Sunday, December 31, 2017

Winter Outdoor Workouts

Aging Up - "This business about aging is a sore point with me. People seem to think that because you get to a certain age, you should act in a certain manner.  I never did it when I was young, I'll be damned if I'm going to do it when I'm getting older.  If I finish the Ironman, and I'm an Ironman, then I can die happily."    Jimmy Stokes (yes, Ironman Finisher, when interviewed before his first and only iron distance attempt)

 "There are some men (and women) for whom the unattainable has a special attraction.  Usually they are not experts: their ambitions and fantasies are strong enough to brush aside doubts which more cautious men might have. Determination and faith are their strongest weapons. At best such men are regarded as eccentric, at worst, mad..." -Walt Unsworth

In my world, they call such people...Triathletes!

Happy New Year

Yes, You Can Workout Outside in January

This is the time of year when many folks, the non-believers as it were, think we're nuts.  "What, you're going outside to run in this kind of weather, why you must be ______ ."  Fill in the blank with the word you've heard most recently.

We typically spend the Christmas holidays in Chicago and on Christmas Eve, when our 25 year old son went out for a morning run, at 0 as in z-e-r-o degrees, grandma was after him like flies on flypaper. "How about this wool hat? Those gloves couldn't be thick enough.  Would you like this scarf?" Etc.  And she meant well.  But with a little trial and error, you can still run outdoors providing the footing is safe and visibility OK.  In the car vs runner arena, the car still wins.

Toe box blocked from the wind with duct tape.

It's been said that you heat up 10-15 degrees once you get going so that's in your corner and a friend tells me "There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear."  Many of us have other issues like Raynauds Syndrome which you can compensate for or a cold/flu which you cannot and should wait till completely healed before out of doors exercise.  I didn't mention that men can get frostbite of their private parts if they don't make allowances for it with their gear.  Take it from the voice of experience, "It hurts big time!" says one local athlete.  Avoidance is best.

Knowing the expected weather as accurately as you can before you open the door is important.  Chemical hand and toe warmers are absolutely essential for some of us and learning the number and make up of your clothing layers makes the next run even easier.  Thinking "would a turtle neck or scarf be important today?  Gloves or mittens? A running waist belt with your cell phone just in case you get in a jam and need some help will probably never be needed, but that one time......

There are those who live in the country who feel it important to give their proposed running route on very cold or snowy days and an approximate time they expect to be back home to a friend or relative.  I can't say that's a bad idea at all.  It might also be a time when you take one more step ensuring your visibility.  How about a bright yellow outer layer or strobe light on the back of your belt.  Since you're already moving, most folks I see use the light in the non-strobe mode.  (Makes me think about those little kids you see at the mall or the airport where every time they take a step there's a flash of light from their shoes.  Wish they had them when I was little.)

Biking is the same but the relative "wind chill" and lack of toe motion need to be accounted for.  Shoe covers, booties, balaclavas, mittens with hand warmers and a reminder that although your thirst drive on cold days is pretty low, you can still get dehydrated.  Water bottles can freeze so a couple bucks in that waist belt for a pit stop at 7-11 for the beverage of your choice usually works.  Lastly, being ultra careful and attendant to your road surface, black ice, and cars that may have difficulty seeing you put you on the offensive for winter.

But if you still have questions, head back to your local running shoe specialty shop.  Probably not your generic sporting goods store.  But you don't buy your running shoes at a sporting goods store anyway.  Most likely the run shoe store sales team is made up of runners - who've had their outdoor exercise for the day already - and would be only too happy to discuss cold hands and feet ,wool socks, mittens, caps and the like.  It's runners talking about running.  Doing the thing they like second best.

So, from the Post family to yours, Happy New Year, happy and successful training, and here's to a (hopefully) injury free 2018.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Triathletes Alcohol-Free for January. Want to Participate?

OK folks, here's round three.  Ready for this one?  In January 2015 and 2016 we went alcohol free for the entire month of January.  I wrote it up for IRONMAN last year and it was well received.  So well, in fact, that it seems logical to do it again.  On the Mayo Clinic web site then, the question was posed;

"Does drinking alcohol kill brain cells?"

