ORANGE MUD NEWS
These days our social feeds are filled with friends announcing that they’re an ambassador for X brand. Chances are maybe you’re an ambassador yourself. But what exactly does that mean? I’m not an expert, but I’ve been a part of several ambassador programs (including Orange Mud), and have even helped some small businesses build their programs. I’m here to help you find the right program for you, and give you tips on how to be a kick @$$ ambassador once you’re selected!
Many believe you have to have a large following on social media in order to be an ambassador. While some programs may have a required number of followers, most are only looking for an active presence. Meaning you post regularly about training and about your sport (running, cycling, etc). As long as you are active on social media (multiple platforms being a plus), you’re off to a good start.
There are so many brands out there that have an ambassador program. So how do you find the best one for you? Start with one simple rule: choose a brand you use regularly. A favorite shoe, fuel, nutrition, and so on. Brands look for someone who uses their products and has intimate first hand knowledge about them.
Now, what does being an ambassador really mean? By definition an ambassador is:
A person who acts as a representative or promoter of a specified activity.
Keep that in mind when selecting a program. You are essentially a spokesperson for that brand. Do you align with the same mission and goals as the brand? Do you truly have a passion for the company and its products? When considering applicants, brands will be looking to answer these same questions about you.
“So we get FREE stuff, right?” Wrong. Sorry to give it to you straight, but being an ambassador doesn’t always guarantee free gear. Somewhere along the lines the definition of a SPONSORED athlete versus an ambassador become a grey area. But in most cases, the facts are still pretty black and white: Sponsored Athletes receive free gear and race entries in exchange for representing a brand in their attempts to podium. While Ambassadors receive perks (discounts, limited gear, etc) in exchange for sharing about a product on social media and within their local communities.
Yes, most ambassadors are required to do a small amount of work. Sharing images on social media, engaging with the brand on their social platforms, and so on. Part of being an ambassador is building upon your existing relationship with the brand. The more work you put into a program, going above and beyond and getting creative with your content, the stronger your relationship with that business becomes. And when they have an opportunity to seed someone with free product, they’re going to seek out those who have proven their performance. So essentially, the more you put into being an ambassador, the more likely you will receive additional perks along the way.
So what do you get for being an ambassador to make it worth the work? Deep discounts. That’s why you want to choose a product you are familiar with and use regularly. You save money on the gear you normally would pay full price for.
Ambassador programs also create an online community of like-minded people, made up of elites and everyday athletes. It becomes an endless resource you can tap into.Training for a tough race, new distance, or need general advice or motivation? Ask your fellow ambassadors. Your love for the company and sport will connect you, and more often than not there is organic encouragement and motivation from one another. I have met some of my close friends through an ambassador program!
If you take nothing else away from this post, at least remember this: you’re not signing up for gear. As an ambassador you’re signing up to to build a long-lasting relationship. And we all know, relationships take work. So if you’re prepared to give your time and effort to support a brand you care about, use regularly, and genuinely want to help succeed--apply and good luck!
Thanks for reading!
We had a lot of fun chatting with Jeff Vierling, founder of Tailwind Nutrition in our podcast. Due to high request, we had it transcribed as well for your reading pleasure! Want to listen to the podcast? Click here!
Josh: Alright guys, welcome to another episode of the Orange Mud Adventure Channel Podcast. Today, your hosts are myself, Josh Sprague and Paul Jesse from Orange Mud.
Paul: How is everyone doing today?
Josh: Nutrition is something that many of us stumble on in training and racing, especially in the longer events. We both have known tons of people that have switched to Tailwind with tremendous success and as such, are super-excited to have Tailwind founder Jeff Vierling on the call today. So Jeff, welcome to the call.
Jeff: Hey, thanks a lot guys, happy to be here.
Josh: Heck yeah, man. Alright, so let’s dig into the start of Tailwind first, so specifically blowing chunks is on your website. It’s a great way to start a business, is blowing chunks. The taste of entrepreneurship from your stomach. So yeah, walk us through that.
Jeff: There’s nowhere to go from up from that taste, so…
Josh: There’s truth to that. That’s for sure. That was the Leadville 100, right, is where you puked after the race?
Jeff: Yeah, that was Leadville 100 and actually it was my first real race ever. I kind of chose a big one to start with.
Josh: But you haven’t even done like 50 miles or 15-mile mountain bike races at all?
Jeff: Actually, that year I did do the Silver Rush 50 miler. That Silver Rush was my first time actually racing a mountain bike.
Paul: That’s awesome – way to just go for it, I like it!
Josh: I just did Silver Rush, was it two weeks ago? And that was hard! I’m hoping the Leadville 100 is easier than Silver Rush 100.
Jeff: I had that same reaction. I did that Silver Rush that same year and I was like oh man, if the hundred is double this I’m in deep trouble.
Josh: Yeah, not to mention I wouldn’t make the cutoff. I think I did Silver Rush 50 in 637 I think it was and the cutoff for the 100 is 12, so it’s got to be at least 50% easier or I’m not going to finish.
Jeff: Yeah, the good news is it is easier. Or at least it spreads it out a little bit more, not as concentrated.
Josh: Any puking in the Silver Rush or was it just the 100?
Jeff: Didn’t puke in the Silver Rush. I don’t remember a whole lot about that besides the pain.
Josh: I’m with you.
Paul: What year was that?
Jeff: I had to actually go look at that, that was actually 2002.
Paul: Ok, and then how long did it take you after that to kind of come up with the idea of making your own hydration mix?
Jeff: Yeah, I think that was really sort of a start of the journey right there. And I kept on experimenting with different products after that. I actually ended up, I didn’t do the Leadville race in 2003. I think I had second thoughts about the blowing chunks episode.
Jeff: So I actually skipped a year there before I started doing it every year. And I know for sure I didn’t have Tailwind, I wasn’t using that in the next race. Cause again I was just trying to see if I can figure out something that would work and feel better and I was starting to read up on the sports nutrition research just to understand the problem. But I didn’t really set out to make my own. And so, it’s funny cause you probably should know when your business has started, but I actually don’t remember exactly.
Josh: Didn’t you guys – I think you guys started the same year we did, at least selling which I think was 2012.
Jeff: Yeah, that was 2012. So I know when the sort of business side of it started, but at that point, I was just really trying to solve my problem, I wasn’t really thinking about creating something that would eventually be a business. So…
Paul: Sure. More focus on getting yourself at the finish line than anybody else.
Jeff: Exactly, yeah.
Josh: So, after Leadville, there’s some period between then and 2012. You began experimenting with these different homemade concoctions to prevent stomach distress and hopefully no blowing chunks at the finish line. What were the key differences you found between other products on the market and yours? Like what was the element you found or at least some of the key elements you found that would help to have a more stable stomach?
Jeff: Yeah, so I really did experiment with pretty much everything out there in the market. At least in training, and some in racing too. And I just wasn’t finding something that worked. It did teach me kind of a lot and I noticed some commonalities. And then as I was diving into the research about how the body actually absorbs fuel and utilizes fuel, I just found that some of these, actually a lot of the products in the market have ingredients that are really challenging to digest. And slow the absorption of calories. And that didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me because your blood’s actually diverted away from your digestive tract, so most people can’t digest stuff as efficiently while they’re going hard, and you’re running a calorie deficit. So why would you want to make your body work hard and harder for the fuel that it needs, and then delay its entry when you’re running in a big calorie deficit? That was kind of a big focus and Tailwind is to use the pathways that the body absorbs fuel and just get it in as quickly as possible without having to digest it. So that’s one really big difference. And then there are some other things as well, that I had as kind of pet peeves from my own racing experience. Things like the taste and texture, something that I can use all day and not get super sick of. The electrolyte balance right so cramping’s not so much of an issue and then just the ease of use. Mixing it, put it in a hydration pack and clean it up without turning that into a science experiment. And also simplicity, just keeping it simple. I don’t know how you guys feel, but I did a few hours into a race, my brain starts going south and I find myself like – did I just take that salt pill 10 minutes ago or was that an hour ago?
Paul: I’m pretty sure if it wasn’t for a beeping timer on my watch I’d never take anything.
Jeff: Yeah, exactly. I mean that just ends up adding a lot of stress to the whole situation. It’s trying to keep it simple so that I can just sort of focus on riding and not on worrying about whether I’m getting stuff right.
Paul: So how easy was it to make a mix that just tasted good versus a mix that actually worked?
Jeff: So actually, once I understood really how the body processes fuel, I was pretty lucky in getting it to work pretty well. But it took actually longer to dial in the flavor, I think. Yeah, that’s hard. It was hard enough for me, and then as we’ve gone on and it turned into a business, I mean, taste is all over the map for people.
Josh: That’s for sure.
Paul: And your tastes change too over the course of these long events. After a while you want less sweet, you know.
Jeff: Yeah, so that’s actually something that I don’t know, I kind of envisioned. I don’t know what happens at other companies, I kind of envisioned that there are people who sit around in a conference room and they’re sipping things saying this tastes better than that. And it might taste good when you’re sitting on the couch, right? But then that’s totally different to when it’s like hot and you’re 6 hours in. So, I definitely was, I was trying to get the taste to work when it’s hot and you’re 6 hours in or 10 hours in and have it still be something that you can drink. And you know, you’re willing to drink. It’s not grossing you out. You’re not like ‘ugh’. And you guys have probably heard this, I’ve heard it from so many people whether they start with their nutrition plan and then they’re like yeah, I got so sick of the gels 3 hours in and I stopped taking them.
Jeff: Right? And then they talk about how they start to run out of energy and they felt like crap, it’s like well, yeah. It’s not too surprising you stopped taking calories in, you’re going to go south.
Paul: It’s amazing how that works.
Jeff: So it’s super important to be able to keep taking it. So that’s what the flavor’s trying to achieve, is what tastes good when you’re sweaty and when your drink is not ice cold and you’re going for a long time.
Paul: So were you pretty much self-taught on all this stuff, just your own personal research and that’s kind of how you started all this/
Jeff: Yeah, I think I really benefitted from that there’s been a lot of sports nutrition research done in the last couple of decades, and even since maybe some of the leading products that are now on the market were developed, there’s been a lot more research done. So I benefitted from a lot of that.
Paul: So, since you are self-taught since you started to make these things in your kitchen, were you ever concerned with what you were actually putting into your body and did any of those concoctions have a horribly negative effect?
Jeff: It would make a better story if it was terrible, but no, actually…
Josh: You never turned purple or anything. That was a wrong chemical!
Paul: No bad Willy Wonka reactions?
Jeff: No, there is a friend I was kind of bouncing ideas off of at the time, and he tried something that had like an effervescent effect. He was like oh my god, belching all the way up the hill. So, I was lucky to dodge that one. I kind of lucked out in terms that it did work out pretty well and I was really confident in it too because it was, what I was putting in as far as ingredients were really exactly what the body uses and how it uses fuel. So, I was pretty confident it would work. And yeah, it actually did.
Josh: So that’s kind of a good segway into this question then: what would you say is at the core of what makes Tailwind different than most of the other hydration mixes on the market?
Jeff: Well, if you want to dive in the weeds here a little bit, it’s an all-in-one fuel. Meaning like you can get all your calories, all your electrolytes and your hydration together. And I think that’s kind of really the core of it and it has a lot of side benefits, one of which is simple to use. You can just, you’re going to drink anyway, so you can just sip your fuel and you’re getting your hydration also. But there’s also a real biological reason that that works and basically in your small intestine you have a couple of active transport mechanisms, they’re pumps. They’re pumps for glucose and fructose. And like all pumps in the body, they’re a sodium-potassium pump, means that if you’ve got the glucose there, in water, and you need sodium also in your small intestine, then that pump will function and it will grab unto that, say that glucose molecules and the sodium molecules and pump them in and that creates a little local tenacity difference and it sucks water through at the same time. So you’re actually getting the three things that you need for your ability to perform: your calories, your electrolytes and your water. When you have those three in combination, it’s actually the most efficient way to get all 3 in. So, that simplicity is also kind of the key of why it works. We’re giving you that fuel, the glucose, so that the main ingredients in Tailwind are dextrose, which is glucose and sucrose as far as the fuel goes. And sucrose is glucose and fructose molecule. At your small intestine level, you’re getting glucose and fructose which is exactly what your body absorbs.
Josh: So, I guess before we go back to the sugars, on electrolytes – I generally take two an hour. And I’m with you when it gets so confusing, like 2 an hour is easy. It’s when I switch cause it’s really hot to two every 45 minutes, 50 minutes. I think I can process that but then actually after a few hours is I’m like was it 2:15 that I had this last, or 3? You start really losing it. But at the same time, like I have a buddy of mine and he’s like an oddball in this case, but he eats electrolytes like it’s going out of style. He’ll take 5 an hour and maybe 7 and if he isn’t doing that, he cramps. I’ve never met anybody like him, he’s definitely unique in that case. How would that, and maybe this means you need to take additional supplements, but being that your formula has electrolytes in it, how do you kind of teach people or recommend people manage their cramping when they maybe have to have more than what your supplements, more than you have in your fuel?
