Thursday, May 23, 2013

Hydration: Notes from a Sweaty Kid

Staying hydrated is key to performing at your best.

Holy toledo, it's hot this week. If you are like me, you had at least one practice this week that knocked you on your butt because your body wasn't adjusted yet to training in 80-plus weather with near-100 percent humidity. I am now in full hydration mode and thought I'd share with you some of my tricks for staying hydrated when it's grossly hot out but you have long miles to log and championship racing to do (good luck to everyone racing this weekend and next!)

Delicious, delicious glass of water. It's erg puddle season!
First, hydration happens ON AND OFF the water. You need to be taking in more fluid than before all the time--when you wake up, when you're rowing, when you're in class or at work, and at meals. It will probably make your stomach feel a little weird for the first few days, but stick with it. You should be drinking at least 32 ounces more--that's one more Nalgene-worth of water--per day than when it was colder and drier. If you're not a water bottle carrier when you're not at practice, add a glass of water to every meal, and one more right after practice.

Hydration aids like Nuun, Powerade, and Gatorade are all great tools.

Second, hydration is ESPECIALLY critical DURING PRACTICE. You can see and feel your sweat, but you're also losing water through breathing. When it is this hot out, using hydration products is essential. I am a big fan of Nuun, but other products, like Powerade and Gatorade, and DIY methods (recipe below) will also keep you powering through long, sweaty practices.

If your workout runs over 75', a small electrolyte boost from gels or chews can make a big difference.

When rowing for at least 60', I bring something more hydrating than just water, and for practices longer than 75', I usually bring an additional hydration tool such as electrolyte-enhanced chews or gel. My favorites are Margarita flavored Clif Shot Bloks and Just Plain flavored Gu, but there are many, many products on the market to choose from!

Everything you need for a tasty, electrolyte replacement sports drink!

DIY Electrolyte Drink
Makes 1 Nalgene full (~32 oz/1L)

1/2 c orange juice (ideally not from concentrate--the fresh stuff has the most potassium!)
1/8 c lemon juice (ditto)
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda (optional)

Place all ingredients in your water bottle, stir, then fill to the top with water. Make this just before practice as the one downside to DIY is that letting this sit in the sun for hours can make it go bad. If you find yourself short on OJ and lemon juice, you can also substitute things like an Emergen-C drink powder packet or two, or a tart, strong juice like Cheribundi. If you do substitute, you may want to add 1/2 teaspoon of a potassium-based salt replacer like Morton Lite Salt or Morton Salt Substitute.

Stretching after practice is a great time to finish your workout hydration targets.

Finally, remember that hydration is also about timing. As they say...if you're thirsty, you're already dehydrated, so keep on top of your fluid and salt intake. A good goal is to head into practice having had at least 8-16 ounces of fluid within the hour before you start, and aiming for around 8-10 ounces of fluid every 15 minutes you spend actually rowing. Within the 30-minute window after practice, try to take in the balance of fluid if you missed any during practice, plus another 8-16 ounces, along with your normal refueling snack.

80 minutes of active rowing in a workout means half a 32-oz bottle before,  two bottles during, and the remaining half after.

If you still feel like you're bonking, try adding a few shakes of salt to your meals and the fluid you bring to practice. You won't notice a small amount of salt in your morning oatmeal, but it will make a huge difference!

It's never too early to start hydrating!

If you have any other hydration tips, post them in the comments below. Keep training and racing hard, and Go USA!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Athletes Without Limits

Athletes Without Limits from Damone Brown Images.

Since moving to DC last fall, I've had the opportunity to get involved with an incredible club and organization: Athletes Without Limits. For rowing, AWL supports both athletes with intellectual disabilities and veterans who are a part of the U.S. Paralympic Military Rowing Program, rowing out of the Anacostia Community Boathouse and training at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and the Capitol Hill Martial Arts and Fitness Academy.

Our recent Military Adaptive Sports Program Rowing Clinic at Walter Reed!

Did you know that there were 42 medals awarded in sports specifically for athletes with intellectual disabilities at the London 2012 Paralympic Games? The U.S. sent only one ID competitor. The 2012 Paralympics consisted of 503 events, and while the U.S. won an impressive 98 medals--including the AWL-supported Rob Jones and Oksana Masters trunk and arms mixed double sculls crew that took bronze--we lagged far behind China's 231. Much more important than comparing numbers, though, is our country giving intellectually disabled and physically disabled athletes opportunities to train and compete. Athletes Without Limits does just that, and it has been an amazing experience this year to work with the athletes training towards the 2016 Rio Paralympics and for the World Championships and domestic competitions in the meantime.

Training with some of our ID guys before Erg Sprints this year!

Besides indoor and on-the water training, AWL also partners with the rehabilitation and gym facilities at Walter Reed National Rehabilitation Hospital in Bethesda, MD to bring rowing to veterans as part of their physical rehabilitation program. It's made me appreciate rowing in an entirely different light--getting to see an athlete become passionate about rowing as it gives them the physical activity, the limit-pushing, and the personal confidence that they weren't sure they'd find in another sport after injury. This article gives a great veteran's perspective on the rowing and other sports programs at Walter Reed.

Coxing as Justin brings the BOOM! to the MidAtlantic Erg Sprints.

To learn more about how you can get involved with intellectually- and physically disabled-focused rowing programs, visit USRowing and Athletes Without Limits. We're all one team. Go USA!