How I Became A Faster Runner

How I Became A Faster Runner | Kirsten McCayI wanted to share this for those of you who are new to running or struggle with it. It gets easier and you will get faster!!! I started running in 1999 when I decided to try a triathlon. I hated it, it was hard, and I was slow. The worst part was that I was an aerobics instructor so I was actually in good shape, at a normal weight, and in my late 20s. Running should have been easy for me, or so I thought.

After my first tri (the run was 2 miles) I was hooked on triathlon, but still rarely ran because I didn’t enjoy it. In 2001 I decided to sign up for an ironman distance triathlon where I would have to run a marathon. I decided I better start running!!!

After 10 years of racing I still didn’t like running, but I was slowly (emphasis on slowly) getting faster. Some seasons I did a little speed work, some seasons I ran more miles per week, some seasons I did stepmill and hills, some seasons I ran mostly on the treadmill, but all seasons I kept running. Other than a 2 year break, I have been consistently running between 10-60 miles a week. My average I would say is 25 a week over the past 19 seasons of triathlon.

This year I have PRd my 5k, 10k, half marathon, and ironman marathon. And last night I just PRd the mile. Before last night my fastest mile was 6:04 in 2005. Last night, 12 years later at the same race, I ran. 5:52. I am 44 years old and am still getting faster. And I can finally say, after 19 years of running, that I finally like running.

The 4 things in my opinion that have helped me get faster this year are:

1. Last year I lost 10 pounds and this year I lost an additional 5.

2. 3 years ago I became 100% plant based so my body recovers more quickly so I can train longer and harder more consistently. This year I am eating more raw foods which are nutrient dense and low on inflammation.

3. I race as much as possible to learn how hard I can push my body before I crack.

4. I now have confidence as a runner so I can start a race a little harder and with a faster group pushing me to go faster to keep up.

So if you’re struggling, if it’s hard, if you hate it but want to like it, stick with it. Once it’s easier for you, you will enjoy it more. Once you enjoy it more, you will do it more often, and in return get faster!!!

One last thing…

You need a good reason to want to run or you won’t lace up or get out of bed at the crack of dawn or head outside after a long work day. Why do you run? Why do you want to be a runner? Figure it out and make sure it’s a compelling reason, like at least an 8 on a scale from 1-10.

I want to be able to compete at a high level in my age group in triathlon. On a scale from 1-10 that’s a 10 on importance to me. So I get up and get running so that I can accomplish that!!

What is your reason to run????

Hope this helps any of you struggling today!

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I am a Plant Powered Athlete

I am a Plant Powered Athlete | Vegan Vegetarian TriathlonI have been a vegetarian for the past 36 years, a vegan for the past 3 years, and an athlete my entire life.

Since becoming a vegan 3 years ago and finally giving up dairy, I have gotten stronger and faster as an athlete. I recover more quickly so I can train more, I don’t have the GI problems I used to have while training and racing, and I have lost weight, have overall more energy, and am more focused on being a triathlete.

Last week I had a friend who I have known for about 5 years ask me to coach her in triathlon and nutrition for her first ironman. She told me she was interested in being more plant-based but is worried that giving up meat while training for an ironman wouldn’t give her enough strength and energy to get through training.

This baffled me because since I have been vegetarian, I have completed 13 ironman distance triathlons AND since becoming vegan, I have completed 2, both of which I PRd and one of which I qualified for the Ironman World Championships. In addition to those accomplishments, as a vegan I have completed 7 marathons in 7 days, I am on day 646 of a bike streak, I have completed a 10K lake swim, and I have PRd in every distance run from 5K to marathon.

So in case anyone else out there was wondering if you can become a successful endurance athlete as a vegan, the answer is YES! I can tell you WITHOUT A DOUBT that becoming 100% vegan has helped me in all areas of my life, especially in my sport.

My goal now is to incorporate more raw foods into my nutrition plan as I feel like this will take my training and racing to the next level. I have been working toward this for the past 2 years and I have my good days/weeks/months and my bad ones…like everything! Baby steps right?!

