Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Electrolyte capsules-salvation in a gelcap

There is always a lot of talk about hydration and electrolytes for longer races and many an athlete gets scared off by the term “hyponetremic.” But, when do you actually need to start using electrolyte supplements? Don’t some of the gels and drinks have electrolytes in them? How much do you need per hour? Do you get enough sodium from your diet to compensate? Well, grab a salt shaker and have a quick read. Okay, not really. Grab some water with a Nuun tablet thrown in and then take a seat.

Daily intake
First and foremost, let’s get the daily sodium thing straight. You don’t need more sodium added to what you are currently eating. Trust me, most Americans, athletes or not, need to cut back. But, you already knew that right! However, there are times in the day or two leading up to a long and hot race, that many a pro/elite athlete can be found adding salt to their meals more than normal. Just realize that these people aren’t doing this day in and day out. Only coming up to a race or during extreme training. For the rest of us, back away from the salt shaker… and canned goods…and frozen foods…and boxed meals…and restaurant food…and

Race day intake
If your event is under 2 hours long: most gels and/or drinks will have enough in them to do the job. The only exception is if the weather is hot (80F+) and humid(65%+) or much hotter than you are used to. In that case, it is wise to take a one hour dose as outlined below.

If your event is over 2 hours long: Now it is time to plan on taking in what you really need to perform and feel your best. This is a tough one because everyone’s needs are different. I have seen people say they are happy with 300mg of sodium an hour while others go with 500-600mg/hr. The most I have seen is 1000mg/hr for a hot and humid ironman.

Now is the time to plan out your nutrition intake for your race. You have got to sit down and take a look at what gel/drink you will be taking in for carb needs and find out how many electrolytes are already in them. Make sure you are getting all the electrolytes too. That means sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium.

The average dose is going to be based off the sodium number with most athletes taking in about 300-500 mg/hour. If you are a heavy sweater with salt stains on your clothes, are racing in a hot, humid environment, and/or still experience cramping then up that hourly dose. Personally, I took in about 500-600mg/hour during Hawaii 70.3 and felt great.

Some people at electrolyte powders or drops to their drinks, but most people prefer to take capsules with them. Just remember to read the label for dosages and add that number to the sodium you will be consuming through other race day carbs. You can carry your gelcaps in a baggie that can be put in a racebelt or short pocket. Also, there is a cool little gadget for bikes and racebelts called saltstick that will hold your caps very well and are easy to get to. Another option is Nuun tablets that can be dropped into water or even put on your tongue to dissolve(well, at least that is what Desiree Ficker did when she took second at Ironman Hawaii.) The already come in a convenient dispenser.

We have all these products for you to try at SLRC so make sure to try out what you think you will need on your longer workouts. If you want to look at labels ahead of time, just click on the pictures and that will lead you to the product website. So now is the time to pick your poison and let the “good times” roll!

Monday, July 20, 2009

BJ's Ironman-A new PR at Ironman Couer D'Alene

So here is BJ Christenson's Ironman Couer D'Alene race report. At Salt Lake Running Co we are very happy for our Draper Sales Floor manager in not only running a fantastic race, but grabbing another slot for Ironman Hawaii. Like other elite athletes, BJ has endured many dedicated hours over many years to run races like this one. Yes, he has earned his way to Kona before, but we look forward to BJ's next attempt this coming October to put together more pieces of his personal pursuit puzzle. And Ironman Couer D'Alene has definitely given him yet one more experience and hopefully a few more key pieces to slide gracefully into place.

I guess using the term PR in an Ironman or any triathlon for that matter is not exactly the correct term. Every course is different and some are prone to helping you get to the finish line faster. Ironman CDA, as most people call it, is not exactly a course designed for going super fast. Racing an Ironman however isn’t really about speed. First and foremost it is about getting to the finish line and celebrating that achievement with those who helped you get there. That being said, it is especially special when you get to that line with a good race in your hand and a Kona Slot in your pocket.

Lake Couer D'Alene is one of the most scenic and beautiful lakes in the Northwest. At 7 AM June 21, on the shores of the city beach the lake turned white with mankind’s impression of spawning salmon. Let’s face it with 500+ dollars on the line I would hope you did your homework. I felt ready for the swim but it was one of the more difficult swims I have done. I like to call the swim in an Ironman as the Warm-up, but the lake didn’t seem to like it because the more we swam forward the more it felt like the lake was trying to through us back out. I felt ready for the swim but it was one of the more difficult swims I have done. It was a very rough swim out there and very difficult to find a line and hold it. One thing is for certain, after swimming in that I don’t think they will cancel the swim in St. George next year no matter how hard it gets.