This was their answer:

Alcohol is a neurotoxin that can disrupt communications of the brain. It also affects functions of brain cells directly and indirectly through different organ dysfunction from alcohol usage and vitamin deficiency. Depending on the area of the brain affected, people can have different symptoms. Abusing alcohol can lead to seizure, stroke and dementia to name just a few conditions. Additionally, alcohol is toxic to a developing brain during pregnancy and can cause birth defects, including developmental disorders with lifelong impact.

Maybe that warning should come on your post-ride Mojito.  Then again, maybe not.  So, do I drink?  Sure. I'll have a glass of wine while cooking dinner some nights, beer on the weekends or at the Tap House watching the Patriots (Aaak, not the Patriots!), a mixed drink or two at a party.   Moderation in all things though.  Some athletes feel that having a dry January is an important first step to their training year.  It gives them one more thing in sport that they have complete control over.To them it makes a statement about commitment to the triathlon lifestyle.  Not unlike a Tweet I put up recently about food which went this way:

Food - a choice. Pleasure if I eat it.  

Pleasure if I don't eat it.  I'll stay true to my core values, I'll feel strong, I'll feel proud, I'll feel I'm doing something meaningful.*

So we're talking about the whole month here, no alcohol. Birthday parties, NFL playoffs, dinner out at a nice restaurant, nada.  Abstinence.  

I know that some athletes make a point of taking 2-3 days per week where they don't imbibe.  I've read that other triathletes report that a month away from alcohol can be a life altering, life improving adventure.  

Believe it on not, I used to smoke. A lot.  I was a Marine Corps helicopter pilot overseas and a primary helicopter instructor for the Navy when I returned from Vietnam.  There's a fair amount of down time there. But I went from 2+ packs of Marlboros a day to zero the day I got accepted to medical school.  Haven't had one since.  And that was a good while ago.  It was certainly life altering for me and my family.  Oh yeah, and I discovered triathlon!

Getting back to this January challenge, I'd suspect that for some of us this won't be easy.  In fact, I'm sure it will be quite a challenge.  For example let's look at Alan, a 40 something year old tech guy who's been in triathlon going on seven years.  He drinks wine with dinner virtually every night and a cocktail or two, maybe 3, over the weekends when dining out. He is well past his college days, thus flaming shots and Jager bombs are ancient history.  So for Alan, taking this January challenge is just part of his long range plan to prepare him for the upcoming racing season. He doesn't see this as detoxing, just a desire to see if he can do it.  What he's learned is that in addition to changing his relationship with alcohol, it changed his life for the better.  And, as an unexpected side effect, he got faster.  Woowee!

So are you curious?  Me too. If it's anything like smoking cessation, the first week will be quite difficult requiring dedication and focus to get on the other side.  But by mid January, Alan says "You feel brighter, cleaner."  You're even in a better mood.  The recipe for success starts with New Years eve and not guzzling everything in sight.  It will make day one easier.  Then on your first day, give away or pour out the beverages you most commonly consume.  You're less likely to slip that way.

One author wrote that when you choose to be dry for the month, a lot of people "including your close friends" will be surprisingly nonsupportive and give you a hard time about it. I'm not sure I accept that.  Maybe it says more about his "friends" than yours or mine.  They're certainly not into triathlon!  He even went so far as recommending in some social situations that you pretend you're on antibiotics and can't drink.  Maybe that's OK for some but I doubt I'd do it.

So, are you with me?  Alan says that after January with no booze that you might just do the same with February.  It's a short month, remember?  So let's liken this to bike inspection at our first triathlon.  You were a little nervous, might have made a mistake or two during the race.  At the end, though, you were all smiles.  I'm thinking come the end of the month you'll be all smiles.  So I'm up for giving it a try.  Are you with me?

The Calorie Myth, Jonathan BailorFre

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Why T2 is the Important One, Especially in Ironman & 70.3 Racing

T2, a time to regroup, assess status and plan for the run

Fresh off the bike, a smile on her face, she's ready to run

Aren't people nice? I had a root canal done about 15 years ago and got a call from the doctor's office telling me that he was doing a study and would I possibly be available for a follow up xray.  Reluctantly, I agreed having been in that position before putting together lectures and am always grateful when patients will go out of their way to help out. When I got to the oral surgeon's office, he mentioned, "I think about you almost every day."

