To address the Coke issue, it is important to understand how our
bodies are fueled during endurance events. Energy is stored in three
forms: carbohydrates, protein, and fat. The most efficient energy
comes from carbohydrates (i.e., glycogen/sugar). However, after
about 4-6 hours of running, the body depletes itself of carbohydrates
and begins to use fat as the primary fuel source. The problem here
is that the body cannot metabolize fat as efficiently, thus requiring
the runner to slow down significantly (i.e., hitting the wall).
To avoid this "wall", the endurance runner must focus on taking in as
much carbohydrates as possible once the run begins. Since you want
the carbs to get where they are needed quickly, what we typically
recognize as "bad" carbs in an everyday diet (candy, sugar, cookies,
soda) become "good" carbs during an endurance run. This is because
the body can very quickly metabolize these more refined products.
Keeping up on carbs is helpful, but it is difficult to make it
through a 100-mile race without becomeing somewhat depleted. Thus,
it is also desirable to speed up the fat metabolization process.
Most studies show that the best substance to accomplish this is
caffeine. Following this logic, Coke provides a double punch of
sugar and caffeine that can help the body metabolize what it needs
for endurance running.
As for the sugar crash, when you are running a 100-miles, a crash can
happen at any minute if you don't keep up with the carbs. Slow-
metabolizing carbs (brown rice, fruit) actually promote a crash more
than the fast metabolizing carbs (candy, sugar, Coke) because the
body is running on overload. The Coke reaches your system much
faster and can thus keep off the crash as long as you keep up the
The issue of caffeine being a diuretic is probably the toughest for
people to deal with. The key thing here is to note that the
dehydrating effect of running 100-miles is an order of magnitude
greater than the dehydrating effect of caffeine. No one in their
right mind would ONLY drink Coke during an endurance event. The
average person will sweat 4-gallons of fluid during a 100-mile run
and must attempt to replace most of that during the event or suffer
serious dehydration. The diuretic effects of caffeine are almost
negligible when dealing with exertion at this level.
As a side note, most participants in a 100-mile run end up staying
awake for one or two days without sleep, so there are certainly other
reasons why we crave caffeine ...
Hope this helps!
- Patrick McCartney
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Jonni" <txtrigger@...> wrote:
> I have a question I am sure someone on this list can answer for me.
> I'm the endurance rider who finished Tevis with my horse in 2005. I
> have little knowledge of what it takes to run long distance, but
> to understand products etc. that y'all use, and apply to a long day
> on the trail with my horse as needed. Anyway, a discussion of a
> craving coke during an endurance ride came up on a riding list, and
> many said how bad coke was for them on a long hot day when working
> their bodies hard. I commented that I see coke at all the aid
> stations on a 50 mile run I volunteer at here in TX, (The
> Run) and how many runners come in from the trail, WANTING the
> and not juice etc.
> So, can someone share with my why coke, when a sugar crash can
> happen, it is a diuretic and can dehydrate etc. etc. ?? Feel free
> reply direct, as I'm sure this is not of much interest to the folks
> on the list. ;-)
> And good luck to those training for this years WS100. I would love
> go to Tevis every year. I LOVE that trail!!!