Ep. 1 Project ZENdurance: Brett Blankner’s Quest to Triathlon Glory

April 10, 2015

BrettWe’re debuting a new series on Endurance Planet featuring Brett Blankner of Zen and the Art of Triathlon “hiring” Tawnee as his coach to see if she can help him achieve his goals in long-course triathlon racing. Consider it a bit like a reality triathlon if you will.

Brett is the “everyman” athlete and represents the same trials and tribulations that nearly every endurance athlete and triathlete faces at some point. He’s been racing for years and is very experienced; however, he has many unfulfilled dreams and keeps missing his goals. In particular: he finally wants to nail the run, nail nutrition (and diet!), and go sub-10 in an ironman. This year, he’s training for IM Texas and UltraMan…. and more for 2016.

It’s Tawnee’s task to figure out where the “holes” are in his training, lifestyle and diet and see if she can recommend the right changes for better performance on race day.

The kicker: Since Brett since he’s so experienced finding out “what’s wrong” gets a bit trickier.

So, on this series you will go inside our coaching conversations and what it’s like inside of a real coach-athlete relationship. Including snapshots inside Brett’s life such as his food log (see below).

On this first show we talk general training, burnout on running from doing and ultra and getting back to it, structuring run training, and A LOT on diet, and the art + science of coaching an athlete.

Brett’s Food Log:



2 cups of coffee one with half-and-half together with butter

Raisin bran cereal with coconut milk

Early AM Run

Fuel – Salty water with just a little bit honey

fish oil capsules, probiotics

Handful of almonds

Tiny piece of a Kind bar, left over from yesterday.

Handful of hatch pepper chips.

Bacon egg and Asiago cheese bagel from Panera, then most of another bagel (whole grain) with veggie cream cheese. Coffee

Bike ride and run

Banana chips protein bar coffee pasta with olive oil and sausage some chips egg and cheese bagel about a third of one Half of a diet Coke

More pasta. Didn’t eat enough on bike ride and run, which is a rarity. This doesn’t usually happen. Maybe food logging results in lower calories by accident. Cool with it. Accidents happen. Fistful of spinach and carrots for salad, no dressing.

Late evening – Small bowl of hummus.


Raisin bran cereal with coconut milk

1.5 scrambled eggs with some cheese and salsa


Fish oil capsules, probiotics

4 hour bike ride and run. 10 to 2 pm. – Packed 290 calories per hour, but only averaged 200 to 210 calories per hour. Didn’t want more and felt fine. Wondering if this has to do with better metabolism from all the fat I’ve been eating.

230 pm – Drank leftover fuel, IPA ale, small serving of pasta with tomato sauce with some ham, and some cashews. Felt totally normal and like fueling was spot on. Not really that hungry, which is very interesting (good fueling!)

4 pm – half of a Kind bar while waiting for Kai’s haircut.

5pm – Gourmet hamburger on wheat with lots of veggies (onion, jalapeno, lettuce, avocado) and small serving of gourmet fries. SO GOOD!


4:45 am – Coffe, Raisin bran cereal with coconut milk, handful of cashews, fish oil pills, probiotics


Banana, Kind bar


Late breakfast – KungPao chicken frozen dinner with lots of veggies and I added some cashews

Amrita bar

Lunch – half of Freebirds burrito (beans, guacamole, peppers and onions, pico, beans, rice, steak)

3:30 Pm – other half of burrito

4:30 – Cashews and an apple

5:30 – small amount of turkey, pasta, mozzarella, and hummus. (had to run to tri club meeting).

7:30 pm – IPA ale, pb and j on Ezekiel bread.



4:40 am – raisin bran with coconut milk


6 am bike ride. Honey and maltodextrin sips as needed.

7 am made green smoothie to drink throughout the day – kale, carrots, banana, olive oil, hemp protein powder, chia seeds, macca powder, apple juice to sweeten.

8 am – Handfull of cashews.

9 am – Chicken Korma frozen dinner. Hungry! That should do the trick.

11 am – Peanut butter and jelly on ezekiel bread.

Lunch run

2:30 pm – finished off green smoothie

3 pm – Cashews.

3:30 – Diet coke.

3:50 – Small green apple. Yum!

4:45 – Popsicle (hungry, what was available at work)

6 pm – Chili with beans, cornbread, cheese, cantaloupe.

Coffee. Yum.

7:18 pm – Half a pb and j on ezekiel bread.

8:30 pm – Small amount of chips and hummus.

Tawnee’s (quick & brief) recommendations:

-Raisin bran (replace with avocado/high fat fuel if breakfast. or depending on the day something like sweet potato, roasted kabocha squash, plaintains, green bananas, etc)
– Bagels and cream cheese
– Chips
– Frozen meals (ah!)
– roasted/salted nuts (raw organic only!)
– NO SODAS ever (diet or otherwise)

– pasta (choose GF instead, or swap with rice, quinoa, etc)
– sandwiches (try open faced? and add more fat i.e. avocado for calories), or replace with a wrap instead
– PB (almond or another nut butter instead)

Eat strategically:
– burritos
– bread (choose quality options life Ezekiel, Sourdough, gluten free, etc)
– chili/cornbread – really depends on quality of ingredients.

Ok, IMO:
– ezekiel bread
– sourdough
– paleo cereals
– nut butters but not PB

– more veggies, greens especially but all are good. we’ll want to monitor reactions to FODMAPs. if they give you gas we may have to have you seek out a prof to test gut health. veggies inherently aren’t the culprit for causing gas, and they are needed!
– good fats (fatty fish like sardines and salmon, avocado, coconut oil, MCT oil, grassfed butter, quality olive oil, avocado oil, raw nuts/seeds, bacon, animal fats, grassfed beef with fat, etc)
– organic, pasture-raised, grassfed, no-hormone added quality meats only (no conventional)
– some stevia/honey for sweeteners
– MAP 

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