My healthier fueling plan

Written by Mary Eggers. Posted in Whole30

Way back in October I did Whole30. I loved it. It changed nutrition for me in so many ways. Click here for some of that journey.

The purpose of Whole30 is to eliminate sugar, dairy and grain for 30 days, then gradually reintroduce them to determine if you have any food sensitivities, gluten issues…. that sort of thing. People take Whole30 into all sorts of directions. The beauty of a program like this is you take it in whatever direction you want.

I learned how to cook. I honestly didn’t know how to cook or what to cook. I learned how to really eat more vegetables. I had a pretty limited vegetable repertoire. I even learned how to fuel myself better as an athlete.

Carbohydrates are important when you are an endurance athlete. What I learned through Whole30 ( truthfully you don’t need to go through W30 to learn this….) is that carbohydrates outside of grains and breads exist! These days instead of toast in the morning I will have one of these:

Generally speaking a slice of bread contains around 27 grams of CHO (CHO= carbohydrates. In comparison one sweet potato ( sweet potatoes vary in size so this number will therefore vary) has 30 grams of CHO. A banana has around 27 g CHO. The sweet potato and or banana are more quality in my opinion for fueling.

I have also been experimenting with training fuel the past few months. As an athlete who trains anywhere from 12-18 hours a week I need to fuel those workouts in order to get the most out of them. For many years I have fueled with sugary sport drinks and gels. My teeth routinely sting after a long ride. I was interested to determine if there was a better way for me to fuel training, and possibly racing.

Here is what works for me.

  • For fluid I have found Osmo to work really well for me. I like the ingredients, I like the taste, I like how I feel on it.
  • For “gels” I use organic pureed baby food. This brand. I use the banana bluberry blend, the sweet potato apple blend, the sweet potato beet blend and the mango orange blend. I stick with the fruits and veggies, nothing else. I have found that during training these work really well. They contain 7 less grams of CHO than a powergel and 20 calories less. They are twice the volume, but I don’t care since it’s for training.
  • I don’t buy the pre and post workout drinks and mixes because I use whole food for that.
  • Some folks have tried salty balls with great success. Recipe here. I found they did not work for me. That much nut butter just sat in my stomach. But I have heard nothing but great things for others who have used them!
  • For race day nutrition I stick to my powerbar plan that was developed for me during my time at QT2. That plan has never failed me, and was made just for me. I have been able to switch back and forth between my training and race day nutrition without issue, so I can tolerate one day of sugar overload.
My concern was more from a health standpoint. In my 12-18 hours of training what am I doing to myself from a health standpoint with the sugar plan? So developing a nutrition plan that aligned with my higher nutritional standards was important to me. My health is a big deal to me. I lost it a few years ago and it’s been a long road back. Nutrition is so key to that for me.

There are a lot of ways to fuel, and each person should work to determine the method that suits them best. Here is a great article from Cristina Caldwell who is Jennie and my partner here at Valor Triathlon Project. In this article she does a great job of explaining the whole sugar issue and touches on some great points!

Happy and healthy fueling!  


Written by Mary Eggers. Posted in Coaching

In his book Elite Minds, Stan Beecham tells us the story of the Marathon Monks. It’s a book I read last year and use as my sport bible.

The Marathon Monks are a group of Monks living on  Mount Hiei, Japan’s most sacred mountain. Over a seven year period the Marathon Monks complete 1,000 marathons (yes, one thousand). The first three years they cover 40K per day over 100 days. The next four years the schedule varies and becomes more intense.

Upon completion of their 1,000 marathons the Marathon Monks don’t receive a finisher’s medal. They don’t receive a shoe sponsorship. In fact many do it barefoot or in shoes they have themselves made of straw. There is no finish line with Mickey Mouse. There are no external accolades. There are no selfies every mile. There are no aid stations with volunteers holding out water and sport drink. No one lines the course with signs. There is no gold luggage tag and elite corporate crafted status.

It’s said that should these Marathon Monks fail to complete the first 100 days… they must take their own life.

There are rules to this endeavor, as if the above isn’t enough. According to what I have read and watched I believe they aren’t permitted to remove their robes and head wear. There is no stopping except for prayer, and I believe that’s just one stop.

Take a look, take a listen. Click here for a good recap. Click here for a great You Tube documentary.

The question I am led to ask, is….. why?

What makes someone take this on?

These Monks must believe in something….. so much….. that they are willing to embark on a journey that risks death and certainly does not provide short term gratification. The only accolades in the end is the quiet knowing and understanding of what they have done and the privilege to go on to another chapter of their studies.

If they fail within the first 100 days they must take their own life. That means when they begin they are pretty darn convinced that they can. There can’t be a pre race jitter. Their life depends on it.

Do you believe in something that much? I am not saying take on 1,000 marathons over the course of 7 years and take your own life if you fail within the first 100 days.

But what are you willing to do? What do you believe in so much that you are willing to eat live and breathe the process?

I have heard a lot of athletes say they want to be a world champion. Few…. a very select few will actually get there. If you want to be a world champion, act like you want to be a world champion.

Train and recover like a world champion.

Eat as a world champion.

Act as a world champion.

Breathe like a world champion.

Eliminate the poison of doubt, that’s what world champions do.

There is no seed of doubt for the Marathon Monks. They seem to simply believe that they can, and they appear to get immersed in the process. In the documentary they describe feelings of complete presence and connection to what they are doing. They will accept no accolades because this is the path they have chosen.

I’ve seen athletes throw themselves parties for completing 5K’s.

There is a humility that many athletes, including myself, can learn from in the Marathon Monks. There is a silent dedication, belief and love for what they are doing.

Physical fatigue opens the door to the mind. We unlock the head through the body. Look at boot camp and what those men and women endure. They walk into boot camp one person and leave another. They are physically stressed, sleep deprived, you name it. And it exposes their mind. When the mind is exposed one of two things happen. you crack or you get stronger. Not everyone graduates from boot camp.

Same thing for what we do on our level. The longer training days and weeks reveal. They open the door to the mind and any anxieties and insecurities are exposed. Let them be exposed. To yourself not Facebook. Because a social media band aid can’t make you stronger. An accolade can’t make you stronger. Facing yourself in the mirror, toe to toe, eye to eye, is what makes you stronger.

Believing in yourself makes you stronger. Truly committing to yourself and the process makes you stronger. Getting through the place where it becomes unfun…. the grind….. makes you stronger. Because deep down inside of you…. is that thing called grit.

Grit is not sexy. Grit is not worthy of a Facebook selfie. Grit is what happens when no one is watching. When it’s figuratively dark. When the crowds are absent. When it’s just you and yourself and the choice between going on and giving up.

The Marathon Monks hold lessons for all of us. Whether it’s a marathon, an Ironman or getting fitter than you have ever been.

“During one incredible 100-day stretch, they cover 52.5 miles daily – twice the length of an Olympic marathon.”

“The prize they seek is not a pot of gold, but enlightenment in the here and now.”

What if that was your prize? Enlightenment in there here and now. No finisher’s medal. No cheers. Enlightenment in there here and now. Actually….. that’s exactly what you get. Every time.

You just have to be quiet enough to notice it.