Staying hydrated is essential for athletic performance. Expert sports nutritionist Dr. Krista Austin and TriDot coach Jeff Raines discuss how to manage your water and electrolyte intake while training and racing. You will also learn special considerations about racing in various weather conditions.
TriDot Podcast .30:
Sweat Science Made Simple: Getting your Hydration and Electrolytes Right
This is the TriDot podcast. TriDot uses your training data and genetic profile combined with predictive analytics and artificial intelligence to optimize your training, giving you better results in less time with fewer injuries. Our podcast is here to educate, inspire and entertain. We'll talk all things triathlon with expert coaches and special guests. Join the conversation and let's improve together.
Andrew Harley: Welcome to the TriDot podcast, it's the hydration episode. Hydrating has come up here and there throughout our podcast conversations but today is the day where we dedicate a full show to talking hydration and electrolyte balance for triathletes. I'm a sweaty Florida tennis kid who grew up to be a sweaty Texan triathlon guy. So, I have a lot of questions today. I’m really pumped about this topic and here to help me ask some questions today is Coach Jeff Raines. Jeff has a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology and was a successful D1 collegiate runner. He's qualified for the Boston Marathon multiple times and has raced over 120 triathlons from competitive sprints to full distance ironmans. Jeff has been coaching runners and triathletes since 2009. Jeff you're a sweaty Texas runner kid, you like drinking water?
Jeff Raines: Andrew, I'm sweating just sitting here thinking about sweating. So, I'm a very high sweater, we’ll talk a little bit about that later. But yes, I drink a lot of water.
Andrew Harley: Here to help answer all of our hydration questions is our resident nutritional expert, Dr. Krista Austin. Krista is an exercise physiologist and nutritionist who consulted with the U.S. Olympic Committee in the English Institute of Sport. She has a PhD in exercise physiology and sports nutrition, a master's degree in exercise physiology and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist. Krista, you staying hydrated today?
Dr. Krista Austin You know, of all the questions you had to ask me today, unfortunately I'm doing a horrible job.
Andrew Harley: I got it.
Dr. Krista Austin I was like wow they're gonna ask me that question and it's one of those days where I am still struggling to get all my fluids in to rehydrate myself from my run. So, it's a great topic to be on with you today. I can give all the advice in the world and I'm gonna try make up for it after we're finished.
Andrew Harley: Absolutely, well let's try to get you through this and let's get you to a chance to drink some water. I know Jeff Raines and I have been in some filming sessions and some meetings with our fellow TriDot coaches today so we probably both as well haven't drunk as much water as we would like. So, let's knock out this podcast. Let's educate our athletes on hydration and electrolyte balance, and let's all go take a drink of water afterwards. So, sound good everybody?
Dr. Krista Austin Now they all know we’re human.
Jeff Raines: Hey speak for yourself! No, just kidding.
Andrew Harley: Well who am I? I am your host Andrew the average triathlete voice of the people and the captain of the middle of the pack. Today we'll start with our warm-up question and then move into the main set conversation about hydration. Then we'll cooldown with a segment that we call the TriDot bookshelf, where both of my guests will drop a hot book recommendation for their readers in our audience. It's gonna be great. Let's get to it.
Time to warm up, let's get moving.
Andrew Harley: All right, there are a lot of sports out there you guys, a lot of sports. I don't know about you two, but I'm the guy who will sit and watch a new sport on TV whether I understand what's going on or not. This gets really easy during the Olympics. But if you look hard enough you can watch a large variety of sports, pretty much all the time. The other day I was watching Australian rules football and I was equal parts mesmerized and equal parts confused. It inspired today's warm-up question: what in your completely subjective opinion of course, is the weirdest sport you have ever seen?
Of course, we're not insulting anybody today, weird is a matter of the beholder and there's a lot of sports here in the States that I'm sure popular that in another country from another background, someone would find very weird. So, we're not making fun of anybody. We're just saying from our perspective, these are some sports that we look at and say, “Well, that's different”. Dr. Austin let's start with you.
Dr. Krista Austin I’m going to tell you about one that I got invited to do. I haven't even done it yet. I've seen it on TV though and most would probably not consider it a true sport but I'm gonna be interested to see how this goes and that is axe throwing. Have you guys seen this?
Andrew Harley: I've never heard of this.
Jeff Raines: Yes, I have, I've heard of it. It's very intriguing.
Dr. Krista Austin So, I'm supposed to, and I don't know if this will happen, given CPVID-19 here but I'm supposed to go do some axe throwing here in the next few weeks. So, I'm excited to try it. It looked very intriguing on TV and that's gonna be my new weird sport that I get to try out. So, we'll see what happens.
