Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Frustrated, Take Two... Oops!

Haha! Looks like I accidentally published a post that I was just getting started on, titled "Frustrated." Don't know how that happened! Anyways, there's no injury or anything (thanks for the concern, Sean in NY :), technically.

The situation: I got stung by a bee on Monday while riding my bike going 40mph. It got me on my right shin, and literally exploded, only the stinger and bee guts were left when I stopped (I was only 22 miles into what was supposed to be a long one, grrr). The allergic reaction was the worst/scariest I've had to date... like, so bad I called 911 because I was out on a highway alone and was starting to experience anaphylaxis. I've had allergic reactions to stings before, but this was the worst yet and the symptoms came on rapidly. The scariest thing that prompted the 911 call was when I started feeling my esophagus and throat start to swell shut. I hadn't ever felt that before. I had called my parents prior to 911 because they live close to where I was riding and could come pick me up, but after I hung up with my dad, I did some quick thinking and I knew had to take action to get help faster than what my parents could offer, as I had no epi pen or anything to relieve me in the moment and sh*t was getting bad quickly. Anyways, the ambulance came, they gave me a fatty epi shot in the L delt and benadryl, some relief soon followed. I went to hospital so they could monitor me, and was released a few hours later, feeling OK but still really weak. (Yes, I'll now forever carry that epi pen with me!)

Yesterday the lingering effects of the sting didn't seem so bad, but that quickly changed as the day progressed. I trained yesterday morning (swim/run), but it hurt to run with the sting being on my lower leg so I cut it short. Last night the swelling and tenderness got so bad I could barely walk (although, I'm certain it's not infected), so I took a benadryl. Now, they gave me benadryl intravenously in the ambulance and I was ok with that, but last night I took an oral tablet, and it wreaked havoc in my system leaving me super sick (will spare you the details). This morning, still sick and leg still throbbing. I've had some relief with a hot compress, but I still have a fat, swollen leg and am limping.

Here's the thing... Normally, I wouldn't really care and would just throw in the towel and take it easy for a couple days, but I can't do that right now. I leave tomorrow first thing for a multi-day modeling gig in San Diego, followed by a flight to San Fran for a half-mary Sunday. I won't be back home until late Tuesday. And I'm "training" for a half-ironman that's on Aug. 19! Eek! Today is my last day with my bike for a week, and I feel compelled to ride with the looming 70.3. I just want to make it through the next stretch of days because they're going to be demanding, but right now I feel like mush :/

As I keep writing this post, I feel like I'm being a total d-bag. Waa waa, right? The bee issue was obviously out of my control and sucks, but everything else is my doing -- like signing up for another 70.3 so soon -- so I need to deal with it and do what I can. My frustration is silly, really. I'm frustrated because I'm worried that I feel like I'll barely have any quality training going into this next 70.3, but I need to just accept that it is what it is, and I do what I can rather than whine about it. I hate sounding so selfish because obviously things could be worse! I believe everything happens for a reason, and right now I'm just getting "tested." No matter what, I'll still give that half-ironman on Aug. 19 my best effort.

Whew, I feel a bit better now. Time to HTFU and deal.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Vineman Eats & Race Nutrition

Eating well before a big race is important for most us endurance athletes. Although, I know some guys who can get away on alcohol the night before followed by a Denny's pre-race brekkie. Yikes. In the days leading up to Vineman (btw, race report here if you didn't read), I was checking out nearby restaurants on Yelp, but it’s still hard to determine if what you’re looking at on an iPhone is going to be the same in person. My research helped a bit, but it we also just played it by ear a bit. It all worked out, so I must share...

For those unfamiliar with the area, Vineman is in Sonoma County, so you’re dealing with multiple little cities all within reasonable driving distance. The race start is probably the farthest thing away, out in Guernville. A lot of people stay there, and I can see why, it’s a great little foresty town, but there’s not a lot of options for food it seems, nor are there any big grocery stores so your gluten-free products, etc., might be limited. 
The race finish is in Windsor, and close by to the north is Healdsburg and south is Santa Rosa, in that radius you'll find what you want for quality pre-race eating.

