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Daily Archives: September 4, 2012

The Cannondale 3.0 Criterium Is A Frame…

When you look at an old Cannondale, a very cultish, hip frame that comes up in conversation is the old Cannondale Criterium 3.0.

This is a frame, it is not a full bike ‘model’ as it were. This fact threw me for a loop at first too, so if you searched for the marking on the bike, and ended up on this post, your next task is to figure out which model your Criterium frame goes to… My wife’s is an SR-400 from 1990.

The weight, 3.0 pounds, is the 3.0 in the writing – pretty light for an aluminum frame.

The “Criterium” part refers to the frame’s size, they call ’em compact nowadays. They’ve got a shorter wheel base and the bottom bracket is a touch higher than the racing frame so the rider can navigate the tighter corners normal in a criterium race… A circuit track, usually short with tight, fast corners. Watch your top tube length – the crit frames have a short top tube so you may need a longer stem and to back your saddle up a smidge.

To find out which model you have, do as I did… Scour the vintage Cannondale website for the manuals until you bump on the right one… That’s how I found out which ours is.

The Athlete’s Nutrition – A Series Begins. Let’s Sweat, Shall We?

This series was bourne of necessity.  I have quickly moved up the ranks from “occasional runner” through “endurance athlete” to where I’m brushing against “ultraendurance athlete”.  I am a cyclist by joy, a runner to shake things up and a swimmer because you might as well go for a swim before you cycle and run, eh?  While I’ve never gotten into marathons, I am deep into endurance cycling.  To say that I love long distance cycling is to make an understatement, almost of biblical proportions.  In other words, if 50 miles is a nice Saturday spin, 100 miles is sheer joy on a saddle and that’s about where I’m at.

Last week I was asked to review a fitness/diet tracking app and have done so in painstaking detail, here and here.  I’ve also written another post in which I didn’t mention the app specifically, here.  I found, and wrote about in that post, that I know a lot more about me – even being new to endurance athletics – than a diet app.  I wrote this:

“Recently I’ve been on an experimental diet for a review of a diet/fitness tracking app and I decided to alter my diet to match what their system says I should be consuming in terms of calories, carbs, protein, sodium, sugar, cholesterol, fat and fiber. The first two days didn’t go well but on the third day I had it dialed in. I limited a few normal food items because of an abundance of carbs and replaced them with a healthier alternative. I thought I was winning the battle, balance was just a fraction away – the exception being sodium. I know what they say I need and that doesn’t square with what I know I need, so I didn’t worry about going over.

I ran into trouble with their goals on my ride the next afternoon though. It was a windy evening, so there’s that, but it was a struggle to end up with a 17.5 mph average – I had to work my butt off for it and I was beat 13 miles into the ride. It was the first time, ever, that I thought to myself that I should have taken the day off. It was also the first time I didn’t get any enjoyment out of my ride… And I had no clue why.

It wasn’t until the next day when I threw that diet out the window that I started bouncing back. I hadn’t put two and two together either though – yet.”

According to the diet tracker I use (and from what I understand many of them are similar), I should be consuming daily – adjusted for weight, height, age and strenuous activity 6-7 days a week:

3,104 calories comprised of 195 grams carbohydrates, 155 grams protein, 189 grams fat, 300 milligrams cholesterol, 34 grams fiber, 62 grams of sugar and 2.4 grams of sodium (2,400 milligrams).

The series kicks off with sodium.  As I sit here typing this over lunch (it’s 12:20 pm), I just went over my daily sodium allowance for the day.  I still have my afternoon snack and dinner to get through and if I were to try to maintain a diet with that amount of sodium, for an extended period of time I would die – from too little sodium.  Plain and simple.  My actual intake is in the neighborhood of 4 grams of salt and I’ve never bothered to reduce that (even at the recommendation of the tracking app) because for sodium, I know better.

I did a 100 mile charity ride on August 4th in which I stuck mostly to Jelly Belly Energy Beans, a  couple of Clif Bars and a piece of pizza and water – over 260 ounces of it with 40 ounces of Gatorade at the beginning.  After the ride, as happy as I was to have my first century under my belt, I was cramping miserably.  I drive a stick shift and I couldn’t shift without my hips and calf muscles cramping.  With as much water as I drank, my urine was some kind of funky yellow color.  I drank the remainder of Gatorade that I had in the car (even though it was warmer than my body temp) – about 24 ounces and drank some more water.

