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Friday, June 6, 2014

Preparing To Endure With Elivar

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Donal Hanrahan and Len Dunne are co-founders of Elivar, a product line of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals tailored specifically for athletes over the age of 35.

Active as aquapreneurs, athletes, and event sponsors, their passion is contagious.

They serve as sponsors of the Elivar Open Water Swim Series in Scotland and Ireland as well as sponsors of the Total Immersion in the English Channel (or The EC6) team. The EC6 team includes former English Channel record holder Christof Wandratsch, masters 1500m world record holder Kirsten Cameron, US Olympic Trials qualifier Steve West, All-American masters swimmer Bernie Zeruhn, British national masters champions Andrew Chamberlain and Dave Warren.

All these incredibly fast swimmers are over 35 years - over 40 in fact - so they will be using Elivar products before and during their English Channel relay crossing.

We ask Hanrahan about his product line:

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Your product is touted as the world’s first range of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals tailored for athletes over the age of 35. Does the body need different elements as it ages?

Donal Hanrahan: There are a number of physiological changes that occur as we progress through life. Our body's ability to adapt to training changes, specifically we find it takes longer to recover after hard or long sessions - the body just needs more time and a focus on protein availability over that longer period. There are also issues with absorbing or producing certain vitamins. For example, Vitamin D production is a function of our skin pigment reacting to sunlight. This reaction reduces as we age, with natural Vitamin D production decreasing as a result. Vitamin D is important as it helps bind calcium to our bones. Bone health is important when you are training, but an age related issue is working against that. Vitamin D supplementation is necessary.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Is there a special meaning behind the age of 35?

Donal Hanrahan: From a brand perspective, we needed to draw a line somewhere. We had to call out an age. Depending on lifestyle, some people will be experiencing the age issues earlier or later, however 35 gave us a good starting point as all the research indicated that it is from 35 years old that the age related changes are most obvious to them.

It is interesting to note that the Low GI and Gluten Free formulation of Endure is a healthier during training product for any athlete, than a fructose-based alternative - regardless of age.

People are taking up more and more endurance events as they age where completion and participation are more important than speed and records.


Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Are your products geared to everyone of every ability and background?

Donal Hanrahan: We developed Elivar to deliver a performance edge through the use of age appropriate ingredients in our products. Whether it's the longer recover window provided by Recover, the low GI sustained energy release of Endure or the availability of vitamins and minerals that need supplementation due to age related issues - people who use Elivar should get a better outcome from their training than those who don't. Bar elite athletes who have the resources and time to manage a customer nutrition plan, all athletes of all abilities can benefit from our focus on the right ingredients delivering the right nutrition for their age.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: You have 3 primary products: pre-race (PREPARE), in-race (ENDURE), and post-race (RECOVER). How do each of these products differ?

Donal Hanrahan: ENDURE is a during-training product and hence the primary focus is delivering sustained release energy (carbohydrates), with some protein to assist with in-training muscle repair and also carbohydrate absorption. The carb to protein ration is 4:1.

RECOVER is for use after training. It delivers a 1:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio as our focus for over 35's is to deliver protein into the system to start the process of muscle repair and recovery. The carbohydrates are low GI - sustained release - to provide some energy to start the process of re-stocking the glycogen that has been depleted during training. Unlike other recover products in the market which typically have 3:1 carbohydrate to protein ratios, we felt that the most important factor for people over 35 was getting sufficient protein rather than carbohydrates straight after training. A recent survey found that 65% of our customers said they recovered better and with less aches and pains when using recover rather than their previous brand. We're not surprised. It's a fundamentally different and age appropriate formulation.

PREPARE and RECOVER are very similar in nutritional output, but are formulated differently for different purposes. PREPARE is meant to be used where you are training later in the day, but you do not have time to get a proper meal in advance of your session. For a lot of 35+ people a busy job means that eating during the day can be hit and miss due to work pressures. With a session planned for after work, the vending machine seems like the only option in many cases. We developed PREPARE to deliver a quantity of low GI sustained release energy to manage our low glycogen levels mid-afternoon, whey to help over come the hungry feeling, and casein to ensure that there are sufficient BCAA's (branch chain amino acids)in the system to support our training load. PREPARE is to be taken up to 90 minutes before training, rather than as a pre-training caffeine plus sugar booster that many pre-training products deliver just prior to training.


Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What is the science behind each of these products?

