Pre-Race Schedule


We all want to improve on our past performance, continue to grow as athletes and achieve greater things.  I recognized quite a long time ago that if I want to improve my performance as an Ironman I must identify three things; 1) my weaknesses and how I am going to improve them, 2) what pre races I will be doing in order to assess my progress, and 3) how to structure my training so as to gain the most out of every effort.  In my last blog post, I defined my weaknesses and the plans to overcome them.  Today I wanted to outline my pre-race structure.

Pre-Race Schedule – This is tricky because triathlon and winter do not mix well!  But the current race prep schedule is as follows:

  1. I will schedule a simulation Olympic distance race in February. The Olympic distance is 1500m swim, 40km bike and 10km run.  I will be in Florida for a week as I manage a crew of 4 people supporting one out of 50 athletes through Ultraman Florida.  Afterwards, I will take one morning to myself and do a simulation Olympic triathlon.  You have to maximize every moment you have!
  2. Track Cycling Provincial Championships in February – This will give me an opportunity to test my bike fitness, speed, confidence and focus. I will be racing in several individual and group events.
  3. I plan on racing Around the Bay 30km in March to test out my nutrition and pacing on the run. This run will likely be done after a hard bike ride the day before.

That is pretty much it!  The plan might change slightly in order to accommodate any unforeseen incidents or to capture some opportunities should they arise.  In an ideal situation, I would complete a half ironman race 6-8 weeks before my Ironman.  But traveling down south yet again this spring is possible.  While it is not ideal to schedule a spring Ironman living so far north, it is completely possible.  You must learn to love the treadmill and indoor bike training.  Lucky for me, I love riding on the velodrome.  I will continue to do so, but it will not be my own form of bike training in preparation for Ironman.

Some of you may be wondering; considering the length of the winters we have will I even be able to get outsides and do a long ride before April 22nd.  Likely, I will not.  Which means I will be doing 4-5hour bike rides on my trainer, and sandwich it between rides on the track in order to give me some variety.  I came to terms with this when I first registered for Ironman Texas.  I knew what I was getting myself into and accepted it.  That is very important when deciding which Ironman to do.  I choose Texas because it has the exact race profile that I desire and that I am the strongest at.  As a result, I have to conform to the demands of the training associated with a spring Ironman.  I want this, so I am going to push through hell for it.


Stephanie Nogueira,

Registered Physiotherapist

Dynamic Health and Performance


Amp up your brain health!

Have you ever had a huge exam you weren’t prepared for, and you thought that maybe eating a square of dark chocolate, or having a piece of salmon would help your brain to recall and retain information? Well, you’re not TOO far off with that thought. The way we fuel our body is the way we fuel our brains. Brain food is a real thing! Not only will the way you eat improve memory, clear thinking, brain energy, brain mood but it also proven to improve mental health and decrease psychiatric disorders. Food production and manufacturing techniques, coupled with changing lifestyles and increasing access to processed foods, mean that our intake of fresh, nutritious, local produce is much lower, at the same time as our intake of fat, sugar, alcohol and additives being much higher. It is no wonder that 1/5 Canadians will suffer from a mental illness, and children’s mental disorders such as ADD/ADHD, OCD, anxiety etc. are more prominent.


It’s not only what you eat that will have an effect on your brain health but the health of your gut! For example, serotonin a major brain neurotransmitter that is responsible for regulating sleep and appetite, mediate your mood and inhibit pain is produced in your gastrointestinal tract. Your gastrointestinal tract is lined with a hundred million nerve cells, or neurons, it makes sense that the inner workings of your digestive system don’t just help you digest food, but also guide your emotions.