Andrew Harley: My only request is that you, and I know we've talked before, you're not a huge social media person yourself, but my only request is that you have somebody grab a 5, 10, 15 second clip of you throwing an axe at a target so that we can show our podcast listeners on the TriDot Instagram/Facebook account. Do you think that is within the realm of possibility?
Dr. Krista Austin That is within the realm of possibility, I can do that.
Andrew Harley: Yes! I can't wait. Thank you so much in advance, assuming you get to go. Might be a little wait, but eventually I trust you'll get to go. So, Jeff let's go to you. What do you think is the weirdest sport you've ever seen?
Jeff Raines: Like always I'm gonna give a fairly unique answer and a couple different answers to your question, not just one. One, I got the opportunity to meet Eric Burns who is a former major league baseball player, he was a guest keynote speaker at the Endurance Exchange this year in 2020 out at Arizona State. He held, I don't know if it still holds, but he had a Guinness world record for or I guess the world record for speed golfing, going through –
Andrew Harley: Yeah speed golf is a thing, that’s a thing.
Jeff Raines: I thought that was so unique. I hadn't heard of that and I guess there's different rules variations but you know how many holes of golf can you do on foot in 24 hours? I think that was his record.
Andrew Harley: That was his record, yeah.
Jeff Raines: How fast can you get through 18 holes; you know stuff like that. I thought that was unique. The craziest thing I've ever heard, because golf tends to be slow, calm, cool, collected. You know, two, three hours for 18 holes. It may be longer, you know, but speed golf is almost like I don't know, speed chess, It just seems like it's the complete opposite. But then kind of a side note or a further response, I mentioned Guinness Book of World Records. They're not all necessarily sports but there's just some crazy things out there that you can hold records for. You know like longest handstand, longest plank, stuff like that. They're not necessarily sports –
Andrew Harley: It's like a niche activity.
Jeff Raines: Yeah, I think a lot of those are just crazy, cool and different and weird.
Andrew Harley: Yeah, when you're talking about speed golf, it reminds me of my bachelor party. You know good Christian kid, we're not gonna do anything stupid. My brother planned - I had never heard of this at the time but I played soccer in high school and he found that there's Foot Golf now. Where some golf courses will take a very small portion of their facilities and it's literally it's a little 9 to 18-hole course. But you play it with soccer balls and in soccer cleats and you kick the ball towards the hole. So, it takes you two, three, four, five kicks, however many and so you know your first kick is like driving the ball down the range. Then your second and third kick is you trying to approach the hole and then you have a putter too. But it's literally playing a round of golf with your foot and a soccer ball and the hole is bigger obviously, the hole is big enough for a soccer ball to fall into. So, that's another weird variation of golf that we can kind of throw into the ring here while we're talking about speed golf. But Jeff you said something just now that is going to change my answer entirely and I thank you for it.
Because I had forgotten about something. I honestly - I was all lined up to talk about all the reasons why I thought cricket was the strangest sport out there. Obviously, we don't really have a history of playing cricket in the United States, really big in India, in some Asian Middle Eastern countries. I know some European countries are very into cricket and I read a long form journalism article one time that really broke down that the sport and it was fascinating to read. It is a very, very interesting sport but just very different from anything we have in the United States and so I was lined up to say that. But when you said chess, it reminded me that an actual viable sport out there is chess boxing, have you guys heard of that?
Jeff Raines: Chess boxing? Punching?
Andrew Harley: Chess boxing.
Jeff Raines: Whoa, elaborate please.
Andrew Harley: So, literally what they do is they will - I don't know I think I start with boxing but they will box a round in the ring. If nobody wins in that round, as soon as the bell rings, instead of them going to their corners and getting a break, three barrels are brought out and both boxers sit on a barrel in between them is a chessboard. They for one minute, two minutes, I forget the exact amount of time, they literally will play speed chess. Which if you know anything about chess is kind of a very fast version, where you're doing quick moves. You're trying to force a quick mistake to get a checkmate. So, they’ll play a very quick minute or two of speed chess and if nobody checkmates the other person during that time, that's a whist away and they go back to boxing. They will do that back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, until somebody either wins in the ring as a boxer or wins on the chess board with a checkmate. So, if you're a really good boxer but you're terrible at chess, well you're probably gonna lose on the chess portion and vice versa. So, they kind of have to be somewhat serviceable in both because you can win the round or win the match essentially either way. So, I actually have chess in my background, revealing the nerd in myself a little bit. When I was an elementary school and middle school student, I was ranked in the state of Florida as a scholastic chess competitor - I feel like I'm bragging but that's probably the worst thing they'd ever brag about, right? But when I found out that was a sport, I'm way too little to ever box. So, I'd never do it. But I was just fascinated by it. But I would say that chess boxing to me is just the strangest sport out there. I'm so glad you brought up chess in it because it brought me back to that.
