Archive for the ‘Nutrition’ Category

Ironman Packing Checklist: The OCD Version (click to download)

Racing an Ironman Triathlon is a bit like an expedition to Everest.  It takes months of training and a LOT of stuff.  Deciding what to bring and actually assembling all this takes some serious thought and time..

The Ironman Packing Checklist is a very comprehensive assemblage of what to bring, where it goes and includes checklists to help you relax your mind and prepare for the big day.  The format is Excel so that you can edit and adjust for you.

Other great Ironman Resources from the DELTA Triathlon Content Library:

Selecting Your First Iron Distance Event by Todd Spain

Ironman Pacing by Marty Gaal

Training The Minds Eye by Rich Strauss

Train Your Head by Rich Strauss

Mental Focus for Ironman by Rich Strauss

Ironman Race Rehearsal by Todd Spain

Aero Helmets: The Best Place To Buy Speed by Todd Spain

How To Prevent Hyponatremia In Long Distance Events by Monique Ryan

“Search The Site” on the left for even more information

Yet another holiday season begins. Bring on the turkey and trimmings, pumpkin and pecan pies. With training season on the low down, it is not difficult to pack on the off season pounds. With a survival guide and a plan of action you don’t have to skip the traditions and feasts of this time in order to remain at a competing weight.

MAINTAIN CALORIC BALANCE: Eat more nutrient dense foods

Even if you are continuing a strength training regimen, cut out the use of sports nutrition energy bars, drinks and gels, which are formulated for endurance (such as endurox, accelerade, gu, etc). Be aware of caloric dense foods versus nutrient dense foods. In place of the bars, opt for fruits, vegetables and whole grains which are more nutrient dense as opposed to calorie dense bars and gels. Dense carbs that were important for glycogen restoration, such as power bagels, can be replaced with lighter, lower calorie whole grain breads, such as whole grain English muffins or whole wheat pasta and brown rice.

Metabolism is raised when you eat every 2 to 3 hours. Keep up with this philosophy even through the season. Do not save calories for a big festive meal. Have a snack such as an apple or a light meal such as a salad or soup before facing a huge buffet. Having a full stomach aids in appetite suppression.

Eating every few hours also means keeping portion size appropriate. You may have gotten used to eating larger portion sizes while training and old habits die hard. Remember, ½ cup cooked pasta, rice or potatoes is a realistic serving size for weight maintenance, whereas these portions may seem extremely tiny when you are faced with festive meals. Eat more fruits and vegetables (nutrient dense foods) to make up the difference.

Moderation and consideration are the keys to enjoying any holiday dinner, and you shouldn’t feel as though you have to deny yourself your favorite foods this year. Just watch what goes on your plate, and how it is cooked. Turkey, for example, is low in fat and high in protein. White meat eaten with out the skin provides a healthy delicious base for a holiday meal. Add some steamed vegetables and a small of sweet potato with a dash of cinnamon, and you have quite the feast. Of course, don’t deny yourself a sliver of pie, but be prepared to burn off those calories.

Jennifer Patzkowsky, MS, RD/LDN, is a competitive endurance athlete who provides nutritional counseling and meal planning to athletes and people interested in improving their health/fitness.  For more information on her services, please contact her at

Instory FuelThere has been much confusion among athletes surrounding what to eat after a workout and competition. We know that a combination of carbohydrate, protein, fluid and sodium is important to speed recovery from hard efforts but, other than the traditional post-race pizza party, there hasn’t been much attention to what we do with fat in this “recovery window.” Before we launch into the fat story, it is first important to understand the difference between recovery and post-workout nutrition.

“Recovery” vs. “Post-Workout” Nutrition

The term recovery nutrition has been misinterpreted by some athletes to reflect the food and drink consumed only immediately after training. In fact, the opposite is true. Recovery nutrition starts before a training session begins. Think about that for a moment. If you don’t begin a training session with a full “tank of gas” (carbohydrate stores) then you will develop an even greater carbohydrate deficit by the time you finish a workout. Therefore, it will be much more difficult to “recover” nutritionally and if fact, can take up to 12 hours longer to fill up your carbohydrate tanks again!

