The only way to tell the story of SOS is through the people pushing themselves everyday to be the best can they be. Whether its winning the Indy500 or running the Boston Marathon, THE SOURCE is home to all the amazing stories across Our Rehydrated World.
How listening less to college coaches and more to Lance Armstrong will help you run faster… legally.
There is a timeless saying, “you don’t get fit when you’re running; you get fit when you’re recovering”. If training was only about running then you’d barely stop, and Dean Karnazes would win every event from the 5,000m to the marathon at the Olympics. Thankfully, that isn’t the case.
The current obsession about weight in running is incredibly disconcerting. When female athletes become fixated on becoming as thin as possible it is rightly seen as a health concern, yet amongst males it is becoming an expression of masochism and bravado.
The head cross-country coach at Colorado State Art Siemers has become one of many coaches in the NCAA known for fixating on the weight and appearance of his athletes.
“Thin to win” is his catch phrase, and it’s a terrifying precedent to set on young, highly impressionable athletes.
Weight is just one variable in the training equation of stress, recovery, and adaptation. This is a delicate equilibrium that if thrown off balance can have devastating effects. Weight should not be used as a catalyst to precipitate training adaptations; rather it should be a carefully managed bi-product.
If we accept that fitness gains are made during recovery, then carrying less weight through diet restriction to complete a workout faster will only result in an inability to recover properly.
Eat good food; you need it.
There are plenty of ways to skin a cat. Some are more effective than others, but the point stands – hydration has to be taken care of before all else.
Products used for recovery like chocolate milk are crucial for repairing muscle damage through protein synthesis, yet for this process to be as efficient as possible the muscles must be well hydrated. Without hydrating, protein synthesis will be less effective and increase the time needed for recovery.
Balance is also crucial, as our bodies endocrine system is affected by electrolyte losses. If one electrolyte is consumed in high volumes without the correct balance of the hormonal processes will be disrupted.
In a 2015 interview with Joe Rogan, Lance Armstrong stated, “naps are performance enhancing”. He’s not wrong. Sleep is when the magic happens, where the money is made, and most of us aren’t getting enough of it.
The point is simple; when we don’t get enough quality sleep it becomes harder for our body to recover. The modern world isn’t making it easier; it is now commonplace to be looking at your phone in bed, with the emitted light telling your brain to remain awake and vigilant.
Try to avoid your phone, tablet, laptop or anything emitting that kind of light for an hour before you want to be asleep. A good rule of thumb would be 9hrs before you need to wake up. This can have an exponential effect on your ability to have quality sleep and recover.
Eat a lot of good food.
Go to sleep.
Easier said than done, apparently.
It’s that time of year… Christmas, New Years… all that good stuff. Holiday’s are great, except they create some unique challenges when it comes to training.
Runners are creatures of habit; we create routines for ourselves to manage stress and stay on top of all the variables associated with training. Basically, runners build their own micro ecosystem.
If there is one thing that can disrupt that ecosystem, its travel – which is why you will regularly see runners’ hotel rooms looking like a workout room. The bare necessities for normal humans are a suitcase and a bathing suit. For the runner it’s a foam roller, stretching rope, lacrosse ball, theraband… the list goes on.
Chances are this holiday season you will be travelling, and that your family will still never be able to comprehend why you are “going for a run”, or why you can’t just “fit it in” some other time. Then there is trying to explain why you are so tired all the time, and telling Nana as politely as possible that you already eat a lot and don’t need “fattening up”. Add to that the fact that you’re likely going to be either sharing a room with three other relatives or sleeping on the sofa. Last but not least you’re probably going to be in a place that you don’t do a lot of training in. There is no 4 mile loop that you can shut your mind off on and just lap a couple of times, or your trusty favourite workout spot.
Just like exam time during University, the above is all added yet underrated stress on the body. Runners are constantly dancing around and across a very thin red line of peak fitness or injury and illness, and it often only takes a few new variables for the scales to quickly tip. With this in mind, we have put together some simple yet effective tips to help you manage training during the holiday season.
For those lucky enough to be runners in America, annual leave virtually does not exist, so chances are you will be back home in about two or three days.
Sounds simple, yet it is one of the easiest things to forget about. It often feels like Christmas is the day after Thanksgiving, and you go from your Turkey Trot to having lunch next to that weird Uncle who still wants to teach you how to wrestle.
Finding good training spots in new areas is now more accessible than it has ever been, particularly with the rise in popularity of applications like Strava. Look for some popular loops, parks or paths and plan your training accordingly. The data will give you a good sense of where you can run fast, and where you can run without dealing with traffic or a lot of people. University campuses are usually a pretty good starting point, as even if you are in the middle of the town where they made ‘The Hills Have Eyes’ you will probably find a track or some bike paths to run on.
