Thursday, June 10, 2010

Training Tip - Alkalize

Journey with me for a moment - it's 4:00 a.m. at some random Alaskan trailhead.  Your car is the only one in the parking lot and there is a slight drizzle coming down out of the steel gray sky.  It's 50° and it doesn't look like it going to get any warmer during the day.  Despite the early hour and weather conditions that most people would consider miserable, you're amped up and ready to start down the trail for an eight hour run/hike. 

If you're the type of person who gets excited about a morning like this then this training tip is for you.  

The human body tries to maintain a specific pH.  Everyone's pH is slightly different but most people's blood pH level hovers around 7.4.  Many things throughout a typical day can cause your body to become more acidic.  Fried food, air pollution, the PCB's you ate in that salmon you just caught out of Ship Creek, stress and anger can all make your body more acidic.  If your body is too acidic, healing is delayed, carcinogens take their toll more readily and you age faster.  Most importantly, you won't be able to run your ultramarathon as fast as could. 

The good news is that you can do a number of things to alkalize your body and bring your pH levels back toward normal. Moderate exercise will alkalize but if you're reading this blog you're probably not into moderate exercise, which is probably considered something like a light twenty to thirty minute jog.  Heavy exercise takes a toll on the human body and makes it more acidic.  

This all brings me to my original point which is what you can do to recover from your eight hour high intensity run that you started at 4:00 a.m.  At the end of the day, when you're dehydrated, completely spent and even laying down on the couch won't bring your heartrate back down to pre-run levels, alkalize your body.  Meditate, do some yoga or tai chi, or watch a funny movie.  Deep breathing, laughter and relaxation will all help offset acidosis in your body.  

Another powerful remedy is to drink a full glass of water mixed with a teaspoon or two of apple cider vinegar.  Even though most vinegar is very acidic, apple cider vinegar is made by burning apples and some of the ash is left over in the vinegar.  Ash is alkalizing and will bring your pH back in the right direction.  A couple notes:  regular white vinegar won't work because it doesn't have any ash.  To kickstart the ash/alkalizing process you can take a couple of magnesium supplements because minerals are required for the body to convert the vinegar.  If you don't give your body a mineral to use, it will use minerals in your body such as bone.  This is ok but for longer term use, it's probably better to provide extra minerals. 

You can offset the potential toll of heavy exercise by alkalizing your body.  Maintain a strong, positive mental attitude when training hard.  Derive joy from your runs and hikes, take a bit of apple cider vinegar and you'll heal faster, be stronger and feel better. 

Happy training. 

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