Do You Know Gabriela Traña? The Nutritionist And Costa Rican Athlete Who Will Say “Present” In The Olympic Games.

    It is not her first time in the Olympic Games, she was previously the flag bearer of Costa Rica and is the national record holder as a marathon athlete with a time of 2:40...

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    Several athletes will be present at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, one of them is the Nutrition Doctor Gabriela Traña, who is also an athlete with an exemplary career. In the following paragraphs, you will learn about her life.

    She is a native of Alajuela, a province of Costa Rica where she has the best memories of her childhood. She grew Costa Rican Athletes Enter the Final Stretch to Look For Their Ticket to Paris Olympic Games up in Tacacorí, a rural area, surrounded by lots of greenery and rivers.

    “I had a childhood with a very nice environment, very Costa Rican, we had a street in front, we had chickens, at some point also pigs; I grew up in those first 5 years with my older sister and another of my sisters, we are six, the other three were born later. Around the age of 7, we moved to Monticello, where I started elementary school and I finished 6 years of school, in the public school called “Aurelio Soto Alfaro”, I did not receive Physical Education at that time but I played a lot, I ran, jumped rope and all those games of that time”, she said.

    She had a childhood surrounded by his parents, sisters, many friends, and neighbors in a very humble environment but always full of affection and friendship, very familiar.

    She recalled that in that stage of childhood, his family went through economic needs, “my dad first worked in construction and later joined the national police, in the first month in which people began to work with the police did not receive a salary, I had to borrow money from the grocery store to have to eat a few days while my dad’s salary arrived, but thanks to God and that my mom was an orderly person, who managed the money in the best way we were able to get ahead”.

    Traña emphasized that thanks to the joint work of his parents, they all studied, he stayed with them until he finished college, and with his savings from sports and work he acquired a property again in Tacacurí, in a more external area, “I made my house in 2015 where I currently live, in the town where I went and I am happy”.

    From her parents, she learned…

    Gabriela, when talking about her family, made special emphasis on the teachings of her parents that she continues to practice today in every step she takes. She learned from them the value of work, respect, honesty, discipline, commitment, and faith in God “They have always been orderly people without wanting to appear what they were not and very aware that resources are distributed properly; even when there is a little more economic resources I live with what I need, I am not of brands, but when you buy something that is of good quality; I am not of extravagant things, I am more of order, cleanliness in addition to what is needed to be comfortable and happy. I love peace and tranquility, all that I inherited from them, my parents”.

    Since she was a child, the doctor and Tico athlete had the vision that she and her siblings had to prepare themselves academically, getting a profession was fundamental. When she entered high school and then athletics, her mother told her -you can be in athletics as long as you keep your grades up and do well in school- that is why Gabriela committed herself to playing a good role in sports without neglecting her studies.

    What inspires you about Costa Rica, the country you have represented internationally for so many years?

    Traña is inspired by Costa Rica: the hardworking people, who do things with love and passion, “when you see a farmer putting the seed in the ground next to my house, which currently there is a lot that they rent for planting, then I have had the opportunity to see farmers constantly planting sometimes cucumber, sometimes tomato and sweet potato; Seeing the effort of a person to grow a plant and then the fruits that will be the livelihood of her family, that inspires me a lot, it reminds me of something beautiful as when you are a child, you grow and evolve and impact the lives of others, that part of nature that I love.

    It also inspires her to see how people in rural and tourist areas receive foreigners, and the treatment they give, “I have had the opportunity to visit several countries, but I would not change the treatment of the people of my country, of course, there are exceptions and we can improve more, but the rural, tourist areas, the small towns that is the essence of being tico, I love the food here for how it is planted, harvested and how it is prepared, it is an authentic flavor full of love and I can say that those who work with love inspire everyone” she added.

    A constant training in sports and nutrition

    Gabriela, who studied Nutrition at the University of Costa Rica, began with the intention of changing to medicine but had the opportunity to travel to Guatemala to a Central American Open Tournament, where she met the nutritionist of the Olympic Committee of Guatemala, Mrs. Maria Mercedes, who asked her if it was true that she wanted to change to Medicine, to which Traña said yes, that was her intention. Doña María Mercedes also asked her why she wanted to change to medicine, and the answer was that she wanted to help people.