The following diagram will explain this concept visually. The solid bars indicate carbohydrate stores (or what I refer to as your “gas tanks”). The striped bars indicate your body’s use of carbohydrate needed for training. As you can see from the first diagram, this athlete follows good daily nutrition principles thereby keeping a full gas tank throughout the day. She uses fuel during training and creates a deficit by the time she finishes training which is normal and expected. However, what is important to note is that she still has over one-half of a tank of gas by the time she finishes her workout. As you can see, she can fully replenish her tank of gas within 12-16 hours. I know this may seem like a long time but wait until you see the next example!Diagram 1

This second diagram depicts an athlete who does not have good daily nutrition habits, enters a training session in an already carbohydrate-depleted state and finishes her training with only a quarter of a tank of gas. Both athletes can fill up their carbohydrate tanks but the key difference is that it will take this second athlete up to two times as long!

Diagram 2

This may not seem that important until you try to do another workout in the next 24 hours. It’s fairly unrealistic to approach every training session with a completely full tank of gas (I mean, life happens, right?) but if you can minimize your fuel loss after a workout by maintaining as full of a tank as possible before the workout, you can refill your tank quicker and have better quality workouts the next day.

The point is that recovery nutrition does not begin immediately after a training session. Recovery nutrition encompasses your daily, during training and after training nutrition. This is why “post-workout” nutrition is a better term used to describe the food and fluid you put in your body immediately after a workout to fill up your carbohydrate and fluid tanks again.

What About Fat?

As I mentioned earlier, carbohydrate, protein, fluid and sodium are crucial nutrients to consume post-workout. But where does fat fit in the plan? Interestingly, there is some new information that links fat to the inflammation response.

Chronic inflammation, which can be caused by injuries, illnesses, poor eating or health habits and exhaustive exercise is detrimental to health as most of us know. What is interesting is that an association can be made between chronic inflammation and performance from the perspective of blood flow dynamics.

The more blood is able to flow more freely throughout the body, the more nutrients are able to be delivered to the muscles and waste products are more efficiently delivered away from the muscles (obviously beneficial for any athlete). When there is injury to the endothelial cells (the cells that line the body’s circulatory system), the inflammation response is initiated and the diameter of the endothelial cells becomes smaller. This produces less blood flow through the circulatory system, which in turn equates into less nutrients being delivered to speed the nutritional recovery from exercise.

This is where the type of fat that you eat becomes important. While there has not been published research on athletes and this topic, there are many detailing the role of different fats on endothelial function and inflammation. The data suggests that trans and saturated fats can actually produce a pro-inflammatory response while unsaturated fats can produce an anti-inflammatory response. It appears that the “super fat” in the case of inducing an anti-inflammatory response is polyunsaturated fats, specifically omega-3’s.

Practical Application

Currently, there are no specific guidelines for consuming fat after training. In fact, I would not recommend eating much if any fat in the first hour post-workout because it can interfere with carbohydrate absorption. However, if you can simply include more unsaturated, specifically omega-3 fats, throughout the day this will help quench the inflammation response a bit. Focus on eating a healthy portion of the following foods:

The easiest way for most athletes to consume more omega-3 fats is by sprinkling ground flax on salads, pastas, cereal and sandwiches as well as using more omega-3 rich oils. Try to include a healthy portion of fat 90% of the time you eat throughout the day and you will easily consume enough of these performance benefiting fats.

These fats have always been identified as health promoting but now there is good reason that they also can have a positive impact on performance. It is becoming easier and easier to include these types of performance foods in your eating program but start gradually. It’s never a good idea to introduce a large amount of a certain nutrient to your body at one time. Remember, make it simple and you will be more likely to adopt these recommendations into your lifestyle without issue.

book coverBob Seebohar, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS is a sport dietitian and elite triathlon coach. He traveled to the 2008 Summer Olympics as the U.S. Olympic Committee Sport Dietitian and the personal Sport Dietitian for the 2008 Olympic Triathlon Team. He has served as head coach for Sarah Haskins, 2008 Olympian, was a performance team member (sport dietitian and strength coach) for Susan Williams, 2004 Olympic Triathlon bronze medalist. He is the current coach of Jasmine Oeinck, 2009 Elite National Champion.