Leaving the swim is a mass of noise. With a rough swim like it was this year, it made for a little bit of disorientation. Once I was free and clear of my wetsuit, I headed to the changing tent and found it a little more crowded than usual. I quickly put my cycling gear on and I was out the door to my surprise before most of the people who beat me there. I grabbed my bike and hit the road. Just like the beauty of the lake, the bike ride in CDA is breathtaking, in more ways than one. I always make a mental note of the people who pass me on the bike and focus on limiting my losses before the run. The bike course is full of hills as you make your way around Hayden Lake and the surrounding area. I had to really stay focused to keep my mind on task. By mile 91, I was starting to wish the bike was over not that I was totally hating it I just didn’t have a lot of miles on my legs and my lack of cycling was starting to show. On the plus side the clouds had moved in and the temperature was staying cool yet comfortable.

In my past Ironman’s cramping has been a big concern. So one thing I tried this time that I like to call the winning combo is the combination of Salt Stick salt tabs with Sports Legs--another supplement I have found to be very beneficial. I had no cramping the entire day so I guess it worked.

Finally I was able to get off my bike and start focusing on the people who passed me. There are many ways of tracking your progress on the bike and on the run and a lot of people are obsessed with pace and speed but for me it is all about the heart rate. It is the one number I look at and in reality the only one that matters. As I left transition I found a comfortable pace and checked my HR as long as I am below 160 bpm I can sustain the pace. I took a look at my competitors at the first turn around and realized I would have to be patient and not get down on myself if I was going to catch them. Little by little they started to come back and I kept my pace consistent. By mile 15 I had almost caught everyone who passed me on the bike. The run was a 2 loop run so by the second loop it started to get more difficult to spot who is in front because we start mixing with other athletes on their first loop. I started to feel myself fade as I reached the final turnaround and started to think to myself why I thought this would be fun. I kept moving in and out of mental focus as I made my way to the finish. My wife Chrystel was on the course at various points always snapping me back into the world of reality and the task at hand. Finally I had reached the juncture in the run course where you start to envision how good it will feel to be done.

Making the turn down Sherman Ave you have one long stretch down hill until you cross the finish line. It is there that you get to hear the most famous words in Ironman escape the lips of Mike Reilly, "You are an Ironman!" I had a great day and was happy to have Chrystel there at the finish line. Completing an Ironman usually takes a team of people to help you get ready. Without the help and encouragement of my wife, I am certain it would not have been possible for me to have the day I did.

My thanks go out to the volunteers who volunteered that day and to the support of my friends and family. My goal going into CDA was to qualify for Kona and that I did. I also learned a little bit more about myself and what it takes to improve in Kona. Congratulations to everyone who made it to the finish line that day and in the words of John Collins, brag for the rest of your life.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Green Food-- Nature’s Powerhouse

Some people call it lawn mower clippings, some jungle juice, or maybe wetdog. Whatever you name it, it is still good old green food. Is it really that bad? Like wet dog bad? Well.....maybe at first. I think I gaged the first time or two(or three) I tried it, but since my desire for optimal health was strong, I stuck with it and lo and behold I have come to find that yes! Green food really is natures powerhouse! And now, I crave a nice jungle shot to right every wrong and bring peace and harmony to my body.

So here is the real deal on green food. I get people asking me what kinds of foods and/or supplements they should be adding to their diet. While I did a short blog on multivitamins, I would be remiss if I did not now mention the multicategorical item of Green Food. Seriously, a good green food will be both a food and a supplement. It will fill the gap in the lack of whole food produce intake, provide protein,cholorophyll and vitamins, minerals and enzymes. When people are really struggling with immunity or training hard (or breathing on a daily basis) I recommend that they take this every day. It does an amazing job at helping people just flat out feel better and gives them a bit of an energy boost too. I know of people who say they feel more calm and relaxed after taking it. Sounds kind of out there, but green food does a nice job at restoring a healthy balance to the alkalinity of the blood and some of the chemical/hormonal pathways in the body.

