Isotonic? Hypotonic? The mystery of sports drinks revealed. Maybe.

I pride myself on not being part of the herd and buying what everyone else does just because someone once said that it was good. I like to make up my own mind and that inevitably means doing a bit of research and buying cheap. My PT son had given me a recipe for isotonic juice, but sometimes I just want convenience so buying a pre-made drink is the way to go. But which one?

I rarely buy big brand names. Store named goods are usually just as good and often supplied by the same makers, so paying over the odds for a name isn’t my style. Today in Morrison’s Superstore they had their own isotonic drinks on sale at 50p for a 75ml bottle (a total bargain when compared to the likes of Lucozade Sport), but they also had their own brand hypotonic drinks. What’s the difference? It said nothing on the bottle and at a quick glance the only major difference seemed to be calories and carbs – the isotonic having more of both and salt – the hypotonic having 5% more.

When I got home I asked my PT son what the difference was and although his answer was good, I needed more definition so that I could decide if I’d wasted my money or if I’d got a bargain.

This is what I discovered.

First of all we need to drink to stop us from becoming dehydrated, that’s primary school stuff.  Sweating is the way in which the body maintains its core temperature but results in the loss of body fluid and electrolytes (minerals such as chloride, calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium). Unless we replace these lost fluids and electrolytes it will lead to dehydration and eventually circulatory collapse and heat stroke. Not the best scenario.

The next fact was a bit more scary. It takes very little dehydration to severely impair performance:

% body weight lost as sweat Physiological Effect
2% Impaired performance
4% Capacity for muscular work declines
5% Heat exhaustion
7% Hallucinations
10% Circulatory collapse and heat stroke 

So, basically, don’t mess with hydration!

Now, I could bore you silly with additional information about electrolytes and carbohydrates, but basically what you and I need to know is that as we exercise for longer periods we need to replace electrolytes and fluid lost in sweat and also rebuild some of the carbohydrates we are using up in the form of glucose which we have stored in our livers to power our run. Water is fine if we aren’t running far, but it won’t replace lost electrolytes or carbohydrates and it tends to bloat you up and suppress thirst.

So here’s the bit I was looking for, which drink is most suitable.

Isotonic – quickly replaces fluids lost by sweating and supplies a boost of carbohydrate. This drink is the choice for most athletes – middle and long distance running. Glucose is the body’s preferred source of energy therefore it may be appropriate to consume Isotonic drinks where the carbohydrate source is glucose in a concentration of 6% to 8%.

Hypotonic – quickly replaces fluids lost by sweating . Suitable for athletes who need fluid without the boost of carbohydrate.

Hypertonic – used to supplement daily carbohydrate intake normally after exercise to top up muscle glycogen stores. In ultra distance events high levels of energy are required and Hypertonic drinks can be taken during exercise to meet the energy requirements. If used during exercise Hypertonic drinks need to be used in conjunction with Isotonic drinks to replace fluids.

So basically my hypotonic drink is fine for short runs instead of water, if I wanted. I tend not to take a drink with me if I’m running less than 4 miles. Up to 6 and I tend to take just water, but I could take a hypotonic drink. If I’m running for up to two hours or more then I definitely need an isotonic drink. I would imagine that a hypertonic is roughly equivalent to taking a gel, which I’m not keen on using (sticky fingers, littering the route), but taking two drinks isn’t convenient, so I’m still happy taking my Dextro tablets at intervals alongside my isotonic drink.

Last thing, for those wanting to save some wonga, here are a few recipes:

Making your own!

Isotonic – 200ml of orange squash (concentrated orange), 1 litre of water and a pinch of salt (1g). Mix all the ingredients together and keep chilled

Hypotonic – 100ml of orange squash (concentrated orange), 1 litre of water and a pinch of salt (1g). Mix all the ingredients together and keep chilled.

Hypertonic – 400ml of orange squash (concentrated orange), 1 litre of water and a pinch of salt (1g). Mix all the ingredients together and keep chilled.

Now, to put this into context, I’m just about to set off on a 7 mile run. It’ll take me just over an hour, so I’m going to take the hypotonic juice with me. It’s not too hot, I won’t be running fast, so water with a bit of sugar in it should be adequate.

