Malone Coaching

Pre Fueling PART II from TriMarni


Pre-workout fueling - part II (oringinal blog post found here!)

Pre-workout fuel
Training is your gut is one the most (if not the most) important concepts when it comes to perfecting your pre-workout/race snack/meal. Eating before every workout (30-90 minutes before) will not only help boost your performance (ex. time to fatigue, mental focus, recovery and energy production) but you will also recognize what foods work/digest the best so that you can use those similar foods, in a larger quantity, on race day.
Karel and I eat before every workout, every day in our season. Absolutely no workout is started without some type of pre-workout snack. 
If you aren't use to (or comfortable with) eating before a workout, start very small in terms of quantity and carbohydrates for 7-10 days by selecting the most appropriate low-residue food/foods that you feel will work the best, depending on the workout.

You may find that your pre-workout snacks may vary workout to workout and that is ok but try to keep it simple and have no more than 5 staple "go-to" pre workout snack items.
It is perfectly fine to add a little fat/protein (which do take a little longer to digest) but the idea is to prioritize energy dense foods that pack a lot of carbohydrates, without a lot of fiber or volume.
Overtime, you will likely develop greater gut tolerance to food before a workout, which is ultimately the goal for every athlete. Instead of feeling restricted by food, train your gut to accept key foods before workouts. 
If you ever hear/see an athlete who can eat almost anything before a workout/race and perform fantastically well without GI issues, well let's assume that that athletes has a very resilient gut. 
How much fuel? 
To help get you started:
  • ~120-200 calories (~30-40g of carbs + a few optional grams of protein/fat) before a 45-90 minute workout. Consumed at least 30 minutes before the workout (although the quicker to digest, like a glass of juice, you may be good to go within 15 minutes - however, I still encourage time to get your body/mind warmed-up before the workout).
  • ~150-250 calories  (~30-50g of carbs + a few grams protein/fat) before a 90 minute - 2.5 hour workout. Consumed at least 30 minutes before the workout.
  • ~200-350 calories (~40-70g carbs + 10-15g protein/fat) before a 2.5-3.5 hour workout. Consumed at least 45 minutes before the workout.
  • ~300-450 calories (~50-90g carbohydrates + 10-15g protein/fat) before a 3.5+ hour workout. Consumed at least 45-60 minutes before the workout. 
Always include at least 8 ounce water with your pre-workout snack to help with digestion.
I also advocate consuming sport nutrition (electrolytes, carbohydrates, fluids) during all workouts over 60 minutes (ex. sport drink or water/gel).
Pre-workout carbohydrate-rich fuel options
Some of my favorites to dress-up with a smear of nut butter and cinnamon: 
Rice cake
Cream of wheat
Wasa cracker

Topped with:
Maple Syrup
Rice or rice-based cereal
Puffed cereal
Pancakes/waffles from refined flour
100% Fruit juice
Soup (broth-like)
Refined bread/crackers
Grits/instant oats
Applesauce (or applesauce packets)
Cooked/soft fruits (or without the skin)
Cooked veggies (ex. potatoes)
You are probably surprised to see a few of these recommendations like refined food or juice because as I mentioned in my last blog post, these foods are not associated with "healthy eating".  But keep in mind that as athletes, we have to take care of our gut as we fuel for performance and despite some of these options not being "healthy" for the average individual in the daily diet, they are extremely easy to digest (and find) before a workout and can certainly help minimize the risk for GI distress/issues during training/racing. 
In summary, it is imperative that you understand how to separate sport nutrition vs healthy eating. and apply this concept to your daily life and workout routine. 
I hope you found this helpful as it is one of the most popular topics that I discuss with young athletes (and their parents) and during my nutrition lectures as well as when I work with profession/elite athletes and age groupers.  I find that for the "new" athletes, fitness enthusiasts who explain that they can't stomach anything before a workout or individuals seeking body composition changes, this is often a topic that is hard to apply as it is far from what society views as healthy eating.
I am all about real food whenever possible so consider my pre-workout options as "real" as you can get without compromising gut health.  Remember that your pre-workout/race snack should be easy to find, easy to prepare and easy to consume.  If you want to make your own options of some of these items, that would be fantastic but don't overwhelm yourself at first. I want you to make sure you are finding it easy to fuel around workouts so that you can dedicate a lot of your extra energy to preparing and consuming a very balanced, real food "healthy" diet throughout the day. 
 I am excited to hear how your next few workouts go with your new pre-workout fueling tips as you should be feeling lighter, cleaner and most of all, working out with an energized body that has a happy gut.  

Any questions or concerns, just send me a message via

Pre Workout Fuel


Pre-workout fueling - it's not healthy eating

Within a "healthy" diet, a high-fiber diet has its many benefits such as controlling blood sugar levels, lowering high levels blood cholesterol, normalizing bowel movements and keeping the intestines/gut healthy. 
Furthermore, a high fiber diet has been shown to assist in weight loss and maintenance because fiber is associated with satiety. 
In today's society, we are heavily educated about"healthy" eating and certainly, fiber has an important role in our diet. 