Half way home I got a hankerin’ for a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder.  I never eat McDonald’s hamburgers, so when that craving hit, I paid attention.  I ordered and ate a Large Combo Meal with a Double Quarter Pounder (no cheese).  Shortly after I was right as rain.  The cramps subsided and I felt a lot less “loopy”.  I’ve since come to find out that I was very lucky that I paid attention to that craving.

Endurance athletes need sodium, and a lot of it.  In fact, all humans need salt, and we now know that too little is worse than too much.  If you take an endurance athlete, one could only assume that the ramifications of a low sodium diet would be disasterous.

Let’s go to the doctors, shall we?

Hyponatremia — what is it?

Hyponatremia means a low concentration of sodium in the blood. When it occurs in triathletes, it usually happens during long or ultra-distance races in the heat but may occur anytime. It is estimated that approximately 30% of the finishers of the Hawaii Ironman are both hyponatremic and dehydrated. The longer the race, the greater the risk of hyponatremia.

Well, now that does sound terrible.  I’ll bet you’re wondering what causes it…

The simplest answer is that lost sweat (salt and water) is replaced by ingested
water (no salt). This dilutes the sodium in the bloodstream, and hyponatremia
results. Longer races carry a greater risk of hyponatremia because of the total
amount of sweat lost. During exercise in the heat, more salt is lost in sweat
per hour than is usually replaced by food and fluids, including sports drinks.
Your body can tolerate a degree of imbalance for a short period of time, but it
may decompensate if this continues for too long.

Take a guess at what the symptoms are:

The spectrum of symptoms can range from mild to severe and can include nausea, muscle cramps, disorientation, slurred speech, confusion, and inappropriate behavior. As it progresses, victims may experience seizures or coma, and death can occur. Severe hyponatremia is a true medical emergency. [ED.  Emphasis is mine – I didn’t experience slurred speech but I did have a tough time speaking – making the words make sense, after the Tour des Lacs on August 4th]

So now let’s get into the math.  Sweat, according to the linked article contains 2.25 – 3.4 grams of salt per liter and on a hot day, we’ll sweat a liter an hour when training.  I ride every day and I am a heavy salt sweater – I have a crust of salt on my skin after exercise, the straps on my melon cover are crystalized, etc.  So, I exercise, almost always hard for at least an hour a day, and it’s usually very hot and I sweat a lot.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if I’m loosing 3.4 grams per hour and only taking in 2.4 grams per day, I’m going to be in trouble sooner or later…especially when we consider that I’m also not taking in enough to function on a daily basis in addition to loosing 1 gram per day.

There are other factors to figure in as well, such as whether or not the athlete is acclimatized to conditions according to some.  In other words, a runner at the beginning of the hot season can burn through 1.1 grams of sodium per pound of sweat where as they’ll only burn through 300 mg in the middle of the season, so that has to be factored as well…  Again, I am a salty sweater – I’m crusted in salt after a recovery ride when the temp is over 85 degrees – so the salt/sodium intake must be cared for accordingly.  The linked article states it simply:  “Most runners easily consume 3,000 to 5,000 milligrams of sodium daily”.  I’m at 4-4,500, or exactly where I should be as far as I can tell.  Imagine that.

It should be noted that the USADA has released guidlines for sodium intake (amongst other things) that has been roundly criticized by doctors – so much so that they don’t even say how much the USADA recommended for sodium intake.  The linked article just gives out the standard 2.3 grams and even less for those over 50.  This would be considered, from what I’ve read, by any athlete to be too little.  This is where the politics of politics mess with reality.  In fact, even Livestrong spits out the 2,300 mg marker…  Of course, they actually don’t mention athletes either.

So, it turns out there is a trick to these diet apps.  They are, undeniably, tailored to “the average person”.  Being in the top 5% in terms of physical fitness, you couldn’t call me average by any stretch.  I simply need more than that.  Nya-nya..nya-nya-nya.  Like salt?  Exercise more.  You’ll need it.  As an asterisk, I only ever add salt to one food item:  Sweet Corn on the Cob.  The only other salt that I know of that my wife uses goes in her homemade chicken noodle soup.  The point to all of this is, and after going through a period where I had so little salt in my system last summer (from a freakin’ low salt diet) that my sweat stopped tasting salty, you’ve gotta take these daily recommendations with a, err…  Grain of salt.  Make up your own mind on this one, just know the facts as they are.

