Sunday, 15 May 2011

15th May 2011

         Good morning.

          I came on here friday, really just checking on the latest entries, to find that Blogger had shut down and lost half of the blogs. Mild panic, I just whip these out while the adverts are on and I haven't made any back up copies. Then when they came back I had a bit of a let down when I read through them and realised that if they had gone for good it wouldn't have been a great loss...
         Anyway, blogger is back up to speed, in the nick of time for Murray, keeping up with the last minute entries. I always wonder about the ones who wait until the very last minute. What if the Internet connection is down? If your pc freezes? Closing day's on a Sunday as well. People talk about it in the pub, get home, fire up the laptop, and they next thing you know they wake up next morning holding their heads saying "what a night, hope I didn't do anything stupid." before the texts from their mates start coming in congratulating them on entering the Parish.

          I'm sat here enjoying a day off (from work, not walking... gonna be out later) watching the clock tick down and wondering whether any other big names are pacing up and down their living rooms thinking "shall I, am I ready for this etc etc". They don't actually think the word etcetra but you know what I mean. I got a day off from work yesterday although I was on standby, and lo and behold a ship turned up out of the blue for yesterday evenings tide which meant I had to phone the Beckhams and cancel again.. Nice one! not... It was rewarding in the end though, the crew were expecting to be out in a rough Irish sea on a saturday night, and the thanks I got for putting them on a quay ten minutes walk from Barrow town centre was heartfelt and warm. They'll be paying for it this morning though...
       Anyway, it meant that when I eventually got to the pub at half past ten, everyone else was close to full on alcohol levels, cheering the Eurovision on the telly (which shows how drunk they were!) It meant that I only had time for a couple and as I was having a last drink before next weeks Inter Area 10k, and not drinking before the 20k on the Mall, and decided to stay off for the 3 weeks after that to the Parish, then it looks like I'm on the wagon until 27th june!
       That'll save me a few bob.
        So, training. What with work finishing before breakfast every day, and a couple of walks into work, and despite the bad weather, I've managed to get in over 140 miles this week. Some good cardio, some long ones, and most on hills. I've been experimenting with food with the help of a nutritionist back in Hull. The thing is you don't know how you are going to manage until you actually try walking 85 miles. It's okay until 40 miles, then you start feeling as though you don't want to eat. Heavy stomach, I personally feel as though there is no room left, and the dry mouthed feeling from breathing through the mouth doesn't help. A couple of things to remember.
       How you take on nutrition will map out the course of the second half of the Parish. Energy levels depend on what the body can salvage from what you eat and what reserves you have. Most (myself included) usually panic on one type of food and end up completely forgetting about others. Water intake as well can be hit and miss. Too many electrolytes can be damaging. Salt is necessary, but too much salt can be bad. A sign of too much salt is swollen hands and feet (what is uncommonly known as mickey mouse glove syndrome) This means the high salt levels retain water in the lower extremities instead of circulating through the muscles and expelling as sweat and waste. (I have a photo somewhere of my swollen hands and Helen's after the 2009 End to end, but can't be bothered to dig em out.) It comes after just drinking electrolyte drinks, overdosing on the electrolytes, and can be helped, if you feel compelled to splash out on the expensive electrolyte drinks, by alternating 1 electrolyte drink and two plain water. Electrolytes are essential, as the name implies, they supply the links for electical synapses to control muscles and other bodily functions, but most can be taken in with a balanced diet. Try out during long training walks, as I always say, it's what's best for you in the end, just don't make plans for the day without trying them out first.
           The other thing to remember, quite important as it's easy to do, is to avoid taking in too much water. You'll think you're dehydrating, especially with being constantly dry mouthed, so force down water to combat it and end up feeling sick, bloated and cramping. This is called Dilutional Hyponatremia (don't worry, that won't be in the test later) and comes from the "drink as much as you can before the start" and "keep drinking even if you don't feel thirsty" advice. Anything over 30 fl ounces or 900ml an hour, that's 2 average 500ml bottles, is overdoing it. Recommended levels are 20 to 25 fl oz and hour under most conditions. That's around 550ml to 750ml, or 1 to 1 and a half bottles an hour depending on how much you're sweating, and how hot the day is. Once again, this is recommended advice from nutritionists, I don't want anybody sueing me because they followed this advice and were deemed oversweaters and ended up de-hydrating. These are levels that you should be working on during training to see if it's right for you, a base to start working from instead of initial trial and error into the unknown.
         I think I stated in an earlier blog although I haven't time to look through them all, that a good way of finding out how much water you use during walking is to weigh yourself, go out on a 2 hour training walk (don't worry, you have plenty of reserves if under 2 hours) and weigh yourself again. The difference in weight is the weight of water you've lost, i.e, 1 kilo is 1000ml, or 33 fluid ounces.
         Also, you can't "overload" on water or electrolytes before the race. You just end up wanting the toilet before you get to Union Mills. I speak from experience.
        Hopefully theres enough there to help.

