhaps, fear-based training?

Every athlete and fitness enthusiast will have set backs in life, set backs with fitness and set backs with goal reaching. Much like the satisfaction you get when you have a fantastic workout and physically feel yourself pushing to a higher limit, this same enjoyment should come from overcoming obstacles when you never thought that you could not succeed. By being patient, not only will you enjoy your great workouts even more but you will not feel overwhelmed when setbacks come into your path.

In training for 6 Ironmans (Placid being #6 in 6.5 weeks), I have learned that there is no "perfect" way to train for an Ironman. At the end of the day, you have to be patient with the process and most of all, you have to enjoy it. Many athletes, regardless of sport or distance of choice (racing or participating) have been limited in personal success because rather than accepting the progress that has been (and is still being) made, they search inside and out (thanks to social media/blogs/books/articles) for a faster, better or easier approach. New equipment,  a different fit on the bike, different nutrition, extreme changes in training...just a few that come to mind.

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.

" 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 lived my life as an athlete. My brain is trained to perform daily and because of that, there is not struggle to workout everyday (or move my body). I don't consider myself an athlete who stresses or over analyzes races, for my competitive spirit often 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 determining my success based on 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. The best journey is when you have your eyes set on a goal but you enjoy the journey more than the thought of even reaching that goal. Reaching the goal then becomes a bonus.

 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've blogged about wanting to qualify for Kona at my Ironman's and other personal goals with my career.  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.

So, therefore...patience is the most powerful weapon that I can 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 also 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 see nothing wrong with "I can't" being part of your vocabulary because you are acknowledging that something may not be possible that you are thinking about trying. do you know it isn't possible if you don't try and get started now?

I have never allowed can't (for I have said it many times) 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 more patient with my approach and never gave up."

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

Marni Sumbal

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

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

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

Happy training, exercising and healthy living!



Key Ironman bike workout + mental training

Marni Sumbal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Endurance swim set and tofu pistachio stir-fry

Marni Sumbal

What a beautiful meal to fuel my body last night!

For the tofu, spritz your pan on medium heat with olive or sunflower oil. Cube firm tofu and cook until golden brown, tossing lightly occasionally to prevent sticking. Season with turmeric and rosemary and a pinch of salt.

My meal creation also included arugula, mixed greens, red bell pepper, tomatoes, pistachios and brown rice.

To make this your own creation:
Choose your leafy greens
Choose 2-4 types of veggies (or fruit/veggie)
Choose your type of protein ~20 grams (you can have a mix of protein)
Choose your type of whole grain or starch (ex. potatoes, noodles)
Choose your type of nut/seed
Top with your choice of dressing, oil or salsa

Ironman-focused Endurance set:
1650 warm-up - nice and steady.
150 backstroke - EZ/recovery
Pre-set: 10 x 100's w/ paddles and buoy w/ 10 seconds rest (I did them on 1:35) - 80% effort, focus on reaching and catching the water.
150 backstroke - EZ/recovery
Main set: 5 x 300's broken
(150 @ IM pace, rest 5 seconds. 150 @ half IM pace - the focus is on pacing yourself) w/ 30 sec rest ( I did these on ~4:50)
500 with paddles - breathing every 3 strokes, nice and steady.
50 cool down backstroke
Total: 5000 yards

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

Marni Sumbal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, onto the ride. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here's the details of the ride:

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

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

Peak 3 hours: 67 miles, average speed 22.34 mph

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

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

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