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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance

September 5, 2010

Post-ride ICKY

I don't know if I am alone in the distance rider's discipline in that the day after a long ride, I feel ICKY. The day after I'm usually mildly sunburned, have chapped lips, and feel decidely and miserably queasy, just a slight nausea and feeling like you want to curl up in a bed, sleep, and die. Almost like a mild flu. This has been a persistent cycle with me, and it spells something not right in my way of doing things for myself. I try to make it a practice to eat a good breakfast, and to put down some chow at our lunch break. I drink a bottle of fluid every five miles, and make sure I eat something salty at half-time, and post ride to replenish sodium losses...However, today I feel crummy. If you did the "pinch test" on the backs of my hands I'd fail. The skin tents up and stays for about twenty or more seconds. So I'm somewhat dehydrated, yes? On the other hand, if I drink any more fluid than I'm drinking I feel water-logged and like I want to get sick with all that copious juice bloating my abdomen. If I am to ever move to multidays I will have to find a fix for this or will likely end up face down on the trail somewhere pleading for a good Samaritan to put me out of my misery.

So pre-ride I chugged a bottle of water. I had two bottles in my packs one of half frozen water and gatorade, the other just water. Most of that I drank on the first half of the ride. I finished another bottle of water with my lunch which consisted of ham on wholewheat bread, 3 kosher dill spears, and some homemade potato salad. I was feeling fine. Second half we rode considerably slower, and I'll admit that I didn't drink quite as much. I consumed one bottle instead of two because I was much more focused on staying safe and keeping my horse slowly trotting whenever I could.

Anyone know of any especially good articles on human hydration, and electrolytes? Or anyone had this post ride flu feeling and figured out how to do it better? ~E.G.


  1. A few good articles here at about hydration, including a hydration calculator.

    It certainly sounds like you're eating and drinking enough. Perhaps you're drinking too much and getting Hyponatremia? But it sounds like you're also attempting to compensate for salt loss and should be doing fine.

    I find I'm exhausted after a long ride or competition of any kind. I feel that I've simply used myself up, usually more mentally than physically. Perhaps your symptoms are stress related more so than hydration related?

    A nice dose of Pepto-bismol or anti-nausea medication might be what you need. Plenty of athletes pre- and post-dose with anti-inflammatories to avoid joint and muscle pain when doing high intensity training and competition.

    I'm not a big fan of self-medicating, but it might be worth considering?

    Hope you feel better soon!

  2. Sounds like you aren't just dehydrated. You are losing so many minerals with the work out.

    My endurance riding friend uses something called body balance to really replenish what the body loses - it's all natural but you have to special order it. I take it every day and it's amazing.

    Let me know if you want a sample to try.

  3. Actually, I'm usually giddy (bordering on annoyingly, manically happy) for 3-7 days after a ride. Physically I get a bit tired, sometimes I'm a little "stocked up" in my lower legs. One time I realized the day after a ride that I'd ridden 75 miles with the flu and was tremendously relieved that it was a germ and not my horse that had made me uncomfortable!

    I know from the past experiences of riding companions that hydration can be a doozy. If you need electrolyte supplementation, take it. There are tablets and capsules available at health food stores. I used a runner/biker drink supplement for a while until I realized that it was packed with sugar and was doing me a great deal of harm and not helping me a bit! Read the labels, experiment, ask around. I like Emergen-C as a supplement, because it's cheap, readily available, and very low in sugar.

    I don't like to eat stuff that isn't food, so I really resist commercial sports drinks and sports bars. They are usually made from sugar and chemicals--yuck.

    Oh, and I always take myself off caffeine a week or two before a ride, because I never have enough time to finish a cup of tea on ride morning...and I'd rather have the headache at work 7 days prior than at a vetcheck!

    Hope that helps.

  4. I just re-read your post and noticed that you mentioned SUNBURN. Aha. That may be a key, right there. It's not just about hydration: if your skin is burning, your body is being injured!

    Sunburn and heat exhaustion can bring on exactly the symptoms you describe. The CDC has a good article about heat injuries (written for city dwellers in heat waves, but you can glean what you need):

    I was taught that if your lips are CHAPPED, you aren't retaining enough water. If they are SUNBURNT, you need sunscreen and/or a wide-brimmed hat/helmet.