I hope!

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Hot and Sticky

A few years back an acquaintance, who plays in a popular local band, gave us a CD of their latest album. One of the songs, entitled ‘Sticky Vicky’, was about a stripper who owns a nightclub in Benidorm, Spain which they used to play at during the summer season. After having just finished a 6 miler in 19ºC heat and 80% humidity, I know exactly how she felt. Ewwww.

I Googled 'hot stripper' and this what I got!
I Googled ‘hot stripper’ and this what I got!

I’m following my pal Jeff Galloway’s 10k app again. Not the improver plan, just the get it finished plan – well he calls it something else, but that’s basically what it is. Get it done. I’ve got it set to 10 min/mile pace (ha ha) and 4:1 run:walk ratios. Today was a 10 minute “jog” or warm up run, followed by 20 minutes of race pace running and a 10 minute “jog” or warm down run, or thereabouts. The route was going to be about 6 miles so I chose my favourite loop that takes me up away from the village, climbing steadily for a mile and a half before working up and down a series of small hills and then steady running pretty much to home, although there are a few gentle hills to test tired legs towards the end.

The hills weren’t really so much of an issue as the heat and humidity. It’s a lovely day for a walk, but a bit too muggy for running and I always find getting my breathing sorted out difficult on a muggy day. I took a couple of puffs on my inhaler before heading out, but it took a couple of miles not to still be fighting with it.

In fact that thought popped into my head as I headed out. I always find the start of any run a bit of a battle, as if my body is resisting it in every way and I have to rise above the battle in order to finish. As an asthmatic, the initial half a mile is scary. Within a few minutes you feel your chest tighten and you start to pant rather than breathe. It’s painful and your instinct is to stop and take a few minutes, but in reality you are better to slow your pace and concentrate on running. Eventually your breathing regulates and you’ve come through it. I often find trail running more intensely scary in this respect; it’s perhaps because my trail runs tend to be shorter and faster. I have to believe that I am not about to die.

Anyway, back to today’s run. I ran the first 10 minutes steadily, hitting the walk breaks on time and wasn’t tempted to stop any sooner, despite my initial breathing difficulties. The faster section came in as I rounded the first hill, which was great – the terrain is better for faster running with a combination of flats, uphills and downhills. It’s not fast, but it is testing and I think that’s a better indicator of how well I’m running than maybe heading down a flat road. I would rather put the work in on the training and hopefully reap the benefits in races. That’s the theory anyway!

The fatigue didn’t really set in until between miles 3 and 4 when the sun came out. Until then the sky had been cloudy and I’d taken my hat off to get a bit of wind in my hair and cool me down. When the sun appeared I had to replace my hat and get a bit of shelter, especially as my forehead caught the sun yesterday. I was drinking water from my Camelbak and hadn’t taken anything else. I figured that a good breakfast on top of all the carbs I had yesterday were fuel enough and water would do. The Camelbak allows me to sip small amounts, which is probably for the best. I’m sitting here now drinking pints of water and I’ll soon be as big as a barage balloon; I couldn’t do that on a run!

I ran on, not even looking at my watch – I had no idea what pace I was running. I just decided that I was running 6 miles and if I did that in an hour and a half I couldn’t care less! It was hot and sticky and I was trying to run 4 miles at 10 minute mile pace. At one point I thought it was raining, but in truth the sweat from my pony tail was getting flicked about and was landing on my hands, feeling like rain.

I was overpace by a long way. I realised this when Jeff started to do a count down when I still had a mile to do. It’s the first time in a long time that I’ve been behind pace, usually I’m ahead of it. This is the difference between me running at 10k pace and running at 13.1 mile pace! I am not a fast runner!

Mile 1 was completed in 10:55 – that’s my warm up pace supposedly.

Mile 2 was the start of race pace and was finished in 10:25.

Mile 3 : 10:38

Mile 4: I was starting to suffer – 11:08, it shows!

Mile 5: 11:36 I was, by now, on the slow down run.

I ran out of Jeffness by this point and was just running on my own at a slow pace just to clock up the miles.

Mile 5:93 : 11:26 Just glad to finish and walk home!