Bob’s new book, Metabolic Efficiency Training: Teaching the Body to Burn More Fat, will teach athletes how to structure their nutrition and training program throughout the year to maximize their body’s ability to use fat as energy and improve body composition.  For more information and to order the book, visit or contact Bob at

Previously published at USA Triathlon

Many of us are nearing the end of our season and with that comes ‘A’ races and the taper. Tapering can be a funny thing – sometimes you feel great when tapering and sometimes you feel horrible. Neither of these scenarios  predict the outcome of your race – it’s important to let the taper do what the taper wants and not become all mental during the time. Here are a couple of different ways the taper may affect you:

You feel extremely tired and sluggish. You require more sleep and can’t believe you did the training you were able to do because doing a 30 minute run right now causes you to take a nap. You might not be able to get your heartrate very high, or conversely, you may not be able to keep your heartrate down.  This phenomenon is due primarily to your body’s inherent drive to repair & rebuild itself (on the cellular level) from the extended training period.

This period can last 5 days to 2 weeks. Some people do not really notice any major differences, while others may find themselves in a ‘fog’ for a few days. If you experience this recovery fog, take note:

•    Don’t go harder or longer to ‘push through’ it. Your body is getting you ready for the one day you really care about. Keep your effort levels appropriate.
•    Sleep. Sleep. Sleep.
•    Eat well, but don’t use this period as an excuse to over-eat.
This is only a temporary period, and you will feel great after being rebuilt stronger…faster…and ready to go on race day.

Because of underlying genetic factors related to your lifestyle, recovery habits or years of prior experience, you may feel absolutely wonderful on the taper. Don’t be fooled into doing harder/longer efforts than your coach has scheduled for you. Save it for race day! It is still important to sleep and eat well, and most importantly, tighten the reigns and hold yourself back.

Some people fall somewhere in between the above two scenarios. Don’t be surprised if you have some emotional swings during the taper (or should I say, tell your significant other not to be surprised if you have some emotional swings!)

Another common occurrence is catching a cold or mild sickness. Sometimes during these rest periods your immune system goes into rest mode, too.

Sleep and eat well.

Do you see a common thread here throughout the taper? Sleep well. Eat well. Don’t freak out. Get to that start line and GO.

Bri Gaal is a multiple USAT All-American and USA Triathlon coach.

One topic worth revisiting is the glycemic index (GI), as different types of carbohydrate can not only affect race day performance, but also affect your body weight during the offseason.  Are you eating the right types of carbohydrate to keep you satisfied and in a net caloric balance?  Or do you continue to eat sports food samples from race expos for quick meals and snacks?  Our goal is to examine the glycemic index of different foods, the hormonal response by the body to food of different GI, and the effect of eating foods with a specific GI on weight and overall health.

Glycemic index is a tool used to measure the rate at which carbohydrates from different foods are broken down into simple sugars (glucose).  The higher the GI, the greater the rise in blood sugar.  White bread and glucose have a GI of 100%; all other sources of carbohydrate are compared to these reference foods.  If a particular food has a GI of 90, then it produces a rise in blood sugar that is 90% as great as pure sugar.

There are many factors that can influence the GI of a food.  These include the physical form of the food (juice versus whole fruit), the structure of the carbohydrate in the food, the ripeness of the food, and the simultaneous presence of protein, fiber, and/or fat with the food.  For simplicity, here is a short list of the GI of a few commonly eaten foods:

Glucose (table sugar) 100 Orange 48
Clif Bar Cookies & Cream 100 Old Fashioned Oatmeal 42
Rice Krispies 82 Yams 37
Bagel 72 Skim Milk 32
Orange Juice 52 Peanuts 14

The human response to eating carbohydrate-containing foods is quite complex and not solely related to the GI of the food.  Carbohydrate digestion is affected by the resistance of the starch to enzymes in the digestive tract, the activity of enzymes in the intestine, and the presence of other nutrients, such as fat and fiber, that slow stomach emptying.  Further, blood glucose level is not completely regulated by the GI of the food.  Blood glucose can also be affected by the digestibility and absorption of the ingested carbohydrates and the degree of liver uptake (storage as glycogen), as well as insulin secretion and sensitivity of tissue to the action of insulin.

