Enjoy a healthy taper before your race

Taper is an interesting time. 

Physically, it is needed for endurance events to ensure that the body is rested and well-fueled for the upcoming long haul but the style of tapering may differ depending on fitness ability and prior experience. 

However, emotionally and mentally, here is why tapering can be rather difficult. On one end, you long for the first day of taper when you have a sigh of relief that the end of "training" is near but on the other end, a change in schedule, appetite, structure, etc. can make tapering a rather uncomfortable time. 

With 8 Ironman and 8 half Ironman distance events behind me, I have not only learned the most appropriate taper for my body but also how to best taper each one of my athletes (although, it's only through a long term athlete/coach relationship that a taper is essentially discovered). 
But most of all, I have learned to embrace taper. 
It is a beautiful thing. 

Many athletes go into taper seeing it as a horrible time. Appetite issues, sleep issues, random aches, fatigue, mood changes, uncontrollable nerves, extra time (not sure how this is a bad thing for an age group athlete). These are a few of the many complaints that athletes describe when it comes to tapering. 

Although some of these may occur, I do believe that athletes need to learn how to have a healthier relationship with taper in order to enjoy the time before race day for it is necessary and beneficial. 

Here are a few of my tips to have a healthy taper

1. Continue to eat for fuel and for health

If you didn't master this mindset in training, you may find yourself doing the opposite during taper......eating too much or too little. Aim to be satisfied with your meals and snacks and if you struggle in this area (either feeling like you are eating too much because you are always hungry OR eating too little because you are afraid to change your body composition) first contact a sport RD who can assist you so that you do not waste months of training because you are unable to understand how to properly fuel your body in the 2-3 weeks before race day. Additionally, plan your diet in the morning and then reflect in the evening. If you do this (write down your eating for the day, including meals, snacks, hydration and sport nutrition before, during and after workouts) for 3-4 days (in a row at the beginning of your taper) you should be able to master your diet as you identify areas that may be causing you to overeat or areas that need tweaks for better balance in the diet.

Look at your dietary choices in two ways: What foods are keeping your immune system healthy so that you do not get sick as your body is healing itself from months and months of intense/higher volume training? What foods are keeping your body fueled for it's current level of activity?

Because ice cream, cookies and coke do not boost your immune system nor give you nutrients to support your training load, these foods (and many others) should not be seen as "needed" in your taper diet. The reason why I say needed is because you can certainly indulge as you wish anytime in your training cycle but when you indulge, you should always feel better after you eat them than before. Although I do believe that it is possible not to have extreme sweet/salty cravings with long distance training (both Karel and I have very minimal cravings, if ever, during or after workouts during IM training), if you are curbing cravings with these foods during high volume training, it is likely that you have a craving for them because of expending additional calories. With a drop in training load, address the place of these calorie-dense foods in your current diet. With a good mindset about your diet and current training routine, fueling your body during taper will be a fun time. Because every athlete wants success on race day, see the foods that you choose to eat as having a purpose greater than to just curb a craving or because you deserve it.

If you feel like you have a fairly balanced diet and include many real food choices that will fuel your body and boost your immune system, the easiest change is adjusting how you fuel before, during and after your "new" taper workouts AND not neglecting healthy snacks to prevent overeating at meals or in the late evening. I believe that athletes should still continue to support workouts with fluids, electrolytes and calories during all workouts as well as fueling before/after workouts as this has an incredible positive affect on your immune system, energy, recovery and appetite/cravings.

2. Enjoy your new normal
There is absolutely no reason to be inactive during taper and if anything, you do not want your body to get lazy. It is important to give your body a few days of a very light load of workouts (or a few off days from working out - not necessarily in a row) after your last big block of training. However, once you feel like the body is rested and refueled from those workouts (at least 3-4 days), then you want to incorporate low volume but a bit of intensity (with adequate recovery) to keep your body fresh. Your body may crave or reject the desire for intense intervals for the first two or three workouts that you doing or perhaps in just the first few minutes of a main set but this is ok. You gotta wake that body up so that it knows a race is coming.
(if you feel you are burntout or overtrained, this needs to be discussed with your coach for this is very serious to your health).

There are a few prereqs that come with this.

You should avoid any type of "testing" workouts if you are injured. If your body is injured but you just want to test it, you need to give yourself at least 48 hours after the moment/day you feel "healed" to ensure you do not backtrack. Consider that 1 day too soon testing your body after an injury can put your back 3 days or a week or more. It is absolutely not worth testing your body just to see if you can do "it" when you are still on the road to recovery.