Cricket, you're vindicated. You are not the weirdest sport in my eyes, you're actually pretty cool. I just wish I understood you better. Chess boxing is my vote for the weirdest sport on the planet. So, guys go to your local axe throwing business and give that a try. We're gonna see Dr. Austin do that. Check out some chess boxing on TV and you know go give your local golf course some business by playing around a round of speed golf.
On to the main set, going in three, two, one.
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It's no secret that staying hydrated is super important for training, racing, and even day to day life. For your body to perform at its best you have to stay on top of your water intake and electrolyte balance. With so many water tracking bottles, different hydration products on the market and weather variables that can affect us on race day, nailing hydration is way easier said than done.
So, Dr. Austin let's just start just high-level general overview, let's establish the baseline here. What are the general recommendations for water intake?
Dr. Krista Austin So, when you think about water intake, just so you know you got to think about not only what you're drinking and actually you know taking around in your water bottle and what you have your glass at the table when you go for a meal but also everything that's in your actual food. What's interesting if you take a look at recommendations from like the CDC, what you'll see is they actually report the average amount that people consume. So, if you take a look at what's reported for males, they drink on average about a hundred and seventeen ounces of water per day or they consume that much between food and fluids.
Whereas females appear to consume significantly less, about 93 ounces per day. So, at the end of the day it appears that most of the recommendations we get from the broad population is based on how much people are consuming on average. I will tell you when I work with someone though, the rule of thumb I give them is to start with a base of at least half an ounce per pound of body weight. That will definitely get them going and make sure that they have it at meals because meals actually you know have electrolytes and the electrolytes and the carbohydrates and the actual macros will help us to hold on to that water so that we don't lose it.
Then throughout the rest of the day depending on how hard you're training or what they want to have with them at their desks or carry with them at school. I'll say make sure that whatever you're taking, you know you're you got some electrolytes in that so that you retain it.
Jeff Raines: So, we know that you need particular amounts of fluids every day to survive, let's say. But doing workouts we sweat out a lot of fluids through our sweat. So, how should we be intentional in replacing fluids lost from sweat?
Dr. Krista Austin: So, whenever we're going to go replace fluids lost from sweat, we need to know that we're gonna have to consume about 20 to 24 ounces of fluid for every pound that we've lost. The recommendation that I give people is that your fluid should contain about 150 to 300 milligrams of sodium depending on how you respond to sodium intake and also how much you have in your actual diet. If you're anything like me, I love salty foods. Especially like chips and salsa and so I'll end up with a good bit of salt from a meal and sometimes I don't always need to go run and grab that electrolyte beverage right away if I've had a meal really close by.
But we want to make sure that we pay attention to how much the fluid we're taking in actually makes us urinate immediately after we take it in. Because that will tell you how well are you responding to the amount of sodium that you actually have in and around the fluids that you consume. Some people will notice that to hold on to that, they've really got to crank up the sodium intake. Whereas others will say “You know what? I can put in the you know 150 milligrams of sodium and I'm good.” I have some people that I'll put in you know 500 milligrams of sodium into 20 to 24 ounces just to help them make sure they retain the fluid that they're trying to rehydrate their body with. So, there's general recommendations and then there's how much a person can retain on the whole and make sure they're getting everything that they need.
Some people just have different systems in their body and they respond differently to levels of sodium and fluid intake. So, we have to account for that whenever we're working towards optimizing our own hydration status.
Jeff Raines: So, let's say you do a workout and you know that you lost X amount of pounds during that workout. So, we need to consume the 20 to 24 ounces and the 150 to 300 milligrams per pound of lost. Do we use that guideline to create a formula to consume a particular amount during exercise? Like prolonged Ironman races for example. I know you see charts and figures in USAT and in Ironman and they all have their guidelines and arguably 30 to 36 ounces of fluids per hour on the bike, let's just say. But knowing like the weather conditions, the effort, the percentage of your threshold you're gonna hold in particular weather conditions as it pertains to how much your sweat rate is. Then kind of using the guidelines of how much how many pounds you lose of sweat and any given workout, you put all that together to create your own unique kind of race day hour to hour formula. I know that was a lot there but you do have just kind of a go to safe kind of range for that?
