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  • Triathlon Nutrition, Hydration, Physiological Extravaganza, Part 2

    Fri, 17 Aug 2007 17:13:27 -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.
    Wendy Mader, patched up, catheterized, and looking very relaxed before starting a very long indoor workout. Considering that it was 90+ and sunny outside, maybe it wasn’t so bad indoors after all.

    Sierra Snyder, Jackie Nagy, and Luke Bell all smile while waiting for the 4-hour sweat-fest to begin.

    Rhae Shaw and Lisa Preeg have an idea! Actually, they’re pointing to their favorite sweat collection patch which will be analyzed for the sodium content of their sweat. Nice look ladies. You should wear that thing dancing!

    Teri Albertazzi smiles as she starts getting her CompuTrainer warmed up prior to calibration. This isn’t hot – if you live in Tucson.

    Sierra and Jackie are still smiling…stick around another 2 or 3-hours - that’s about to change.

    So there he was minding his own business when the cart monster pulled up and attached itself…in addition to drawing blood, removing & replacing sweat patches, checking internal core temperature, heart rate & perceived effort, you also get the pleasure of hooking up to the metabolic cart, which everyone agreed, wasn’t the most comfortable part of their day. Ron Ayers gets a check on energy expenditure midway through the 2-hour ride.

    Is that the 1000-mile stare? Jackie starts to show the impact of 2-hours on a treadmill after 2-hours on a CompuTrainer in 90-degree, stagnant conditions.

    You might be tired but that doesn’t mean that the scientists don’t want their data. Lovato gets attached during the run.

    The testing was as good as it gets but the surrounding community wasn’t bad either for swimming, riding, and running. Rhae taunts Michael while half the group gets in some time on the near by trails.

    Lovato makes the most of his transition and stuns everyone in the process…”hey, they told me to wear my race outfit” - yikes. Always up for a laugh, Michael modeled yet another set of bun huggers during the transition from CompuTrainer to treadmill eliciting mixed responses from Lisa, an unwitting GSSI staff member, and Rhae. Hey Michael, International Male called and they want their underpants back.

    As part of the orientation, each athlete kept a “food diary”, recording every calorie they put down their throat so that they could review this information with renowned sports nutritionist, Monique Ryan. Monique would be part of a panel discussion on Saturday evening with GSSI’s director, Dr. Bob Murray, the medical director at the Hawaii Ironman, Dr. Bob Salas, and our own 8-time Hawaii World Champion, Paula Newby-Fraser. The discussion ended up being an opportunity for each athlete to present any question they could think of to this Ironman dream team of knowledge.

    As each group arrived at the GSSI, it became apparent that this wasn’t going to be a weekend vacation. The array of lab equipment, staff (including a nurse), treadmills, CompuTrainers, and heat that greeted everyone generated a palpable level of excited anticipation tempered by the realization that they’d be working for 4-hours in these conditions.

    Each athlete had their own private nutrition, fluid, and towel valets as all of the GSSI staff tended to recording heart rates & perceived effort, collecting sweat patches, drawing blood, operating the metabolic cart, delivering Gatorade, gels, salt tablets and whatever else each athlete had brought to get through this “workout”. Everything that was consumed by each athlete during the test was carefully chronicled to correlate to their losses and what came back in the sweat and blood analysis.

    The initial sweat patches were applied, everyone was weighed, core temperatures were recorded (non-invasively, phew!), and everyone had their own catheter inserted into a vein in their arm to make drawing blood throughout the 4-hours a little more convenient. As each “victim” finished with the patches and catheter, they were told to sit and let their blood volume equalize.

    All joking aside, when you’re sitting in a 90-degree room with 5-sweat patches on, a radio transmitter somewhere in your intestines, and a catheter in your arm, and looking forward to 2-hours of riding and 2-hours of running, the reality of just how hard this will be starts to sink in. Even so, the knowledge you know you’re going to gain provides all the motivation you’ll need – you hope.

    While group one was starting their own indoor journey toward endurance specific scientific self-knowledge, the other group was at the pool getting video taped by Roch and going through a swim workout. The videos would be analyzed with each participant in between testing and lectures so that each could go home to work on any stroke issues – or wonder why they wore that swim suit.

    We definitely wondered if a 2-hour ride and 2-hour run in lab conditions would be enough to come close to the fatigue levels that an Ironman generates but, by the time everyone was an hour into the run, the answer was a resounding yes. Some ran strong throughout while other slipped into the same survival shuffle that we’ve all seen on Alii Drive. What will be even more interesting is to find out what happened to each individual’s sweat rate, the sodium content of their sweat, their heart rates and perceived efforts, what their core temperatures were, how their consumption of fluid, calories, and electrolytes affected all of this and how it all changed over time. The information will reach each athlete by the end of August and it’s expected to take a further 8 to 10-months to reach publication in the scientific literature. Needless to say, we can’t wait!

    A big THANK YOU to everyone at Gatorade and the Gatorade Sports Science Institute for an amazing experience. The next time you hear someone say, “Ah, that Gatorade is just water with a bit of sugar and flavor in it.”, you can be sure to correct them. It’s a lot of research both in the lab and on/in the field that brings this product to both our store shelves and the hands of the volunteers at our events.

    We look forward to talking with some of the athletes who participated in this research both before and after Hawaii to see how they used the information and if it worked. Stay tuned to the podcasts.