"Right, I believe that!" I replied.  "No, really I do. You taught me that copious irrigation, really wash
ing out surgical wounds the way you ortho guys do, would decrease my infection rate.  And you were right.  So whenever I operate on a patient, I think I'm doing the John Post wash out."

While I thanked him very much, my suggestion was hardly original.  However, if I saved any patients from an infection, then it was more than worth it.

The same thing is true in triathlon.  How often, say before a race, are you just sitting in transition waiting, and you see another athlete with different tires, or a funny transition area set up and you ask her, "say, why do you do that?"  People are very willing to share this information with you.  If fact, they consider it a true compliment that you might wish to emulate them.  So for the remainder of your tri career, every time you set your transition area up like you learned that day, you could tell that athlete, "right, I think about you almost every race."

Slow transition? SlowWhadya mean my transition is slow?
T2 - A Place to Regroup

I've always thought that T1 and T2 served different functions in longer races.  In a sprint, my goal is to have the absolute fastest transitions, both of them, in my age group.  If you've read this blog previously, you know that I preach repeatedly that giving away time in transition is just plain dumb for the serious triathlete.  I enter the race thinking, "how close to 1 minute can I make each of these discipline changes?"  And just like practicing flat tire changing, rehearsing transitions before ever race is just plain smart racing.

But, in a 70.3 (when did the half ironman get that title?  When WTC wanted to corner a larger part of the long distance market. Charlottesville, VA attorney and 2004 Kona finisher Mike Hemenway said "nobody wants to do a half anything. They should call it 70.3.") 
or 140.6 race, the transition areas take on a whole new significance.  Especially at the Iron distance.

In these longer duration contests, frequently larger races, fewer athletes may be aiming for the podium. The remainder just want to finish with a respectable performance and the ability to maintain a near normal gait pattern the next day. T1 after a 1.2 or 2.4 mile swim is the same.  Animated chatter with the volunteers, see how fast can you get into biking mode after a refreshing morning dip with 2500 of your closest friends, and get a heaping dose of sunscreen to head for your waiting 2 wheeled steed.

112 miles later, with dried salt on your bike outfit, a nutrition plan that may or may not have worked as well as planned, maybe a little less enthusiasm or brightness than upon completion of the swim, you enter T2.  For some, like T1, it's continued press. Push, push, push. But for the remainder of us, T2 can be race changing.  It can be a big contributor to race success.

On one hand, especially for first timers, Iron distance racing may now seem a whole lot harder than first imagined last winter filling out the entry on line with one of your kids in your lap.  It's supposed to be.  But with this brief interlude, like the mango sorbet you get between courses to cleanse your palate at a fancy restaurant, you can clear your brain of the past few hours and focus squarely on the upcoming run.  For some it can be almost spiritual as they blast out of T2 teasing the volunteers who are putting even more sunscreen on you pointing toward the transition exit and the first steps of the marathon.  Even those athletes who may have experienced self doubt and possibly considered turning in their chip feel this rejuvenation. Stimulation is a good thing.

This will sound odd, but for those of you who've been around for a good while, you'll remember that T1 in Kona was on the pier and T2 was at the old Kona Surf Hotel some 7 miles to the south in the golfers locker room.  What made this T2 cool was that you were encouraged to take a full shower in the golfers shower room before your run.  Soap on a rope anyone?

Then you remember why you signed up for this crazy adventure, and another athlete pulls up along side you smiling. "Care to run a little?" you're asked. "Why sure," you answer.  The finish line may be a good ways away, but a journey of a thousand miles begins with.....

Image 1, Google Images

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Posterior Tibial Tendon Disease, A Triathlete's Cure

Posterior Tibial Tendon Induced Ankle Pain

I answer a lot of athlete's questions, many from coach referrals, some from various publications like Joe Friel's Triathlete's Training Bible.  I rarely get follow up, especially follow up that's designed to help other athletes.  But Stacy is different and if you have a PTT problem, read on and you may be able to benefit from her experience.

Dear Dr. Post:

Throughout my years of running (and injuries!), I noticed no one ever seems to come back to message boards or threads to update when things actually go well. I wanted to provide a little hope to some folks.

