Olympic training centre and rowing boarding school Ratzeburg: Structures and objectives.

Marc Swienty's talk on the Olympic training centre and rowing boarding school Ratzeburg: Structures and objectives.’ 

At first glance, this looked like something right out of the cold war. However, the 'school' aims to provide a high performance atmosphere that combines education and sport. In Europe, "Schools that Row" are rare, unlike in Great Britain. Hence the novelty of a school offering a rowing and education focus. The school offers full-time boarding while the academy provides everything young rowers need to succeed. 

The Olympic Training Centre and rowing boarding school:

- Training at a high performance centre. 

- Studying at nearby schools. 

Marc Swienty's talk highlighted that London 2012's Olympic champions: Lauritz Schoof (men's quad) and Florian Mennigen (men's eight) were part of the academy.  

More talks for the Youth Coaching Conference:

Arne Gullich's presentation on Considering long term sustainability in talent promotion – Implications for talent development in rowing.'

Marc Swienty's presentation on the Olympic training centre and rowing boarding school Ratzeburg: Structures and objectives.’ 

Mario Woldt on Actual aspects and considerations of ethics in sport.

Klaus Mattes on: ‘Diagnostic of rowing performance and technique to optimise technique training

Nina Schaffert on: 'Visual and auditory / acoustic feedback to optimise rowing technique and boat acceleration'




Arne Gullich: Considering long term sustainability in talent promotion

Arne Gullich talk on Considering long term sustainability in talent promotion – Implications for talent development in rowing.

In particular, when should one specialise in sport. His premise was based on the following:

Specialisation, variability and volume:

-       Is there an ideal age to start rowing? If so, when?

-       What is the optimal volume of training and competition?

-       Variety in sports activities or specialisation for young athletes.

-       Short term and the long term effects of specialisation and variability..   

Gullich is a protagonist of a recent “diversification theory” rather than that of “deliberate practice”. Citing that a child’s participation in multiple sports tend to lead to long-term performance benefits.  

Gullich made an effective reference to British Rowing’s “Sporting Giants” talent transfer programme which focused on Athletes aged 18 to 23. Here, Gullich identified that who met the world class level bench mark (More below) could learn specific skills at an older age and be successful at an elite level. 

More about British Rowing’s Sporting Giants:

This ground-breaking talent identification programme was established in 2001 with funding from the Lottery Sports Fund with the aim to build the future of the GB Rowing Team by identifying and developing potential Olympians.  Start’s most recent successes have been at the London 2012 Olympic Games, with almost a third of the Team GB Rowers having come through the programme.  Start supported rowers came away with five golds and a bronze from Team GB’s most successful Olympic Regatta of all time:

Helen Glover


Women's Pair                                                                                   

Heather Stanning


Women's Pair

Anna Watkins


Women's Double

Alex Gregory


Men's Four

Kat Copeland


Lightweight Women's Double

Moe Sbihi


Men's Eight

Specific bench marks for Men:

188cm (6'2"): 14 - 20 years old. 

Specific bench marks for Women:

178cm (5'10") 14 - 22 years old.

Lightweights are only tested if they are exceptionally athletic. 

More about the program on the British Rowing website.

More talks for the Youth Coaching Conference:

Arne Gullich's presentation on Considering long term sustainability in talent promotion – Implications for talent development in rowing.'

Marc Swienty's presentation on the Olympic training centre and rowing boarding school Ratzeburg: Structures and objectives.’ 

Mario Woldt on Actual aspects and considerations of ethics in sport.

Klaus Mattes on: ‘Diagnostic of rowing performance and technique to optimise technique training

Nina Schaffert on: 'Visual and auditory / acoustic feedback to optimise rowing technique and boat acceleration'



Learnings in knowledge and speed at Youth Coaches Conference

This year’s World Rowing Youth Coaches Conference took place in Hamburg, Germany from 24 – 27 October 2013.

The theme was “building up the next generation – applied aspects of coaching in young talented rowers.”

At the recent Learnings in knowledge and speed at Youth Coaches Conference held in Hamburge, Germany, the World Rowing Youth Coaches Conference shed some interesting light on on physiological research, biomechanics and performance related lessons. Most notable of which was the German junior rowing system. Which, this year, reclaimed its former position as the lead junior rowing nation. 

The following talks were presented: 

Arne Gullich's presentation on Considering long term sustainability in talent promotion – Implications for talent development in rowing.'

Marc Swienty's presentation on the Olympic training centre and rowing boarding school Ratzeburg: Structures and objectives.’ 

Mario Woldt on Actual aspects and considerations of ethics in sport.

Klaus Mattes on: ‘Diagnostic of rowing performance and technique to optimise technique training

Nina Schaffert on: 'Visual and auditory / acoustic feedback to optimise rowing technique and boat acceleration'



German Mens Eight and Quad - Mario Woldt

Rowing Ireland was honoured to be the host of the 2012 World Rowing Coaches Conference. The conference was held from Thursday 1st to Sunday 4th November 2012 at the Strand Hotel, Limerick.

This year the theme was "FISA's Four Yearly Review of the Olympic preparations and performances" 



German Mens Eight and Quad - Mario Woldt



































Athletes and Coaches - Dr Annelen Collatz

Rowing Ireland was honoured to be the host of the 2012 World Rowing Coaches Conference. The conference was held from Thursday 1st to Sunday 4th November 2012 at the Strand Hotel, Limerick.

This year the theme was "FISA's Four Yearly Review of the Olympic preparations and performances" 


Athletes and Coaches - Dr Annelen Collatz

Annelen Collatz looks at psychology in sport and its importance for both coaches and rowers in the German National Rowing Federation in the build up to the London 2012 Olympic Games.
























 From: FISA Coaching Conference 2012


GB Team - Paul Thompson, Robin Williams, Paul Reedy

Rowing Ireland was honoured to be the host of the 2012 World Rowing Coaches Conference. The conference was held from Thursday 1st to Sunday 4th November 2012 at the Strand Hotel, Limerick.

This year the theme was "FISA's Four Yearly Review of the Olympic preparations and performances" 


GB Team - Paul Thompson, Robin Williams, Paul Reedy

The GB coaching team of Paul Thompson, Robin Williams and Paul Reedy achieved 3 gold medals between them at the London 2012 Olympic Games. 




Paul Thompson - Chief Coach: Women and Lightweights and Coach of the Women's Double Scull.









































Robin Williams - Coach of the GBR Women's Pair. 












Paul Reedy - Coach of the Lightweight Women's Double Scull. 








