Holiday Weekend Wrap-up


The weather for the holiday weekend wasn’t the greatest in Maine, but it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. At least we didn’t get 3 feet of snow like Lake Placid! Saturday was a bit of a wash-out. However, I had an extremely productive day and got a lot of things checked off of my to-do list. Some of those things included changes to this website! 🙂

The biggest part of my Saturday was my first official run in the past couple of weeks. As I mentioned yesterday that I was able to run/walk 3.2 miles relatively pain-free. The first mile was good, but I got a few aches and pains afterwards that caused me to take walk breaks. But… it was a huge improvement from the past couple of weeks so I took it!

Sunday’s weather was much better. Very little rain so I hit the road for my 2:20 ride. It was definitely early spring riding weather. I had to break out the gloves, toe warmers, and knee warmers for the ride and my toes were still frozen when I got home. The skies were overcast and it sprinkled a bit. There was definitely a bit of a headwind, but nothing compared to Monday’s ride! I decided to take one of my normal routes, since I knew it would have me ending around the 2:30 mark. However, with the wind I was a bit slower than predicted. Oh well!

Some interesting things I saw on my ride:

1. A most likely drunk redneck attempting to burnout in his crappy truck in the middle of Route 25 and failing. His drunk redneck friends were in the front yard laughing at him.

2. I saw long-haired, long-horned cows in a pasture. They made me giggle.

3. I saw multiple dead snakes on the side of the road, including a giant water snake. I squealed every time I saw a dead snake even though I knew they were dead.

Funny cows!

Funny cows!

Monday’s weather was a thousand times better! Although I still wore knee warmers, arm warmers, and toe warmers. I was supposed to do a 4-hour ride on Saturday, but decided that there was no way I could sit my ass down for 4-hours on the trainer. Thus, I moved my long ride to Monday so I could ride outside. It was a good decision. Minus the hellish headwind. The wind was pretty nasty. There were times when I was pushing a ton of watts and only moving about 10 miles per hour on the FLATS! It was mentally daunting at times and a few times I considered throwing in the towel. But, I kept moving forward.

I decided to ride up route 113 towards Fryeburg. My goal is to ride all the way to the New Hampshire border as my ride times progress over the next 6 weeks or so. The roads are pretty good for a majority of the way and the traffic is relatively low. The route is similar to Lake Placid although not as nearly as hilly. One of my coworkers lives in the area and told me about a really hilly route from Brownfield to Denmark that I can take to simulate some Lake Placid hills.

Welcome to Western Maine!

Welcome to Western Maine!

The ride went well. My Ironman fueling plan thus far is working well. I’ve been using Ironman Perform for my drink of choice because that’s what is served on the course. I’m not the biggest fan of it, but so far my tummy is handling it well. I’d rather not have to worry about carrying 10 bottles of fuel with me during the race. I was definitely well hydrated for this ride. I stopped twice to find a bush 🙂

I felt good off the bike so I decided to attempt my 25 minute T-run. I was hesitate at first, but wanted to give it a go. Originally I planned just to do 10 minutes. However, my knee felt great. Or as good as off-the-bike run could be. I focused on keeping my strides short and quick. It worked because I had no knee pain! I continued for the full 25 minutes. It was no where a speedy run, but I was a happy girl!

Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day!

Overall, a good long weekend of training! I got a good 100 miles in over a 24 hours period. My tushy is a bit sore now. Welcome to Ironman training!

~ Happy Training! 

Nutrition Tuesday: What’s In Your Sports Drink? Part II

With over 60% of the United States adult population being obese or overweight, sugar gets a bad rap. Yes, lots of processed foods with tablespoons (literally!) of sugar is bad for your weight and health. However, sugar is actually an endurance athlete’s best friend!