I originally posted back in May of this year (scroll up for the dirty details)* and I truly believe that time and keeping your calves stretched are the "magic potion" to dealing with this obnoxious injury. I did get both softer, "accommodative" orthotics and a pair of rigid ones. The softer ones fit perfectly into my Allbirds and took enough pressure off the PTT to allow me to walk around like a normal person without any pain. That alone was worth the cost, and I even popped them in my recovery shoes after my 18 and 20-mile runs...just to "protect" things. The rigid ones were just as useless this time as they were seven years ago. They're big, clunky, don't fit in any decent running shoes...and they DON'T SOLVE THE PROBLEM. This is what drives me crazy about orthotics and the prescription of them. Unless there is proof that your injury is due to mechanical issues and *absolutely nothing else*, they usually don't help and can often make things worse. For me, I figured out that running on banked sidewalks that actually made my left foot collapse were the culprit. I changed my running routes and voila! - my pain started going away. I got new shoes, but they're still neutral shoes. When I run, I don't overpronate...if anything, I wear pattern shows this.

Anyway, I just finished week 16 of Honolulu Marathon training and am proud and happy to say my PTT has been SILENT for the last five months. Not a peep, not a niggle. Starting in June I began running three days a week, and worked up to four. The deal was, I needed to get through the first three weeks of marathon training pain-free before we could buy our plane tickets to Hawaii. I'm a glass half-empty kind of girl, so I didn't have my hopes up too high. I had no pain, so we bought the tickets. I have two black toenails and a nice, cranky callous on my big toe on my left foot...but no tendonitis. I changed my running to a walk/run and I'm sure that's helped as well...I did that mostly to "ease" back into heavy training (esp during the Texas summer), but somehow it's made me faster, so there you go. I'm actually in better shape now than I have been in years...I've managed to get my hips and glutes strengthened and my core is nice and strong.

Anyway, I just wanted to share that there IS light at the end of the tunnel. This wouldn't have been much comfort to me back in February when I couldn't walk to the bathroom or the kitchen without wanting to cry from the pain, but if I knew then what I know now...and I said this back in May...I would've just sat my butt down on a couch for a month and not moved. And I would've kept foam rolling my calves. Impatience got the best of me, and that was both a huge mistake and a big lesson learned. I spent a lot of money looking for a "quick fix" and being an injury-prone runner, I should know better. Likewise, I'm glad I ignored the orthopedist who delivered the scare tactic of telling me I either had to get orthotics or I would need surgery, and the other orthopedist who told me to stop running altogether because I was "getting older". I'm only 46! Some day I will not be able to run ever again, but today is not that day. :)

Stay strong and stay positive, folks!

One last note...we're taking next year off from marathon training. Halfs are so much more fun, and I have a 4-year old PR that needs to be taken care of. Stay healthy, folks! 


One more resource that may be quite helpful comes from the Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.  Warning: it's pretty thorough but with patience, you'll find it helpful.

*Stacy's original request.

This is probably going to sound really "out there", it possible...for pressure on the post tib tendon where it inserts into the navicular (that squishy part you can feel) to cause pain and - if done repeatedly (like, up to 35 mpw during a marathon training season, lol) to ultimately cause post tibial tendonitis? As an example, I wear "no show" socks which run right across that area and one of the first "symptoms" I had was a sore navicular, very tender to the touch.

I've been struggling with PTTD since last August, but didn't it didn't get ugly until mile 17 of the Chicago Marathon. I've gone through all of the protocols everyone else has mentioned except a boot or a brace. My PT said a boot would cause immeasurable other problems up the chain and a brace irritated my navicular just having it on so I declined.

I was off running from Dec 1 to Apr 1 (more on that below) but was able to bike pain-free during that time as long as I loosened up my shoe...keep the navicular free. Interestingly, over the last eight months my greatest "healing spurt" took place when we were in Europe in March. I walked 6-8 miles a day, but wore tights or long socks with loose-fitting boots. When we came back, I could walk around barefoot (and my affected foot is super-flat and pronates) with ZERO pain. Went for a run the next day (socks around navicular area, tight-ish shoes) and boom, back to pain in that specific area.

