Recovery

Can mouthwash make you faster?

Can mouthwash make you faster?

No, we aren’t talking about Listerine, Scope, or any of those other mouthwashes that are intended to give you a clean mouth, fresh breath, and make you more kissable. We are talking about the opposite of that: a sweet drink that makes your mouth sticky with sugar, and you don’t even have to drink it. How does that work? First, let’s start with a little background.

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Most athletes understand that moderate to high intensity exercise is fueled primarily by carbohydrate. We have large stores of fat, but the energy from that fat cannot be released quickly enough to fuel your muscles at those higher intensities. The chemical energy in carbohydrates can be turned into mechanical energy at a much faster rate. So pedaling harder or putting one foot in front of the other with any reasonable intensity requires carbohydrates as fuel. The problem with carbohydrate is that you can only store so much of it. Once that carbohydrate done, you’ll slow to a pace that can be sustained using only fat for energy. You’ll be slow, and you probably won’t be very happy. In the 90s, researchers firmly established that supplementing with carbohydrates, usually in the form of sugary drink, improved performance. But here’s the thing: Carbohydrate supplementation improved high intensity performance even when the intensity and duration of the exercise was not enough to deplete the athlete’s stores of carbohydrate. And these improvements were real, meaningful improvements, ranging from as little as little as 2.3-11%. What does this mean in real world terms? It means that improvements in a 40K cycling time trial, or a half marathon are measured not in seconds, but minutes. So what is going on here?

A large breakthrough came in 2004, when Doctor Carter from the University of Birrmingham did something new and interesting. He bypassed the mouth. Carter and colleagues had cyclists do a 40K time trial while receiving and infusion of either saline, or a carbohydrate solution at a rate of 1g/min of carbohydrate (similar to what an athlete could drink and absorb the good old fashioned way). As you might expect, blood glucose level in the carbohydrate group went up. What might surprise you is that there was no improvement in performance. That athletes didn’t go any faster. Carter’s follow up was to have athletes do another 40K time trial. But this time they would take a mouthful of carbohydrate drink, swirl it around for 5 seconds and then spit it out. You can probably guess what happened: The athletes improved on the order of about 3%, similar to if they had actually swallowed the drink. Once again, the improvement could be measured not just in seconds, but in minutes. Several other researchers have found similar results, but not all of them have. But there does seem to be a growing body of evidence that at least in some circumstances, a carbohydrate rinse improves endurance performance. So how does it work?

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“Central governor theory” suggests that one of the limiters of performance is the brain, and I’m not talking about mental toughness here. According to central governor theory, the brain is constantly taking in all sorts of information about the physiological state of the body, and then regulating muscle recruitment based on that information. The evolutionary value of this would be to reduce the likelihood of self-harm. The brain tells the body to “ease up” to keep from hurting itself. The research on carbohydrate mouthwash/rinses suggests that some sort of chemoreceptors in the mouth tell the brain “more carbohydrate is coming!” so the brain allows the muscles to keep on pumping away.

Of course not everyone agrees. A few studies have shown no effect with the carbohydrate rinse. A few of these studies may have found an effect if the sample size were larger (the larger the sample, the easier it is to find differences). Studies that included 4 hours or more of fasting before the exercise session were more likely to find a benefit. So starting with full stores of muscle and liver glycogen may blunt the effect of the rinse. It also appears that the rinse doesn’t help with efforts of about 30 minutes or less, and nobody has really looked at efforts over 70 minutes.

So how can you put this information to use in a practical way? To some extent, this research has value even if we can’t put it directly to use right now, as it gives us insight into what limits human performance. But I think we can put it to practical use. In most cases, athletes should simply swallow their carbohydrate mix rather than spit it out. But athletes that experience an upset stomach ( GI distress) may be able to get the performance benefits of carbohydrate supplementation, while avoiding the distress. Some experimentation during training may be required, and the athlete may find it best to “rinse and spit”, “spit one, swallow one”, or something along those lines. The other practical implication is for people that are training for weight loss. It would be theoretically possible to use the “rinse and spit” method to complete a more intense workout, while also minimizing calorie intake.

So next time your legs are heavy and your stomach is in knots, just try the rinse and spit.

Questions? What would you like to see me write about next? Email me: coachsburke@gmail.com

Resources and further reading

Beelen, M., J. Berghuis, B. Bonaparte, S.B. Ballak, A.E. Jeukendrup, and L.J. van Loon (2009). Carbohydrate mouth rinsing in the fed state: Lack of enhancement of time-trial performance. Int. J. Sport Nutr. Exerc. Metab. 19:400-409.