Dr. Krista Austin: Yes, so what I always tell people to do is that you know per liter of fluid they consume, we never want anything less than 500 milligrams of sodium. Really when you're in a race you want to hold on to that fluid and not be peeing while you're on the bike, I say take it up to 750 milligrams just to be safe. It gives us a little bit of a cushion there unless for some reason they've got a medical issue where they say “I can't do that”. So, just know that we're always assuming that we're healthy underneath these conditions. But also, for people who do respond well to increase levels of sodium as they race because it does help us actually you know transport carbohydrates because we've got sodium dependent transporters in our gut. I say go ahead and take it up to the point that is best for you. So, I have some people that race on 1500 milligrams per hour and in terms of the amount of fluid that they're taking in, if it's just general recommendations I'll tell people, look four to six ounces every 15 minutes. But you need to evaluate that for yourself to see if you actually need that much or maybe you even need more than the general recommendation.
I will tell you the better you get at learning to process fluids and staying hydrated while you're on the bike, typically saying you know look you know dehydrate while you're on the run, the better off most people are. So, weighing yourself before and after an actual race intensity session to find out how much you do sweat at that workload is actually pretty important for dialing the fit. If you want to go general though we typically tell people four to six ounces of fluid every fifteen to twenty minutes. Then at the end of the day make sure you don't have anything less than five hundred milligrams per liter. Ideally, I would tell you to crank that up during racing.
Jeff Raines: That's good stuff, thank you yeah. It's been a number of years now but I had my sweat rare calculated and for my height, weight and age at the time - I think I was deemed like I want to say like twenty one percent, a higher sweat rate than most people your height, weight and age. I'll do let's just say a one-hour threshold interval bike workout at home default seventy degrees, thirty percent humidity, nothing crazy. I'm indoors, I'll do an hour bike workout Zwift whatever. I'll have let's say two bottles of water during that harder session, a puddle sweat, all that good stuff. I will still go weigh myself and I will lose three to five pounds sometimes just on one hour workout indoors.
So, I'm definitely one of those that have been told and utilize a higher - I burn more calories and all that. So, I'll have a bigger pre-race meal. I always favor the kind of the high end of fluid ounces per hour on race day and also the higher closer to twelve to fifteen hundred milligrams of salt per hour, it's just crazy how each person is different.
Andrew Harley: Yeah so, Dr. Austin along those lines, what is the best way for someone to find out that information about themselves? Is the only way to have a sweat test conducted by somebody or is there another good way to kind of tell how much water and salt is best for you?
Dr. Krista Austin So, what I recommend to most people is just that we find out what helps them to feel the best. The reason I ask them what helps them to feel the best is because we need them to feel good on race day. Typically, that actually means going through a few race simulations, bricks or just you know a specific workout like Jeff talked about, which is to just say okay before and after, you know what is it that I actually did to make myself feel good. I'll say “Okay, you felt good. Could we have possibly felt better?”. So, we’ll manipulate one variable at a time. I'll say “Okay, you took in the five hundred milligrams per liter but if we go up to 750, do you feel better?”
If they go all of a sudden turn around saying “You know what? I did feel better.” I'll say “Let's try a thousand” and they get to a thousand they say “I didn't feel all that much different but I'd rather be safe than sorry. So, I'm gonna stick with a thousand milligrams per liter a fluid intake.” Then what around we'll take a look at the fluid and we always weigh ourselves before and after to calculate sweat rate. We take a look at how much that is and if it's not an unreasonable amount to actually consume, especially while we're on the bike, I'll say okay let's work to try and get you up and train your gut to take in that much. Over time they typically can do that and say you know I feel good, I feel fine and we will move forward towards trying to optimize while they're on the bike and letting them dehydrate while they're out on the run.
So, weighing themselves before and after manipulating the sodium intake gradually one at a time is kind of the no test approach in terms of everything, in terms of cost I guess you could say towards getting the information that you want for yourself. But go based on how you feel. If you feel better at higher sodium intake or you feel better at you know higher fluid intakes, go ahead and work that way. Just don't ever drink too much in terms of actually drinking to the point that you're gaining weight. That's when it actually kind of gets dangerous during a race. We run the risk towards hyponatremia, so we actually want to make sure that we don't gain weight in the process.
Andrew Harley: So, if someone's kind of experimenting with this on their own accord and they're doing the weighing before, weighing after, trying different amounts, is the goal to leave a workout weighing about what you did before? Because you've taken that water in and the salt helps you retain it or is the goal to weigh just a little bit less when you come out of a major workout? What are we kind of trying to get ourselves towards?
Dr. Krista Austin: You know, if it's doable and this is not always doable, I try to get them to come out with very little dehydration. Mainly because I believe it helps them optimize the power they're putting out, the pace they can hold on to during a session. But if they're really heavy sweaters, what you'll find is that they will come out you know weighing a good bit less, usually three to four pounds less than what they actually started off with. They say “Hey, this is all I can take in” and then it's just you kind of playing catch-up at the end of the day throughout the rest of the day, the next 24 hours before they start working out again. It's really dependent on the individual.