Next up…  Carbs – and you’re not going to believe this one…

Part 5, on Sugar is available here

Part 4, on Fat is available here

Part 3, on Protein is available here

Part 2, on Carbohydrates is available here

Tracking the Diet – Oh My WORD, You Won’t Believe What I Found…

Elisariva left the following comment in my last post:  “You make a good point. I downloaded the app too to see how it worked. Both that and My Fitness Pal are geared toward the average person. An app targeted toward an athlete would be helpful. We need to eat more, usually more carbs and a little more sodium, and we burn more calories at faster paces.  If you come across one, please share”.

I replied that I’d try to work with Slim Kicker to come up with an app for us – I did do a few searches and came up with a couple that might work, but I also happened on something much, much better than an app that is absolutely earth shattering when I look at my problem day from last week – In short, I’m going to do the math so we can ignore what the app says is good and bad, but still use it to track our diets.

I’m not kidding folks, this is huge and now that I know what I know, it’s not surprising that I had a tough day after attaining Slim Kicker’s goals for me.  It’s actually amazing that I had the guts to muscle that ride out after what I’ve found.

Unfortunately, this is going to take a bit of time to sort out, but I’m on it.


You Can’t Have What I Have…

I’ve had a post percolating in the gray matter that is my melon for quite some time… it’s a little on the “tough” side, but it’s time.

I’ve been playing around with the Slim Kicker website for several days now and fair or not, the first thing I really noticed about their message board is that I’m a little out of their league…  I quit kidding myself long ago (or would that be lying to myself?).  The message board is on the main page where you can post quick comments or inspirational things you’ve done. I’ve been reading a lot of them and the truth is, I just don’t have all of the trials and tribulations with working out that a lot of those folks do.  Being fit and active is just as much a part of my life as eating and breathing and has been for some time (though it wasn’t always that way).  I don’t have to find the motivation to wake up just a little early (5am is sleeping in) to write a post and get ready to ride my bike out to the running club, run and then ride back (37 miles round trip including the run) – I can’t wait to get going and I still have a tough time sleeping because I’m excited to get going – from time to time.  I don’t schedule my day so that it’s impossible for me to get a ride or a run in and I don’t have to be meticulous with my diet anymore either, as a result.  I exercise more than enough to keep myself awesomely lean (I do have to be careful just like everyone else). But most importantly, I no longer have to deal with the pain and frustration of failing, yet again, because I’ve stacked the deck against myself, then bought into the lie that it has something to do with luck or fairness for those who do make it.

There is a caveat of course. That misery is waiting for me if I choose to loosen up on the morals and work ethic that have gotten me to where I’m at, I’m only a few weeks off and a several quarts of Ben & Jerry’s away from my 195 pound days, just like everyone else. That’s just how it works.

The problem for most new folks to the fitness lifestyle is that they believe, at least coming in, that there is something special, unattainable, in people on the fitter side of the equation, as if the makers of Gatorade put some magic powder in our G2 that gives us the “want to” that they never seem to muster. They say we’re “lucky” when “luck” has nothing to do with it. They say that it’s not fair when fairness is a ploy politicians use to foment anger and division in their voters, not a reason to be fat.

I wish that was how it worked.  I wish it was luck, unfairness and hope.  The truth is a little harsher but at least it’s simple:

You can’t have what someone else has unless you’re willing to do what they did to get it.

This is BgddyJim’s Self Evident Truth #7.  That’s how it works, you can hate it all you want but that won’t change the fact that it’s the truth. Oh, by the way, going further than I go will get you better results!  Look at it this way, most lottery winners end up in bankruptcy – last I heard it was 60%.  Winning the lottery is all luck – and most people can’t handle having it handed to them.  Fitness is no different.  After all, if you don’t work to drop the fat, what motivation do you have to keep from falling back into the abyss whence you came?

Absolutely nothing.  I had to bust my butt to get where I’m at – and that’s the motivation I use to stay here.

As an example, we went to a pool party/pig roast for a friend of mine Sunday afternoon.  I had a great ride/run/swim/kayak/ride brick on Saturday (even if the swim was short), followed by a decent ride on Sunday.  As well, I was a little light on my caloric intake for the previous couple of days and I skipped lunch because of the timing of the party…  If ever there was a time to pig out on cake, that was it.  I did eat a lot of noodle salad and pig, some cole slaw and corn, but I still skipped the cake line.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love cake just like the next guy, but most days I’ll pass on it.  It just takes too much effort to work too many dalliances off.  That’s the discipline.  You can hate it all you want, but that won’t change it.