Endurance events produce within us a long string of sensations. Some of those sensations can be clues to what we need at the moment and what we’ll need in the miles yet to come. Pay attention to the sensations and protect your race.
Hydration: Make sure you are consuming a good profile of electrolytes along with the water you consume. These electrolytes with water should be at a concentration that is similar to what you lose through sweat. Not all the water you lose results in electrolyte loss. Some of the water you lose through breathing in the form of water vapor does not deplete your electrolyte stores. Once you’ve found the concentration that works long term for you, adjust the amount of water and electrolytes to your sweat rate. If it is hot and humid and your sweat rate is up, drink more of your water/electrolyte combination. You should not increase your calorie consumption commensurate to your increased fluid needs. For this reason, it is easier to control the amount of water/electrolytes you ingest if they aren’t dissolved in a fuel source. When it is hot and humid you can easily overdo the calories you ingest if you are using your fuel source as your sole means of hydration.
********If your legs start to feel tired before you think they should, you probably are getting dehydrated and should increase your uptake of water/electrolytes.
Ingesting what you think is the upper limit of calories that can be absorbed while exercising is talking a chance. If the stomach doesn’t empty well because you have ingested too many calories, you’ll start to bloat, you’ll get dehydrated because the fluids you have ingested just sit in your stomach, and you could even bonk even though you’ve swallowed a lot of calories. You won’t absorb much of anything if your stomach isn’t emptying. Unlike becoming dehydrated where the cure isn’t available until the race is over (e.g. an I.V.) bonking can be cured while racing. Eat something containing sugars!
*******If you start to feel the slightest bit bloated (practice trying to notice this in its early stages when you train), you’ve consumed too many calories. Stop ingesting calories and drink the water/electrolyte mix you use. Wait to eat until those feelings of any bloating go away. Feeling slightly hungry while training and racing is OK.
Monitor the signs of dehydration, bloating, and bonking (that’s an easy one), and you’ll protect the race you’ve spent hours and dollars preparing for.