For so much of the ALT journey the battle was within. It was my aches, my pain, and my loneliness that troubled me, and made the days on the road hard. Everything I felt, stemmed from how my body felt. I've previously and regularly said that my style of ultra-endurance trips are 90% mental, but on this trip I began to notice a much clearer correlation between that 90% of mentality, and the 10% of physicality. If my body was achy and sore, typically my mood would sour, and I wouldn't want to be out completing the kilometers. If my body was feeling good, I was enjoying the challenge and the progress, and was getting the best out of myself. The simple rule I began to follow was if my body could feel good the challenge could feel good.
My decision to travel as light as possible meant that for the most part of the journey I didn't carry food with me as rode/ran/swam. I chose to travel light to limit the amount of weight I had to push/pull each kilometre. The decision to be lightweight had a downside though. By not carrying food with me I was limited to eating what I could find, wherever I was that day. There were days in remote locations where there was little to no choice, and days in larger towns where I was spoiled for choice. I could write a lot about how much my diet varied (regularly it was dirty greasy bacon and eggs out of the bain marie at a remote petrol station, yet other days it was Subway with extra tuna and salad) but the reality was though, I didn't really care. With limited choices there was no hope in being fussy or planning around certain food types. I kept it simple. Food was food, and calories were calories. My mindset was eat until I was full, then eat some more, and hope that the calories I was taking in, were almost equal to the ones I was burning off.
My food plan was simple because I could make it simple, I just needed more. Hydration however was a whole other thing.
Over the course of 92 days my body was almost constantly moving. Constant movement meant constant sweat, and constant sweat meant dehydration was a constant risk. Pushing myself for sometimes over 10hours at a time, it was unrealistic to hope to try and maintain my fluid levels perfectly throughout the day. How much fluid I needed would fluctuate each day too. During the hottest or hardest days I found myself taking in around 10 litres of water just to try and break even with how much I was losing. (Next time you look at your drink bottle, try to imagine taking in 10 litres in one day). Getting my hands on that 10 litres was difficult too.
The balance between carrying as little as possible water to remain lightweight, but enough to stay hydrated was a delicate balance. During the cycle leg I carried with me five 750ml bright orange drink bottles. During the run I carried only two of these orange bottles, and during the swim I carried three. I would fill up my bottles each morning as I left a town, then ride, run or swim until I stopped. In some regions I would have the opportunity to top up my bottles every few hours (at a town or petrol station), and in others I would arrive at my destination with my body badly dehydrated. Several times I found myself with on the road, water bottles empty, with blood noses and my body in the early stages of heatstroke. Having discovered the deeper correlation between physicality and mentality, and not wanting for the following day to any harder than it needed to be, my recovery in the hours after a long day became extremely important. Fortunately I found the solution to a great recovery on the logo of these bright orange drink bottles - Hydralyte.
While I didn't have much room in my bags during the trip, and was ever conscious of being lightweight, I was always carrying a handful of capsules of Hydralyte tablets. Before the journey began I had partnered with Hydralyte and agreed to test out their products over the journey. If I'm completely honest, leading into the trip I was a little sceptical of how good the tablets could be (I grew up playing team sports where there's constant in your face marketing about certain big name 'sport drinks', they were the only alternatives I knew of). While I might not have been convinced going into the trip the tablets quickly turned me from a sceptic into a regular consumer, based on how good I was waking up feeling (relative to what I was doing).
The capsules were the ideal small, and lightweight option for me to carry. They allowed me to know that no matter the region I was passing through, I would be able to rehydrate, and refuel my body with the electrolytes I needed to recover. Thanks to the Hydralyte tablets I was able to turn the water out of a petrol station tap or school drinking fountain, into the perfect tool to keep me going. There were other more subtle benefits to my trip too. By using Hydralyte as an alternative to the big name sport drinks, I was giving my body electrolytes in a cleaner form. I could take in the extreme litres of fluid I needed, but without risking huge sugar highs, and the consequential sugar low burnouts. This kept my mind more in control and focussed on the entire journey ahead. With the mindset of my food intake being quantity, not quality focused, I was taking in excess sugar, sodium and bacon grease. Every so often I found a bain marie that was a bit 'suspect' and left me feeling a bit unwell. The Hydralyte tablets were a remedy from those unwelcome bathroom visits. Another key benefit to carrying my tablets was flavour. On a trip where boredom is ever present, having the option to change between different flavours was amazing for my tastebuds and mind.
During my attempt at Australia's Longest Triathlon the battle was within. Thanks to Hydralyte's support I was able to #stayhydrated, to keep my body feeling good, and to keep the trip feeling good. Thanks to Hydralyte I was able to complete a journey bigger than I'd ever taken on before.
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