If you are wondering if you will get enough calories training for an endurance race, feel free to follow me on myfitnesspal. My username is RealResultsRock, to check out my calories, protein etc.

Just as an example, today I ate 4,293 calories (more than I had wanted, I had a little anxiety PB&Jx4 binge this morning) with 108 grams of protein. My goal is around 3,000 calories with 65 grams of protein, which I always reach with no problem. In fact, I have to limit what I eat as I don’t want to make over 4,000 a habit and gain weight.

Join the Veg Club to get custom meal plans and have access to me daily…

If you want to eat plant-based, I have a 7 Day Vegan Challenge here…

A group with thousands of recipes here…

How to transition to a plant-based diet…

And an awesome supportive community here…

I often post my meals here…

And you can reach out to me ANYTIME with questions!!!!

See you SOON!

Race Report: 2017 Ironman Boulder

Race Report - 2017 Ironman BoulderSo two days after I raced Ironman Boulder, I sat down to do my race report. In my head I was just going to give some details about my race, with extra on race day nutrition (because that’s what I was getting the most questions about from my clients, friends, and fellow tri-geeks).

As I started my video, I realized there was so much more to this race than just a swim, bike, and run for me. This was a really important race for my self-worth and confidence and confirmation that I am on the right path in my life.

After 4 months of transition, traveling, life changes, doubts, fears, and constant inner struggles, it all came together on this one long day.

After I finished my report I noticed it was 32 minutes! HOLY CRACKERS! That’s a fricken long ass race report! I was convinced no one would waste 32 minutes of their life to find out what happened in the 10 hours and 55 minutes I spent racing my heart out on June 11, 2017.

I was wrong.

I have received so much love and support about my long race report where I chose to be brave and vulnerable and transparent. When I started to tear up the first time, I was so tempted to turn off the camera and start over, but decided to just feel whatever I was feeling. By the third time, I just let the tears roll down my cheeks.

I am so grateful to have attracted such amazing people into my life! Yes YOU!!! You get me excited for my next adventure in hopes that it will help you get excited about yours!!

If you missed my race report, here it is…

If you don’t want to miss my next one, join our community…

If you want to help me get to Kona, you can help here…

Thanks again for giving me a safe space to be me!


See you soon!

Race Report: 2016 Oceanside 70.3 Triathlon

For those wanting to hear about my AWESOME race I had in Oceanside on April 2, 2016, here is my report…

Here are some of the products I used to assure my race success in Oceanside…

Breakfast w water 2 hours before race start…

ProBar Bolt Energy Chews…ate 45 mins and 15 mins before race start…

Vuka Energy Drink (2 bottles during bike)…

Bing Cherry Drink (1 can during run)…

Salt Stick Caps Plus (was going to take 2 each hour but after the 1st 2, dropped the bag from the bike so didn’t get to try them out)…

Other than what is above, I drank 2 bottles of Gatorade from the course in the last 15 miles of the bike and drank a cup (or 2) of Gatorade on the run course at each mile as soon as my Bing was gone (about mile 6)

Do you need a training or nutrition plan for your next race?

Feel free to contact me at or join our community at…

See you soon!

Race Report: 2016 Oceanside 70.3 Triathlon | For those wanting to hear about my AWESOME race I had in Oceanside on April 2, 2016, here is my report…

My Answers To Your Crazy Swimming Objections

My Answers To Your Crazy Swimming ObjectionsI’ve been writing a book on how to help triathletes swim easier, race faster, and enjoy it more.

In the process I have surveyed hundreds of triathletes and asked them questions to find out how I can best help them love the portion of triathlon that most people struggle to get through.

I have received so many great questions which is confirmation that the book I am writing is NEEDED!

Most who have responded tell me they don’t even like swimming and only do it because it’s part of the triathlon.

Since my book is designed to help triathletes who don’t love to swim learn to tolerate it, or better yet, even enjoy it, I probed further and asked what it is about swimming they dislike so much. Surprisingly, I got answers I was NOT expecting!!

