Apologies for the lack of blog action in the last week. I have had various internet problems and gruelling days at the Grandstand which pretty much wiped me out. I'm going to try and post something every day now in the run-up to the Parish to try and get myself (and hopefully you too) in the mood!
I threatened last week to share what food and drink info I had found when trawling through the depths of Google. Of course there is the standard stuff like Lucozade Sport, Powerade etc but in past years I have found that sometimes those energy drinks sit too heavy on the stomach and that you need something different to break up the sickly sweet taste a bit. Water is always good of course, especially as it is in such plentiful supply from the food stations during the event, but although it's obviously very important to drink plenty of water, drinking too much can effectively wash out the minerals and nutrients from your body. I think it's good to try and find a balance somewhere in between.
Last year I predominately used Tesco own brand energy drinks. The info on the label was certainly encouraging - from memory I think they had almost as many kcal as Lucozade. I had two different flavours - citrus and raspberry. I found the citrus to be too sharp, almost to the point of being sour, so I pretty much exclusively drank the raspberry flavour along with some other drinks. One of these was the electrolyte version of Lucozade Sport (it comes in the same bottle but with a sort of white ribbon on the label to mark it out from the standard stuff.) You can either buy it in bottles or buy the sachets separately. Last year I raided Boots about 2 weeks before the event and loaded up, and having looked in town yesterday and found none, it seems that many others have had the same idea!
The advantage of these electrolyte drinks is that they help to replenish what you are losing through effort and perspiration, particularly the salt. It's easy to forget that you need to take on board salt as well as carbs, protein and the like, and electrolyte drinks help with that by balancing what your body has lost. Wikipedia offers a good explanation of this under the 'Sports Drinks' subheading at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrolyte
Of course, you don't have to buy the sachets. It's easy enough to make your own drinks at home, which will certainly help keep the already-increading Tesco Parish bill down a bit! There are all sorts of recipes out there but some of the more interesting are as follows:
1) 4 tbsp glucose powder, 1 tsp salt, 750ml water, 250ml fruit juice
2) Rice pudding, milk, salt and a tbsp of jam (!)
3) Choose an amount of water and then add 4% glucose, 4% sucrose (available in powders) and 1/2 a teaspoon of salt per litre
4) A really interesting one that I'll be trying at Glen Maye: 500ml pure orange juice mixed with 500ml flat Coca Cola. Apparently this is 'rocket fuel' for the last hour of exercise. I'm going to try this out (despite the text I had last week telling me not to experiment with new foods and drinks!)
I also came across a fantastically titled EU Report: "Report of the Scientific Committee on Food on composition and specification of food intended to meet the expenditure of intense muscular effort, especially for sportsmen (sic)" It's available at: http://ec.europa.eu/food/fs/sc/scf/out64_en.pdf
It's pretty heavy going (50 pages in total) but if you can face reading it, there is some very interesting information in there. The main thrust of the report is that sodium is the only electrolyte 'known to confer physiological benefit.' Sodium helps the body absorb carbohydrate and water and the report recommends a concentration of between 30-50 mmol of Sodium per litre of drink (that equates to between about 500-1150 milligrams per litre.) I'm useless with measurements but all energy drinks should tell you on the label. Lucozade Sport for example contains 602 mg of sodium per litre.
Once you've got your energy drinks sorted, the question then of course is how much and how often you need to drink. It will depend on how hot the day is and how hard you are working but from what I've found out the advice seems to be that the best method is to drink 100ml for every 100g you lose through perspiration. Obviously the only way to check this is to weigh yourself before and after a training walk but this is impractical so close to the event. It's clearly impossible to gauge during the Parish itself. I have heard another suggestion which advocates drinking greater quantities than 100ml per 100g, and I want to check and confirm before I post it on here, but I'll hopefully have that done by tomorrow.
The report also talks about carbohydrate and the need to maintain appropriate levels in the body to avoid exhaustion. Some of the best carbohydrate-rich foods include rice cakes, white rice, white bread, jelly beans/babies (classic Parish walkers' fare) and pineapple. Watermelon is apparently the best fruit, higher in carbohydrate than even pineapple and orange.
I have always thought that eating bananas to maintain good levels of protein is very important. The report claims that this is a myth and that there is no scientific evidence proving that protein is particularly crucial - certainly nothing to suggest that protein helps prevent cramp. I'm not sure whether this is true or not but I will be packing those bananas anyway!
I hope this doesn't come across as bombarding you with irrelevancies just days before the walk. It has taken me a while to go through all the info to get straight in my head what is going to be useful and what is not, but maybe it will give you some ideas.