Building a Better Athlete Part III

Day to Day Hydration

We all understand the importance of hydration while out training as well as competing - whatever the sport or discipline.  There is a ton of material written on how dehydration negatively impacts performance - including past articles on this site.  The purpose of this segment of Building a Better Athlete is to talk about the importance of day to day hydration and how it impacts our well being - setting us up for success in not only athletics, but in life.

We all know those folks who drink zero water.  Zero.  I must confess that for many years in between my collegiate days and now, I was one of them.  Wrapped up in corporate "go, go, go" coupled with a new baby, my died consisted of primarily coffee, red bull, and Advil.  There certainly was not time to fill a water bottle.  In the moment, you do not realize what water can do for you and how proper hydration can not only make you feel better but put you in a better state of mind.  Without getting into the details behind it, though you can click this link and check out the abstract, being dehydrated just 2% can impair tasks that require attention, psychomotor, and immediate memory skills.  That seems reason enough.  If that does not convince you to down the closest bottle of H2O then know that the performance of long-term and working memory tasks and executive functions is limited, especially if the cause of dehydration is moderate physical exercise.  Huh.

Ok, I know what you are thinking, it's just water.  We hear all the time that our bodies are made up of x% water but do you know what happens when you drink water?  Where does it go?  Well, water is needed by each of your cells so that they can perform their assigned function effectively.  In the bloodstream, water is needed to carry oxygen and nutrients to the other parts of your body as well as transport waste products out.  In your kidneys, water is needed to carry those waste products to your bladder.  You can check out in much more detail than I can describe exactly what happens when you drink water here.

Physicians are utilizing hydration levels as an indicator of  impaired cognition.  Also, dehydration has also been shown to be a reliable predictor of increasing frailty, deteriorating mental performance, and poor quality of life.  It amazes me that something as simple as dehydration is limiting us from achieving to our fullest potential.  Well, I not only want to be able to perform in athletic competition, but I want to be at my best in every part of life.  I believe that you do to.  So lets raise a bottle of your water of choice and lets get hydrated!

As a side note, I have just started to take the Defiance Fuel 30 Day Challenge; I'll keep everyone posted on my experience.

Building a Better Athlete - Part II

Race Day Prep

by Matt Wesseling

Well, one post in and I have already turned a weekly segment into a monthly one.  I plan on getting back on track with this one.

Training is tough.  Athletes put in months and months of sacrifice in order to either get to a finish line, achieve something that they haven’t done before, or simply be the best that they can be.  Time and time again, I see months of training, diet, and planning go to waste because of some simple things that they can do to ensure that they are starting the race in the best way possible.  With IRONMAN Chattanooga about to commence on September 27th, I thought it would be great to give you my 5 body preparation keys for those looking for success on race day:

1.  Hydrate.  You will dehydrate yourself on the course.  You simply can not consume enough to compensate for the energy that you are burning.  That said, make sure you are putting yourself in the best position possible when you start.  This doesn’t just apply to race day morning.  Make sure you are actively working to hydrate throughout the weeks leading up to race day.

2.  Fuel.  Stick to your diet plan.  Everyone is different so I don’t want to be specific as what works for some may not work for everyone but ensure that you are consuming the proper amount of carbohydrates in the days leading up to the event.  On race day, consume breakfast about 3 to 4 hours prior to the start and do not underestimate the amount of sodium that you will need.

3.  Sleep.  The sleep you get in the week leading up to race day is more important than the sleep that you get the night before.  Make sure that you are coming into the weekend well rested and ready to go.

Ok, so the first three seem intuitive but it is amazing how often I see something seemingly so simple cause so many issues on race day.

4.  Visualize.  Close your eyes for a minute and envision yourself going into the water.  Taking each stroke.  Moving through transition.  The churning of your legs on the bike.  Slipping on your running shoes.  Pumping up that last major hill.  Crossing the finish.  Celebrating with your family.  If you see yourself moving through the course, odds are you will execute on race day.

5.  Have Fun.  Remember what you are doing this for.  Race day should not be something that is dreaded.  It should be a celebration of the time and training that you have put in already.  Go out there and smile as you pass the mile markers.

I hope everyone has success competing in any race or event that they have coming up.  For those racing in Chattanooga on the 27th, feel free to stop by the Pro Hydration tent to learn more about pre-race preparation and also about what treatments we have to expedite recovery so that you can get back to the things you love.  Faster.

Building a Better Athlete is a weekly series promoting increased performance and faster recovery in athletics.  Matt Wesseling is a former NCAA track and Cross Country athlete and now competes in endurance multisport events.  He believes in getting the most out of every athlete so that they can achieve more.

Building a Better Athlete

Building a Better Athlete

by Matt Wesseling

Years ago, when I was competing in college, I had access to incredibly smart people who's sole responsibility was to increase the level of performance in the athletes.  This included a host of techniques from the obvious, training and diet, to the specialized, massage and hydration through the use of IV’s.  Years later, I found myself competing in triathlons and other long distance multisport events and I began to wonder why some of the treatments that I used to have access to were not available to the masses.

I love to compete – it is what drives me to put in that extra mile and elect for the salad instead of the burger.  I want to get the best out of the body I have been given and to do so, I’ve tried it all.  It seems like every day there is a new recovery drink or fitness trend that pops up that promises the world and, inevitably, under delivers.  What was it about the IV’s that I used to get after a tough day that allowed me to wake up feeling amazing, often like I did not even hammer out 20 miles in the heat of summer?  I was determined to find out.

What I learned was that, in heat, your body sweats at a rate of 2 – 6 liters of fluid per hour.  In addition to fluid loss, perspiration includes sodium and other electrolytes.  Oral hydration is incredibly inefficient; basically, you can not drink fast enough to replace what you lose as much will simply pass right through.  Relying on thirst as an indicator of when you need to drink more is unreliable as there is a time lag between being dehydrated and then feeling thirsty - it might be too late and you will already have suffered a loss of performance.

Additionally, through heavy exertion your body increases production of lactic acid at a rate faster than your body can process it.  This lactic acid builds up in your muscles and there it resides, causing you to feel sore and sluggish in the days to follow.

Many solutions (ice bath, massage, etc.) in the marketplace simply halt the effects of exercise.  IV’s are the most technically advanced, most efficient way to rapidly rehydrate the body which not only halt the effects but also treat.  What we can put in a single bag of IV fluid is equal to over a gallon of water, salt tablets, multi-vitamin, electrolytes, anti-inflammatory, and more…  IV’s will allow the body to flush out the lactic acid that has built up while the perfect balance of fluid, sodium, and electrolytes replenishes the body what it has lost.

Now I can get the same treatments that I used to receive as a college athlete, the same treatments that the NFL, NBA and other sports commonly utilize.  After a challenging training day or race, you can now wake up feeling like you can do it again – allowing you to be your best.

Building a Better Athlete is a weekly series promoting increased performance and faster recovery in athletics.  Matt Wesseling is a former NCAA track and Cross Country athlete and now competes in endurance multisport events.  He believes in getting the most out of every athlete so that they can achieve more.