Money-Saving Food Tips
We stayed in south Santa Rosa, which has a couple Trader Joe’s and a Whole Foods. Score. I splurge on Whole Paycheck leading up to a race :) Usually when I travel I'll load up on groceries to cover my breakfasts, lunches and snacks, or in this year's case just eat out for lunch at WF. It keeps it simple and I can have stuff I'm used too, and more so, it actually saves money vs dining out somewhere quality.

To the left is my pre-race lunch from WF; chicken breast, quinoa salad and kale/cabbage salad:

Speaking of groceries and having your regular foods, I think one of the smartest decisions we made on this trip was our hotel. Remember how I was afraid of it as mentioned a couple posts ago? Well I was wrong! We stayed in an Extended Stay America and it was awesome. We literally had a kitchen, for less than $100 a night. This meant every morning we had a stove top for scramble eggs and oatmeal (vs. cooking those things in a microwave), lots of room to store food and prepare meals, and we could do dishes in a real sink not the bathroom sink haha. I also had a nice place for my Vitamix to make beet smoothies. Yup, I brought the Vitamix. I’d highly recommend going that route as a triathlete!

Pre-Race Restaurants
Our first night in town, Friday, was close to being a disaster. We went to the welcome reception to hear a chat with Mark Allen, Greg Bennett and Mel Rollison. While that was nice, we didn’t leave until almost 9 p.m. and hadn’t eaten! I had a place in mind up the highway in Healdsburg, a recommendation from Beth and seconded by Ryan. Why not? Well we get there and the damn place is closed indefinitely! Crap. Thankfully Healdsburg has a lot to offer. 

We randomly stumbled upon Mateo’s Cocina Latina. What a find! It was soooo delicious, and all fresh/quality. Many of their veggies are grown in their own garden, there's sustainable sourced seafood, local ingredients, etc. For apps (we were starving), we got a ceviche and guacamole. Came with some corn tostadas, so I was able to keep it gluten free; I skipped the deep fried chips. The apps were rather small and very gourmet-ish. The entrees were more substantial. I got the salmon special with roasted veggies in a pumpkin sauce, with a side of handmade corn tortillas. It was ah-mazing! I can’t remember what John got but it was excellent too. We both felt good about that meal. I’d eat there before a race again for sure.
Unfortunately, we were so hungry that I forgot to take pics of the food at Mateo’s, but I can assure you it was quality.

The night before the race I wanted to be even more anal about what we ate. Nothing too fancy (no exotic spices, etc), hearty and sustaining, and also gluten free/dairy free. I literally found the perfect place… a dream restaurant for anyone with special diets looking for the kind of meal you’d make at home. It was called East West Cafe, in east Santa Rosa, an easy drive. We love love loved it! They had everything I’d want before a race, making it hard to choose. I went with chicken teriyaki, with a hearty portion of brown rice, veggies, and a side salad (that had beets haha). John got pasta with chicken, veggies and salad (and it was the first time I've ever heard a waitress ask if the GF pasta was preferred).

Here are our dishes:

Before bed I had another snack, but I seriously can’t even remember what. It was something light I’m sure. Like an apple or something. So like I said, everything else I ate before the race came from TJ's, WF or was something we brought from home in the cooler.

Race Day Nutrition
Just as important as the restaurants, right? We woke up at 5. Right away got coffee brewing, but I only could muster down half a cup. Breakfast went down fine though… pre-cooked mashed sweet potato mixed with almond milk, ground chia seed, and scrambled egg whites. I had no problem eating, a good sign.
Before the race I didn’t even feel hungry (sometimes I will after that 3-hr gap), so I bagged my banana and just stuck to water.

Once in the race, on the bike I had three 20oz bottles of Skratch Labs drink mix (orange) with 120cal each, and I drank just over a bottle each hour. I didn't completely finish the third bottle. I also had 1 1/2 Corazonas Oatmeal Squares. You’re probably thinking wtf? I like to eat something solid, and the Corazonas are a better version of Clif bars I think (i.e. no soy). We got them at Costco and I just started bringing them on rides and found that they do well in my system on hard rides that include t-runs (I don't eat them on runs, though). Clif bars didn't do so well. Why change on race day? That said, I was done with solids by mile 30-35ish. For the last segment of the bike, I did all liquid calories. I got off the bike feeling nutritionally on track. GI system working fine, not bonking, but not over-full.

