Swim, run, sweat, repeat: what’s your ÖTILLÖ hydration strategy?
By Andy Blow
Here at Precision Hydration HQ we’re all totally stoked to be joining the swimrun community as the Official Hydration Supplier of the ÖTILLÖ Swimrun World Series.
That’s partly because I’ve been lucky enough to compete in two ÖTILLÖ events – first at the Championship in Sweden in 2014 and more recently at the inaugural Isles of Scilly event last year – and I’m a huge fan of the Series and swimrun as a sport, which I got involved in for a change of focus after the more mainstream triathlon and Ultra running events – I have a few top 10 Ironman and 70.3 finishes, and an Xterra World Age Group title under my belt – started to lose their appeal.
My enthusiasm also stems from our product, which is such a good fit for both the performance and ethos of swimrun that we’re excited to help ÖTILLÖ racers to achieve their best possible result.
I founded Precision Hydration in 2011 after learning that I had a higher than average amount of sodium in my sweat, and that this had impacted my performance many times, especially in hot conditions (you can read a bit more about that story here). It turns out it’s important to personalise your hydration strategy and that the typical electrolyte drinks out there don’t contain enough sodium to enable most people to replace what they’re losing when they sweat, and therefore they can’t maintain their performance.
To help you better understand your own hydration needs, we’re putting together a series of articles over the next few months that’ll feature in Swimrun Life, to cover all sorts of questions about hydration and fuelling for ÖTILLÖ events.
To kick things off, we just want to introduce our products as they’ll be available to all competitors at Energy Stations on the course at every ÖTILLÖ race this year.
How Precision Hydration drinks work
Many athletes get that replacing sodium lost through sweat is vital but they don’t really know why. Maintaining the sodium levels in your blood is crucial to performing at your best. Sodium helps you absorb and retain fluid, which keeps your blood volume up, reducing cardiovascular strain when you’re exercising. It also plays an important role in muscle contraction, maintaining cognitive function and the absorption of nutrients in the gut. Fatigue and cramps are also common when significant fluid/sodium imbalances go unchecked. As well as maintaining fluid balance, sodium plays a crucial role in nerve impulse transmission. Basically, it’s pretty important.
Precision Hydration is hypotonic electrolyte – which means the fluids in hypotonic drinks tend to be absorbed into the bloodstream the fastest, but they deliver the least amount of carbohydrate per unit volume, in our case, 3% solution, or 15g of carb per 500ml/16oz serving.
Our products contain 8 all-natural ingredients and come in 4 different strengths based on the amount of sodium they contain.
As athletes lose different amounts of sodium in their sweat – from as little as 200mg/l to as much as 2000mg/l – there’s no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” solution when it comes to a hydration product for endurance athletes.
Our strongest drink contains 1,500mg of sodium per litre (32oz), which is 3 times more than typical sports drinks, and it’s particularly useful for preloading before a race and helping to avoid/reduce cramp.
To help you figure out which strengths are right for you, we’ve developed a free online ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Sweat Test that’ll give you a Personalised Hydration Plan specifically for swimrun events and tell you which products to pick up at the Energy Stations.
In a future Swimrun Life edition, we’ll dive into more details about how to stay hydrated during an ÖTILLÖ event. For now, we’d love to hear from you if you have any questions about your hydration strategy or what we do: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andy Blow has a degree in Sport and Exercise Science and was once the Team Sports Scientist for Benetton and Renault F1 Teams.
Andy’s key points about sodium
- Maintaining the sodium levels in your blood is crucial to performing at your best.
- Sodium helps you absorb and retain fluid, which keeps your blood volume up, reducing cardiovascular strain when you’re exercising. Fatigue and cramps are also common when significant fluid/sodium imbalances go unchecked
- Just drinking water when sweating a lot dilutes your sodium levels, which can really impact your performance. If you dilute your blood sodium levels too much, you’ll end up with a condition called hyponatremia, symptoms include headaches and nausea.
- Stores of sodium in the body are finite, and can’t be manufactured, so any losses have to be replaced in your diet or through supplementation.
- Everyone loses a different amount of sodium in through sweat, from as little as 200mg/l (32oz) to as much as 2000mg/l.
- A “one-size-fits-all” approach to hydration doesn’t work. Most electrolyte supplements contain 200-550mg of sodium per litre (32oz), whereas the average person loses about 920mg/l. This means you’re probably not replacing what you’re losing if using a regular sports drink.
- While this doesn’t matter so much during short duration activities, it can be very bad news when you’re out there for several hours, as during ÖTILLÖ races, and losses start to mount up.
Article first published in Swimrun Life Magazine Issue # 2 (Apr/May 2017)