I thought people would say it was too hard, or they were slow, it was boring, or their technique was poor, all of which I will cover in my book. But many could be grouped into the following 5 objections which I will ATTEMPT to answer.

The reason I say “attempt” is because these objections are very personal and require the swimmer to potentially make some changes in their attitude and lifestyle. So I may not be able to help with THESE specific issues…but I’m sure going to try…

1. I hate the smell of chlorine

Hmmmm! Maybe pick a different sport!!

Or…just train/race in the summer (or in a warm climate year around) so you can do all of your training in a lake or ocean. Other than that, maybe you can wear a nose plug. Or eat lots of garlic to overpower the smell of chlorine?

One great thing to look forward to is that fewer and fewer pools are using chlorine, many are moving toward salt water or other chemicals that don’t smell like the old-school chlorine pools.

2. I get too hungry when I swim so I just gain weight because I eat so much afterwards

I learned a trick back in the day from my HS Swim Coach who wanted all the girls to lose weight. I’m sure we were all super fat in High School so it was understandable (UGH!).

He said the reason we get so hungry is because the pool water (typically around 80 degrees) cools our core body temperature so our metabolism increases to get our core body temp up. So his “secret” was to sit in the hot tub, sauna, or steam room immediately following your swim. If you don’t have one available, a long hot shower will help as well. When you are 16, you have time for that.

As an adult, it’s typically ‘get in/get out’ so what I do is immediately after a swim (like IN the shower when I am rinsing off), I drink a healthy meal replacement shake to give my body some protein, carbs, fat, and nutrients which takes the edge off until my next scheduled meal. Plus…standing in the hot shower for several minutes will start to raise my body temp! BONUS!!

3. I don’t like having to take multiple showers in a day

Then don’t. No one says you have to shower after you swim. If you get itchy, do a quick rinse with a swimming soap. If it’s because you care what other people think you may smell or look like, get over it.

You can rinse off and then shower when you get home, at the end of your day, or after your other workouts for the day. For me, showering is one of my favorite calming and self-care activities so I take full advantage of the pool showers (keep in mind I live in an RV so our showers at home are not so calming) so I am more than happy to shower.

And as you read above I drink my lunch in a matter of minutes while IN the shower, so apparently I would rather spend a few extra minutes in the shower than eating a meal. Priorities!

4. It takes too long to do my hair and make-up after I swim

This is a great time to simplify your life and change up your look at the same time! I’m a little biased because I think 100% of people look better with no make-up and natural hair. If you know me, I typically toss on a hat, but I know most people can’t do that, especially if you are heading to work or a business meeting.

I find when I put my hair in a loose ponytail on top of my head and then take it down right before I get to where I need to be, I have a wavy cute hair style. There are also fun and tasteful ways to wear a low pony or bun that take only minutes to produce and look very nice and professional.

And if you MUST wear make-up, I’m sure there are 2-3 stoplights in between your pool and your office!!

5. It gets so expensive when I have to buy swimsuits constantly

Now this IS a valid excuse! I typically go through a suit every 2 months. I’ve done some experimenting with this and no matter how EXPENSIVE a suit I get, they all last about the same amount of swims for me.

So here’s my solution…I buy the cheapest possible suit I can find. I order all my suits from and I search women’s competition suits and then order them by price.

Personally I get 2 piece suits because they fit me better (I have a long torso and my top is much smaller than my bottom) and I can typically get the entire suit for around $10. Yes, they may be mismatched, yes I have had some seriously ugly designs, but for $10 I’m not complaining!!

I’m not saying you HAVE to have an ugly suit to save money, my current one is SUPER cute and was on sale last month. Top was $5, bottom was $8, pink and camo…WINNING!! I bought 2 of each!


I sincerely hope these answers help you at least CONSIDER swimming more often or help you enjoy it more.

Swimming is an amazing sport because you can do it your ENTIRE life. I used to be a lifeguard and I remember every morning, M-F at 5am, a taxi would pull up in front of the Y and a little old lady would slowly climb out. Using her walker she would make her way through the front door, into the locker room and eventually into the pool area. It would take her 30 minutes to finally get into the pool, but as soon as she did she was a machine. She would swim non-stop for 30 minutes. I was so impressed, especially when I found out she was 93 years old! AWESOME!!!

