Electrolytes? Why, Yes Please!

It’s cold outside and winter base training has begun. Some are still amidst their CX season, and those of us without cross bikes who seem to be less on the wild side and not so eager to ride in the cold mud are probably hitting the trainer, rollers, or even spin class. Regardless of your choice for self-inflicted pain, there is an aspect of your training and riding that is not nearly emphasized enough through this time of year…hydration. Many times we don’t drink as much water because we don’t get the same sensations for thirst as we do during our typical Texas summer. Sometimes we don’t WANT to drink too much because it’s too inconvenient to peel off all those layers when nature calls. One thing we cannot deny is that although we don’t always realize it, our bodies still sweat, even when it’s 30 something degrees out. And really, our bodies are working pretty hard to keep us warm. When it’s cold outside the air tends to be much drier, which can also lead to dehydration.

With under four weeks to go till Christmas I would like to introduce secret training weapon number three…elete electrolyte add-in! But first, let’s talk a little bit about these wonderful and yet very misunderstood things called electrolytes. So what are electrolytes anyway?

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“Electrolytes are certain minerals (i.e., calcium, chloride, magnesium, potassium, sodium ions) essential to human health. As an essential mineral, an electrolyte cannot be substituted by any other nutrient in the diet. That means that your body will only accept that particular mineral or electrolyte.
Without electrolytes, you could not move, think, or live. Within the body, electrolytes are dissolved in body fluids. In terms of hydration, electrolytes are responsible for directing water (and nutrients) to the areas of the body where its needed most and maintaining optimal fluid balance inside the cells. Besides maintaining fluid balance, electrolytes help your muscles to contract and relax and assist in the transmission of nerve impulses from your nervous system to different body parts.”

“Studies show that repletion of one important electrolyte—magnesium—has a significant impact on athletic performance. Moderately trained athletes who took magnesium supplements showed decreased blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen intake. Triathletes supplementing with extra magnesium demonstrated improved cycling, swimming, and running times.
Population studies consistently show that most adults do not get enough magnesium in their diet.”

Three and a half years ago Carlos and I set out to race the Northshore 100 MTB race put on by The Spinistry. It was a 100 mile race in the middle of August when temperatures were easily in the 100’s. We opted to race this as a co-ed team and honestly and truly, we had no idea what the heck we were getting ourselves into. I’ll spare you the details and the super long story of the race and the fact that EVERYTHING that could have gone wrong did…lots of lessons learned that day! In the months leading up to this race we would train in the middle of the day, and as the parking lot was always empty for the exception of our truck, we seemed to be the only crazies willing to ride in the treacherous heat. Around this time is when we discovered elete. Someone happened to post on our local DORBA forum about this stuff and how awesome it was for cramps. So we did some research and even found that many of our troops who were overseas were using elete, and the cases of muscle cramping and fatigue decreased significantly. We ordered a bottle and since then have been true believers of using a balanced electrolyte formula for endurance training and elete has been our top choice. What separates elete from the common sugar-loaded sports drinks is that it doesn’t contain calories, so you can choose where you want your calories to come from and what works with your body. It also doesn’t contain flavorings, sweeteners, colors or sugar. You can use it in a hydration pack and don’t have to clean it out any differently than if you had just water. It leaves no residue. We add elete to all of our water year round.

“Elete instantly delivers important electrolytes like potassium, magnesium, sodium, and chloride to your body. elete CitriLyte Add-In contains sodium, potassium, magnesium, and chloride, plus zinc and citric acid, which participate in the Krebs energy cycle for energy conversion.”

Most of the typical electrolyte formulas on the market provide only minimal doses of electrolytes and some even leave out some of the most essential minerals like magnesium and chloride which are both crucial for enabling normal muscle relaxation and contraction, amongst many other benefits that they provide. Magnesium intake also decreases inflammation. That is big news right there! Foods high in magnesium include: dark, leafy greens such as chard, beet greens and kale, Brazil nuts, squash, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, kidney, pinto and green beans, avocados, Quinoa, millet, whole grain brown rice, bananas, dark chocolate, peanut butter, sweet corn and dried fruits such as raisins, dates and apricots.

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Rarely do we struggle with cramping anymore, and if we do it is generally our own fault and could have totally been prevented. Sometimes it’s hard to get in the amount of water our bodies really need to perform and be competitive. If you were to take a look at any top athlete in any given sport, I would put money on the fact that they’ve all developed good habits and through the years they have learned to be consistent with these habits. Consistency is the key to any area of life that we want to excel at from your family, your job, your passions, and your health. So consistently drinking water to maintain a healthy electrolyte balance is a habit that we are continuously working to improve on.

