Episode 56 - Why focusing on long-term health is so important for performance as a triathlete

Why focusing on long-term health is so important for performance as a triathlete

Our body and our health are one of THE MOST important things in life. Yet why don’t we prioritise it?

When we get stressed, busy and time-poor, nutrition is often the first ball that gets dropped. As you know, I’m a big advocate for nutrition. It’s the difference between a good athlete and an excellent athlete. 

Your body is the number one thing that will get you to the finish line. Yes you have to train to get there too, but I encourage you to RESPECT your body and your health more. Your body is your temple. When you’re retired, it’s what you’ve got left. Let’s not ruin it now.

Control the controllables – what you put in your mouth is controllable. Yet as triathletes, we get preoccupied with the latest gadgets and technology.

This is your kick in the butt to invest in your body + health. It’s the only one you’ve got 

*rant over *


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Episode Transcription

Episode 56: Why focusing on long-term health is so important for performance as a triathlete


Taryn Richardson  00:00

Welcome to the Triathlon Nutrition Academy podcast. The show designed to serve you up evidence based sports nutrition advice from the experts. Hi, I'm your host Taryn, Accredited Practicing Dietitian, Advanced Sports Dietitian and founder of Dietitian Approved. Listen as I break down the latest evidence to give you practical, easy to digest strategies to train hard, recover faster and perform at your best. You have so much potential, and I want to help you unlock that with the power of nutrition. Let's get into it.

Taryn Richardson  00:45

Welcome to Episode 56 of the Triathlon Nutrition Academy podcast. There is so much happening at DA HQ at the moment. I've just wrapped up four days of filming with the amazing Stef Hanson. And I'm in final preparation for our Triathlon Workshop which is happening on the 3rd of September - so coming up really quickly. It is a live, in person workshop in Brisbane, Australia. So if you are a local triathlete, definitely come and check it out. Head to dietitianapproved.com/triathlonworkshop. It's going to be heaps of fun and a chance to meet some other local triathletes in the flesh - in real life.

Taryn Richardson  01:26

I am teaming up with our Triathlon Strength Training expert, Huw Darnell. And he's going to walk you through some of the key pillars of movement that you need to start taking advantage of, and get really practical around different types of exercises that you need to be doing as a triathlete so that you can build a robust body and say goodbye to injuries.

Taryn Richardson  01:47

I'm going to help you with the recovery nutrition side of things and make sure you're doing a really good job here because most triathletes (no offense) suck at their recovery nutrition - doesn't tick the right boxes, timings all wrong. And it's something that's really easy to fix or get right if you just know a little bit about what you need to be doing. So that's what I'm going to walk you through. And again, get really practical and show you how to figure out what you need for you and translate that together into food.

Taryn Richardson  01:47

So come and join us at Perform 360 at Coorparoo, don't go to Enoggera - we won't be there. Go to the Coorparoo one. On Saturday, the 3rd of September. The workshop runs from 1 - 4pm. So you've got time to do your training session in the morning, have a shower, have some lunch - you'll have to forgo your afternoon nap, sorry. But I'll have you home in time for an early dinner ready to train again on Sunday. We've got lucky door prizes, which are amazing. I am very jealous and want them for myself. And a goodie bag with a bunch of products that I will talk you through on the day that I think are really beneficial and useful for triathlon as well. So you know if you're a longtime listener, that I will never get sponsorship, or be paid to promote any form of sports nutrition supplement. But I've got some products here that that I think are really good. And you get those free at the door.

Taryn Richardson  02:02

So make sure you go and check that out. If you're in Brisbane or happy to travel a little distance like maybe from the Sunshine Coast or the Gold Coast - dietitianapproved.com/triathlonworkshop to save your seat. There's the option to buy a single ticket, or you can bring a training buddy and save some coin and purchase a two person ticket. It works out really, really cheap. And honestly the amount of gold that you're getting in the goodie bags - it's worth it just for that.

Taryn Richardson  02:36

Now, if you're not in Brisbane, and you've got serious FOMO right now, I've actually got something for you too. I'm running an online Triathlon Nutrition Training Camp from the 13th to the 15th of September. It's not something I've ever done before. But I think it's going to be a heap of fun. It will be online so you can join us from anywhere in the world. And it will be done live but recorded. If you can't make it at that time, you can always catch up and watch the replay.