If you are looking for FUN workout ideas, join our swimming community at…


Fitness : Why it took me 13 years to make it to the island of Hawaii

Fitness : Why it took me 13 years to make it to the island of HawaiiYes, it took me 13 years to get to Kona!

I guess I could have just bought a plane ticket and traveled to the 50th state at any time during my adult life, but that’s not how I wanted to get over there. I wanted to qualify for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, HI that goes on every year in October.

Let me back up a few years. Here is a brief recap of my life as a triathlete…

  • 1999: Did my first sprint distance triathlon and was hooked
  • 2001: Did my first ironman distance triathlon and was hooked
  • 2001: Watched the airing of the Ironman World Championships on TV and wanted to BE there
  • 2002: First year I trained with the ambition to earn a qualifying slot (typically top 2-3 in each age group for women)
  • 2002: Placed 22nd in qualifying race
  • 2003: Placed 28th in qualifying race
  • 2004: Placed 45th in qualifying race
  • 2005: Placed 22nd and 28th in qualifying races
  • 2006: Placed 29th in qualifying race
  • 2007-2009: Took a break from racing altogether
  • 2010: Placed 38th in qualifying race
  • 2011: Placed 31st in qualifying race
  • 2012: Broke collar bone and had to forfeit qualifying race ☹

2013: Placed 3rd in qualifying race and EARNED A SLOT IN HAWAII!!!

So as you can see, it took me 12 years to earn my slot into the Ironman World Championships in Kona, HI. And what an AMAZING road it was! I’m not by nature a patient person, but it makes sense to me why it took so long.

I am naturally an average athlete. I am very active, love competing, have been in sports since I was about 6 years old, am obsessed with nutrition and exercise, and was a full time personal trainer and fitness instructor for 15 years of my adult life, but by no means did I have “natural” ability. If I did, I would have qualified at my first qualifying race like my BFF Wendy did when she was 19 and had no clue what she was doing!!

There is a NY Times best-selling book called OUTLIERS: THE STORY OF SUCCESS by Malcolm Gladwell. Throughout the book, Gladwell repeatedly mentions the “10,000-Hour Rule”, claiming that the key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours.

I subscribe to this theory and have seen it work in my own life in my relationships, businesses, personal growth, and of course, athletics. I train “in season” an average of 25 hours a week, “off season” an average of 15 hours a week. This averages out to about 1,000 hours a year. This means I would hit my 10,000 hours in about 10 years. Since I took a couple years off in the middle, it makes sense it would take me a bit longer.

So 12 years after I set in motion my dream of earning a Kona qualifying slot, I finally made it. I talk in detail in my book TRAIN SMARTER FOR BETTER RESULTS ( if you want to know HOW I did it and what I learned over the years, but it really boils down to the “10,000-Hour Rule”.

So whatever you want in life, KNOW what you want, WORK toward what it is, and be PATIENT as it takes time to become a master at anything. My favorite part is that I have control over the time and energy I put into something. So although it may take me 10,000 hours to be great, I get to decide if 10,000 hours happens in 5 years or 30 years. Like I said…patience isn’t my strength.

If you want to follow my entire “Road to Kona”, check out my videos at

Fitness : The First Day in 28 Years that I Loved my Body

Fitness The First Day In 28 Years I Loved My BodyWhen I started Junior High, I was “HUGE”. I mean I wasn’t overweight or anything, but at 5’7”, 130 pounds, and size 9 feet, I was SO much bigger than all my 5’ nothing, size 0, no hips, size 5 feet friends. So at the ripe old age of 12, I started hating my body.

To add insult to injury, I was a swimmer. So I was ALWAYS in a swimsuit, and I think as a female athlete, there is added pressure to have less body fat as it is. I was pretty much doomed from an early age to constantly battle my disordered body issues.

