I'm more than honored to feature one of my best social media friends to you today. This is a woman of true talent, true heart, and genuine love for others and their success in the tri and running world. She really does just radiate joy of the sport, and has such a foundation in it that she's someone that I listen very carefully to because I know I can learn so much! You can find her over on her WEBSITE or her instagram @inpyn!
Who is she? :)
Elizabeth Inpyn, I am a sports nutritionist and holistic health consultant. My background is teaching (I was a college health sciences and history professor before jumping into nutrition full time). I'm a California girl currently living in Atlanta Georgia- trying to adjust the charms and idiosyncrasies of “the South”.
I have been doing triathlons for 7 years although still consider myself a work-in-progress. I've been a competitive swimmer and water polo player all my life but running is my true passion. If the TV is on – it’s The Food Network, HGTV or ESPN. I'm a big fan of NPR and have a steady stream of podcasts on regular rotation.
What races are you planning for?
I have been on the injured list for a couple seasons so 2016 is going to be a big year – I am so thrilled to get back out there. Racing is fun but I love the training and commitment it takes to get myself to the start line. I'm signed up for Chattanooga 70.3 in May, some Olympic tri's in July/Aug and am looking at a few Ironman races for the fall. I'd also like to do a bunch of road races – I enjoy destination racing and anything close to or on a beach is right up my alley.
How did you know it was time to take on the big 140.6? Did you do any 70.3 races prior?
I've done multiple 70.3 and Olympic distance triathlons but never had the real desire to do a full IM until this year. I hated all the hype surrounding M.dot participants (the slang for triathletes who've completed an Ironman). I also know my body well enough to appreciate the long-term damage and toll it would take.
I feel like I am finally at a place where I have built a solid foundation with my training – years of muscular adaptations, functional strength, cycling knowledge and fueling expertise. I'm not jumping in blind like many people do. I have a wonderful coach who put me on a long-term plan right from the beginning.
On day 1 he asked me “Where do you want to be in 5 years?” He wasn't interested in the immediate – he was building an athlete from the ground up. I respect him for that and for teaching me how to grow and adapt day by day.
Have you done any half ironmans/marathons in the past? If so, which ones?
My two favorite races were my very first triathlon and Rev3 Portland. The San Diego International Triathlon happens every year on the day before or on my birthday. It was my first triathlon and I couldn't think of a better way to spend my 31st birthday. The course is lovely, my entire family was there to cheer me on and the weather was perfect. It’s a must-do for sure.
Rev3 Portland (which unfortunately no longer exists) was an incredible 70.3 venue. The ride was ridiculously hilly, which I love and the run was pancake flat with the most fun aid stations ever.
I think Challenge (the company who purchased Rev3) puts on such great races. I couldn't recommend them more – they make every athlete feel important and the courses and locations are epic.
Which training program are you using?
I have a triathlon coach – Matt Dixon with PurplePatch in San Francisco. I think there are some really amazing coaches out there now – find one that works for you, one that values recovery as much as training and one that will hold you accountable when things get hard.
It’s not exactly coaching but I'd also like to mention getting a bike fit. This is often overlooked and I swear it’s the biggest thing to help make you a better rider (not to mention avoid injury). I've had several over the years and after each one I see improvements in power and efficiency. Find a reputable bike fit guru in your area and spend the time and money to get your bike dialed in specifically for your body and riding style. Money well spent!
As a nutrition coach, what is your nutrition like?
My nutrition is constantly evolving – as it should be. My body, training levels and nutrient needs change with time. My first year in triathlon I ate almond butter and honey sandwiches with a big bottle of water and felt perfectly fine. Granted – I was training much less and on a kick to avoid anything packaged or premade.
These days I am what you'd call a fat-fueled athlete with timed carbohydrates and protein. I use myself as a science lab so I can recommend things to my clients. I sweat a lot- a lot, like a 250lb. man in the Vegas desert. So hydration is my biggest concern and something I've seen the greatest benefit from. I use SOS Hydration – medically formulated and based on what you'd get in an IV bag for rehydration in a hospital. I love it – not too sweet and sodium heavy.
Most products on the market these days are way under delivering on the sodium. Why should we have to take 'salt pills' in addition to our hydration product? I also like Osmo for Women and Skratch Labs.