Some people just say “Hey Krista, this whole concept of drinking the entire time I'm training just isn't for me. It's not something that I'm big into”. So, they will intentionally come off you know 2% maybe even 3 to 4 percent dehydrated and they'll even try to race that way. So, I'm going to use functional dehydration as I go into my race. I'm gonna use it a little more extreme than some people. Because they say I just don't feel good taking in all that fluid. So, you have to work with the individual.
Andrew Harley: So, let's move on to talking about the actual primary electrolytes that athletes are used to hearing about. Which ones are the ones that we should really be paying attention to?
Dr. Krista Austin: So, the biggest one you want to pay attention to is sodium. That's the one that we have the potential to lose the most of, it's the one that's primarily excreted in sweat and you will find people that you know will lose 1 to 2 grams of sodium an hour. So, if you think about that, it is really kind of dangerous that you might sodium deplete. So, that's why we turn over at the bottle or you look on the back of the package, go and check out how much sodium it actually has. That's what's also going to help you retain water when you actually go to rehydrate. The other ones that are you know commonly in these sports drinks include potassium and then also sometimes calcium and magnesium. Are they a necessity? No, potassium more so than calcium or magnesium.
But you're not going to lose that much of them in sweat that you have to have them. Is it a situation where if they're in a drink that you shouldn't be having it? No, that's fine if they're in there. But just know that you lose very little of those in actual sweat and you actually have a good bit of potassium intracellularly and you can pull that out when you need it and use it during actual exercise. If we're eating right what you'll find is that people's potassium and magnesium and calcium intakes are at a hundred percent of the RDA, if not actually higher just because we're consuming more calories as an athlete than most people.
So, it really teaches you if you do your nutritional analysis and you turn around and find out “Oh, you know what? There's not enough magnesium or potassium or calcium in my diet”. I say “Let's take a look at what you're eating and see if we can't improve how we fuel our body before we actually rely like on a sports drink to get those levels up”.
Andrew Harley: So, when we're choosing our sports drink or our other means of getting in water and electrolytes, is sodium then pretty much the only thing we need to pay attention to? Because I've seen some products who advertise “This much sodium and this much potassium, this much calcium and magnesium”. They'll advertise that their ratio is the best and our ratio imitates you know human sweat and theirs doesn't and this and that. Does it really just come down to sodium?
Dr. Krista Austin: Yeah, the biggest thing is sodium. The others are kind of you know negligible in my opinion because so little is actually lost in sweat. For most companies they're trying to find a way to get you to purchase their product and make it look superior to other products. In all reality, when you work at it for years what you find is that we need a wide variety of products to actually keep us hydrated and hydrating well. So, what I encourage people to do is to say “Hey make sure the sodium contents in there and then make sure you've got a wide variety of products you're willing to rely on in order to actually you know get your body hydrated and stay hydrated”. The other reason you can actually you know think about that and I don't know how much you guys have seen this is, that I'll have athletes that just around they take some pink Himalayan salt and say you know can I just use this to help hydrate me and put it into my fluids that don't have sodium naturally?
I say “Yeah, absolutely.” Throw that salt in there and then that way it can it can stay with your body. So, just know that sodium is that key ingredient followed by potassium. Although you really if your nutrition is correct, you shouldn't need to rely on an electrolyte beverage to get the potassium that you need.
Jeff Raines: So, if sodium is kind of that main ingredient, while we're racing and especially in hot weather, are there benefits in like increasing the sodium content like mid-race? At elevated heart rates, we're a little hot we're you know seventy percent into a big race at an Ironman. We're deep into the race. What exactly is this sodium content doing for us while we are racing?
Dr. Krista Austin: The first thing that sodium is doing is to actually make sure you continuously get the stimulus to drink. Because if we don't have enough sodium, we're not gonna have that signal to our bodies to say “Keep taking in more fluid”. So, first and foremost that's why it's in there especially when we're out there competing. Secondly, the sodium is in there because we don't want to just take in fluids and flood our body and lower what's called the osmolality and then potentially run the risk of becoming hyponatremic. That's where we have too little sodium in the blood to actually help us keep the body functioning properly and what happens when we go to hot environments especially if we're not 100% acclimated, is that we start to lose more and more sodium out of the actual sweat gland. Until we've had about ten days in that hot environment that sweat gland isn't being retrained appropriately enough to reabsorb sodium or to help you not lose as much sodium as you might hope. So, when we're going into hot weather races, we do tend to bump up the sodium content to help keep us from running into any risk. A colder race you know sometimes it's just there because we don't want to lose the fluid because the cold will actually create what's called a pressor effect and cause us to urinate maybe a little bit more frequently. So, we're trying to keep our fluids and at that point as well. So, it's really about trying to optimize blood volume and retain as much of the water that you're taking in and making sure those sweat glands, which are giving out that sodium freely when we hit the hot weather don't put us into a deficit that gets us into trouble.