    Most people don't apply enough sunscreen and don't reapply it often enough. The Oregon Health Science website has more details, including a reminder to buy new sunscreen each year:

  5. I hope the rest of your ride with Phoebes went well. I so wanted to finish that ride, but I think it is a good thing I stopped when I did.

    You might consider adding more fruits and veggies to your day. For breakfast, I usually have oatmeal with some OJ. If I feel I need it, I will add in another piece of fruit - banana, peach, etc. (Though for our weekend rides, I sometimes stop at starbucks for their spinach, feta wrap - yummy! It is an egg white, spinach, sun-dried tomato, feta, in a whole grain wrap)

    Then you see what I have for lunch/snacks. A can of tuna with crackers, carrots, apple, kashi granola bar, and then a small package of nuts & dried cranberries. These are small enough to fit in my pack so I can eat along the way if I need it. And of course, the apple and carrots I can share with my horse. :-)

    So far for endurance riding, I have been just drinking water. But for the running I have been doing this summer, I have found coconut water is a nice natural electrolyte. I liked the pineapple flavor or the peach/mango flavor. For running long distances in the heat, this has given me both hydration and quick energy. We have also used the Jelly Belly sport beans which are quick energy (sugar) along with electrolytes.

    Hope this helps!


  6. I'm chemically sensitive, can't wear sunscreen, skin lotion, most cosmetics, perfumes, powders, all make my nose and eyes run like a river. So far as that goes I just have to rely on my body to hang in there (which is often doesn't) in sunny / heat related situations. Today I'm still feeling parched, tired, semi-queasy, and my hands are wrinkled up like prunes. The weather was wonderful for riding on Saturday, in the seventies, low humidity, and still I sweat out like crazy. I think my taking in salt is only part of the component. Sweating (per my reading this weekend) also causes losses of calcium, magnesium, sodium chloride, and potassium. I'm going to research some kind of supplement that has these balanced as I don't have a to do that. I do know that potassium and calcium can be dangerous if you get it wrong.

    I'll check out some of the links.

    Lida, glad you are feeling somewhat better. Wonderful as riding a horse is, there is probably no place worse to be if you are feeling bad.


    clothing that works as sunscreen.

    The company is located here in the Swamplands, but Shaun, the president, fancies himself a haole boy. It's not cheap, but it works.

  8. Aarene and Lida had some excellent suggestions. But you really should NOT be feeling like that after a ride, it's a serious indication that you need to be managing yourself better.

    For sun protection, since you can't wear lotions, at least get yourself a long sleeve UV shirt. They have the SPF/UPF built into the material. Karen Chaton got me turned onto them and they're worth the $$, although you can often find them online at Sierra Trading Post for less than $40/ea. Get the long sleeve button up ones, many are a thin cotton and are actually cooler than a tank top, contrary to how I thought they'd be. Also, buy yourself a wide brim for your helmet if you don't already have one. I love the Salamander brims.

    If you're failing the "pinch test", that's definite dehydration. But if you're feeling water-logged and nauseous, that's lack of elytes/hyponatemeia. From what you posted, I'm seeing a definite lack of elytes in what you're consuming. Also Gatorade is a certain no-no for me, makes me feel very sick. I recommend the Succeed products:
    The S! Caps are great to take in addition to what you're drinking, especially when you get that sloshy stomach feeling. I find I do well with 1/2 Powerade (not Gatorade) and 1/2 water in every bottle, in addition to S Caps in warmer temps when I'm sweating a lot. I really like some of their packet drink mixes as well, low in sugars with a correct ratio of elytes.

    The other thing you may consider is taking some Glutamine and/or BCAA's pre and post ride. Both of these will help with after ride muscle soreness. I take them after a tough 50 or a 100, but don't generally need them for training rides if I take care of myself.

  9. Sorry, the shirts are not COTTON, they just feel soft like a cotton. They actually are a blend. I have two and love them, need to get more. Don't get the shirts that are designed to be worn in the water/surfing, etc. those aren't as cool. Look for the button up with vented back, armpits, etc., should be slighly loose fitting, not tight.

  10. My mom is ridiculously sensitive to dyes, perfumes, allergens, etc. She swears by Vaseline for chapped and dry skin, especially for her lips.

    I swear by Nuun Natural Hydration Tablets. No sugar, tabs that you drop in your own water bottle, strange but not unpleasant taste. And they work for me - they keep me perfectly hydrated. REI has them.