Donal Hanrahan: The essential components of each of the products are as follows:

Low GI Carbs - using low GI carbohydrate ensures a sustained release into the blood stream. This has two benefits - it avoids the rapid production of insulin required to deal with an equivalent volume of high GI sugar (such as fructose), and it doesn't interfere with the bodies ability to use FAT as an energy source. When the body has elevated blood sugar levels - as with a high GI sugar - it does not utilize fat as an energy source to the same extent. For endurance athletes teaching the body to use our muscle glycogen AND our fat stores as energy sources is an important part of training. Efficient energy metabolism is key to good performance. A reliance of short term high GI sugars is not a healthy approach.

Protein - Protein breaks down into branch chain amino acids (BCAA) when digested. These are the fundamental building blocks of our muscles. They are required to support muscle repair and recovery. We use two types of protein in our products depending on the timing needed for deliver of these building blocks. Whey, which is quickly digested, is used in Endure to support our immediate training load, while whey and casein - which are slowly digested - are used to deliver a longer recover window to our muscles as the combination means there is more protein available to our systems for longer than just whey alone.


Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Endurance sports hint at marathon runs, channel swims and triathlons. But you are sponsoring the EC6 where 40-something-year-olds will only swim 1 hour each. How do you recommend they use your products?

Donal Hanrahan: There are two aspects to sport. Training and competition. In the case of the EC6, that 1-hour effort is the competition, but will have been supported by multiple hours of training. It is during training that we see our products being used to best effect.

A. ENDURE's low GI carbohydrate formulation delivering an appropriate level of energy plus protein without the sugar spikes or interfering with the metabolism of fat as an energy source.

B. RECOVER providing the right kinds of protein at the right rate to ensure that your muscles recover and adapt between training sessions.

C. PREPARE ensuring that where you can't get a proper meal, that you still get to your training sessions with the right nutrients on board.

For competition - and specifically the EC6 - there is a balance to be struck between delivering a fast relay leg and how you manage your nutrition. Ideally you should not need to take any nutrition on board during a 1 hour effort. There should be sufficient resources within your muscles to support a high-intensity effort over a 60-minute period. However, if you are going into the red in terms of effort, then the resources get depleted sooner and supplementing may be necessary. The trick is to get the energy in before you need it. This will mean having a pre-planned drink schedule where you consume some ENDURE during the period from 40 minutes to the start of your relay leg - but not over doing it or a pee-stop might undo all your good effort. Taking some energy on board at 20 minutes and 40 minutes may be necessary - whether in liquid or gel format will be a personal and temperature related preference.


Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What flavors do your products come in? Which are the favorite?

Donal Hanrahan: RECOVER and PREPARE come in strawberry and chocolate - currently the strawberry people are just inching ahead - probably 52%:48% now. ENDURE comes in orange and mango or watermelon flavors. Watermelon has been rising up the ranks each month in terms of popularity, but it's currently orange and mango that leads at 58%:42%.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What has been the feedback from swimmers?

Donal Hanrahan: Feedback from swimmers has been similar to other sports - better recovery, felt the difference when using a sustained release formulation during training. However, one issue that seems to have stood out with swimmers more so that other sports, and especially the open water swimmers, is the reduced stomach upset. A number of swimmers have said that they had tried carbohydrate + protein products before, but found them hard to stomach. However, they have found ENDURE to sit easily. We think that is related to the avoidance of fructose as the carbohydrate in our products - the high GI sugar plus protein combination is what is causing the upset. Moving to a low GI sugar reduces the stomach upset and allows the protein sit better in the stomach.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Do the products taste any different in fresh water versus salt water?

Donal Hanrahan: Salt water swimming has to change our sense of taste. I guess the question is do they taste better or worse in a salt water environment - and that is going to be different for everyone.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Do you think swimmers use your products any differently than land-based endurance athletes?

Donal Hanrahan: Open water swimmers are the only people we know of who who use hot water to mix a RECOVER shake. We can understand that - stepping out of the sea on a cold March morning has to be greeted with a hot drink!

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Do you think women and men use your products any differently? Should they?

Donal Hanrahan: The basic issues we deal with are the same for men and women so I think the fundamentals are the same - we didn't focus on men or women initially - just age. There are however some very specific women age issues that could be dealt with in future Elivar product releases, mostly in relation to the micro-nutrients - vitamins and minerals - rather than the macro-nutrients - carbohydrates and proteins.

For more information, visit PREPARE, ENDURE and RECOVER.

For more information on the Elivar Open Water Series in Ireland and Scotland, visit here.

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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