Gary Moller: [DipPhEd PGDipRehab PGDipSportMed(Otago)FCE Certified, Kordel's and Nutra-Life Certified Natural Health Consultant]. ICL Laboratories registered Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis and Medical Nutrition Consultant.

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Monday, July 06, 2009

Should I carry a hydration pack for the Coast to Coast and Motu Challenge?

I am going to have to wear a back pack for the Coast to Coast and Motu Challenge for the running sections and having never worn one running before when is a good time to start training with one on and how is the best way to go about it?

My preference would be to run without one but the runs are longer than 2hrs so I do need to hydrate and feed myself plus carry compulsory gear.
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Gary responds:
Running lightweight as possible is critical when doing long multisports endurances runs - any run for that matter. Even the weight of a heavy watch adds up as the run goes on and on and on....

My rough calculations are that the raising and lowering of body weight and any extra gear with each stride is equivalent to 60 meters height for every kilometer run (this does not apply to cycling on the flat or kayaking). Note: This is a rough calculation!

So, if you are carrying 2 liters of water in your back pack you are expending much precious energy additional to the effort of transporting your body weight over that mountain pass. Think of the effort wasted lifting a 2kg weight one meter in height 60 times for every kilometer you run - let alone 20 or 40 kilometers. Whew!

When running past or alongside mountain streams you have the option of drinking the water as you go. This is my own preference. Plan ahead before the run so you know approximately where the best water stops are. You can replenish as you go. So far, in 30 years of drinking water from New Zealand mountain streams, I have never caught a tummy bug. Of course, this advice does not apply to most lowland waterways in New Zealand which are terribly polluted by cattle and dairy farming.

If you there are not suitable sources of water along the way then you will have to accept the cost of the extra weight and carry water in, so make sure the running pack you purchase has the option of a bladder. In both of these races, there is water along the way. At the worst, you may have to carry some water if the gap between natural drink stops is too long. By the way, don't rely on the race organsers to tell you if drinking the water is safe or not - of course they will not tell you it is safe because there is the issue of liability if you end up with a tummy ache! If in doubt, search out and canvas the opinions of trampers and hunters who know the region well.

I recommend that you experiment with Balance Ultimate Recovery which is superior to standard sports drinks. Carry this in several sachets in your pack. When you come to a flowing steam, fill your wide mouth drink bottle with fresh clean water then add the sachet, seal, shake up and down the hatch, drinking only as much as is comfortable! This can all be done in half a minute if you are slick. Power walk for about 5 minutes before resuming running to allow the drink to settle and polish off the remainder of the drink over the next hour or so before your next top-up stop. These stops are also opportunities to eat a little in the way of solids if the run is particularly long.

You will lose little time with your drink stops and power walk sessions. In fact, this regime should work in your favour over a lengthy multi-stage event because you will have more consistent energy levels, better hydration and less likely to suffer abdominal upsets from trying to guzzle water while running.

As with all advice of this kind, please practice, practice and practice well before the race. So, purchase a good quality running pack and start practicing now!
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