Taryn Richardson  04:11

And what I'm going to go through in the Triathlon Nutrition Training Camp is some daily habits that I think you need to be doing as a triathlete. Some of the foundations of what is going to make you a better athlete for the long term and make sure you can tick that box consistently. It's going to take a little bit of time to change in habits potentially, but I'm going to show you the things that you need to be doing so that you can work on being a better athlete. I'm also going to help you with some of my mad skills in meal prep and organisation. Now, I'm not a believer that you have to prep, like, your five days of work lunches and dinners for the week. Totally do that if that's you, but I'm going to show you some tips and strategies to fast track grocery shopping and planning your meals and recipes and all those things that take time. And when you train for three sports in a week, you don't have time.

Taryn Richardson  05:07

So I want to give you some Dietitian Approved tips to get better planned and organised with your food because you know how important nutrition is, and layering that in with training. But it is a little bit of effort, I'm not gonna lie, like it does take time to do that. But I'm going to fast track you so that you know exactly what you're doing. And you can become a bit more of an organisational ninja in the kitchen.

Taryn Richardson  05:31

The other thing that I want to talk you through in detail is how to drop body fat and still maintain energy for training. It's like the pinnacle for triathletes, right? How to actually get to race weight, be that ideal body composition, and perform at that body composition as well without falling into a heap. And losing all of your energy and going too hard too fast, cutting carbs, having no idea what you need to be doing to actually drive that change in body composition. So that's the other thing that we're going to talk about in the training camp.

Taryn Richardson  06:05

There are daily challenges and prizes. And again, the prizes are just as good as the workshop. Like, I'm very jealous. There's going to be a private, limited time Facebook group, so that you have accountability, you have access to me, you can pick my brain for those three days over the camp on any things that you want to know about your sports nutrition, and make new friends with triathletes all over the world. So if that sounds like you, you want to get involved, head to dietitianapproved.com/camp to register - you have to register to come and join us. It's not going to be streamed live on social media or anything like that. You'll have to get the link to come and join us. So definitely go and check that out if you want to come and join us for my Triathlon Nutrition Training Camp.

Taryn Richardson  06:51

So there's lots going on at DA HQ. And I've been so sick. Oh my god, I'm sure you can hear it in my voice. I've been holding off recording this episode for as long as possible, we are down to the wire. Because I've had no voice and I've been so sick. Like, I had COVID back in February. I've been sicker than that - with some crazy childcare virus thing that just smashed us. So I'm looking forward to having a little bit of a break over Christmas. But we're not quite there yet.

Taryn Richardson  07:21

Lately, I've been having some really interesting conversations with Academy athletes and clients. And I wanted to share some of that with you. I feel like you would benefit from those conversations and some of the realisations I've been having in my mind as well. And I started writing dot points down for this episode. I don't ever write a script (God, I couldn't keep the script, even if I tried) but I dot point some things around the things that I want to talk about and then I just hit record and go for it.

Taryn Richardson  07:50

Thinking about these conversations, I've ended up writing two full page of notes. So I think it's quite important to talk about and I feel like I have a fair bit to say around it. So this is not my usual practical "You need to do this for your pre training nutrition, you need to do this for your recovery nutrition". But what I want to talk to you about is why your health is so important as a triathlete. We get caught up in doing all the things - there are so many things that you can do with your nutrition, with your training, with your bike gear, with your equipment, with everything - there is a lot going on, right?

Taryn Richardson  08:28

And we tend to think about health last. Like, most people see a dietitian last. After they've tried and failed to get to their ideal body composition. Like, maybe they've tried every random fad or quick fix or diet under the sun. People go keto, they go vegan, they're gluten free, they try intermittent fasting because that's the latest flavor of the month. And then none of that stuff works over the long term. And it's not until they've failed with all those things that they go "Maybe I should invest in seeing a dietitian to get this sorted once and for all". Or people really struggle with their fuelling during training and racing. And it's not until they are vomiting their guts up on the run, or having to find a loo multiple times in a race or planning training runs around the toilets on your route. Bonking or hitting the wall, you know, absolutely, like peeling yourself off the pavement. Getting a stress injury or a stress fracture or coming down with something like chronic fatigue. It's not until you have these massive big warning signs or things that go really bad that people are like, "Ah, you know what, maybe it's time to see a dietitian"! 

Taryn Richardson  09:42

These are big wake up calls that you need to sort out nutrition and so I want you to think about your body and your health a little bit differently because it is the most important thing or one of the most important things in life. Take a look at Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs - we have these fundamental basic needs of food, water, shelter, or warmth, and rest to survive, right? Then we've got things like safety and security, and family, but your overall health and your body being functional, should be relatively high on that priority list, right? But a lot of people don't prioritise their nutrition, or their health. And it often falls below things like work, right? Nutrition and eating well is the ball that you will drop first if you get stressed or busy or sick or rundown.