You should never compromise sleep during your taper. Whereas long workouts are often done early morning on the weekends to avoid hot temps later in the day (and perhaps to accommodate family schedules) this is understood. But the shorter volume workouts  during taper should allow you to not be so rushed in the early morning. Athletes who continue to wake up at 4:30-5:30am on the first weekend of taper (assuming this follows 4-6 days of waking up at 4:30-5:30am to work out before work) are not taking full advantage of taper. Unless you are getting at least 7-8 hours of restful sleep at night, allow your body to sleep without waking up to an alarm. Sleep will not only help repair and rejuvinate your body but it will help with appetite as well.

You are not lazy. You do not have to train for a marathon, ironman or any distance more than 90 minutes just to be "healthy" or to maintain your body composition. If anything, what you are doing to do your body in training for this long distance event is extremely unhealthy. It is important that you do not see taper as a negative for your body in that you are losing fitness, gaining weight or being lazy. Accept that you needed to put in the work to train your body and now you need to rest it through a lighter load and adequate fuel. Remember, you are doing all of the phases of training to have a great race day performance so do not sabotage yourself on race day by doing too much during taper week (or by hating every moment that you are not training more). When your "workout" is over, find ways in your life that you can keep your body and mind healthy and happy. Explore new places, spend time in the kitchen, catch up with chores/to-do's, volunteer, go for long walks, etc. there is so much you can do with your extra time that no athlete should ever feel bored, antsy or upset with having extra time.

3. Maintain a healthy relationship with your body
I believe that athletes need to prioritize this tip for it is extremely important in feeling confident with your body before race day. In the 2-3 weeks before a race, your body may add a little water weight, it may feel different and it may feel tired. All of this can cause an athlete to hate their body, feel the need to do something extreme/drastic with the diet/exercise routine during taper or doubt fitness ability before a race. All of this is not advantageous to a great race day experience.

If you struggle in this area, you must focus on what your body is capable of doing on race day. Direct your energy to how amazing your body is and where it was (fitness-wise) when you started training for this upcoming event and where it is today. What are you able to do now that you once couldn't? What is your body capable of on race day? What is it that you want from your body on race day?
Keep in mind that you are not racing for the ideal body image on race day. Your fans, fellow athletes, teammates and spectators are watching what your body can do on race day and not what your body looks like.

With 12 months in a year, yes, you had a long time to work on your fitness as well as change your body composition (if that was your goal). But regardless if your fitness is there or not (perhaps relative to your goals) AND regardless of your current body composition, the only thing you can do in the 2-3 weeks before a long distance race is keep your body and mind healthy so that you can fully enjoy your race day experience.
Do not try to take the New Years Day approach and change 6-12 months of bad habits in the 1,2 or 3 weeks before a race.

After your season is over, it is your time to be flexible with your diet/workout routine. You can simply do whatever you want during that time and not worry so much about your performance or health. Certainly I would hope that health and an active lifestyle are always important to you but do not let taper be the only time when you are finding yourself doing things that you once did not have the desire/motivation to do during training. Although you should certainly take very good care of yourself during taper, just be sure you do not try to change your body composition through excessive exercise or dieting which can negatively affect performance and health.

Have a happy and healthy taper!


Triathlon training tips: Pre-race nutrition, swim, bike, run

I am always excited to share my knowledge and experience with others, especially to the newbie triathletes who are about to train for (or race in) their first triathlon. 

If this is you (or someone you know), you are about to step inside a fun, rewarding, inspiring, active lifestyle with a wonderful community of passionate, like-minded, multi-thinking, time management experts who love to challenge the body and mind to reach goals and to push physiological limits. 

A big thanks to Oakley Women for letting me share my triathlon training tips with you all!

To read more about my trip to Laguna beach with Oakley Women this past spring, click 





Any questions? Send me an email via my website:


IMWI training - feeling prepared, confident and ready

The work is done.
Thank you body!
My 9th Ironman journey is coming to an end and in two weeks, on September 7th, 2014 I get the privilege to take my body on another 140.6 mile journey to reach the Ironman Wisconsin finish line.
My dad will get a front row seat from above and I will be sharing the race course (my 2nd time racing IMWI) with my best friend, coach, training partner and hubby. 