    After more questions about the students at that time of nutrition, also learned in Guatemala that it was more important that a person through a series of recommendations or preventive treatments did not get to look like any disease and had quality of life, so she did not change to medicine and completed her studies in nutrition.

    “Before I met María Mercedes, I did not know that sports nutrition existed at that time, we are talking about 1999 to 2000 because nutrition already existed in the country but from the clinical point of view or in food services, that conversation with her made me see another picture, I also saw the biochemistry course for nutrition with Dr. Georgina Gómez and there I understood that if people ate as they should, in the right amounts, with crops that were harvested with the least use of agrochemicals, the possibility of not getting sick was great, that any disease can be cured through a good diet, then I fell in love with the career and here I am,” she said.

    Gabriela is currently dedicated especially to sports nutrition, although of course, she has all the training in the clinical part and her patients who do sports are not all high performance, but people who do it for health, recreation, who have diabetes, a little overweight, hypertension or a heart problem.

    She recently finished a diploma course in Sports Nutrition at the International Sport Oracle Academy. It is a diploma in Sports Nutrition from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and with that, she complemented the preparation she already had from the University of Costa Rica.

    The IOC sports nutrition diploma is recognized as one of the most important or complete academic processes with professionals in medicine, nutrition, and physiology “as we say, the leaders of sports nutrition at the international level; the objective of obtaining this diploma was to refresh a little the information we had acquired in some courses, to corroborate, to know what is handled at international level compared to what we work. Currently, I have been able to carry out the hydration and energetic sports schemes with a more solid scientific base and a clearer confidence as to what I am giving, which is precisely what the athlete needs in the end. Whenever we work in health or in any area in which we offer a service, it is important to adjust to the needs of the person, to make a personalized food plan, to understand how that person trains is fundamental, the physical wear that involves the sport she practices, the energy consumption, what things make her perform better or those that can diminish that performance from the food, but also understanding the physiology, the mechanics, the movement, definitely the diploma course exceeded my expectations, I was fascinated”, she explained.

    National and Central American record as a marathon athlete.

    As we said at the beginning, Traña is an athlete with an exemplary career, she has more than a thousand competitions, the same amount but in medals counting the events in which she has participated since she was 13 years old to date; she has been in 31 marathons, Paris 2024 represents the 32nd marathon.

    Of the most important marathons she highlighted, is the Disney marathon, which was the first in which she participated in 2007 and in which she was the winner; another important marathon in which she qualified was in 2010 and then in 2011 in Berlin, she managed to establish a new national record that had been in force for 18 years, “it was a great emotion for me, I became the first woman in Costa Rica who reached a time as a marathon athlete of 2:40, I became the first woman in Costa Rica who reached a time as a marathon athlete of 2: 40, I beat Doña Vilma Peña’s record of 2:44, no one else, neither in Costa Rica nor in Central America, had managed to beat that time”.

    She has run marathons in Costa Rica, the United States, and Europe, she has competed in Berlin, London, and Beijing, which was the marathon of the Olympic Games, and had the opportunity to participate or compete in the marathon of Doha, Qatar; Venice, Italy; France, Germany and Holland.

    It is worth specifying that she started her participation in athletics in 1993, but in the marathon as such she began to compete in 2007 (Disney’s).

    Gabriela Traña has also obtained trophies and plaques from sporting events, 200 of both. Regarding awards in athletics, the most prized medal she has obtained for the highest performance is the one from the Central American and Caribbean Games in Mayagüez in 2010. “Participating in the marathon, I want to emphasize the 2013 Central American Games, in which for the first time in Costa Rica a Games were held, which gave me the possibility of winning my gold medal here in the country with the people on the road supporting me, my family watching me and then, welcoming me at the finish line with flowers and flags.”

    Her beginnings as an athlete

    Gabriela has always been a physically active person, she liked being in an outdoor environment and playing different activities, she liked the theme of movement and feeling the energy that sport transmits.

