I nailed my fueling and hydration during training, and you can too! I’ll share what works and why. Many athletes struggle to get the perfect combination of hydration and fueling during their training and racing. Sometimes we get it right, and sometimes we don’t. Did you ever wonder why? Or did you ever wonder if there was a way you could make this happen more often than not? Amateurs and elites alike all share this same common issue of trying to get that optimum fuel and hydration so that they can perform their best, feel their best, and recover their best. So, the question is how should I and when should I? The answer is based on math, science and listening closely to our bodies. Our needs are constantly changing and we need to address it accordingly. The following is a simple plan I have devised that has worked for me and I believe will work for you. Simply put, the truth is that math, science and your body do not lie. So, take those truths and use them to your advantage.
First weigh yourself, completely naked before exercise. Then weigh yourself again after exercise, completely naked, making sure to towel dry off any sweat. Ideally your weight should be exactly the same, this says that you nailed it! You had optimum hydration. If you are within a pound either way, you are still on target. If you are more than a pound either way, you need to adjust accordingly your hydration. How do I know about weighing myself before and after exercise? I have the best doctor in the world for me! He is not a coach, and does not train me, but the few times a year that I see him, he always has some great advice. Last time I saw him, he mentioned this tip of weighing myself to aid in optimum hydration calculation. Hydration is vital. Hydration lubricates our muscles, and greatly aides in performance and recovery. But did you know that our most important muscle, our brain, utilizes a whopping 33% of all the hydration we consume? That is 1 in every 3 fluids we consume, goes exclusively to our brains. Without proper hydration, our brains cannot function at their best. Our brains are our most important tools because every single thing we do starts with our thoughts.
Science says we lose fluid, calories, minerals and nutrients when we exercise, so we need to replace them. But how to replace them, and by how much, and when? Amateurs and elite athletes are all the same in what we lose, but what changes is how much we lose and when. There is a general science behind it, we generally lose xxx amount of potassium, sodium and etc. But it is learning how much of each, that is the million dollar question for all of us. Because when we can answer that question, we score big time! We score in much better training, racing and recovery. There are formulas to calculate this. There are rules to generally follow. But then why, is it something that so many athletes struggle with? I believe its because the only thing that is constant is change. We all change constantly. Therefore, we must adjust accordingly.
A starting point is to consume approximately 100 calories an hour, and adjust accordingly based on your needs. There are many different products to do this with. You could have sport drinks, gels, bars, salt pills, etc. There are many different types of products ranging from all carbohydrate based to protein and fat based. The choice is yours, because only you will know how your body responds best. And remember your body is always changing, so from day to day, you may need different types of products or different amounts. Hence my next part of my plan, and the most important part, which is listening to your body.
There are so many different factors that add into how much fuel and hydration we may need. Some days we may be more hydrated, or we may be still recovering from a previous workout, or lack of sleep, but one thing is certain, no two workouts are ever the same because we are never the same. Even the weather can effect how much hydration and fuel we each need. We need to take everything into consideration and really learn how to listen closely to our bodies.
Listening to your body
Listening to your body is the most important thing you can do. It’s important to listen to your body before, during and after exercise. It’s important to review, compare and analyze what you do continually. It doesn’t have to be a big project, rather just something that you are aware of constantly and keep in mind and use to your advantage.
I recently won the grand prize from Becoming Ultra, a coaching scholarship to help me in “Becoming Ultra”, and I am very excited. It hasn’t started yet, it will start soon, but I am sure I will learn much more especially since this will be a distance greater than 26.2 miles which brings greater challenges. But I believe my plan will still apply, its just the details that will change. My simple plan is to listen to your body, do the math by weighing yourself, and know the science behind it. What are you losing exactly and what works for you in replacing it? Always listen to your body to feel fit forever. #feelfitforever