It is essential to drink fluids during exercise. Failure to hydrate correctly will affect your overall performance, and it may hurt your general health. However, if you drink too much water, you may run the risk of lowering your blood sodium. Therefore, hydration is not as simple as just drinking lots of water before, during, or after a ride. Here is why:
The stomach works in such a way that it tries to balance out mineral and carbohydrate intake with water. Too much sodium or too many carbohydrates, and your stomach will pull water from the blood to dilute it before it can be absorbed. Too much water in your stomach and sodium levels in the blood will drop. But it is not all that complicated. The key here is to eat before you get hungry and drink plenty when you are thirsty. Don’t just drink water for hydration. For every one gram of carbohydrate stored in the body (as glycogen), there are approximately 3-4 grams of water retained. So, you can increase your water retention and improve your glycogen reserves by including a proper diet with your water intake. Doing this, the day before a ride, will give your body the ability to store both water and glycogen in preparation for the big journey. Drinking and eating correctly during exercise, helps maintain your performance and makes for a more comfortable recovery.
Now, consider that the liver contains 100-120 g of glucose, stored as glycogen. Skeletal muscle contains much more glycogen overall (400-500 g). As you exercise, glycogen, along with fat, is used to generate the energy you need to perform. The water that is released while burning the glycogen is used as sweat on a hot day or dumped into the urine when the weather is cooler.
However, burning glycogen is not the only source of liquid used by the body during exercise. There are 1 1/2 to 2 quarts, (3-4 lbs), of water stored in the colon. Some experts say that we do not experience thirst until most of that store is used. Also, there is water in the blood, and some released by the fat we burn as we bicycle.
From my personal experience, I lose about 1 pound of water for every 10 miles of aerobic cycling. For a 100 mile ride, I will lose 10 lbs of water while I burn about 400 grams of glucose. That glucose expenditure will release 1,200 grams (2 3/4 pounds) of water. The rest of my liquid requirements are drawn from the other sources. Some of this water and glycogen are returned by eating and drinking during the ride. The rest of my reserves, I will have to replace before my next big adventure. This renewal is done with a proper diet and consumption of fluids afterward. So this is why I love cold watermelon, especially after a long, hard, hot ride. It has lots of water, some potassium and a little bit of sodium. Plus there are some carbohydrates, but not enough to hinder the absorption of liquids. And on a hot day, it cools me from the inside out.
In a recent article published in the Road Bikers Newsletter, Coach John Hughes gives 12 Myths About Hydration and Cycling. This is an excellent article that not only provides sound advice, but it also shoots down a lot of false believes about hydration.
From Coach John Hughes comes an excellent book on anti-aging, where he presents 12 ways to slow the aging process.
1. Assess honestly your strengths and weaknesses.
2. Exercise consistently year-round. Use it or lose it applies even more to mature roadies. The older you get, the faster you lose a type of fitness if you don’t exercise that type.
3. Train wisely to avoid setbacks and injury.
4. Plan how to combine the riding you love with addressing the areas in which you need to improve and then set goals and track progress.
5. Ride aerobically year-round to maintain and improve cardiorespiratory fitness.
6. Include intensity workouts that are appropriate for your goals.
7. Strength train regularly to complement your riding and to maintain your capacity to do activities of daily living.
8. Stretch regularly to increase your riding comfort and to maintain your capacity to do activities of daily living.
9. Practice balance drills to reduce the risk of falling, the number one reason mature people go to the emergency room.
10. Engage in weight-bearing activities as part of your aerobic and strength training.
11. Balance exercise with the rest of your life so you get sufficient recovery and avoid overtraining.
12. Have fun!
(The above information is plagiarized from the Road Bike Rider newsletter).
Here is my observation of number 12. Have fun. I’ve noticed that the difference between work and play or having fun is as follows: work is when I’m involved in a process to achieve a goal. Play is when I’m enjoying the process, and the goal becomes less important. When I have a job to do, that is, during employment, and I’m interested in what I’m doing, I am having fun. However, if I’m only employed to receive a paycheck, then what I’m doing becomes work. The same is true when I cycle. If I am out enjoying the process, (for example, how do I climb the next hill, how do I conserve energy, how do I plan my route), then I’m having fun. It is an enjoyable ride. However, if I run out of energy and get tired (for example, if I bonk), then my only goal is to get home. Under those conditions, the ride turns out to be miserable and not much fun. This observation is an example of work versus play. However, it doesn’t give a solution for turning something that I feel is laborious into something playful. If anybody has experience on how to do this, please send me a note.
Bonking, a term cyclist use, or hitting the wall, a phrase used by most runners, is an extreme condition that occurs when an athlete runs low on fuel. While it isn't something all will experience, when you bonk, you'll know it. It's unmistakable—the feeling of severe weakness, fatigue, confusion, and disorientation is something you will not want to experience more than once. For me, the first symptoms are such that minutes turn into hours, and one mile feels like ten. The link below will take you to an excellent article on the Bonk and how to avoid it. I found this information in the Road Bike Rider Newsletter. Click on the photo to find out more.
Why have dozens of endurance athletes died in their sleep over the last few decades? How can a cyclist heart rate be slower than that of an elephant? Elite cyclists have such extreme physiology and such abnormal cardiovascular systems that their hearts beat less than 30 times a minute. The legendary Marco Pantani had to wake up in the night and cycle on a stationary bike to make sure his heart rate did not drop too low and cause a heart attack. During the day he lived a ride, at night he rode to live.
Nearly every cell in the body contains a part called the nucleus which houses the genetic information needed to function. Muscle cells are the largest cells in the body, so they often require multiple nuclei to meet high power demands. New research from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, contradicts a widely believed theory that muscles developed earlier in life are lost due to aging. For more information on this development follow the link below to listen to a 5-minute podcast presented by the Naked Scientist, an excellent science journal from Great Britain
Information begins at 32 seconds into the podcast https://media.acast.com/naked_scientists_special_editions/muscles-really-do-have-memory.mp3