Saw a foot/ankle ortho who told me I needed orthotics (I'm skeptical, but he's saying it's that, stop running, or get surgery) and I have a pair of accommodative orthotics until my pedorthist can get me the rigid ones in three weeks. I've worn them twice for biking and both times was unable to bike more than ten minutes without my navicular hurting and that irritating the rest of the area. There's a really high medial post on my orthotics, and I'm wondering if that is also one of the culprits as I know my navicular is hitting it. Even more frustrating, that slight AM irritation seems to linger through the day even with icing. I didn't bike pain. Biked this AM, more pain. Once that PTT flares up...even just a takes a long time to quiet back down with me. One step forward, two steps backwards. No problems BTW, wearing the orthotics just walking around...not as much impact hitting the medial part of my shoes, I suppose.

Monday, November 27, 2017

This Off Season, Take the Stairs

This Off-Season, Take the Stairs

Old man winter may seriously cramp your style. Use these other ways to stay in shape.
                                                                                                                                                         (c) Digital Vision.

How you can harness every minute of the day to become a stronger athlete.

by John Post, MD

Years ago I heard the saying, "you're not old until you start using the stairs to get out of the pool." It's one of those things that after a while takes hold in our brains until we come to believe it as fact. True or not, I always leave the water directly from my lane with the old push-up technique. And I'm not what you call young.

Another one I learned in pre-med goes like this: "Take the stairs and add a day to your life." This approach can fit well into a triathlete's world, especially in the off-season, when "real" workouts are decreased.

Famed triathlon coach Joe Friel told me many years ago to look at it as if airport stairs were put there just for me. Since then, rarely have I stepped on a moving sidewalk or escalator at the airport. A third member of the discussion admitted that if he had a layover, he saw the stairs as an opportunity to get stronger. He'd go up and down them like mini hill repeats. When asked if passersby would think him a little off in the head, he'd repeat a line from Michael J. Fox, "what other people think of me is not my concern." And he did get stronger—and faster.

En route to better fitness
So, how do you incorporate this "fitness anywhere" philosophy into everyday life? If you have time between flights when traveling, rather than sit and stare at the TV, find an empty gate and do some push ups, crunches, leg levers, planks, hip thrusts, stretching—you name it. An increasing number of airports have actual gym facilities on site. Why not take advantage of them?

The other side of the coin is rest. More than one of us is chronically short on sleep, and the opportunity to get some unexpected shut-eye in a pod hotel not only feels good but is good for your overall health and well-being. Atlanta, Dallas, and Philadelphia all have these 56-square feet personal spaces complete with pull-out day bed, desk and chair, and in-room workstation.

Make routine do double-duty
Everyday life is full of mini fitness-boosting opportunities, including how far away from the door of the supermarket you park to shunning the elevator in office buildings. Park an extra couple hundred meters from the Safeway front door. Pack those groceries carefully and carry them yourself—no shopping cart—the extra distance to your car. If you don’t live too far from the market put your items in a backpack and jump on your bike.

During my junior year med school clerkships, while training for my first Boston Marathon, I learned the hard way that the hospital’s west wing, where our patients were located, had 16 floors. Before getting our assigned patients, my friend Dennis and I agreed we wouldn't use the elevator. Ever. For the whole six weeks. We were assigned to West Wing 15, on the 15th floor of the hospital. When I crested Heartbreak Hill in Boston I thought about "WW15" and just smiled.
And it can be contagious. I had to smile a few months ago when flying with our sons, both in their mid 20's. We were connecting to another flight on our way to Sequoia National Park, the boys about 10 feet ahead of me. Without even thinking, they chose the stairs over the escalator. In a 2013 article in Runner's World titled "In Defense of Stairs," Alex Hutchinson quotes a Swiss study in which participants were encouraged to take the stairs and after 12 weeks noted an increase in average aerobic fitness of 9.2 percent.

On the commuting front, ask yourself if you can occasionally bike or even run to work? It might be a bit of an organizational challenge the first time, or you might need to get up a few minutes earlier, but I assure you you'll arrive at the office refreshed and with a clear mind.

Home "gym"
It snows where I live. Most of my neighbors have their driveways plowed and the guy with the blade on his pick-up on speed dial. We do not. I’ve always considered the chance to push snow around as a bonus workout. It might even substitute for that bike ride I was supposed to take since 25 mm tires and six inches of snow make for a bad combination. Splitting and stacking firewood, raking leaves, anything you can do at home to expend a few calories works. Did I mention the pull-up bar in the doorway?