Jeff: Man, it’s actually like a really big topic. Cramping – there’s a lot of kind of misunderstanding about and then also the science on it is not totally figured out. There are a lot of causes of cramping and electrolytes or an electrolyte and water balance in your body can definitely be a factor. We’ve all seen people drinking just water and then they’re like quivering on the side of the road. I think everybody does endurance racing knows that from experience. But it’s not as simple as you know, if I’m feeling sort of crampy just pop in more electrolyte pills is going to take care of that problem. In a lot of cases that’s not true and more isn’t better. So you kind of have to understand that like blood is 4 times saltier than sweat. So your blood is actually really salty already; now if you become dehydrated, than that concentration actually goes really up. Even if you’re sweating salt out, you can actually change your electrolyte and water balance a lot more through water loss, through dehydration or the other direction, if you’re just drinking water and you’re sweating a ton of salt out and you do that for hours and hours, you can wind up with really dilute electrolytes in your bloodstream. So, both situations are actually not good for performance and even dangerous sometimes. But really what you want is, you want to keep your salt and your water levels in balance in your body. So the keys to cramping are not just how much salt you’re taking in, but also how much water you’re taking in and whether you’ve got enough fuel that’s getting to your cells. If you’re in a dehydrated state, your heart has to work harder to move that sticker slurry around and you’re less efficient at getting the energy to your muscles, and you’re less efficient at getting rid of the waste products. So, you kind of see how this can kind of cascade and it’s not just as simple as hey, a salt pill. It’s about trying to keep that whole system in balance, and that’s why we put the electrolytes in with the water in the right ratio. So you’re – if you are drinking to replacement for sweat volume, then you’re also getting those electrolytes back in that you need. And you know, people are definitely different and they can have really different physical needs. But if you kind of keep those things close in balance, your body is pretty good at regulating itself too. So it generally works.
Paul: Sure. Kind of going back to the sugars we were talking about a little bit ago. The primary sugars that you guys use are glucose and sucrose in Tailwind. Can you give us a little bit of an idea as to why those are your primary fuel sources as opposed to any kind of complex carbs or anything like that?
Jeff: Yeah, so I think this is something that also is confusing out there, it sort of confused me for a long time. You know, it helps to understand what’s a simple carb, what’s a complex carb. So simple carb would refer to a simple sugar like glucose. It’s a molecule, an individual molecule and we have active transports mechanisms just for glucose. That’s one of the two sugars that your body absorbs as energy. And when you actually talk about eating something and how you get the energy out of that, those two pumps are actually the only ones that exist. There are no pumps for other molecules like that. So, even if you eat like a stake, the energy out of that that you’re going to be able to absorb is eventually going to come in the form of glucose and fructose. So, then a complex carb is actually a manufactured chain of dextrose molecules. So it’s still glucose, but they’re manufactured into linkages. So a chain of them. And those chains have to be broken in order for the glucose to be absorbed. Cause absorption only happens one molecule at a time.
Paul: Ok, that makes sense.
Jeff: So what you have with a complex carb, is you have a slower absorption curve because of the time it takes to break those chains. So, it kind of makes sense if you are – let’s say you’re fueling every 45 minutes and you shove down a couple hundred calories right at once.
Paul: Just sounds painful even to think about.
Jeff: Yeah, well, but a gel is going to be like 90 or 100 calories. So if you do that every 45 minutes or half an hour, that’s what you’re doing. You’re taking all those calories at once. And wouldn’t want them to all rush in at once, cause then you’d wind up with spiky energy intake. So that’s where maltodextrin, sorry I didn’t mention the name. Maltodextrin is the molecule you’re talking about when people talk about complex carbs. So, that’s what maltodextrin is sort of useful for, it will meter out a little bit of that absorption because you have to break those chains before it gets absorbed. So, it kind of works in that context, but it doesn’t really make sense if you’re sipping your fuel on the way. Why would you want to make your digestive system work harder and have that fuel sitting around where it’s not actually powering you, it’s just in your gut? Right? And that’s where people run into problems too, is if that absorption rate, if your ability to digest that and then absorb it slows beyond what your eating rate is, then you’re just going to back up and start feeling full and stuff’s not getting through.
Paul: That explains why I can’t use gels during ultras. Now it makes sense.
Josh: Those things are brutal.
Paul: On that sugar, going to be a little selfish here, but maybe kind of help some other people too. So I just ran 100k this past weekend, and probably around mile 50 I ate this huge, I don’t know why I just scarfed down this huge piece of watermelon and my stomach pretty much shut down on me. And I had the same problem at Wasatch 100 in September to the point where I actually had to end up drop out of Wasatch cause the pain got so bad, I couldn’t take in any calories. So on the drive home from the mountains I started googling why this could’ve happened, and I actually found from about two years ago a Facebook post from you guys talking about fructose malabsorption. Can you shed a little bit of light on that? Cause I had never heard of that until now and all of the symptoms are exactly what happened to me, so I hope that’s all the problem was, is that I just got to avoid my watermelon.
Jeff: Yeah, actually that’s pretty common. It’s actually pretty common one we hear about from our customers. And watermelon, it’s definitely the number one culprit and I think it’s cause it looks so good.
Paul: Yeah, I wasn’t even hungry – I was just standing in the aid station, I’m like ‘Oh, that looks awesome, I’ll just eat a huge piece of watermelon’. And I mean it was massive. I did not need that much watermelon, but it just looked good.
Jeff: Right, it tastes great, it’s cool, it’s refreshing. All those things, right? And that’s – I think that’s one of the things that’s super hard about nutrition, is that the things that like kind of taste good and are really satisfying, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be the best fuel for you.
Josh: Jelly beans, gummy bears.
Jeff: Even that cheeseburger.
Josh: Nothing wrong with cheeseburger.
Paul: I eat bacon like it’s going out of style. In a race, not a good idea for me.
Jeff: Yeah, so fructose, what can happen is if you overload those pumps, the transport mechanisms, then that can be not fully absorbed. And it tends to happen more often with fructose than really glucose. The body seems to be a little less efficient at absorbing a lot of fructose. And so, that’s what then is called like malabsorption, meaning it just didn’t get picked up. It didn’t get picked up in your small intestine and moved into your bloodstream. It actually metabolizes a little bit different than glucose also, but that’s for a different topic. Anyways, what happens to that fructose that doesn’t get absorbed is it will go into the large intestine. In the large intestine, you have all the bacteria, and they just have a field day on that. So, that happens and then they start producing all their gas and byproducts and stuff like that, and you know that’s when you start feeling it.
Paul: Yeah, and based on the stomach pain that bacteria gets angry. I was doubled over it hurt so bad.
Jeff: It’s more like the bacteria is really happy.
Paul: Yeah, yeah.
F: You’ve got a forest going on in your intestine.
Jeff: They are having a field day and you’re running out into the field.
Paul: Oh man, it’s brutal. That was unpleasant. I’ve got a 50 miler next weekend and I’m going to try and avoid the watermelon. As long as there are no problems, then I think I’ll be okay for the 100 in September.
Jeff: Yeah, you just got to be really careful. I mean, we tell people it’s fine to have a little bit of fruit along the way. But you really, you’ve got to be really careful not to overdo it.
Paul: Is there anything other than watermelon that’s really high in fructose that you see at aid stations that should be avoided? I read somewhere that bananas are fine, but I think it was apples or pears or something like that. I never seen those in aid stations, so I wasn’t too worried about it.
Jeff: Oranges would have some fructose too. Bananas have more glucose, so they’re actually pretty fairly decent fuel as far as solid foods go. So, but yeah, any of the things that you associate as kind of a juicy, fruity sort of taste, that’s gonna come back to bite you.
Josh: Pickles and potato chips – is there anything negative that you would say for pickles and potato chips at aid stations?
Jeff: You know, other than just that when you put stuff into your stomach, your stomach’s not really absorbing anything for you. It’s just making soup out of what you put into it.
Paul: That’s a lovely thought.
Josh: Definitely got to work on the wording on that one.
Jeff: So, I mean, pickle and potato chip soup – as awesome as that sounds…
Josh: Actually didn’t sound too bad.
Jeff: It just takes time and energy and if you don’t drink enough, then your body will actually suck water out of your blood stream and put it into your stomach in order to make that soup. So, you know, you can get into trouble if you don’t, if you’re not drinking enough to process that. But what you’re talking about there is salt. It means your body is saying I’m low on salt, and that’s why you’re craving the pickles and the potato chips.
Josh: I knew a big pitch of most hydration companies, I shouldn’t even say pitch cause that makes it sound bad, but a truth I think I should maybe probably word it as, for most hydration companies is the number one reason your nutrition went wrong in a race probably is because of the crap you ate on course more so than sticking with your drink. And I know that with you guys, that’s your pitch too, is drink Tailwind through the whole race, you shouldn’t have any problems, you shouldn’t need to take other foods because it truly can wreck things. That being said, we just get hungry in a race. And I know you guys don’t have protein in Tailwind, but I know that is the ideology behind some of the other brands is to put a little bit of protein in to stave off hunger cravings. So what’s your take on that as far as why no protein, and again, when you get hungry – like what do you do when Tailwind just isn’t enough?
Jeff: Yeah, so first on the protein. So, protein, the reason I don’t put it in is it’s a complex molecule that’s really hard to digest. And again, people vary. We probably all know people who have a slice of pepperoni pizza and then just keep going, right? And so some people’s digestive system is kind of super tolerant to anything. Other people have trouble with even something that’s really easy on your stomach as Tailwind is at the beginning of the race cause your stomach is just not functioning under stress, the start stress for instance. So, it kind of covers the whole map, but for most people your digestive system is derailed and throwing a hard to digest molecule at it is just asking for trouble. The other part about it is while you’re running a calorie deficit, your body is really trying to take everything you take in and turn it into energy, and in the case of protein, the calories that cost to break it down into useable energy are actually more than what you get out of it. So, it’s a negative energy contributor, which is not really what you want during a race either. So, those are the reasons we don’t included. Definitely the hunger thing, so first off, I mean hunger – if you actually get your calorie per hour intake right, you can really avoid hunger for a long time. It’s definitely possible to do that. That said, especially like in an ultra – we have a lot of customers that just like to eat something at some point.
Paul: It’s almost more mental than anything, yeah.
Jeff: Yeah, maybe more mental than anything, they like the idea of chewing something, tasting something different, having a little something in their stomach that makes them feel a little fuller. But you don’t want too full. There’s a fine line there. And we’re not religious about that at all. Our opinion is we want you to use what works for you to get you to your goal and if that’s like half Tailwind and half food and that works for you, that’s fine. But what we tell people is if you’re going to use something else, use another food during the race, just make sure you keep hitting your calorie goal. We usually look at it as calories per hour. And then reduce your Tailwind accordingly. So if you’re going to add in 100 calories or something, then you need to subtract 100 calories of Tailwind so you’re not overdoing it. Cause overdoing it, it’s really easy to overeat actually. It’s really easy to gulp down too many calories and then wind up not being able to process them while you’re out there.
Josh: I think it’s just unbelievable how many people ruin their nutrition just by not drinking enough. And myself included. I don’t think – I would say, just a rough swag at this, I’d say only 10% of people that do endurance racing, they drink properly. Almost everybody, it’s unbelievable how many people, I don’t care how experienced, how amazing athletes they are. They’re puking, suffering through something at some point and it’s unbelievable how. Earlier this year I did Dirty Kansas and in like a 4 and a half hour bike leg I drank 10, maybe 15 ounces of my mix and things just went wrong. And I just started feeling like crap, it was hot, nothing was lighting up. And I know better – and I actually thought I was drinking more than that, to be honest. I just, mentally I was off and as a consequence I was in a state of suck and I just wasn’t drinking enough as I should’ve been. It’s kind of tough for most people to really drink your whatever – just call it 250 an hour, calories-wise. Simply because you hit those downsides throughout the race where things go bad. And I met tons of people that they dilute their hydration mix to have strength and it tastes better for them. And I always ask them – you realize that’s cutting your caloric intake in half, right? And they’re like no, no. Yeah, if it’s 2 scoops for 250 calories, you’re using one scoop, yeah, you just cut it in half. But a lot of people don’t think that. I just cut off the flavor this way. But again, it’s just unbelievable how many people go wrong and they sabotage their own selves, and again myself included. And Paul with beet juice and watermelon.
Paul: I’ve done some dumb things.
Josh: But I however have never had a problem on pepperoni pizza. That is something that has been quite successful. So, I guess, another question I have then is biking versus running. And like for me, I rarely have problems anymore running. I got my hydration dialed pretty good. I do notice biking though, it just seems like my burn rate is stiffer. And I don’t know if it’s a wattage output and it’s shifting more towards my legs and it changes the way my body’s processing fuel. But I am hungrier more on the bike than I am when I run. So, how do you see that fueling is different between endurance riders versus endurance runners?
