Posts Tagged ‘Hydration’


The legendary “Race Across The Sky” 100-mile Run is where it all started back in 1983. This is it. The race where legends are created and limits are tested. One hundred miles of extreme Colorado Rockies terrain — from elevations of 9,200 to 12,600 feet. You will give the mountain respect, and earn respect from all. – See more at: http://www.leadvilleraceseries.com/page/show/311976-lt-100-mile-run#sthash.mgNYu2cl.dpuf


I just got word that I’m running Leadville next month!!!

Well, okay, I’m not running the Leadville 100, but my hydration belt is!

Many of you know, or know of, Maddy.  She is one of the two amazing women who paced me to my finish at the TARC 100 a month ago.

Me and my pacers, Erica (center) and Maddy (right).

Me and my pacers, Erica (center) and Maddy (right).

Without them I am not sure that I would have managed to finish in the allotted 30 hours.

At some point during the final 25 miles, one of the volunteers said that I would have to return the favor to Maddy some day soon by pacing her at a 100-miler.

I laughed.

Here’s the thing.  Maddy is fast.  I mean like threatening sub-3:00 marathon fast; I mean like she won the very first 100-miler she ever entered fast.  Any pacing I would do for her would simply slow her down and cost her both time and place.  Pacing her was out of the question.  Last month however, she noticed my snazzy hydration belt (made by CamelBak but apparently discontinued).  She asked me how I liked it (I loved it) and if it was heavy (it is not).  Before acquiring one she asked if she could borrow it.  After pacing me to my finish, I would have essentially done anything for her.

Turns out she loved it too, couldn’t find one anywhere else and asked if she could use it for the Leadville 100 next month.

Who was I to say no?  Now a small part of me will be with her the entire way, keeping her hydrated, and hopefully pushing her to a strong finish and a big, shiny belt buckle!

Go get it Maddy!

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So the TARC 100 is now 11 days away.  This past Saturday, with my very first 100-miler rapidly approaching, I figured I should collect some data as I tried to get my logistics in order.  One of the aspects of running that we as endurance runners can control to some degree is our hydration level.  Hydration is one of the factors that can determine whether you can actually even finish a race.  Dehydration can lead to a breakdown in your ability to run and in extreme cases shut you down completely.  What many of us often forget is that over-hydration can have just as devastating of an effect on our bodies and our ability to continue as dehydration.  So how does one determine how much water and electrolytes to take in?

Well, you have to have data, and one of the easiest ways to determine how much water you are losing while running is to take a sweat test.  Before going out for a 60 to 90 minutes run, you strip down to nothing and weigh yourself.  Then while on your run you do not take in anything – no hydration, no food, nothing.  Upon returning home or to the gym, you once again strip down to nothing and hop on the scale.  Subtracting your post-run weight from your pre-run weight tells you just how much water you have lost with each pound representing approximately 16 ounces of water.  You then divide the number of ounces by the minutes you ran and then multiply by 60 and that is your hourly sweat rate in ounces per hour.

And that is what I did – I ran 7 miles in 59.7 minutes outdoors in the heat.

My pre-run weight was 176.8 pounds.

My post-run weight was 172.6 pounds.

I did the math.  I checked it twice.

And then I panicked.


Just under 68 ounces of water per hour.

Granted I was running about 3 1/2 minutes per mile faster than I plan to at the TARC 100; granted it was 91° outside; but 68 ounces per hour???  That’s over a 1/2 gallon of water I am sweating out!  That was nearly 2.4% of my body weight in an hour.  Race officials don’t like that.

Now obviously I will not be running the TARC 100 without hydration, however, from what I understand, it is difficult for our bodies to comfortably consume more than about 28 ounces of liquid per hour.  That leaves me with a 40 ounce hourly deficit.  Multiply that by the 24 hours I hope to complete the race in and you get a 960 ounce deficit, better known as 60 pounds.

60 POUNDS???

Obviously I can’t lose 60 pounds in a race, but the numbers do have me concerned when it comes to my ability to replace what is lost over the course of 100 miles.

If any of my ultra-running friends (Steve? Maddy? Goji? Jeremy D? et al) have any words of advice or wisdom, I would greatly appreciate them right about now, because I am sitting here sweating…sweating because I’m in a panic about sweating too much!

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I’m mad.

Okay, maybe I’m just a bit on the miffed side right now.

But the more I think about it, the madder I get.

Over the last year or so I’ve oscillated in my hydration between Nuun Water and my home-made Honey-Water™. Both drinks do exactly what they are meant to do, they hydrate without overwhelming you with sweetness and sugar.