Andrew Harley: For an athlete, what would be maybe the primary indicator that they are taking in too much or too little sodium or water? Would there be like a big red flag sign that they could look out for to try to make sure they stay on point during their workouts and races?
Dr. Krista Austin: Yeah, if you're taking in too much sodium, you're just gonna feel… you start feeling thirsty all the time. I've noticed that people will say “I've just got this salt taste in my mouth” and they say “Why am I tasting so much salt?”. When we turn around and look, we find that they're just consuming probably far too much sodium for them. Whereas on the flip side of that someone who's consuming too little sodium, they'll always talk to me about feeling like they're nauseous. When they start to get nauseous oftentimes, I said well you're altering your asset-based balance because you don't have the fluid, you don't have the sodium you need to you know maintain homeostasis. They'll talk about how nauseated they actually get during the session. Then once they have the sodium, the nausea actually goes away.
So, listening to your body for those cues, I will tell you that one thing you notice when people drink just water is that they will say that they are continuously thirsty. But they don't have that actual sodium taste in their mouth. So, be cautious about that too. If you're just drinking water, what you should never do in a race, you will start to just get thirstier and thirstier. People say “Why is that?” Well, the body actually craves it because it's more of a diuretic. If you're trying to rehydrate with it, it can operate that way. Then it also signals the body when you're taking in a whole bunch of water just plain by itself and diluting the sodium, it will give you the same signals to take in more water. So, we have to be careful and that's where it is important prior to going into any race to make sure that you know the balance of sodium and fluid that you should be taking in.
Andrew Harley: Now on race day, there's a lot of different strategies somebody could use for getting in water and that sodium. There's some people like to drink water and then pop the salt lick or a variety of brands have the salt pills. Some people like to take the shots of pickle juice from time to time in addition to water. Some people like you said having the salt in the water, in their calorie mix. Some people use the Base salt and shake it over the thumb and lick it and just do that over and over and over and over and over again throughout their race. Is there maybe in your opinion, a best method or is there a right and wrong method or is it just really come down the preference and whatever works for you?
Dr. Krista Austin: It really comes down to preference and whatever works for you. For most people it will be multiple forms of products that are actually providing them their sodium intake. Predominantly because they're taken in gels, they're taken in salt sticks, they're licking their Base salt. Some of you who work with me, I love Pop Chips on the bike and you know that's got salt in it so they're taking some in that way. Finding those wide varieties is a benefit to people because keeps them you know wanting to consume it and not getting cognitively stale from what they're taking them while they're out there.
Jeff Raines: What if you're on course, I see this scenario a lot, as each hour progresses throughout the race, a lot of people tend to under drink like total fluid ounces. We say stay hydrated drink water but what, but what we're saying is you know drink a lot of water throughout the race. What we're saying is have something in that water. So, you have kind of your main fuel source, right? You might have that powder source that you're putting in a bottle of water to create that that main source of fuel, be it like a carb heavy source. But kind of the secondary bottles, second and third bottle, maybe that you're working on will be something that's water with a little bit of salt in it. We know that we don't drink a lot of straight water. But all that to kind of to lead up to this.
Most athletes at least beginner triathletes tend to under drink and as each hour progresses, maybe it's the law of diminishing returns, but as each hour stacks on of being under fueled as far as total fluid ounces, you will see that people will try to overcome that by “Oh I'm a little dehydrated or maybe I'm starting to cramp a little bit, I'm just gonna pop two or three salt pills.” So, it's over concentrated and not diluted down enough. What are the these scares or you know the possible precautions and taking in too much salt but not diluting it down enough? What could that lead to?
Dr. Krista Austin: Well you know very rarely would you ever hear someone sit there and say “Oh, I have hypernatremia while racing”. It's just hard when you're sweating and you're losing so much. But early symptoms of someone becoming hyponatremic becomes a very strong feeling of thirst. They might also start to experience weakness. They can also experience nausea, a loss of appetite. They might have some muscle twitching that occurs. They might start to get confused just because they don't have the fluid but they've got all that sodium. So, this is what always comes back to, we've got to practice prior to ever you know going out there and trying to race. Because we can get multiple signals while we're out there about thirst and appetite and muscle twitching that sends us in the wrong direction when we need it to go in a different one.
