Kim is a Midwest transplant that brings a strong physical training and nutrition background with her. Her credentials as a nutritionist come from her undergraduate studies at Illinois State University and her graduate studies at Florida State University. She can help you build a solid race day nutrition plan but don't blink as she may fly by you on the race course with her lightening fast running abilities. If you don't believe that just look up some of her running times. Ladies & Gentlemen our Athlete of the Week: Kim Mueller.
KK: Please tell our readers a little bit about yourself. Where did you grow up? What is your education and athletic background?
KM: I grew up in suburban Chicago (Naperville) playing quite the variety of organized sport including softball, swimming, cross country, soccer, and basketball as well a bit of rough and tumble with my 2 brothers and dad if that counts as a sport ( :. My passion was always soccer which I started at age 3 and played at a club and Varsity level until college where I made the decision to run cross country & track although I still played and still do play soccer at a more recreational level.
KM: My athletic participation at both Illinois State University (undergraduate, graduate) and Florida State University (graduate) served as a nice outlet for my research interests which focused on the effect that physical training and nutrition has on overall health and sport performance. It also solidified my interest in becoming a Registered Dietitian specializing in the area of sports nutrition. My BS degree is in Dietetics whereas my MS degree is in exercise physiology/sports nutrition.
KK: Why did you pick nutrition as a career?
KM: I originally had plans on becoming a storm chaser (serious weather geek) but decided that I didn't want to move to Kansas! Truthfully, though, I have always been fascinated about what affects the human body with respect to health and performance so the field of sports nutrition seemed like the perfect means to apply the latest science on my own athletic endeavors as well as reach out and help others which never gets old!
KK: You are very well known in the San Diego running and triathlon community, for your nutrition services. Please tell us about this.
KM: It is very flattering to be recognized for something I absolute loves, helping fellow athletes achieve their unique fitness goals through application of the latest in nutritional science. I honestly didn't know one person when I moved out to San Diego post-grad school in 2000 to finish up a clinical internship in Dietetics but my personality is not one to sit back and be submissive so I immediately became actively involved with the athletic community in San Diego, starting with San Diego Track Club and later branching out to TCSD, CAF, Team in Training, USA Fit, Vavi, YMCA, Moms in Motion to name a few. Living in San Diego has been such a dream between the awesome weather and the amazing athletes and industry leaders you get to meet on essentially a daily basis. This no doubt has served as a launching pad for Fuel Factor and has also lead to opportunities with Infinit Nutrition, with whom I am part-owner and staff nutritionist for, national speaking engagements as well as recognition as an author for Competitor, Triathlete, Her Fitness, Peak Running Performance and latest appointment as an author for esteemed publisher Human Kinetics.
KK: How important is nutrition and hydration while training and racing?
KM: For many, nutrition is the missing piece of the performance puzzle, especially those looking to achieve specific goals, such as body fat loss or correction of a blood nutrient deficiency, as they prepare for various athletic events. Contrary to what many believe, there is a lot more nutritional science behind optimal performance than downing a bit of sports drink or gel while in-motion.
KK: Is nutrition awareness more important for an athlete versus non athletes?
KM: I wouldn't downgrade the importance of nutrition for any population; the immense amount of disease prevalent in this world speaks to this. Those engaged in sport training merely have different nutritional needs than their inactive counterpart.
KK: Is there a simple formula that our readers can use to figure out their nutrition needs?
KM: A concept that I am passionate about in business is custom nutrition, whether it be day-to-day menu planning, goal-focused nutrition coaching, or race day nutrition planning. There are a plethora of equations that are used to help estimate nutritional needs (e.g., Harris-Benedict, Katch-McCardle) but I find that simply knowing an estimate of daily calorie needs does not provide enough of a nutrition framework to allow for optimal health and peak performance. For example, an athlete who discovers they need to eat 2100 calories won't perform their best if they are living off of energy bars and pizza or on the flip-side avoiding certain food groups as part of a trendy fad diet.
KK: When is the right time to seek out nutritional help? Is based on personal requirements or is come down to the distance of the events you are participating in?
KM: I believe every athlete can benefit from nutrition coaching regardless of what events they may be training for. We all invest a lot of time and money in training and have our own unique fitness goals so at the end of the day, this investment should equate to health and performance rewards but often times it does not due to ignorance on the nutrition front. As a whole, day-to-day nutrition as well as race day nutrition can impact an athlete regardless of what distance the race entails.
KK: Is there a difference between the nutrition and hydration requirements on the bike versus the run?
