02 June 2011

Topic Thursday: Half Marathon Hydration.

Instead of three things Thursday, I decided to change it to Topic Thursday as i can look in more detail on one particular subject.

Last week, I managed to knock up my first 10km in a long time. Speaking of a long time, it took me nearly 70minutes to complete it. I'm not worried about the time for the moment, focusing on getting back and working on endurance.

 What to bring on Half marathon distance running

Runners can survive just on water for the half marathon distance however RunnersWorld advises drinking carb-drinks, consuming gels, chews or other snack foods like Fig Newtons.  Another great point from that article is to ensure when taking energy foods, they should be taking in small amounts. The purpose behind this is  to avoid spikes in blood sugar and GI upset. If you are using a energy food then its recommended to wash it down with water and not an energy drink.  I will try the above products ahead and see how I manage in the coming weeks.

Active.com just posted an article on nutrition during a race. The article looked at the other end of the scale called hyponatremia. This is where athletes are taking on to much fluids during a race and even stated an athlete lost her life during the Boston marathon due to hyponatremia.  A key line from the article is

"Hyponatremia occurs when your fluid intake exceeds your rate of fluid loss from sweating, which results in low blood-sodium levels. Symptoms—nausea, disorientation, muscle weakness—can be similar to dehydration" 

So where a beginner athlete taking on fluids and still think he/she is dehydrated will look to take on more and could end up hyponatremia.  The key notes from this active article based on research carried out is that you should avoid to drink unless you are actually thirsty unlike the previous recommendations stating you should keep drinking to avoid being thirsty. The other main note is to monitor yourself, you are the subject of your own study. As George Sheehan famously wrote, "Each of us is an experiment of one."  Perform such tests as the Sweat Test and urine test. Your urine colour should be pale yellow (lemonade), if it is clear like water you could be over hydrated and if it is dark (apple juice) you may be dehydrated.

According to Ottawa Marathon website,  when you are sweating during a race, you are not just losing water but also lose electrolytes. This is the reason why water is not enough for long distances. Actually drinking water alone will increase the risk of hyponatrmia as the sodium level remains low. Sports drinks contains a mixture of electrolytes and glucose. Intake of too much sports drinks (i.e. drinking way more fluids then you are losing through sweat) can also lead to hyponatremia. This really does sound like a balancing act, don't under nor over drink on sport drinks. Remember though hyponatrema is rare so along with all the beginner runners, i don't want to scare myself into not running.

Electrolytes are analogous to the motor oil in your car - they don’t make the engine run, but they’re absolutely necessary to keep everything running smoothly. Proper functioning of the digestive, nervous, cardiac, and muscular systems depends on adequate electrolyte levels.

Great article written about replenishing electrolytes by Steve Born. . Please comment below if you wish you express you own personal opinion or share an experience you have. Hopefully i will find the a good balance in the future and I will investigate the different brands in energy sport drinks at a later date.

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