Bike, all together I had:
~300 calories of drink mix
~250 cals of solids

For the run I stuck to water, gel, banana. Had 1-2 cups of water at every aid station while on the fly (it was hot by then!), plus a Strawberry Banana PowerBar Gel over the course of the first 5mi. At the halfway I also had banana at an aid station, around the time I was hitting a rough patch. Felt like GI issues might be coming, but I was OK. 

Run, all together:
110 cal of gel  
70-100 cal of a cut up banana 
water ad libitum (1-2 cups per aid station + more for pouring on myself)

Calories on the run may seem low, but I felt fine with that. I’m very used to running hard without a lot of calories. Any more and I was risking GI issues.

Funny enough, I completely forgot about salt tabs! I had them, and forgot them. Didn't even dawn on me until after the race. Truth be told, it was a hot day and I don't think I suffered by not having them. Interesting!

Post-Race Eats
Now the fun part :) We ate a little after the race with what they had, but it wasn't that great. Back at the hotel I made some guacamole and had chips and beer waiting. That was a perfect snack. Then it was on to pizza!!! We hit up Jackson's Bar and Oven in Santa Rosa, and what a find! Just got lucky, as they happened to have GF pizza crust so we went for it and it was totally legit. We ordered two pizzas, and each was amazing; I couldn't even tell the difference of gluten free vs. gluten-filled. now, I'm an easy sell for that, but even John was impressed! They said they use Bob's Red Mill for the GF dough. We also got an order of Parmesan truffle fries and grilled calamari on a bed of greens (one of the most unique calamari presentations I've ever had). Pics below. It wasn't over the top gourmet food, but super quality that hit the spot. Oh, and I had my first glass of Pinot Noir to get in the mood for another couple days in Napa that lay ahead...

That amazing calamari dish
My all-time fav kind of pizza, mixed mushroom with truffle oil and mozarella

We got their "undecided special"... aka leave it to the chefs to conjure up something random, which changes every order. We ended up with prociutto, olives, grilled onion and a special, hearty tomato sauce. Mmm.

Last but not least, knowing that I'd be indulging in Napa for a couple days, my day-after-the-race breakfast was quite healthy as you can see below. Egg whites, avocado and broccoli. Cooked in the comfort of my own hotel room :)

Plus some snacks a la Whole Foods on the way to Napa, like this yummy kale/seaweed salad and an "alcoholic" kombucha, which was a first-time find for me. Had to be 21+ to purchase haha!

But once in Napa, we got to business. I think we came home with 5-6 bottles and a few extra lbs added on our waistlines ;)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Vineman 70.3 Race Report

Well another 70.3 in the books. Super stoked to be back at triathlon and writing a RR!!! And what’s not to like about Vineman? I especially love all the amazing options for great (and healthy) restaurants to eat well beforehand, and then, of course, great (not as healthy) restaurants for indulging afterwards ;) In my next post I’ll go over all that — I definitely think a little “guide to eating out at Vineman” is needed in blog world because I haven’t seen one.

Anyways, onto the race! Woo hoo! I’m very pleased with my performance; yet, I’m hard on myself and am not 100% satisfied. Duh, right? After not doing a 70.3 for over a year, I had some cobwebs to dust off. I think I sort of forgot how hard these things actually are. I set some lofty goals and was ready to achieve them. Easier said than done. But I love the difficulty of triathlon and figuring it out — it’s what keeps me coming back for more. In fact, I signed up for Steelhead 70.3 only hours after Vineman. I had already thought about this race for weeks, but was just waiting to see how I felt after Vman. I felt motivated to work on this 70.3 stuff. I want to get to the point where I’m worthy of World Championship racing at a competitive level.

So my race. Truth be told, my lofty goals included a sub-5 finish. I’ve been close to that on flat courses, and I felt (still feel) that I can break 5 hours. Instead, the reality: I ran a 5:11, putting me at 8th in the 25-29 AG. I like top 10 finishes :) My time wasn't terribly far off my goal, but it was also terribly far off. Haha. During the race I didn’t let my times screw with my head, especially when I saw that sub-5 slipping away. Mentally, I think it’s the strongest triathlon I’ve had because never once did I “give up” and just go through the motions. 