So what is in Green food? Well there are different brands and shapes and sizes, but all in all, green food contains different combinations of dried grasses, algae, vegetables, legumes and sometimes fruit. The best products are heavy in the grasses and algaes(like spirulina) and usually have some added enzymes too. They are sold in powdered form and have to be mixed with a liquid or thrown into a smoothie. Now, you can get capsule versions of some products, but it is easier to take the full dose as a powder rather than alot of capsules. Also, the body seems to absorb the mixed powdered versions better and people feel the effects more strongly and immediately. Whatever product you decide to use, just remember that if you don't like the taste right off, you have to committ yourself to taking it for 3 weeks NO MATTER WHAT! Just mix it in only 4-6 ounces of water and slam in one gulp. I promise that after 3 weeks, you will be fine with it. But, you do have to hang in there and do it for the sake of your body. If you are going to mistreat your body with flour, sugar, damaged protein and preservatives, then give it a break and help it recover and restore by taking green food. If you aren't ready to make any other changes in your diet right now, then at least do this!

Oh and here is an excert from a great article on Green Food from CoryHolly.com that talks a bit more about the importance of green food and most especially Spirulina. Also, the above pictures of the green food containers are linked to those product specs and reviews on iherb.com

In case you haven’t noticed, a very large and impressive category of “green foods” has established itself within the domain of the natural foods industry. The GREEN MACHINE has permeated every sector, providing nourishment and life’s missing ingredients to athletes,young children, busy executives and convalescing seniors. So many of us are adding these concentrated, freeze-dried superfoods to our dietary menu, hoping for more energy,improved detoxification and a reliable source of antioxidants, enzymes, vitamins and minerals.

Let’s be honest. Few of us consume the quantity of organic green vegetables we know are necessary to augment a good diet. Green plants, like spinach, kale, spirulina and chlorella,sustain our bodies with chlorophyll - that magnesium rich, alkaline green pigment responsible for converting the energy of the sun into living matter. In fact chlorophyll should really be classified as an essential nutrient. Its positive affects on wound healing, organ restoration and athletic performance are truly phenomenal.

Many excellent varieties and choices of green foods exist - powdered mixtures which combine a plethora of exotic and health-promoting substances, such as plant extracts, enzymes, lecithin, friendly bacteria (probiotics), alfalfa, barley, wheat grass, bee pollen, seaweed - all in a base of algae, the focus of this article.

Spirulina is a blue-green algae. Its natural blue pigment is called phycocyanin, a compound known to protect the kidneys from the adverse effects of certain drugs. Spirulina has a filamentous structure with soft cell walls that are easily digested. Spirulina is about 60% protein, so in terms of protein density it stands alone in naturally occurring foods. To give you a practical perspective, 10 grams of spirulina provides 6 grams of protein, compared to the same weight of fresh whole egg (1.2g or 12%) goats milk (.4g or 4%) halibut (2.7g or 27%) soybeans (1.7g or 17%) or venison (3g or 30%). In terms of net protein utilization (NPU) however, spirulina takes a back seat to eggs (94%), milk (82%), fish (80%) chicken (67%)and soy (61%). Spirulina scores a modest 57%, but because it is so high in total protein content, it actually outscores every example mentioned in terms of total usable protein. spirulina sports a milligram of iron per gram, thousands of bioactive enzymes, omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, trace elements, a 2:1 potassium to sodium ratio, 2 mcg of B-12 analogues, superoxide dismutase (SOD), 10 mg of gamma linolenic acid (GLA), mixed carotenoids and 3 mg of beta-carotene, making it the world’s most concentrated source of this provitamin. Most people are carotenoid deficient and taking spirulina as a supplement could immediately remedy this concern.

Supplement Recommendations
I have consumed spirulina for more than twenty years in powder, capsule and tablet form. My favourite method involves adding 10 grams of Hawaiian spirulina pacifica to my post-workout protein shake, where it is mixed into a slurry in a blender with fresh raw bee pollen and whey protein isolate (among other things such as organic fruit, The Sport Oil, creatine, etc…). I also use a green mix which includes spirulina and chlorella. First time users should start out with 500-1000mg and build up gradually. It’s one of Nature’s most potent super foods, so ease into it just like exercise. Spirulina can be taken before exercise, between meals or combined with other foods. Get creative.

So it is time to give this a go!!