Jeff: So, actually it’s funny because even though I started trying to solve a problem on the bike, you know, the mechanisms for how your body absorbs fuel and how it utilizes it and everything, it’s the same regardless of your sport. But like the majority of our customers are ultra and trail runners. And so it’s turned out that that group tends to have more stomach issues than cyclists in general. You can definitely have issues in both sports, but I think the kind of just the motion of running, the pounding and the up and down makes a problem of having stuff kind of in your gut and in your stomach sloshing around worse than on a bike.
Jeff: So, metabolically it’s really kind of the same problem. But I think that runners experience more acutely. So, as far as the actual fueling goes, one of the big differences that we see is that nobody really wants to carry around a lot of fluid. Especially when they’re running. But it’s a whole lot easier to do that when you’re on a bike, right? It’s not that big of a deal to have bottles on your bike or be carrying a 100-ounce pack. So, the ability to get enough water into that mix is definitely different, and that makes it a little harder on runners I think. They – you were just talking about hydration, I mean, a lot of studies show athletes pretty much run around somewhat dehydrated all the time. Cause we sort of, we’re just always in a dehydrated state. We never really hydrate fully. And actually there isn’t too much harm in being in a mild dehydrated state while you’re exercising either. But it is really easy to mess it up by getting too dehydrated. And that’s the biggest thing we see with runners is the tendency to not drink enough in order to process the fuel and then to run low on calories in the end cause they’re not getting enough in.
Josh: Yeah, and we see – we design hydration packs, obviously. And so, like when I’m using my bottle-based packs, I’m pretty flawless with calories per hour, with staying up with it. It’s when I use my bladder I have to be a lot more cognoscente of it, and I love our bladder pack. But it is the downside where I’ve learned over the years, I always set a timer to every 15 minutes and I drink. And I learned that 3 drinks, 3 hard drinks on the bike every 15 minutes will equate to 20-25 ounces per hour. And it at least seems to be my fix. But yeah, when it comes to freaking managing your fluid intake, it is, it’s horrible of how hard it is to be able to keep up. At least in the bottle-based packs, at least you’re able to see, ok, I’m 30 minutes in, I drank half my bottle, great. Or I drank 2 ounces from it, not good.
Jeff: Yeah, if you can see it, it’s a lot easier to manage, for sure. And I’m kind of like you, I mean I have – I know exactly what I need to be doing with my pack in order to get what I need and that’s just something that’s dialed in over time. But you know, you also are – when you’re racing, you’re looking at your pace, you’re looking at your heart rate, your breathing exertion and you’re monitoring all those factors. Nutrition is just as important as your training and your effort level and your race management. All that stuff matters and you’ve got to pay attention to it, it’s just no doubt. You’ve got to pay attention to nutrition – you got to dry and wing it. Or you let it slide, it’s probably not going to…
Paul: Only going to get worse as you keep going.
Jeff: Yeah, definitely.
Paul: So what do you guys recommend as far as how long you should be out running before you need a calorie mix versus just taking a bottle of water with you?
Jeff: Yeah, I think that one, it varies person to person obviously. We usually tell people about 2 hours is the cutoff. Or if you’re going over two hours, you should definitely be taking your mix with you. Most people, glycogen, if you’re a pretty well-trained athlete might be 2-2.5 hours of glycogen stores you’ve got on board to get you through. So you can definitely make it, the question is: what do you want to do the next day? If you’re going to go out and you’re going to go hard for an hour and a half, and then you intend to go out and go hard the next day, then I’d say you’d actually want to be drinking your mix all the way along. And the reason for that is a lot of your, one of the big factors in recovery is just how deep you went down into your reserves the day before.
Paul: It’s a really good point that I don’t think a lot of people realize, is when they look at their training or their nutrition of that run, they don’t really look at how’s my nutrition on this run going to affect my nutrition on tomorrow’s run or tomorrow’s ride?
Jeff: Exactly, yeah. Actually, we have some soccer teams that use Tailwind and that’s really the big factor for them, cause they want to try and train hard, say 3 days in a row and the quality of your training really depends on the availability of your energy reserves. So for them to be able to go hard 3 days in a row, they better be on top of their nutrition on that first day and the second day.
Paul: So how do you see nutrition requirements changing as far for things like short, fast stuff like soccer up to a couple of hours, and then again up to 24 hours or multi-day events?
Jeff: Yeah, so there’s some like really cool fun fact is that if you just swish a carbohydrate mix in your mouth, you don’t even have to swallow it. You will actually get a boost in your blood sugar from that. It’s actually kind of like the brain saying like ‘oh, hey, food’s on the way, I’m going to release some of the energy that’s in your glycogen stores into your bloodstream and make that available because I know I’m going to get it refueled.’ It thinks it’s going to feed you, right? And you can fool it by spitting that out.
Paul: It’s already halfway, you might as well take it in.
Jeff: Yeah. But if you’re going to try and go for a fast start, you definitely want to do that. And it’s not going to last you very long. Maybe we’re talking about a 15 minute window there, but you can get up to a 20% boost in your blood sugar. That would be free energy that’s in your bloodstream that your muscles can just grab and burn. So, if you’re trying to go real fast, that’s a really good reason to start out with carbohydrate before the race. You know, then as you go along, the really big difference between shorter and longer in my opinion is that your margin for error just gets smaller and smaller the longer you go. So I’ll give you an example. Let’s just say you’re under drinking by 2 ounces an hour. Okay? It’s not much, right? That’s very little, that’s kind of one big gulp. But if you’re out there, let’s say you’re out there 16 hours and you do that for 16 hours, well, you’re down 34 ounces. Which is basically a liter. So just think about sucking, you’re out trying to do 100 and you just gave a liter of blood.
Josh: I don’t think I want to do that.
Paul: I don’t think that will end very well.
Josh: I’ll let Paul do that.
Paul: That will be an interesting experiment.
Josh: For you.
Jeff: Yeah. That’s kind of what you’re dealing with, it gets to be very precise. And it’s hard because conditions vary day to day, maybe it’s drier, maybe it’s hotter. And you have to be able to plan for that and adjust for that. And those little mistakes that you make along the way, they compound. I think that’s what makes ultras really tough is you kind of have to be able to keep it right or you’re really going to have problems at later stages.
Josh: I hope the wearable technology… I know there’s stuff out there. But at least for my research so far it looks like it’s still super basic. But I really hope that before too long, the Garmin 25 as opposed to the Garmin 5, hopefully it reads your glucose levels and electrolyte levels. Everything and gives you more tactical feedback. I mean, like 2 ounces an hour like you’re talking about, that’s just so tiny. You’re talking about 7-8% of what you’re supposed to consume per hour anyway, to have a margin an error plus or minus 7%, I don’t think any of us…
Jeff: It is a big ask.
Josh: But if you can have something real time to manage those levels that’s pretty non-intrusive, that would be incredible.
Jeff: I totally agree. I’m right there with you on that. I’ve been dreaming about that for a long time. If you can manage just things like your glucose level, your, the salinity of your blood which is really a combination measure of your hydration and your stomach content. And even if it was like green, yellow, red. Even that level would help if you can monitor that on a periodic basis and see where it’s going. And that will give you that little bit of advance warning, like hey, I better be starting to drink a little bit more or I’m going to get into trouble here. That would help so much because our mechanisms like our thirst mechanisms and our hunger mechanisms – they’re just delayed. They aren’t, and actually they tend to function less well as you go on also. Or maybe it’s cause your brain sucks and not doing some things very well. But by the time you say I’m starving, man, it’s way too late.
Josh: I guess, I may have to hit up my Aunt Lory. She’s a diabetic, has been forever and wears a pump like in real time. And I’d be curious to talk to her and see what she sees. I know she’s more in tune with her blood sugar, just like many diabetics are. They know extremely well, but I wonder how much of it is delayed where maybe that’s part of the reason why wearables have been so slow to come to market because there is even a delayed reaction with how your body is reporting, basically. You know, okay, so maybe you’re in the yellow now, but does that mean you need to fuel hard because you’re going to go red no matter what at this point? I’d love to know more. Basically, you finish a run, you drink a bunch of water, hopefully instead of beer, but maybe beer too. And you think you’re hydrated, but like you said, you wake up the next morning and you pee like molasses. Your body continues to work and it seems like there’s that delayed process in knowing where your body is at.
Jeff: Yeah, and I think that sort of, you know, if you’re out there, there’s a lot of stuff you can really monitor in real time. You know how your foot feels or how your muscles are feeling, right? But you know, the nutrition part of it is still pretty mysterious as far as like what’s actually happening inside your body is really hard to know. And I hope, I really hope we get to that point. I think technology can really help out in this whole science of fueling right would really take a big leap if we had that feedback information.
Josh: Sure, you just need to get on it with your R&D budget.
Jeff: Yeah. Can I say your R&D budget too?
Paul: We might need a few more companies to get in on this.
Josh: Yeah, we just need to convince the guys at Metronic that they need to start investing in wearable technology. It’s, that’s what we need to do.
Paul: So, I’ve got a caffeine related question for you. When do you – so, you guys have formulas with or without caffeine. When do you recommend going to that caffeine formula as far as during a race or training?
Jeff: So there’s kind of two things with caffeine. One is just an essentially nervous system boost that we’re all familiar with from drinking a cup of coffee or tea or something if you’re a caffeine drinker. So, we have customers that use it because they just sort of drink caffeine all day long and they want to be doing the same thing when they’re out on the race.
Paul: Just kind of keeps them at their normal level.
Jeff: Just keep the normal level, right? The last thing they want is some sort of caffeine withdrawal thing happening during a race.
Paul: Way to make something hard even harder.
Jeff: Exactly. So there’s some people who just fall into that category and that’s why they use it. They’ll use it all the way through or they’ll use it most of the way through. Other people will use it just in their low energy time of the day. You know, for me that’s like 2-3 PM, I’m ready to take a nap. And then on top of that, you throw on a bunch of exercise and so, I get really tired and for me that would be the time. But that sort of is just different for people; a lot of people will do it at night if it expands at night. There’s also some pretty interesting research on the benefits of caffeine and this is one of the things about Tailwind is we really only put things in it that actually work and are proven by multiple peer-reviewed studies and not just marketing hype or pixie dust. And so caffeine is one of the few, really the only supplements that has a really substantial, can have a really substantial performance effect. And that’s a pretty interesting use case. First of all, you have to use a pretty good amount of caffeine. For somebody that’s like my size, like 170 pounds, the number’s like 250 milligrams in the bloodstream. Which is just a lot, right? And the benefits seem to be most effective if you start a race with that in your bloodstream.
Paul: And is that true no matter how long the race is?
Jeff: Yeah. Although you don’t necessarily have to keep that caffeine level up all the way through. Most of the benefit comes in the first hour and that’s from – that level of caffeine will free some fatty acids into the bloodstream that then get consumed by the muscles. And it’s essentially sparing glycogen. So instead of burning some glycogen in that first out, you’re burning some fatty acids instead and then you’ve got that spared amount of glycogen left over for the end of the race. That’s kind of the way to look at it. And some of the studies that looked at that have seen a 20% boost in endurance. So you can go 20% longer before you bonk.
Paul: So, does – for someone like myself, I don’t drink coffee, I’ll have tea very rarely. I don’t really drink soda anymore. So my caffeine intake is pretty much limited to when I’m racing. If I were to load up before a race with that much caffeine, will I have a crash that I should expect at some point?
Jeff: So, some of the effects of caffeine you might have if you’re kind of sitting around the house don’t seem to manifest in the same way when you’re racing according to the studies. One of them would be like the diuretic effect, right? That seems to disappear and my guess is that has to do with that you’re kind of running dehydrated already. And also the crash part of it didn’t really show up either. I’m not really sure why that would be, but one thing to understand about caffeine is that it has a half-life. And person to person that can vary from two to twelve hours. And what that means is the average is about 4. So if the average is 4, you add 250 milligrams to start a race, 4 hours later you’re going to have half that amount left in your bloodstream. And then another 4 hours you’ll have half of that. So if you keep on adding caffeine during the race, it will – if you’re adding enough it will offset your decay, you wind up accumulating caffeine as you go. So, it’s a tricky balance. We don’t really talk about that too much because trying to do that is something that you’d really have to experiment with and see if it works for you. For somebody who doesn’t really drink caffeine on a regular basis my guess is it probably wouldn’t feel really good to you cause you’re probably be at the start and just feel funky and jumpy and your heart’s racing. It’s not going to feel right to you.
Paul: I did that for a 10k one time. My buddy convinced me, since I don’t take caffeine, he’s like dude, you should take like a couple of caffeine pills. And this is the guy who would drink, at the time he was drinking like multiple – when I say multiple, like 3-4-5 Monster energy drinks a day and like just like, he’s a programmer, sits in front of a computer, just pounding this stuff. He’s like here, here’s some of the caffeine pills I have, try a couple. I think I took two of them. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I set a huge PR that day, but I literally at the turnaround point thought my heart was going to blow out of my chest. It was like my head was hot, it was a terrifying feeling. But I ran fast.
