In the weeks following the 2011 Boston Marathon, a random twist of fate brought the good people of the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI) to me and I was invited to participate in nutrition and endurance testing while they were in NYC for the 2011 NFL Draft. My first thought was, “this can’t be for real, why the hell would I be chosen for such a thing?!” But it was real and after sitting there and staring at the invitation I went ahead and accepted. In my mind I simply thought, “how often would I have the opportunity to go through the same tests that professional athletes go through?” Secretly, all I wanted to know was if I would sweat a Gatorade color while in black-and-white!!!
The testing was part of the GSSI’s efforts to help endurance athletes gain a better understanding of how their bodies work and provide ways to improve their athletic performance via nutrition and hydration. It consisted of a Body Composition (BOD POD) assessment, the Wingate bike test, 1-mile run estimating VO2, and a fueling survey with a sports scientist. When I got the sheet describing all of the tests I was ridiculously excited and then mortified to be put under the microscope a little bit, but once I was told one last little surprise bit of information all that apprehension went away. I was told that in addition to the testing I was also going to have the opportunity to sit and pick the brain of U.S. Olympian and long distance runner Dathan Ritzenhein, which just so happens to be among my favorite U.S. distance runners. Too cool!
Now, to give you a little perspective on how crazy fast this all happened, I received the email at 3:22 pm that Tuesday and I essentially had 24-hours to pull together all of the medical releases and doctors signatures so that they would even let me participate, which turned out to be a rather daunting task with work and such an incredibly tight window to get everything in to the powers that be. I’m amazed that I managed to pull it all together in time, but thanks to the help of a few friends and some shameless ignoring of the work on my desk I was all systems go.
Thursday rolls around and I’m basically on the edge of my seat until the clock rings time-to-go-o’clock and I bolt out of the office and head to midtown west. It’s just my luck that while I am en route the sky opens up and the heavens crack in dramatic and biblical fashion. The streets are flooded and the rain is coming down in sheets. Regardless of the inclement conditions I get my sorry butt there and I go from excited to absolutely mortified and intimidated by the scene once I walk through the door. I know most of you have seen the commercials during almost every sport on TV with the treadmill, bike and all the rest set up in a white room with lab scientists around … well, this was staged EXACTLY like that and I quickly descended into the pit of my stomach.
I have to thank the Gatorade Sports Science Institute for this amazing opportunity to undergo the rigorous testing processes that professional athletes go through for assessing their endurance and nutrition. It was an incredibly enlightening and unforgettable experience, so thank you!! Since that time I’ve experimented with what I learned and have had fantastic results, most noticeably at the Reach the Beach Relay – Massachusetts. I feel like I now have a much more solid grasp of my fueling and hydration situation and will continue to fine-tune it over the summer heading into the fall marathon season.