So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

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Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad.* Instructional Systems Specialist. Runner. (Swim-challenged) Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) CRO/2, NTO/1. RRCA Rep., FL (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Friday, August 3, 2012

I'm A Radiator...So Are You

It was warm and sunny, last Sunday morning, as we began our eight-mile jaunt.  By the time Charley, Teri, Suzanne and I reached our bottle stash at two miles I knew the middle four miles were going to be, er, interesting.  As we approached the turn-around point, Teri mentioned something about the heat and asked where the (moving) “air” was.  Fortunately we realized the reason for the “warmer” conditions had to do with the fact we were walking with a breeze to our back.  Immediately we began to feel, perhaps not more comfortable, but at least a little less-overheated.
We’re not running at a fast pace this time of the year, so I have more time (and oxygen going to my brain) to think about things, especially when people pass by on their run/walk/bike.
‘Why is it,’ I asked to no one in particular, ‘I see a whole lot of cyclists training for an upcoming triathlon with empty bottle cages on their bikes; why there are no water bottles in those cages?’
Perhaps they are a special breed of triathlete; they are part camel and don’t need water.
Perhaps they have never had a flat tire or a mechanical situation they could not fix on their own, so they didn’t have to wait for bike support, or worse, have to walk their bike for a long distance.
Or, perhaps it’s simple ignorance.
I’m a radiator.  And if you’re human so are you.  And when that cooling system fails, we can, too.  A 160-pound person participating in a high-intensity sport can have their ability to perform (power) limited by almost 50 percent by a four-pound decrease in body weight.  That same 160-pound athlete, if they’re participating in an endurance event, can see a 5-percent decrease in running efficiency with the same amount of fluid loss.  Take another pound or two of body weight away and that drop in running efficiency goes up to 30 percent, depending on the event distance; the longer the distance means a greater decrease in efficiency
And that same 160-pounder, should they lose 8 or 9 pounds of fluid, can find their normal endurance to do a low-intensity activity, such as walking or easy cycling, cut in half.
I can speak from hard experience that hydration, especially in the summer, is important.  A near-fainting episode during an aerobics class two decades ago proved to me just how a “small” fluid loss can lead to a big problem.  I never thought until that time about how much I did sweat during workouts.  But I’m reminded every time I spin, run on a treadmill, or hit the cardio machine at my gym.  That puddle was originally inside of me, part of my blood which was sent to the capillaries near my skin. 
Unlike our automobiles we don’t have a sealed cooling system.  Our sweat glands, nostrils, mouth and (to a degree) our genitourinary system leak like the proverbial colander.  Sweating decreases blood volume, which means our blood cells have less fluid through which to travel and becomes more thick.  And even if we’re not noticeably sweating on colder days we still lose fluid by exhaling water vapor.
So we need to put fluid back in to replace what is lost. 
I recently mentioned that exercise activity (workouts) of lower intensity, or less than an hour in duration, can be served by plain (cool) water as tolerated during the activity.  Don’t forget about post-workout replenishment by the 150 percent of body weight change (loss) during the exercise period guide.  Don’t feel like taking it all in immediately?  No problem.  Just make certain to drink over the next few hours as tolerated. 
Workouts which go beyond 60 minutes need not only rehydration, but replacement of carbohydrates, protein and electrolytes which are being used.  Every person is an experiment of one; every person has a favorite sports beverage for their long workout.  My recommendation is to find the beverage which best suits your palate, your gut, and your wallet, in that order; the best sports drink in the world for you is the one which ends up in your gut and not in your sports bottle.  The beverage manufacturers know this, also; one particular sports drink, until about two decades ago, tasted more (to this writer’s palate) like powdered drink mixed with seawater.  At that point they developed several different flavor combinations (including iced tea, which I loved) and adjusted the level of salts and sugars in the formula.  (Add a marketing campaign with a dominant basketball player, and the rest, as you say…)
While you might not necessarily think you need to rehydrate on the run it’s always better – as people like to say – to have it and not need it, rather than need it and not have it.  Be prepared.

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