After a solid ~8hrs sleep (one of my best pre-race sleeps ever), we were up at 5 a.m. and right away had coffee (which I didn’t even finish) and brekkie of sweet potato/almond milk/chia/egg. Vineman is chill because they keep transition open even after the race starts so we rolled in around 6:30. John’s wave was 7:50ish and mine 8:06. I wasn’t even thinking about it then, but my wave time sucked balls. I had some pre-race nerves, but nothing insane. I got everything taken care of with ease, chatted with friends and had a few Endurance Planet listeners say hi, which made me smile. Mellow morning. Felt great.

I warmed up for about 5 min prior to my start. It was a perfect conditions, water at 71 degrees. My swim is always a question mark. I know I’ve gotten better but I also know I’m not a consistent swimmer at all. The gun went off and my goal, as always, was to not blowing myself up just to save a few minutes. Right away I got a hard blow to the L eye (welcome back to tri!), and after I got over that shock and got my goggles back on, I was able to find feet here and there on the way out. Nothing consistent though. At the turnaround somehow I lost all feet and was on my own. Thankfully you’re with the current on the way back, so that helped. My time coming out on my watch was 37:xx, officially 38:03? Blah, but it didn’t get me down. Truthfully, the best I could have swim was a 35, so, really, what’s 3 min?

Transitions came back to me nicely despite the hiatus from triathlon. I rode up that first hill out of transition, the hill that many people walk up, pros included. Smart or dumb? Hm… at the time, I didn’t realize that my HR was 170+. Yikes.

It’s a good thing I love the bike course at Vineman because my performance on the bike was forgettable. My goal was a sub 2:40, which is totally realistic for me. (When I nailed that recent training ride of 56 miles in 2:42 on a hiller and windier route than Vineman my confidence was soaring). 
So what happened? At first my HR was way too high and I needed to chill but was having a hard time doing so. Just being in a race had me amped up too much. I had to manage HR otherwise I knew I’d be burning matches that would cause me to really suffer on the run. (“Don’t be totally in the moment.”) 

Meanwhile during the beginning of the ride it’s rolling hills through tree-covered roads and I passed a ton of girls in my AG, probably 10-15 in the first 10 miles. Pretty standard. The shaded roads eventually give way to unshaded highways surrounded by vineyards. The sun was out and you could tell it was going to be a warm day. Thank goodness, as the next day, Monday, it was cold and raining!!! So crazy.

HR settled into an acceptable range after ~30 min. About that time I realized I had a worse problem going on that would ruin my bike mojo. (Sorry if this is a big fat excuse, but whatever, it’s reality)…. Being that I was nearly the last wave, and a slow swimmer, I hit traffic on the bike. Big time. I spent the whole ride getting stuck behind slower riders and then trying to surge past big packs to get ahead. People weren’t really drafting (though it was close at times), but there’d be these huge lines of riders going along at a 17-18mph pace, and I’d get stuck at that then would dig deep and give a max effort to make legal passes so I could ride my pace, which was more 21-22mph. But even after I made the pass, that cycle of having to slow then surge ahead just kept repeating. It was frustrating, and didn’t help HR matters. I’m good when I get in a rhythm, and that was far from the case here.

I finally felt like I got some freedom around mile 35 — it seriously took that long. But then at Chalk Hill (mile 44) it all backed up again and the last portion of the ride, while mostly downhill/flat, was another game of getting stuck then powering past. Oh yea, and Chalk Hill isn’t really that bad. It’s short and sweet. However, before that there were some false flats and even some headwinds that I don’t recall from when I did this in ‘09, which I feel were harder than Chalk Hill. The course was no walk in the park. But that's a good thing! I liked it. A lot. 

I realize my “slow-then-surge” situation was largely out of my control, so just deal with it. The question I’m wondering, though, was that lack of rhythm on the bike responsible for me feeling “off” in general or would I have still been “off” otherwise? I gave it my all for those 56 with how I felt, but I definitely didn’t ride to my ability, and the numbers reflect that to some degree. Power was about 10-20w avg lower than it should have been. Even my mom later questioned, “So what was up with your bike?” Ha.

Got off in 2:46. Just slightly faster than my 2009 ride time. Ha.

My bike performance was “eh” but it didn’t make me give up mentally. Things were still OK overall. I didn’t feel like death getting off the bike. My nutrition was going perfectly (Skratch Labs drink and ~2 bars). And, mostly, I was excited to run, not afraid.