Josh: I think you should take an espresso an hour on your 50 miler this weekend. I just think it’ll be funny to see the result.
Jeff: If you’re racing like in Italy, they do. They have espressos, you know? Yeah, it’s interesting stuff but if you get up to like 500 milligrams, it’s really actually more of a milligrams per kilogram of bodyweight that matters. But then you’re going to start getting that, you can have nausea and jitteriness and heart problems and stuff like that. So, be careful.
Josh: It’s like a Coke, in the Dirty Kansas, like 100 miles in I was in a lull from mile 50 to 100. And I had a coke and a Red Bull actually at that aid station. It was great.
Paul: Was this after the 4 hours with the 50 ounces of fluid?
Josh: It was, yeah.
Paul: There you go.
Josh: So this is 8 hours or something in. And it did, it brought me back where I at least, I just member having a hard time holding my head up even coming into the aid station at mile 106. And then from there on, I did the exact same thing again at mile 160 something. It did, it helped. Granted, running I wouldn’t have done that, hopefully, probably, you never know. I’m not very intelligent. But at least in cycling I was able to kind of get away from it. But I really think the caffeine, it goes a long way and I probably should try mixing caffeine into my endurance drink in different races, but I know that morning I didn’t have coffee. I normally have a latte every morning, and I didn’t have it cause we were at this little bunkhouse and they didn’t have a coffee maker there. And it’s like the whole day started slow because I didn’t have my normal coffee like I do before a ride. I never get tired during exercise, rare anyway. Or at least mentally I should say. But I wonder if that’s what went wrong that day, I just didn’t have the freaking, I didn’t have the caffeine at the start.
Jeff: I generally recommend that people try and mimic their normal patterns, basically.
Jeff: If you want to try for the benefits of caffeine, go for it, but do that during training. Really vet that before you go using it in a race. But yeah, for the most part pretty much recommend people use caffeine the same way they would use it in daily life and if they hit that lull and they’re tired and they want a pick-me-up, that’s a good time to use some caffeinated Tailwind and get it in that way. I hate to burst your bubble on the coke thing, but there have been a bunch of studies on coke and it’s about 11% sugar solution, and actually has pretty minimal caffeine, not enough caffeine to make a difference. So actually, the boost you were getting from that is sugar. You were low on blood sugar.
Josh: Yeah, and I wouldn’t doubt that at all. Do you suggest topping off your glycogen stores prior to an event, and if so, what is your strategy for doing so?
Jeff: Absolutely. Actually, the state of your glycogen stores going into an event, even if you’re a fat burner, a metabolic efficiency practitioner, you still utilize, you still use glucose, even to burn fat. So, the state of your glycogen stores probably is the biggest determinants of how you’re going to do that day when you start. Cause you’re sure as heck not going to add to it while you’re out there. It only goes there from the starting point. And something that people don’t necessarily understand, but it’s not like a gas tank where you can keep going until the very last drop of gasoline, right? And it doesn’t affect the performance of your car. Your glycogen stores aren’t like that. As you utilize, as you use glycogen up, the brain is watching the rate that you’re using it and how deep your drawing down. The brain actually functions on glucose, that’s its fuel. So it will protect itself and it will make sure that it’s got enough for the brain. It’s basically like your survival mechanism, right? It’s going to make sure your essential organs and your brain have enough fuel. As you dig deeper and deeper you actually get a slower and slower release rate of glycogen. Your brain will keep rationing that down, and so you’re just going to get slower. And you’ll slow right down to a pace eventually that is the pace that you can sustain basically with very, very little glycogen use. And then you get too deep and you bonk. That’s your set down. That’s your body saying you know what? No more for the muscles.
Paul: You’re done.
Jeff: I’m shutting you down cause I need the rest of this to stay alive. Yeah, so you’re going to get the best performance when you have mostly a full tank. So, strategies for doing that – first strategy is don’t deplete in your previous training or if you’re doing a multi-day race, you want to stave off depletion as much as you possibly can. That means getting your calories in and being really conscientious about that. Secondly, if you’ve got to recover before your next event… sorry about that.
Paul: No problem.
Jeff: Secondly, your recovery is super important. You have a really short window right after your exercise that you can accelerate the rebuilding of your glycogen stores, you need to take advantage of that. Especially if you’re going to turn around and do something in 24 hours. And then, what we tell people that are really in training mode and in their season, is if you want to have good recovery between training sessions or races, then your diet should probably be about 70% of that plate should be carbs.
Paul: So on that recovery note, you guys don’t do any kind of recovery formula, right?
Jeff: Not yet.
Paul: Not yet? Does that mean there’s something coming down the pipe?
Jeff: It does.
Jeff: I’m pretty excited about it.
Paul: Very cool!
Jeff: We still have some work to do, I can’t put a timeline on it, but I think it’s going to add something pretty cool to this space.
Josh: Think this year, maybe next year type of at least ballpark?
Jeff: Yeah, I mean I hope we can get it out there this year. That depends on a few factors, but that’s definitely what we’re aiming for.
Paul: Nice, looking forward to seeing that.
Josh: Alright, then what are you top three most popular flavors?
Jeff: Definitely mandarin oranges is our number one. And berry would be our second, and then decaffeinated raspberry.
Paul: I think those three I have in my cupboard right now.
Josh: So what about – don’t you have a naked formula? That one isn’t super popular? I figured that one would be in the top 3.
Jeff: Actually, it is pretty popular. It’s just that it’s just not, I think it’s made for.
Josh: Do you find that a lot of people buy the flavors because they like that flavor, but I wonder how many of them would probably do better in racing to run with a more naked formula, a more basic formula. Because I know like for me, especially when my drinks get hot at times, man it can be so brutal to drink them. But yet if there’s barely any flavor to it, then it’s okay.
Jeff: Yeah. I mean we definitely try and keep all of our flavors light. And some of it is just perception. So for instance berry, berry is not technically any sweeter than even the naked flavor. It doesn’t have more sugar in it or there’s nothing to make it actually sweeter, but your taste buds perceive it as sweet. And so there’s people that like that…
Paul: It’s funny how it works.
Jeff: It is funny. It’s definitely, I don’t know, you know about optical illusions. It’s like a taste bud illusion or something.
Paul: That’s a good way to put it, I like that.
Josh: First time I heard that, but it’s pretty spot-on.
Jeff: Yeah, it’s just something about the way the mind perceives berry as being sweet. So people who like a more sweeter drink tend to gravitate more toward the berry flavors. People who like a really as close to water as you can get tend to gravitate more towards naked. It just – people are just, their taste buds are different. That’s all I can say.
Paul: Which makes it really fun from a business side for you guys.
Jeff: Yeah. I mean, we definitely try and cover the bases and see if we can have something at least something in a product line that most people will like.
Paul: So we got a couple last minute questions that we kind of ask everybody, so we want to go down these with you as well. Have you ever cried at the end of a race? Or during?
Jeff: Oh man. Gosh. I actually kind of – I actually started crying at the start of my last Leadville.
Paul: Just cause you knew what you were about to do or what?
Jeff: Yeah. Partly looing forward to the pain. But I knew it was most likely my last one, and I was kind of looking back on the whole saga and all the years I’ve been doing it. And I’ve got pretty emotional at that start. Not so much at the finish, the finish was like dear god I’m glad I’m done.
Paul: I love the emotion these sports bring out of us. That’s why we ask this cause it’s just a unique way to kind of get a little insight.
Jeff: There was one time, my wife and I before we had kids we biked across Europe. And we had this kind of short day and we needed a short day, we were both tired and we were looking forward – this thing is 40 km that day, and we were going to stay in this kind of nice place. And we had the most brutal headwind ever, like and we had loaded bikes. So it’s like pedaling a brick, we were just going nowhere and it was taking so long and I actually picked up my bike and threw it into a ditch at one point out of frustration.
Josh: Well, is mountain biking still your primary sport?
Jeff: Yeah. I still – I love mountain biking. It’s something about the level of engagement that you kind of have to get and I just – I can drop pretty easily into that flow state and so I really enjoy it. But I also, as I get older, I just feel like I need to mix it up more in order to keep from being injured and so I enjoy other stuff too. I do hiking and trail running and then like in the winter, like skate skiing and snow shoeing especially.
Paul: Cool. What’s the best piece of advice you ever received during your athletic career?
Jeff: Well, this is going to seem kind of silly, but when I was just first starting to mountain bike, it was way before Leadville, but I was definitely like an after work and weekend rider. And I went out with this guy, I think he’d been a cyclist in college, he had that kind of skinny road biker physique and he was definitely way stronger than I was. And he said you know, if you’re trying to build up your strength and speed, just ride in one gear heavier than what you feel like you should. And so I started doing that and I got stronger, I got faster.
Josh: Nice. When I lived in Phoenix I had a bunch of buddies in this mountain bike team called Missing Link. I was part of that got into the single speeds, but I didn’t want to because I’ve always had a little right knee issue and I thought last thing I want to do is torque my knee more. But when I rode with them, it forced me, otherwise it was annoying to ride with them. It forced me to ride in one gear that was basically the same gear they had and I tell you, it makes you stronger for sure. And basically that’s the same concept you’re talking about, and I saw guys that were always kind of average riders, they became flipping animals man. Just from riding single speeds, it was unbelievable the extra power they got because they didn’t have an option of downshifting to going two miles an hour on a long climb. They had to go 8. That’s a good point, I need to try that on my next ride.
Jeff: Like if you train slow, you’re going to race slow. And believe me, if you have that option and no one is pushing you, you’re going to take it. I’ll just pop that into gear and take my time getting up this thing and keep breathing right down and everything. That’s what’s hard about training and racing is you’ve got to be able to push yourself. Sometimes those little tricks do that for you.
Paul: That’s why I prefer my speedwork on the treadmill cause I know I can’t slack off or I’m going to get thrown off the back. I do my speedwork on my own it’s so easy, it’s fast enough. Sweet man. You got any final thoughts for the listeners?
Jeff: Oh gosh, I mean. You guys asked a lot of good questions. I think the thing about Tailwind is I always viewed it as sort of half about the product and half about how we can help you reach your goal. That’s what we’re trying to do as a company – we’re not trying to just sell you a bag of stuff, we want you to succeed and that’s, so we spend a lot of time with folks helping them diagnose problems and like your email is email@example.com and that’s kind of what we’re trying to think about ourselves. We’re your support group. So if we can help you out and help you get across if it’s just finishing or studying your PR or podiuming, whatever your goal is, if we can help you out, love to do it.
Paul: Awesome, love it man.
Josh: Yeah, Jeff, thanks so much for coming on today. And tell your awesome wife Jenny we said hello as well. I know she’s out playing out the retailer but in the show notes we’ll have the link to Tailwind. It’s tailwindnutrition.com and you have to check out the Our Story page, you can watch a video of Jeff puking in a trashcan which is awesome.
Jeff: That means more views, right?
Josh: Yeah, it’s always drama and people suffering. I always get a kick out of that way more when look at me, I’m amazing, I won. I’m really sad I didn’t see Paul suffering on beet juice last year. Still don’t understand why he drinks that stuff.
Paul: Not anymore.
Josh: It’s been great to have you on and being big in the endurance community ourselves, we see you guys everywhere, we love seeing how much you’ve grown. And we started our business the same year you guys did, so it’s exciting to grow along with you guys and see you branching out in so many different spaces of endurance, and not just in the run too. So, major props to you guys and look forward to talking with you again soon!
Jeff: Thanks guys, this has been fun!
My first experience of crewing for any race was on August 5th at the Angeles Crest 100 mile in California.
I was crewing for my boyfriend Alex Carrion. His crew also consisted of his two brothers Paul and Pablo and his good friend Richard. Paul and Richard would share pacing duties in the last 50 miles of the race. This was also Alex’s first race at the 100 mile distance.
Leading up to the race I did my homework on crewing, what to expect, strategies on nutrition and hydration, and what to do if something didn’t go to plan for the runner.
I felt confident that I had the knowledge I needed to help Alex have a successful race.
Albeit I was a bit nervous too – a combination of my lack of crewing experience, the daunting distance that lay ahead and not knowing my courage or resilience in pushing Alex forward if he needed that external encouragement to continue against all odds.
Our day started at 3am with alarms going off to get up, get ready and get to the start line.
We had the crew car packed with everything we needed – food & drinks for Alex and the crew, first aid kit, spare clothes and shoes, chafing cream, sunscreen, ice and of course a camera to capture this epic adventure.
After the runners ran through the start line at 5am we made our way to the first aid station at the 9-mile mark.
Alex had created a comprehensive crew sheet with details of expected arrival time at each aid station and any requirements he had for that stop during the race.
As he ran in looking fresh to pick up his hydration pack for the following miles, I had everything I thought he needed laid out for him to grab – energy gels and bars, a banana, water and sunscreen.