Carter, J.M., A.E. Jeukendrup, C.H. Mann, and D.A. Jones (2004). The effect of glucose infusion on glucose kinetics during a 1-h time trial. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 36:1543-1550.

Carter, J.M., A.E. Jeukendrup, and D.A. Jones (2004). The effect of carbohydrate mouth rinse on 1-h cycle time trial performance. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 36:2107-2111.

Chambers, E.S., M.W. Bridge, and D.A. Jones (2009). Carbohydrate sensing in the human mouth: Effects on exercise performance and brain activity. J. Physiol. 587:1779-1794. Fares, E.J., and B. Kayser (2011). Carbohydrate mouth rinse effects on exercise capacity in pre- and postprandial states. J. Nutr. Metab.2011:385962.

Jeukendrup, A.E., S. Hopkins, L.F. Aragon-Vargas, and C. Hulston (2008). No effect of carbohydrate feeding on 16 km cycling time trial performance. Eur. J. Appl. Physiol. 104:831-837.

Luden ND, Saunders MJ, D’Lugos AC, et al. Carbohydrate Mouth Rinsing Enhances High Intensity Time Trial Performance Following Prolonged Cycling. Nutrients. 2016;8(9):576. doi:10.3390/nu8090576.

Noakes, T.D. (2000). Physiological models to understand exercise fatigue and the adaptations that predict or enhance athletic performance. Scand. J. Med. Sci. Sports 10:123-145.

Silva T de A e, de Souza MEDCA, de Amorim JF, Stathis CG, Leandro CG, Lima-Silva AE. Can Carbohydrate Mouth Rinse Improve Performance during Exercise? A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2014;6(1):1-10.

How To Use a Training Diary, or Keeping Track of the Important Stuff!

Most professional and top amateur athletes keep a training diary.

Training diaries are used to keep record of your training rides and races to track your progress over long periods of time. As a coach I have all my athletes keep a training diary. When filling out a training diary, it is important to record both subjective and objective data. You will also need some way to keep track of training metrics. With some performance testing, discipline, and a diary tracking your training, you can achieve those all-important long term gains in your cycling.

Subjective Data:

Subjective data is information about how you felt during a particular effort or training session. When recording your efforts, make sure to give detailed information about how each effort felt to you as well as how long your efforts were. How you feel is not just important on days when you do hard intervals: it’s equally important on your easy, recovery days. ‘Grade’ your workouts in order to track your progress. I like to use the traditional ‘A’ through ‘F’ scale with plus or minus indications on each grade if applicable.

Objective Data:

Objective measurements or ‘metrics’ are critical to record in your training diary. There are more than a few types of metrics to use when keeping records of your training activities. The coaches at Crank Cycling use Training Peaks software to record metrics with their athletes. Using metrics that give you specific data points like watts from a power meter or heart rate from heart rate monitors are best. Most power meters and heart rate monitors come with a software program to upload your data files for analysis. These are certainly not the only kinds of metrics available, but they are the most reliable. Here are four metrics that I use with my clients and a brief explanation of how they work.

Heart Rate is one of the older metrics available and there’s quite a bit of information about it out there in books, cycling magazines and on the internet. Because heart rate can be influenced by many variables (atmospheric temperature, stress, sleeping habits and diet, for instance) this metric has some inherent limits that will affect and limit reliability.

Wattage measured by a power meter is not new to cycling but power meters have become super reliable in the last few years. They’re inexpensive enough that even a beginning cycling enthusiast can afford one and use it with ease. Power meters have strain gauges in them that measure the force and torque (the power that the cyclist applies with their legs) in order to calculate the wattage being produced. The use of a power meter is one of the most accurate ways to measure a cyclist’s progress.

Speed and Duration can show you how fast you’ve gone on a specific course or how much endurance you have built as your workout times increase. If one of my cyclists chooses to use a heart rate monitor, I always make sure to use speed and duration along with heart rate data.

RPE-Rate of Perceived Exertion is usually represented on a 1-10 scale, 1 being an easy walk and 10 being the most physical exertion you can endure for 10 to 15 seconds. RPE scales seem to work well for riders who are in tune with their bodies and who enjoy pushing their limits. Riders who do well with RPE usually find objective data unhelpful when riding, training, and racing. They might put black tape over their computer’s head unit during training and have their coach look at the actual metrics at a later time. RPE is, of course, considered a subjective metric.

Performance Testing:

Testing yourself on the same course every 3 months to see if you have improved your performance is important to overall, long-term improvement. Make sure you take tests and record them a minimum of 3-4 times a year. Be careful to record test results in your training diary, as they will show your improvement over time. In my next blog post I’ll talk more about the types of tests you can perform.