Foods to consider incorporating into your daily diet to improve your gut health and amp up your brain health:

  1. Fatty Fish
  2. Whole Grains
  3. Lean Protein, Avoid red meat
  4. Leafy Greens
  5. Yogurt with active probiotics


Olivia Harty

Identify Your Weaknesses


“Identify Your Weaknesses”

This is what I thought to myself last week during one of my long runs.  What do I need to do differently, or better this time around in order to achieve what I want to achieve at Ironman Texas.  This is my seventh Ironman after all, and with that comes experience in success and more importantly, experience in failure.  I continue to fine-tune my approach to racing and my training plan based on past successes and failures; identifying what worked and what didn’t and analyzing how I can improve.  In order to do so I have to identify three simple yet complex issues, 1) what weaknesses are hindering me from achieving my goal at IM Texas; 2) What pre-race races will I insert into the next five months of training to test out my progress; and 3) how do I need to structure my training to get the most out of every effort I make?  Let us focus on point #1 for today.

  • Weaknesses:


I am not fast at all!  But, I am steady.  In 2014, while training for Ironman Mont Tremblant, I swam consistently three days a week.  These swims would consist of a mixture of drills, intervals, and endurance sets, and no swim workout was less then 2200m.  I was fully invested in improving my stroke and no matter what; I would never skip a swim workout.  I was in the zone!

The same was done in 2015 for IM Mont Tremblant and IM Florida.  My swimming was strong and I was pleased.  In 2016, my focus was lacking and I found myself swimming twice a month at best.  I didn’t have a race goal and it resulted in a loss of motivation and focus.  A combination of health issues and injuries made it even harder to even want to get back in the pool.  With no direction my swimming eventually began to suffer.  Big time!

By committing to improve I am focused on consistent investment and dedication that will re-establish my swimming skill to 2014/15 levels.  Identifying that we all need help from time to time has led me to join a masters swim team once a week to help me stay focused on my form, and I have scheduled two weekly solo swims to build my speed and stamina.


As I discussed in my previous blog, maintaining a consistent pace and effort in my run is a big goal for me.  I was able to achieve that at the marathon I raced in October.  However, keeping a steady pace during the run of an Ironman is an entirely different beast than it is during a marathon.  The fatigue in your legs and mind becomes exponentially larger.  Quieting thoughts and feelings of fatigue and struggle requires you to look deep into yourself to find strength you never thought was there.  As a result, I will schedule some difficult brick workouts within my training plan that will consist of a long negative split bike ride, followed by a mid distance tempo run.  Basically, running near threshold for 12-15km immediately after doing a 130-150km bike ride where the back half is faster then the front half.  If you are wondering…yes, I do consider this to be fun!  ☺


Many athletes will say that your nutrition strategy is the most important part of a triathlon.  For me, my run nutrition needs to be fine-tuned.  By practicing what type of nutrition to take in and at what intervals, I will establish a system that won’t wreak havoc on my GI system as I am trying to run the marathon.  For me, this has always been the greatest issue in Ironman.  I have difficulties taking in my run nutrition without becoming nauseated.  Due to the hours of constant physical effort, your GI system is not working at its greatest capacity.  A great majority of your blood supply is shunted towards your extremities and away from your stomach.  As a result, digestion becomes impaired.  Considering the very weak stomach I have, ingestion of anything besides fluid leads to an overwhelming stomach upset that stops me dead in my tracks.  When you are in the middle of a race…stopping is not an option and anything that makes you do so must be solved.

The nutrition strategy I used during the October Marathon worked incredibly well.  I will aim at doing the same for Ironman Texas marathon.  However, because I will already be depleted to a degree once I come off the bike, I will tweak this strategy slighting in order to accommodate.

Run nutrition will be as follows:  Diluted gatorade (50/50 mix) throughout the race, I will not carry my fuel belt and solely rely on the aid stations throughout the run course to provide me with my fluids.  The additional pressure of the fuel belt around my waist will only worsen the nausea should it manifest.  I will supplement with GU Salted Caramel and Chocolate flavours, taking 1/2 a gel every 5-7km (I give myself a little bit of wiggle room hear depending on how I feel).  I will further supplement with 1 Eload salt pill at x5 strength, every half hour.  I sweat a lot, as this is needed considering the strength of the Texas heat.  As with everything else, this nutrition strategy will be practiced and fine tuned.

I will speak further about my entire race nutrition strategy in a later blog, but considering this is a weakness area for me that I must plan and prepare for, I wanted to touch on it slightly today.

