Thursday, July 2, 2015

My Favorite Way to Focus and Avoid Cramping

I have been a big fan of Hammer Nutrition ever since I was introduced to their products a couple years ago at the SUP races in Traverse City, Michigan. They had a very knowledgeable young man at their tent who gave me advice and product samples that he said would help my cramping issues. Leading up to Traverse City, I had always had cramping issues in any race over 7 miles. My cramps always came on around mile 8 - 9.5 depending on the length of the race and my output. I did the 10 mile "downwinder" and a 3 mile technical race that day in Traverse City and did not even feel the hint of a cramp. I had Hammer Gel in my pocket and Fizz tabs in my hydration system. I couldn't believe I went bonk free the whole day! That weekend I became a believer in Hammer Nutrition and have used a variety of their products ever since.

When researching nutrition there is a lot of information to weed through and that information contains a lot of big sciencey-like words. You won't get that kind of look-at-me-I'm-such-a-smarty-pants nonsense in An Eccentric's Take. Here you get the only the facts...the facts from a verified slacker that likes to train as if he is a sub-par-wanna-be Australian Ironman. The facts I give you are what have worked for me in paddling. All I can do is tell you what works well for this 45-year-old man who tries to stay in shape enough to remain competitive in paddling events. So far I have been pretty happy with my progress and many of my results. My needs are not based on any scientific knowledge they are just based on...what my body needs. I don't know that much but what I do know is that sugar, in the heavily processed form, is bad and that supplements are necessary to help one maintain a healthy and energetic daily existence, when training hard. I am sure that if I had all the money in the world and could grow and catch my own food or eat high quality sushi 5 nights a week, I might not require as many supplements. However, when you live on the sardine and Quaker Oats budget, getting a little help from a company dedicated to helping athletes reach peak performance isn't such a bad thing.

Training to compete at a high level will have an effect on your immune system. One cannot avoid the toll getting' after it takes. Why not help your body out and send a little love down the hatch? I have tried many of the Hammer products because once I found I wanted to compete in some of the bigger paddling events, I knew my body needed more love than what a turkey sandwich should provide. Some of what has worked for me may not work for you and some of what did nothing for me may help you improve your average pace by .5 mph, like what has happened recently with my prone paddling! All our bodies are different and our systems have individual requirements for maintaining a healthy existence.

The Hammer Nutrition website is a fun destination on the Internet. I like browsing through all their offerings because I always learn something new and often discover a new item I might want to try. The writing isn't too heady. It is easy to stay engaged enough to learn whether or not a product might benefit you or not. The instructions on when and how to use the products and the intended benefit of each is written in a well-thought-out and clear manner. Hammer also has consultants available to talk about your needs and desires when  it comes to using their products in your training. I highly recommend talking to someone that is more knowledgeable than me if you have needs and want them properly addressed.

My favorite products are HEED, Recoverite, Race Caps Supreme, Hammer Gel,  and Xobaline. All the information you need is available by clinking on each of them. Me regurgitating information that is already out there is kind of like a college professor handing out the syllabi and spending the first hour of class reading it to you...ridiculous. These are what have worked for me. I will touch on some the benefits I have noticed.

Lemon-lime HEED tastes fabulous, as does the melon. I sip on a bottle of HEED in the morning before a workout. For some reason, and I think it may be purely mental, HEED gets me focused on the task ahead. If I drink a Hammer product I know it is getting close to go time and I need to get my mind right. HEED really works when I am feeling lethargic and a little blah. I slowly sip HEED after coffee and my mind wakes up. Once my mind wakes up my body usually follows and I am ready to get out the door and onto the lake. I also take HEED with me if I am paddling over 4 miles. HEED has the electrolytes and other anti-cramping ingredients to help you through even your toughest training session.

Recoverite (for me the strawberry flavor is the deal) and Xobaline are musts after a heavy-duty workout. My problem has always been the afternoon fade if I workout hard in the morning. I recently added Xobaline to my post-workout recovery and I have noticed my energy levels are remaining much higher than they have been over the past two years. I take a Xobaline right after I walk in the door from the lake and follow it up with a hefty serving of Recoverite as soon as I get dry and my heart rate gets back to normal. I am quite pleased with this combination to help me get to the desk and get working on the Great American Detective Novel despite it being siesta hour.

Before races and before a workout of more than an hour I will go with Race Caps Supreme. Before races I take 3 capsules and before a training session I take 2. If I am feeling run down and it is anywhere near flu season I will take 1 capsule a day for maintenance purposes even on days I don't train. I am a big fan of Race Caps Supreme and truly believe that have helped me stay energized and focused in races.

If you want a tasty treat then grab yourself some Peanut-Butter/Chocolate or Nocciola Hammer Gels. These are my 2 favorite flavors. They can be used as a pacifier when the sweet tooth starts going out of control and you want to drop everything to grab some Breyer's Caramel Vanilla Gelato and you know you shouldn't! Oh...and the gels help in races too! At the 2014 Cold Stroke Classic I had a great start but midway through the first lap my energy was pretty zapped. By the halfway mark I had fallen out of the top five. I stopped paddling for about 30 seconds and took a Hammer Gel with a few sips of water. I paddled at a recovery pace until I felt the gel was getting into my system then slowly increased my output until I was able to draft the guy ahead of me. At the end of the upwind leg, I was able to reclaim that last spot in the top five. Hammer Gel is definitely a fuel I now take with me everywhere and I usually have a couple in case anyone else wants to give it a try!

I add in other products as needed depending on time of year and what my training regimen might require. In the really hot months I like Endurolytes Extreme and in winter when I do strength training I will take Tissue Rejuvenator to help the legs deal with box squats.

Hammer Nutrition products and a better diet sure have made for an improved overall sense of health and well being in my life. I can't say enough good things about the company and what they put out there. I forgot to mention that the products you don't like have a 30 day money back guarantee! I have  put this policy to use and Hammer was very accommodating. I also like their coffee too!

If you have any questions about Hammer don't hesitate to contact me. I love talking about their products and how they have helped me out in paddling. I also like hearing about other people's experiences with cramping and fatigue when it comes to training. The more we talk about our regimens the more we can help each other benefit and avoid pitfalls.

If you do want to order some Hammer Nutrition products after reading this, please use my name and customer number (229350) in the referral program. Once you start an account you can also use the referral program to get your own benefits. The stuff works you might want to give some their fuels and supplements a go before and after your next training sesh!

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