Hydration, heat and humidity?—?the challenges of ‘The Witness’ Marathon

2014-02-01 00:00

HEAT and humidity are the challenges facing many runners in the final peak period going towards The Witness Maritzburg City Marathon.

Despite the early 5 am start, training inevitably becomes a sweaty nightmare. Losing weight will not be hard in KwaZulu-Natal over the next month.

Recovery, replacing fluid and regenerating carbohydrate stores become an important focus for runners.

While there has been considerable literature generated about over hydration during a run, this should not be confused with the need to rehydrate and kick-start the nutritional recovery after training sessions.

Training is only as good as the recovery and recovery is a fine balance between rest and nutrition.

Repairing the body is similar to repairing a radiator hose on a car: if you have the new hose but no time to fit it, the car remains damaged and useless.

If you have the time, but no hose, the car also remains damaged and useless.

You have to have the components and the time.

Runners not only require time for recovery, but also nutrition to recover from training.

Rehydrating can commence on the run, but it is not necessary to take an excessive amount of water or have massive amounts of carbohydrates.

Moderation is the key. If you are taking in more than 600 ml per hour, you are probably taking in too much. Additional water can be poured over the body for cooling.

A drink such as Replenish contains carbohydrates and the minerals and salts associated with fluid replacement.

The longer the run and the slower the pace, the higher the carbohydrate dilution should be.

In short events, the replacement of carbohydrate can wait until the finish, whereas events lasting three to 12 hours require some carbohydrate on the run.

This is not for the leg muscles, but to keep the mind fuelled and sharp.

This means that while you may use an eight to 10% dilution for two-hour races, you would want a five percent solution for your drink in longer runs.

At eight percent dilution, Replenish is in the mid-range, and mixes the use of fructose, which relates directly to liver glucose, with long-chain carbohydrates. The addition of potassium, chromium and magnesium not only relates to the mineral balance but also to buffering the acidity and any insulin spikes.

In long runs, the use of Hydrassist has a bigger buffering effect and is similar to the use of “Corpse Reviver”, initiated by Arthur Newton, the first five-time winner of Comrades in the twenties. This may well have been the first sports drink, comprising of home-made lemonade, sugar, salt and bicarb of soda as the buffer.

Drinking or taking too much carbohydrates will not improve performance, and carbohydrates taken on the run will not enhance muscle stores. However, it will keep your mind sharp and by ensuring you rehydrate after training, you create the correct environment for recovery to commence.

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