Overall I did 5:93 miles in a respectable 67 minutes. I’m OK with that because it was warm and it’s actually taken me until now to stop perspiring! Writing my blog before my shower means that I’ve cooled down enough to take it when I’m done!

a59aa42368a1b649_hot-woman

On another note, I started core exercises again, but I’m having to stop them. Within a couple of days my neck has started to show signs of strain and I think there is more to it than just bad posture. This last time I was very aware of my posture, but the pain this weekend has been quite bad. I even ended up at the Chinese health shop for a quick 10 minute neck and shoulder loosen massage on Saturday morning and spent Saturday night lying on a massage cushion. One of my vertebrae is so sore now I can hardly touch it! I’m putting ibuprofen gel on that and I’m researching core exercises for people with neck injuries as a way round the problem. I won’t let this stop me, so I need an alternative path. Googling core exercise for neck injury spouts up many links – I just need to work my round through them.

neck-pain-and-whiplash-pain-relief-accident-pain-car-accident-pain

 

Starting Again!

Last post I was talking almost enthusiastically about Garmin’s training plans. However, on a closer look the plans just ain’t gonna do. This is mostly because the plans are time, rather than mileage, based. Round here you can’t just nip up the next avenue to add a bit of time on because there aren’t any avenues. You need to plan a route according to the mileage you want to cover. There aren’t any cut through roads. The only other alternative is to run out, get so far and turn round half way, which I don’t like doing. So I’m sticking to Jeff Galloway and his plans for 5k, 10k and half marathon.

I also wondered about knocking my walk breaks out (which Jeff’s plans also cater for) and just running, but after re-reading a few of my early blog posts I’ve realised that there was a reason why I started running with regular breaks and also that with them I’ve achieved so much, without any real injury. So I’m sticking with Jeff Galloway lock, stock and barrel.

I spent Sunday planning out runs, noting the long run lengths in my diary so I knew what to expect. I set out this evening to do 7 miles. It had been cooler and cloudier today, so I was looking forward to a nice, pleasant run. I had even remembered to put Vaseline on my bra-line – how good is that?

Needless to say the sun burnt through the clouds at 0.5 miles and raised the temperatures as I ran from 63ºF up to nearer 70ºF. The sweat, as we say round here, was pishing off me! I ran a steady mile as a warm up and then 5 at race pace, before finishing with another steady mile. Had the weather been a little kinder I might have been looking at an easier 5 miles, but, in the circumstances, what I did was fine. My 10k came in just over my usual pace and that was taking the steady mile into account. I can’t complain at that.

My IPhone died at mile 6, but I wasn’t all that worried and just cruised the last mile home running at any pace I liked, which involved sprinting back into the finish. One day I’ll see the village sign and NOT think that it’s the finish line for the Olympic final of the 10,000m. Until then I will sprint.

woman-crossing-finish-line

I’m not due to run until Wednesday now, but I am determined to make use of the rest days by doing some gym work. I know that I should do this, but I’m useless at getting motivated and maintaining the motivation. It might sound silly, but I’m thinking of putting tasks in my diary to prompt me to get my backside off the coach on my in-between days. I’ve lots of excuses why this hasn’t happened, which I won’t bore you with, but I’ve no excuse now.

no-excuses

Training with Garmin

Always looking for a fresh idea, I’ve had a look at the new training plans on the Garmin website. I’ve uploaded two to my watch; a half marathon one starting in a few weeks and a 10k one starting tonight with an easy 30 minute run. I’m coming in half way through the 10k programme but I’ll let that overlap with the half programme. I’m sure it’ll not matter, but I think a bit of 10k action might just give me the boost I need. At the moment I’m waiting on my dinner settling and the temperatures to cool a tad. It’s not often I can say that, but running in the heat isn’t something a red headed, pale skinned runner should do, unless they want sunstroke!

This week’s plan looks like this:

Week 6
03/06/2013 Rest  

 

Rest day.

 
04/06/2013 W06D2-Recovery Run 

 • Run, easy pace, 30 minutes.

• Run, easy pace, 30 minutes.

• Cool down, 5 to 10 minutes.

• Stretch.

 
05/06/2013 W06D3-Threshold Run

• Run, easy pace, 20 minutes.

• Run, threshold pace, 20 minutes.

• Run, easy pace, 20 minutes.