I often hear athletes talk about feeling undertrained. That's a very difficult word for an athlete to have in his/her vocabulary because it is often used in the context of not being physically prepared. 
When I think about my last 4 Ironman journies, I have intentionally and unintentionally taken different routes to prepare my body and mind for race day. 
In the past 15 months, I have crossed 3 Ironman finish lines and have felt unprepared for 2 of them. 
But amazingly, the two that I felt unprepared for, I did amazingly well. I qualified for 2013 IM World Championship at IM Lake Placid with a roll down slot and at IM Austria, I had a PR of 10:17. At Kona, I felt the most prepared out of any IM and had a great day. But surprisingly, the two IM's before and after Kona that I felt unprepared for, I still managed to find success on race day. 

I feel extremely ready for IMWI as I go into this race with 15 months of injury-free, consistent training. I have experience from starting and finishing 8 x Ironmans and I know that my race day performance comes down to how I take my trained, well-fueled and mentally strong body/mind over 140.6 miles all while overcoming the obstacles that I experience on race day (and yes, there will be plenty of them for every IM I experience something new that happens to my body/mind/gear/gadgets).

So as I have been extremely careful to save my best performance for race day (and not waste it in training), I believe that I am prepared and absolutely not overtrained. 
I think that it is normal for any athlete to look at those around them (other athletes on social media, race results, training partners) and compare training schedules. It's easy to think in your head before, during and after any workout "am I doing enough?"

I realize that we always can do more for if we aren't injured, sick or burnout, there is still room for improvement. But it is a careful line to cross for it's really hard to have that great race performance that you have worked so hard for if you use all your physical and mental strengths in training and overdo it in training. 

So how do you now if you have done enough?

From my experience, it is just something you feel inside. It's this itch that you can not wait to race but still have waves of anxiety or nervousness coupled with excitement. 
To trust yourself that you have done enough, you can't doubt your fitness. The only thing you can do is race with your current level of fitness and have a plan that allows you to put all that training to good use. 
You have to feel confident in your training session. I realize there is a learning curve for newbie endurance athletes to gain confidence with each longer workout but if you have one opportunity to prove you can do "it", save it for race day. If your body and mind are in a good healthy place, I promise you that you can do "it" on race day. 

If you are nearing your upcoming race or have a race on the horizon in the next 6-12 months, it's a very special thing to feel prepared. Overtrained is something that has significant symptoms that will negatively affect performance whereas underprepared is something that may be objective to the athlete in reference to not completing assigned workouts, cutting workouts short, not feeling successful with fueling/mental focus, etc. You can certainly race underpreared but your pacing strategy will need to be carefully constructed. You do not want to race overtrained for it only creates a spiral of issues with your health and motivation to follow. 
So endurance athletes, let us all meet somewhere in the middle. 

If you train smart, you will constantly find yourself improving in some way, as an athlete. You may get faster and/or stronger, more powerful or just find yourself racing smarter. 
Within every journey that you take your body on, create a plan that allows you to make progress so that by race day, you feel prepared. Although every athlete wants to peak appropriately in his/her season, keep in mind that peaking is relative to current level of fitness. Every season you have the opportunity to train in a way that allows you to discover new limits. That is, so long as you do enough but do not overtrain. 
Preparation is not limited to physical fitness but it also has to do with nutrition, mental focus, calming nervous and silencing self-doubt, understand gear-related issues and knowing how to execute on race day. 
Your plan should give your body steady, consistent progress so that you find yourself motivated to train and put in the work to become someone that you were not when you started training but not too much progress, too quickly that find yourself hitting a plateau or not enjoying your journey. 

I am sure there have been times in life when you have not felt prepared and you have done just fine. 
Trust yourself that when it comes to race day, somehow, someway, you will use 3,6,9,12 months of training for good use and finish your dream in the making. 



After our mile-repeater workouts on Thursday morning, we did our first group ride in Greenville at 5:30pm at Hotel Domestique. Although our legs were a bit tired from the morning run, we both looked forward to not only spinning our legs with a group on our road bikes but biking with George Hincapie!! 

On Friday morning, I gave us a great swim set.It was fun to push a bit and we enjoyed the recovery in between intervals to keep the form good. This is really important for Karel for as a newer swimmer, when his form goes he gets really tired (and vice versa). We do not swim side by side or on the same interval but I try to give him workouts that will help him build endurance and confidence in the water. 