From: FISA Coaching Conference 2012


A Review of Hydration

By: Douglas S. Kalman, PhD, RD and Anna Lepeley, MS, CSCS, CISSN
From: Strength and Conditioning Journal: Vol 32 No 2 April 2010
Article link: A Review of Hydration.

This article reviews the guidelines and considerations of hydration applicable to various population groups and respective conditions. An area of interest and controversy with hydration is the impact of adding protein, as compared with carbohydrate or the combination of the two, on overall hydration and performance status.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) in 2004 put forth official recommendations as related to water/hydration needs. this official recommendation is a new step within the paradigm of recommended dailyintake/allowance as before 2004, whenthe IOM stated that it was impossible to set a water recommendation (11). The IOM has created a level of water intake deemed to describe the ‘‘adequate intake’’ (AI). The AI is meant ‘‘to prevent deleterious, primary acute, effects of dehydration, which include metabolic and functional abnormalities’’ (11). Water is the largest constituent of the human body. It accounts formore than 60% of the human body’s volume. Water is essential for cellular homeostasis, playing important roles in physiological and biochemical functions. Many factors impact daily hydration needs and our ability tohydrate. How the body regulates and uses water/hydration is relevant to the realm of nutrition and physical activity.For example, an increase in core body temperature during exercise is coupled with heat dissipation. Heat dissipation will result in cutaneous vasodilation and change in heat transfer and exchange. If heat transfer via radiationand convection is not adequate in reducing the heat load, sweating will occur, and heat will be lost by evaporation. If the water loss exceeds fluid intake (a condition referred to as hypohydration), then dehydration will ensue.

Water is a macronutrient that is underappreciated. It has to be recognized that there is extreme difficulty in establishing a specific level of water intake that ensures adequate hydration and promotes optimal health under all potential conditions and populations. Understanding the relationship between hydration states and optimal wellness along with disease relationships allows for the belief that there is a relationship between hydration and disease. Moreover, it is believed that hydration may play a role in the prevention of prolonged labor, urolithiasis, urinary tract infections, bladder cancer, constipation, pulmonary/bronchial disorders, heart disease, hypertension, venous thrombosis, and other conditions (9,16).

The purpose of this review is to provide a basic background of information as related to the aspects that affect hydration needs and fluid balance. The provision of fluid guidelines for the physically active adult and the nonactive adult is included. Total life cycle hydration is not covered herein but may be obtained through outside resources (3).


Fluid intake’s impact on health is well recognized. Surprisingly, however, the attention in which water/hydration is given is often undermined because the media infatuates with nutrition-related research focusing on carbohydrates, protein, and fat in hope of shedding light on prevalent obesity epidemics. The body is composed of 50–70% water (the average of 60% is the norm), and water/fluid is stored or circulating. For example, muscle contains about 73% water, blood 93%, and fat mass has 10%. It is known that approximately 5– 10% of total body water is turned over daily through obligatory losses (respiration, urine, and sweat). Respiratory water losses are typically recouped by the production of metabolic water formed by substrate oxidation. Fluid losses during and after exercise also affect overall fluid balance. By definition, fluid balance is the achievement of a balance between fluid output and intake. It has been reported that physically active adults who reside in warmer climates have daily water needs of 6 liters with highly active populations needing even more to remain euhydrated (32). It also appears that as we age, our hydration needs also increase (26,36). Water is a fluid that acts as a solvent and a transport system within the human body. Water can affect many metabolic processes, attributes of physical performance, and mental acuity because it plays a primary role in thermoregulation, optimal health, and its acute status. A disruption in fluid balance, as minimal as a 2% total body water reduction, can significantly hinder aerobic performance, orthostatic tolerance, and cognitive function. The average fluid intake in the United States is currently 1,440 mL/d with 19% of the fluid intake coming from foods (2).

The IOM recommends, in general, that men aged 19–70 and older consume 3.7 L/d and women aged 19–70 and older ingest 2.7 L/d of all water sources (water, other liquids, and foods). Hence, Americans are typically underhydrated based on the following IOM guidelines.


Water is a multifunctional macronutrient. One of the utmost important functions of water is heat regulation (body heat). Water acts as a buffer when body temperature rises if there is high specific heat (the specific heat of water equals 1 when 1 kilogram of water is heated 1_C between 15 and 16_C). As aforementioned, the body is approximately 60% fluid; therefore, a 70 kg man will contain approximately 42 kg of water throughout the body (29). For every 1_ rise in temperature in a 70 kg person, approximately 58 calories (kilocalories termed herein as calories) will be metabolized, thus the heat buffering effect of water also results in increased metabolic rate. Thermoregulation is pertinent to exercise physiology (and thus, overall physical activity) as evidenced by the evaporation of sweat. For example, for every gram of sweat evaporated (liquid to vapor) from the skin, the body expends 0.58 calories (or 2.43 kJ) (29,8). In other words, there is a metabolic cost of exercise and that the caloric expenditure is related to hydration status. Therefore, water not only has high specific heat, it also assists in the transfer of heat from areas of production to dissipation. Heat transport occurs efficiently, with minimal change in actual blood temperature. The body regulates fluid balance in a precise and proficient fashion. Water readily transverses all cell membranes in the body. Osmotic and hydrostatic gradients dictate the movement of water. Water is also affected by the activity of adenosine triphosphatase in sodium-potassium pump (Na-K pump). For example, when a person initiates a regularly conducted exercise regimen and is unaccustomed to doing so, fluid shifts occur and plasma volume will expand to accommodate upon commencement.


Thirst is subjective. The perception of being thirsty is also a subjective motivator to quench the thirst in animals and humans (21). Regulatory systems maintain body fluid levels essential for long-term survival. Fluid needs and urges to drink are influenced by various and interrelated factors including cultural and societal habits, internal psychogenic drive, and the regulatory controls to maintain fluid homeostasis.

Regulatory control includes maintaining fluid content of various bodily compartments, the osmotic gradient of the extracellular fluids, or work with specific hormones to assist in the regulation. When the body loses water, it is usually depleted from both the extracellular and intracellular spaces. These losses might not be equal in volume. A loss of water and sodium chloride (NaCl), the major solute of the extracellular fluid, results in proportionately more extracellular fluid depletion than if water alone is lost. In sweat, NaCl is lost at a rate of 7:1 compared with potassium (21). Thus, fluid losses of 1–2% of body weight or greater induce the need for fluid and electrolyte replacement. If fluid losses come from the gastrointestinal tract (i.e., diarrhea) and are of normal osmotic load (isotonic), then the depletion will be entirely from the extracellular fluid. However, if hypertonic fluid is added to the extracellular compartment, there will be an osmotic depletion of water from the intracellular compartment into the extracellular fluid, and this latter compartment will be expanded. There is a range of compensatory responses that can occur in synchronicity with losses from the intra- or extracellular space. Understanding the effects of vasopressin secretion, stimulation of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, sympathetic activation, and reduced renal solute and water excretion is important when addressing hydration in athletes. Hormonal responses to fluid losses, however, are not solutions to returning an athlete to a euhydrated state. The sole means of properly hydrating an individual is by replenishing by the standards of 600 mL per 0.46 kg weight loss (approximately 1,320 mL per kilogram weight lost) (11,13,17,18,23).

