Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Gatorade Sweat Test Experience

Our body is composed of 65-70% water. Every time we run, we sweat. It is our body's natural way of staying cool.  As a general rule, we have to properly replace the body fluid that is excreted during any rigorous activity to prevent being dehydrated.  Proper hydration is responsible for regulating our body temperature and blood pressure, keeping our blood volume correct, ridding our bodies of waste products, and much more.  Oftentimes, the way a person feels largely depends on their hydration level.  When we feel fatigued, have headaches, or general nausea, it’s often due to being dehydrated.  But each of us have different body system, thus, the hydration plan for a certain group of runners may not be applicable to other groups. This is the reason why Gatorade Sports Science Institute came up with a sweat test to basically analyze an athlete’s sweat rate and provides an adequate hydration program to ensure that the athlete performs at his/her best. Elite athletes from any sport, in one way or the other, has been through this test. Maria Sharapova, one of the worlds famous female tennis player, has been through this. Our very own Philippine Azkals has also been subjected to Gatorades' Sweat Test.

When The Bull Runner announced it in her blog that the Bull Runner Dream Marathoners for 2012 would be entitled for a free Gatorade Sweat Test, I made no hesitations and registered right away.  I am not technical on my training, I don't have a sound training plan even ( and even if I have one,  I'm not sure I am religious enough to follow it ) but I saw a golden opportunity. I have always been conscious with my hydration, I believe it is one of the best way to prevent cramps. Thus, the result of this test would give me a better idea  on how my body perspires and probably come up with an improved hydration plan come next race.

The Test

Prior to the actual test, the organizer have sent a preliminary information on what to expect during the sweat test. It also contains instructions and the list of steps that will be done.  Shown below was the actual testing procedure :

Sweat Patch connected at my left arm, another patch was
also placed in the forehead

1. Measure Body Weight;
2. Urine Test;
3. Patch the Runners
4. 1 hour 30 minutes running
5. Taking off of patches after about 45 minutes
6. Finish the 1:30 hr run while monitoring fluid intake
7. Cool Down
8. Towel down and Weigh out.

Arriving almost late at PhilSports Arena ( ULTRA ),  I thought everyone would be running at that time. Fortunately, the preliminaries before the run is not that quick. Separate weighing  room was designated for male and female participants and urine samples were also taken. Unlucky for those who were not ready to pee then, they have to wait ( :P ). After those preliminary data were taken and recorded, runners were given patches to monitor the volume of sweat  excreted by the body. One patch was place on the forehead and the other was on the forearm. We were also grouped into two, this grouping just determined our designated hydration station where  our supply of gatorade and water were properly labeled with our last name and weighed in before any consumption.  So after some stretching,  I started a slow run around the oval. With the cool morning atmosphere, I began sweating after a few hundred meters of  run. Slowly, I increased my pace. A few more laps and I joined two running friend, Carlo and RJay, doing at least a 6mpk around the oval. Hydrating every 2 or 3 laps , we held on to a steady pace. I have to stop at the 40th minute to let my patch be removed, it was already saturated. Then we continue the run. Carlo stopped at the 1 hour mark while  RJay and I finished the 1 hour 30 minute run. The staff weighed out the bottles I used for the gatorade and water. After cooling down a bit, the next step was to weigh out. Immediately, I lost 2 pounds based on the record. That was the only information that can be gainied that day, the actual result will follow within a week.

The Result

The result came in before the scheduled 3.5 hour run in Nuvali. Just in time to make a hydration plan. Below are the infiormation that was gathered from the test.

The table were divided into significant columns. Listed below are the important values that we need to take note when using the table of result.

1. Fluid intake : Amount of fluid (water and Gatorade) ingested during the training session.
2. Sweat rate : Amount of sweat produced per hour during the training session. The average values for sweat rate are 1-1.5 L/hour.
3. Fluid loss : Total sweat and urine loss during the training session.
4. Dehydration% : The amount of body weight lost as sweat during the training session. A 1% loss impacts body's ability to tolerate heat and stay cool. As little as 1.5 to 2% loss will reduce endurance and physical performance.
5. Sweat sodium and potassium : Amount of sodium and potassium in sweat in mg/L. The average values for sweat sodium and sweat potassium are 500-1500 mg/L and 150-310 mg/L, respectively.
6. Drink guide: The volume and sodium recommended for drinking every hour to prevent dehydration and replace sodium loss.
7. PRE USG : Pre exercise urine specific gravity.

Shown below are the my results

I am neither an expert nor a medical professional but ill try to explain what my result means to me and maybe, in some way or the other, would help others understand the importance of the test. Feel free to correct me if some information are misleading or incorrect. Obviously I was hydrated before the exercise. This is indicated in the PRE USG column. The urine specific gravity is a commonly-used measure that is considered practical, non-invasive and a reliable parameter for determining if the athlete is hypohydrated/dehydrated before any exercise. The National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) recommends that athletes should begin all exercise sessions well hydrated, with a urine specific gravity at or below 1.020 g·mL-1. In the result sheet, all hypohydrated participants have their USG reaing marked in red. My body weight decreased by 1.04kg after 1.5 hour of running. This can be attributed by the 1.66L sweat loss. At an average, the test showed that my body have a sweat rate of 1.12 L/hr. I was diagnosed to be dehydrated after the exercise, but not too much to have an adverse effect on my endurance and physical performance. As indicated in the test result, 1% loss impacts body's ability to tolerate and stay cool and 1.5% to 2% loss is enough to reduce edurance and physical performance. By analyzing the fluid intake column, you can see that I am a conservative drinker. I was not able to even consume 1L of water and gatorade combined. Looking at the overall results for all participants, I was able to make an assumption that those who drank too little during the run are the most likely to be dehydrated after. In conclusion, the test recommneds that I should consume at least 1.1L per hour  of fluid ( a combination of water and gatorade ) or an average of 275ml per 15 minutes.

The result of the test confirms that, I am not drinking enough during a run. Especially during a race, I skip some water/sports drink station just to buy some time. However, if this continues, my body performance is adversely affected. The most common cause of cramps in a race is dehydration, I have proven this one before and the Gatorade Sweat Test just confirms my observation. As a result of the test, I became more conscious and aware of my fluid intake during my last two long runs. I believe that the few seconds that you gain from skipping a water station in a race could be costly in the long run, especially if you are running distances longer than 10km, say,  a 10miler a half marathon or a marathon. Different individuals yield different results. The hydration technique that can be good for me can not be sufficient to some or even an overkill to others. Where can you take the test? I dont have an idea. I am just thankful that I had the opportunity to take one! Thanks, The Bull Runner and Gatorade Sports Science Institute.

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