    When she went to seventh grade, at the Gregorio José Ramírez School, she took the Cooper test, she was the winner of the subgroup, and the Physical Education coach, who has been her coach for 31 years, Juan Carlos Vega González, invited her to participate with the school’s athletic team to represent the school and from then on she is practicing the sport discipline.

    “My dad always played soccer, my older sister played basketball at some point. The invitation to be part of the school team became a reality, I joined the team of the Sports Committee of Alajuela and began to represent the school and the canton in the National Games,” she said.

    She received classes in other disciplines before athletics, among them: volleyball, basketball, and indoor soccer, in fact, in the fourth year of high school she was part of an indoor soccer team with which they were champions, “it was a fascinating experience and learning for me, I played goalkeeper, fullback, every position there was and there will be to win the championship, but everything was basic. I also learned how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

    Her beginnings were with the athletics events that existed at the time: 300, 800, and 1,500 meters, but her coach always guided her towards the long-distance events.

    Throughout the time of National Games the distances were increasing because her coach always saw in her a long-distance runner and the physical qualities that she showed in addition to the performance that she was presenting over the years, said she was an athlete for long distance, “I was overcoming all the different levels of National, Central American, Central American and Caribbean, Pan American, Ibero-American games and I had the opportunity to represent Costa Rica in three World Championships: in 2003 with 23 years the 1. 500 meters, in 2007 with 27 years old I competed in the 5,000 meters and in 2019 with 39 years old I participated in the marathon. I participated in the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008 where I competed in the marathon and in London in 2012, now as I mentioned, I will be if God allows in the marathon of the Olympic Games in Paris but in the marathon that they call the “Marathon for all”, which is an exhibition”.

    To this day, she remains active as an athlete with less intensity than before, because she works a little more hours: she has an athletics team and a nutritional consultation, she also holds conferences and does advertising for brands, so that limits her time a little, she continues as an athlete for health, also to complete goals she has set for herself with the most important marathons in the world and the dream of doing an Ironman.

    So far she is in the mother race or queen race of athletics, the longest distance, “I am completing the most important marathons in the world: there are six: Chicago, Boston, New York, Berlin, London, and Tokyo”.

    She is an athlete who has run uninterruptedly with the distances 800, 1,500, 3,000 steeplechase, and 5,000 meters flat; in track, she competed in 10,000 in road.

    In the London 2012 Olympic Games, she was the flag bearer for Costa Rica.

    Training routines

    The training routines were different for all the competitions, especially because she ran in different modalities of athletics.

    In her opinion, the routine is a function of the mileage that each event represents, when she trained events of less than 5 km the routine consisted more of track work. Gabriela trained more or less every day; when talking about a training routine for an Olympic process, it implies around two sessions per day during the week, “when there were not two running sessions, it was one running session and another one of muscle strengthening in the gym, when there was not another running session or another one in the gym, I remember in the process that I obtained a better mark, that swimming sessions were incorporated. For many months I trained around 21 sessions per week combined between continuous running, intervals, swimming sessions, gym, and climbs to the volcano, which was a typical training routine, it could be from the center of Alajuela to the volcano, my training routines always combined resistance, speed, strengthening, anaerobic endurance and general endurance.

    The essence of athletics

    For Traña, athletics is the constant self-improvement, it is to know oneself as a human being, to understand oneself, and to develop or exploit all the physical capacities at the best moment; athletics is a continuous learning process, of incessant improvement. “Many times, when I arrived at a competition I was not satisfied if I had not improved my marks or the mark I had in that event or in that route, even if I won the competition, then I learned that one always competes with oneself, sometimes people compare themselves with others and get nervous because they compete with people of great capacity, with people who also grew up in another environment and have other physical qualities, genetic or other economic aid, but athletics teaches us that, one is the rival to beat”.