• Cool down, 5 to 10 minutes.

• Stretch.

 
06/06/2013 W06D4-Cross Training

Cross train, 20 minutes. Repeat 2 times. Stretch.

 
07/06/2013 Rest

Rest day.

 
08/06/2013 W06D6-Intervals

 • Warm up, 10 minutes.

• Run, 10K pace, 3 minutes. Recovery jog, 2 minutes. Repeat 6 times.

• Cool down, 5 to 10 minutes.

• Stretch.

09/06/2013 W06D7-Long Run

• Run, easy pace, 80 minutes.

• Cool down, 5 to 10 minutes.

• Stretch.

Now my first issue is that my long run day will probably be Monday instead of Sunday and I can’t alter that on the plan, but I’m sure I can survive that!

My second issue is running for 80 minutes will land me a certain distance from the house, depending on my pace. My plan, therefore, is to run for 40 minutes and turn round, although I can do my favourite loop in about 40 minutes, so doing that twice would be a solution.

It’ll be interesting to see what I make of ‘easy pace’ after having Jeff Galloway telling me how fast to run and when to do it, but I’m happy to give it a try! I might even like it.

 

Running Like a Girl

A few weeks ago I replied to a random tweet sent out by the editor of Women’s Running UK magazine, who asked if tweeters preferred long or short runs. In an infrequent moment of clarity I replied that, generally speaking, I preferred a longer run, but that sometimes I had to fit in what I could and that running should complement, not antagonise, my life. Christina emailed me asking me for my address, a photo and my age because my words of wisdom had just won me a copy of Alexandra Heminsley’s new book ‘Running Like a Girl’. I was suitably chuffed.

Chuffed until the magazine came out. For those of you yet to cross the 50 age barrier I can tell you that being 48 is a long way from being 49, which is even further from being 50. I am a happy 48 year old, soon to be 49, but not yet. Imagine then my horror at seeing these words accompanying my words of wisdom in the July issue: “Julie Hollis, 49”

49!

What I’d like you all to do is read 48 when you see that. Just until August.

So anyway, ‘Running Like a Girl’ duly plopped through my letterbox last week and, of course, I was too busy to start it. It was also a real book, something that I haven’t read for a while. I tend to download books onto my iPad these days and read them in bed without having to put my hubbie through the ordeal of trying to sleep with a light on. However, we were away for the weekend on a chill out, relax all you can holiday, so I took my paperback copy with me.

Having started it on Friday night, I finished it on Monday evening – almost unable to put it down. It’s not often that I gel with a book as much as I did this one, but I found myself laughing in agreement at some of the things Alexandra had put herself through in order to become “a runner”. I recognised myself in the woman who found all the excuses not to run, who had severe worries about not making it to a real toilet before she had to squat at the roadside and who beat herself up over finishing times of marathons she had run, when in reality she had run a marathon! Suddenly my blog appeared in front of me with someone else saying the things I’d said, someone else feeling the same things I had, that I still do. I realised that I was not alone at all, there were/are probably thousands of runners, not just women, feeling the same things.

I wouldn’t say that I’m suddenly inspired by what I’ve read. Entertained, completely. Reassured, without doubt. However, it’s almost as though I’ve been given permission to behave in a certain way, to feel the things I have and still to be a valid runner and I’m grateful for that. Alexandra has split the book into sections, firstly dealing with her own tentative steps into running which developed into the success of completing a marathon alone and a second motivating a friend. This was such a great read – you felt privy to information that a friend would divulge to another. At points I found myself laughing out loud and nodding my head in agreement. The arrogance of some running shoe sales people and their off-putting attitude struck a chord, sadly. The book then went on to trace the history of women’s competitive running, some of which I knew from reading magazines, but was a pleasant read nonetheless and it certainly made you think about how privileged we are to be able to enter races willy-nilly. The final section dealt with all those stupid questions we are too embarrassed to ask!

If you haven’t guessed, I can thoroughly recommend this as the Bridget Jones version of ‘Running with Kenyans’ or ‘What I Think about When I Run’. It is fun, informative and unputdownable, as my husband will so testify!

RUNNING LIKE A GIRL FRONT2
Click on the book to visit Amazon and buy it, download it – just read it!