If you want to learn more about the single electrolytes in elete, and what science has to say about their role in health you can click here. Elete makes a great gift and even better stocking stuffer for any athlete, friend or family member who is active, or works outside. This is the perfect weekend to swing by Plano Cycling and Fitness to pick some up, as they’re one of the few local places you can find it. While you’re there, take advantage of their Three Day Black Friday sale!

And don’t forget your pocket flask when attending all those wonderful holiday parties…add a couple of drops to your favorite adult beverage! 😉

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Never Been To Palo Duro Canyon?!?

Here’s a little taste!

Palo Duro Fun from Lisa Uranga on Vimeo.

Secret Weapon Number Two on the Countdown to Christmas!

For nearly seven years Carlos and I have been Master Trainers at 24 Hour Fitness. We both have such a passion for health and fitness that really I can’t see any other way to live our lives. I have learned so much in these years, having trained over seven thousand sessions, from nutrition, to proper goal setting, exercise techniques, periodization in cardiovascular and strength training, and most especially flexibility. All of these things are the keys to life, longevity, AND successful cycling. When I say “successful” cycling I’m not talking JUST competitive cycling. I mean riding your bike for what it is intended for, to have fun! I would say THAT in itself, constitutes success in cycling! Unfortunately, it can quickly turn into no fun when we start getting aches and pains on OR off the bike. Even worse is when our aches and pains get so bad that it keeps us from riding our bikes at all.

So for week five of my Countdown to Christmas, I would like to introduce to you Podium Cold and Podium Cold Foam Rollers. Podium Cold is an extremely practical method to reduce inflammation after a hard ride by icing your legs with these awesome leg sleeves. No more messing with ice bags and wasting a ton of water for an ice bath. Podium Cold was introduced to me earlier this year by a fellow racer, and I must say, I was pretty excited when I got my own pair. When you first put these guys on, it really takes your breath away! REALLY. It’s helpful to have distractions, like watching The Big Bang Theory, or maybe a rerun of one of the XC MTB World Cups on Red Bull TV, then you’ll forget what’s even going on with your lower extremities. 🙂

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Aside from icing your legs to reduce inflammation, I would really say that the Podium Cold foam rollers are the KEY to successful cycling. I am a HUGE believer of self myofascial release, which is just a fancy word for massage. So here’s a little bit of simple science…if one muscle is tight and “shortened,” then the muscles directly across, or opposite, is going to be weak. An easy visual example is your bicep and tricep. You cannot contract both at the same time. Therefore, these muscles are opposites. So if you were to have a shortened bicep muscle due to overuse, or keeping a constant bend in your arms, like on a computer typing, or riding a bicycle for long durations, then over time your tricep will get weaker and your range of motion will become limited because of the lack of flexibility that you have developed. This leaves us prone to injury especially in other areas like the connecting joint, our shoulder. Very commonly people who tear their rotator cuff also have a tear in their bicep muscle where it attaches in the shoulder, and usually it all happens with some sort of everyday movement like reaching to pick something up in the back seat of your car.

All this was to give you an example of what can happen when we start to form muscle imbalances and do not address them. When we sit down, whether it’s in a chair at work, in the car, on the couch, or on the saddle, sitting puts our hip flexors into just that, FLEXION. If we stop to think about how much time in a day these muscles are in a state of flexion, why in the world would they be capable of going into full extension? Unless we were to make a constant effort to inhibit (foam roll or massage) and lengthen (stretch) the tight muscles. Then, to correct the imbalance, we must activate and strengthen the opposing muscles, which in this case would be our glutes, otherwise known as your behind. So long story short, our daily lives, along with being an active cyclist causes tight hip flexors. Tight hip flexors causes our hips to shift anteriorly, so if you think you are standing up straight and your butt is sticking out (this is an anterior tilt), and you have a huge arch in your back, you actually just have REALLY tight hip flexors, and most likely lower back pain to accompany it. This leads to weak glutes, among other things such as your abs and lower pelvic muscles, which we need all of these things to be strong and stable on the bike.

So here’s what you do…order a foam roller NOW for any and all of your cycling buddies and family who doesn’t already have one. Make them read this blog so they understand why they need to use it, and hopefully it will help them to ride pain free and better yet, faster and stronger! Taking care of our bodies is so important so that it will take care of you. We all need to designate time, whether it’s right before/after riding, or on your rest days to pamper our muscles that we tend to abuse day in and day out. If you are a racer, just remember, if you are capable of activating and utilizing more muscles than your opponent, then this will give you an edge and allow you to pedal longer and harder.

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Whether you are a racer, non-racer, or just all around passionate cyclist, be pro-active and take care of your body. Don’t wait till something hurts, or a muscle finally gives out and pops. We’re not all Professionals who get pampered day in and day out with a sports massage. For a discount on any of these products, send me a message on Facebook or to our email at Teamuranga@gmail.com and I’ll give you a coupon code to use at checkout. So this Christmas give the gift of flexibility and longevity with Podium Cold!