Tri Coach Tuesday: New to Nutrition?

by Coach Nicole Odell, NEO Endurance Sports & Fitness



The endurance sports world likes to use the words fuel and nutrition a lot to refer to the mandatory task of eating. Makes sense, as we need to fuel our bodies with nutritious foods in order to achieve our best performance. But seeing all this can be a bit overwhelming for the new athlete. This post is geared toward the new athlete who might be getting off the couch and trying to become more fit and lose a few pounds while they are at it.

That being said, these tips will also help a seasoned athlete who maybe took a little too much time off in the off-season and is looking to get back to it.

If you are changing something about your life, like adding training to your daily routine, then you don’t want to change too much too soon. It takes about 3 weeks or so for a new routine to become habit, so if you change too much, there is a good chance to become overwhelmed and revert back to your old ways. My suggestion is to take the first month of your training and just get that comfortably into your schedule. And ease into that as well – if you haven’t gone to the gym in 3 years, then don’t try to go every day! Start 2-3 times per week and see how you do.

Once you’ve settled into your new structured training routine, then we can take a closer look at nutrition. Again, we’re going to ease into changes. First, keep a log for about 3-4 days (including a weekend day or your “off” day). Write down everything you eat. Everything. Do you grab three M&M’s? write it down. You can also include when you eat and any feelings you are experiencing while you eat.

This log will give you (and your coach if you have one) a good idea of your current eating habits. Without counting calories, there are some easy things to look for in your log. The goal will be to maximize your consumption of fruit, vegetables, lean meats and healthy fats. But first look at how many “snack” foods you are consuming.

One simple change is to replace a snack with a healthier option (fruit and some nuts, celery and peanut butter, yogurt with fruit). If you’ve been eating a Little Debbie snack cake in the afternoon for the last couple years, don’t go cold turkey either. Reduce your consumption (perhaps only every-other day, or only half a serving) until you prefer the healthier option over the Little Debbie. If you get the daily mocha or latte – do you really need a venti or grande? Would a tall satisfy the craving? Can black coffee suffice? Another thing to think about is if you are really hungry when you are eating. Ask yourself if you are truly hungry or if you are bored.

For your main meals, start adding an extra serving of vegetables…they are low in calories and will help fill you up. You’ll be surprised on how quickly you will feel better once you are eating more natural foods over processed foods.

One last tip – have your healthy meals and snacks prepared ahead of time. If you bring your lunch to work, bring snacks already measured out. The food companies already do this (snack size chips, cookies, etc) so do the same. You can put together a bunch of snacks over the weekend and then just grab them in the morning.

Just by making some simple replacements and no calorie counting, you can eat healthier and you will feel better and stronger.

In summary:

  1. Make gradual changes to your exercise and eating habits to improve success
  2. Keep a food journal for a few days to really understand your eating habits
  3. Slowly replace not so healthy food with healtier choices (lots of fruits and veggies!)
  4. If I am eating a treat, can I get a smaller portion and satisfy the craving?
  5. Am I really hungry when I eat?
  6. Prepare healthy snacks in ready-to-eat portions so they are easy to grab and go.


Hopefully these tips will help you start thinking about what you are eating.


Original article here




Tri Coach Tuesday: Prevent Injuries and Extend Your season

by Coach Nicole Odell, NEO Endurance Sports


Endurance athletes often get overuse injuries. We want to do too much too soon, throw in too much speed work or just log way more miles than the muscles and joints can handle. The body will try to adapt, but if it’s too much, it will protest. The protest usually starts with soreness and tightness, and if ignored, will end in injury.

The keys to preventing injuries are maintaining strong muscles, especially surrounding the joints for stability, proper muscle firing for good mechanics/movement patterns, and flexibility to allow the joints proper mobility.

Even if you are a busy athlete juggling 8 to 10 hours of training a week, or even higher loads of 12-15 hours, does it make sense to work in 30-45 minutes of prevention or “pre-hab” as it is often called into those 10 hours? I can guarantee your fitness will not suffer and you will be better off for it.

Here are some things to make sure you have in your overall training schedule to aid in injury prevention.


The Warm-Up
Ease into your training and “wake-up” your muscles to get the blood flowing to them.  Dynamic warm-ups and active stretches are great, as are neuromuscular activation exercises. 5-10 minutes before your run can get those muscles ready to fire in the proper movement patterns. A warm-up routine that is also a strength session that I give to my athletes is from Jay Johnson. I did this routine before every run when I was training for the LA marathon and finished with a negative split and no injury.


Strength Training
Strength training is very important! This doesn’t necessarily mean get you have to get to the gym and push weights around, although there are benefits to doing that. Keeping the core and hip girdle strong are key. The scapular stabilizers are also good ones to work on.

If you have 20 minutes two or three times a week you can get in fantastic and effective core and hip stability exercises. My recommendation is to get the book You Are Your Own Gym by Mark Lauren or get the smartphone app. Start with the beginner program, especially if you haven’t done much recent strength training, and you’ll be surprised on how amazing the workouts are.