When I say that sugar is an endurance athlete’s best friend, I’m not promoting going out and buying fistfuls of donuts, ice cream, and candy. I’m talking about simple sugars such as glucose and fructose. Back in May I wrote a post on carbohydrates: See HERE! Yesterday’s post discussed oxidation rates of CHO (aka sugar) of glucose and fructose and their affects on athletic performance.

Most sports drinks are either made with one or more of the following sugars (1):

  • Sucrose – A disaccharide (two simple sugar molecules) that is commonly known as table sugar. It is made of one glucose and one fructose molecules.
  • Fructose – A simple sugar that is found in fruit and honey. It is digested more slowly because it must be converted into glucose first by the liver. 
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup – HFCS is made using chemical processes that first convert cornstarch to corn syrup and then convert 42-55% of the glucose in the corn syrup to fructose as a way to make it sweeter (2). HFCS has been under scrutiny as a possible culprit contributing to the obesity crisis.
  • Glucose – Is the main carbohydrate found in the blood and is used to make the glycogen stored in both the liver and muscle. Dextrose is another name for glucose.
  • Glucose polymers – Are long molecular chains of glucose. These molecules are not as sweet as other molecules such as sucrose or corn syrup.
  • Galactose – Is another simple sugar. It must be converted into glucose first by the liver before the body can use it for energy.
  • Maltodextrin – A glucose polymer that is manufactured by breaking long starch units into smaller ones. It is considered a complex carbohydrate and is most commonly found in sports drinks and other processed foods. 
Some sports drinks also contain some protein. Insulin, a blood hormone, is responsible for transporting carbohydrates from the blood into muscle cells where it can be used for energy. Some preliminary research has shown that a small amount of protein added to Carbohydrates results in a stronger insulin response, which allows glucose to be delivered to muscles faster (1). This conserves stored muscle glycogen and may delay fatigue. In longer training sessions of at least 90 minutes or more, protein can be used as a source of energy if carbohydrates are not being replenished consistently (1). The protein that would be used for energy would come from muscle proteins. If protein (and carbs) aren’t being consumed, muscles would break down to provide the proteins for energy. However, one problem about carbohydrate/protein mixtures is that some people can’t stomach them. A carbohydrate/protein mixture drink is only suggested for long duration workouts over 2 hours.
How to Choose the Right Sports Drink?
Unfortunately, there is no scientific way to determine this. The best sports drink for you is the one you can tolerate at full concentration. If you dilute a sports drink so you can tolerate it, then you are most likely not getting enough carbohydrates and electrolytes, which is the purpose of consuming a sports drink versus water. Taste is important. Choose one you like and one that you will be motivated to drink throughout your workout! Another important factor to consider is the type of drink they will be serving on race day. For sprint and Olympic distance triathlons, it probably does not matter as much since the time on course is much shorter and you don’t need to carry 5000 bottles! However, in long course triathlons, especially Ironman, you will mostly like be utilizing the water stops. It’s best to try and train with what they serve on course so you can tolerate it on race day. If your a heavy sweater or if race conditions are hotter and more humid than normal, you might also need to consider the electrolyte content of the drink and/or consider taking an electrolyte pill. 

Various Popular Sports Drinks

Sports Drink
per directions
Carbohydrate (g)
Sodium (mg)
Potassium (mg)
Carbohydrate Source
Sucrose, fructose, maltodextrin, whey and soy isolates 
Maltodextrin, fructose, dextrose
EFS (2 scoops in 24 oz bottle)
Complex carbs, sucrose, fructose
Fluid Performance 
Maltodextrin, fructose
Ironman Perform
Maltodextrin, fructose, dextrose
GU Brew
Maltodextrin, fructose
Sucrose, glucose, fructose
HEED (2 scoops in 24 oz bottle)
Maltodextrin, xylitol, white stevia
Maltodextrin, soy isolates
Maltodextrin, HFSC
(Information from various product labels)
In Summary:

