Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Update and Waterlogged

Update and Waterlogged

Been getting out on the local trails this week, focusing on bringing up my basic cruzing speed by running "fast" 10K loops. It is really fun to fly through the forest at a good clip with the trees passing by in an almost blurred wall, lungs pushing hard, and the mind focused on moving fast. Really, a very different running experience then a long day in the mountains!

On another note, there has been a fair bit of talk on the internet about Dr. Noaks new book Waterlogged. I have not had the chance to read the book yet, but there have been several good articles and reviews, as well as an interview podcast on the book and topic that I thought I would pass along. Noaks hinted at his ideas in his now classic The Lore of Running, which as he summarizes in Waterlogged are basically:
  • Drink only to thirst, not on a time schedule.
  • Drinking does not prevent heat illness.
  • Ingesting salt is unnecessary in ultras and trail races.
  • Urine frequency or color has nothing to do with hydration or kidney function.
For me, these general guidelines seem to be smart, and to work. On my last long run on Sunday, I only drank 54oz of water over the course of the 5+ hours and that was plenty. However, as people have been pointing out via comments, some people need much more water and salt. I don't think Noaks is telling these people not to listen to their body and to drink less water, but rather to keep doing what works for them. Listen to your body, not a stop watch or mile marker. Everyone is different, every race is different, and the unique combination of circumstances present during a race or ultra requires one to listen to their body. The other thing that we need to remember is that most - if not all - scientific experiments are performed in a controlled environment. I've never been to a race or run a mountain trail that was controlled in any sense of the word. So, as Noaks emphasizes, drink to thirst, not a time schedule.

So here is a roundup of the reviews, articles, and podcasts on the book:

  • By far the best and most comprehensive is the article by Joe Uhan on iRunFar. Really well done, with clear explanations. The comments are also very informative.
  • The next good review comes from the Jill Will Run blog. Again, a nice presentation with some photos of highlighted pages from the book.
  • The Outside Blog has an excellent review and partial interview with Noaks on the subject that is very informative.
  • Finally, Ben Green Fitness has a review and podcast that you can download with an interview with Dr. Noaks on the book.
As all of these reviews and interviews indicate, a lot of our assumptions about endurance running, hydration, and performance are based on either faulty data or at least data that is now outdated. Science is catching up, but because of the nature of trail running, ultra running, and just going out for long days in the mountains, I don't think we will ever be able to arrive at any hard and fast rules. If there is any rule, it is simply to listen to your body and to figure out what works best for you. If you run with folks, enter a lot of races, or just read blogs on the internet, you will find that people are doing amazing things - sometimes with lots of water and sometimes with little water. From what I can tell, the only thing in common across the board is that a top performance happens when one listens closely to their body and the signals it is giving them.

Finally, here is a video of Dr. Noaks giving a Ted talk in South Africa that is also informative.

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