How can eating foods with a lower GI help the triathlete maintain weight?  Eating these types of food, such as complex carbohydrates and whole grains will:

  • Avoid drastic drops in blood sugar
  • Slow digestion and provide a longer-lasting supply of energy
  • Subdue hunger-pangs soon after meals and snacks
  • Lessen fatigue
  • Enhance satiety and feelings of fullness

Good choices of low GI foods for meals and snacks include oatmeal, peanut butter, brown rice, quinoa, mixed nuts and low-fat dairy to provide the triathlete with energy as well as a sense of fullness.  Consult with a sports nutritionist who can provide you with personalized recommendations based on your training regimen and weight goals.

Most triathletes are faced with the challenge of weight maintenance during the offseason.  The offseason represents a time of year to store your sports nutrition products in the pantry and reach for wholesome foods with a lower GI.  These foods will fuel you with appropriate energy on a daily basis and help you achieve your health and weight goals.

Foster-Powell K, Holt SHA, Brand-Miller JC: International table of glycemic index and glycemic load values, Am J Clin Nutr 76:5, 2002.

Jenkins DFA et al: Glycemic index of foods: a physiological basis for carbohydrate exchange, Am J Clin Nutr 34:362, 1981.

Ludwig DS, Eckel RH: The glycemic index at 20 y, Am J Clin Nutr 76:264S, 2002.

Bill Nadeau, MS, RD, is a member of the Eat2Win Sports Nutrition team with When Bill’s not working with athletes on their diets, he can be found training or in the kitchen. Visit to learn more about their personalized coaching options such as Tri4Life and Tri2Lose as well as innovative Eat2Win sports nutrition services. Contact: or call 917.825.1451 for more information. strives to provide the highest quality internet-based triathlon coaching and sports nutrition services for the everyday triathlete and novice. These services are based on an understanding of the sport and tailored to the expectations and needs of each and every client. Our services address every aspect of triathlon preparation: Tri4Life personalized coaching, Tri2Lose weight loss and Eat2Win sports nutrition. At, we celebrate the journey along with our clients from start to finish.

The past decade of triathlon long distance course competition has born witness to the hyponatremic meltdown of many age-groupers and professionals competitors. While this lowering of blood sodium levels can be dramatic, dangerous, and even fatal, many half and full Ironman triathletes can experience mild to severe degrees of this condition. The lower sodium blood levels drop, the more serious and life-threatening the symptoms. At the very least, hyponatremia can slow your competitive efforts and is best prevented. Anywhere from 3 to 27 percent of ultra-endurance athletes seeking medical care may suffer from hyponatremia. Researchers at one Hawaiian Ironman found that up to 30 percent of competitors were hyponatremic.

Cause and effect
While the causes of hyponatremia are many and varied, there are two main culprits. The first is excess fluid intake, which occurs when you drink too much salt-free fluid leading up to competition and drink in excess of your sweat losses during competition. High sodium sweat concentration is the second culprit. Extensive and repeated sweating as seen during Ironman can clearly result in large sodium losses. Triathletes with longer finishing times are also at great risk for fluid overload, as there is simply more time to sweat and drink during a race.

Simply put, excessive fluid intake is a big risk factor for developing hyponatremia, and how you pre-hydrate and your drinking strategies during competition can have a significant effect upon this precarious fluid balance. Being a salty sweater also exacerbates this condition.

Fluid – Just the right amount
Of course, you should consume fluid during a race as the risk of becoming dehydrated is still much greater than that of developing hyponatremia. The trick is to not over drink, and to be familiar with your individual hourly sweat loss rate. Some well acclimated triathletes may be very efficient sweaters and lose only one-half to one liter of sweat per hour, while others may reach higher levels of two or three liters per hour in hot and humid weather, despite being acclimated.