Taryn Richardson  10:36

Now, you will know that I'm a huge advocate for nutrition. But I want you to try and think about your body and your health being more important than perhaps you're potentially placing on it. Your body is the number one thing that will get you to the finish line. So you have to respect it. Yes, you need to train, of course, you need to train you need to actually get to that finish line. But you need to control the controllables. And what you put in your mouth is controllable.

Taryn Richardson  11:07

I want you to think of your body like your temple. And this may be a little bit of a kick in the butt for you if you're not thinking and prioritising your health and your body, and investing the time and energy and effort into looking after it. Because we can often feel like when we do triathlon, we can get away with not eating so well because we have such high energy expenditure. We can, you know, maybe have a block of chocolate every other day and our body composition doesn't necessarily shift. But those calories aren't great calories to be putting in your body. We want to be focusing on putting better quality ingredients into our temple rather than just filling a hole with whatever we've got available to us.

Taryn Richardson  11:55

Let me know if this sounds like you. Do you feel exhausted by the end of the training week? Do you crave sweets in the afternoon and feel like you need a nap? Training for three disciplines can be absolutely exhausting if you haven't dialed in your nutrition. It can be frustrating when you can't quite piece together the solid race performance you know you're capable of and confusing when there's so much information out there. But you're not sure what's the right method for you. My goal for you is to unlock your true potential and feel like a supercharged triathlete - firing on all cylinders, full of energy and not only smashing quality training sessions - performing in every race too. If you're finally ready to start nailing your nutrition, join a powerful community of like minded athletes in the Triathlon Nutrition Academy Program. Head to dietitianapproved.com/academy to check it out now. For less than the cost of a coffee a day, you will finally have a plan for your nutrition instead of winging it and hoping for the best.

Taryn Richardson  12:55

I want to give a particular shout out to the mums listening. As a mum, you look after everyone else before yourself, right? You might pack a perfectly balanced lunchbox for your kids. And then don't even eat breakfast. Or eat your kids leftover toast as you fly out the door. Or grab a coffee instead. And that's it. That's all you've got time for. But you're the bus driver, you've got to keep this shitshow together. And if you go down, the whole thing goes down. So don't feel guilty for looking after yourself first. It's kind of like when you're in an aeroplane and they say put your oxygen mask on first before you help others. Think about your health and your nutrition in that way. You don't have to feel guilty for it. But if you look after you, then you can do a better job of looking after everyone else.

Taryn Richardson  13:53

Now I get it, I get that working on your nutrition is challenging. It's not passive. You can't just take a magic pill or a potion - you have to actually do the work and hey, it's not difficult. But you do need to know what you're doing. And it is a little bit of work. Like you have to actually do the thing. I can't put food in your mouth for you. And I also can't swat food away from your mouth so that you don't eat it. You have to drive that intrinsically. And that is what will set you up for success forever.

Taryn Richardson  14:26

I've been asking the Triathlon Nutrition Academy athletes lately, what's been the switch that's really helped them get their nutrition sorted. Some of the athletes in the program I've seen 1:1 over the years in clinic and you know, handed them a plan and "Here's your meal plan and here's your race plan, go and do this". So they've seen both sides of working with me through the Academy model and 1:1. And the reason that they're doing so well now is because they understand WHY -why we do the things. Instead of being handed a plan and saying, "Here you go -  follow it" which is great - triathletes love a plan, don't get me wrong. But when you understand WHY, you take more ownership of what you're doing, and that's going to benefit you forever.  You can take those knowledge and skills with you forevermore. It's not just a once off heading into this race - "So here's your plan for this event".  I teach my athletes inside HOW and WHY so that they can adapt and evolve their plan over time based on what's happening. 

Taryn Richardson  15:30

And that's so much more valuable for long term change, long term health and long term performance. It's fixing the root cause of what's going on. It's not putting a band aid on something. It's actually diving deeper into why you do the things that you do and the habits you have around your nutrition and your overall health. Think about a massage, for example. Often we get massages because we're sore, or we've got something that's niggly and annoying us. And it might fix it briefly but, typically, that problem comes back again.  I accidentally had two babies under two and my body was crazy sore. I basically had a massage almost weekly in the beginning there, of the second one, just to survive. And it's because my body was really weak. I'd lost all my strength over COVID because gyms were closed.  I couldn't do my strength and I couldn't hold my body together properly. And it wasn't till I got back in the gym and started working on building my strength up again, getting my body straight, getting my glutes firing properly, that I wasn't sore anymore.