Tracking Long Term Gains:

Your subjective feedback (how you felt during the training session), and the objective data (your heart rate, watts, speed, and duration of the session) will help give you a picture of how you are progressing. If you keep good records, you will be able to look back at past years and find out what has worked best for you over time. You will also be able to see long-term trends which will help you focus your efforts on what you are making the most gains in.

Discipline:

Set yourself up for success! Create realistic habits for filling out your diary on a daily basis. Make sure that the act of filling out the diary is something that you can realistically do, at a certain time, every day. For instance, if you don’t have time to fill out your diary in the evening don’t plan on doing it then. Plan to do it when you know you’ll have the time and are free to take advantage of that time like just after your ride or during a post ride snack. Attach the chore to something you’re doing already so you’ll never forget to do it!

I try to download my power/heart rate data just after my workout if possible. I write down how my legs felt before the start of my workout, after my warm-up, and how they felt during each repetition of efforts, and then grade myself (A+ through F-).

Filling out a diary will help you make sure that you’re staying on track with your training. If you need help designing a training plan for your next big ride or event, let us know: we’re experts at it and we’ll be glad to help!

 

Year in review

At the end of every season you should take a break from focused training. I’m not saying you shouldn’t ride your bike...not at all! But you should stop looking at your heart rate monitor, your power data and even your personal training duration for a few weeks. This helps to relax the mind, rejuvenate and reboot yourself. We don’t often think about it, but disciplined training is mentally taxing; it’s just plain tiring. Sometimes at the end of a good season the body will feel like it is ready to keep going but the mind still needs a break. After this ‘cooling off’ period I usually add very loosely-structured training with small goals to my riders’ training diaries. These goals are usually pretty simple: do a 4-hour ride 3 times a month, accumulate 3 to 5 hours of tempo per week or maybe do a club ride just for fun once a week. These workouts and weekly goals are low stress, low commitment and allow your brain to slowly get used to the mental workload that is coming when training season arrives.

Riders should find that rides during this time of the year are meant to be fun, motivating and inspiring. This is also the time when you should review how your riding and racing season went during the past year. New-found inspiration and motivation will help you see the future and all its possibilities. You should try to assess whether or not you’ve met the goals you set for yourself this past year and whether you want to try and improve on your gains. Maybe you want to attack those shortfalls that you may notice in this review. Maybe you’ll want to set entirely different goals for the coming year. It’s all possible, and it’s up to you!

Setting goals is paramount. If you’ve never set goals in past seasons you should try doing it this coming year. If my athletes are planning on competing in the upcoming racing season, I have them try to set at least three goals to strive for. After all, if you know what goals you want to achieve you can then measure how close you’ve come to attaining your desired results and make adjustments in successive years.

Setting goals is one of my favorite parts of riding and racing because I have the opportunity to entertain all the possible things I can try to accomplish, and that’s just fun! But remember: goals should be challenging and attainable. After you set some goals you should make sure to keep a record of the training you do, being sure to add comments about how you felt during and after your training sessions. You should also make sure to set milestone markers to measure whether you are moving in the right direction in order to attain your goals.

In my next blog post I’ll talk about setting accomplishable goals for your next season.

See you on the road, Coach Jesse Eisner

Did you have goals this past season? Did you achieve them? If you need help setting goals for next season and you need direction in how to achieve those goals, let the coaches at Crank Cycling know. We can help!

Staying Hydrated at the Giro Di San Diego Granfondo

It  has been hot recently, and there is no reason to expecting anything else on the day of the big ride.    On long hot rides, it is especially important to think about hydrating properly .      Your body is about  two thirds water and  being  only 3% dehydrated can lead to as much as a  20% decrease in your performance.    We are all out there to do a long ride, but at the same time, none of us want to slow down by 20% throughout  the ride!  Most riders doing the medio fondo will be out there for well over 3 hours, and  the majority of  the granfondo riders will be pedaling more than 6.     If it is hot, and you are sweating heavily the average person loses  anywhere between 0.8 and 1.5 liters per hour.   The problem is  your stomach  can only  process  fluid at about half that rate, so you are going to be at least somewhat dehydrated  by the end of the ride.   The  key  is  to finish the ride as hydrated as possible and then rehydrate properly afterward.     It sounds simple, but what is the best way to do that?

 

You've probably heard the basic advice  “ drink early and drink often” but what exactly does that mean?    At its most basic level, this means that when you are in it for a long haul, start drinking before you are thirsty.     You should try to drink all or most of a small water bottle or the better part of a big one each hour.    This means you’ll need to start drinking shortly after you leave the start line and it also means you’ll need to  take the time to fill up at the rests stops along the way.    Follow that “one small bottle per  hour” rule and you’ll  stay as hydrated  and as strong as possible though the ride.