Checking your weight before and after longer training sessions can indicate how well you are keeping up with or possibly exceeding your sweat losses. A weight loss of 2-5 pounds is clear indication that fluid intake needs to increase. Conversely, if you actually gain weight during training, your drinking may be excessive. A rough estimate of your sweat rate (see table below) and checking weights before and after training can help prevent both overdrinking and dehydration.

Salty Sweat
High sodium sweat losses can further increase your risk of developing hyponatremia. Fit and acclimatized triathletes usually have less than 900 mg of sodium per liter of sweat. While higher sodium sweat losses are usually seen in unfit and unacclimatized individuals, some highly trained triathletes may be salty sweaters with losses exceeding 1400 mg per liter. If one of these salty sweater triathletes also has a high sweat rate, their losses multiply and they can lose significant amounts of sodium during a half or full Ironman triathlon. While lab testing indicates that sodium losses range from 460 to 1800 mg sodium per liter sweat, chances are your only indicator of high sodium losses is white salt rings and streaks on your clothing and skin.

Clearly salty sweaters need to replace sodium losses to maintain safe blood sodium levels. Even dehydrated triathletes can develop hyponatremia if they have high enough sodium sweat losses over a long race. Look at the sodium content of the sports drinks, gels, and other products that you consume during racing. Some triathletes will need to veer closer to higher sodium sports drinks, and others may even want to carefully supplement with sodium tablets. Salt tablets should be stored in a waterproof case or bag to prevent disintegration and should be taken with eight ounces of fluid. Generally one or two salt tablets per hour is sufficient (amounts per tablet vary). Excess salt intake without adequate fluid intake could irritate your stomach, and result in bloating and nausea. Experiment with these products in training. High sodium sports drinks are probably the most convenient strategy and also provide fluid and carbohydrates when racing.

Before and After
Pre-hydration strategies can also contribute to development of hyponatremia if not done appropriately. Keep in mind that your fluid losses may decrease during a race taper. Of course you need to hydrate leading up to the race, but there is also a risk of overhydrating at this time, just as during the race. Monitor your weight to keep tabs on hydration levels. Healthy triathletes with no specific medical concerns should consume salty foods and add salt to food in the days leading up to the race. If you are a very salty sweater, you can also increase your salt intake significantly in the days leading to the race.

Hyponatremia can also develop after a race as you attempt to rehydrate. For every pound of weight lost, aim to consume 20 to 24 ounces of sodium containing fluid. Drinks and foods that contain sodium, as well as a salty meal or snack several hours after race will help rehydration efforts. These higher sodium intakes will result in less urine production and improve rehydration efforts.  If you have gained weight during the race, rehydrate carefully.

Table 1: Blood Sodium 101

Blood Sodium Levels Symptoms
136-142 millimoles per liter Normal levels
125-135 mmol/L No obvious symptoms or mild gastrointestinal upset such as bloating and nausea
Below 125 mmol/L Symptoms are more severe and include headache, vomiting, wheezing, swollen hands and feet, unusual fatigue, confusion, and disorientation
Below 120 mmol/L Seizure, coma, brain swelling and damage, and death are more likely

Table 2: Estimating sweat losses

This method provides an estimated of sweat losses in hot weather and is fairly simple formula. Of course urine losses affect this equation, as would weight gain from any solid food consumed.

  1. Check your weight before and after training and calculate your weight loss.
    165 lb. to 162 lb. (75 kg to 74 kg)
    3 lbs. weight loss during training (1.4 kg)
  2. Know the amount of fluid that you consumed during the training session. 30 ounces of fluid weighs 2 pounds (an easier estimate is 1000-ml fluid equals1.0 kg body weight).
    Consume 60 ounces (1800 ml) of fluid during a three-hour bike ride. This fluid weighs 4 lb. (1.8 kg)
  3. Add the answers in 1 and 2.
    3 lb. + 4 lb. = 7 lb.
    (1.4 + 1.8 kg = 3.2 kg)
  4. 7 lb. equals 105 ounces fluid divided by 3 hours = 35 ounces per hour for sweat losses.
    (3.2 kg equals 3200 ml fluid divided by 3 hours = 1060 ml/hr).