For fueling – I take in less than most people but it’s because I've trained my body that way over the years. I hated the constant spike and crash from traditional sports bars and gels and knew I would do better with a constant source of energy. I use GenUCAN, Health Warrior chia bars, Pocket Fuels nut butters and MCT oil. I also make my own food for long rides- salted roasted potatoes, rice cakes, protein balls etc.
In terms of nutrition outside of training- I fell into the trap of eating way too little to support my body and paid the price (injuries, weakened immune system, loss of menstruation, digestion issues etc). Sometimes even an 'expert' in nutrition needs to take a step back and assess things.
These days I'm about 50% plant based (for recovery and digestive ease) and include fish, chicken, eggs and red meat the rest of the time. I also do bone broth- if you're not on that train yet; jump aboard.
The biggest change I've made and seen results from was adding significant amounts of fat back into my diet. Women’s’ hormonal systems really need fat to keep things in balance. I eat an avocado every day, plus nuts, seeds, cold pressed oils, and olives. I also try to eat fat heavy fish like salmon, sardines and tuna. I don't count calories – I count nutrients. My daily check-ins are around vitamins and minerals “Did I get enough Vitamin D or magnesium today?” “How are my iron stores and my post strength training protein needs?”
Do you have any tips for endurance athletes with specifics for fuel?
N=1 … Every athlete is different and unique and you need to spend the time learning what works best for your body. Avoid the peer pressure to be fat-adapted/carb heavy/plant based/ **insert latest diet trend here. ** You know your body better than anybody else and you can feel the results from different types of foods.
Start with whole foods and work backwards to packaged sports products. Begin at the base of the food chain and try those things – potatoes, bananas, dates, nuts, seaweed sheets etc.
Hydration – if you can nail that, then you are 90% of the way there. Order a few products and test them out. Don't assume what you have is working. I honestly didn't know how strong I could feel until I began using SOS.
Eat often and eat a lot. The only way to properly recover from your training sessions is to refuel. You are sabotaging yourself and all your hard work if you aren't giving your body what it needs to repair and rebuild.
Balance-What else do you do for fun?
Fun... triathlon is FUN! Can I do a blanket statement and say, “Anything I do with Alex is fun?” He is my person and when we are together, life is fun. When I'm not swimbikerunning I love to take pictures and people watch. I would make an excellent paparazzi.
If you don't see me in the pool I'm probably in the kitchen – cooking (for other people) brings me such joy. I'm also a big reader – if I could sit on a beach with a good book I would never leave. My family is everything to me so swimming with my nieces, baking with my mom, laughing at my dads silly and offensive jokes and watching old Will Ferrell movies with my brother are heavenly.
Any last words of advice?
I think the four things I wish someone would have told me when I started doing triathlons:
1. Coaching is a valuable investment – I am the odd type of athlete who doesn't technically “need” a coach. I can motivate myself, I will get up at 4am and work my butt off, I have a long background in sports and understand things like training blocks/taper/aerobic vs. anaerobic and so on. But the first thing I did after getting a bike was find a coach. Having someone more knowledgeable, patient, unemotional and laser focused on your success is the #1 way to become your absolute best self. Coaching can come in many forms – a nutrition coach like myself, a tri coach that works with you all season, a swim coach who spends a couple hours in the pool with you working on technique- even free clinics at your local bike shop are valuable. Constantly keep learning!
2. Accountability goes a long way. Don't just 'dream about it' – write your goals down and share them with the world. Sign up for a race, commit to a training/nutrition plan, join a tri club or
Masters swim program or find a friend who will be waiting for you after work to run laps around the track.
3. Injury Prevention is worth its weight in gold! At some point we all get injured – it could be a knee issue, a stress fracture, or any number other ailments. The best way to keep yourself out of the doctor’s office and ready for race day is adequate sleep, proper nutrition, structured recovery and foundational strength/mobility.
4. Have FUN! So many people (myself included) get obsessed with swimbikerun – the numbers, the gear, the high training volume and they miss out on the true joy of the sport. Keep your priorities straight (life, family, work, sleep) and be grateful for everything you have. Make time to acknowledge the GOOD!
I hope everyone loved this as much as me!