Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Running on my Day Off

Today's my "day off," but do you really expect me to not do SOMETHING?!  Ok, normally I wouldn't, but since I'm back on the road, I wanted to keep up with the short runs.  Therefore I ran another 1.5 miles today.  My reasoning is twofold.  First, I want to make sure my feet get used to running again.  A mile or two won't kill me as far as my rest, but will certainly help my feet.  Second, I'd like to make sure I'm set into a new form as early as possible.

Concerning the second point, I already have a couple pains today from my run.  I noticed a shin splint start up early on the run, which as usually manifested on the medial side of my right shin.  Then when I stopped running I noticed what I think was more of a pressure pain on the lateral part of my right forefoot (outside of the ball of my foot).  I will probably do at least two things now because of those pains.  First, I'll monitor my form more; specifically the way my feet strike the ground.  Second, I'll slow my pace to keep from allowing my foot to strike hard on the ground.  The latter point may not be the best idea since I know my stride gains more vertical motion as I slow my pace, but we'll see how it works. 

Aside from that, I spent some time today looking at the pros and cons of sports drinks, mainly the two big players on the market, Gatorade and Powerade.  Since my gym workouts have gotten longer, I've debated getting something to drink other than water to help replenish the electrolytes (especially if I'm going to be running after each workout now).  My initial thought was Gatorade (comprises 75% of the market), but then I noticed that it had 14g of carbs, all from sugar.  Sugar certainly is a necessity for your body, but if I'm going to consider switching my metabolism from carb-burning to fat-burning, I'd like to try and stay away from too much carbs.  I checked out Powerade and it had 14g of carbs as well, but Powerade Zero had none.  So that sparked my interest in comparing the electrolyte, calorie, carb, vitamin levels of each variety of Gatorade & Powerade.  I'll post my results when I'm finished, but there certainly are a large variety of options that I'm sure most of you have never seen in stores.  But for now, I'll leave you with this question:

When you work out, what do you drink/consume?  Is it water, a sports drink, a protein shake, a homemade concoction, or something else?  If you have a reason for choosing what you use, I'd be more than happy to hear about that as well. 

At this point, I drink water during my daily workouts because it's free.  However, when I'm racing at a triathlon or any endurance event, I go for the Gatorade Endurance before water 9 times out of 10.  I do that for three reasons:
1.  I know I'll need the electrolytes down the road (literally) and water doesn't have them.
2.  It helps mentally to have a flavor in my mouth; same reason I take a swish of orange juice before I head out to run.  It's a slight distraction that will keep me from over analyzing. 
3.  Water cleans out my mouth.  I've never heard anyone mention this (and you might think I'm crazy), but I refuse to believe it's not nearly universal to some degree.  Try breathing naturally through your mouth for a full minute without closing your mouth.  Your mouth, tongue, and throat begin to feel a bit dry, don't they?  Now think about breathing at 3-4 times that rate for up to 15 hours (Ironman race); might seem like a constant battle to keep your mouth dry, right?  Well, we happen to be equipped with a weapon to battle that dryness - saliva!  If you begin to feel your mouth is dry, you close your mouth and recoat it with more saliva, right?  You may not realize that's what you're doing, but you are.  And of course you know that saliva has a thicker consistency than water, so while the air we breathe will evaporate regular water quite quickly, it takes a much longer time to remove saliva.  In my experience, after every drink of water in an endurance event, air gets an upper hand for the next 30-60 seconds, the air feels slightly cooler on my throat, and my focus gets pulled towards trying to keep my mouth from drying out.  For that reason alone, I avoid plain water during a race.  Gatorade however, while made with water, has flavors in it (among beneficial electrolytes) and those flavors trigger your salivary glands to produce more saliva.  So within 15 seconds after taking a swig of Gatorade, my mouth is recoated with saliva and I'm good to go.  It's one of those things I'm sure most people will think "You consciously think about that kind of stuff?," but I'm sure most endurance athletes will agree that it makes sense and they probably have some sort of habit to deal with this issue themselves.

Go ahead and think I'm crazy if you'd like.  We all have our interesting little habits and reasons. 

Tomorrow it's back to the gym.  Ciao!

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