Thirst can be thought of as the ‘‘vocal’’ component, the body’s response to fluid shifts or losses. The regulation of thirst includes osmoregulation. The osmotic pressure of the fluid (plasma osmolality) typically lies between 280 and 295 mosmol/kg/H2O. Losses as small as 1–2% of body weight stimulates thirst. Thirst is a response to an increase in the osmotic gradient. Changes in NaCl and/or glucose induce this response by not crossing cell membranes easily.

The osmotic differences between the intracellular and extracellular spaces are what dictate the flow of fluids (higher to lower concentration occurring typically by osmosis). Osmosis is partially regulated by osmoreceptors (relative to vasopressin) in the brain and in the liver. The hypothalamus is the center of the brain where thirst regulation is dictated (14). Thirst regulation is, unquestionably, multifactorial. Within the central nervous system, osmotic, ionic, ahormonal, and nervous signals are integrated and impact the perception of thirst. Overcoming hypo- or dehydration after the ingestion of water or fluid involves additional pathways and factors that are beyond the scope of this article. Furthermore, disease or metabolic disorder states’ impact on hydration status is of noteworthy consideration that cannot be overlooked even in the apparently healthy athlete.


Because many diseases have multifactorial origins (i.e., lifestyle, genetics, and environment), including the state of hydration, the various origins are worthy of examination. Mild dehydration is a factor in the development of various conditions and diseases. Conditions associated with the negative impacts of hypohydration or dehydration include alterations in amniotic fluids, prolonged labor, cystic fibrosis, and renal toxicity secondary to dehydration altering how contrast agents are metabolized.

The effects of chronic hypohydration or dehydration (systemic effects) include associations with (ranging from weak to mild) urinary tract infections, gallstones, constipation, hypertension, bladder and colon cancer, venous thromboembolism, cerebral infarcts, dental diseases, kidney stones, mitral valve prolapse, glaucoma, and diabetic ketoacidosis (16). Rehydration and proper hydration assist with condition management, disease prevention, and the betterment of health. Factors that can affect hydration include high ambient temperature, the relative humidity, high sweat losses (sweat rates), increased body temperature, exercise duration, training status of the individual, exercise intensity, high body fat percentage, underwater exercise, use of diuretic medications, and uncontrolled diabetes. The assessment of an athlete for hydration should include a review of all of the aforementioned factors.

The goal with each individual, regardless of athletic participation status or lack thereof, is euhydration. Hydration needs have been detailed by the IOM, as aforementioned, for both genders. However, the practicality of application is hard for the everyday consumer. Easy ‘‘rule of thumb’’ hydration guidelines for general health are needed. Many dietitians recommend their clients shoot for a goal to drink the equivalence of ounces to half their body weight. Meaning that if you weigh 68 kg (150 pounds), your hydration goal, per day, with normal activities are 1500–2250 mL (50–75 oz) of nonalcoholic fluid.


The overwhelmingly consistent conclusion across multiple research studies, academic societies, and training associations is that dehydration can significantly impact performance, with particular concern in warmer climate conditions (6,15–17,23). Thus, fluid replacement guidelines have been established to minimize exertional dehydration. Dehydration, as defined by a 2% loss of euhydrated body weight (30), negatively impacts athletic performance. Dehydration is associated with a reduction or an adverse effect upon muscle strength, endurance, coordination, mental acuity, and the thermoregulatory processes (1,4,6,9,15–17).

Water/fluid losses during exercise are impacted by many variables. The interindividual variation in sweat rates is wide, and no universal recommendations are used. As a general rule, for every pound of body weight lost between the initiation of exercise and the cessation, one replaces with 600 mL per approximately 1/5 kilogram of body weight lost (20 ounces [1.25 pints per pound] per pound of body weight lost).

Fluid and sodium losses occur during prolonged exercise. Human sweat contains 40–50 mmol sodium per liter (30). For the most part, in the normal healthy person, large fluid losses are followed by large sodium losses. The typical sodium to potassium ratio of losses is 7:1. An athlete engaged in prolonged exercise can lose 5 L of fluid per day with a range of 4,600–5,750 mg sodium and much smaller amounts of potassium. Heat-acclimated athletes benefit from enhanced sodium reabsorption that results in better protection of plasma volume by reducing the sodium losses. The training state of an athlete is very important when contemplating fluid needs. Sodium losses do not directly impact physical performance; however, using salts in fluid replacement is proven to enhance the thirst response and aid in rehydration (17,18,34).

Hypohydration (1% body weight loss) also decreases the ability of athletes to perform. Athletes, typically, do not replace sweat/sodium losses enough during the event. The average marathon runner will lose up to 3% body weight and if the run takes place in a temperate climate, losses could exceed up to 5%. According to Maughan, elite marathoners tend to lose salt/sweat at a rate of 2 L/h. This sweat rate exceeds intestinal absorption capability of the gut (33,19).

A plethora of studies clearly demonstrate a negative impact of hypohydration and dehydration on athletic performance (range from 1 to 8% fluid losses). Studies using sports or situations designed to mimic a sport have noted a decrement in performance for soccer, basketball, running/racing, cycling, and others (6,15–17,23). In addition, better hydration is associated with lower esophageal temperature, heart rate, and ratings of perceived exertion; all factors that, when increased, may impact performance (23).

Exercise increases the metabolic rate, and because energy is converted into heat, water losses will occur. In cold climates (winter sports or outdoor sports in mild or cold climates), heat is lost via radiation and convection, and as the temperature increases, the losses are noticeable as sweat. The physiological response to exercise is to expand the blood volume and to increase the sensitivity for sweating to occur. Athletes and their coaches, trainers, and nutritionists must be cognizant of changes in osmolarity. Body temperature and the volume of the liquid being ingested as well as the osmolarity can affect performance.