I had missed the important “I need this at every aid station item” – watermelon water. A hydration mix that Alex wanted a cup of at every stop – watermelon, water, maple syrup, salt & apple cider vinegar.
I was sure not to forget it at any of the aid stations that lay ahead.
By the time we had driven around the sinkhole detour to the 2nd aid station Islip Saddle, Alex was ahead of schedule by over an hour. He kept saying he felt good and didn’t need to slow down.
I was trying to hide my concern that I felt he was pushing too hard for only being at mile 25. I tried to squeeze in some resisted solid food and get him to slow his pace with no luck.
I quickly learnt crewing involved a lot of waiting, double checking everything was ready for the runner’s arrival and watching the clock.
Thankfully the ultra running community are one of a kind, so warm and welcoming to talk as you wait, lend a hand moving heavy eskies full of ice and share shade or a chair.
This made the experience so much more enjoyable and a long, long day not seem so long.
Alex was having a great race, flying into each aid station with a smile and positivity. I was expecting some dark and low points, as you hear people running such distance more often than not experience.
There were a few moments of agitation and frustration, but these only lasted a minute if that, before his energy return and he wanted to get up and continue running.
Paul was set to start pacing Alex from Chilao Flats – 45 miles in. Paul had been crewing all day and also had the driving duties. He was now going to run 30 miles. A lot of credit to all the pacers who had the double duty of crewing as well.
We saw Paul and Alex at the next two stops – Shortcut Saddle and Redbox. At this stage of the race some of the other runners were experiencing stomach issues, vomiting, hallucinations and even blood in the urine. People were starting to withdraw from the race.
The heat and weather conditions were starting to take full effect.
Keeping this in mind, as the crew we always ensure Alex’s hydration pack refills had ice in them and we wrapped an ice filled bandana around his neck at each aid station to try and keep him as cool as possible.
In between crewing duties we had to pick up Richard who would pace Alex in his last 25 miles of the race from Chantry.
As we arrived at Chantry around 10pm there were signs of exhaustion amongst the crew, aid station volunteers and the runners as they came through this final stage of crew access.
Spirits were still high as we prepared a spot for Alex, set up his chair and lay out a change of shirt, shoes and some lentil soup for his arrival.
He climbed the stairs at mile 75, still an hour ahead of schedule looking the most exhausted I had seen him. He wanted to sit down, have something warm to eat and change his shirt. As I helped him change and get in some food, other friends and crews came over to give encouragement and support to push Alex through the mental barrier of the 25 miles that lay ahead.
At this stage I knew he would finish the race.
As Alex stood up to commence the last 25 miles, I had so many mixed emotions – I was a little nervous and anxious as he was heading into the middle of the night, and it would be 7+ hours before we would hear from him with limited tracking and progress updates. Most of all I was excited and proud that he had made it this far. He was so close to accomplishing such a great feat.
The next 7 hours were spent with some restless back seat of the car naps near the finish line. Constantly looking at my phone to see if he had made it to the next check point. Thankfully his pacer Richard sent intermittent texts when he had cell phone reception.
When we knew he was approaching the last few miles Paul and I went to a point about 1-mile from the finishing line, hoping to catch Alex as he came in to the final stage.
As we nervously wait 5 minutes, all of a sudden we see Richard come around the corner followed by Alex and last year’s winner Guillaume Calmettes.
I couldn’t hide the smile on my face. Alex looked exhausted but was still moving forward and strong.
We ran the last mile as a team, and the whole experience of the past 26 hours came together as Alex crossed the finish line.
Crewing 100-miles is an incredible experience which is hard to explain to people outside of the ultra running world. I learnt so much about resilience and pushing beyond our limitations. I was so inspired by Alex and the rest of the runners and the love and support within the ultra running community.
I am looking forward to crewing more in the future.
Amy McKinnon is a long distance runner and nutrition coach. She currently resides in Sydney, Australia.
Last year while watching the Leadville 100 run and ride, I was so impressed by the venue, organization, crowd/family of athletes, and of course the beautiful town of Leadville. I’ve wanted to ride the Leadville 100 for 15 years, but after a few years of not getting in through the lottery I guess I just forgot about it. After last year however, I realized it was time to tackle something fun, adventurous, and iconic, hence the signup for Leadman.
I started the objective with 2 simple goals. The first was to be a good dad and husband, meaning don’t train every weekend away from my family. The second was simply to complete the Leadman events. I knew it was a big undertaking, especially with training for the Dirty Kanza 200 a month before this all started, but I had a descent plan that went pretty well.
The main focus of the season was hinged on riding, with a little bit of running, and big ride days would always be on Monday during the day, and the rest of the training would fall sometime during the day on the other days of the week. I alternated run and ride as much as possible, and never ran two days in a row to reduce impact. This really worked great and I can honestly say that this year has been a year of feeling fantastic. I haven’t had tight calf muscles like I do when I just run a lot, my back and core has been strong from strength work (often done with my kids before shower time), and the running/riding combo seemed to compliment my cadence in both sports. My biggest training ride was only 90 miles, longest training run only 25. I knew my run mileage was low this year, but when reflecting upon my adventure racing over the years I was at my strongest running when I was running less and riding more, so that didn’t bother me. Ok, so now about Leadman.
The Leadman entry consists of the following events.
- Leadville Trail Marathon
- Silver Rush 50 mile bike or run, you’re choice.
- Leadville 100 mountain bike
- Leadville 10k (day after the mountain bike)
- Leadville 100 mile run (week after the 100 bike)
Event 1 - The first event was the Leadville trail marathon. As a distance, this was the least of my concerns as it was only a marathon. But you know what? That thing was freaking hard! In 6 weeks leading up to it I ran a crazy race in Malaysia, an Ragnar ultra in Aspen, and a 208 mile endurance ride in Kansas, so my expectations were pure fun in the mountains with lots of pictures. So as a tip, it’s not just a marathon, it’s a super steep, high altitude, leg and foot busting, lung busting marathon. It hurt, wasn’t easy, but was a great accomplishment. Did I mention the 60 mile per hour sustained winds at the summit of over 13k in elevation! This was the start of the “Leadville family” building too. I met so many amazing people this weekend that I couldn’t wait to continue through the season.
*Gear setup and review
- Orange Mud Singlet, Arm Cooler, Gear Vest. The Gear Vest worked perfectly as the 1L bladder was just enough to refill at every other aid station. Plus holding my phone, electrolytes and backup nutrition was a breeze.
- Hydration – Infinit. Perfect day of hydration. I used the orange flavor which I find too powerful for me sensory wise, so I cut it down to 70% concentration (still 188 cal per serving). Not ideal since I’m reducing caloric intake, but I offset this a tad on course. For the rest of the season I’ll only use the Lemon Lime which I can drink full concentration at 269 cal per serving, hot or cold, no issue.
- Altra Lone Peak 3.0 and my 2” Orange Mud running socks paired with Squirrel Nut Butter. Perfection, no blisters, no chaff.
- Glasses, Sunclouds. Had a little bit of dizziness at one point, but was just my head getting tired of looking at the frame of the glasses. Love the glasses, but no more long running this season with these. If you ever get dizzy while running, try taking your glasses off. It may be just that simple.
Event 2 - Next up was the Silver Rush 50 mile event. I chose the mountain bike instead of the run as I prefer riding, plus I thought it would be best to save my legs from the beating and delay that till the 100 miler. I expected this to be a fun ride, especially only being 50 miles after riding the Dirty Kanza for 208. Again, wrong. Holy cow, this course basically goes up for 40 miles, seemed like more, but the descent for the last 10 was absolutely awesome. This was an amazing day on the bike, but you definitely have to “dig deep” for the long high-altitude ascents that seemingly never end.
*Gear setup and review –
- 2016 Specialized Epic World Cup S-works. 1x11 drive terrain, Specialized Fasttrak 2.3” in the front, Control 2.0” in the back. My bike setup was perfect. I was a bit nervous about my tire selection, but the 2.3” in the front provided ample control, while the 2.0” in the back gave me just enough traction for the long, slow speed, rocky climbs, but control and speed too. Gearing wise this was perfection as well. The 30T Wolf tooth oval in the front was fantastic, and the 10-42 in the back provided enough top and low end.
- Orange Mud Endurance Pack filled with Infinit Nutrition, Lemon Lime. Absolute perfection for this event. I started with a 70oz full bladder at the start, refilled a the half way, and did carry a spare empty bottle on the bike for one pit stop of ice water. Note that the course is light in aid stations, so if you’re just running bottles you better be prepared to stop at every aid station. Unless of course you’re an animal like my buddy Will that did it in 4 hours and change. Kudo’s to you champ!
- Shoes – Giro Empire. These things are afreakingmazing. The most comfortable mountain biking shoe I’ve ever used and even with the rigid sole they still worked great for hike a bike too. I’ve used the Specialized S-Works mtb shoes forever, but found hike a biking in them isn’t very comfortable. This was more a concern for the 100 since I didn’t want to ruin my feet a week before running 100 miles. Hence the search and discovery of this shoe. Basically, imagine a super soft leather sock. That’s what these are. Even better, a super soft leather sock with butter in it….yeah….
- Glasses – Sunclouds. I love these for everyday wear, but I’m not riding with them anymore. I don’t like a frame on the top and bottom of the lens as it made me a bit nauseous at one point. Taking them off instantly fixed it. Smith Pivlocks are in my future…..
Event 3 - Then the race I’ve always wanted to do, the Leadville 100 mountain bike event. This is one of the most iconic mountain bike events in the country. With 11k feet of gain, the brutal climb up Columbine, brutal climb up Powerline, and some high-speed middle ground sections, this event is truly epic. It’s not super technical and going into it my main concern was being geared out on the flat sections with my 1x11 setup which was a reality. But if you’re considering tackling this beast my suggestion is to do it. It’s a terrain that is friendly to most riders, you don’t have to be super techy to ride this. The climb up Columbine is hard, Powerline too, but both are doable. If you race Silver Rush beforehand, don’t let that scare you. The Silver Rush 50 was a harder event to me than the 100 as the climbs seemingly never end. I’ll sum it up this way, I finished the 50 and thought “I don’t think I’ll do that again” for about 3 days before I decided it wasn’t that hard and I’ll do it again. For the 100 it was hard, but at the finish line I decided I’d do it again.
Finishing this event and getting the silver buckle was iconic to me, and having my buddy Paul and Kyle, rock star wife Beth, and amazing kids Jax and Lexi there at the finish was awesome. I’ll be back next year for this without a doubt, and hopefully every year for many years to come.
*Gear setup and review –
- 2016 Specialized Epic World Cup S-works. 1x11 drive terrain, Specialized Fasttrak 2.3” in the front, Control 2.0” in the back. My bike setup was really good and the only change from Silver Rush was the swap of my aluminum Rovals to the carbon Rovals. That is an awesome change by the way. Holy crap, the wheel turnover is insane, the hubs are so buttery that a hummingbird could fly by and make them spin, and the additional rigidity is immediately noticed. My biggest concern was gearing out in the flats which proved to be an issue, but in the end, would have probably trimmed 5 or 10 minutes at best. Suspension wise I set it up really tight, but to do this over again I’d consider a hard tail as full suspension isn’t needed, and a 2x10 would have provided a bigger range for soft pedaling a bigger gear on the flats. But hey, I’m not winning the freaking thing, maybe I should just be happy with my rig as is!
- Orange Mud Endurance Pack filled with Infinit Nutrition. Absolute perfection all day. I had a spare bladder at Twin Lakes where Paul and my family did an amazing job in swapping me in and out in record time.
- Electrolytes – I use Sports Quest’s product, have for about 15 years, and can’t say enough good things. My stomach was perfect all day, power was perfect, zero cramping as always. Good stuff.
- Shoes – Giro Empire paired with Orange Mud 2” sock and Squirrel Nut Butter. I joined in the conga train at the top of Columbine for a bit, as well as going up the nasty powerline ascent where these were super comfy. No blisters, 100% comfort, couldn’t be happier.
- Kit – Our new Orange Mud kit is awesome. The endurance chamois paired with Squirrel Nut Butter on the nether region yielded all day comfort and zero chaff, even in the rain. The arm coolers worked great to keep me warm at the start, then saved me from the sun later in the day. Start temp was 40F, at the base of the first climb we dipped to 32, but kit and arm coolers paired with a light vest was perfect.
- Gloves – Specialized Grail Comp, long finger. I wouldn’t normally point out gloves, but I picked these up this year at Bike Source in Littleton and can’t believe how well they work. Normally you have a pad on the left and right of your palm, these put just a single pad at the center of your palm, base of your hand. Even through the 208 miles at the DK I barely had any issue, and in the Leadville 100 I finished not even feeling like I rode. Check these things out, they are game changing. I now own 3 pairs…
- Glasses – Remember the note above about no more Sunclouds? Well I picked up these beauties, the Smith Pivlocks, right before the event and am in love. Mad love. Perfect field of view, no frame in your perspective, a hydrophilic nose piece that kept them in their place, and the optics were outstanding. I’ve wanted these for years and am so pumped to have them in my arsenal now.