High-fiber diet
Recommendations for daily fiber are:
21-25g/day for women
30-38g/day for men
Most individuals receive around 15g of fiber in the daily diet. 
How easy is it to meet recommendations with a real food diet?
1 cup rraspberries- 6 grams
1 cup cooked barley -8 grams
1 cup lentils - 15 grams
Total: 29 grams fiber

Because fiber (along with adequate fluid intake) moves through the digestive tract quickly and relatively easily for most healthy individuals, you can see why we need fiber in the daily diet. 

Healthy eating vs. fueling
When working with athletes on daily and sport nutrition, many athletes complain about GI issues in training/racing as well as stool-related problems during workouts/races (ex. loose stools, diarrhea, bloody stools, constipation, etc.)

As athletes, we must see food differently than the normal population. Certainly, healthy eating is extremely important to us athletes because we place an incredible amount of stress on our immune system, muscles, joints, organs and heart . Therefore, it is imperative that we eat a "healthy" diet to keep our body in good health. 

But when it comes to eating for performance, athletes need to recognize that certain foods can help/hinder our workouts if they are/are not timed appropriately.
Athletes, you probably understand that fiber plays a role in a healthy diet but when it comes to fueling for performance, it's ok to eat some proclaimed "unhealthy" foods before our workouts/races.

And why do I use the word "unhealthy"? Because to the average fitness enthusiast (and even some athletes who have yet to appreciate/understand sport nutrition), the foods that we want to eat before a workout are typically not encouraged in a healthy, high fiber diet. 

As a former clinical RD, I would never recommend juice, raisins, white rice or honey to a diabetic or to anyone who is struggling to control blood sugar or to lose weight. 

Because these foods digest rather quickly and above all, choosing an orange, raspberries, brown rice or lentils would pack a whole lot more valuable nutrients and sustainable fiber.
But for an athlete, the low-fiber options provide so many benefits to our soon-to-be, body in motion. 
Low-residue diet
If you ever have gastric surgery or you are diagnosed with diverticulitis, ulcerative colitis, IBS or Crohn's, it's likely that you will be temporarily placed on a low-residue diet.
A low-residue diet provides foods that are very easy to digest. Residue is the undigested food (ex. fiber) that composes stool so that essential goal of the diet is to have fewer and smaller bowel movements throughout the course of the diet. This will often ease symptoms like diarrhea, bloating, gas and stomach cramping in individuals with clinical issues. 

Think back to when you have a stomach virus or the flu. 
Certain comfort foods like applesauce, saltines, broth, white toast with jam, rice or cream of wheat with honey may come to mind instead of a veggie and fruit packed protein smoothie, chicken or steak with a salad or trail mix. 
As athletes, a low-residue diet in the 24-48 hours before a race can certainly help to minimize your GI issues on race day without compromising energy. However, when it comes to pre-workout fuel, the options on a low-residue diet list may look "unhealthy" in the daily diet but they are absolutely perfect for pre-workout fueling. 
In my next blog, I will discuss what foods to emphasize before workouts as well as how much/when to time them with your workouts.

Workout Terms and Abbreviations

Below are general terms that I tend to use and re-use in training. Workouts are not limited to these alone but I plan on using this as the beginning of a reference sheet to build on. If you come across terms that you don’t understand or that are not listed here PLEASE ASK ME! That is what I am here for! 


ATP– Annual Training Plan – this is the list of all the races you plan to do this year. Located in the “Classic” version of Training Peaks. I keep this up to date. If one of the races you plan to do is not on it…that means I am NOT planning for it so you need to look at this on a regular basis and keep me updated of changes. This drives your schedule.

HR–Heart Rate

AVG HR- Average Heart Rate either of the interval or the entire workout





*These are just quick definitions and reminders. I will be doing videos of all of these within the next month or so and I also have longer descriptions if you have questions about any of these. For the most part I like to show you these drills but to make sure everyone has something to reference I thought we would start here. 

*This is not a complete list of my terminology. I will be adding to this as the year goes on.


OS – other strokes – meaning any other stroke than free so it could be breast stroke, back stroke, or butterfly

Free– this means swim freestyle

Catch– the part of your stroke in the water

Early catch– the part of your catch starting at fingertip entry all the way to your shoulder

Recovery– this is the part of your stroke when your arm is out of the water

Pull– this means you drag your legs - NO kicking, usually you use the pull buoy between your legs for this

Head touch– tap your head during the recovery phase of the stroke before your arm enters back into the water. Good for high elbow recovery

Finger Tip Drag– dragging your fingertips across the top of the water during recovery phase but right before entry. Good for high elbow recovery and correct entry position

Fist– Simply swim with your hand in a fist. This forces you to use your forearm as part of your “paddle” and helps you to develop a stronger catch

Catch-up - Both hands touch out in front of you during your stroke. They literally “catch-up” to each other. This drill promotes good reach and the proper position to start your catch. This is my favorite drill because it tends to fix many issues at once. If you don’t know how to do this correctly you need to schedule some pool time with me!

Cheating catch-up– this is the same as above except you can start your pull just before the hands catch-up in front of you. This is very close to normal swimming just with more emphasis on keeping the leading arm high in the water.

