It’s the only way to live
It’s time to embrace the things that help you and the things that enable you to reach your goals and still feel human. I’ve been there myself and from my own hard learned lessons I hope you are able to take some information from this post and make your journey a more comfortable one. If your goal is lofty one, it’s still going to suck but it will help you get through it and come out achieving that goal at the end of the day.
As I said earlier I’ve been there myself and I look back at my younger self and I think ‘how stupid was I?”. I was stupid. But I didn’t know better. I’ve always kind of had a bit of a hard head mentality, a ‘I’m going it alone and will get through this’ mentality but that doesn’t always help you. When I used to do a lot of distance running, I would go sometimes 23, 24 miles and replenish only by drinking water. No sports drink, no fuel, just water. Not a good idea especially as I’m a heavy sweater, losing lots of electrolytes. I look back at that and no wonder sometimes I felt like death warmed over when done. But that was then.
Now I’m trying to train smarter. It doesn’t mean you don’t train hard it just mean you don’t feel like yesterdays garbage when doing it and when done.
But I digress. The focus of this post is on using technology to help you achieve your goals and become the athlete you want to be.
By taking my knowledge from getting my personal trainer certification it helped me to understand the fuel the body uses and when it uses it. The main source of fuel our body uses is glucose. Glucose, or sugar, is in our blood and is used by our muscle cells for energy. We have only so much glucose and when we use that up, our body converts glycogen into glucose to keep us fueled. This isn’t only when exercising it’s everything we do from breathing walking, and even thinking. Our brain uses a lot of glucose just to do what the brain does. And where do we get glucose from? Carbs baby! That’s just one of the reasons why a low carb diet such as a keto diet is a really bad idea. We need carbs (high quality carbs). Keep it carbed.
So when does this happen, our body running out of glucose and then glycogen? It’s not that long. Looking at the science the recommendation is to consume 60 grams of carbohydrates every hour. To play it safe, if your event is longer than an hour, you probably want to start consuming at the 45 minute point. This will help prevent you from running out of fuel near that 60 minute mark and start to feel the physical fatigue and mental fatigue set in. Think of it as that saying that when you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated. And it’s in your best interest to not hit that mark where you feel lethargic. Because what happens? The body is tired and then the mind starts to go. And then it’s an uphill battle, a struggle to get through it.
Endurance sports can be very demanding
Have you heard of the term ‘bonking’? The first time I heard it is when looking into marathons. People ‘bonk’ or ‘hit the wall’ and it’s a struggle to continue. This is the body running out of fuel (glucose). And what does the body do when it has no fuel? Not what you think. Typically when in an endurance event you are working hard because you are competing be it in an event or even against yourself. So your heart rate is not in the ‘fat burning zone’ but in the cardio zone so fat is not an option for fuel. Your body turns on you and starts to metabolize muscle tissue into carbohydrates. You are consuming muscle tissue to fuel your body to complete an event that is to make you a stronger person. When blood glucose gets really low, you may experience hypoglycemia. This is the feeling of extreme tiredness, a near complete loss of energy, the ‘bonk’. When in this state, the body will begin producing cortisol. These hormones break down muscle tissue in order to convert the proteins within to glucose. This will provide the energy to continue exercising, however, cortisol also suppresses the immune system. There goes the muscle mass you worked so hard to add.
No one wants that to happen.
I’m going to refer you to a web site that has a good guide on how to fuel for your event. I’m not endorsing this company but they do sell the fuel you need. It’s up to you if you use them. This should give you a good idea on what you need for your training or event. Let’s look at an example.
For this example I have chosen an event that takes 5 hours. Here are some of the things they recommend:
- 2,500 – 3,500 mg’s of sodium
- 1,500 – 2,000 calories (glucose)
- 100 – 150 oz of fluid
- 15000 – 25000MG BCAA (branch chain amino acids)
That equates to 5 gel pouches, 2 energy chews, 2 stroopwafels, a hydration energy mix, 2 energy drink mixes and so on. Go hear to check it out and you can go to the main planner and look at requirements for other events.
Does this seem a lot? It does to me, for sure. Maybe it’s heavy on the requirements because it is a company and they have to make money but they have been around a long time and are well known within the endurance athlete communities. I’ve started using gels myself and I’m going to continue and add more as I go seeing the impact. How do I feel, did they work, did I feel stronger, is my mental will strong and not foggy.
But don’t dismiss this. I’m not getting into science of how our body uses fuel; fatty acid oxidization, aerobic glycolysis, ATP, etc. but this is based on science. Why is it professional athletes and amateur athletes on the olympic level do the same thing? Because it works and it helps them to succeed. That’s how Gatorade came to be. The University of Florida Gator’s head coach went to their team of scientists to address loss of body fluids during football games. This concoction of water, electrolytes, flavour etc. was credited for the Gators Orange Bowl win in 1967.
It makes sense. Let technology help you. The technology that allows us to no longer have to eat oranges, bananas and other foods to keep fueled during an event. It’s so easy and so much better now and there is no reason to not do it.
Yours in health,