Hydration Masterclass: Insights for Extreme Running Conditions with Jeff Browning

In this insightful podcast, Coach Peter Defty and ultra-endurance athlete/coach Jeff Browning delve into the crucial topic of hydration and nutrition strategies for endurance sports. Both have extensive experience in ultramarathons both as athletes and coaches and share this wealth of knowledge on hydration techniques in this conversation.

While they are mostly in agreement on the subject of hydration this discussion challenges some traditional beliefs about hydration with Peter and Jeff even having differing perspectives on sodium concentration. However, what this conversation delivers is practical advice for athletes looking to optimize their performance in long-distance events. Whether you're a seasoned ultra-endurance athlete or just trying to get started to push your physical limits, this masterclass in Hydration is not to be missed.

Key points discussed:

Hydration Adjustment Post-Heat Exposure: 

  • It's crucial to consciously reduce hydration once the temperature drops. Thirst mechanisms are still calibrated for higher temperatures, so over-hydration can occur.
  • Body needs time (1-2 hours) to recalibrate hydration needs.

Hydration and Body Response:

  • Overhydration leads to the body storing excess water in extremities and gut. 

  • Importance of understanding the principal hydration variables and adjusting hydration accordingly: 
    • One's unique sweat rate 
    • The longer you go the more crucial hydration is (IronMan,100 to 200+ miles).

Personal Experience and Testing:

  • Jeff discusses his own experiences with hydration and nutrition, including testing his sweat rate in different temperatures and his sodium concentration through the Precision Hydration test.
  • He emphasizes the importance of these measurements and how they change with seasons and body adaptation.

Sodium Concentration and Sweat Rate:

  • Sweat rate changes significantly with conditions.This is by far the biggest factor
  • Peter & Jeff have divergent thought on changes in sodium concentration:
    • Peter’s observations and thoughts are sodium sweat concentration changes with the season and seasonal adaptations at the cellular/mitochondrial level.
    • Browning challenges Peter’s thoughts based upon the Precision Hydration Testing his Team is doing.
  • The published literature suggests a high degree of both sweat rate and sweat sodium concentration variability (see references below).

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Hydration Strategies and Race Nutrition:

  • Misconceptions in race nutrition: athletes often confuse symptoms of dehydration with calorie deficits.
  • Proper hydration and electrolyte balance reduce the need for excessive calories, especially for fat-adapted athletes.
  • Importance of adjusting hydration and sodium intake based on individual needs and conditions.

Controversial Studies and Recommendations:

  • Both Jeff & Peter discuss the studies and recommendations in sports nutrition, which are cautious about sodium intake citing the importance of maintaining plasma volume when losing it via sweat & urine. While most athletes know they need water they do not realize the principal electrolyte lost in sweat is Sodium/Na. Greater than 80% of the electrolyte compositional profile in sweat is Sodium.
  • Jeff shares his approach to race preparation, emphasizing the need for strategic sodium and fluid intake.

Hydration in Ultra endurance:

  • The conversation highlights the importance of hydration in ultra endurance:
    • During the heat of the day and sun exposure
    • Managing hydration and sodium when the heat breaks to prevent issues like water retention and blisters.
  • Discussion on real world hydration strategies during a race, especially when there are big swings in temperature .

Personalized Hydration Plans:

  • Importance of creating a personalized hydration plan based on:
    • Environmental conditions
    • Individual sweat rates.
    • Distance/duration of the event
  • Browning shares his methods for determining these rates and adjusting race strategies accordingly.

Overall Hydration Philosophy:

  •  Hydration in endurance sports, especially for fat-adapted athletes, is a principal factor which has a direct impact on performance and fueling.
  • Why a structured yet dynamic plan of managing hydration and electrolyte balance is so important to prevent performance decline and health issues during races.

As you can see from this conversation a big part of the success Jeff and other VESPA/OFM athletes enjoy comes from a wealth of knowledge and experience built up over the past 15 years. Since turning to OFM 8 years ago Jeff’s health and performance have made a 180 degree turnaround with no end in sight to the success and quality of Life he and others enjoy. Contact us to learn more.

References:

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