By Bill Plock
Culturally, we seem to pick and choose what parts of science are okay in our lives and what parts aren’t. A botox shot here, an implant there, a laser beam on this and a tanning bed on that seems perfectly fine, but where the line of science in our athletic lives is drawn seems to vary greatly and comes with way more than 50 shades of grey. It’s downright blurry and seems to have as many opinions as those on how to tackle the upcoming Boulder Ironman.
As I sat with a perfectly legal IV delivering vitamins and electrolytes into my blood prior to a big training weekend, I felt like I was on the cutting edge of endurance sports and maybe even feeling a little too much like Lance and the boys back in the day—especially sitting in a van down by a river in a parking lot with more weeds than cars surrounded by a chain link fence keeping exactly what in or out remains a mystery to me. But there I was, wondering if Chris Farley was about to pop out and try to motivate me, or worse, some USADA enforcement agent might blast through the door and confiscate my USAT membership. But why? All I was doing was injecting an expensive trip to Whole Foods into my arm letting my body organically absorb critical nutrients so I can have a better training day. What’s wrong with that right? It simply felt a little weird.
But, I had a great training weekend. There isn’t any way to know for certain if the IV drip from Onus , a local Denver company who offers mobile concierge services, worked, but I must say I felt pretty darn good. Here’s the thing, I didn’t go faster or further I just felt better while doing it which I suppose means I could’ve gone faster or further, or maybe I just had a good day, it’s hard to know—and that’s the crux of the dilemma—did it work? I think it did.
I believe the extra B vitamins, magnesium and calcium in my blood simply kept me better hydrated and “the fuel” had been directly absorbed and readily available to supply my muscles. In other words, I sort of shortcut a natural process and bought some extra fuel. We talk about buying speed with helmets and wheels, what’s the difference?
I guess we as triathletes are supposed to grit it out and despite using pro level coaches and training devices there remains a stigma about using pro level medical technology, especially if it involves a needle and blood. Yet for years people will belly up to an IV drip in Vegas to shake off hangovers, such a funny world we live in.
Kristy Anderson of Onus understands the double standard perception and she is determined to change it by taking only the highest of roads in safely and conscientiously administering nutrients intravenously.
Kristy offered, Responses vary, but providing your body with boosted energy levels through B vitamins and preventing muscle fatigue are especially beneficial. Particularly at high altitude or in severe heat, you are just providing yourself with a good offense against the elements.
I feel the medical testing world is exploding on the age group triathlon scene. For years, VO2 max and Lactate threshold tests seemed to benchmark training plans but now we are seeing more and more tests that tell us about the fuel we have in our bodies and how we burn it and what fuel we need to add and of course ways to add it.
Colorado Multisport in Boulder is now offering a sweat composition test that will help athletes determine the exact amount of sodium and other electrolytes they need to replenish. Owner Michael Stone says, we are very excited to offer this simple test that can make such a huge impact. Training has always been about balancing art and science, this test just gives us more science.
Here, Colorado Multisport’s Ryan Ignatz tests Boulder triathlon coach Karen Weatherby and outlines a hydration plan to make sure she replenishes adequate sodium in the right amount of liquids to keep her body in balance as much as possible. This test keeps athletes from guessing, as our sodium loss rates vary greatly from athlete to athlete.
Add to this, is Matt Smith who works for MuscleSound . MuscleSound utilizes ultra sound technology and scans your muscles to determine how much glycogen (fuel) resides ready to burn. This is a real time test and he recently came to my indoor cycling class at the Denver Athletic Club and measured my stores of energy before and after my class. It was fascinating to know how much I burned and even more interesting to note some slight imbalances of how much my right leg burned compared to my left. I would love to have this test on a training day and measure glycogen throughout a long day and see how certain foods and liquids effect my energy stores and burn rate. This test taken over a period of time in various training stages can provide the athlete or their nutritionist’s with information vital to helping create a more effective day to day nutrition plan.
So our quiver of tests, technology and coaching are overflowing with choices and determining what is most valuable and worth the expense can be overwhelming. But with each test we should be able to minimize variables and if nothing else build more and more confidence.
A friend of mine asked me “what do I think Ironman Boulder will teach me?” My first reaction was what won’t it teach me. We have every resource imaginable to help us learn, I say take advantage of everything.