Friday, September 5, 2014

Experiment time!

This weekend is a very special weekend.  It marks the end of my triathlon season and the beginning of my cyclocross season.  Honestly, I haven't raced a tri in about 3 months but am excited to finish up with the Littlefoot Sprint Tri.  I've been putting some time in the saddle and surprisingly, this has crossed over well to my running.  

You know those times where you just don't feel fast on the run?  Yeah, I had an entire summer of that.  I thought I would test out my run speed last week after a solid 15 mile TT bike.  I did a 3x1 mile loop run course (off the bike) with an extra 0.1 miles to make it a 5k.  Shockingly, and I say that because I haven't really been doing any speed training on my run, I put in a solid time based on my run fitness.  We'll see how that transfers over to the race tomorrow...

Back to the topic on experiment (initially 30 days in duration).  I wouldn't be the sport dietitian I am today if I didn't run continual experiments on myself so I can share with athletes!  I will be doing my first cyclocross race on Sunday and thought I would initiate a little experiment throughout the season.  I have always been intrigued with the supplement beta-alanine so I have decided to put it to the test.

A quick primer...beta-alanine is an amino acid that aids in the synthesis of carnosine.   Carnosine plays a role in muscle pH regulation and is known to be a buffer to the hydrogen ions that are accumulated in higher intensity exercise.  It is synthesized in skeletal muscle from the two amino acids l-histidine and beta-alanine.  Increasing levels of carnosine in the body can reduce muscular fatigue and improve overall work capacity.   Interestingly, the rate limiting factor of carnosine synthesis is the availability of beta-alanine.  So, supplementing with beta-alanine will improve carnosine levels which should improve the body's ability to buffer hydrogen ions.

What does this have to do with me?  Well, cyclocross racing is very explosive as is some of the training.  I am going to put this supplement to the test to see if I notice any differences in the quality of my training and racing.  I started my supplement protocol of 6 grams of beta-alanine per day mixed with 10 grams of carbohydrate (research states this may improve the response).  As I sit here typing this, I am experiencing the only side effect of taking beta-alanine: paresthesia (tingling sensation in the extremities).  It just feels like a mild case of pins and needles.

Away I go...stay tuned for updates!

Coach Bob