Q&A with Solo RAAM Rider John Bergen

As I type this, John Bergen has ridden 608 miles of RAAM (Race Across America). He’s been riding for a little over 2 days and has 10 more days to make it to Annapolis, MD, which is another 2,400 miles away. Riders attempt the cross-country journey as teams of 2, 4, or 8 or race it as a solo rider, which what John is doing.

I sat down with John before he left for the start line in Oceanside, CA and asked him a few questions. What I found most impressive about John was his dedication to fit all his training into his already busy life. He is a husband, a father of two, and a co-founder of Society Consulting so to add hours and hours of training on top of his schedule meant riding through the night and sacrificing a lot of sleep.

Nuun: Why did you originally want to do RAAM?
John: I came up with a personal challenge to tackle the 10 hardest endurance challenges on the planet, and during my research RAAM was on every list I found. It’s the greatest physical endurance test, I love to ride, seeing the country is this unique way is the opportunity of a lifetime. Plus it’s been an amazing platform to fundraise for charity (Fred Hitch Cancer Foundation).

How many hours do you train per week? What does a typical week look like for you?
A typical peak-training week for me looked like this. Most rides were done on a trainer from 9pm to 6am.
Monday – Rest
Tuesday – 2-4 hr recover/base ride
Wednesday – 5-8 hr ride
Thursday – 3-6 hr ride
Friday – rest
Saturday – 8-12 hr ride
Sunday – 12-20 hr ride

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What is the coolest place you have ridden during training?
I live in Redmond, WA and I really enjoyed riding from my house to the Canadian border which was 260+ miles round trip. I did this ride three times. I also did a 3 day training camp in Tucson, AZ, which is my most favorite place to train.

What’s the biggest sacrifice you’ve had to make during training?Time away from family, has been really hard… I have a 3.5 year old daughter (EJ) and a 8 month old son (Meyer), and my wife (Katie)… I’ve lost a lot of time with them the last 6-8 months… looking forward to making up for lost time the rest of the summer!

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Over the 12 days of RAAM, how many hours are you expecing to sleep?
I’ll hopefully average no more than 2-3 hours of sleep each day, so anywhere between 25-35 hours over the 10-12 days.

What part of the 3000 miles are you least looking forward to?
Crossing the Mojave Desert. Temps can reach 120+ degrees…brutal!

What is your record Nuun consumption over a 24 hour period?
I went through 3 tubes (36 tabs) in one training ride. I drink it a little stronger – 2 tabs per 20 ounces.

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What do you plan to eat & drink on the ride?
The main stable will be a combo of Nuun, Infinite, Power Bar products, and then I’ll sprinkle in regular food (chips, fruit, milk shakes, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, even pizza and burgers when available).

What is your favorite thing to do when you aren’t riding?
Spend time with family and friends, travel, and cheer for the Seahawks (10 year season ticket holder).

You can track John on his ride here.


Team Nuun Energy Wins Ragnar Chicago

This past weekend Team Nuun Energy took to the streets of Chicago with one goal: to win and keep their title as Ragnar Relay Chicago champions!

Nuun crew member Vishal spearheaded the team, so we asked him, “What exactly does it take to win a Ragnar Relay?”

Here is his list of requirements. Think you can take on Team Nuun Energy next year?

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By Vishal Patel

This past weekend I had the pleasure of running with eleven really fast guys, trying to repeat what we did a year ago. Win Ragnar Madison to Chicago. In 2013, we ran a solid relay and crossed the finish line in 19:45 covering the 197 (202 in our case) at a 5:49 per mile pace. (Note from the Nuun editor: This pace is absolutely flying!)

This year we sought out to defend our title, with an additional goal of being one of five teams to start last, and hopefully cross the finish line first. We completed one of those goals, and that was defending our title! We crossed the finish line this year in 19:18:20 covering the 196.1 mile (205 in case) at a 5:41 per mile pace. (Note from the Nuun editor: Again, these guys were seriously flying!)