Though difficult to admit at time, we all have our weaknesses and hurdles to overcome at any stage of the race.  Its how you plan and prepare for it that will determine if you overcome or succumb to the end result.

I choose to overcome!

Stephanie Nogueira

Registered Physiotherapist

MYTH BUSTER: Margarine or butter?


There is a lot of misinformation out there on the internet, TV commercials and even some magazines. The food industry likes to plant these ideas of “health foods” into our heads in order to sell their products, but in reality most of the time the products they’ve created are actually harmful to our bodies. There comes a time when we need to trust the cow over the chemist and comparing butter to margarine is one of those times.

Margarine is a man-made, highly processed product that uses vegetable oils, colorants, emulsifiers and a myriad of other artificial ingredients. Let’s focus on the vegetable oil. Vegetable oil is usually liquid at room temperature, so in order to get it into that nice spreadable soft margarine, we need to actually hydrogenate this oil. Hydrogenation also allows the product to have an extended shelf-life. But, when we hydrogenate this oil we are actually turning the fat from the oil into trans fat which our bodies don’t recognize! Also this involves exposing the oils to high heat, high pressure, hydrogen gas and a metal catalyst. YUCK!

Butter however is made by churning the fatty portion of cow’s milk until its butter. THAT’S IT! Now you may be saying, but I heard butter has a high amount of saturated fat and cholesterol which are bad for my heart health. Over the past few years there have been many studies that actually show no association between saturated fat, cholesterol and heart disease.

Eating saturated fats actually improves the blood lipid profile. It raises HDL (the “good”) cholesterol and changes the LDL from small, dense LDL (very bad) to large LDL, which is benign.

Lastly, butter actually offers us a lot of our fat soluble vitamins! These are vitamins A, E and a special one called K2. If we are eating a well balanced diet of plant and animal foods, you are probably getting enough vitamin A and E, but vitamin K2 is fairly rare in the modern diet and many people don’t know about it! Vitamin K2 is involved in calcium metabolism and a low intake has been associated with diseases such as CVD, cancer, and osteoporosis!

In summary, when looking for something to spread on your toast or use in your baking, opt for butter over margarine every time!

Olivia Harty – Nutritionist at Dynamic Health and Performance

“Quiet the mind, quiet the breathing, and this will pass”


The responses I have received over the past two weeks from my Blog Premier have been absolutely heart warming and positive.  I won’t lie, my stomach dropped to my feet when my initial post hit social media.  I still find it scary opening myself up this way.  Vulnerability is not an easy thing to stomach.  So thank you to everyone who approached me with your positive feedback and your words of empowerment and encouragement.  Requests to address certain topics have been abundant.  I have realized this blog might actually turn into a weekly post, fuelled by the passion to share and the interest to learn.

So, as I sit here, sandwiched between this mornings swim and the extremely painful track interval bike ride to come, I am trying find the motivation to get up and go.  I am searching for the motivation that will help keep me focused on the objective of the painful bike ride to come.  We must persistently be establishing our objectives before embarking on any training session.  This is a constant search and a constant effort. That key objective or purpose, is our driving force to moving forward in training.  Without it I firmly believe failure will be at journeys end.  Let me explain what I mean by this.

Leading up to the marathon I raced two weeks ago, training consisted of three to four runs per week; two to three swim sessions and one recovery bike session.  It was a progressive build from running 45km per week, to 80-85km per week. Every training session before heading out the door I outlined my specific goal for that particular session.  I reminded myself of why I was doing this, what my objective was, and why I have decided to push my body to this degree.

In the early stages of training, when you are well rested, you do not rely on your ‘objectives’ as much as you do when you have 40 km of running in your legs, 6 km of swimming in your arms, and you have a back to back 25km followed by a 30km run the following day.  It becomes daunting, as you know there is more building to come.  You are exhausted from the physically demanding workday, your body aches, and your mind and body are simply drained of its stamina.  But you made a choice.

Fatigue resistance is ultimately the name of the game.  This is what you signed up for!  Being able to push yourself through the times you are exhausted, drained and simply want to give in.  But you can’t.  You will not.  Therefore, having that objective becomes the keystone to how you are going to push through it.