400, 300, 200, 100  - mix it up
6 x 50's w/ fins (Odd: 25 right arm only, 25 left arm only. Even: build to fast), rest 10 sec

3 x 200's @ 80% (or IM distance effort) w/ 30 sec rest
100 EZ (pull/paddles active recovery)
2 x 200's @ 85% (half IM/Olympic effort) w/ 30 sec rest
100 EZ (same)
1 x 100 @ best effort
100 EZ
3 x 100's @ 90% w/ 20 sec rest
50 EZ
2 x 100's @ 95% w/ 20 sec rest
50 EZ
1 x 100 @ best effort

100 cool down

3500 yards total

(30 min of hip/core/glute work today)


4 hour bike + 30 min run - bike focused race day prep brick

Warm-up 47 minutes (this is our typical warm-up time as we ride from our house and this is when we hit our country roads. This includes about 1100 feet of climbing - talk about an easy way to get warmed up!)

4 x 30 minutes at IM effort w/ 4 min EZ in bettwen

Total stats:
3:43, 66.43 miles, 17.8 mph average, 3753 elevation gain

Although we have no flat roads to ride on, I also made sure to ride on bumpy roads similar to IMWI, technical sections and of course, lots of rollers. I had 4 bottles on my bike of INFINIT nutrition (Custom blend) so I not only practiced my pacing strategy but also my nutrition which has been perfected in every workout. I also had my race wheels on as well as my race day outfit. 

Steady run, no main set. Walk 30 sec after each mile. 

32:39 minutes, 4.06 miles, 8:02 min/mile average
Splits: 7:53, 7:45, 7:52, 7:52 min/mile

It was very hot so not only did I go through my two flasks that I brought with me (with nutrition in them) but I refilled after 2 miles at a nearby hotel. 

Campy loves training for an Ironman!!

Yummy fuel for Sunday's run focused brick!! 
Homemade pizza with Trader Joe's herb dough.
Yellow pepper, arugula, mushrooms and leeks along with marinara sauce and cheese. 

Too cute not to share. 


2 hour bike + 2 hour run - run focused brick

1:20, 22 miles, 1234 (how cool!) elevation gain.
All at IM effort on rolling hills. Took about 40 minutes for my legs to get warmed up, which is typical after a hard workout the day before. 

2.5 mile warm-up (rest 20 sec after each mile and 1 minute before main set)

3 x 1 miles at max sustainable endurance effort w/ 30 sec rest in between
Rest 2 minutes, repeat set 1 more time

Cool down with Campy

Total stats: 1:11 total time, 9.02 miles, 7:56 min/mile average (this includes walk breaks but I stopped my watch at my 2 minute break and used my recovery HR 2 min warning as my "timer")

The weather was perfect for this run - cloudy and even a mist of rain. However, I still went through all my flasks and brought extra nutrition with me. I ended up consuming 6 ounces of water w/ Napalm (80-100 calories) every 30 minutes of running so a total of 24 ounces of fluid (+ extra at water fountains when I refilled at my mile interval walk breaks) + around 220-250 calories for 9 miles of running. I felt strong and really light on my feet. Talk about a great run to finish off my IM training! 
I ran a big loop so my course was not flat. I purposely tried to finish each round (last mile of three) on a net incline since IMWI finishes slightly uphill into town. I focused on a pace that felt good and made sure to rest in my walk breaks (or cool myself at water fountains to reduce core temp and to refill my flasks). I do not plan to run this fast on race day but we do not believe in running "slow" which can affect form so instead, finding a pace that feels comfortable but sustainable and using walk breaks to postpone fatigue.  My longest run for IMWI (and probably since IM Kona in October 13th, not counting an IM race) was 16 miles so I had nothing to prove here in terms of miles, I just wanted to feel good and to dial in my nutrition and work on mental focus and form.

Mile 1: 7:54
Mile 2: 7:53
Mile 2.5: 7:57 min/mile pace
First round: 3 x 1 miles:
7:28, 7:26, 7:56 (last mile uphill) w/ 30 sec walk in between

2 min rest

Second round: 3 x 1 miles: 
7:21, 7:22, 7:46 (last mile uphill) w/ 30 sec walk in between
(always a great feeling to finish strong!)

Hello active recovery week!!!! 
Rest up Campy, we have lots of walking to do this week!