Stay Cool, Stay Hydrated!

By Debbie
August 21, 2013 on 11:19 am | In Nutrition Tips, Product Information, Training, Water | No Comments

This blog brought to you by Team TriSports athlete Nicole Truxes (rhymes with “success”). Check out her blog at www.nicole-stateofmind.blogspot.com and follow her on Twitter – nicoletruxes.

It’s heating up here in the desert, as I’m sure it is for much of the country.  Summer time BBQs filled with burgers, watermelons, and margaritas are just around the corner!  Everyone loves summer, with more hours of sunlight, less clothing, great tan lines – especially us triathletes ;) – and (for most) no school!  Even with all we have to look forward to in the summer, all the sweating during those hard miles does take a toll on your body, one that you may not be used to coming out of your winter training.

Getting hot, must hydrate!

Staying hydrated is one of the most important parts of our training, and it’s one of the easiest ones to forget.  First thing in the morning, aside from the hunger I’m sure many of you experience, you should be thinking about a glass of water.  You don’t have to overdo it, especially if you have a workout shortly after you rise (gotta beat the heat!), one 4-8 oz glass is fine depending on what you can handle and the duration of your workout.

If you think about it, the adult body is made up of about 60% water; wouldn’t it make sense to make it a key ingredient in our daily nutrition regimen?  Many of the metabolic processes necessary for training and recovery require the proper amount of water to happen, so why wouldn’t you supply your body with this integral piece of training equipment?

Your body is made up of about 60% water

Another important thing to consider is the amount of electrolytes you’re getting.  This word is thrown around a lot, but do you know what all of the electrolytes are and how to figure out if you’re low on any of them?

  • Sodium- the most common, most demonized, but very necessary electrolyte.  Sodium gets a bad rap because of all the high blood pressure and heart disease we have in this country; however, as an endurance athlete you need to be very aware of how much sodium you get because you may not be getting enough!  If you often get confused, or dazed when doing a hard workout (particularly one where you sweat a lot), you’re covered in white, and your skin tastes like salt—you might be in need of some sodium, pronto!  This confusion you’re experiencing is one of the first signs of hyponatremia, which can be very serious if you do not take care of it. When your sodium levels drop in your blood and you do nothing to bring them back up it can cause you to go from confusion to vomiting to more serious things such as cardiac arrest, pulmonary edema, or even death.  This has happened in many of the major marathon events and can even be caused by having too much plain water and not enough electrolyte supplementation.
  • Potassium- just eat some bananas, right?! For the most part, yes.  Potassium is much different than sodium in that when your blood levels first drop, it is difficult to tell that they are low.  It is not until real problems begin and your muscles are already cramping that you know you are very low in potassium.  This can also cause GI distress (mainly constipation) along with the muscle cramps, so be sure to eat your ‘nanners.
  • Calcium- Stress fracture fighter no. 1! It may come as a surprise that some of the most avid runners have some of the lowest calcium and therefore weakest bones.  But running is weight bearing? Yes, running is a weight bearing exercise, but sometimes runners (particularly female) have such low hormone levels that it causes their calcium to go down and therefore their bones become weak and brittle, allowing for stress fractures to happen much more easily.  Calcium can be taken in a supplement daily to help raise these levels and prevent against stress fractures; however, vitamin D is very important to take along with it to help boost absorption into your blood!
  • Magnesium- Seldom talked about, but very important!  Magnesium is a mineral we don’t generally hear a ton about.  However, it is very important to carbohydrate metabolism and muscle strength (two very important things for an endurance athlete).  Magnesium deficiency can decrease endurance by fatiguing muscles and decreasing the efficiency of carbohydrate metabolism.  The symptoms of low magnesium are difficult to distinguish from those of potassium or sodium, so it is important to supplement magnesium along with the other electrolytes!
  • Phosphate- Generally phosphate is not a problem for athletes.  It is very common in our diet and usually not lost in mass quantities when exercising.  The only time this electrolyte is a problem is when an athlete has an eating disorder or other severe disease of some kind, in which case they should seek medical attention anyway.

So that is a quick and dirty breakdown of the electrolytes. Many triathletes supplement with electrolytes caps. A great source of hydration and energy that I like is Fluid Performance. Check yourself every once in a while, monitor your electrolyte intake and determine if you have any of the beginning stages of any of these electrolyte deficiencies.  Not only will this increase your performance, but it could save your life!

Stay hydrated everyone!!

(I’m sure many people have seen this memorable finish…these ladies could have definitely used some electrolytes!!)

The Geology of Choosing Your Race

By Debbie
August 1, 2013 on 3:25 am | In Races, Random Musings | 1 Comment

This fun blog brought to you by Team TriSports athlete Liz Miller (who also happens to be a geologist). Check out her blog at www.femwnliz.blogspot.com and follow her on Twitter – FeWmnLiz.