Every bit as important as how much you drink is what you put in your bottle.   For rides under 2 hours, plain old water will be just fine.    But for   long days in the saddle, a carbohydrate/electrolyte drink is essential.   The carbohydrates  are important because they are the primary fuel used during exercise.   Without a carbohydrate beverage you’ll run out of energy and have trouble keeping up your pace.  But even more important than the carbohydrates is the electrolytes.   If you don’t replace carbohydrates you’ll run out of energy.   If you don’t replace electrolytes, you can die.   Everyone knows that you lose sodium ( salt) when you sweat.   The problem is that if you replace the lost water, without replacing the sodium, you dilute your blood.    When this happens, you get  hyponatremia , which can be deadly.    Dietary sodium sometimes gets a bad reputation, but the fact is that sodium is essential to life.  All of your nerves and muscle use it to send signals.   When the sodium  level in your body get too low, your body can’t properly send these signals.  The result is confusion, muscle weakness,  even brain swelling and death!    Avoiding hyponatremia is easy, just make sure you have that carbohydrate/ electrolyte drink  in your bottle.    My favorite is the Powerbar Ironman Perform*,  but   there are  many on the market.  The most important   factor when choosing a carbohydrate/electrolyte  beverage is that it tastes good ,  and you’ll drink it!   If for some reason you can’t get your hands on any electrolyte drinks, just look for a  salty snack.   Most energy bars have some sodium, you can also look for pretzels, salted nuts, or even a coca –cola to help make sure you get enough sodium.  If you’ve been thinking about a low sodium diet, today isn’t the day.

 

A tasty   beverage at the finish line will get started on your  post ride rehydration, and the sauce in the pasta feast will replenish even more of the sodium you’ve lost.   Make sure  you  have some more water to go with tasty beverage, as  you will inevitably have lost more water  than you can replace during the ride.   By the time you get home, it will have been a long day, both on the bike and

Top 10 Fitness Myths from Outside Magzine

The January issue of  Outside Magazine  has a list of the " 10 Biggest Fitness Myths".      I don't know how they go about calculating the "biggest", but seeing as how popular magazines frequently get these messages so wrong, or the advice in their lists is just plan silly.  I think Outside did a good job with most of these, so I am going to address a few of them here: Myth #1: Stretching prevents injuries and improves performance.

This is absolutely true.  The evidence has been piling up for over 10 years.     No matter what your  gym teacher or personal trainer says, stretching does not prevent injuries.    It is a well established fact that stretching   BEFORE exercise inhibits maximal voluntary contraction (  strength and power), and there is a growing body of evidence that it may inhibit maximal aerobic work  as well.     I am not saying here that a warm up does not have its place, or that stretching is not useful in some circumstances.  But   stretching does not prevent injury, and pre- event stretching can definitely hurt  performance.

Myth #2: Running barefoot is better for the body. 

I am a cycling coach  so this isn't really my area of expertise, and I usually only run if someone is chasing me.  Myth #3: You need to focus on your core to become a better athlete.

I couldn't agree more.   I am  just plain tired of hearing about how important the core is.   A few years ago, there was a guy buying adverts on Velonews  suggesting that the best way to  improve your climbing was to improve your core strength, and I saw  recent   blog post from a coach that suggested that core muscles are more important than your leg muscles.  All of your muscles are important!       But  you don't pedal with  your abdominals or your obliques.  Otherwise all those women   that spend hours in pilates classes would be crushing it on the bike.   You pedal with the muscles in your legs and your butt.  Period.   I am not saying that doing a little core work  is useless.  These workouts have their place.   But the importance of a strong core in cycling and many other sports has been grossly overstated.      You can only train so many hours a week, and you get  faster on your bike by riding your bike, not by doing crunches.

Myth #4: Guzzling water and electrolytes before a race prevents cramps.

Also true.   You need to be properly hydrated  and you need to take in electrolytes for many reasons, but  hyperhydration and taking  in large amounts electrolytes isn't going to stop your cramps.     Find a cure for cramps that really works and I promise you you'll be famous though.

Myth #5: Popping ibuprofen before a hard workout prevents sore muscles afterward.

So many people do this, and it is absolutely the wrong thing to do.     Not only do ibuprofen and  others NSAIDS fail to reduce post exercise  muscle soreness  Inflammation  an important part of the muscle's repair process.  That means that  inflammation  is required to recover from training.    You are hurting your recovery by taking those things.      NSAIDS do have their place,  but don't pop them willy nilly.   Save them for when you have a specific  pain or inflammation issue that needs to be addressed.