    Thus, a person practicing athletics according to the Tico nutritionist, must have the will and perseverance to keep practicing the sport, “because it is a sport of great patience, especially if we talk about a marathon or longer distances, it is a sport that invites us to continuous work, when one stops training for a few days, the performance is quickly down, but when you train every day a little, although not always so strong but rather there is a combination of intensities, that will allow a constant improvement; is to have the will to get up every morning and in addition to the multiple activities that the person does, to have the possibility to focus on what she wants, to make an effort and to be disciplined.

    Difficult moments

    She stressed that there is always a discomfort, injury, or difficult situation to face in life, as an athlete and as a human being. In 2013 she had a small pubalgia (a painful condition that is generated in the region of the pelvis, in the adductor muscles), which almost left her out of the Central American Games, she was on pain medication and also managed to complete the 5,000 meters in the marathon track, obtaining a bronze medal and a gold medal for Costa Rica.

    Another of the difficult moments that Gabriela highlighted was the separation of her parents, then one of the illnesses that her mother has had, who thank God is still with her, “she first went through the removal of a kidney, then a uterus cancer, we reached a point where we understand that everything is part of life, that we are not eternal and that at some point we will not see our loved ones anymore or at least for some time”. She added the difficult days due to her coach’s prostate cancer.

    What does she still have to achieve and how does she see herself in the future?

    She wants to complete the most important marathons in the world, She is missing the Tokyo marathon, but she also wants to compete in a couple more marathons before her retirement. I still have to train for a few more years to achieve my goals, I have the challenge or the idea, I do not know when it will happen and if it will happen, but if God gives me the life I want to do a full Ironman: 4 kilometers, 3,900 meters of swimming, cycling, and marathon. I see myself working with a team a little bigger than the one I currently have, growing the volume of people we serve in my area of clinical and sports nutrition; I love everything that has to do with the World Anti-Doping Agency; if at some point I can, create a kind of performance center where people can have access to optimal facilities not only for training but for competition.

    Beyond being a doctor in nutrition or an athlete…

    In times of rest or relaxation, Traña likes to read a little, and she likes to watch movies at home and the cinema, in addition to watching series on Netflix “I would say that I look for the most sedentary activities possible because most of the time I am doing activities of more physical effort”.

    Virtues and defects, she considers herself a very disciplined person, perseverant, and quite dynamic, she always likes to be doing something; she loves work and action “and that, sometimes it takes its toll, sometimes I do many things at once and I overdo it, that would be a defect, taking on too many responsibilities or not knowing how to delegate functions to others. I consider myself a supportive and empathetic person; in this society, there are many things I do not share, I am a bit traditionalist, but I respect the ideology, religion, philosophy of life, tastes, and preferences of others, however, I do not always share them, I do not always integrate myself to what I do not support”.

    Finally, Gabriela Traña, from Costa Rica, shared a reflective message that life is very short, sometimes things are not going to turn out the first time or as one imagines but one builds one’s destiny, one paints the picture with the colors they like the most and that takes time, requires patience; The path we are on is very beautiful if we can observe everything around us and enjoy it, “many times we spend time thinking about what we will do tomorrow or what we will do when we grow up, but we never know if we will reach that moment, so the ideal is to enjoy each stage of life with responsibility, enjoy each stage represents for me the essence with which we can take advantage of a situation and have the ability to see the opportunities. Through sports, I became convinced that the best way to lead our life is doing something we like, I chose sports, but it can also be art, music or any other activity that we choose, which is not something to satisfy someone else’s need. As the Spanish psychiatrist Marian Rojas Estapé said, may we be vitamin people for others, may we be light and may we transmit through our life and sports experiences, confidence, credibility, positive energy, enthusiasm, and motivation, maintaining that dreams are fulfilled when we work with love and passion”.

    To follow the upcoming marathon competitions and general activities of the doctor in Nutrition, we invite you to follow her on social networks: Gabriela Traña OLY on Facebook; Gaby Traña OLY on Instagram; @gabytranaoly on X and LinkedIn as Gabriela Traña OLY.

    Resonance Costa Rica
    At Resonance, we aspire to live in harmony with the natural world as a reflection of our gratitude for life. Visit and subscribe at Resonance Costa Rica Youtube Channel
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