KM: In general, nutrition tolerance (calories, protein, solids) is higher on the bike versus the run since our muscles tend to consume slightly less oxygen making more available for digestion of nutrients. Furthermore, running jars the stomach, making consumption of solids, protein, and higher calorie counts even more difficult not to mention the 'how-to-carry' factor. On the flipside, hydration needs tend to be lower on the bike versus run again due to higher heart rate averages on the run and the fact that temperatures tend to rise as a race carries on.
KM: It is important to note that there is a cap to absorption on all nutrients consumed while racing, including water, making nutritional planning essential for each individual athlete. Furthermore, what is appropriate nutritionally for one athlete may spell disaster for another which is why custom nutrition is so important. These are all things I address and help out with when creating custom menu plans, custom race day nutrition plans, and custom sports drinks with Infinit Nutrition.
KK: Here at Finishline-Multisport.com, our goal is to help our sports keep growing. If you would, what are some simple nutrition tips that would help someone just getting starting in either running or triathlon?
KM: A good starting point is to check out Competitor.com and search for articles under my name. Below, I provide 3 simple tips for all athletes, beginner to experienced.
As I mentioned earlier, what may work nutritionally for one athlete may spell disaster for another making practice with nutrition during training essential to avoid a race day nutrition mishap. Practice with what foods and hydration strategies work best for you pre-workout, on-the-go, and recovery with respect to personal tolerance level and performance.
2. Keep a performance nutrition journal
The only way you'll remember what works for you from a nutritional standpoint is to journal it. I recommend logging pre- and post-workout weight to monitor hydration, pre-workout meal, the quantity and type of food and liquid consumed during the workout, post-workout nutrition, and finally rank how the workout went on a scale of 1-10. On days you feel outstanding, make a note of your nutrition plan that day and see if the positive outcome repeats itself. If so, you have nutrition option #1 for race day! Other relevant performance variables that you may consider logging include hours slept, resting heart rate, and daily nutrition.
3. Stay consistent.
Just like with training, nutrition consistency is key. In fact, most research suggests that it takes a good 6 weeks of consistent practice with a new behavior for that behavior to become a healthy lifestyle change and ultimately have a positive impact on your health and performance.
KK: What are some of your personal sports accomplishments?
KM: I am proud to have qualified and competed at all the triathlon world championships, qualifying and racing at Hawaii IM in 2004, representing Team USA at the 2005 ITU World Championships, and posting a 4:37 split and finishing 7th in the world in my age group at the 70.3 World Championships in 2006. I took a bit of a sabbatical in 2007 due to injuring my shoulder and having surgery to correct it but returned in 2008 to finish 12th overall with a 3:04:01 at Rock and Roll San Diego Marathon and 2nd overall amateur with a 4:40 at SOMA Half Ironman.
KK: Have you ever had to overcome any major setbacks or injuries in your sporting career? If so how did you overcome them?
KM: Late in 2007, I injured my left shoulder and required surgery to correct a SLAP and BANKART lesion and shredded bicep. To fully recover from this surgery, I spent the first 6 months of 2008 rehabbing with the awesome PT's at Rehab United (www.rehabunited.com) all the meanwhile I was trying to train for Rock and Roll San Diego Marathon. Smart training (physical therapy and 3 runs a week) combined with a sound recovery-based nutrition plan allowed me to come back and post an 8-minute marathon PR, 3:04:01, and garnish the Mayor's Trophy for top San Diego female.
KK: Do you have a specific meal that you have to do before every race?
KM: Over the past 5 years, my go-to pre-race meal has been a Pure Fit Nutrition bar (www.purefit.com) washed down with a blend of 12 ounces Diet Mountain Dew (my version of coffee) and 4 ounces 100% juice and 1 Salt Stick electrolyte capsule (www.saltstick.com) 2 hours prior to gun and then I sip on 16-20 ounces of my custom Infinit sports drink (www.infinitnutrition.com) during the final hour leading up to race start. It's easy and provides an optimal level of carbohydrate (~100 grams) to restore my blood sugars and top off my liver glycogen stores, protein (~20 grams) to help provide a feeling of satiation without being too heavy on the stomach, calories (just under 600) to carry me through the first hour of a race, sodium (~1 gram) to boost blood volume and protect against premature muscle fatigue, and fluids to ensure my urine is running pale yellow to ensure adequate hydration status before starting.
KK: How do our readers contact you for nutrition help and advice?
Kim Mueller, MS, RD
Fuel Factor Nutrition
Cell: (858) 337-3612
Kim Mueller, MS, RD
Cell: (858) 337-3612