GET GOOD AT RUNNING LAPS
There is no point taking any risks while you are running in a new area. By that I mean if you find a decent little park or grassed field somewhere, run it to death. There is nothing worse than trying to do a recovery run and also figure out where the hell you are: stopping and starting, looking down at your phone and trying to navigate out of iTunes and into Google maps. If Bowerman TC can do a 15 mile run on Ronaldo field at Nike WHQ (which is 3 laps to the mile) then you can run around a shitty high school football field for an hour.
GET A TRIAL GYM MEMBERSHIP
24hr gyms are everywhere, and they all offer free-trials for a couple of visits. Set one up in advance and head there before and/or after runs. That way you can get into your tights and lay around on the floor with your various shaped balls and stretching ropes without your family thinking that you’re some kind of burlesque performer.
By heading to a gym you can dedicate all the time you need to pre-hab and re-hab and not need to worry about any running-related activities while back at the house. Not only is this easier logistically, its also a lot less stressful as there isn’t any chance you can be made to feel bad for doing your bum exercises while Nana is fisting the turkey with stuffing and everyone else is pottering about the kitchen.
REGULATE NOISE & LIGHT
It is perfectly acceptable for people aged 50 or over to fall asleep absolutely anywhere, yet runners often have the energy and motivation levels of the elderly. The advantage Grandad has is that he can turn his hearing aid off and instantly be in nap-heaven.
If you are not lucky enough to require the use of a hearing aid yet, buy some earplugs from the supermarket. If you are a seasoned traveller you will likely have some noise cancelling headphones. Add to this a sleep mask and you have a ripping day-time sleep set up that signals your intentions for a nap and will make people feel bad about trying to wake you. If you can add to this a feet-up situation that involves a blanket and/or a pillow you will have successfully mastered the task.
Target your most important daytime sleeps for after meals when there is a higher likelihood of your family doing the same after they have eaten themselves halfway towards diabetes.
MINUTES NOT MILES
Once again, sounds simple, but it can be a huge help. Don’t worry about pace or distance. If you normally cover about 10 miles for a 70 minute run at home but are now somewhere where you are still not quite settled, just do 70 minutes rather than trying to hit an exact pace or distance.
GPS watches are a great tool but can often be more harmful than helpful. Don’t try and force the pace and distance of a run you know inside out back home in an area where you aren’t as comfortable.
TAKE A DAY OFF
Getting fit is about a balance between stress and rest. Chances are you will probably be going to sleep later and up earlier than you normally would be. Being surrounded by people every minute of the day can often leave you feeling a bit drained from being ‘on’ so much.
Play it safe and schedule a day off during the week so you can enjoy a lunchtime beer and kick back like a normal person for 12 hours. This will help to restore your reputation as something more than the fanatical ‘exerciser’ in the family.
Toeing the party line like this for a day may cause temporary insanity, given it will be a consistent recycling pattern of sitting, eating and the same stories over and over and over. Still, it will be good for the body and is also a great chance to bank some emotional capital that you will need for leaving early during the opening of presents for your tempo.
Enjoy the Holiday’s, and don’t forget to hydrate!
Tomorrow Josh Harris (@_JoshHarris) will take on the world’s best at the Flotrack Beer Mile World Championships. Having recently run a solo 4:56 personal best as part of a time-trial, Harris enters the competition with a ranking of 8th.
Along with defending World Champ Corey Gallagher (@CoreyGallagher4) and superstar Lewis Kent (@lewiskentmiler), Harris is part of a Trio of SOS athletes who will toe the line in Austin with expectations of the podium.
We caught up with Josh before he headed out from his short stint in Colorado Springs to Texas for the Big Dance.
Walk us through the race this weekend…
This has been my goal race since I resumed training after the Berlin Marathon (Ran a 10km PB, 29:42 the day before I flew out). I’m spending a few days with some friends at altitude in Colorado Springs before heading into Austin two days before the race. Once the race is finished I’m headed to New York for the first time with Canadian Beer Miler Lewis Kent.
What are the goals that you’re setting for yourself?
I think I’m 6th fastest of the guys running the race on Saturday, as i’ve now slipped down to about #8 all time over the past year. I have a list of 5 goals that I would like to achieve in the race, and I would like to tick off as many of these as I can.
- Top 3 finish
- Sub 4:50
- Top 5 finish
- PB/AR: 4:56.25 Don’t spew
The Beer Mile is becoming a pretty popular event, what are some tips that the everyday beer miler can incorporate into their training to knock off some time?