They’ve changed the setup from when I did it in ‘09. There’s a long run off the bike through the high school. I feel like my AG had a good rack position :) I hammered through T2, and even passed a couple girls. In and out baby! Ready to runnnn!!!

I had never been so excited for the run portion of a race. I was ready to lay it down, with a goal of ~7:40 average or faster. Again, totally realistic. I knew the key to doing this would be staying mentally strong, willing to hurt and “recovering” from rough patches. Bring it. 

The legs turned over nicely out of the gates and I had to ease up a bit to not go too fast. We hit a couple hills around mile 3-4, and while they hurt like a bitch, I still was able to efficiently run up, and power down the backside. The hills still slowed my pace, though — I think my mile 4 was an 8:06. 
Then around mile 6 I started feeling worse and the body was begging me to stop. Rough patch. I had been taking in water at aid stations and some gel, and was nutritionally still feeling on target. I wasn’t bonking. I knew I just had to dig deep.

I never eased up on myself, yet, the legs were not responding as well as I wanted as of the halfway point. I had some 7:50-8:00 miles. My average was slowly dropping from 7:40 to 7:50. I was ignoring HR. I saw no one in my AG, and that wasn’t even a care or concern. I knew a sub-5 was not happening, thus I was not in it with the fast girls. No biggie. At this point I just wanted to finish with a run I could be happy with. It was time to live in the moment and not worry about the future — give it everything now and don’t hold back.

It was getting hotter by the minute, but it wasn’t insanely hot. I kept getting water at aid stations for drinking and splashing on myself. But the body was screaming. I felt like I was running with a 100-lb pack. But one big plus was no GI issues, which is something that has plagued me in the past, so yay for that. I just kept saying “keep going… dig deep… keep that sub-8 pace alive!”

We ran through La Crema vineyards this time, which was so nice! But it felt extra hot back in there.
Out of the winery and more rolling hills. Ouch.

No major hills after about mile 10. Whew. Near the end I was able to pick up my pace and finish strong. I held on to a 7:49/mile average overall for the run, with a 1:42:xx split. That’s the same as my current half iron run PR time — I ran 1:42 at Rev3 Portland last year, and that course (in ’11 only) was as flat as a pancake. Vineman is not flat, so I see this run as an improvement :)

Man, I was hur-ting at the finish!!! But happy :) The biggest takeaway from this race is that I need to race more if I want to achieve the goals I have for myself, like that sub-5 time. Again, I could tell I had some cobwebs to dust off in putting together a solid race. It takes a lot to really nail a race, and experience is a huge factor. So, fine, I’ll race more:) Lesson learned! 

That said, I am totally content with my performance and a 5:11. Yea, the bike could have been better, but that’s life as an age-grouper! It’s on me to handle those situations. Not to mention, my time this year was 9 minutes faster than my time at this race in ’09. 

John and I finished very close to each other, and it was so great sharing war stories at the finish line with him. This is only our second tri together, and it’s our first trip for a race in which we both participated. That made things 10x better than I ever could have imagined, and knowing he was out on the course too was the best feeling. It’s fun to travel and race with a BF :)

Sorry, this is the only pic I have so far... but ya gotta love a post-race beer pic!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Pre-Race Ramblings

Thanks for the insightful comments on your supplements! Loved reading through all that. Some good stuff. Eric pointed out that we seem to take a lot of supplements. True. Do they all really matter? I think so. I notice that my body functions better overall compared with when I didn't really take anything (training and otherwise). Plus, I once heard -- and have since seen evidence -- that if you have a iron deficiency and you eat/drink beets then you'll get that red pee color. I used to get major red coloring in my pee, and now I don't. At all. Hm. Anyways, moving on to my random ramblings as I get ready for Vineman this weekend......


*We are driving up to Sonoma first thing Friday.... I mean, John is driving up to Sonoma while I have legs up in compression and mess around on my iPhone, read "Open" by Andre Agassi (I just finished Chrissie's book, I read Macca's book, read Iron War... what's left in new triathlon-ish book world?). Oh yea, and research places to eat and drink (post-race drinking of course). 

*We have a crappy hotel because we booked late. It doesn't seem crappy online, but I read the Yelp reviews and I'm scared. It was either book that place or pretend we have money coming out of our butts. And we don't. I would have maybe splurged, but I'll be in hotels the next three weekends (Sonoma/Napa for 5 nights, then Malibu for a wedding, then SF for a half mary).