Event 4 - The 4th event was the 10k the morning after the 100 mile mtb. This one I wasn’t worried about, as I should be able to bear crawl a 10k, even after a bike race. To my delight, this was actually not hard, awesome, one event matched my expectations!
*Gear setup and review – I’ll keep this one short, since anyone reading this is probably not concerned about a 10k. Altra Lone Peak, Endurance Pack, Singlet, Infinit Nutrition. Just a shake out run so no biggie here!
Event 5 - Wrapping up the series was the big beast, the Leadville 100 Trail Run. I went into this being somewhat smart for a change. As a sponsor of the Leadman series, I really enjoyed hanging out at our booth and meeting so many amazing athletes, but that does wear you down a bit before an event. So for this one I finally listened to my crew and only stopped in for maybe 45 minutes total, then took a nap, woke up to eat, took another nap, then went to the start line. I’ve rarely been so rested for a race so that part was awesome!
100 miles on foot is a long way, and your head, or at least my head, can definitely stop working properly. As such, it’s imperative to have an amazing support crew, and my friends Jack, Kevin, Paul, and Nick were all there to make sure all went as planned. I can’t thank these guys enough as they had me in and out of the aid stations super quick and kept things 100% positive through the day.
Leading up to the 100, I had only one worry and that was an extensor tendonitis issue in my right foot that pops up generally just in marathons. It’s something about pavement that flares it up, and I thought I had fixed the issue with some insoles and by lacing loose, but about 25 miles into the race, and on the pavement section, my right foot started aching. It’s such an annoying pain, which basically feels like your foot is about to break in half. Either way though, I figured that I could muscle through it and once I got to Twin Lakes I’d pick up my trekking poles and shift weight off of it. I had been making a really good pace to this point, and thanks to a stick I picked up off the trail, was able to hobble pretty quick into Twin Lakes with a 75 minute buffer over the already aggressive cut off times.
Heading up and over Hope Pass was amazing. It’s a bit daunting to look up from Twin Lakes at the big mountain in front of you, but my lungs and legs felt great on climbs so I motored to the top and passed somewhere around 100 runners. That was pretty key though as the descent would be a hobble and walk as the downward pressure was crushing on my right foot. I still made decent time on the descent as the steepness wasn’t that great for running anyway, but coming into mile 50 my foot was on fire!
As we closed into Winfield, the half way point, the added 2 miles of course on the outbound was a bit heart breaking. It’s my fault as I should have studied this better, but I was surprised to see this mileage being added with no change to the cut off. I lost a good bit of buffer and even with a quick 2 or 3 minute transition, I left there with only a 25 minute buffer when just a few hours earlier I had 75. Even more disheartening was the long line of people that you meet on the way back that weren’t making the cut off and finding the right words to say there was a bit of a challenge. I about lost it at one point when a buddy of mine in front of me said, with a quiver in his voice, that “I just want to do this for my kids”. Not gonna lie, tears rolled there for me, as I had the same goal and new this extra 2 on the out and 2 on the back was going to be an issue.
The steepness from Winfield to the top of Hope Pass is no freaking joke. Holy crap was that steep! Thankfully I had Paul Jesse from Winfield on to motivate and push me to the top where we again flew up the mountain. The descent was again held back to a walk with all pressure being shifted to my left leg. This as it turns out was probably a bigger impact than anything as my race was coming to a close.
As we hit the flats at the base of Hope Pass, we had to push through the pain in a major way to make the 10pm cut off. I squeaked through without stopping at 9:57pm, just 3 minutes before the cut, and began the next ascent. I was so focused on making this cut that I didn’t do the math ahead of time with pace and distance remaining to meet the 30 hour cut. As Paul and I pushed through this section to Half Pipe, I quickly realized that the math was not in my favor, and despite his positive encouragement, it really came down to a hard reality that this year wasn’t going to be a completion for me. My foot injury was bad and running wasn’t an option. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, our pace was being slowed down even more by my destroyed left leg that had been taking the bulk of my body weight for the last 46 miles. Funny how one pains focus completely blocks another…..at least until the next day when your leg is double the normal size and walking is a 150% effort. I’m sure my kids were surprised when they saw their dad cry for the first time just trying to get off the couch. Pain on a scale of 1 to 10, we’ll go with 46. This coming from a guy that once told the dentist to not use lidocaine to numb me when he had to break off an incorrectly placed cap with a pair of pliers just because I didn’t want any meds in me for a race the next morning.
So, long story short, I pulled at Half Pipe, 71 miles in. It was a huge blow to me as DNF is not part of my vocabulary. I’m very stubborn and that paired with persistence has always over shadowed any weakness physically. In over 200 races, this made DNF #4, and the first time that it was solely on me. Crap deal, and disappointing to say the least in not finishing the event, which means I also didn’t become a Leadman this year. Unfortunate, but I was even more hurt that I didn’t get to run with Kevin and Jack as well for the final legs. Time on the trails with your close friends is something hard to beat and I valued that more than the event itself. Then of course the real pain was not completing this event for my family. I know it sounds silly, but just like everything I tackle in life, I believe in completing what I started and wanted my kids to see that you always follow through to completion. At 4 and 6 years old, I don’t think they probably see it like I do, but I know Jax said he was proud of me anyway which broke me a bit.
I didn’t meet both goals, but I did meet the most important one of ensuring training and racing respected my family time. Year to date I’ve ridden 1237 miles and ran 379. Pretty light running for sure, but I don’t believe that held me back at all and I wouldn’t trade the time I spent any other way. Will I come back for Leadman next year? I don’t know. Until I figure out my foot issue absolutely not. But if I can once and for all get it fixed, then maybe. After all, I do need to finish what I started.
*Gear setup and review –
- Kit – Orange Mud Stretchy T, 6” running short, 2” sock, arm coolers, and Adventure Jacket. 40F start was a bit chilly and there was even a bit of frost by Twin Lakes about 11 miles in. The Adventure Jacket was all I needed to stay perfect through about mile 20. Then just shorts/shirt/arm coolers occasionally for the rest of the day until night time. The Squishy hat worked great too as I wore it off and on during the day.
- Shoes – Altra Lone Peak 3.5. I only wore the one pair all day and can’t say enough good things. Even with the water crossings, the 2” sock dried quick, shoe did too. Big thanks to Squirrel Nut Butter on the foot protection. I lathered them up well and put socks on to soak for about 8 hours prerace, and of course during the race. No blisters, no hot spots, even with creek crossings = big win!
- Pack – I used a prototype 2018/19 version of the Endurance Pack for this. There are only slight changes from the current model, but it was wonderful to use all day. The only thing I’d change is to use a black one next time. The white pack wasn’t a smart choice when you have a mushy bag of blueberries and peaches in your front chest pockets.
- Fuel – Infinit Ultra blend Lemon Lime. My energy levels throughout the day had been managed very well, Infinit Nutrition performed wonderfully, bags of blueberries, peaches, nectarines, guacamole, and bacon were a perfect complement to my ultra blend, and my electrolytes kept my body processing everything quite well too. I went with full concentration in all but one section where I planned on eating a bit more real food. There I cut the formula down by 20% and ate a bag of blueberries and peaches to offset the difference. With no GI issues, I decided to run full strength mix the rest of the day, while still eating 2 bags of real food in between aid stations. I had freezer grade ziplock bags each half full of blueberries, peaches, bacon, and guacamole that I mixed in and out with fantastic success. I meant to alternate between 4 hour segments of sweet to salt, and noticed that I wasn’t as interested in eating more fruit when I did that for 8 hours straight. Next time I’ll take a fruit mixture for a 4 hour segment, then the next will be a salty mix, the gauc and bacon. Then back to fruit, and so on. I also stayed very consistent with 2 electrolytes per hour all day with no issue. I did back off for a one hour segment when I ate a descent bit of bacon though. I can’t forget the pickles too. Those tasty little buggers were amazing, and I think I ate about 5 per aid station. Aside from the salt taste to offset the sweet drink mix, I think it almost cleared my taste buds a bit which helped to continue drinking my sugary mix without issue. And as a side note, I ate zero watermelon on course. The more I read about watermelon being the devil for gi distress in endurance events, and the more I practice not eating it with success, the more that seems to make sense. If you’re used to having a bad stomach, try skipping watermelon for a change.
- Glasses – Oakley EVZero. I actually got these at the expo before the race kind of by accident. Long story. But I have to say these rimless glasses were awesome! Great field of view, didn’t move on my nose, and they are supposedly the lightest glasses they have ever made.
- Trekking Poles – If I didn’t have these I would have probably dropped way earlier, these were a lifesaver for my injured foot. Next time I’ll take them from the beginning. Also next time, I’ll have some new Black Diamond Z Poles or something else. My collapsible carbon ones from REI served their purpose on Kilimanjaro and the Inca Trail, but drove me a bit crazy as they struggled to keep their height. A full rigid would be preferred for the future when applying a heavy load to them like I did. In fairness though, they are super light and I loved the grip! One tip here, do your pushups and sit-ups throughout the year. At the beginning of 2017 I decided to do 40 pushups and sit-ups every day. I was pretty consistent through May, backed off a bit this summer, but the strength has stayed. This made a huge difference in the power I could put out through the poles and had no fatigue as the day went on.
2018....Leadman will be mine. - Josh Sprague, CEO/Designer/User of Orange Mud Gear.
It was in 1920s in France when the idea of “Les Trois Sports” was first introduced that featured a 3-kilometer run, 12-kilometer bike and a swim across the Marne Channel. It wasn’t, however, until September 25, 1974 when the first official triathlon event, the one that we know now, was held in California. Originally intended as an alternative exercise to training track stars, it has grown and developed into a contested sport that is enjoyed by many people of different age groups.
The Triathalon’s rise to fame is considered one of the fastest to reach Olympic status in such a short time. This is because in 1989, just about 15 years after it started, it was already awarded that honor and was featured at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney Australia.
It was also in 1989 when the International Triathlon Union was founded in Avignon, France and where the first championship was also held. The standard distances that were adapted in the Olympics are 1.5 km swim, 40 km bike ride, 10 km run.
Training for a Triathlon
The first step to training for a Triathlon is to pick a distance and a format that you’d like to compete in. Below are the various Triathlon distances and formats that one can compete in.
Choosing Triathlon Distance
Every Triathlon consists of 3 elements - the run, the swim and the cycling.
Here is a breakdown of the three elements involved in this sport according to the various formats that exist today.
With the standard distance commonly used following Olympics guidelines, it involves 1.5 km (0.93 mi) of swimming, 40 km (24.8 mi) of biking and 10 km (6.2 mi) running.
- ITU Long- distance Triathlon
Held over double the distance of the standard race, athletes and participants of this race needs high strength, stamina and endurance levels to complete the entire course, which has the following recorded distances:
- Swim- 3 km (1.86 mi)
- Bike- 80 km (49.6 mi)
- Run- 20 km (12.4 mi)
- Half Ironman Triathlon
Also referred to as Ironman 70.3 because of the total extent of the race, it consists of the following distances.
- Swim- 2 km (1.2 mi)
- Bike- 90 km (56 mi)
- Run- 21 km (13.1 mi)
- Ironman Triathlon
A sport for the extreme fitness junkie, it covers the following distances:
- Swim- 3.9 km (2.4 mi)
- Bike- 180 km (112 mi)
- Run 42 km (26.2 mi)
With these rigorous exercises, the training is expected to be high intensity, rough, and demanding as well. But according to experts and specialists, it may not be as daunting as one would normally presume and anticipate. With the help of a well-structured training plan, you can be prepared and ready to race in three months, even if you’re a beginner.
The initial part that you need to sort is deciding on the distance. Then, decide on your schedule as that will command the length and amount of time you will devote to training. As the eighth-time Ironman competitor, Sam Cardona recommends, one should commit to at least three days per week or an ideal six days a week training and concentrate on specific elements of the race per day. He lists the following training plan:
Start the week and your training with a 30-mimute swim. Focus on both your breathing and technique. The main focus should be on developing an efficient swimming stroke that maximizes energy use so that one has enough left in the gas tank to pursue the other aspect of the triathlon.
Increase your strength and endurance by challenging yourself to sprints. Knowing your race pace will greatly help for your speed, so you will know how to base your training exercises. The hill repeats on the other hand is for covering the same distance with consistent speed.
Spend 45 minutes in the pool to develop your endurance, hence try to limit breaks between laps as much as possible.
You can do a combination of an exercise bike session for 45 minutes and run immediately for 20 minutes after. The goal is to teach yourself to transition smoothly between cycling and running.
Fridays are your rest day. This is realizing that your muscles also need the time off to rebuild. Cardona suggests that it is best to rest after the highest intensity training as that enables your body to eliminate toxins and strengthens bone tissues. With this, you will be coming back stronger and well-prepared.
Weekends are reserved for the longest part of the race, which is the cycling. You can devote 60 to 90 minutes to a long outdoor ride.