Magic Marker Drill AKA Zipper Drill– this is done during recovery. You drag the recovery arm up your body with your thumb touching your body all the way from your hip to your arm pit. Works the high elbow on recovery, flexibility, and timing as well as correct body rotation.

Swim on Side AKA Kick on Side– I tend to use these interchangeably in workouts but they mean the same thing. Roll over on your side with the lower arm straight and the arm highest in the water next to your side and KICK on your side. When you need to breathe you can push down and lift head (preferred) or take a stroke which makes this easier. Change sides normally each 25.

Switch kick– this is a more fun version of kicking on your side. You kick on your side for 6 beats and then take a stroke and switch sides.

Wide Arms– this is simply where you focus on your arm entry being shoulder width. For most people this is going to feel very very wide but that is about where it will be correct. This helps avoid over-reaching and sets you up to be in a good place to start your early catch

Do 100 “on”– when I say “on” that means you leave the wall every 2 min. So if you do your 100’s in 1:45 that gives you 15 seconds rest. Normally I just specify how much rest you will have but you will see this terminology occasionally



Disclaimer on swim workouts– I have lots and lots of swim workouts that I have put together over the years and I am always adding to them and changing them and sometimes they might not add up and for that I apologize in advance! I try to fix them from year to year but somehow a few always slip in. So if you notice it doesn’t add up BEFORE your workout you can gladly harass me about it, during your workout you are stuck doing as much as you have time for and can harass me later!





(CAD) Cadence– you need to have a cadence sensor on your bike. Some coaches require a power meter, I require a cadence sensor. No matter how long you have been cycling this is a number you need to pay attention to, especially for triathlon

(SLD) Single Leg Drills - this is a drill where you unclip one leg and only pedal with the other. Ideally this is done on the trainer to begin with, once you are competent you can take this drill on the road with you.

Computer on Bike– If you are using a Garmin it needs to be mounted on your bike so you can see it. Having it on your wrist is useless to you because you can’t see your cadence and HR. You can mount watches on your handlebars or aerobars with all sorts of gadgets or you can put a piece of pipe insulation on your handle bars and wrap your watch around that. Simple, easy and cheap.

Under-seat tool bag– carry 1-2 spare tires and C02 cartridges with you at all times along with tire levers and an Alan wrench. Don’t know how to change your tire? Carry this stuff anyway and make some time to learn how to change your tire!

Nutrition General Rules for cycling– I am normally looking for 1 bottle of fluids per hour. I recommend being able to carry at least 3 bottles with you for training (1 water and 2 sports drink). If you can’t this is something that is easy and cheap to add




*You might laugh but I get a lot of questions about what Easy, Medium and Hard mean which is why I included them below. I am sure I will add to this as the year goes but I thought many of you might find this helpful


Easy – this means SLOW, So for example if you usually average 9 min pace on your runs, then this should be at 9:30 or even 10 min pace. Your Grandma should be able to run with you! Seriously, I know this one is hard for most to master but you HAVE to learn how to run slow so that you can run fast.

Medium – this means it is a little bit of an effort, but very sustainable. If we take the example from above and your average pace is usually 9 min on your runs then this might be an 8:30 or 8:45. Just a slightly different gear.

Hard – This should make you feel like you are doing something. Usually I would think of my race pace as “hard”. So if your 5K race pace is 7:30, then “hard” efforts should be around that. If you haven’t raced enough to know what your 5K pace is a hard effort should make you breathe really hard and get your heart pumping. During an effort like this you are NOT chatting with your friends. This will hurt a little, that is how you know you are doing it right.

WU– warm-up, every workout has one, if it isn’t written out, it is still implied

CD– cool down, every workout has one, even if it isn’t stated, it is implied

Zones– this refers to HR zones, usually 1,2,3,4,5 with 1 being an easy and 5 being all out. I don’t use these often in workouts, but occasionally you will see them.

Tempo– Going back to the example from above with the 5K pace being 7:30. If I am asking for “tempo” I want a harder/sustainable effort. Depending on how long or hard I will often specify what I am looking for but usually when I call for “tempo” I am looking for a little slower than your next race pace but still a pretty hard effort. So if you need a number it would be 7:45 based on our example.

Race Pace– your HR and your race pace should both be what they are when you race. Following the example above that would be a 7:30.

Race Pace +- this is FASTER than race pace, usually only 10 seconds or so but enough to make it challenging. This would be a 7:20 pace based on the above example

Race Pace MINUS 10 seconds – this is the SAME as above. Yes, sometimes I have different way of saying things. Mostly it comes from writing workouts over many years and changing the descriptions

Strides – these are sprint FORM ONLY not sprint pace. Strides promote good form, picking up knees, using your arms and keeping a still upper body. I recommend doing these on grass

Sprints– only done after a really good warm-up. This is just like a stride BUT you want to have some speed in here too. 

Butt Kicks– just a drill where your foot comes up and kicks your butt while you are running

High Knees– getting up on your toes and picking the knees up high almost like marching while running. Just a drill to practice picking up your knees and getting more on your forefoot


Skipping– yes, just like a little kid. This is a great way to work on glute strength and drive. A fun drill to add into the mix.


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