*I have no kit to wear so I'll be winging it, and am actually kinds excited haha. I totally dropped the ball on getting something new together and waited till too late. I have last year's cool Ignis outfit, but it's pretty trashed from, well, last year's racing! So if I look like a mismatched freak in the Vineman pics, forgive me... and feel free to point and laugh.

*I'm deciding if I should bring my Vitamix. I'm not that obsessed to the point where I can't live without it, but I am being diligent about my beet juice loading. Started on Monday. I currently am hooked on a combo of raw, organic beets with carrots, orange, apple/or berries, spinach, apple cider vinegar, dash stevia (and sometimes a small scoop of green powder). So should I bring the Vitamix? Or pre-make drinks?

*I'm ahead on work so I can leave in peace. I love that feeling of not only being caught up, but ahead. Well, I don't think I'll ever be caught up, but with my immediate deadlines/duties I am dunzo with it all! That means, after the race, I can go spend a few days in Napa with very little on the to-do list except eat, drink, cruise on the bikes, flop in the water, etc.... I hope.

*I haven't packed. I am envious of efficient packers because I suck balls at packing. Actually, the triathlon part of the trip is by far the easiest. I can easily sit around in comfy clothes and race gear is a no-brainer. It's all the before and after stuff. I'm not that girly, but I do like to at least bring matching outfits appropriate for what we're doing... sigh.

*I'm glad I'm not like the old Tawnee. The old me at this point would be obsessing over who's in my division, and crunching numbers to see what I can pull off time-wise. Not this time. I'll control what I can control, and race my race. I know I'm fit, and I know from training what I'm capable of doing. Wherever that puts me in the rankings is really not my focus. 

*What I am focused on is nailing that run. I was talking with Lucho yesterday about the race, and he said at one point, "Don't be totally in the moment." I thought that was wise. In sports psych we're often told to "live in the moment," and to some degree that's important and true. But in endurance sports you can't blow off what's in your near future. I'll swim/bike like I need in order to run like I want.

*I miss my sweet potatoes. I'm eating fewer carbs this week -- like no sweet potato breakfast, which is otherwise standard -- because I'm training less and don't need all that. But, man, I love those things. I'll be bringing some up with us for Sat/Sun.

*I thought about blogging more about my pre-race diet but I'm kind of over it now. Bottom line is: It's really not that hard to clean up your diet if you have a goal. I'm pretty good with my eating as it is, but there are small tweaks here and there that are needed before a race. Basically cutting the crap. It's not like this is forever ;) Hm, wonder if I'll got for the burger/pizza combo after the race like I did at Rev3 Portland last year.

*Speaking of food, I'll be blogging about places we eat -- the healthy and not so healthy -- so stay tuned.


I did Vineman in '09... here's a glimpse of me back then... 

Met a very special friend that day. 

Second 70.3 ever and fell in love with the sport even more.
It was a good swim (for me) here. Again, please?

Same bike, different helmet thank God haha
Still will be wearing those shades.

Got the podium and 70.3 Worlds.... :)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Supplements for Endurance Athletes (What I Take)

Ah, taper. Been a while since I've been on one of these! Vineman 70.3 this Sunday woot woot!!! For a brief moment last week I thought I was getting sick, and truthfully I think it was mental, knowing I didn't have to keep it together for tough training. It's amazing to me how we can mentally will ourselves through tough back-to-back days, but when you reach the "finish line" and ease up you become mush, and seemingly vulnerable to aches, pains, colds, etc. 

Of course, physiologically speaking, hard consecutive training days suppress the immune system leaving us susceptible to illness, so it's not completely a mental thing. (Blurb from one of my old blog posts: "Depending on the duration and intensity of a workout, after prolonged exercise (at least 1.5 hours) certain key immune cells dramatically decrease for hours leaving you at higher susceptibility to infection. This is known as "the open window" when infection risk is high..." read the rest here.)

What you put into your body can help you avoid sickness, stay strong in training, etc. First and foremost, quality whole foods and staying hydrated are vital, but supplements can fill in the gaps for us, especially endurance athletes.