Table 3: In Summary

Hyponatremia occurs during longer exercise bouts and overconsumption of fluid in relation to your individual sweat losses. High sodium sweat losses increases risk of developing hyponatremia even in the presence of dehydration. Total sodium losses during exercise are a combination of your sweat sodium concentration, sweat rate, and number of hours of sweating. Don’t overhydrate, keep up with sodium losses during the race. Prehydrate appropriately, and consume sodium before and after a race.

Nutrition for Endurance  Athletes Monique Ryan, MS, RD is the author of Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes, 2nd edition (VeloPress 2007). Click here to view more about the book or purchase. She was a member of the Athens 2004 Performance Enhancement Teams for USA Triathlon and USA Cycling Women’s Road Team. She is owner of Personal Nutrition Designs and offers her sports nutrition “E Program” at Monique Ryan, MS, RD is owner of Personal Nutrition Designs with programs at She is the author of Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes.

Chris Newport recently taught an excellent clinic on nutrition at Inside-Out Sports:

Simple strategies for optimal health and performance

(how to eat like a normal, healthy human being)

Fueling and hydration guidelines for before, during and after swimming, biking, running, yogaing, strengthening, trainering…

(how to eat and drink like a finely tuned machine!)

Check out a PDF of Chris’ presentation below.

Swim, Bike, Run, EAT

Contact info:

Chris Newport, RD/LDN

(919) 270-7020

There has been a lot of talk about vitamin D lately.  Originally associated with the childhood disease rickets, vitamin D has reemerged as an important factor in health and disease prevention. In fact, the studies have been so convincing, health organizations and our government are considering officially increasing the recommended daily requirement for vitamin D in the diet.  It is estimated that 75% of US teens and up to 60% of adults are deficient in vitamin D.

There is a lot of information to sort through, along with some interesting recommendations as to how much vitamin D is enough, and how much vitamin D is optimal for good health.  I will do my best to sum it up as well as highlight why vitamin D may be especially important to you as an athlete!

Unlike other vitamins and minerals, vitamin D is a type of steroid hormone that has a myriad of affects on many cells and systems in the body.  We obtain vitamin D in two ways—from the diet and from the sun striking unprotected skin.  As a dietitian I usually prefer people to obtain their nutrients from foods.  Unfortunately, getting vitamin D from the diet is difficult.  Milk and oily fish are good sources but few other foods provide significant amounts.  Traditionally humans got all the vitamin D they needed from the sun.  When sun strikes skin, the body is able to make vitamin D.  However, levels typically plummet in winter when people spend more time covered up and indoors.  Our skin is more exposed in summer, but sunscreen blocks the skin from making Vitamin D.  And the farther one is from the equator, the less vitamin D is synthesized during sun exposure—even in summer.  Getting your vitamin D from the sun also poses a significant risk of skin cancer.  Skin cancer rates are rising and most dermatologists shudder at the thought of people forgoing sunscreen and protective clothing to obtain vitamin D.   In the case of vitamin D, supplements seem to be the best option.  Vitamin D supplements are inexpensive and easily available in grocery stores and pharmacies.

So why is this vitamin so important?  Vitamin D is usually associated with bone health due to the fact that it regulates calcium.  However, new research has found that vitamin D may be helpful in preventing certain cancers such as colorectal cancer.  Vitamin D also plays a role in the proper functioning of the immune system and may prevent the development of autoimmune diseases like Type 1 Diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.  It is well known that people with Multiple Sclerosis are often vitamin D deficient.  In fact, the risk of MS is much higher the farther one lives from the equator.  Vitamin D is also believed to play a role in heart health, cholesterol levels, hypertension and Type 2 diabetes.  New research is turning up almost daily with much of it being conducted in northern states, Canada and other nations at high latitudes where a great percentage of the population is deficient.

