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  • Gatorade and Team Up for Cutting Edge Camp

    Wed, 15 Aug 2007 16:22:36 -0700

    Twelve lucky Hawaii Ironman bound athletes including champions, Luke Bell and Michael Lovato, head to the Gatorade Sports Science Institute for extensive physiological testing and, hopefully, results that will raise their game on the lava fields in October.
    On the first morning, everyone was pleasantly surprised by our ride from the hotel over to the Gatorade Sport Science Institute (GSSI) for testing – a stretch limo – sweet! Michael Lovato expresses his approval with the old cheesy thumbs up – just like he did for his high school prom pic.

    Relax people, we’re not going clubbing. Jackie, Teri, Rhae, Lisa, and Ron look a little too excited considering they’ll be hitting VO2 Max about an hour from the time the photo was snapped.

    Step one was an orientation discussion led by Dr. Craig Horswill, the Senior Research Fellow at GSSI, to explain the science behind the testing that the athletes would soon be going through.

    It’s all fun and games ‘til someone goes anaerobic! In order to determine what percentage of VO2 Max each athlete will do their primary test, you’ve first got to do a VO2 Max test. Lisa Preeg demonstrates the latest in fashionable VO2 Max gear. Notice how the blue nose clip matches Lisa’s outfit – very nice!

    Roch spent most of the weekend hanging out with his good friend, NASCAR superstar, Jimmy Johnson. Ok, no, Jimmy wasn’t there but you couldn’t pry the Canadian redneck away from this life-size cut out of a San Diego (El Cajon, actually) legend.

    Body composition is another one of the preliminary tests necessary to determine the data being studied. Sierra Snyder prepares to blast off into space, er, get their body composition tested in the Bod Pod.

    Still smiling…for now anyway. Jackie, Sierra, Gaylia & Luke minutes before starting the big test – 2-hours on a bike and 2-hours on the run while testing sweat for sodium content, weight for sweat rate, gas exchange indirect calorimetry or energy expenditure, core temperature, a catheter in everyone’s right arm for blood drawing to see the result of sweat rate vs. fluid/caloric intake, and, of course, heart rate & perceived effort. The patches used to collect sweat and test sodium content – which would be tested throughout. Will there be a difference in sodium loss between the first hour and 4th hour? Between the bike and run? That’s what the geniuses at GSSI will be telling the athletes – might be worth knowing in a race like the Hawaiian Ironman.

    Luke gets one of the 5 sweat patches removed for analysis early into the bike portion of the test. The GSSI staff would put more patches on later in the ride and again during the run in order to determine if sodium losses increased throughout an endurance event.

    Doug Johnson looks decidedly happy to be off the bike. Uh, Doug, now you’ve got to run for 2-hours on that treadmill in these beautiful 90-degree conditions! Oh well, at least you’ve got all the Gatorade Endurance Formula you could want to drink…

    Gaylia Osterlund is all smiles as she starts the 2-hour ride while Doug’s face tells us that he seems to understand what he’s about to undertake. Hey Gaylia, you know you have a big patch on your forehead, right?

    Imagine you’re an endurance athlete. Now imagine that you have the opportunity to learn how much you sweat you lose, how much sodium is in your sweat, how your performance is affected by your caloric and fluid intake, how the sodium content of your sweat changes over time, and a lot more under realistic race conditions. All of the testing would be performed by the best exercise physiologists in the business with years of experience. Yes, you’d get all of that and the opportunity to see Michael Lovato in a Speedo? Would you do it?

    The idea, started back in October of the previous year, came to fruition less than a year later. On the weekend of August 10-12, twelve triathletes converged on Barrington, Illinois, home of the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI), with coaches, Paula Newby-Fraser, Roch Frey and Paul Huddle for a weekend of lectures, swimming, cycling, running, sweating, bleeding, and peeing all aimed at learning and increasing performance. The first ever (and we hope not last) Triathlon Nutrition & Hydration Camp was born.

    If you’ve ever spent any amount of time swimming and/or cycling and/or running, you know the curiosity generated by a good or bad performance. Why did you go fast? Why did you go slow? Why did you get nauseous? Why did you blow up at 70-miles on the bike? Why did you come back to life at 8-miles of the run? Why aren’t Speedos back in fashion? Why do grown men shave their legs and wear those silly man bras in public? What is the origin of the earth? Ok, we weren’t going to answer everything but with the experience and brains of the staff at GSSI, we knew that we (the athletes and coaches) would be getting real world information that could be applied immediately to racing and training – in this case for the Hawaii Ironman World Championship on October 13th.

    Everyone came in on Thursday afternoon or Friday morning and the athletes were divided into two groups of six. One group headed to GSSI for orientation, body composition testing, VO2 max testing, and food log review while the other group headed out for a run on the local trails and/or a swim at a near by country club pool. In the afternoon, things switched up and by Friday evening, we were all anticipating the lecture by Dr. David Neiman on Nutritional Strategies to Counter Stress to the Immune System in Athletes. Suffice to say the lecture was tremendous and left everyone considering what they thought they knew about nutritional supplementation and what they were going to do differently in the future…if we told you, we’d have to kill you.

    One of the hardest hitting yet simplest issues Dr. Neiman talked about was exercise in the general population as a way of enhancing the quality of one’s life and preventing illness. Sounds so obvious but when it’s backed by the research, it’s a wonder it’s not a prescription for everyone. Here’s a workout schedule to consider: 30 to 45-minutes of brisk walking a day, 5-days a week. That’s it. That’s all. To think that a huge percentage of the population could reverse heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and a host of other maladies – not to mention reduce the health care costs and increase in quality of life - with this simple strategy boggles the mind…and that was just the tip of the iceberg contained in this lecture.

    That evening, half the group would ingest a fluid tracer to measure total body water and a pill that contained a radio transmitter that would allow the physiologists at GSSI to measure internal core temperature non-invasively. To say that this latter procedure was infinitely improved would understate the literal pain in the rear that it used to be. Each athlete in this group was also ceremoniously given their “jug” that would become their own personal urinal for the next 12 or so hours until they arrived at the lab the following day. Nothing like watching someone carry what they know to be a quart of pee through the lobby of a hotel at 7 in the morning. Maybe personality traits could be determined by simply observing how the jug was carried and/or disguised…hmmm, perhaps a study for another camp.

    The next morning, this group would get prepped for a 4-hour workouts in 90-degree F conditions where the real testing would begin.

    (to be continued)