To end the week, you can have a 5k tempo run. Start with a 15-minute warm up, then a 20 minute race pace. It aims to train you to do running at a fast but consistent pace. Increase the time you spent for the race each week until you will be able to run on the full distance of the race.
To help increase strength and stamina, you can do additional hill sprints training. This includes 10 x 30 seconds uphill sprints, then jog back all the way down and perform an easy 15-minute run. Make another 10 x 30 hill sprints before cooling down.
For the muscles, you can do strength exercises such as pullups, pushups, shoulder press, leg extensions and hamstring curls. This will also help the muscles to build endurance.
Tips for Hydration and Eating During the Race
Races such as this are expected to last for hours. Hence, you have also to practice and train yourself on how to hydrate and eat during the race. Regardless of whether it is a sports drink, energy bar or other snack, you need to be able to know how to consume them in motion. The following tips will help you out.
- While it is a great idea to drink at every station, even if you don’t feel thirsty, you have to be mindful not to overhydrate to reduce the risk of hypothermia
- Consider drinking Gatorade or another electrolyte drink along with water to avoid “water intoxication”.
- Some fueling stations may offer some energy gels and bars that contain carbohydrates and caffeine. If you have tolerated the consumption of it before, then it can be a good energy replacement and maintaining blood-sugar levels.
The ironman competitions held everywhere only proves that this sport is growing in popularity and has gained more participants and audience through the years. One factor could be the fact that it is open to different age groups as it has several categories where one could fit in based on skill capacity. Tough as it is, training if planned and done properly and systematically can be less intimidating and could in fact be completed in just a reasonable amount of time. Following the growth rate, it seems that people will be seeing more of it in the future.
Author Bio: Billy Smith is a writer, fitness junkie, trekker, hiker, tech geek and adventurer extraordinaire. Having worked in the IT field for over 10 years, Billy now spends a lot of his time writing to inspire people to adopt a healthy lifestyle and to use technology responsibly. As the founder of Checkcorner.com, it is Billy’s endeavor to provide people with the best information and tools to transform their lives.
Going into Canyons 100k I was nervous. Not just butterflies in the stomach, run of the mill nerves, but more on the side of actual fear. And I couldn't figure out why. I had gone through the gamut of potential culprits... the 15,000ft of vertical gain and equal descent, the knowledge that even the toughest and most seasoned ultra runners consider "The Canyons" to be a special kind of crazy, the potential for unbearable heat, the thought of another DNF due to being undertrained for this race. The usual suspects. But it wasn't really any of those and I couldn't put my finger on what it actually was. I wouldn't discover the true source of my fear until deep in the dark night, out on the historical Western States trail, fighting cutoff time after cutoff time, unbearable pain and incredible frustration.
2016, unfortunately, was the year of DNFs for me. My first 50 mile resulted in my very first DNF, after an excruciatingly painful health issue that presented itself mid-race, causing me to miss a final cutoff time, bringing me to my own finish at mile 47.5. My first 100 miler, Javelina Jundred, was also a DNF, after I suffered a stress reaction in my foot which resulted in me having to, reluctantly, drop at mile 81. And while I learned so much from both experiences, in all honesty, my heart was a little broken from the DNFs. And I couldn't help but wonder if maybe I didn't have what it takes to be an ultra runner.
In November of 2016, I registered for Canyons 100k the second registration opened. I planned to start training in January, giving my foot enough time to heal, as well as my broken heart. But life had other plans for me, as is often the case with best laid plans. I unexpectedly found myself in the position of needing to homeschool my daughter. This in addition to the 2-3 hours of driving a day I was already doing, taking my son to and from his school. Training was relinquished to mainly weekends, and my mileage "peaked" with a mere 44 miles for my Canyons training cycle.
I considered dropping to the 50k, rationalizing that a strong 50k finish would be better than the potential of yet another ultra race DNF. But I quickly came to my senses and realized that goals are fought for, with the knowledge and acceptance of potential for failure. And, after reading a fantastic Last Horse Runners blog post, titled Running and Failure, I was able to embrace the fact that DNFs are just part of the deal when it comes to ultra running. So, I stuck with the 100k distance, in hopes that by some miracle I would have a stellar day and cross the finish line with my very first Western States lottery ticket.
My husband, Devin, and my son, A, and I drove to Auburn the Friday morning before the race. My good friend, Greg, had rented a friend's cabin for us all, one that sits directly on the Western States trail at Michigan Bluff. The cabin's owner is a past Western States 100 winner, and several talented ultra runners have stayed there, so we were feeling some pretty positive ultra running vibes happening! Johan, my very dear friend and running partner, also joined us, and after a nice little pre-race meeting, we were off to sleep.
After a surprisingly ok-ish night of sleep, Saturday morning was upon us, and I jumped out of bed with my 2:45am alarm. My drop bag and Orange Mud VP2 were packed and ready to go and I was as ready as I could be.
At the start, at Foresthill, I quickly found my friends... Jenny, Sean, Andrea, Amer and Rini, and met a few new ones, too! The nerves were overwhelming my stomach but I somehow managed to maintain some level of composure until before I knew it we were running.
Stupidly, I made the all-too-common mistake of getting swept up by the crowd and went out too fast, but even more worrisome was the fact that my legs felt like jelly after running our very first descent. After our first creek crossing, I just couldn't get my legs to move faster than a pathetic feeling shuffle. People passed me left and right. I watched Andrea, who I had started with, drift farther and farther ahead. Soon my friend, Rini, flew past me up the trail. I was alone, but ok about it. I figured if I was going to a have rough first half, I would really need to focus on keeping a pace that was my own.
But instead of taking a trip to negative town, I just put my head down and hiked up the hills as best I could. Every now and again I'd get a little burst of energy and I'd pick up the pace, only to feel exhausted again and have to slow back down.
I finally made it to the top of Devil's Thumb, and was on my way down to Swinging Bridge to the turn around, when I saw Johan. At that point I was seeing lots of runners on their way back from the turn around, and all the encouraging words, as is commonplace in ultra races, from passing runners lifted my spirits, and for the first time got me feeling excited about the race. I was smiling and we chatted a few minutes about the climb that I had ahead of me.
There is nothing like the ultra running community. The support and positivity is infectious and makes you feel like you are really part of something bigger than your own goals and dreams. Making my way down the technical and steep trail took extra concentration because of how I was feeling that day, but every "Good job" or "Nice work" would breathe a little energy back into me. Everyone was working so hard, and yet everyone took that quick second, over and over again, with each passing runner, to say something encouraging.
I scrambled down down down until I finally hit the turn around spot in the middle of the trail, marked only by a bag of rubber Hoka One One bracelets that we were instructed to take as proof we made it all the way. I immediately turned to make the long trudge back up that beast of a hill, wondering how in the world people run up this section in the Western States 100, with 40+ miles already on their legs, and typically in 90+ degree heat! And that's when I realized... I was almost LAST! I usually wonder if I'm last at some point in almost every trail race I run, but it's never actually happened! This lit a little fire under me and somehow I mustered the energy to rev up my power hiking engine. And power I did! I ended up passing around 10 people, giving the same words of encouragement - good job, keep it up, nice work - that other runners had been giving me. And I meant it. The respect I have for the back of the pack is real!
I had anticipated many situations in the race prior to starting. Feeling tired, feeling hot, stomach discomfort, potential dehydration, muscle cramping, etc. But for whatever reason, I hadn't anticipated that I would be faced with chasing cutoffs. I wasn't prepared for that particular type of stress. I rolled through Michigan Bluff and saw my son, Devin and Greg. I didn't linger. I stocked up on ice and refilled my Tailwind bottle and was on my way. On my way and worrying about making the Foresthill cutoff at the halfway point.
I ran when I could, but much of that 6ish mile stretch from Michigan Bluff back to Foresthill was a messy shuffle mixed with several stumbles and a slogging hike. My legs throbbed. My quads vacillated between feeling like lead to jelly to lead again.
Just before getting back to Bath road, which is just about a mile from Foresthill, a runner out for a training run, passed by me. We joked about the fact that he was doing this course "for fun" as a part of his training for Big Horn 100, and then he kindly checked in with how I was doing calorie wise. I told him I was dutifully drinking my Tailwind. He advised that I cram as many extra calories into myself while I still could. I appreciated the advice, but it also kinda scared the shit out of me! What was I in for?? While I still could??
To my great relief, I had managed to make up a little bit of time and somehow I made it to Foresthill about 30 mins under the cutoff time. I knew one of my best friends, Charity, would be there, and as I approached Foresthill aid station, every time I thought about her, I would start to cry. The things you go through with running friends is unlike anything I've ever experienced in friendship before I started ultra running. Charity and I suffered, big time, through our first 50 miler together and it bonded us forever. I couldn't wait to see her.
I arrived at the aid station to find myself alone. I looked and looked but couldn't see my crew. I had a flash of Devon Yanko running into an aid station at Western States last year to find her crew wasn't there, which led to an extremely challenging situation for her. I had a little inner freak attack, wondering how I would be able to go another 15 miles before having the chance to see my people again. But then a nice volunteer appeared and sat me down. He ran and grabbed my drop bag and refilled Tailwind and water into my bottles. I decided that I would be just fine. I had everything I needed. Thankfully, just a few minutes passed before I spotted my crew. And Charity! I hugged her so tight, with a pickle in my hand (pickles gross her out so this was actually kind of funny). I quietly sobbed on her shoulder, feeling safe and knowing she "got it." Half a jar of pickle juice later, and a handful of baby dills in hand, I was being shoved back out onto the course. I had no clue how I would make it another 50k, but I was ready to do my best.
I could barely shuffle down the paved road out of Foresthill. I figured once I was back on dirt I'd feel better, but nope. Not so much. Everything hurt. No, everything was SCREAMING at me! I knew everything would hurt, but still, it really freaking sucks while it's happening! So I walked. Slowly. Along the way I chatted with a few other runners. We commiserated together, about the heat, the pain, the fact that "down to the river" wasn't actually all down. I cried. A lot. And I had multiple conversations with myself, or rather, arguments. "You signed up for this! You're doing it!" "No. No, I can't do this. It's physically impossible." "Don't listen to that bullshit voice!! It's a liar! You got this!" I've often wished we could see runner's thoughts in little bubbles above their heads... what entertainment that would be!
I made it through Cal 1 aid station, and then just kept slogging, crying, arguing and self soothing. At Cal 2 I thought I was done. I asked the volunteers if they thought I might be able to make the Rucky Chucky aid station cutoff time. A woman told me it would be tight, and that I would have to run, but that I should definitely go because if I dropped there I'd be waiting hours to get driven out. I couldn't decide but then I spotted my friend, Spike, a medic, who gave me a tight hug, which made me cry again, and then I was out of there.
The number of times I cried making my way down the 7.5 miles to the river, was ridiculous, believing that I wouldn't make the cutoff. I saw Johan on his way back towards the finish, and stopped for a few minutes to talk. He was having a rough day, too, and wasn't sure he would make it, though I knew he would. I told him I didn't think I would make the cutoff at the turn around, but that I would be proud of the 47+ miles I had been able to run on the Western States Trail.
As much as I know he doesn't want me to feel like I need to, I always strive to make Johan proud. Through the simple, yet sometimes profound, act of running, Johan became one of my dearest friends... a coach, a mentor, a supporter and someone who knows and accepts me for who I am. Johan is family. I felt crappy walking away from him, knowing that he knew at that point that I was going to finish my day with a third DNF.
A little while later I saw my friend Rini. Same story. And then Andrea, again, same story. I wouldn't make the cutoff, I was done. I slogged on. Hot, exhausted, in pain, and so disappointed in myself for how weak I felt. At some point I saw my friend, Sean, who runs 100 milers like they're going out of style, and, of course, gave him my sob story, but instead of saying "Oh, that's too bad" he said, in his ultra calm Sean way, "You'll make it." And then... it hit me. "What the hell are you doing? You can't just give up! Run! RUN to that aid station! You have to at least try! You GET to run! So RUN!!" And so, I decided to believe Sean, and I ran.
I can honestly say, I have no clue HOW I ran. My legs were in a constant state of feeling like they would buckle, or explode, at any given moment. I envisioned the triathletes who collapse at the end of Ironman races and claw and crawl their way over the finish line, and then frantically tried to push those thoughts out of my mind. I asked every runner, who passed me on their way back up from the turn around, how far away the aid station was. I must have asked at least 10 people. They all encouraged me to run my ass off, that I might just have a chance. So I did!
After what felt like several eternities, I had the aid station in my sights! And even better than the aid station, I saw my son, waving me to hurry up and yelling "Come on mom!! You've got 4 minutes! RUN!" The tears. Again. And then I could see Devin and Greg. More tears, and a little hyperventilating from the raw emotion of my day so far. I made it. I made the freaking turn around cutoff. I got checked in and out in 2 minutes and before I could process what was happening I was walking away from the river with Greg, who would pace me for the remainder of the race.