Fast forward…to 1999 when I become a competitive triathlete, another sport where low body fat is favored. Every time I didn’t make my goal or get the time or place I wanted, I always blamed it on my body. “I guess I’m just too big to be a competitive athlete” or “If I lost 10 pounds I could run so much faster”. Whether these statements are actually true or not, makes no difference AT ALL because I believe they are true, and as long as I continue to accept that as truth, then it will always be true for me.

Fast forward AGAIN…to 2013 when I am 40 years old and have spent the last 28 years beating myself up for not having the body I want. And by the way, after 28 years of telling your body it’s not skinny enough or strong enough or fast enough or tight enough, it doesn’t matter what is ACTUALLY going on, your brain will never believe when you actually ARE skinny, strong, fast, tight, etc. It’s extremely heartbreaking to see this happening to so many people because I know firsthand how it feels to be living in a body that can never be what you think it should be. It’s a painful and hopeless battle you are constantly fighting with yourself, usually silently and alone.

September 15, 2013, six weeks before my 41st birthday, one week before racing my 10th Ironman distance triathlon, I was complaining to my husband (he’s a saint BTW for putting up with my eating/body issues for 18 years and counting) that I wasn’t at my goal race weight and I was such an idiot for not cutting calories during taper and I felt huge BLAH BLAH BLAH!

September 22, 2013, race day is here! Air temp at the start of the race was in the 30s…FAHRENHEIT. In my age group out of 174 women, only 103 finished. Most either took so long to warm up after the swim that they missed the bike cut off time or just couldn’t get warm enough to start the run after the bike. I had an amazing race and never got cold enough to even consider a DNF (Did Not Finish). Many of these DNFs were world class athletes and I finished! I was so proud of my amazing body and what it accomplished that day!

And if I’m being 100% honest, it would probably have a little bit to do with those “extra” pounds I didn’t lose before the race.

PS…If you are struggling with any sort of disordered eating/body image issues, PLEASE tell someone! You are NOT alone and there are so many ways to get help. You don’t have to fight this battle forever. PLEASE PLEASE reach out!!

Fitness: Why the Birthday Present I gave my Mom on her 50th made her cry

[Fitness blog post] Why The Birthday Present I gave my mom on her 50th made her cry I love telling this story…not because I like to see my Mom cry, but because for me it’s an inspiring story and it gives me ammo for people who tell me they “can’t” do something that I KNOW they can do.

The year was 2002. I had been a Personal Trainer since 1990 and always helped my friends and family with any health/fitness/nutrition related stuff, so they were used to that. In 1999 I did my first triathlon, and became instantly obsessed. I ended up not only doing an ironman distance triathlon 2 years later, but also got my triathlon coaching certification and started coaching immediately after.

Instantly I was signing all my friends and family up for triathlons, they were NOT used to that.

A bit about my mom…she is a teacher, a Mom, and an amazing Grandma. She is kind and loving and one of the most unselfish people I know. One thing she is not, however, is an athlete. As far as triathlon is concerned, she can swim to prevent drowning, she can cruise along on her fat tired, fuzzy seated monster of a bike, and she can walk, but not run, due to arthritis is both her hips and knees.

So when she opened her 50th birthday present and it was an entry into the Danskin Women’s Triathlon for the following year with all the training she would need to make it through, she was speechless, and scared to death, and that resulted in a silent but deafening cry.

I promised her I would train her enough to get her across the finish line. And I did just that.

We had 10 months to get her strong, fit, and confident enough to swim .5 mile, bike 12 miles, and run 3.1 miles. And we SUCCEEDED!

Watching my mom cross the finish line was incredible…now it was MY turn to cry! She is proof that it doesn’t matter how old you are, how out of shape you are, how inexperienced you are, or how scared you are, if you WANT something and COMMIT to getting there, you WILL succeed! Awesomeness!

My favorite part of this entire story is that BECAUSE of her, I have “convinced” hundreds of women that they too can do this. I would have never been able to get them to even consider the idea if I didn’t have my Mom’s victory to inspire and encourage them.

Because of my Mom, I have helped hundreds of women accomplish something they never would have imagined possible. Now THAT’S something to cry about!