Myth #6: Dehydration hurts race performance.

Outside magazine is wrong here.  WTF are they thinking.  Maybe they only had 9, but wanted to finish off their list.  Dehydration will make you slower, and can be dangerous.   Simple as that.

Myth #7: Ice baths speed recovery.

I'm not sure on this one.  I personally thing the jury may still be out.

Myth #8: Long and slow is the best way to burn calories.

True.  Ride harder and you burn more calories.  That isn't hard to figure out.    The only caveat here,  is that if you do a  really exhausting 1 hour ride, you may not be able to burn as many calories as if you  do a 4 hour easier ride. Myth #9: Fructose is a performance killer.

Fructose is a sugar that is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream.  It is a great fuel for exercise, and for post exercise recovery.   Too much of it, like any carbohydrate will make you fat.   So   use some common sense here.   But if your sports drink  has some fructose, even HFCS in it.   You are probably getting exactly what you need.

Myth #10: Supplements take performance to the next level.

Most supplements are a waste of time.     I hear people say things like  " well, I started taking such and such, and I got much fitter".     I am willing to bet that the same time you started taking that supplement was the same time you started training harder.    It was the training.      I don't care if your local hero takes a  particular supplement either.   Just because " Joe Fast Guy" takes it doesn't mean that it improves performance.    He would probably be just as fast without it.     That being said, there are a few things out there that are helpful.   The number one being a simple carb/electrolyte sports drink!

 

Thats my 2 cents.  You can find the list along with Outside Magazines comments here: 10 Biggest Fitness Myths

Here comes the Race Season

It is coming. It sneaks up on us every year. That first race. We told ourselves that we were going to be ready. We drew up a plan, bought a new training journal, and made a list of goals. Unfortunately, the off season is filled with holidays, friends, family, and fatty foods. None of these things are truly bad. However they can put a hamper on our best laid plans.

With our friends and family requesting our presence, and commitments filling our time, training can be nearly impossible. This is a time when your own creativity can help you meet your goals.

The majority of cycling disciplines (at their core) rely on our aerobic engine. Training that engine should be a priority during the off season.

Below are some training tricks that can help you. Before you start, you will need to know your upcoming events and the longest duration (time, not distance) you will be competing. Find a date in the future that you will hit that longest duration (date of race) and work backwards, subtracting time trained at your aerobic capacity to the current date. For example, if I am planning to do a 3 hour road race in June, I will plan to ride 3 hours at maximum aerobic capacity in April and subtract 10 minutes every week till I get to the current date.

Block out your training: Find the times that will work best for your personal training. Sometimes that means you will miss your Saturday club ride. At certain times of the year I get up at 4:30 am to be on the the road by 5:15 am. This affords me two hours of uninterrupted training.

Do Doubles: Some days squeezing an hour in before work and adding 45 minutes on the trainer after the kids are in bed is the way to go.

Build a camp: If you have multiple days off and you need to work on climbing, get up early (being up early is good for meeting other obligations, too) and drive to an appropriate cycling terrain on consecutive days. If you build multiple camps over a period of two to three months, you will see your fitness grow by leaps and bounds.

Since the majority of cycling disciplines (at their core) rely on our aerobic engine, there are a multitude of alternative aerobic activities that can help us build our aerobic foundation. Go for a run, it's easy to get out the door quickly and be back before anyone notices your gone. Does your work have a gym or offer membership somewhere? Take a spin class or kettle bell class before work or at lunch.

Maximize your training time: If you are set on meeting specific goals, don't go do the epic ride with your buddies and stay away from the super slow ride that does not give you any training benefit.

If all else fails you can race into fitness. Make sure to adjust your goals, planning to do better the second half of the season. Don't stress, cycling calenders usually have a long season with multiple disciplines and lots of racing options.

Crank Cycling can build you a training plan and even offers cycling camps. Let us know how we can help you reach your goals

See you on the road, Coach Jesse

How often are supplements tainted or contaminated?