Another impact of hypohydration or dehydration that should be a concern to the athlete or their training staff is the potential for detriment on cognitive ability. The mental aspect of sports coupled with neuromuscular integration cannot be understated. The neuropsychological impacts of hydration, as well as the biological mechanisms and behavioral relationships, are relatively new areas of research. Brain behaviour and cognitive assessment is recently new to the exercise physiology field because many new cognitive assessment tools have become available.

Interesting to note, however, is a pioneer research study related to fluid and salt intake (6,15). In a review by Lieberman, hypohydration and dehydration were found to have an association with increased fatigue, impaired discrimination, impaired tracking, impaired short-term memory, and impaired recall and attention. In addition, arithmetic ability decreased while response time to peripheral visual stimuli was also affected (6,15). Cognitive applications relative to Lieberman’s study have been tested not only in academic exercise and psychology research but also with military personnel. Heat- or temperature-induced dehydration yields the same cognitive performance decrements associated with exercise-induced dehydration. This indicates that the hydration status is central for maintaining cognitive and physical performance. Cognitive performance,

under the influence of dehydration, most often results in increased fatigue and tracking errors (visual-brain connection) along with a decrease in short-term memory. Hyperhydration, on the other hand, allots an increase in short memory while having a neutral impact on the additional aforementioned factors, exclusive of any negative effects (4).


When it comes to measuring hydration, there is no sole universal standard. There are at least 13 techniques used for assessing hydration. Water is the body’s currency because it is the medium for circulatory function, biochemical reactions, temperature regulation, and other physiological processes. In addition, fluid turnover occurs because water is lost from fluidelectrolyte shifts, in addition to losses from the lungs, skin, and kidneys. In addition, aging affects hydration needs (water is gained through the diet as well as fluid intake).

The types of hydration assessment methods (in the field and lab) include

1. stable isotope dilution
2. neutron activation analysis
3. bioelectrical impedance (BIA)
4. body mass change
5. plasma osmolality
6. plasma volume change
7. urine osmolality
8. urine specific gravity
9. urine conductivity
10. urine color
11. 24-hour urine volume
12. salivary flow rate (osmolality, flow rate, and protein content)
13. rating of thirst

An additional practical tool that is used clinically is the Hydration Assessment Checklist (HA). The HA is a lengthy in-depth assessment designed to screen for hydration problems (35). The HA is most often used in clinical conditions and in an older population. Older adults, both in the community as well as in the nursing home, are grossly underhydrated, ingesting on average less than about 0.26 gallons (1 L) daily, which is substantially lower than recommended. Of the reported halfgallon of fluid, few take in actual water as their primary fluid source. Water is an essential element supporting cellular and organ health, electrolyte balance, medication absorption and distribution, and kidney, bladder, and integumentary functioning (26,36). In essence, the importance of fluid intake for older adults is of momentous concern.

The following factors have been detailed in the literature as to why 1 gold standard for measuring hydration is not possible (1).

1. The physiological regulation of total body water volume (i.e., water turnover) and fluid concentrations is complex and dynamic. Renal, thirst, and sweat gland responses are involved to varying degrees, depending on the prevailing activities. In addition, renal regulation of water balance (i.e., arginine vasopressin) is distinct from the regulation of tonicity.

2. The 24-hour fluid deficit varies greatly among sedentary individuals and athletes primarily because of the exercise and morphology. The deficit must be matched by food and fluid intake (the fluid portion of food is often overlooked).

3. Sodium and osmolyte consumption affects the daily water requirement. Regional customs impact the ‘‘normals’’ used within biochemical assessment of hydration. For example, the mean 24-hour urine osmolality in Germany is 860 mOsm/kg, in Poland, it is 392 mOsm/kg, and in the United States, it is in the range of 280–295 mOsm/kg.

4. The volume and timing of fluid intake alters measurement of hydration. Pure water or hypotonic solutions ingested rapidly can cause dilute urine before cellular equilibrium to occur.

5. Urine samples (spot) not representing the true 24-hour void.

6. Experimental designs that differ in assessment techniques (blood versus urine).

7. Use of stable isotopes to assess hydration. However, it is not known if the isotopes are uniformly distributed throughout the body, thus the assumption used in these techniques is faulty.

8. Exercise and physical labor (as well as pregnancy labor) increase blood volume while decreasing renal blood flow and altering the glomerular filtration rate affecting hydration.

9. Changes in osmolarity and osmolality can affect the readings for hydration on certain devices (i.e., BIA).

In addition to the above, many questions exist regarding the use of plasma osmolality as a biomarker for hydration.

These include questions regarding the fact that plasma osmolality varies widely depending upon the condition being tested, environment of the test, the preexercise hydration state, and the intervention being evaluated. One question is that is there a way to meld laboratory techniques with those in the field so that trainers, coaches, and related personnel can better help athletes?

The first item to discuss is the intervention and educational sessions that athletes should receive from appropriate professionals (i.e., exercise physiologist, registered dietitian, sports nutritionist, athletic trainer, and so on). Education is the key to preventing dehydration. Combining education with accessible fluid stations (on the field or in the general area of training), available to the athletes at specific intervals, may make euhydration an easier goal to maintain

For the field technique using the combination of weighing the athlete before and after the training or competition and using the weight change as the guide for rehydration may just be the best standard when controlling for applicability, financial impact, and ease of education. The rehydration is 600 mL per 0/5 kilogram of body weight lost. Other techniques that may be able to be used in combination with monitoring weight changes include using blood and urine testing if available.

Testing for osmolality (both), sodium (both), and hematocrit levels (blood) are typical and inexpensive.


Humans achieve normal hydration with a wide range of fluid intakes across their life span. Fluid homeostasis can be challenging to maintain during physical work and heat stress. Body water comprises 50–70% of body weight. Approximately 5–10% of total body water is turned over daily via obligatory losses and the need for replacement when coupled with exercise-related fluid losses becomes that much more apparent. The greater the fluid losses (from nonemergent situations, not medical or surgical), the longer the time it will take for rehydration (4% weight loss may take up to 24 hours to rehydrate), thus prevention and use of foods or fluids that may aid in more expedient rehydration is noteworthy for application (13).

Body water is maintained by matching daily water loss with intake. Metabolic water production also contributes to a small degree hydration (metabolic hydration yields approximately 250 mL/d). The Food and Nutrition Board has established an AI level of 3.7 and 2.7 L/d for men and women, respectively (11). The Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals concluded that adults receive about 25% of their daily fluid intake from foods (10). Maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance means that active individuals need to replace the water and electrolytes lost in sweat. This requires that active individuals, regardless of age, strive to hydrate well before exercise, drink fluids throughout exercise, and rehydrate once exercise is over. As outlined by the American College of Sports Medicine and the National Athletic Trainers’ Association generous amounts of fluids should be consumed 24 hours before exercise and 400–600 mL of fluid should be consumed 2 hours before exercise (this is approximately 6–10 oz) (23). During exercise, active individuals should attempt to drink approximately 150–350 mL (6–12 oz) of fluid every 15–20 minutes. If exercise is of long duration (usually .1 hour or 75 minutes) or occurs in a hot environment, sport drinks containing carbohydrate and sodium could be used.

