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Training Update – Crash and Burn

by Dr. Jason Barker September 02, 2013

Training Update – Crash and Burn

Ok, I’ve got 11 weeks to go. Now is when things are starting to ramp up with longer runs (2-3 hours, each week) and longer rides (80-100 miles), each week.

I’ve been feeling great until this week.  I finally hit the wall, hard, the other day.

On Wednesday evenings I ride with a large group of other cyclists… not everyone is a triathlete, which means most of them are pure cyclists. Interpretation: we ride fast and hard for about 2 hours.  I’ve been keeping up and feeling really strong on these rides in previous weeks.

This is one of the pitfalls about training…you become really fit, feel great and that you can do anything workout-wise.  But, you’ve got to dial things back and conserve energy for all the other workouts.

Well last Wednesday the ride was faster than ever, and it’s been really hot here. Long story short, I hadn’t done a good job staying hydrated that day, and I ran out of water early on the ride. I got home and was torched.

I woke up Thursday morning (thankfully :) ) and didn’t get started on my long run I had scheduled until the sun was up and it was hot. Not quite over the previous night’s ride and dehydration, I bailed on the run at 1:35; I was supposed to go for 2:30.  I did my long swim Friday morning, and then did my brick workout (a ride immediately followed by a run) on Friday evening.

Right after I got home, I felt like I had the flu. I was sweating but had the chills. I felt like total crap all night, alternating chills and fever, and even had night sweats all night long...Ugg (on the bright side, I have even more sympathy for my menopausal female patients!). I took Saturday off, and concentrated on drinking lots of water and getting plenty to eat. I didn’t feel “right” until Sunday morning, and I took that day off as well.

So what happened? Well, it’s pretty apparent in retrospect. I’ve been doing those hard Wednesday evening rides, and with all the other training and the heat, it finally took it out of me. It wasn’t smart to do a hard ride, get dehydrated, and then get up the next day and do a long run in the heat.

Its always interesting finding your personal limits, and I’m lucky I just feel temporarily crummy instead of injured.

Lesson learned!

Something I’ve known for a while, but still neglected, was that hydration isn’t an instantaneous event. It’s a process and takes days to become fully rehydrated. You can’t neglect fluid intake with suboptimal amounts over a few days (adding in workouts in the heat) and then chug a quart of water...your body just doesn’t work like that. It can’t absorb all that fluid at once and will first work to maintain very tight levels of fluid and electrolyte balance in the bloodstream, and discard the rest.

Hydration is a process and like any other, it must be constantly maintained.

It’s easy to get dehydrated when you’re busy with life, and that’s what happened. I wasn’t drinking enough during the day at work, and this left me in a deficit by the evening of that ride. The two water bottles I brought would normally be sufficient, but they were just making up for what I was behind on, and the intensity and heat stripped anything I had left out of me.

Next /blogs/natural-athlete-solutions I’ll take about natural hydration formulas – so you don’t have to drink that nasty artificially colored/flavored stuff.

Dr. Jason Barker
Dr. Jason Barker


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