        Food. This is quite important, without any you'll gradually come to a stop in the second half of the race no matter how determined you are. You do have to take food, and there are essentials.
        Food should be taken on a balance of about 70% carbohydrates, 15% fat and 15% protein. If you rest for the few days before the race, then glycogen levels will be topped up, most of which is stored in the liver. The guys at the front will burn these up within about 2 hours, the midfield walkers a little longer. Whatever, you will have to start replacing these glycogen reserves, or using other sources. The body can convert carbohydrates (sugars) at a rate of 1g /4 cals per minute. This gives an hourly conversion rate of 240 to 280 cals an hour. It used to be said that you had to replace the calories used with the same amount of calories, and as I personally burned 600 to 800 calories an hour last year, this was a lot. Up to date research shows you need less than half of this as trying to eat so much leads to the bloating, nausea and vomiting with associated stomach cramps.
        The balanced diet helps the body burn stores already taken, such as body fat. The carbs are self explanatory and are converted to glucose and glycogen to be burned in the muscles converting oxygen to energy. This should be a mix of simple sugars and complex sugars so they burn at a steady rate and don't give highs and lows in energy rushes.
        Fat should be in a high lecythin form, no saturated fats. High lecythin include chocolate (nice) milk, and whole grains. The lecythin in good fats have the same effect as chemicals that disperse oil in water, and have a similar effect on fat, breaking it down and making it water soluble, to use as fuel in the muscles.
        Protein. Some have asked why protein? It is usually taken after exercise to repair damaged muscle tissue. Research shows that exercise over 2 hours reduce protein levels to such a state that your body starts to burn up the muscle mass as part of the essential fuel necessary. 15% protein not only helps prevent this but also helps post race recovery, which is best demonstrated on the Sunday and Monday after the race, large groups of people walking sluggishly down Strand Street and the Prom like zombies, dragging their aching legs behind them.
        You have the internet, obviously, if you are reading this, so while I could write long lists of foods which contain the above essential elements of the diet, just google in the right words and make up your own shopping list. Most of the things mentioned are available in common everyday foods, and a good diet plan may take a couple of hours, but if it helps on the day it's well worthwhile.
        One other thing, (which I think I've mentioned before, but it's worth stating again.) Liquid food is absorbed more easily and at a steadier rate than lumps. Blended soups, thin porridge with honey, and puddings that come in tubs, rice and fruit which also give a good carb/fat mix and are easy to eat. Once again, it's all trial and error, and what works for some might not work with others. You have 6 weeks to find out your diet plan, and its worth working on, if you put in dozens of hours walking in training, and neglect your dietary plans, it's a little like going for a 300 mile drive and not bothering to put petrol, oil and water into the car. You won't reach the end of the road.

       I hope this helps, any questions, or if I have anything wrong and you want to put me right ( I want to reach the end as well) let me know.

       Happy training.

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