So in the last post we discussed the fact that an athlete is responsible for whatever goes into his  or her body, and that it doesn't matter if a banned substance was ingested unintentionally.  If they find it in your system, you are going to  get banned.   Even if it was an accident, and even if it was in non-therapeutic dosage.   So how often  are supplements contaminated?   In 2002 the IOC issued a  report that found that 14.8% of the supplements they tested  were contaminated with testosterone or related compounds, 18.8 % of the supplements  that originated in the US were contaminated.  That is 1 out of 5!  But wait,, it gets worse.... A 2004 study published in the journal Sports Medicine,  found that 40% of the supplements they tested were contaminated with either prohormones or  or stimulants that could cause an athlete to test positive for a banned substance!  Not good.   That is almost half.     I'm not suggesting that a full 40% of all supplements out there are contaminated.  A full 40% of the supplements in that one study were contaminated, but the researches chose mostly  protein powders/muscle building supplements and weight loss supplements.  It is definitely possible that those classes of supplements are more likely than others to be contaminated, but that isn't really the point either.     The point is that  supplement contamination is real and you can get into real trouble if you accidentally take a contaminated supplement.      What is the best way to ameliorate those risks?  Avoiding  supplements in general is probably the best way to avoid accidental ingestion of a banned substance.   If you really want to take supplements though,  there is an independent testing organization called NSF that tests products  (www.nsfsport.com).  This organization runs completely independently of the supplement companies, tests their products for contamination, ensures that the label accurately reflects what is in the product inspects their facilities, and will only give their stamp of approval  once their rigorous standards have been met.    NSF even does random " marketplace testing", meaning they don't just  test the stuff the companies give them.  They go to the store and randomly buy the supplements off the shelves and test those  as well.        I am generally of the opinion that most supplements are not worthwhile, but there are a few that are worth taking for some athletes ( that belongs is another post).  If you absolutely must take a supplement, my suggestion is that you march on over to http://www.nsfsport.com now, and search their list of certified products.    You'll get no promises from me, but that is probably  the best way to make sure you stay clean.  

Sean

 

Sources:

IOC Report on Supplement contamination: http://www.edb.utexas.edu/ssn/SN_Papers/IOC%20alert-Supplement.pdf

 

Sports Medicine Journal Article on   Tainted supplements: http://www.ajol.info/index.php/sasma/article/viewFile/31857/23634

Milk does not produce excess mucous.

Milk does not produce excess mucous.  That is a strange title for  an entry in this blog, but  it seems very appropriate  to my personal situation today.     I am suffering from a wicked headcold at the  moment.  A headlcold that may have been exacerbated by a high volume training cycle I completed on Sunday. ( and therefore relevant to cyclists, training and coaching)    I have  a slow nasal drip constantly coming out of my nose,  and down the back of my throat,  yet I  my head and upper respiratory  tract feel like they are holding so much pressure they are about to explode.    Basically, my head is full of mucous.     ( Doesn't that paint a pretty picture?  I know some might say my head is full of something else) .   I've heard from more than one person today, that I should stay away from milk and dairy, as it increases mucous production.   My first instinct was: " I don't buy it"   But that could be because I love cheese; swiss cheese, cheddar cheese, pepper jack cheese, gorgonzola cheese, I love the stuff.    Cheese is one of the primary  reasons I need to drop 10lbs before track season starts.  (You can guess the other. It start with a B and end with an eer)  The other reason for my skepticism  is that I am not aware of any physiological  mechanism wherein dairy products produce mucous, but I have been wrong before, so I decided to do a little research. The first article I found that came from a reliable source ( ie: journal article or similar)  was this:   Relationship between milk intake and mucus production in adult volunteers challenged with rhinovirus-2.

In this article, they gave people sinus infections, and then essentially  measured their snot by weight, and measured their other symptoms ( such as cough).  What the researchers  found was  "Milk and dairy product intake was not associated with an increase in upper or lower respiratory tract symptoms of congestion or nasal secretion weight."   Basically:  Milk does not make mucous.   They also found what they called  "A trend ... for cough, when present, to be loose with increasing milk and dairy product intake; however, this effect was not statistically significant"  What this means is that basically they think there  may have been a difference there, that milk may have made  the cough  more loose, but that  the researchers did not have enough data or statistical power to prove it.    To me, this seems like like a great reason TO  enjoy dairy while you have a sinus infection.  I would rather couch up some loose phlegm that comes up easily, rather than that thick stuff!

Then I found this:  The Milk-Mucus Belief: Sensory Analysis Comparing Cow's Milk and a Soy Placebo.

In this study the researchers  performed a double blind study, and gave  subject either a milk , or  soy milk beverage that was indistinguishable from the milk .   Subjects reported increases in 3 of the mucous related variables when they drank the test beverage, but the effect was the same for  both the milk, and the placebo soy beverage.   The researchers "concluded that the effect measured is not specific to cow's milk, but can be duplicated by a non-cow's milk drink with similar sensory characteristics."    Bascially, milk does not make mucous, but if you think it does, and if you think you are drinking milk, you may report more symptoms.   I am going off of the abstract on this one, and I would like to read the whole article so I can see a bit more of their statistics and physiology, but I'm not willing to pay $41.95 for the privilege.

