"The goal is to become the unique, awesome, never to be repeated human being that we were called to be." -Patricia Deegan

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Born to be a Paleolithic Fainting Goat?

Sometimes, there's just too much information for this little girl to process.

I am born to run, but do it so badly I need physios with needles and massage therapists with thumbs of steel and Chi running books, and yoga, and oh-just-the-right-shoes to keep me going. And I need timers set on my watch or spreadsheets with calculations to warn me when I need to eat and drink, because I certainly can't rely on my body to know and tell me. And I need special food. Low GI, alkaline-forming, antioxidant rich food. Don't forget the cruciferous vegetables. Kale. With omega 3 oils drizzled over top (don't cook them, for goodness sake, or it's a saturated fat!). And protein, but not just any protein. I need Branched-Chain-Amino-Acids. I am an athlete, after all ;)

Two PhDs from rather different nutrition camps
I need to be vegetarian - no, make that vegan like Scott Jurek, in order to be healthy and win. But fruitarian Michael Arnstein is about to release a book about how fruit saved his life. Or at least improved his running. I don't know, maybe it was just that he was on a diet of leftover pizza and diet root beer before. But then, I've read that Anton Krupicka eats like that. Works all right for him. But wait, now there's The Paleo Diet for Athletes. Yup, I just had to buy it. This little vegetarian just has to know what "science" is contained in this "diet" that is all the rage but getting some seriously bad press.

But because I'm still running the "ultra" of Tim Noakes' 400+ page Waterlogged book, I'm not sure when I'll get to read all about meat and potatoes.

Noakes continues to bring up good points about physiological controls within the body that act to ensure a person can't die of dehydration unless they get lost in the desert for a week (i.e., most of us probably don't need timers and spreadsheets to get fluids in). He also highlighted some very useful information on exercise-associated postural hypotension (EAPH; but one very unfortunate typo on page 53 called it 'hypertension'). This (hypotension, of course), he cites as the major cause of runners collapsing at the finish line. Dehydration would cause you to collapse during the race, when "strain on the heart and circulation is the greatest." But when exercise stops and then the person collapses, that's almost certainly due to blood pooling in the legs - below the heart - not being pumped back up anymore because the calf muscles have suddenly stopped. Less blood getting to the brain leads to nausea, dizziness, and fainting. In fact, fainting is a natural, adaptive physiological response by the body - it's supposed to faint! Because that gets your heart at the same level as your legs, so blood is more easily transported back up to your brain. Isn't the body smart?!? No, we're not quite fainting goats, but I certainly prefer to think that if I feel like collapsing after a race, it's nothing to panic over. It's just my body saying, "Hey, put your feet up, kid!"
Myotonic (fainting) goats finishing an ultra?

The beautiful thing about this argument is that all you have to do to treat the person afflicted is lay them down (if they aren't already collapsed) and elevate their feet above their heart (exactly what first aiders are taught to do to treat shock). The person should recover almost instantly. Then you know it's not dehydration.

How many times I've seen runners collapse after an event, get thrown on a stretcher sitting up, and pumped with saline.... I've often wondered... I mean, how coincidental is it that they made it to the finish line before collapsing!?!

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