While I don't think it's necessary to do a lot of supplements if your diet is well-rounded, there are certain things that endurance athletes, in particular, should consider. In the past couple years I've taken bits and pieces of what I need and what I know of sports nutrition, what I need based on tests (lab, field), and I've put together my own little "cocktail" of supplements. 

Here's what I take: 

Fish Oil/Omega-3: 1280-1920 mg per day (brand: Nordic naturals ultimate omega). Dosage depends on amount of training and amount of omega-3 through food that day. Fish oil and cod liver oil should be in everyone's diet as powerful anti-inflammatories and to balance our omega-3 to omega-6 ratio (omega-6 can promote inflammation).

Extreme Endurance (3-6 a day). We talk about this on our Endurance Planet podcast a lot. I was skeptical at first, but gave it a try and now I don't want to live without it :) I believe XEndurance truly helps me recover faster; it doesn't necessarily make "lactic acid" burn disappear, but I think it helps me to push harder than I would be able to otherwise.

Iron: 65 mg. I get blood tests every year, and a couple years ago I saw that my iron was in the "healthy range" but still low (below the healthy range is anemia). Supplementing has made a huge difference. Iron supplements shouldn't be taken unless there is a sound reason. Note: I do eat red meat too.

Magnesium/Calcium/Zinc: dosages vary (brand: Whole Foods). Magnesium is a mineral that's vital for endurance athletes, especially because we lose it in sweat and our bodies do not produce it on their own. It can help performance/energy levels, overall health, recovery, and much much more. I take mine with calcium and zinc.

Vitamin D: 1000-3000IU (brand: Whole Foods). Vitamin D helps with bone health, immunity, anti-inflammation and more. More people are deficient in this than you'd believe. A couple years ago, my levels were "normal" but low. Again, test your levels before you start supplementing. 

Norwegian Cod Liver Oil: 1,000mg caps (brand: Whole Foods). See notes on fish oil. Allen Lim (of Skratch Labs fame) first got me on this in 2010. I don't take this every day, but often.

CoQ10: 200mg (brand: Whole Foods). There is mixed research on this, but evidence shows it can help with cardiovascular health, which can help exercise performance, and anti-aging. 

Proteolytic Enzymes: 1-2 tbsp per day (brand: Crystal Plex by The Enzyme Company).  These have been a lifesaver for me, and proteolytic enzymes really deserves their own post! When I had my knee issues back in Feb/Mar, a physical therapist/triathlete friend turned me onto these. They are powerful at fighting inflammation and aiding in recovery. I use them religiously now. Be sure to take on empty stomach otherwise they'll be wasted on digestion!

Living Fuel: SuperGreens & SuperBerry Ultimate . I guess this qualifies as a supplement? I just started LF this year because I was sick of not being able to have a full rainbow of fresh food in my fridge, let alone all the greens I wanted. While I still rely on fresh foods first, the products by LF ensure that I'm getting an even wider array vitamins and nutrients found in whole foods. I've tried other green powders and whatnot, and this is by far the tastiest in my opinion! I even will simple mix the powder with almond or coconut milk for a creamy, yogurt-like treat. If you're interested in trying these let me know please!

To come: I'm also going to start adding back in an amino acid supplement, probably Master Amino Acid Pattern (MAP). I do a podcast with Dr. David Minkoff who's behind this supplement, and I know a few people who take it. Sounds like it's worth trying!


When starting any supplement, be sure you know why you're taking it and if you really need it. Blood tests can help with many of these, or other at-home tests even. You have to be careful with dosages, and be sure to balance supplements with what you're getting in food. More is not always better. As you can see, there is a reason for all these supplements; it's not like I put my hand in a grab bag and blindly chose what to take because all the cool kids were doing it. 

Another key point: Read the ingredient label on a supplement before buying to make sure you avoid "bad" fillers. I once took a CoQ10 supplement from Costco and found out I was taking a lot of filler, such as soybean oil and who knows what else! That is nasty. Same goes for fish oils. Lower-priced fish oil pills are cheaper for a reason, they come from low-quality fish sources. You hear about wild vs. farm-raised in what you eat, well the same goes for the supplements! I am willing to spend a little more to put high-quality ingredients in my body.

Last but not least, don't be "that guy" who eats crappy because you supplement. Real, whole foods are always the priority!

I'd like to know... What do you take and why?