W hen exercise is over, most active individuals have some level of dehydration. Drinking enough fluids to cover approximately 150% of the weight lost during exercise may be needed to replace fluids lost in sweat and urine. This fluid can be part of the postexercise meal, which should also contain sodium, either in the food or beverages, because diuresis occurs (fluid losses) when only plain water is ingested. Sodium helps the rehydration process by maintaining plasma osmolality and the desire to drink.

Fluid content of foods should not be underestimated or underappreciated by health professionals. High water content foods, listed as food and percent water, include iceberg lettuce (96%), cooked squash (94%), pickle (92%), cantaloupe (90%), oranges (87%), apple (86%), and pears (84%) as compared with steak (50%), cheddar cheese (37%), white bread (36%), cookies (4%), and nuts (about 2%). Therefore, including the national recommendation of 5–9 fruits and vegetables in the day also assists with hydration.

Preexercise, some athletes use beverages that contain .100 mmol/L NaCl, temporarily inducing hyperhydration, thus aiding in rehydration. Adding glycerol to the typical sports beverage or oral rehydration solution at a dose of 1.0–1.5 g/kg/body weight also assists in inducing hyperhydration (31). Nonwater sources of hydration include caffeinated beverages. Caffeine is stated to be a mild diuretic; however, the vast evidence indicates that caffeinated beverages and water hydrate to the same degree over a 24-hour period.

Fiala et al. (5) have found that caffeine is often rumored to be a mild diuretic, while noting that caffeine itself can enhance exercise performance (typical dose at 5 mg/kg). This study used 10 athletes who completed twice-a-day practices (2 h/practice = 4 h/d) for 3 consecutive days at 23_C. The study used a randomized double-blind design comparing a caffeine rehydration agent with one without caffeine (Coca-Cola versus caffeine-free version). The findings revealed that caffeine intake did not impair rehydration. No differential effects on urine or plasma osmolality, plasma volume, hematocrit, hemoglobin, or body weight were observed between the 2 groups. The caffeine (cola) intake was approximately 244 mg/d served in 7 cans/d of soda (approximately 35 mg caffeine/360 mL).

Grandjean et al. (7) found analogous results in a study of 18 males using a randomized crossover design with a free-living 24-hour capture design. The study tested 4 beverage treatments consisting of carbonated caffeine caloric cola, noncaloric caffeinated cola, and coffee and their respective effects on 24-hour hydration status. The researchers collected urine for 24 hours and analyzed for electrolytes, body weight, osmolality, emoglobin, hematocrit, blood urea nitrogen, creatinine, and other biomarkers. The results clearly denoted no differences among the groups in any variable, therefore, eliminating the connotation that caffeine be disregarded from daily fluid intake. Subsequently, the evidence supports the consumption of caffeine-containing beverages for the use of added hydration. Newer research data has started to support the inclusion of small amounts of protein with carbohydrates for hydration recovery. In 2001, 10 endurance-trained men were employed to investigate the ergogenic effects of isocaloric carbohydrate (CHO, 152.7 g) and carbohydrateprotein (CHO-PRO, 112 g CHO with 40.7 g PRO) drinks ingested after a glycogen-lowering diet and exercise bout. Treatments were administered in a double-blind and counterbalanced fashion. After a glycogen-lowering diet and run, 2 dosages of a drink were administered with a 60-minute interval between dosages. The CHO-PRO trial resulted in higher serum insulin levels (60.84 versus 30.1 mU/mL) 90 minutes into recovery than the CHO-only trail (p , 0.05). Furthermore, the time to run to exhaustion was longer during the CHO-PRO trial (540.7 6 91.56 seconds) than the CHO-only trial (446.1 6 97.09 seconds; p , 0.05). In conclusion, a CHO-PRO drink after glycogen-depleting exercise may facilitate a greater rate of muscle glycogen resynthesis than a CHO-only beverage, hasten the recovery process, and improve exercise endurance during a second bout of exercise performed on the same day (24). Subsequent studies have found that adding protein in the ratio of 1 part protein to every 4 parts carbohydrate has been found to induce exercise hydration on the magnitude of 15% better than the typical carbohydrate beverage and 40% more than water alone (12,27).

A study by Seifert et al. (27) actually concluded, ‘‘contrary to popular misconception, adding protein to a carbohydrate-based sports drink led to improved water retention by 15% over [a carbohydrate-only sports drink] and 40% over plain water.’’ In the study, cyclists exercised until they lost 2% of their body weight (through sweating) and then drank a carbohydrate-protein sports drink (Accelerade), a carbohydrate only sports drink (Gatorade), or water. Over the next 3 hours, measurements were taken to determine how much of each beverage was retained in the body (versus the amount lost through urination). The carbohydrate-protein sports drink was found to rehydrate the athletes 15% better than the carbohydrate only sports drink and 40% better than water. All 3 drinks emptied from the stomach and were absorbed through the intestine at the same rate. In addition, there was no difference between the carbohydrate-protein drink and the carbohydrate-only drink regarding the effects on blood plasma volume. This suggests that the carbohydrate-protein drink resulted in increased water retention within and between cells. Therefore, when rehydration and fluid retention are of concern; a carbohydrate-protein sports drink may be preferable over plain water and a carbohydrate-electrolyte sports drink.

An additional sports application study by Seifert et al. (28) found that ‘‘ingestion of a carbohydrate-protein beverage minimized muscle damage indices during skiing compared with placebo and no fluid.’’ Thirty-one recreational skiers were separated into 3 groups. All 3 groups skied 12 runs, which took about 3 hours. One group drank nothing. A second group drank 6 oz (.18 L) of a placebo (flavored water) after every second run. A third group drank an equal amount of the carbohydrate- protein sports drink (Accelerade).