There are a few key strategies some of us use to be successful in the Beer Mile. Apart from some obvious race day tips that are around on the internet I’ll give 3 specific training methods that I have been using to try and maximise my performance:
- I have been incorporating beer strides to get some training in after the occasional run. (3 x 60m, beer, 60m, walk back)
- Try and build your capacity! I’m smaller than most of the other elite guys, so I do this by drinking some beers, while eating as much as I can. I occasionally fill a beer bottle with water and chug as many of those as I can in a row.
- Do a race simulation before race day. There’s nothing more specific than actually going out and doing one. It doesn’t have to be a full Beer Mile but try and do at least 3 beers, with race pace running. My weakness is not being able to run anywhere near mile pace on lap 2 & 3, which is why I need several practice workouts to get up to speed.
With all the beers available, what do you use on race-day?
To be official the beers need to be at least 355ml (12 oz) and 5% alcohol content, which limits the choices considerably. The easiest beer i’ve had that fits both criteria it the Budweiser Light Platinum. The beer is 6%, but it’s the volume that is the issue in the race, rather than the alcohol content.
You can’t always mix business and pleasure, what is your go-to beer on the off days?
When I’m drinking casually I love to drink Van Dieman products. They are a local beer from back home in Tasmania and have been a really great supporter. They are a brand doing good things in the Tasmanian community. I really enjoy their Pale Ale, and I would say that it would definitely be my current beer of choice.
Given that not all Beer Miles are on the track, what footwear will you go for?
It depends what surface the race is being held on. The Beer Mile is still a somewhat underground event, so they can be held on the track, grass or road. I would wear the same shoe I would race a standard mile in. If the race is on the track I would use the Brooks Wire 4, but if it is road like the Flotrack World Championships I will use the Brooks Hyperion for a fast, lightweight feel.
There are substantial distinctions between the varying degrees of alcohol consumption, yet a reductionist method is consistently used to describe all use, particularly for athletes. This has been the case since 1948, when a medical investigation into cardiac disease found that alcohol could be beneficial, and whose physicians were prevented from publishing their findings. [i] Many still want to view alcohol with a pre-1948 lens, yet a strong case can now be made that the use of alcohol in athletics is disproportionate to its influence.
The above is highly prevalent in the U.S. collegiate system. In many colleges across America, student-athletes are required to sign clauses that require them to potentially forfeit their eligibility and scholarships if found to be using alcohol during the season. This illustrates the fundamental misunderstanding of a complex issue. For example, a can of just about any beer has more nutritional value than a can of soda, which has zero. In this scenario an athlete would be required to choose the soda if ever presented with such a situation over dinner; perhaps somewhere with awful water… let’s say Los Angeles.
It’s widely recognised that ‘binge-drinking’ is prevalent amongst student-athletes, yet it is still below the campus average and falling. [ii]Moreover, imposing a policy of abstinence does not educate young athletes, nor does it address the science behind addiction. [iii]
An incredibly brief history of time
The evidence for the consumption of alcohol dates back over 10,000 years – a period that 40% of Americans believe to pre-date the beginning of time. [iv]There is also evidence to suggest that early humans grew and stored grain for beer before it was ever used for bread, with the fermentation of the grain and the grape being linked to the development of early civilisation. [v]
Athletic performance and recovery
Acute alcohol consumption has a deleterious effect on a myriad of systems within the body. Severe intoxication has been shown to inhibit the availability of glucose necessary to fuel protein synthesis during muscle recovery. [vi]Alcohol is also a well-known diuretic, which of course leads to dehydration; one of the most consistent impacts across consumption of any amount… more on this later.
However, as with just about any aspect of training, timing and volume is critical. The benefits of resistance training, for example, are well documented – yet the analysis is rarely framed either immediately preceding or following a workout or competition, which is precisely how several studies on alcohol and athletic performance are considered.
Professor Matthew Barnes of Massey University School of Sport and Medicine has stated that he has “Never really seen anything that says [alcohol] is useful for recovery”, and that athletes should opt for water or a sports drink right after a competition. He further exclaims that athletes can consume alcohol, but only “if they must” and after appropriate refuelling, while stating, “Other than the social side of it, I can’t see the benefit to alcohol at all”. [vii]
The assumption that Barnes appears to be operating on is that high-level athletes would consider a Rolling Rock over a recovery drink following a workout, while completely disregarding the positive role alcohol can play in social situations.