Part of what makes Nuun Water great is that it comes in little tablets. “Portable Hydration” is what they call it, and that’s exactly what it is. You carry the tablets with you so you don’t have to carry bottles and bottles of the stuff; simply fill your bottle with water and drop in a tablet.  It’s that easy.  The only drawbacks are if you lack a source of water on your run.

My secret formula Honey-Water™ may not be as convenient (I don’t really see myself carrying a little honey bear with me on my runs), but when mixed just right, with my added secret ingredient, the flavor is light and refreshing, and the sugar gives you an extra boost of glucose to keep running hard.  I also find that I don’t have to drink as much per mile as I usually do with plain, old water.

Both are great.

I love them both and it pisses me off to no end.

Although I have run every marathon initially carrying my hydration (two with Nuun and two with Honey-Water™), the truth is eventually I run out before the end of the race.  The simple solution would be to carry more, but that means more weight, which means more work.  That doesn’t sit well with me, especially when I’m running for time.  Carrying 48 ounces of hydration is one thing on a LSD 20 miler, but it’s a completely different thing when you are racing a marathon.

The reason I’m mad is that Gatorade has cornered the market on hydration stations at just about every half and full marathon I’ve been too; if it isn’t Gatorade, it’s the ugly step-brother Powerade. Both drinks are heavy on sweetness and hit my stomach like a round of buckshot. I’m not a huge fan of either and I generally don’t drink the stuff.  Unfortunately, I’m afraid that I am going to have to start.  They don’t hand out cups of Nuun or cups of my Honey-Water™ at races.

I think that one of the contributing factors to my physical breakdown in New York was due to last minute nutritional changes – that included switching to Gatorade mid-race when I realized that I was going to have to find an alternate source of carbohydrates when I was unable to stomach the banana flavored honey stingers I was trying for the first time.  Though I don’t blame Gatorade completely, I’m sure that my stressed system didn’t take to it too kindly.

So what’s the solution?

Unless I can come up with a better plan, I am going to have to train my body to accept Gatorade.  Plain old water is not a practical choice.  When I run for distance, I sweat like a LeBron James before a Celtics game.  I need the nutrients and minerals that water alone can’t replace.

Honestly, it would be nice to not have to carry anything in a long race other than a few Gu’s or Honey Stingers (just not that damned banana flavor though!), but I wonder if Gatorade is really the answer.

What’s your hydration strategy at the half- and full-marathon distances?

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Honey Water

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Lately I’ve been hydrating and recovering with Nuun Water and mix1.  Both are great at what they do.  I love that the Nuun tablets make them completely portable.  I also find that after a tough workout, mix1 definitely feeds me the nutrients I need to be refreshed sooner.  Both are great for on-the-go athletes that need to throw something in the bag for a trip to the gym.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depends on how you see it), the other day I was out of both Nuun tablets and mix1.  I was setting out for an easy paced 12 miler so I knew I needed something more than just plain water.  As I scoured the kitchen, hoping to find a stray tablet, I recalled what I had read in Born To Run about the Tarahumara drinking chia frescas, a combination of chia seeds, lime juice, honey and water.  It was said that this simple concoction kept these runners going for hours and hours.  Last summer I tried making chia frescas on my own, but had found that the chia seeds tended to clog the spout in my water bottles.  Nothing more frustrating that being 30 – 40 minutes into a run, squeezing your water bottle and getting nothing out of it.  My solution?  I took out the chia seeds and ended up with a citrus honey drink.  By the time Fall came around, I had simplified it even further by taking out the lime.  This simple honey water solution powered me to my 7 minute half marathon PR in November (1:33:14).

I’m not sure why I eventually moved away from the honey water.  Maybe it was because I ran out of honey one day or because my buddy Mike was recommending Nuun.  I don’t remember.  Regardless, but late winter I had switched to Nuun almost exclusively.

So the other day I was setting out for a 12 miler, and with no Nuun available, I went back to my old reliable.  What a pleasant “re-discovery”.   A nice side effect of drinking the honey water instead of the Nuun was that I didn’t need to pack any Gu’s either.  Taking a few sips of honey water every 10 – 20 minutes provided me the steady stream of simple carbohydrates I needed to maintain a consistent pace.  I also found that I was needing fewer gulps per mile .  I’m sure I’ll still mix in the Nuun regularly (you really can’t beat the convenience factor), but I have really enjoyed the honey water over the last four or five workouts.  This past Sunday I felt refreshed and able to continue after at 15 mile marathon paced run.  I’m still tinkering with the ratios, but a 5 – 10% solution seems to be working best for me.

Now if I could only get to hand out honey water at Smuttynose and New York, I’ll be all set!

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