So, it's really important that athletes learn that those symptoms can sometimes be similar between hypernatremia, hyponatremia and at the end of the day, while you're out there and because you haven't practiced you don't know what you truly should do. So, if you want to keep the guys at the med tent happy with you and really just not having a very exciting day. we gotta practice before we get out there. Because most of the times they always tell me, “You know what, we could have mitigated a lot of this by people working with the sport nutrition before they came into the race. We want to be bored the entire race, so keep us bored”. That's always their goal is to see if people would keep them having a really boring day in the med tent. So, we've got to always just make sure we practice because there's a lot of the similar sensations and signals when someone takes in too much sodium versus too little sodium or drinks too much water.
Andrew Harley: So, you guys heard it from Dr. Austin, do your part to keep the medical staff at a race board by getting your nutrition right. Practice it beforehand, know the right amounts for you to get in per liter per hour and everything. Dr. Austin but before we wrap this one up today, you know, are there any other precautions in regards to electrolytes and water intake that that athletes should be aware of that we haven't made a point to bring up already?
Dr. Krista Austin: Athletes should know that really for your body to get in a real steady state with regards to electrolyte intake, especially sodium know that it takes up to ten days for your body to you know catch any drastic changes that you're doing to it. Okay, so that's why you know we say make sure you practice and you're really consistent with your fluid and electrolyte intake. So, that you go into every race prepared. Like every day you are preparing to race by being really consistent in your hydration practices. The other aspect to that if you are really consistent for those of you going into hot races or you know races where you feel like alright, you know “maybe I want some extra sodium.” Then you can sodium load the night before the race to help increase your blood volume and hopefully enhance performance a little bit. The whole point being that you know you want to take in the sodium and you'll end up taking in more water as a result to provide you know extra coolant for your body. Okay, and help you dissipate heat during a really hot race. So, at the end of the day, it is just about you know trying to find ways to be consistent and then finding ways to help keep you safe while you're out there regardless of the weather that you go into.
Jeff Raines: So. Dr. Austin sometimes we just cannot prepare for the exact weather we're going to actually get on race day. Sometimes you wake up and it's kind of a roll of the dice, some races are really hot. Some are dry, some are even kind of cool or warm. They're not just killer hot but they're super humid. I mean how does the idea of maybe convection or humidity, how should we go about race day being prepared for any of those scenarios?
Dr. Krista Austin: So, I think what happens to a lot of people when they go to a race and I think people have gotten better about this over the years, we've learned a whole lot more is that they need to pay attention to what kind of hot race are they actually going to. That's because if you go to a dry hot environment, you actually have what you talked about which is convection which you'll be going through you know two-thirds the race and say you know “I barely feel anything on my forehead. I haven't even had a drop of sweat really getting my eyes that I've had to rub out. Why is that?” And they'll think that they're not sweating. In all reality they are sweating a good bit if not maybe more than they're used to even and they might forget to drink or take in the fluids and electrolytes that they have planned on taking in.
The flip side of that is humidity, when you have a lot of humidity you actually struggle to get the maximum amount of convection to occur. So, you can get a whole lot more heat storage in the body and there's you know an increased potential on either side of that. Whether it's hot and dry or hot and humid for people to get what's called heat injury. That's where they actually have too high of a rise in their core body temperature and as a result, they can suffer some detrimental effects, whether it's the decline in performance which is what happens with really mild heat injury. Or it's where they maybe start taking you off the course because you have a temperature that's high enough and you're exhibiting signs of loss of control, muscular control or ability to make decisions out on the course because you are so overheated. So, we have to pay attention to those things like when do we need to make sure that we're keeping you near the sweat off our bodies because we're in a hot humid environment versus that hot dry environment where we maybe forget to drink just because everything is evaporating off of us.
Then of course there is the good old neutral temperature, where it's the perfect day and we're like “Wow I feel great, the weather's ideal” and people need to know that you won't have to drink as much because you're not going to sweat as much. At the end of the day just because you feel good while you're out there doesn't mean that you don't need anything and that you should not stick to your plan and always in the lead up at least six weeks out, you should know what is that potential temperature? What might it look like? What might be the swings that could come and be prepared to accommodate it on either side?
Then of course there's always those cold races where people are like “Oh I don't want to get out there and just pee on the bike the whole time or pee while I run the whole time.” They stop drinking and they get really dehydrated and they lose a lot of sodium because they are sweating maybe not as much but what I tell people look, you've got to just adjust your plan at that point. Just don't take in you know quite as much and I would rather people stick to the plan they had if it's a quick change in weather, where it's really hot and humid one day and muggy and all of a sudden it's cool and cold the next day and they're like “Oh, I just won't drink.” Stick to your plan rather than trying something new on race day, it comes back to those basic principles. I'd rather you pee on the bike and on the run and just kind of cope with it and deal with it than to be out there and something goes really wrong because you didn't practice.