In every race, you will face that same moment.  The moment pain becomes too much to bear.  Exhaustion overcomes you and all your brain can hear is the screaming of your consciousness saying, “STOP, for goodness sake, please STOP”!  At that moment your purpose, that objective you established before heading out the door, before signing up for the race is the only thing you have to carry your next steps forward.

During the marathon, my objective was to stay constant from beginning to end.  No matter what presented itself, no matter how sore I became, or what nagging ache may have ensured, it would pass and I would still be standing.  So during the run, I would say to myself “quiet your mind, quiet your breathing”.  I know very well that a talkative mind can easily talk you out of any painful experience.  It is easier to give in to the pain of a marathon and walk for a bit.  But that was not my objective.  My objective was to stay constant and ‘constant’ did not entail walking or giving in.  The body is stronger then the mind thinks…so “quiet the mind, quiet the breathing and this will pass”.  Saying that over and over again reminded me of my objective.  And no matter what, I was not going to give in.

Now think of it the other way.  Going into a race without clearly stating your purpose and goals, and you may find it difficult to get from it what you want.  If you have an objective, and the guts to fight for it, I firmly believe you will never fail.  Apply this to every day, training or not.  Wake up and say to the world your objective for the day.  Establish that driving force that will push you through the difficulties to come, because you know they will appear.  As simple or complex as your goal may be, it does not matter.  Have one, because successfully achieving your goals feels really good.

Stephanie Nogueira

Registered Physiotherapist

No matter what happens, I will still be standing.

Ironman Texas 2017 – Blog Premiere


I am truly not one for sharing any details regarding myself, especially when it comes to my race objectives, time goals, race strategy, etc.  I am very confidential regarding those details, and that will not change.  However, inquiring minds will always ask those deep rooted questions about why you race Ironman, what it entails and how you overcome the pain, exhaustion and relentless desire to simply stop.  They are definitely not easy questions to answer.  Every athlete has a different purpose, different ways of overcoming the pain and exhaustion to overcoming and persevering.  That is what all-inquiring minds find contagious.  Your story of overcoming is one that everyone wants to hear.  It’s the story told around the campfire that captivates and grips everyone attention.  I have always said, ‘everyone is capable, Ironman, Half Ironman, Sprint…whatever the goal.  Everyone is capable of achieving.  The only think you have to learn to overcome, is yourself’.  And the story of self-triumph is the motivation that others want to hear and draw from.  The energy you portray, the motivation and positivity you embody is the driving force that can empower anyone.

On April 22nd, 2017, I will be competing in my seventh Ironman triathlon.  Why do I tell you this? Because I want to show you how anything is truly possible.  Over the next six months I will be posting a biweekly blog taking you as the reader through my training towards Ironman # 7.  Through this journey, you will read about the ups and downs of training.  There will be tips and pointers on nutrition, training program structure, strength building, the importance of establishing a strong foundation, how to overcome pain, and break through the mental and physical exhaustion.  As with any endurance training, there will likely be some minor injuries that will ensue (it comes with the territory).  I will outline the strategies and treatment plans taken to overcome these and how to further prevent injury while maintain your training.  I am also happy to speak on any other topics you would like to read about.  Who knows, maybe I will explain what happened in Ironman # 3, and how that completely changed my training and my outlook on pain.

I have a lot to share.  And I want to share it.  I am hoping through this I can help answer some questions, shed some light on a topic, or maybe help someone overcome their own road blocks.  Training for any goal however big or small, is not easy.  But then again anything worth fighting for is not easy.  I am just another person who has raced Ironman that simply wants to share the journey in a hope of helping someone, or empowering another.  So I hope you enjoy the journey as much as I.

I just finished racing the Scotiabank Toronto Marathon on Sunday October 16th.  So, I am currently on recovery week.  To follow will be a slow progressive return to base training of my swim and bike, and a maintenance phase for my run.  So, I open up the floor to you guys, let me know in the comments below if there is something in particular you want me to touch base on.  I would love to hear your stories as well.

Safe training,


Stephanie Nogueira

Registered Physiotherapist

Dynamic Health and Performance


“In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take”