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Team Timex's Chris Thomas Talks Race Hydration Strategy

team timex chris thomasFrom February 16th to 19th, Timex Multisport Team held its annual triathlon base camp in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Timex pulled together its full complement of 48 team members from around the world for an intensive four days of training and planning at the Timex Performance Center next to Giants Stadium. This year, the camp focused intensively on hydration strategies during training and racing.

Among those attending was Chris Thomas, Timex Multisport Team member since 2003. Several days after, we caught up with him to hear more about the camp and what he learned. Based in Easton, CT, Chris just came off a strong 2011 season. This fall he earned a second place finish in his age group at the 70.3 Ironman Championship in Nevada. He then placed 8th in his age group at Kona with a time of 9:07:08.

Paul Tyler: What was the focus of the training camp this year?

Chris Thomas: We worked intensively with the Korey Stringer Institute from UConn. We did detailed sweat tests. They put all of us in an 87-degree, humid room. We then rode on our bike or ran on a treadmill to test our own sweat loss. For 24-hour period, we also kept track of our urine. At the same time, we kept a log of our nutrition.

Tyler: Was there a reason for focusing on the heat?

Thomas: On average, we usually send 12 to 15 team members to Kona. With some many there, learning to manage the heat and humidity is key. Management of cramping and core temperature is incredibly important to dial in. But it's so individual to get this right.

Tyler: How did all of you fare in the sweat tests?

Thomas: Some teammates were on either end. I was on higher end of sweat loss.

Tyler: Has managing hydration been an issue for you before?

Thomas: I have struggled. I have competed in Kona 5 times. I have learned something new every time I'm there. I'm now really monitoring sodium intake closely. I'm training to take 800 mg an hour during the race. I will use my Timex watch alarm to manage the plan.

Tyler: Which watch do you use?

Thomas: I use the Timex Global Trainer. It will also read heart rate and wattage from whatever power instrument you use.

Tyler: What sodium product do you use?

Thomas: I use Salt Stick.

Tyler: Do you take 800 mg per hour throughout the entire race?

Thomas: I take that on the bike. Prior to the swim, I'll take 400 mg. Once I'm on the run, I'll take 400 to 600 mg. The intake is heaviest on the bike.

Tyler: How about pre-race hydration? What is your plan there?

Thomas: I try to not overdo it. I try to drink enough without washing all the electrolytes out. I'll use NUUN tablets or Salt Stick to make sure I'm staying on top of sodium and other electrolytes. The team from Korey Stringer emphasized the importance of just topping things off.

Tyler: So what do you personally learn this time from looking at hydration management?

Thomas: I learned I need more fluid than I thought. I found out I could reduce salt, but definitely need more fluids. They [the Korey Stringer Institute] went over the fact that the body can only process about 1 to 1.5 liters of water per hour. I found out I need 1.76 liters per hour to replace my sweat. So I'm always going to end up dehydrated at the end of a race.

Tyler: Thanks for spending time with us. What's your first big race in 2012?

Thomas: I'm doing Ironman 70.3 Eagleman. It's a double qualifier for both 70.3 and Kona.

Tyler: Good luck and thanks for sharing your knowledge.

When not racing for Team Timex, Chris Thomas runs his own triathlon coaching business, Personal Training Systems of Southport.

For more info on the Timex Multisport Team visit: teamtimex.timexblogs.com

Author: Paul Tyler
Paul Tyler is the founder of Triessential.com and a contributor here at TRIJUICE. Triessential offers an iPhone application that provides training tips and motivation every day throughout the entire year. Follow Paul on Twitter @triessential