After the 12th run, blood samples were taken from each skier and analyzed for 2 biomarkers of muscle stress (myoglobin and creatine kinase). Subjects who received the carbohydrateprotein sports drink showed no signs of muscle damage, while indicators of muscle damage increased by 49% in subjects receiving only water. Thus, it is reasonable to conclude that in this type of sport using a carbohydrate-protein drink is more beneficial than water for maintaining skeletal integrity and hydration. Typically hydration and rehydration for athletes is done with a 6–8% glucose-electrolyte solution. Newer research is finding that adding just a small amount of protein to this type of sports beverage not only enhances hydration and rehydration (or hydration maintenance) but also promotes muscle protein synthesis (which does not happen with CHO alone) and glycogen reaccumulation while reducing markers of muscle damage. These beverages are gaining popularity for their multiple benefits that seem to make them superior to the typical sports beverage during exercise or postexercise nutrition.


Fluid replacement is a vital component and must be addressed in a diligent manner. In general, sports nutritionists use the following fluid recommendations (25,20):j 480–600 cc fluid: 1–2 hours before Exercise 300–480 cc fluid: 15 minutes before exercise 120–180 cc fluid: every 10–15 minutes during exercise In general, start fluid intake 24 hours before exercise event. Fluid intake coming from food must also be considered. As aforementioned, however, hydration in the postexercise recovery is best achieved by the ingestion of either the typical glucoseelectrolyte solution or a carbohydrateprotein mixture. However, if the exercise has duration of less than 60–75 minutes, then plain water (may be flavored) is recommended. There are no proven ergogenic effects or benefits from vitamin- or mineral-enriched waters except that they provide absorbable nutrients at lower caloric costs than some foods. Despite the lack of ergogenic enhancement, research shows that the volume of fluid intake generally increases when water or the beverage is flavored (22). The athlete may consider taking note of the volume of his/her beverage intake to become more familiar with how their body responds to rehydration. The athlete can personalize his/her fluid intake based upon what

types of beverages result in improved recovery as measured by hydration, return to normal body weight, subsequent exercise performance, and effects on mental abilities/cognition.


Exercise increases the metabolic rate. Energy production leads to heat loss, and fluid status is affected. The climate has an underappreciated effect on hydration status. In cold climates, the thermoregulatory response includes enhanced heat production by a variety of means; all resulting in increased fluid losses. Exercising in temperate climates is actually a little easier because the body’s accommodation response is to increase blood volume and sweating mechanism sensitivity. Athletes, along with their trainers and coaches, must be cognizant about the physiological impacts of exercise, such as changes in body temperature and blood volume, in their surrounding climate. Elevated temperature is related to blood volume reduction and performance.

Maintaining fluid balance reduces the effects of climate and/or blood volume on hydration status. For exercise lasting less than an hour, water or noncaloric fluid is recommended. It is not well known if ‘‘nonintensive’’ exercise requires that the rehydration solution include carbohydrate and electrolytes.

Most data note no need for supplemented calories and salts with shortterm exercise bouts. If the exercise is longer in duration, maintaining hydration and rehydration is much more important. Beverages beneficial for enhancing rehydration include carbohydrate- electrolyte solutions and carbohydrate- protein beverages (C-P).

Caffeinated beverages, with and without calories, also add to hydration and rehydration. Although in the immediate postexercise period, data are mounting for C-P to be the superior postexercise rehydration and recovery beverage.

Future research will focus on the multiple applications of this admixture beverage along with other potential beneficial effects. Taste acceptance is very important for any of these beverages to actually be used by athletes; therefore, overcoming taste issues for beverages that contain protein remains an issue for researchers and food scientists to overcome. In conclusion, maintaining euhydration and understanding how to rehydrate after exercise is an important aspect of sports nutrition that is underdiscussed and/or underappreciated.

Douglas S. Kalman is a director in the Nutrition and Endocrinology Division of Miami Research Associates and is also an adjunct professor of Sports Nutrition and Advanced Metabolism in the Robert Stempel School of Public Health at Florida International University.

Anna Lepeley is a doctoral candidate for Touro University and a cohost on the Strength-Power Hour Radio Show.


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How To Run Seat Races

By Ted Nash from the 2000-2001 American Rower's Almanac:
Found at Rec.Sport.Rowing Newsgroup
Site Link: How To Run Seat Races

Ted Nash has coached over 35 U.S. National and Olympic Teams involving 48 crews covering every event. His Olympic and world boats have produced 20 medals.

The following rules of engagement are offered as guidance for conducting seat-racing. By using the standards outlined below, coaches and rowers create a basis for accurate and fair results.

Pre-Race Planning

  1. The coach, coxswains and rowers should meet beforehand to discuss the specific logistical details including length of warm-up, where the boats and launches will meet on the water, and when seat racing will commence.
  2. The coach should make a chart fro the meeting showing the directions the races will be run, the lanes for each shell, the warm-up and rest times, and other matters that may influence readiness. Planned switches should not be shown on the chart.
  3. In the planning of these races, allow some time for switched athletes in the boat to become used to a different seat, and allow them to change their foot stretchers as they desire. If taping the lock is allowed, give the athlete a chance to readjust to the pitch. These changes can be done very quickly.
  4. The coach must not reveal to anyone how many races are planned as weather, accidents, close races and a myriad other factors can influence how many matches are needed to make seating decisions. Tie races must be rerun with the rowers in the same seats. 

Coach/Coxswain Preparedness for the Seat Racing

  1. Coxswains should carry a bag containing an adjustable wrench, 10 MM and/or 7/16 wrench, black electrical tape for the boat, and/or pitching and a small roll of white athletic tape for hand, calf or heel blisters. Coxswains should be provided with weights so that all coxswains are the same weight.
  2. Coaches should carry water in the launch boat, and offer it to all rowers at the same time. Bathroom stops should only be allowed at pre-arranged times, preferably when the seat racing is completed.
  3. Coaches should take a standard sized seat, spare lock, spare set of 12-13 size shoes, tools, a skeg for 8+ or 4+, depending on race boats, and a tool box with extra pins.