Taryn Richardson  16:42

And I couldn't tell you the last time I had a massage, actually, because my body's not sore because things are working properly. So I fixed the root cause of the problem, which was strength and stability, and did the hard work (it's not easy), instead of trying to band aid the problem with a massage. Now I love a good massage - I'm not saying don't have massages - but think about the root cause or the root of the problem. What is going on? If we can fix that, we'll be so much better off overall.

Taryn Richardson  17:13

And nutrition is the same. You can do so many weird things that act as a band aid - you might be chasing shiny objects, doing every weird diet under the sun, because it's the latest craze or you know, "Going vegan is the best for endurance performance", but then going to paleo because you know, that's the better option!?  Makes no sense. All of those things are band aids. Dig deeper into what the actual issue is, and then fix it forever so that you're only doing the work once.

Taryn Richardson  17:43

I like to call seeing a dietitian, the last diet you will ever need. Because it's true! Because it's not a diet and it's not a quick fix. It's actually doing the work and investing the time and effort into your health and your body. And that is going to set you up for the long run. It's not a short term thing. And I've had multiple conversations with athletes around this concept lately. So I know that you'll benefit from listening to that little bit of a rant.

Taryn Richardson  18:10

But if you feel like that in any essence of your life, then stop and think about WHY. A really good question to ask yourself to keep going deeper is "Why?" Why do I binge eat doughnuts when I'm starving? Why do I eat a block of chocolate when I'm upset? Why do I restrict my fuelling during training sessions? Why do I delay my recovery nutrition after a session? Why? Why? Why? Keep asking yourself "Why?". It is a fantastic activity to do. Write it down as you're going. Or if you're on the wind train or driving or something just think it through and keep thinking -  try not to crash! But often we're using things to band aid what's going on with our nutrition and our health. And I want you to prioritise it because it's what's going to get you to the finish line faster - in a better state, uninjured, not sick, not broken, and then back up and do that time and time again.

Taryn Richardson  19:08

You want to be an 80 year old, having retired from triathlon - or maybe not!? Maybe you're 90 year old or 95 year old, retired from triathlon, and not be completely broken. You don't want to have osteoporosis. You want to have good muscle mass so you can maintain your fitness as you get older. There's so much damage that can be done, in our younger years that you won't know until you're older.

Taryn Richardson  19:30

And so I really encourage you to think of your list of priorities of what's important to you. Family, food, health, work - whatever it is - finances, and rank them in order of where you are now and see if your body, your health, your nutrition, your training, exercise, those sort of things need to be juggled a little bit further. While work is really important, and hey, you know how much I love my job, my health and my body, trumps all of that, ALWAYS! We won't work forever. And so when you retire, what shape do you want to be at the end of that?  So have a think - have a think about where your priorities lay - see if they need a rejuggle. And I would love to know, if you've had an epiphany today, send me a DM on Insta and tell me what's going on.

Taryn Richardson  20:19

Now if you want some help with your nutrition, the Triathlon Nutrition Academy Program is opening soon for the last time this year. Doors open on the 10th of September for just a week. And then we get straight into Phase One, and work on the foundations of your day to day nutrition. Doors aren't opening again until January 2023. As fast as Christmas is coming around, that's actually ages away. So instead of mucking around for the next six months, if you've been sitting on the fence or you know this is something that you need to work on, then come and join us inside the Triathlon Nutrition Academy. Head to dietitianapproved.com/academy to check it out. Add yourself to the waitlist, if you're not already, because I will be sending out a bonus to everyone on the waitlist that does join the Academy at this round.

Taryn Richardson  21:12

And don't forget to check out the Triathlon Nutrition Training Camp if you want to come and join us for that. That's going to be a bunch of fun. It's on the 13th to the 15th of September, online, so you can join me anywhere in the world. And we're going to work on our nutrition for those three days and focus on some things that are really going to push the needle and, I know, will set you up for long term health - FOREVER. So that's it for today. Thanks for joining me for that conversation and I will see you next week.

Taryn Richardson  21:44

Thanks for joining me for this episode of the Triathlon Nutrition Academy podcast. I would love to hear from you. If you have any questions or want to share with me what you've learned, email me at [email protected]. You can also spread the word by leaving me a review and taking a screenshot of you listening to the show. Don't forget to tag me on social media, @dietitian.approved, so I can give you a shout out, too. If you want to learn more about what we do, head to dietitianapproved.com. And if you want to learn more about the Triathlon Nutrition Academy program, head to dietitianapproved.com/academy. Thanks for joining me and I look forward to helping you smashed in the fourth leg - nutrition! 

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