  • More is not better. The body can only absorb so much ingested CHO. Studies have indicated that a combined source of carbohydrates, such as glucose/glucose polymers and fructose, can have a higher oxidation rate of CHO and increase fluid delivery while decreasing gastrointestinal stress.
  • The ideal concentration of carbohydrates is between 6-8%. Gatorade has a concentration of about 6% and has the ability to empty from the stomach just as quickly has plain water. Anything above 8% will delay stomach emptying and can cause gastrointestinal distress.
  • A sodium level of about 110 mg per 8 ounces of liquid enhances taste, optimizes absorption, and maintains body fluids. Many sport nutritionists suggest a drink with at least 200 mg of sodium per 8 ounces to decrease the chances of developing hyponatremia (low blood sodium concentration) (1). 
  • It is important to choose a sports drink that you can tolerate at full concentration. Diluting the drink defeats the purpose of drinking a sports drink.
  • To calculate your sweat rate and possible hydration needs, review my post on HydrationSports nutritionists suggest consuming about 100-250 calories (25-60g) of carbohydrates per hour during workouts (2), which can come from a combination of sports drinks, gels, bars, etc.   
~ Happy Training!

  1. Seebohar B. (2004). Nutrition periodization for endurance athletes. Boulder, CO: Bull Publishing Co.
  2. Clark N. (2008) Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook, 4th Ed. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. 

Nutrition Tuesday: What’s In Your Sports Drink? Part I

Just about any athlete (and even many non-athletes) drink sports drinks while working out. And not all sports drinks are made equally. 
I recently read an article (Ultra-Endurance Exercise: The Emerging Role of “Multiple Transporter” Carbohydrates) in the Sports Nutrition Insider and became very interested in the recent research on the subject since it’s so important to endurance athletes. I actually posted the article of my Facebook page, but I doubt anyone who read it would understand it. It’s a really great overview of the subject; however, if you don’t have a background in chemistry or physiology it’s a bit hard to understand. 
Numerous studies have found that consuming carbohydrate (CHO) during prolonged moderate- to high-intensity exercise can postpone fatigue and enhance exercise performance when the exercise duration is greater than 45 minutes (1). These effects due to CHO consumption are largely attributed to a prevention of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) and the maintenance of high rates of CHO oxidation in late exercise when muscle and liver glycogen levels (endogenous sources) are low (1). Athletes consume CHO as exogenous sources in hopes to “spare” the endogenous sources. 
The average 150-lb male has about 1800 calories of carbohydrate stored in the liver, muscles, and blood in approximately the following distribution (2):