Seat Racing Protocol

  1. No athlete who has recently received a long rest period that others have not had should be allowed to seat-race in that session.
  2. Seat racing distances should not exceed five minutes which is considered a long enough period to determine strength, rhythm, blend and endurance.
  3. Speed coaches/stroke coaches should be either used by all boats, or by none. Coxswains should be allowed to use cox-box set-ups as they do in regattas.
  4. Accidentally broken equipment should nullify that race only. After replacing broken parts, racing should re-commence.
  5. Coaches should not reveal to the rowers how many races are planned.
  6. A "fair witness" should be riding in the launch to record exact distances of each race in the log book (i.e. - start-variances and margins).
  7. Starts are three to build - margins on fourth catch are noted. Viable stroke rates are 31 to 32.5. Crews are given one free warning for false starts. Subsequent violations result in a one seat penalty. (Later in the season rates of 33-34 are more useful.)
  8. After each piece, crews should paddle one full minute before stopping. Changes are then made. Row about one minute after changing. Major adjustments are made on the dock. Minor items can be changed on the water or by launch assistance. Paddle another four minutes after making the adjustments.
  9. Some coaches want coxswains not to talk during the seat race. That is a choice to make beforehand. Youthful oarsmen generally prefer coxswains who can inspire and fire up. (Keep in mind a special seat race is always going on between coxswains). There are many views on this point but I prefer real race conditions which include a high level of enthusiasm and noise - traits found in all good regatta races.
  10. Coaches will do well not to tip their hands by always racing #3s or #2s, or leaving the strokes until last. Athletes will pick-up on such habits and perhaps miss their own peak performance. Such coaching, if repeated, can cause weaker athletes who doubt they can produce all the time to save themselves for later races.
  11. Close races should be re-raced. My definition of a close race is less than ½ deck in rough water, or strong headwinds.
  12. Tie-races are always re-run with a "lid". A "lid" means the4 athletes return to their seats of the prior race and re-race.
  13. Coaches must never "judge" seat racing results. If the athletes expected to win do not, so be it. Coaches who commit to seat racing cannot, under any circumstances, question the results. Second-guessing is a betrayal of the athletes and will destroy their morale as well as their confidence in the coach.
  14. Integrity of seat racing is assumed, observed, expected, recorded, and demanded by all - peers, coaches, and the sport. Athletes do not forget the "blade with the fade" (explained below). The coach must also be aware of this should it happen and react properly albeit respectfully.
  15. "Blade with the fade: is referring to an athlete who, once realizes he or she is not being seat raced, will ease off in power. This issue must be stated openly to the athletes at least once each year so that every athlete is clear on the importance and integrity of the seat racing.
  16. Athletes may seek redress if done under coach-control and in a timely manner. (I encourage challenge races.)

Post Seat Racing

  1. After the races are over the "fair witness" (launch observer) should report findings to the coaches. Then coaches, coxswains, and perhaps the captain or respected veteran athletes will help record the results. All questions should calmly be answered and explained and verdicts validated.
  2. After each session coxswains must meet with the coach at the dock to discuss margins and fairness. If a question cannot be solved, the strokes and certain other athletes should be called upon for their views as to fairness.
  3. Seat racing results should be posted in specific team room only by name and margin. Do not post in a general area, as the results are privy only to hose who participated.

Checklist for Coaches

A week prior to the first seat race, assign a coxswain to assist your boatman or rigging coach in checking out the seat-race shells. Here are the key things to pass or fail:

  • Check oar pitch. Because all oars change their pitch over time, a negative 1 oar or scull that replaces a plus-one degree blade can upset a boat if not corrected. The best idea is to measure all oars and use only 0 degree blades. The next best option is to put three wraps of PVC tape tightly around the top of the face of the lock to shallow it, or on the bottom to deepen it.
  • Seats have no groves or burned out bearings to destroy the rhythm or flow.
  • All skegs are straight, not just close to okay.
  • No bent riggers. Pins are at zero degrees.
  • No cracked back braces or goose necks.
  • All blades at zero degrees.
  • All inboards pre-set and tight.
  • Steering must be attached in the same fashion (reflex direction) from boat to boat.
  • Yoke turns the rudder directly and does not have slippage.
  • All coxbox types and speakers work clearly and are not muffled.
  • All pins are tight to the main braces.

Many excellent coaches over time have created oarsmen swapping plans for their seat races. Call a few of them and ask for tips of their own.



Avoiding and managing seasonal illness

By Richard Budgett, Paul Davies and Rod Jaques

The average adult experiences between one and six bouts of the common cold each year and it is estimated that at any given time one in sixty adults in the UK will be suffering from a cold infection.  Influenza, whilst not as common, still affects an estimated 10-15 % of the population annually.  The good news for recreationally active athletes is that their incidences of colds and flu seem to be lower than that of the general population.  The bad news for the harder training rowers is that their risk of contracting a winter illness seems to be even greater than that of the population at large.

What is a cold?

The common cold is a viral infection that can be caused by any one of up to 250 strains of virus, the most common group of which is the rhinovirus (rhino referring to the nose).  Rhinoviruses are estimated to be responsible for anywhere between a third and one half of all common colds.  Typically the rhinovirus will invade the mucus of the nose, where it rapidly reproduces.

It is this reproduction of the virus, and your body’s immune reaction to it, that causes the feelings commonly associated with a cold; including fatigue, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, sneezing and mildly swollen glands.

For most people the acute symptoms of a cold will last somewhere between four and seven days, although complications such as sinusitis and bronchitis can prolong the illness and make it more unpleasant.

How does a cold differ from flu?

Influenza (or flu) is also a viral infection, however a much more serious and malevolent virus causes it.  Whilst the common cold virus targets the nose and the upper part of the respiratory tract, influenza infects the upper and/or lower respiratory passages.  The risk of associated complications, such as bacterial pneumonia, are much greater with influenza than with colds, making it a much more worrying condition.

The symptoms of influenza often include headache, fever, muscular pain (myalgia) and weakness.  In addition to these, joint pain, sensitivity to light, nausea and vomiting may also be experienced.  The major differences between cold and flu are that colds rarely cause a fever or body aches, cold symptoms are more likely to be confined above the neck and are less likely to appear suddenly.

How do we contract a cold or flu?

As cold and flu viruses are commonly transmitted through the eyes, mouth, nose and respiratory passages, they are easily transferred by touch, or by contact with aerosols (airborne particles) that are created by coughing or sneezing.

How to avoid contracting a winter illness

•  Avoid  the virus altogether

Obviously a lack of exposure to the virus will dramatically reduce the chances of contracting an infection, however avoiding the virus is not always that easy.  The best method of reducing contact with the virus is giving cold sufferers a wide berth.  Research shows that children suffer from more colds per year than adults, bad news if you are a school teacher or if you have to travel on public transport that serves local schools.

•  Hand washing

Cold viruses are often introduced into the body from the hands and it is easy to pick up viruses by touching contaminated surfaces, or by shaking hands with infected individuals.  Regular and thorough hand washing throughout the day will reduce your chances of infection.  It is also wise to avoid unnecessary contact between the hands and the nose, eyes and mouth, especially if you have been in an environment where the virus may have been rife.

•  Immunosuppression

Whilst short duration, moderate intensity exercise seems to have little effect upon the body’s immune system (it may even bolster it) longer, more demanding workouts have been shown to cause a suppression of the immune system that can last several hours after exercise.