Look for opportunities in your daily life to accomplish a task while contributing to your overall fitness at the same time. And when you have a little time between flights, consider poking around in search of an empty gate for a little bonus core work. Channel your inner Michael J. Fox, get in there and start doing pushups. And don't be surprised if others want to join you, the conversation turning to, "so when’s your next triathlon?"

Written for October 27, 2015

Monday, November 20, 2017

Hydration Evolution: Where Are We Today? Should You Have a Plan?

The good news: all my workout clothes are laying on the driveway asphalt drying in the warm sun.  Now the bad news: I just looked outside and it's raining!  (Surely something like this has happened to you.)

"Custom" race hydration plan.

If you take away from today's blog that there's no single right way to control one's race/training hydration needs that covers all circumstances, you'll get the point.  It's so easy to have some quick, catchy phrase that gets picked up in 140 (or 280) character messages, or quickie soundbite.  Paraphrasing H.L.Mencken, "for every complex problem, there is an answer that is neat, simple and wrong."

Managing fluid, and to a much lesser degree electrolyte requirements, is like solving an equation with ever-changing variables.  But old habits are hard to break.  Let's look at my swim group as a starting point.  It wasn't that many years ago that we were instructed to "drink early and drink often" during work outs.  But that also has been taken to the extreme as even if we're only in the pool for an hour, well over half the group stops after a pull set or 400 of kicking for "needed" re-hydration.  I wonder if I've ever taken a water bottle to the pool and I swim more than most.  Lots more.

This is not a tutorial on all that's known about over-hydration, hyponatremia and death, but suffice it to say that particularly in the marathon community, slower runners on cooler days who consume more fluids than the body requires actually gain weight as the race progresses.  Basically this is a bad idea.  This fluid overload can dilute the body's serum sodium, which in extreme cases, can lead to seizures and death.  On the other side of that same coin, those who champion only allowing the body's thirst regulatory mechanisms to guide replacement can correctly, although perhaps harshly, point out that "you don't usually die from dehydration."

"For any serious athlete who's worked very hard leading up to an event and wants to perform, I would go into that event with a plan."  Asker Jeukendrup  

Understand that Jeukendrup notes that in longer races like the marathon and 70.3 racing, drinking early may be of significant benefit, not waiting till one is thirsty.  In the early part of a race, your gut is still working well enough to absorb fluid and nutrients where later in the event, when you may be more thirsty, the stomach may be a much less willing accomplice.

From an area ultra runner.  "The marathoners/trail-morons that I hang with are almost all in the camp that you need to be drinking long before thirst.  If you actually get thirsty during a race then you're probably already screwed... and you can quote me on that."

The metric that I found and have liked for my training/long runs is 2 ounces a mile.  So over the course of an hour I'll take on 16 ounces of fluid.  I personally think I'm on the lighter end of things and couldn't imagine taking on less fluids especially the other week in Colorado."* (Trans Rockies Run, 20 miles of trail running/day for a week.)

Two very experienced athletes I know, one an Ironman coach for crying out loud, the other an experienced racer with 13-14 IMs on his resume, both Kona veterans (!), ended 140.6 efforts in warm conditions 14 and 17 lbs down...concluding their day as guests of the medical tent.  I put this to noted coach/author Joe Friel who answered:

Yes I certainly agree that what is right got one is not always right for another. But in this area I ask myself how many have died in long endurance events from dehydration. Answer: none. How about from hyperhydration? When we tell a athletes that a 2% loss of BW causes a slowing and tell them to come up with a plan to avoid that you know what happens. Drink lots. No limits. They can't imagine they could deviate from that. Are they stupid? Nope. Last death in a marathon was a doctor.  Given a choice for my client to lose -17lbs or die I'll choose weight loss.

And all of this doesn't even get into the matter of how you come up with a plan. What if race day is cool? Or very hot? What if the wind is blowing hard so I'm on the course an extra 30 min? What if humidity is high? What if it's low? What do I do if having a bad day? What if race start is delayed an hour? How many variables are there that we're asking a mid level retail store manager to come up with? Based on what data?

