What is a Triathlon?
Triathlons are one of the fastest growing sports. It’s an amazing race that combines cycling, running and swimming. There are a wide variety of triathlons ranging from the Try a Tri, for those new to the sport, to the Iron Man. The iron man is a grueling 3.86 km swim, followed by a 112 km bike ride and finished with a 42.2 km marathon.
The Guinness World Record 2000 states that the longest triathlon was completed by David Holleran (Australia) on April 8th 1998. It consisted of a 42 km swim, a 2 000 km bike ride and a 500 km run. He completed it in 17 days, 22 hr. and 50 min.
Hydration is very important when getting exercise. It’s necessary for cardiovascular functioning, homeostasis and muscle functioning. Maintaining good levels of hydration keeps your blood volume up and helps transport nutrients and other substances throughout the body. Dehydration can cause muscle cramps, fatigue and poor performance.
Avoid caffeinated beverages when exercising. Caffeine is a diuretic which causes the body to lose water.
When performing endurance sports hydration isn’t the only thing to consider. You also need to keep your electrolyte levels up. Sodium and potassium are the 2 main electrolytes we’ll look at.
Hyponatremia (loss of electrolytes) is something that can occur with endurance sports such as triathlons. This condition occurs when sodium levels in the blood are too low. This can lead to nausea, fatigue, vomiting, weakness and in extreme cases coma and death.
Sodium is necessary for nerve conduction and it helps to move sub-stances into your cells.
Potassium is important for muscle contractions, nerve impulses and releasing energy from stores.
Many sports drinks contain sodium, potassium and some carbohydrates (for energy). If the cost of sports drinks is a problem you can also make your own homemade sports drink. There are lots of recipes out there you can try.
One example we found is: mix
4 tbsp sugar 1/4 tsp. salt
4 c. water 1/4 c orange juice
Total of 200 cal. 50 cal / 8 oz glass Carbohydrates—12g
Sodium—110 mg Potassium—30mg
Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook, Nancy Clark MS, RD1997