Those first two are from the 90s, and I found more from that  time period, but this is the one that really sealed the deal:   Milk Consumption Does Not Lead to Mucus Production or Occurrence of Asthm is a well written review article from 2005 with 49 references.    These  Swiss researchers carefully reviewed the literature and determined that recommendations to abstain from milk and dairy  in order to  avoid  to increased mucous or asthma symptoms  is not supported by research.  They also report that people  who believe  "milk makes mucous"  tend to report increased symptoms with milk consumption, while people that do not believe " milk makes mucous" do not report increased symptoms.   This in itself means nothing, until they point out once again, that people who believe "milk makes mucous"  are easily fooled by a placebo.    The reviewers  go on to say that avoidance of dairy products may lead to limited intake of certain nutrients, specifically calcium.   This might not be a an issue for a cyclist suffering from a short term a headcold, but  fact that I can still enjoy my cheese ravioli for dinner with no fear of extra snot buildup in my head gives me some comfort as I  stay at home recovering ans itching to get back on my bike.

-Sean

In 2003, I wrote about how milk  is an excellent recovery drink: ( this is a very old version of my old coaching site)

Several studies have confirmed that milk is an excellent recovery drink, and  , and works as well as commercially available recovery beverages for both cyclists, and runners.

Heidi Klum Likes Milk

I

Coconut Water for Rehydration

Coconut  Water  for Rehydration When I was in Costa Rica this last April, one of the locals I was riding with suggested we stop and have a drink of fresh coconut water.    Coconut water is basically the juice from the inside of a young coconut, before that juice becomes coconut milk.    To have a taste of the stuff, we simply stopped by a roadside fruit stand, and the owner knocked a whole in the coconut and gave us a straw.   The coconut water had an interesting taste, very mildly sweet, and refreshing.   As we sat next to our bicycles,  the local rider started telling me how coconut water was a perfect rehydration drink.   He went on about how coconut water was isotonic, meaning it has the same electrolyte concentration as the blood, and that it was actually used   as IV fluid in place of saline during WWII.    Those that know me, know that I consider myself and “open minded skeptic” when it comes to this sort of thing.  Honestly I thought the local guys was probably full of it, but I was still intrigued and I decided I would investigate further when I returned home.

What I found out actually surprised me.  Not only was coconut water isotonic to blood, but it was really used in WWII and there were several journal articles reporting the emergency use of coconut water being successfully used for IV hydration in place of saline.  Another study suggested that coconut water was just as effective as a commercially available carbohydrate/electrolyte beverage in rehydrating subjects, and the subjects actually had an easier time drinking the coconut water.     Now I had to go find myself some coconut water. ( There are no roadside fruit stands with young coconut near my house).

They don’t have the stuff at the Vons supermarket around the corner,  but I found some at the Pancho Villa Market  just a few minutes away.

The coconut water I found was 70% percent coconut water ( juice)  by volume, with 30% added water and a little sugar.    12 oz of plain coconut water would have about  70 calories, but the added sugar brings the calorie count of  the stuff I bought to about  110 calories per can.  This is still a little bit more than calories than Gatorade, and  about  1/3 less than a can of soda   The extra sweetness is not unpleasant after a long hard ride in the heat,  but I wouldn’t be opposed to have the unsweetened stuff either.  It is actually quite easy to buy canned,  unsweetened coconut water  online, so I'll probably order some soon.

Physiologically I wouldn’t say its “perfect” as an electrolyte replacement drink,  as the sodium is a bit low (it has about half as much sodium as  the same volume of Gatorade).   But then again it is packed with potassium and  you are most likely going to get plenty of sodium  from your post exercise meal.    it is  really a little low on sodium for use during exercise, but is pretty good as a post exercise drink.  Some studies have even shown that  potassium  is  highly important for maintaining proper blood pressure and heart health, so the extra potassium  could be a bonus.

My personal verdict?   My fridge is almost always  stocked with a few cans of coconut water these days.  It has become my go to beverage when I get home from a long ride.  It tastes good , gives me a few carbohydrates, and  replaces some of those lost electrolytes.

So  now is the time where I give you my shameless plug for your chance to try FRESH coconut water.   We are going to have a Crank Cycling training camp in Costa Rica this February.  It will be a weeklong camp where you can ride every day, relax by the hot springs each night, and sip  fresh coconut water    straight from the coconut.  Stay tuned for details.