And this doesn't even get into what this person should drink on their plan. Most are easily sold a bill of goods when it comes to sports drinks. If my favorite athlete uses it then it must be good for me.  My experience has been that the more stuff that is in the drink (sugar, vits, minerals, salt, miracle ingredients) the more likely they are to have a stomach shut down. I believe the safest is water with nutrition (sugar or fat) coming from another source. Hydration is not closely tied to nutrition.

That's enough. I'm sure you catch my drift on this.


Lastly, when we interviewed the athletes at Hawaii bike inspection last year, one of the questions was “Do you plan to drink to thirst or drink to a plan?”  82% said plan of one form or another.  I’ve always agreed that there’s no need to micro manage one’s fluid intake and that many of us can be quite comfortable more than a little dehydrated.   Maybe it comes back to the, no one plan is right for everyone.  Think about what Joe Friel said, use your head, your experience from trying different ways during training and racing, do what works for you, and err on the side of dehydration.

From Asker Jeukendrup

Hydration requirements

September 15, 2017


Hydration requirements

Drink too little and performance may suffer. Drink too much and there are other risks.
In endurance sports (and most other sports), getting your hydration just right is important. Dehydration is common and may cause performance to suffer. Overhydration, although less common, can be a much more serious issue. Knowing how to hydrate properly will help you achieve peak performance and avoid serious risks.

Why do we sweat?
In order to make sure body temperature stays within acceptable limits and we don’t overheat, we sweat. The higher the exercise intensity (read as higher speed/pace/power output), the more heat is produced and the more we need to sweat to stay cool. In hot conditions, it is even more important because sweating may be the only way we can cool down our bodies. Other factors can affect sweat rate. Sun, high humidity, insulating clothing can all result in increased sweat rate. On the other side, shade, wind and low humidity can aid in cooling and reduce sweat rate.

How much sweat loss is OK?
Sweat loss is usually measured as a percent of our body weight. In very short efforts such as a 5K, sweat rate may be high but time spent exercising (sweating) is short so that total body weight loss will likely be low (less than 2% of body weight). As duration increases and more time is spent sweating, losses can easily reach 2-5% of body weight. 
Research shows that performance can begin to degrade as sweat losses go beyond 2-3%. Guidelines from American College of Sports Medicine and International Institute of Race Medicine (Optimal Hydration) respectively suggest targeting 2% and 2-5% body weight loss. CORE aligns with these guidelines.

Why is dehydration a problem?
When we lose too much sweat we become dehydrated; this reduces blood volume, increases heart rate, and makes it harder maintain our body temperature. It also increases our perceived exertion. All of these reduce our ability to compete and may increase the risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Why is overhydration a problem?
Drinking too much (overhydration) can lead to a dangerous medical condition called hyponatremia (low serum sodium levels). Early symptoms can include swelling, headaches, vomiting. More serious symptoms include disorientation and seizure. In the worst cases, if not treated, hyponatremia can result in coma and death. The risks of hyponatremia increase significantly with overhydration. If you do not lose weight during your race, you are 7 times more likely suffer hyponatremia.

How do I prevent dehydration and overhydration?
In order to prevent dehydration, it is important to start a race hydrated and maintain proper hydration throughout the race.
Before the race, drink ~500ml during the 2 hours before the start; excess water will be eliminated through urine. You can confirm you are well hydrated by checking that your urine color is pale.
During the race (or training), there are two approaches to hydration.
Drinking to thirst is a recommendation that works fine for the slower athlete: if you are thirsty, drink; if you are not thirsty, don’t drink.
Drinking to a plan can work for everyone, especially if you are going a bit faster, if your race is longer and if you understand your sweat rate. Your planned fluid consumption should always be targeted at a rate that ensures you will not gain wait; a good gauge for this is to consume at or below your sweat rate. If you want to find out how to measure your sweat rate, visit the article Sweat rate calculation.

Pro tips
It is wise to use the early parts of a race when the gastrointestinal tract is working well to absorb both carbohydrate and fluid. Later in the race, even though you may be thirsty, your gut may not absorb as much. Don’t drink excessively, and use common sense. The goal should be to lose a little weight (1-2 kg, 2-4lbs or ~2-3% of body weight) at the finish line.
It is important to note that if bloating occurs and fluids seems to accumulate in the stomach there is no point ingesting more fluids. Reducing your run intensity a bit and giving the stomach some time to pass fluid on to the intestine for absorption will relieve bloating.