Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hot, Humid? Read This

I have had the following advice on nutrition and hydration from Jean Gardner, a writer who lives in Bermuda. I am reproducing it here because it will be useful not only to runners and walkers, but to anybody losing a lot of fluid while exercising or working in the current hot and humid weather. I am very impressed with her knowledge of the subject.

I am a long distance runner and speed walker and I race in both sports. As I currently live in Bermuda where the humidity rarely falls below 70% and is more usually 80% or higher (despite what the tourism blab has to say!) and the temperature reaches 36 degrees C at times, hydration is of the utmost importance. Salt will help the body to absorb and retain the fluid you take in which in turns aids conversion of carbs to energy. France can be rather warm too! You are doing the right thing by eating bananas. The potassium is crucial to the heart especially during prolonged physical activity and there is plenty of sugar in bananas too.

My personal mix when on the road is as follows:- 1 part orange juice (I find the kind without the pulp easier to take) to 2 parts water, and I add to that total of 24 ounces (imperial - sorry we don't do litres over here) about one tenth teaspoon of salt. Over a half marathon distance (when running) in Bermuda, even in lower temps. I would take in at least three of those bottles with plenty of plain unchilled water in between. Cold water can induce vomiting when the body is hot. For walking, depending on your pace, you could probably use two of those mixes over 6 - 8 miles if really hot. If you have hypertension I suggest you ask a G.P. how to get essential salts into your body, which are of paramount importance when exercising in high temp. conditions. The sugar as well as the potassium in the OJ is helpful in boosting energy reserves and keeping the cardio vascular system working at optimum levels.

Some runners/walkers find jelly beans (a type of sweet) to be helpful and easy to get down whilst on the road. I'm fine with them too but I find carbo gels and drinks can make me feel very nauseous which is not what one needs. This is a very common problem with such products. It takes at least 20 minutes for the stomach to start the absorption process so you need to eat and drink before you feel the need. As you are walking not running, you may be able to eat soft granola bars whist in motion - get the ones with dried fruit for added sugar and complex carbos.

At night and at least one hour before you set off, eat cereals, and whole grain bread products for energy. Fruit smoothies are great and you need protein for muscle building. Eggs (whites only if you have a cholesterol issue) fish and chicken are better options than red meat which can make the muscles and digestive tract sluggish. Peanuts contain potassium and vegetable protein also. You do need iron so eat spinach salads and dried legumes - dark beans and lentils. Nuts for the oil and Vitamin E are important for your joints. A vitamin and mineral supplement is a good idea for extended events such as yours because exercise can diminish the body's resources. Take with food and plenty of fluid at your evening meal not in the morning. Iron can cause stomach cramps especially when taken directly before exercise. Your body cannot use the carbs you eat in terms of conversion to glycogen in the muscles until 18 hours after consumption, so you need to eat well at all meals and snack healthily in between.

Hope things continue to go positively for you and that you enjoy your 'big walk'. Let me know if there is anything else with which you need advice. Also, in closing, if you are prone to tendonitis and for general soreness, ice up for 15 mins after your walk and do so again before bedtime - it helps to prevent inflammation from occuring. Using an anti-fungal foot powder is another good preventative measure when exercising in the summer time too.

1 comment:

horsewriter said...

Dear Vic,

I want to thank you for giving me information which led me to the site for pilgrims to Santiago del Compostella.
I have always wanted to do this pilgrimage on horseback, and I finally have my horse. I have also found through the pilgrim site another rider who wants to do the route with me!
Many thanks again, and every good wish for your walk - it has inspired me to follow your example and realise my dream.