What factors do you consider when signing up for races? How close the race is to where you live? Or whether the race destination would also make for a good vacation? Most triathletes like to plan and give careful consideration to every race that we sign up for, but sometimes even the best-laid plans can get sidetracked. Just in 2012, the Oschner Ironman 70.3 New Orleans swim was cancelled due to unsafe water conditions, and the bike course at Boise 70.3 was shortened to just 12 miles due to SNOW on the course (in June!). Some of the pro men even rode in their wetsuits, due to the 47 degree air temperature! But the chance of cold weather or choppy water isn’t the only thing that you should consider when signing up for your next race. I’d like to propose another factor to consider – geology! I know this is a triathlon blog, but how about we “switch gears” and talk some science.

I should preface this blog post by pointing out that geology has indeed affected some Ironman races in the past. Just 6 days before the 2006 Ironman World Championship race in Kona, a magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck the island. Reports say that in the days before the earthquake hit, Kona was unusually hot and humid, and in the days after the earthquake, the area got slammed with torrential downpours. On the day of the race, skies were overcast and winds were light – a beautiful day for racing. But, at about 7:20 PM, a torrential downpour happened on Ali’i Drive. Some athletes had to wade through knee deep water just to make it to the finish line. Within an hour the downpour had stopped and the water receded. So earthquakes really can affect your race, even if the quake doesn’t actually happen on race day!

Now, in order to determine which races are safer (geologically speaking), we need a quick geology introduction. The Earth’s outer shell is made up of plates which are constantly moving. Most geologic activity occurs as a result of the interaction between these plates. There are three types of plate boundaries:

1. Convergent boundaries are boundaries where plates collide. At these boundaries, plates are colliding to form mountain ranges, or one plate is diving down beneath the other plate in a process called subduction.

2. Divergent boundaries are boundaries where two plates are moving away from each other. Magma can rise to the surface at divergent boundaries, forming new crustal material.

3. Transform boundaries are boundaries where two plates slide past each other. As the plates slowly move past one another, pressure builds until the plates rupture in one big movement, causing an earthquake. The San Andreas fault in California is a transform boundary and is responsible for the frequency of earthquakes in California.

Here’s the United States Geological Survey’s simplified map of plate tectonics; the red arrows indicate plate direction. Arrows pointing towards each other represent convergent boundaries; arrows pointing in opposite directions represent divergent boundaries; arrows that are side-by-side represent a transform boundary.

USGS Plate Map

The other geologic hazard that should be considered before registering for a race is hot spots – the kind formed by liquid hot magma, not the painful ones on your feet at the end of a marathon. Hot spots are areas where magma is able to make its way up to the surface and form volcanic features. The Hawaiian Islands are one of the best known examples of hot spot volcanism – these islands have formed as the Pacific Plate moves over the Hawaiian hotspot. AND hot spots can also experience seismic activity.  In the image below, the Hawaiian Island chain is visible in the center of the picture; this chain has formed as the Pacific Plate has slowly moved over the Hawaiian hot spot.

Hawaiian Hot Spot

Now, let’s compare the geologic maps to TriMapper’s map of Ironman races around the world.

Ironman Race Map

The Australian races are probably safe. Australia sits on a large plate of its own, and the plate boundaries are a significant distance from the continent itself. Ironman New Zealand could be problematic – the plate boundary runs right through the north and south islands! The earthquake that hit Christchurch in 2011 was in February, and Ironman New Zealand is typically early March. Japan is also at risk, since it is located on a plate boundary. In 2011, a very large earthquake hit Japan, causing tsunamis, structural damage, and a nuclear release. I wouldn’t want to be racing in that environment! Additionally, Japan has historically had some of the largest earthquakes, causing the most damage and casualties.

Most of the North American races are in the clear, except for Ironman Canada – Whistler is located near the triple junction of the North American plate, Juan de Fuca plate, and Pacific Plate.

The Ironman races in Mexico aren’t looking too promising – Cabo San Lucas is near the triple junction of the North American plate, Cocos plate, and Pacific plate, and Cozumel sits pretty close to a plate boundary too. In fact, the United States Geological Survey calls Mexico one of the world’s most seismically active areas. But further to the south, Ironman Brazil looks to be in the clear, since Brazil is located near the center of the South American plate.

Ironman South Africa and Lanzarote are both centrally located on the African plate and are probably safe bets.

Some of the European races might be a little risky – Ironman Wales and UK are probably far enough away from a plate boundary, as well as Ironman Kalmar and the Ironman European Championship. But Ironman Switzerland, Austria, and France are getting a little close to the Eurasian and African plate boundary.

So, out of 29 Ironman events worldwide, at least 8 Ironmans are located at or near plate boundaries. That’s nearly 30%! Not to mention the fact that the Ironman World Championship race is located on an island that is still being formed by an active volcano. I certainly won’t complain about making it to Kona one day to race, but in the meantime, I might stick with the North American races (or convince my boyfriend to buy a plane ticket to Australia…).

Here’s a map of all the Ironman 70.3 races – I’ll leave it up to you to figure out which races are safer than others!

70.3 Race Map

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