In addition to the benefits mentioned above, it turns out that there is a relationship between vitamin D and athletic performance that may be of particular interest to you as a triathlete.  Studies dating back to the 1950’s, particularly in Germany and Russia show that vitamin D improves athletic performance.  It is well known that Olympic athletes from these countries routinely used ultraviolet lights to improve muscular strength.  And it is indisputable that athletic performance is seasonal—it peaks during the month of August when vitamin D levels are highest and drops off sharply in September.  It turns out that vitamin D works by increasing the size and number of Type II or “fast twitch” muscle fibers.  Studies with athletes of all ages demonstrate increased muscular performance is correlated with higher blood levels of vitamin D.  Few of us would turn down the opportunity to increase our muscle strength and fast twitch muscle fibers in such an easy, pain-free way!

The first thing you should do is find out your vitamin D level.  Luckily, a simple blood test called a “25OH Vitamin D” test can be ordered by your physician.  A result of 32 ng/dl or above is considered adequate.  However, many physicians and sports dietitians recommend a blood level of 50 – 60ng/dl for optimal athletic performance.  If your vitamin D levels are very low, your physician may order a prescription of high dose vitamin D to be taken once per week and then a recheck of levels in 6-8 weeks.

Most people do not need a prescription and can easily correct a low level and maintain adequate levels with vitamin D supplements found over the counter.  Taking 1000 IU of vitamin D daily along with a multivitamin that contains 200-400 IU during the spring and summer months should be enough.  More may be needed in winter.   Over this past winter I took a total of 2000 IU per day and my level was only 41ng/dl in March—a low normal reading.  Next year I plan on upping that to a total of 3000 IU daily with testing every 6 months.  But everyone is different and you may require more or less to maintain adequate blood levels.  This is why working with your physician and getting levels checked regularly is so important.  One final note, be careful not to take mega doses without your doctor’s recommendation.  Vitamin D can be toxic in very high amounts, so more is not necessarily better.

Lori Stevens RD, LDN, CNSC
WakeMed Cary Hospital

First, the bad news: When the temperature rises about 55 degrees F (10 degrees C), you’re going to run more slowly and feel worse than you will at lower temperatures. But by gradually preparing yourself for increased temperatures and taking action from the beginning of hot weather runs, you’ll get a welcome dose of the good news. You’ll learn how to hydrate yourself, what to wear, and when and how much your body can take in hot weather, all of which will help you recover faster and run better than others of your ability on hot days. While even the most heat-adapted runners won’t run as fast on hot days as they can on cold ones, they won’t slow down as much nor will they feel as much discomfort.

Until the temperature rises to about 65 degrees F, most runners don’t notice much heat buildup, even though it is already putting extra burdens on the system. It takes most folks about 30 to 45 minutes of running (with or without walk breaks) to feel warm. But soon after that, if the temperature is above about 62 degrees F, you’re suddenly hot and sweating. On runs and especially races under those conditions, most runners have to force themselves to slow down. It’s just too easy to start faster than you should when the temperature is between 60 and 69 degrees F because it feels cool at first.

As the mercury rises about 65 degrees F, your body can’t get rid of the heat building up. This causes a rise in core body temperature and an early depletion of fluids through sweating. The internal temperature rise also triggers the rapid dispersion of blood into the capillaries of the skin, reducing the amount of that vital fluid that is available to the exercising muscles. Just when those workhorses are being pushed to capacity, they are receiving less oxygen and nutrients. What used to be a river becomes a creek and can’t remove the waste products of exercise (such as lactic acid). As these accumulate, your muscles slow down.

The best time for hot weather running is before sunrise. The more you can run before sunrise, the cooler you will feel, compared with how you’ll feel later in the day. The second best time to run, by the way, is right after sunrise, unless the temperature cools off dramatically at sunset, which would make that time more favorable. In humid areas, however, it usually doesn’t cool down much after sunset.

