Sunday, April 17, 2011

Just a short 50 mile ride... and thoughts on replacing lytes.

Ok, ok... so I confess, I'm really terrible at sticking to the limits I set on myself for an easy day. I was planning on just doing 20-30 relatively flat miles today, given that yesterday I did a grueling hill hammer-fest... and got hit by cars.

But... it was sunny out... and one mile led to another, and soon I was 50 something miles in and seriously bonking because I had only brought a pocket full of gummy bears and a mini banana. Baaaaddddd idea. And, really really stupid... Sometimes when it comes to biking, I can be like an addict fiending for the next mile, or like a glutenous small child binging on candy. And, both of those analogies end with somebody (me) getting hurt or sick.

One thing I have learned about endurance activity while gutless, is that I have to stay ahead of dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and hypoglycemia. And, I have to be vigilant about it. Even if I think I'm fine, I still need to drink water/electrolyte mix and eat a gummy bear every 10 minutes after the first hour to stay on track. This means that there *is* a set end time; when I run out of carbs and lytes.
After that, it all goes downhill in very fast and out of control way. So far, I've been fortunate enough to have not had any real injuries from pushing too far, but I have reached the point of seizing from electrolyte derangement. Not a good time, trust me on this one!

Just from having an ileostomy, a person can lose 1-2 littres of water a day! Without excercise! Now, think about how much water you need to drink to replace that PLUS what you are losing from sweat. And, add back in the electrolytes that your body doesn't absorb from all of those two litters of water that you aren't absorbing because you don't have the guts to make it happen.  In addition to an extra disolvable electrolyte drink mix tablet, I also take salt and electrolyte tablets with me whenever I'm going out on a long ride, or kayaking, or hiking. That way, even if I run out of sports drink, I am able to quickly replace electrolytes even if I can only find water on my route. I have found that my mental clarity and general physical function improves dramatically after taking the salt +lytes tablet, which reaffirms that that truly was the problem.
What is a salt tablet? You can get them perscribed, which is how I originally got turned onto them, or you can find similar items at sports stores (they are called things like, "endurolytes" and salt is their number one ingrediant, with potassium somewhere near second). It was actually my gastroenterologist who suggested I start using them, not a sports medicine doc. He remarked that I appeared to be in great shape and asked how the biking was going, to which I answered that I was becoming frustrated with what at that time I was describing as an intensified , accelerated sort of bonking. He gave me an Rx for something called Thermotabs, which are normally given to people with autonomic (central nervous system) dysfunction, not athletes with malabsorption issues! But, they worked! They probably even saved my life a couple of times when I was way out in the middle of nowhere; giving me just enough ability to recover to make it back to a place where I was able to more fully rehydrate and replenish glycogen stores.

But, the bottom line is that I need to learn to have better self control. Even if it is sunny and the miles roll by easily, there is a time to stop. Having a medical issue is certainly not on my mind much of the time, especially when I'm riding, but there are some things that I have to take a lot more seriously than I used to.

Back to drinking my electrolyte solution,

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