The methodology applied to alcohol is rarely used for other potentially toxic substances, with many of the studies on alcohol prefaced with acute use. A college coach would rarely pull an athlete aside for accepting refills of soda with their meal mid-season or the night before a race, or for ordering unlimited fries or deep-fried cheese – all of which can severely affect the endocrine system. [viii] Yet a glass of Central Otago Pinot Noir full of beneficial resveratrol with dinner is strictly forbidden, despite the well known fact that alcohol makes other people less tedious, and food less bland.
This defective pattern of reasoning is also used by athletes to rationalise a poor performance. Alcohol will often be the prime suspect; not diet, stress, or travel. A certain amount of alcohol may compound these factors, but it doesn’t supersede them. More often than not, the perceived influence is likely to be a greatly distorted view of the actual impact.
How we’re wired
No two athletes are the same, yet evidence suggests that a threshold exists at which alcohol becomes detrimental to performance. [ix] Let’s assume that it’s a Sunday night, earlier that day was a big morning of training. You’ve since refuelled, rested, and are posted up ready to burn some brain cells courtesy of Netflix. At this point, a dose of alcohol quiets the brain and reduces the stress response. Stress is bad, so interrupting this pathway is beneficial. However, once blood alcohol levels get to around 0.1% everything starts to change; the brain triggers the release of a cascade of stress hormones, as it is convinced at this point that its in mortal danger. [x]
Would sparkling water be a better option in the above situation? Perhaps, but athletes do not exist in a vacuum, unless of course you’re a Chinese gymnast. The point is, even if someone has an occasional blowout, it makes them no less of an athlete as a bad workout does. A night of intoxication can still yield a net-positive impact across an athlete’s season, just as a bad night’s sleep, or illness still can. We’re biologically adapted to moderate alcohol; it’s part of how we became modern humans. [xi] The net-positive relationship is one that world-famous alcoholic Winston Churchill recognised, “I have taken more out of alcohol than it has taken out of me”, he said.
Another part of what makes us human is differences in how we are wired that are often responsible for ‘binge’ drinking, [xii] a term that encompasses isolated and excessive drinking patterns and is distinct from occasional light or social drinking. Binge drinking is common in a group setting and has been shown to lead to a greater euphoria than drinking the same amount alone, which facilitates more consumption [xiii] and is not uncommon to athletes.
Binge drinking is not beneficial for performance of any kind, with the exception being that on the dance floor. However, it can be a social response to the forbidden nature of alcohol, and the widespread misunderstanding about its use outside of alcoholism. The status quo response is avoidance and abstinence over education; the world’s oldest form of regulation.
Individuals differ in their capacity to exercise judgement and inhibit impulses. In some, an addictive substance such as sugar, which is one of the most addictive substances currently known and has more power to monopolize the reward circuit if the prefrontal cortex is not functioning properly. [xiv] Moreover, antisocial personalities often have deficiencies in prefrontal functioning, with running likely ranking joint first with stamp collecting for percentage of antisocial personalities.
Binge drinking will undoubtedly affect performance in certain ways, but abstinence is not the answer, or any answer for that matter. Research has shown that abstaining from alcohol can increase the risk of dying. Even heavy drinkers are likely to live longer than abstainers. Moderate drinkers have more friends, a higher quality of ‘friend support’ and are also more likely to be married than abstainers; who attempt to forget the brain’s reward pathways rather than rewire them. [xv] Running is hard enough as it is, so doing it with no mates is only going to make it harder.
As the ever-rational Benjamin Franklin said, “Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” For every story about an athlete blaming a bad performance on alcohol, you’ll find a more interesting one from someone that indulged in a few the night before an outstanding performance.
The best of course are from Down Under, such as Dick Tayler enjoying two pints with Arthur Lydiard the night before his dramatic win in the 1974 Commonwealth Games 10,000m. The most well known American story doesn’t make quite the same impact, given it involved Steve Prefontaine trapped under his flipped car with a 0.16 BAV.
As marathon legend and exercise physiologist Pete Pfitzinger writes, “Avoiding alcohol is neither realistic nor helpful advice. The real issue is determining how much alcohol you can drink before it has an effect on your running performance.” [i]
Breaking the seal
Alcohol, substances high in protein, caffeine, sugar, salt and even many vegetables are diuretics. Pfitzinger’s rule of thumb is to drink an extra ounce (30mL) of water for each ounce of beer, and 3 ounces (90mL) of water for each ounce of wine consumed. “With this in mind, its best to limit yourself to one or, at the most two beers or one glass of wine the night before a race.” [ii]
Pfitzinger also wraps some reality around Barnes’ findings. “After training or racing, wait until you’re reasonably well rehydrated before enjoying a post-run beer… and right before training or racing, well, lets not go there.” [iii]
Science has since given us an even more effective method that will serve the body well whether or not you’ve had a drink: a glass of water and an electrolyte drink such as SOS Rehydrate, a favourite of many runners. Every night the body loses about half a litre of water through exhalation. [iv] Given that SOS is as effective as an intravenous drip for dehydration, you’ll have a head start for the morning’s glory by absorbing three times more water than water alone, as well as the correct balance of electrolytes. This isn’t to say you should drink any more than Pfitzinger’s recommendations, it’s just going to do a better job of rehydrating the body.