Some tips on how to say cool at 55 degrees F or above

  • Slow down early – The later you wait to slow down, the more dramatically you’ll slow down at the end and the longer it will take to recover from the run. Walk breaks, early and often, help you lower the exertion level, which conserves resources for the end and reduces heat buildup.
  • Wear lighter garments – Loose-fitting clothes allow heat to escape. Don’t wear cotton clothing. Sweat soaks into cotton, causing it to cling to your skin, increasing heat buildup. Several materials will wick the perspiration away from your skin: Coolmax, polypro, etc. As moisture leaves your skin, you receive a cooling effect, and these types of materials are designed for this.
  • Pour water over yourself – Up to 70 percent of the heat you can lose goes out through the top of your head so regularly pour water over your hair (even if, like me, you are hair challenged). Regularly pouring water on a light, polypro (or a similar material) singlet or tank top will keep you cooler.
  • Drink cold water – Not only does cold water leave the stomach of a runner quicker than any type of fluid, it produces a slight physiological cooling effect – and an even greater psychological cooling effect. But don’t drink too much either.

by Jeff Galloway

“In war, the moral is to the physical as three is to one.” Napoleon Bonaparte

In war, a smaller, well-trained, motivated, and aggressive force can often defeat a much larger, unmotivated, demoralized force. “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” I think that focusing on the training volume necessary to finish an IM is misleading and misses the more important essentials for a successful day. On race day, you race much more with your head and your heart than with your feet.

Rich’s Simple Formula for an Ironman Finish:
Create a conservative training progression that leads you to the successful accomplishment of the following training “milestones:” 4k swim, 6-7 hour bike, 2.5-3 hour run. Complete these milestones at least once before race day. If you can get more in, good on you. Show up to race day healthy and well-rested.

When the gun goes bang, start swimming.

Everything else is about your head and your heart and what you have done to train these two organs.

There are two types of “Head Training:” race day knowledge and race day problem solving. Race Day Knowledge encompasses a solid race day nutrition, hydration, and pacing plan. This plan has been developed, honed, refined, and REHEARSED at every long training opportunity. It’s not enough to know what, when, and how much to eat, but also WHY. This “why” brings us to Race Day Problem Solving. If you know the why of what you are doing, you can better fix things when the plan goes to hell. Problem solving also includes your mental state on race day. Most people call it “racing in the moment,” only control what you can control. My process is the OODA Loop: Observe, Orient, Decide, Act.

There are two kinds of Heart Training: Distance Perspective and the Eye. When you begin your IM training, the volumes that you will have scheduled for yourself will seem overwhelming. “How will I ever be able to ride 100 miles? Or run 18? Or do them both in the same WEEK?” But a funny thing happens on the journey to your Finisher’s Medal: “It ain’t so bad.”

As your training distances get bigger and bigger, once insurmountable goals become mere training events. A 60 mile bike is no longer a huge obstacle, but a nice morning with some friends. Your “normal” weekday run goes from 30 minutes to 60. Before work. You don’t even think twice about it. In short, all distances become much shorter and manageable, making THE distance less and less intimidating. “Been there, done that.”

The Eye is the window to the heart. Your heart is what gets you across that line. You can see it on race day. Some peoples’ Eyes are happy, taking in everything around them and enjoying the day. These people draw on the positive energy around them to pull them to the finish line. Other peoples’ Eyes are cold steel, focus, determination, a machine that will not stop, for anything, until the mission is accomplished. These people put themselves into a “place,” a mental state that solves the problem of pain and discomfort by using it, enjoying it. Whatever your Eye is, you train it months in advance by challenging yourself, succeeding, and then reassessing yourself.

Make a big training day something special. Rehearse your pre-race carbo-loading plan, wake up at the same time, wear the same clothes, and use the same bike setup as race day. Complete an extraordinary milestone event and then pat yourself on the back. Relish the great journey that you have undertaken and congratulate yourself for stepping up to the plate. What you are trying to do is very unique. Remind yourself of this and say, “If I can do THAT, then maybe I really CAN do 140!!”

You want to step into the ring with the quiet confidence earned by having already conquered almost everything that you will experience on race day. This is the Eye.

By Rich Strauss