Greg and I walked slowly back up the hill and then more waterworks. I cried, realizing that I had 7.5 miles of climbing back up to the Cal 2 aid station with only 2 hours to make the next cutoff (let me just say... I. HATE. Chasing cutoffs. Oh how I hate it!). I cried for the runners I had met on my way down who didn't make it. I cried because I was getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. I cried because I had a rock in my shoe. I cried because I had to pee. You name it, I cried about it.
Poor Greg. Almost immediately I started repeatedly asking him if he thought we'd make it. And then I would inform him that there is no way we were going to make it. Followed by profuse cussing and sobbing and then asking again if we'd make it.
I met Greg almost two years ago through Instagram and we became fast friends. "Gregory the Elder" as he is affectionately known by many of our fellow running friends, is an ultra runner and top of the line pacer. If you're going to have a pacer in the end of a tough race, you'd be lucky to have Greg at your side. In those last dark miles, Greg was calm, encouraging, and steady as a rock. I trusted him and I knew I was being taken care of. Not that you could tell with all the questions, tears and sailor-esque swearing I was imposing on the poor guy! But he reminded me that crying and swearing were ok, as long as I kept moving forward. And one of the BEST things Greg did for me in those agonizing stretches of torture, was to remind me that every step forward was a small victory to be celebrated. Later I learned that the average person has a stride length of about 2.5 feet, which means it takes approximately 2,000 steps to walk a mile. During the time Greg was with me we walked or ran approximately 30,000 steps... 30,000 small victories.
After several, unbearably slow, excruciating and scary climbs and descents (at that point going down was harder than going up), we made it to Cal 2 aid station at 9:15. 15 minutes past the cutoff time. I had already made peace with the fact that I would have another DNF next to my name on Ultrasignup. I watched a runner being wrapped up in a thermal foil blanket and loaded into an SUV and figured I was next. But then I noticed that none of the volunteers were paying any attention to me. No one was taking note of my number and instructing me to remove my bib, or to get into a vehicle for transport back to Foresthill. I was confused. I tried to confirm with a volunteer that I had, in fact, missed the cutoff but she only shrugged and said that there had been some confusion over the cutoff time. She suggested I keep going, if I wanted to, since the sweeper hadn't come through yet. All of a sudden I was hit with a surge of adrenaline! I had to go!
Greg and I made our way out of the aid station, with yet another cutoff time looming ahead of us. But I was floating on a little cloud of relief from having made it through the last aid station.
Unfortunately, this sense of relief didn't last long. I was suddenly crushed with such intense leg pain and fatigue that I essentially turned into a two year old, had a temper tantrum, sat down on a rock and told Greg that I was done. DONE. I simply could not move another step. I asked how the sweeper would get me out. I thought about the runner we passed who was sitting in the middle of the narrow trail in the dirt, dazed and confused and wondered how either of us would get out. I wondered what kinds of animals would come for us. I went dark. I sobbed for the hundredth time. I felt so unbelievably sorry for myself in those moments it was embarrassing. I mean seriously, first world problems at their finest. But Greg was amazing. He stood and waited patiently. He let me cry for awhile and then he said "Remember what Devon told you."
I met my friend, Devon, after Javelina last year and since then she has offered advice and support that I hold close to my heart. Before Canyons, Devon shared words with me, that are written on a bracelet she had recently received, which read: "Everything I need is within me." She told me that she believed that I had everything I needed within me, to do whatever it would take, to get to the finish line. I sat there on that rock, less than 6 miles from the finish line, and I thought about those words. I mean, I REALLY thought about them. But more importantly... I began to BELIEVE them. I suddenly believed that I had it in me to finish this 100k. I wanted to make Devon proud. I wanted my husband, my kids, my dad and friends to be proud. I really wanted Johan to be proud of me. And I wanted to feel proud of myself. I stood up and we took off! I couldn't run much, but I powered. We hiked, FAST. We even passed a runner and his pacer. But, of course, I couldn't let Greg off the hook that easy, and I began peppering him with:
"Tell me when we only have a mile and a half left, ok? I can deal with a mile and a half."
"Are we down to a mile and a half yet?"
"How about now?"
"We have to be a mile and a half away now, right? RIGHT?!"
Oh Greg. How did you put up with me??
We hiked and hiked and ran a little, and then finally... FINALLY I could see street lights. We turned the corner and there it was... the finish. Still distant, but I could taste it. I felt it pulling me in. We started running. Not fast, but it could definitely qualify as a run. And then... we were there. The finish. 18 hours and 53 minutes after starting The Canyons 100k, I was finished.
I missed the Western States qualifying time and most of the finish area had been broken down by the time I came through, but I didn't care. There were only a few, kind hearted, volunteers left, huddled together, cheering me in. Devin was there and I sank into him, feeling grateful his never ending support, and very long day he endured for me, so happy not to be running or walking anymore.
I looked around for Johan, but knew it was hours since he had finished and that he was likely on the road back home by then. I hobbled over to a table and received my finishers necklace, just before they were packed away. On the way to the car I started texting all my loved ones, to let them know I had made it. But my most important text that night was to Johan... "I FINISHED!!!"
I finished. I finished the most physically, mentally and emotionally challenging event of my life (child birth aside. Obviously). I wanted to give up, and I didn't want to give up, and I thought I had no choice in giving up. But... I. Didn't. Give. Up. The lessons I learned, and that fear that I couldn't put my finger on, were deep and painful and came out of some very dark and ugly places, and are only for me and my closest people to know, but I'm grateful for all of it. I acknowledged fears and insecurities and then let them go. Left them on the trail. I'm stronger for it and I will use all that I gained from my experience, in some capacity, forever.
Will I run The Canyons 100k again? Ask me once the "amnesia" has set in... I'll probably say yes!
Fitness is not just about what you eat, or what sports you take part in but is a combination of factors which you need to incorporate into your daily life. Fitness - done the right way -means improving your overall physical health with a combination of good exercise and appropriate nutrition.
Too many people react to the latest fitness fad and rush out to buy expensive fitness gear or equipment only to leave it lying idle in the loft, never to be used. Doing fitness the right way means fitting in the right kind of exercise with your lifestyle, not trying to follow fads and trends.
Here are seven key points to make sure you are doing fitness the right way:
- Exercise every day
While it’s true that you should rest your body between intense exercise workouts, it is still important to do some kind of movement every day to boost your heart rate. Even something simple like walking to the shops and carrying the food home, instead of going in the car, will make a real difference to your overall fitness levels.
- Eat your five a day
Make sure you eat your five portions of fruit and vegetables every day within your meals, to keep healthy. Plants are full of antioxidants and vitamins so vital for skin, hair and general wellbeing. Eating healthily will help you feel fitter as you will have more energy to exercise, and a healthy diet can help you to ward off diseases. Eating well can include incorporating specific sports nutrition to help support your work outs, and means a balanced diet, not fad eating.
- Add weight training to your exercise routine
As we get older our muscles naturally weaken but by adding in some kind of resistance weight training into our routine, we can build up those muscles again and maintain our bodies’ strength and tone. Ask for advice from your local gym or trainer, before you start working out with weights as it’s important to do it properly to avoid injury, particularly as a beginner.
- Drink plenty of water
Make sure you drink plenty of water, as our bodies are made of 60% water. Being even slightly dehydrated can impair your performance, leave you feeling tired and lacking energy, and can also result in headaches and other symptoms. Remember that drinking coffee, tea or alcohol, actually works as diuretics, removing water from your body so these drinks don’t count.
- Relaxation time
Stress has a big impact on our overall fitness levels, negatively affecting our body but also our mental fitness which is equally important. If we are suffering with stress we won’t be motivated to work out and can end up in a vicious circle, talking ourselves out of exercising so it’s important to include relaxation time in your day, to get rid of that stress.
- Vary your exercise routine
Don’t just get into a routine of carrying out the same exercise repeatedly as you will get bored and it will fail to stretch and challenge you. Try out different activities and challenge your routine to make sure it is effective. Get out of the gym and go on a park run, or swap your gym routine for a dance class – keep it interesting fun and challenging so that you keep going.
- Warm up and warm down
Whatever exercise routine you are undertaking to improve your fitness levels, one of the things people often do, particularly when first starting out, is miss out the warm up and warm down routines. This is really important to help avoid injury. Warming up gets your body and muscles ready for the exercise which is about to come, protecting your muscles from potential injury. So whatever you are doing, make sure you stretch to warm up and stretch to warm down, before and after every activity.
Doing fitness the right way means you will be working on your body from the inside as well as the outside appearance. Improved diet and added sports nutrition, will support your body to copy with the new workout challenges, and lead to shinier hair and healthier skin, not to mention increased energy levels.
Doing correct exercise will be fun, engaging and result in improved muscle tone, reduced fat levels and a much better looking body for you. The exercise will also ensure your heart is working effectively and being challenged, leaving your body much more able to copy with daily life than before.
As well as the physical changes that effective fitness brings, you will see an improved mental and emotional wellbeing. Exercise is great for relieving stress, but also as your body improves you will feel better and grow in self-confidence as well. It’s a win-win situation all round.Luke Miller is a freelance writer and digital content enthusiast. Enjoys rock concerts and crossfit in his free time. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
You’ve worked hard all winter and spring to be ready for the summer. Or maybe you are getting ready to ramp up your training this summer for some fall fun. Either way, figuring out how to navigate the onset of suddenly higher temperatures is the key to getting the most out of your summer workouts and races. Believe when I say that trial and error are a big part of this process and like most things that involve running you need to practice to figure out exactly how things work for you personally. However, by understanding a few basic principles you can make sure that you rock your runs this summer.
- Know your sweat rate. We all sweat to cool ourselves down when we get hot. What’s important is to understand that we all sweat different amounts, and understanding how much you sweat personally can go a long way to making sure that you are properly hydrated during your run. Fortunately it is relatively easy to figure out your basic sweat rate so you can adjust your hydration needs. Hop on that scale before you head out for your next run (preferably a minimum of 60 minutes) and sans clothes. Go get your run on, keeping track of your fluid intake while you’re running . When you finish hop right on that scale again. Then you have all the information you need. Take your start weight and subtract your finishing weight, convert the difference to ounces (16 ounces per pound of body weight lost) and then add the number of ounces of fluid you drank while running and divide by the number of hours you ran. This will give you a pretty good estimate of how much you sweat per hour. The more often you do this, and the more conditions you do it in will allow you to tailor your intake for you personally under a variety of temperatures. For example if on my last run I started at 175 lbs, ran for 3.5 hours, finished at 173 lbs and during my run I drank 160 ounces the calculation would look like this: (((175-173)*16)+160)/3 = 54.86 ounces per hour that I should intake under similar conditions
- Know the dew point. Yes, the humidity level is important, but the dew point maybe more so. We often refer a “feels like” when referring to temperature. For hotter days this is figured using temperature and dew point . Dew point is the temperature at which sweat will evaporate into the air and cool your body effectively. The higher the dew point the harder it is for your body to cool itself. You can frequently look this up on many weather sites. While tolerance is somewhat personal, generally speaking you can follow these guidelines and adjust your effort accordingly knowing your body will have to work harder to cool down.
- less than 60 degrees - comfortable
- between 60-65 degrees - getting uncomfortable
- 65-70 degrees -uncomfortable
- 70 degrees and up is considered oppressive
- Acclimate appropriately. This requires you to be truly honest with yourself about effort level at any given pace and temperature. Typically speaking it takes approximately 2, and up to 4 weeks to adjust your body to higher temperatures. During that time if you are headed somewhere warm you can layer to simulate the increased temperature during your activities. Start slow, and the first couple days keep the activities shorter and at a very easy effort level (throw pace concerns out the window and focus on listening to your body). As time progresses you can increase the duration of your activity, and or add additional activities. One my son loves in particular is when I ride around with the heat on in the car instead of the AC while being layered. Be honest with yourself about discomfort, but if at any point you feel something is not right then immediately reduce the stress levels you are placing on your body doing this.
- Plan for success. The amount of hydration and fuel you intake in the days leading up to exercise are extremely important. It is fairly common for people to be consistently dehydrated and not even realize it. Make sure you are drinking plenty of fluids every day, not just when you exercise. The more hydrated you are ahead of time the easier it is for your body to maintain a steady state of hydration during exercise with proper fluid intake.
- Don’t be afraid of sodium. What is important is maintaining a proper level of sodium intake along with your hydration. Some people just sweat more sodium, also the more you sweat the more sodium you lose generally speaking. Often, in extreme temperatures, sports drinks alone don’t provide enough replacement sodium on their own. Maintaining a proper sodium level will allow your cells to absorb water and effectively continue the cooling process. There are many “salt” replacement products available with different sodium amounts. Start off at the lower end and experiment until you find the appropriate amount of additional sodium you need, as taking too much is also detrimental.
Done with some care and a little practice you don’t have to just survive, but you can also thrive in those high temperatures and sun that summer has to offer. See you out on the trails!