Be smart, but don’t be afraid to rip the head off of a cold one now and then.
Painfully obvious disclaimer: The Runner’s Tribe & SOS Rehydrate does not endorse under-age or irresponsible drinking. Also, if you are going to drink… make it something good. Cheap booze is a false economy. [v]
[i] Pfitzinger, Pete, and Scott Douglas. Advanced Marathoning. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2009. Print.
[ii] Pfitzinger, Pete, and Scott Douglas. Advanced Marathoning. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2009. Print.
[iii] Pfitzinger, Pete, and Scott Douglas. Advanced Marathoning. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2009. Print.
[iv] “Every Night You Lose More Than A Pound While You’re Asleep (For The Oddest Reason).” NPR. NPR, n.d. Web. 27 Sept. 2016.
[v] Hitchens, Christopher. Hitch-22: A Memoir. New York: Twelve, 2010. Print.
[i] Hitchens, Christopher. “Living Proof.” The Hive. The Hive, 15 Mar. 2003. Web. 27 Sept. 2016.
[ii] Burnsed, Bryan. “Rates of Excessive Drinking among Student-athletes Falling.” Www.ncaa,org. NCAA, 22 July 2014. Web. 27 Sept. 2016.
[iii] News, BBC. “‘Binge-drinking Gene’ Discovered.” BBC News. BBC, n.d. Web. 27 Sept. 2016.
[iv] Gallup, Inc. “In U.S., 42% Believe Creationist View of Human Origins.” Gallup.com. N.p., 02 June 2014. Web. 21 Sept. 2016.
[v] Kahn, Jeffrey P. “How Beer Gave Us Civilization.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 16 Mar. 2013. Web. 21 Sept. 2016.
[vi] NatGeo. “Were Humans Built to Drink Alcohol?” Were Humans Built to Drink Alcohol? N.p., 08 Sept. 2016. Web. 27 Sept. 2016.
[vii] Jackson, Devon. “The Truth About the Post-Workout Beer.” Outside Online. N.p., 29 Oct. 2015. Web. 22 Sept. 2016.
[viii] Crain, Esther. “9 Things That Mess With Your Hormones.” Time. Time, 9 Mar. 2004. Web. 27 Sept. 2016.
[ix] Vella, Luke D., and David Cameron-Smith. “Alcohol, Athletic Performance and Recovery.” Nutrients. MDPI, Aug. 2010. Web. 21 Sept. 2016.
[x] Jonah Lehrer. “Why Alcohol Is Good for You.” Wired. Wired, 07 Sept. 2010. Web. 20 Sept. 2016.
[xi] NatGeo. “Were Humans Built to Drink Alcohol?” Were Humans Built to Drink Alcohol? N.p., 08 Sept. 2016. Web. 27 Sept. 2016.
[xii] News, BBC. “‘Binge-drinking Gene’ Discovered.” BBC News. BBC, n.d. Web. 27 Sept. 2016.
[xiii] Courtney, Kelly E., and John Polich. “Binge Drinking in Young Adults: Data, Definitions, and Determinants.” Psychological Bulletin. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Jan. 2009. Web. 27 Sept. 2016.
[xiv] Courtney, Kelly E., and John Polich. “Binge Drinking in Young Adults: Data, Definitions, and Determinants.” Psychological Bulletin. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Jan. 2009. Web. 27 Sept. 2016.
[xv] Jonah Lehrer. “Why Alcohol Is Good for You.” Wired. Wired, 07 Sept. 2010. Web. 20 Sept. 2016.
[xvi] Pfitzinger, Pete, and Scott Douglas. Advanced Marathoning. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2009. Print.
[xvii] Pfitzinger, Pete, and Scott Douglas. Advanced Marathoning. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2009. Print.
[xviii] Pfitzinger, Pete, and Scott Douglas. Advanced Marathoning. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2009. Print.
[xix] “Every Night You Lose More Than A Pound While You’re Asleep (For The Oddest Reason).” NPR. NPR, n.d. Web. 27 Sept. 2016.
[xx] Hitchens, Christopher. Hitch-22: A Memoir. New York: Twelve, 2010. Print.