Number of Calories
Muscle Glycogen
Liver Glycogen
Blood Glucose
As the carbohydrate in the muscles get used during exercise, the carbohydrate in the liver gets released into the bloodstream to maintain a normal blood glucose level and to feed the brain (very important!) and the muscles. When your glycogen stores get low, you hit the wall – or “bonk.” In one study, cyclists with depleted muscle glycogen stores were only able to exercise for 55 minutes to fatigue. However, with full muscle glycogen stores they could exercise for about 120 minutes to fatigue (2). Also, trained muscles have the ability to store more glycogen than untrained muscles (32g v. 13g) (2). 
As you deplete carbohydrate from muscle glycogen stores during exercise, your body will increasingly rely on blood sugar for energy. By consuming carbohydrates during exercise via sports drinks, gels, bars, etc., your muscles have an added source of fuel. Sports drinks also help maintain normal blood sugar levels. A normal blood sugar level is important to keep your brain fed and help you think clearly, concentrate well, and remained focus. Have you ever been out training and start to lose focus and feel light-headed? That’s a sign of bonking and that your body needs carbs to function!  
Now, when CHO is ingested, it is absorbed through the intestines into the bloodstream to be carried throughout the body and delivered to cells for energy. Studies have indicated that the peak oxidation rate for exogenous CHO is about 1 g/min (1). It has been suggested that the absorption capacity of glucose in the intestine is the limited factor for the oxidation (think metabolism of CHO) of ingested glucose. 
Numerous studies have compared the oxidation rates of various types of ingested CHO with the oxidation of exogenous glucose during exercise. The oxidation rates of ingested maltose, sucrose, glucose polymer, and maltodextrin (glucose polymers derived from starch) are all similar to the oxidation rate of ingested glucose (1). However, significantly lower exogenous CHO oxidation rates have been reported for fructose (about 20-25% lower) and galactose (about 50% lower) compared to glucose (1). One of the possible reasons that both might be lower is the fact both fructose and galactose have to be converted into glucose in the liver before they can be oxidized (1). 
Glucose and other sugars don’t just magically float through the walls of the intestine into the bloodstream. Glucose must be transported via the sodium-dependent glucose transporter (SGLT1) across the intestinal wall. Studies have indicated that it is possible that SGLT1-transporters are saturated at a glucose ingestion rate of about 1 g/min, because studies with higher glucose ingestions rates do not yield higher oxidation rates (1). Now, for all you non-science geeks out there, let’s put this in layman’s terms. Imagine that your at a football game and it’s half time. You and everyone else has consumed lots of beer. Now that it’s half time, everyone is making a beeline to the bathroom. There are two bathrooms with only 4 stalls each. There are 1000 of you trying to use those 8 toilets. Since you all are all decent people with manners, you decide not to drop your trousers and pee in the middle of the hallway, but wait in a very long line to use the toilet. This is kind of what is happening in your intestines when you consume glucose from your sports drink. There is only so many SGLT1-transporters for glucose in your intestine. Of course, glucose has to have manners too and can’t just go up to another transporter molecule and say “LET ME IN!” It has to wait patiently in line for it’s turn to use the “toilet” too.


Now, fructose is lucky because he decided to buy a sky box seat and thus has his own totally awesome bathroom. Fructose is absorbed from the intestine by GLUT-5, a sodium-independent facilitative fructose transporter (1). Several recent studies have found that a sports drink containing both glucose and fructose can enable exogenous CHO oxidation rates to reach peak values of about 1.5 g/min (3). What is also very interesting is that with an increased CHO oxidation with multiple transporter carbohydrates there is also an increased fluid delivery and improved oxidation efficiency that reduces the likelihood of gastrointestinal distress, an endurance athlete’s worst nightmare (3)! 


Let’s talk sports drinks now! There are many different sports drinks available in market today and each one is slightly different. The biggest variables between sports drinks are (4):
  1. The type of sugar or sugars used – There are many different types of sugars that are used in sports drinks. The most common are sucrose, glucose, and fructose. Each sugar has its’ own unique sweetness. 
  2. The carbohydrate concentration – Studies have shown that sports drinks with a 6-8% carbohydrate concentration is well absorbed and utilized by the body for energy. Anything above 8% concentration can delay stomach emptying and cause stomach problems.
  3. The osmolality – Osmolality refers to the number of particles in a solution. A solution with fewer particles tends to produce faster fluid absorption and solutions with high number of particles (>400) can slow fluid absorption.
  4. The sodium content – A sodium level of about 110 mg per 8 ounces of fluid enhances taste, optimizes absorption, and maintains body fluids. Higher sodium contents may stimulate voluntary drinking more than lower sodium level drinks. 
See Part II tomorrow! 🙂

~Happy Training
  1. Jentjens RLPG, Moseley L, Waring RH, Harding LK, Jeukendrup AE. Oxidation of combined ingestion of glucose and fructose during exercise. J Appl Physiol. 2003; 96: 1277-1284.
  2. Clark N. (2008) Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook, 4th Ed. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. 
  3. Robinson S. Ultra-endurance exercise: the emerging role of “multiple transporter” carbohydrates. Sports Nutrition Insider. Available at: Accessed July 8, 2012.
  4. Seebohar B. (2004). Nutrition periodization for endurance athletes. Boulder, CO: Bull Publishing Co.