The Sweet Science

The sweet science for me while I was growing up was boxing.  My father and I would sit on the couch and watch ABC's Wide World of Sports with Howard Cosell and Jim McKay.  I watched fighters like Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Thomas 'Hit Man' Hearns (isn't Hit Man a great nickname?  I need a good nickname like that.) The announcers would always talk about the science of boxing.  It was more than just the physical attributes these men had to have, but also the mental strength to overcome their opponents and themselves.  I'm sure their minds were telling them that their body was hurting and they had to quit.  Meanwhile, there was a guy across from them trying to put a hurting on them.  That to me was the sweet science of boxing. Today, the sweet science is an adjective for triathlon.  Like boxing I am fighting my mind to push the envelope and push to the next limit.  I have to train my body to be able to go 140.6 miles in less than 17 hours and I have to train my mind to push my body to finish in my goal times.  Then along with the both of these items came nutrition.  From there a whole world of science opened up for me. Carb:Protein ratios within a certain time frame of working out.  Sweat rates at different times of the year.  Body Fat % and ideal racing weight.  Drag from dropped legs in the water.  Inefficient aerodynamics due to water bottle cages on the bike.  Improper balance leading to injuries and a decreased cadence on the run.  It has all become the sweet science.  Sweet because when you perfect these items and others there is no better sport to be involved in. Lately I have added a new piece of equipment to my arsenal.  I have been working with clients on losing weight and gaining their health and happiness back.  I have been using the Tanita scale at the club I work with, but decided to get one for myself and the house.  I purchased the Tanita BC-549 scale and then found an article in Lava Magazine discussing Body Fat % and Lean Body Mass Index. The article in Lava Magazine was discussing racing weight and how to calculate the ideal lean BMI to determine where your body is in regards to racing.  I devoured the article and will be reading it again as I find this information to be fascinating.  This morning I weighed myself to find out what my sweat rate would be.  I then went out on a run for an hour and did not drink any water so that I could determine my exact sweat loss and how much liquid I would need to consume during training and racing. Here is the formula for calculating Lean BMI: Multiply lean-adjusted body weight in pounds by 703 and then divide the result by the square of the athlete's height in inches.  The ideal Lean BMI is 20 for women and 21 for men according to the article. Here is the formula for calculating Sweat Rate Loss:
  1. Weigh yourself nude right before a run.
  2. Run at race pace for one hour, keeping track of how much you drink (in ounces) during the run.
  3. After the run, strip down, towel off any sweat, and weigh yourself nude again.
  4. Subtract your weight from your prerun weight and convert to ounces. Then add to that number however many ounces of liquid you consumed on your run. (For example, if you lost a pound and drank 16 ounces of fluid, your total fluid loss is 32 ounces.)
  5. To determine how much you should be drinking about every 15 minutes, divide your hourly fluid loss by 4 (in the above example it would be 8 ounces).
  6. Because the test only determines your sweat losses for the environmental conditions you run in that day, you should retest on another day when conditions are different to see how your sweat rate is affected. You should also redo the test during different seasons, in different environments (such as higher or lower altitudes), and as you become faster, since pace also affects your sweat rate.
This morning my Lean BMI would have been calculated as follows:
  1. Ideal racing weight 140lbs.  Current weight 145lbs.
  2. 145 lbs x 703 = 101935 / 4356 = 23 --> this is slightly above the aforementioned 21.
  3. 133 lbs x 703 = 93499 / 4356 = 21 --> this would be right at the ideal lean BMI.
[caption id="attachment_6117" align="alignright" width="293"]tanita_bodyfatpercentage_racingweight Where Is Your Body Fat Percentage?[/caption] Now my current weight is 145 lbs and my body fat % is 7.3%.  In order for me to drop to 133 pounds I would have to lose 12 lbs.  This is just not going to happen because at 133 lbs my body fat would have to be less than 5%.  At my lightest weight during IMTX my lowest BF% was 5.3% and that was at 141 lbs.  I typically go into taper at 138 lbs and wind up racing right near  140 lbs and I think that is my ideal racing weight.  In this case I am using science as a guide. For Sweat Rate Loss I need to drink 20 ounces of liquid every 15 minutes.  As I said I weighed 145 lbs before I ran and 140 lbs after I ran.  I drank nothing during this hour so I take 5 and multiply by 16 (ounces per pound) and calculate 80 oz.  Divide the 80 by 4 and you get the amount of liquid that I should be consuming every 15 minutes. Again, I will be using this as a gauge because for me to drink 80 ounces per hour means that I would be drinking 4-5 water bottles every hour.  Just not practical considering that you cannot carry that much with you on the bike or on the run.  Once more I will be using this as a gauge and not as exact I continue to be fascinated by this sport and what it teaches me about diet and nutrition along with the physical aspect.

How Often Do You Calculate Sweat Loss?

Have You Ever Calculated Lean BMI To Determine Race Weight?

Jason Bahamundi

About the Author:

I grew up in New York and lived there for 34 years until I got divorced and moved 1600 miles to my new home in Texas.  I love New York and miss it but that does not mean that Texas hasn’t been great to me because it has.  It was here that I discovered endurance sports and specifically the sport of triathlon.  Triathlon has given me new life through all the challenges it presents.  I no longer look at life the same way and I can say that is in part due to my endeavor into this sport.

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