Hydrate like a professional for May 24!
I love this time of year for sports in Bermuda. Everyone is pumped following the triathlon and the May 24 half-marathon is on the horizon.
Seeing lots of friends and clients ace their sprint or Olympic distance last weekend was totally motivating.
I'm just so impressed with anyone that can do that swim. Seems by far the hardest part to me.
Are you allowed to do it with a noodle? If so, I'm totally in next year.
Meanwhile, I'll keep prepping for the most humid 13 miles in history!
I don't stay half-marathon fit the whole way through the year. I start working up for May 24 (from around a 5K baseline) about ten weeks before.
To be honest, I think the hydration training is just as important as the running.
The weather always gets rapidly hotter towards the end of May and it helps to build blood volume and get used to the heat in advance.
If you do all your runs in the cool of the gym, you're going to struggle on race day.
Running at lunchtime a few days a week will help to build your tolerance, but unless you want to pass out in the hedge, you need to hydrate like a pro.
Getting dehydrated is so easy in a humid environment. The sweat factor is up and so is your water loss.
Your ability to exercise and perform at your best is impaired with even a low level of dehydration. Once you're significantly down, your performance capacity can decrease by a whopping 30 per cent.
So, whether you're prepping for May 24 or getting ready for volleyball season, read what's below to make sure you stay on track.
1, Use electrolytes (but only the good ones)
Water really may not cut it if you exercise during the heat of the day, but that doesn't mean you should be downing Gatorade.
Gatorade was designed for Olympic athletes so, depending on your level of intensity, it may be overkill! Try Ultima Replenisher (Supermart) or Natural Nuun (most pharmacies) for the best options free from sugar, artificial sweeteners and artificial colours.
Sportseller also sell SOS Hydrate which I absolutely love. It tastes like sweat, but if you're going to get seriously hot and work out for a long time, it's probably your best bet.
It was used by all our Oracle and SoftBank America's Cup sailors through their campaigns here. Good testimonial.
2, What about energy?
Being hydrated will give you energy itself. Fatigue is the first sign of dehydration.
However, if you need a sugar boost you don't necessarily need it from your drinks — a banana or even something like jelly babies will work on race day! If you do want a sweeter drink, try coconut water, which has some electrolytes too, or Vitamin Water — not the Zero version — which is at least naturally coloured.
3, Use water too though!
It doesn't all have to be electrolytes. Good old water works wonders and, for a 13-mile distance, is what you should use most of the way.
It does depend on your sweat loss, but generally I would recommend electrolytes twice, at around mile five and mile ten.
If you feel thirsty, you're already dehydrated. Some people hold back on pre-hydration because they don't want to need to urinate. But urinating roadside (maybe jump behind a hedge for a little privacy) is way better than collapsing from dehydration.
Start several days in advance and make sure that you are topped up nicely so that 1, you never really feel thirsty and 2, your urine is pale yellow.
On the day itself, drink 14 to 20 fluid ounces about two hours before you start and then stay topped up.
How much you should stay topped up with varies according to body weight. Pop over to social media and I will post extra details on this there!
5, Don't be overreliant on thirst as a cue in very hot weather
In hot and humid conditions note that your thirst is unlikely to keep pace with your sweat loss. If you finish practice sessions dizzy or with a headache then you're not getting enough fluids.
I can't emphasise enough how important it is to practise this part. If you're going to run May 24 (and if you want to finish!), then start running now in the midday heat. Test out different types of electrolytes and see what works best for you.
• Catherine Burns is a fully qualified nutritional therapist trained by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in the UK. For details: www.natural.bm, 236-7511 or, on Facebook, Natural Nutrition Bermuda