"Understanding Your Power Files" Clinic

Ok, You've got this fancy doohicky on your bike. Maybe its made in Germany, maybe its built in the US, . This fancy thingamajig may have cost you just about as much as some people spend on their entire first racing bike. It tells you how hard you are going in watts, it tells you you average watts, your max watts, it tells you how much work you've done in kiljoules, and more. It gives you all sorts of information, but what do you DO with all this information. The coaches at Crank Cycling are here to help. We work with power every single day. We sell more Power Tap and SRM power measuring systems than most bike shops. We've helped elite athletes analyze their power files, and adjust their training.  We've written articles on power for local and national cycling news outlets, and we want to share our knowledge with you with you.

This clinic will cover:

  • The basics such as how power is measured, what are the advantages and disadvantages of the different power measuring systems.
  • How, when and why you should do field testing with your power meter.
  • How to monitor and analyze individual workouts as well as weeks, months, or years worth of data.
  • Creating and implementing a training plan based on power.
  • Racing with your Power Meter
  • and more

This clinic is appropriate for anyone who owns a power meter, or anyone who is thinking about purchasing a power meter.    It is appropriate for self coached athletes as well as athletes who work with a coach (Crank Cycling or anyone else!)*.    Knowledge is power, and the more knowledge you have, the greater your chances for success.

The clinic is scheduled for Sunday November 20th at 1PM at our downtown training studio and is expected to be 3-4 hours in length.   The cost of the clinic is $99 with discounts being offered to Crank Cycling coached athletes or clubs with more  5 than athletes attending.

Registration is HERE , or use the contact form on the lower right or call Coach Burke at   six- one –nine -865-3389 for more information.

*Athletes that work with another coach may bring their coach with them to the clinic for no charge.  We welcome the company of knowledgeable coaches, and encourage their  participation in the question and answer portions of the clinic.

Recovery Monday (on Tuesday): Sleep!

We're going to start a new weekly segment called Recovery Monday. Effective training plans must incorporate appropriate rest and recovery. This column will discuss recovery techniques and trends. So prop your feet up, relax, and read on! Sleep

Sleep is the most basic and most effective recovery technique for athletes (really any human or mammal for that matter)! An athlete in training should be getting 7-10hrs of sleep DAILY. Recent research has shown that sleep patterns and requirements vary greatly amongst individuals and that this is dependent on genetics. Another recent study indicated that after 10 consecutive days of 6 hours of sleep or less, test subjects performed as though they had missed an ENTIRE night of sleep in the past week. There is debate over one's ability to overcome this sleep debt; some studies show that individuals can sleep longer for a few days and performances return to normal. In general however we know that sleep deprived athletes perform poorly. Overall sleep deprivation is extremely bad for general health and extend patterns of disordered sleeping patterns must be addressed (there is even an extremely rare fatal form of insomnia which has no known cure - don't fear there are only 50 known cases). 

So now that I've scared you into getting more sleep, let's talk about the benefits. Sleep is prime time for rejuvenation; your body is in a very anabolic state and all the major systems (muscular, skeletal, nervous, and immune) grow or repair themselves during sleep. Your body secretes more growth hormone while sleeping and the amout of GH is highest during deep REM sleep. Your body will also signal GH release during naps; the post workout nap is a MAJOR recovery tool! NOTE: You want to time your workouts and post workout naps to conform to the normal circadian rhythm; try to complete both workout and nap before 3pm. A 45-60 minute post workout nap is ideal, don't go longer or it will interfere with normal sleep cycles.

Okay, how do I get more sleep? First, set a routine. Try to get to bed at the same time EVERY night! About 1 hour before bedtime turn off the TV, get off your computer and the internet, put the iPhone down. More studies are indicating that these devices engage our minds actively and interfere with sleep patterns. Spend time with the family or read a book. Most sleep scientists advise against reading in bed so pick a quiet location to read. When it's bedtime make your room as dark as possible. Wear comfortable clothes or make sure you will be warm/cool enough while sleeping. Wear an eye mask or earplugs if necessary (frequently when I travel to events I wear earplugs, an eye mask, and will use a sleep aid to ensure solid sleep in a hotel or guest house). Sleep aids can be useful to srt a sleep schedule, but long term use should be avoided (consult your Dr). Natural sleep aids like melatonin are definitely better. Try to time sleep so you wake each morning without an alarm clock. If you wake naturally at the appropriate hour each morning this is the ultimate indication you are getting the right amount of sleep.

For all we know about sleep, many aspects are still a mystery. To read more about sleep and your biological clock/circadian rhythm I recommend searching Wikipedia for sleep, sleep debt, and circadian rhythm.

If you have questions about your sleep patterns and recovery, talk to your coach...but if you're calling or emailling me, do it before 9pm!

Sweet dreams!

Coach Chris