My Hydration Story. 

Watching and chatting with the support team outside my back door, I was observing gear and garment usage and the levels of liquid intake on a bright warm sunny day. I began to reflect on my personal learning experiences and share them.  

When bladders were invented back in 1979/70, I was dubious. They said 2L of water per day was needed. I thought they were a bit daft and had been invented by people crossing desserts in Arizona. 

I was sure I was drinking enough because I had a routine to scoop up water every hour in a small cup or a mini plastic bag which weighed nothing.

I measured how much 6 scoops amounted to, only half a litre. uumh?

So I started to try a bladder and see how it worked, and it sometimes misbehaved itself but came under control gradually.

Around the same time, I started Nordic ski racing, which caused cramping for the first time in my sporting life as a runner and bike rider.

As a Brit, I was not accustomed to such cold, dry air.  

A good friend the late John Brailsford (father of Sir David B),

OMM Original Mountain Marathon

was experimenting at this time with electrolytes, but they weren’t readily available.

Getting a recipe from John or finding them in chemists sorted out my cramp problems for the next winter skiing. 

I also asked John why it was that after 10 hours on an alpine route, a Mars Bar seemed to last only a short time. He explained about sugar spikes.

Then carbohydrate drinks arrived. For the next KIMM, I persuaded my partner Geoff to try bladders and 2L per day plus carbo’ in the water.

This increased our calorie intake by about 25% and saved time because we didn’t need to ease off or stop to eat. This was in the days long before bars and gels were invented.

Day one went well, but starting day 2, Geoff wasn’t sure if he could complete it because he had an infection. We held our method, surging through with lots of energy in bright sunshine to a high score checkpoint difficult to reach within our time allowance. We won the vet’s long score. 

Without that extra hydration, I suspect my partner would have succumbed to his infection; he was off work the day following. 

I never used to drink much and still don’t unless I get myself into the right mode for a challenging day. 

My message is to experiment with different levels of liquid and carbo intake, bearing in mind humidity levels.  Besides noting your race time and position, also note your recovery time and feelings in the following 3 days.

Good hydration is also the basis of not only keeping cool but also keeping warm. Something we teach on our Performance layering courses.    

Mike Parsons April 2023.


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