Another thing you can do is get a strength assessment from a sports medicine authority so they can look at those key hip, glute, and core muscles and tell you your weaknesses so you can address those. If you sit at a desk all day, you probably have a weak butt, and a strong butt goes a long way in endurance sports!


Post-Workout Recovery
Say you are going for a tempo run over your lunch break. Take the last 5 or 10 minutes of the run and gradually slow down your pace so you finish with very easy running and then walk for a bit. You can then finish up with some stretching (static stretching is OK here, but dynamic stretches like leg swings are great, too) before heading back to your desk. Cutting the run short by five minutes to get in a proper cool down will not affect your fitness.


The Recovery Day
Another aspect of recovery is the healing part away from training. Your schedule should have some easy days built in, or complete rest day. Your body needs a break from the training stress. On your easy day find a yoga class to take.  If you don’t want to go to a yoga studio, try netflix, YouTube, or At a minimum, learn some key hip & shoulder stretches and do those on your own. In fact, 10-20 minutes of yoga poses in front of the TV while you are winding down for the night can be wonderful for recovery, joint mobility, and injury prevention.


There are other recovery modalities that can be used and are important for injury prevention and performance (massage, chiropractic, …) but in the realm of injury prevention, I feel the above are most critical, especially for the time-limited athlete. We want to get fitter, faster, and stronger, and to do that with a reduced chance of injury, swap out a few minutes each day of training time to ensure you are getting in a good warm-up, cool down and recovery, and are incorporating strength sessions into your plan. You’ll feel better, stronger, and probably race better, too.


Complete article here

Racing with Stryd

by Coach Nicole Odell, NEO Endurance Sports & Fitness
I’ve had my Stryd power meter for a couple months now, have been training with it, and now have done a few races with it. Let’s take a look at the race data.


Race #1: Rescue Run, Jan 1, 2017
This is a 10k race that was partially paved and partially packed dirt trail. It was quite hilly – the first mile was pretty much all uphill on the park road, the next 4 are rolling, and the last mile is back down the asphalt hill.

My goal for this race was just to run it hard, knowing I had to be careful on the first hill. It was my first time running the race (but not my first time in that park), so I had an idea of the course, but wasn’t exactly sure what would come around each bend. I ran by feel to see what the power numbers would turn out to be.

What we see with that is my power increases on the uphill segments and decreases on the downhill, as is expected. My form power (running in place power) actually goes up when I’m on downhill segments, so I could probably work to make myself a little “lighter” on the downhills, as in those segments, my form power is a higher percentage of my total power.

I had Adam Heaney of Stryd take a look at this race data, and he was able to identify that I seemed to run with the terrain instead of by power (correct). I also was interested in how form power varies from total power, and he said typically in the range of 20-30%, and I was around 30%, so there is room for improvement there.



Race #2: Life Time Fitness Indoor Tri, Jan 8, 2017


This was a 20 minute treadmill run after a 10 minute swim and a 30 minute bike. While I was probably a little conservative to start, I gave it “a good run” and ramped up the pace across the duration. There are a couple interesting things here. First, my form power stays relatively steady across the whole effort once I get settled in. As expected, power gradually increases with increasing pace as well. But what’s interesting here is the little bit of undulation in my power towards the end… My only explanation at this time would be that I was changing up my stride a bit as the treadmill was getting faster, as I can see some variation in the ground contact time and vertical oscillation data there as well.


While I should have had a specific power target for pacing, as I’d done my critical power test on a treadmill, I was more focused on pace instead. Average power was 248W, and at the upper end of my Z4.




Read the full article and analysis here

Tri Coach Tuesday: Holiday Eating Tips


For me, Halloween is the start of the fall holiday season as we start being presented with plenty of treats. Leftover Halloween candy at home, at the office, then holiday parties, potlucks and seasonal goodies…temptations abound!


Holiday food is often comfort food, bringing back memories of good times, and also creating new ones. We don’t need to avoid it, but sometimes we can be tempted into eating a little too much. But it shouldn’t be stressful.


Here are some guidelines I like to follow to keep everything in check over the holidays:


  1.  Continue to exercise. It doesn’t have to be “training,” but try to do something active for about an hour a day.
  2. Plan your meals for the week so that the foundation of your eating stays healthy and you are still eating regular meals. Plan around the festivities, and have snacks like celery sticks and other veggies around that are ready to grab.
  3. Take smaller portions of treats and eat them slowly. If you know you have multiple parties going on, you can still partake in the treats, just eat less of them.
  4. You are in control of what goes in your mouth. It’s OK to just smile and nod and turn down a second piece of Auntie’s pie.
  5. Have a normal meal with plenty of protein before a party, especially if you tend to graze a lot.
  6. Drink a glass of water in between alcoholic beverages if you drink.


One day of indulging won’t hurt… it’s the multiple days that add up. So just pick your day and enjoy!


And if you remember just one thing, have that be “everything in moderation,” and appreciate the season where we get to spend some extra time with friends and family.


Original Post on NEO Endurance Sports & Fitness here

Nicole is also the ‘719 Rep’ for 303Triathlon and 303cycling.  Read her bio here.

Article #1 in the series here

Article #2 in the series here

Article #3 in the series here