This finding has lead several researchers to suggest that there is an open window to infection in the hours that follow prolonged workouts.  Others have suggested that when training sessions are performed frequently the immune system may not be given enough time to return back to normal.  This means that the open window may be extended over even greater periods of time, making the hard training athlete even more susceptible to the onset of illness. If this is the case then athletes need to be particularly vigilant during periods of long, hard training.

Typical advice given to athletes at risk includes ensuring adequate rest between sessions, tailoring a training programme that does not leave you feeling overtired, and reducing both physiological and psychological stress during the time of year when colds and winter illnesses are most virulent.

Dietary considerations

A poor diet is one of the biggest factors contributing to a badly functioning immune system.  The absence of certain identifiable vitamins and minerals, such as those contained within fruit and vegetables, has been linked with immunosuppression.  Because of this many studies have investigated the links between various food and vitamin supplements and the immune system.  Examples of supplements studied include; glutamine, vitamin C, zinc, dietary fat and dietary carbohydrate.  Unfortunately, the results of many of these studies are contradictory, making it almost impossible for solid recommendations to be made.

Of the supplements listed above it would appear that carbohydrate is the one that deserves the greatest attention.  There are an increasing number of research studies that show that immunosuppression occurs in response to conditions of low blood glucose and depleted muscle glycogen.  Recent studies have shown that maintaining blood glucose levels during exercise, by consuming a carbohydrate drink for example, can reduce or even prevent the immunosuppression often seen after prolonged exercise.

What to do if you pick up an illness

There may be occasions where, despite your best efforts, a virus manages to get a hold in your system. When this happens the first task is to identify whether you are suffering from a cold or from flu, as the recommendations for dealing with each illness will be different.

If the symptoms are localised above the neck and do not include a fever light exercise may actually help to speed recovery. In this situation it is recommended that very low intensity exercise be performed for a period of five to seven days until the symptoms have disappeared. After this time training load can be gradually built up over a period of three days, with full training being resumed on the fourth day if symptoms are completely cleared and recovery is complete. The temptation to resume hard training too early is a dangerous one, as hard exercise performed at this time will increase the likelihood of a secondary infection such as bronchitis or sinusitis.

Presence of symptoms below the neck suggests a more severe and widespread infection. In this instance a medical opinion should be sought and a period of complete rest for between three and seven days is recommended. Following this, if the symptoms have reduced such that aches, fever, fatigue and productive cough are no longer present, light exercise may be performed.

This light exercise should be continued for a period of a further five to seven days, then, if symptoms have completely resolved, a gradual escalation of training up to normal levels can occur.  Again, returning to hard training too soon after an illness such flu will leave the body more susceptible to secondary infection and may even result in debilitating Post Viral Fatigue.

If you are unlucky enough to get struck down by a cold or the flu this winter take pity on your colleagues and training companions by putting yourself into quarantine.  People are usually at their most infectious at the start of a cold so it may be prudent to hide yourself away at this time.  Try not to see your illness as lost time, make the most of it by using your freetime to stretch drink plenty of fluids and more importantly relax.  Your body will thank you for it in the long run.

For those athletes subject to in and out of competition testing it is important to know that certain banned substances may appear in cough remedies and mixtures, and advice should be sought before taking any new medication or supplement.


Dr Rod Jaques is Medical Officer at the British Olympic Centre and also to the English Institute of Sport in Bath and the British Triathlon Association.

Paul Davies is a BASES Accredited Exercise Physiologist and Lecturer in Exercise Physiology and Sports Nutrition at Edge Hill College, Lancashire. He worked with many of the Nations top sportsmen and women at the British Olympic Medical Centre.

Dr Richard Budgett is Director of Medical Services of the British Olympic Association and Chairman of the ARA Medical Committee.

This article was previously published in Triathlon magazine.


Sleep and it's Importance in Rowing


By: Steve Hargis

Take a look at the US Junior Rowing page. It is an excellent resource for those who are looking at being competitive junior rowers or coaches.

The article below is an important oversite by many athletes and coaches who tend to take this for granted. This can be a cause of Unexplained Under Performance Syndrome or over-reaching.

Why is sleep important?

Several studies have shown that individuals who engage in regular bouts of physical activity have an increased need for total sleep time and for slow-wave (Stage 3 & 4) sleep.  Repair and growth are maximized during these stages since non-growth-related metabolic activity is reduced while the pituitary releases growth hormones.

What happens if you don’t get enough sleep?

Individuals deprived of 30 hours of sleep show an 11% reduction in cardiovascular function, and those deprived of 50 hours of sleep show a 20% reduction.  Unfortunately, sleep deprivation is likely cumulative, so if an athlete needing 8 hours of sleep per night gets only 6 hours, she will see a significant degradation in performance after only 15 days.  Sleep deprivation also results in a 20% reduction in the detection/reaction response, and an even greater reduction in cognitive tasks involving learning, memory, logical reasoning and decision-making.  Finally, sleep deprivation has been associated with increased levels of depression, stress, anxiety, worry and frustration.

How much sleep do you need?

To determine how much sleep an athlete needs, ideally she would spend a week or two going to bed at a consistent time, waking up naturally without the use of an alarm, and recording how long she slept each night until she reaches a consistent number of hours.  Since this test is difficult to complete in practice (especially while in college!), answering “yes” to two or more questions on the following sleep quiz indicates a need for more sleep than you are currently getting:

• Do you frequently fall asleep if given a sleep opportunity (eg. in class, in movies, other quiet, dark environments)
• Do you usually need an alarm clock to wake you?
• Do you tend to “catch up” on sleep on the weekends?
• Once awake do you feel tired most mornings?
• Do you frequently take naps during the day?

How can you increase the quality of your sleep?

Keeping a regular sleep schedule is the most important means of improving sleep quality.  Inconsistent sleep patterns cause disruptions to one’s internal clock, and increases the amount of time it takes to fall asleep.  Once a regular bedtime has been established, adjustments to earlier or later should be limited to 30 minutes per night.  Similarly, athletes should wake up within an hour of their normal wake-up time, even on weekends.

Creating a high-quality sleep environment that is quiet, dark, cool and comfortable is also important.  Student athletes might establish a quiet policy in their suite after a certain hour, post a “Do Not Disturb Sign” on their door, or use ear plugs or a fan to mask noise.  Turning electronic devices such as clocks and computers away from the bed, using window blinds, and stuffing towels under the door to block hallway light may help create a darker environment.  Opening a window or using a fan can help to cool a room, while additional blankets can help if a room is too cold.