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Refreshing during a competition is a bugaboo for me.
I read plenty of information about how you need to refresh during competition and workout: I can see a complete period system running up and down in front of my eyes, and sometimes I think that I am practically a dead person, when I don’t make small portions of different refreshments for myself for each competition, and yet I am running along like a complete madwoman.
Being uninformed is not a good thing, however, I believe, that too much information is not necessarily good either, it confuses you, leaves you in a limbo, as you get lost in details, and diverts your attention and focus from the essential, that being in our case running.
So, for me, as with most things in my life, I tend to listen to my body, and my instinct. I let myself feel my body signals. And to be quite honest, my senses don’t like the various gels, the unbearable protein bars, the carbohydrate bombs dressed as cute little gums, caffein bitters, magnesium bombs, and that very odd plastic smell, that you can feel perspiring from your body during a competition, after having ingested all the above, for a good cause. However I do understand that some of these products are inevitable above a certain level of competing, that there is scientifically examined and proved evidence, that these products improve our stamina, and that our body output is positively influenced, and kept in balance at the same time. Still, I cannot let go of my negative feelings towards it.
Personally I think, that on a hobby running level, where you do not want to achieve god like results, you don’t necessarily need these supplements in bigger quantities.
I trust that my body and psyche is alone capable of achieving the target, with appropriate training and preparation. It may take longer, and hurt more, but trust me, it does work for sure.
And that is why I call myself a Spartan runner, where my only inevitable refreshment is simply called: water.
As for my diet, I believe in natural refreshments, and a consistent diet and priming before competition. However, let me add to the above, that running a competition only on water, is only comfortable up to a half marathon distance, above that you need to refuel with nutrients.
So below I have complied a list of advice regarding water:
In case we are thirsty during competition, it is a bad sign, not impossible to reverse, however it is a rule to avoid the feeling of thirst, as it is the first sign of dehydration. This can best be avoided by continuous intake of smaller amount of sips of water.
- If our stomach is full of water, it will come with a feeling of discomfort during running.
- Water is your most practical liquid fuel: mainly because it is best for quenching thirst, second because in case you spill while running, it is not going to be sticky on your face hands etc.
- In extreme heat, it is the perfect friend for cooling yourself! Go ahead and refresh your body and face with it on dog days!
If we put mineral water in our water bottles instead of tap water, we will also replace the most important electrolytes, such as: sodium, chlorine, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
- During a competition we may even loose up to 1 liters of water per hour (!), thanks to heat, sun, wind etc.
- It is advised, to replace the amount of sweat multiplied with 1,5 liquid.
- I would advise drinking a lot of water 2-3 hours before workout/competition, but to reduce it to only 100-200 ml. about 30 minutes before.
- Immediately before running, I normally visit the ladies room. I would advice to start your running session, be it just workout or competition, with an empty bladder. If our urine is translucent, we are good to go.
Once out there on the track, make sure to drink at each refreshing table, approximately at every 4-5 kms. even if you don’t feel thirsty. If you can do these same intervals while doing your workout, that is even better.
- Do not drink more than 2-3 sips each time.
- You should drink either when only walking or at a slow pace.
- Only throw the plastic glasses at the for this purpose appointed bins.
- Once you have arrived at the finish, you need to immediately replace your lost body liquid, however, be moderate at first with only a few sips, to follow with more and more as the minutes go by.
Did you know:
- Your physical ability decreases rapidly once dehydration exceeds your overall weight by 1-3 %.
- The water is drawn from your blood at first, to be followed by the muscles. The blood will thicken, and will not fulfill its overall function. The muscles will become rigid, and cramps will appear.
Loosing weight after a competition is not weight loss, but loss of liquid in your body! Incidentally the transformation of muscles and the fat tissue will occur in resting mode, and not during activity.
- So, the ideal situation after a competition would be, if the scale shows a slight increase in weight, rather than weight loss, as this means, that we have accumulated more liquid in our body than we have used up.
Coming up: other refreshment tactics for long distance runners (21km +)…