But typically in colder races we really do have to work towards keeping ourselves mindful about taking in fluids and electrolytes because people will stop. Because they do feel cold, they don't think they're sweating and so as a result they get dehydrated even sooner than they would have ever anticipated.
Great set everyone, let's cool down.
Andrew Harley: For our cooldown today, we are going to do something that we called the TriDot bookshelf where Krista, Jeff and I will all recommend the book that we have enjoyed recently. I for one I'm always looking for my next book to read and for those of you who like to kick back and use a book maybe during your recovery time or travel time or COVID-19 quarantine time you know this is for you guys so Jeff I'm gonna start with you what is one book that you're gonna add to the TriDot bookshelf recommending our readers to read?
Jeff Raines: A good go-to for me, it's been around a while, but I reference it a lot, it's not a book that's just a very story driven, but it's a lot of knowledge, it's kind of half book half textbook let's say, but the Jack Daniels Running Formula is a book that I refer to a lot kind of corresponds to kind of more 800 through marathon running but a lot of kind of a nerd geek out physiology science behind a lot of it which is why it intrigues me. But if you're just relatively new to the sport there are tons of amazing resources I'll throw out a few hopefully I don't steal away from Dr. Austin or Andrew here but I mean Bob Babbitt has a great book out, gosh Matt Fitzgerald has the Iron War Dave Scott and Mark Allen, James Lawrence the iron cowboy has a book about his journey of 50 Ironmans in 50 days 50 states, Krissy Wellington Kona world champion numerous times has a book out that talks a lot about her story, so all of those are just good go to kind of a you know first reads or if anyone's been in the sport long enough has at least heard of one or all of those books.
Andrew Harley: Jeff Raines always overachieving. I asked for one book and he gives us about nine so I think thanks for that Jeff some great recommendations there. The Jack Daniels book is I know a good one I know the TriDot score system you know you rundot bikedot swimdot is actually kind of inspired by the Jack Daniels running formula so I know that we're big believers in in that book. Dr. Austin what is your book recommendation for today?
Dr. Krista Austin: So I have become over the years a big fan of Brené Brown and I first read the book called Daring Greatly a couple years ago. And I will just tell you it was very impactful. She talks a lot about vulnerability and just you know how does this impact our ability to engage with with society. So that is the one I probably would tell people to dive in first and then jumping in and and taking a look at some of her other books that are out there I think would be you know a good place to turn to as well. So I'm big on kind of getting into the the mental aspects of it and challenging my mind and I guess you're my soul a little bit when I look for books because if there's any more you know science or tech that you know I have to read when I'm trying to kick my feet up I tend to push it away to be honest and step into another world hopefully
Andrew Harley: So no that's great because you've just given us not just a one book in particular but a new author to really dive into and a lot of athletes that used TriDot I know we're interested in that topic so guys check out that author. We'll have links in the show notes for all of these books for more information there. The one I'm gonna introduce today, I'm really big, kind of like you Dr. Austin, and I really in my personal time, I like books that are story driven. I like books that have a good narrative, tell a good story and maybe you learn a little bit along the way. And to really dive into someone who had some human emotions about something and so the one I'm gonna say today Scott Urich is a ultra runner who is really well known in that community and he has a book called North that he wrote about when he set out to set the speed record for through hiking the Appalachian Trail and he doesn't hold that record anymore but he held that record for a good a good minute. It took them 46 days to run the 2189 miles that make up the Appalachian Trail. It starts in northern Georgia and goes all the way to Mount Katahdin in Maine. And I'm out a trail runner I on that with a cousin of mine who is a very good trail runner and I trip and fall and and really struggle to follow him around the foothills of Texas, but I'm fascinated by people that go out and take a journey and push themselves to the limit and ultrarunners probably do that just as much as Ironman athletes, that's for sure, and he's one of the best that has ever competed as a trail runner and he really does a good job of kind of walking you through his journey. And kind of painting the picture of how difficult it was and what he went through not just physically but emotionally on that journey of 2,000 plus miles. You know his support crew, you kind of hear their perspective about it as well, and so just a really great narrative a really great adventure story where he really dives into the kind of the emotional and physical toll it took for him to complete that. So that's North by Scott Urich. A really really great read that I enjoyed recently.
Well that's it for today folks. I want to thank Dr. Krista Austin and coach Jeff Raines for talking about staying hydrated and keeping our electrolyte balance on point for training and racing. Shout out to UCAN for partnering with us on today's episode. Head to generationucan.com to find what super starch powered products are best for you. Enjoying the podcast? Have any questions you want to hear our coaches answer? Head to TriDot.com/podcast and click on submit feedback to let us know what you're thinking. We’ll do it again soon. Until then, happy training.
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