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So what does IT TAKE TO WIN? Here are my suggestions:

1. Find 12 guys that are willing to do 3 tempo runs, with less than 3 hours of recovery in between runs. (That also means little to no sleep.)

2. These guys also need to be able to run a 5:40 pace for 200+ miles, and most importantly have a BLAST while doing so!

3. Find 2-4 drivers that are willing to, ahem, break some rules to get to an exchange FAST. When you have fast runners your drivers need to get to each exchange even more quickly.

5. Find some runners who want to run hard and PR, be it at 3am or on their 3rd leg.

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4. DRINK NUUN of course!

5. Recovery is done best with chocolate milk, chips, and candy. And Nuun.

6. Stay awake with Double Shot Espresso’s and Nuun Energy between each run, because let’s be honest, you probably won’t sleep.

7. Have plenty of baby wipes on hand, for “showering”, spills, and other assorted uses.

8. Make sure your finish line has enough beer for 12 thirsty runners!

9. Run fast, and make it fun.

10. During a relay, something will always go wrong. For example, last year we ran an extra 4 miles by getting lost, and this year we ran about 8 miles extra by getting lost. Adversity happens, dig deep and stay focused.

Thanks Vishal! Now who’s ready to run a relay?

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Friday 5: Downsides of Dehydration

You know that dehydration is bad. But how so in specific terms? Let us count the ways.


1. Dehydration can make you slow.

Endurance performance has been to shown to suffer when you lose as little as 2% of your body weight. That’s 3 pounds if you weigh 150, which is not an abnormal loss via sweat over the course of an hour-or-longer workout. As you become dehydrated, the amount of blood your heart pumps with each beat decreases. As a result, less oxygen-rich blood goes to your working muscles, and you have to work harder to maintain a given intensity level (or you have to slow to maintain the same effort level). This cascade of events is hastened on warm days, when your body sends more blood to your skin to remove heat from your body.

2. Dehydration can make you weak.

It’s not only your aerobic performance that can be hurt by dehydration. Several studies have found that even mild dehydration can decrease muscular strength and power, especially in the high-weight, low-rep workouts that many busy people do for resistance training. One culprit here is dehydration leading to higher temps within your muscle cells, which inhibits the enzyme activity that contributes to anaerobic energy production.

3. Dehydration can make you hungry.

Many dietitians advise people trying to lose or control their weight to make sure they’re always properly hydrated. The reason? When you’re dehydrated, what you might perceive as appetite can be thirst. So you start munching, and keep munching, getting the food’s water content, but also getting potentially unwanted calories. Better approach: Precede all meals with fluids and more accurately gauge your appetite.

4. Dehydration can make you stupid.

Studies have found that even mild dehydration, such as 1.5% of your body weight, can significantly affect your mental capacity. Like all your other body parts, your brain needs water to function properly. Without it, cognitive traits such as concentration, short-term memory and mathematical accuracy begin to suffer. If you work out before work, or during your lunch break, good hydration is key to being your best at the office.

5. Dehydration can make you unproductive.

The above examples have to do with short-term effects of dehydration. Here we’re talking the big picture. It’s distressingly easy to get chronically dehydrated, especially when you’re active outdoors in warm weather. You might not notice a little bit of dehydration, such as less than 1% of your body weight, on any one day. But when this happens day after day after day, the cumulative effect can be insidious. You might feel like you’re always dragging, or irritable, or depressed, or have digestive problems, or all of the above. The gist is that you’re not your best you. What’s worse, you’re likely to worry that something serious is wrong with you, when all you really need to do is drink up.

Sun Exposure versus Vitamin D Deficiency

What’s Worse: Sun Exposure or Vitamin D Deficiency?


Outdoor enthusiasts can face a dilemma this time of year: Sunlight can endanger your health, and sunlight can help your health. Should you slather on the sunscreen to prevent skin cancer, or should you allow yourself some exposure so that you get enough vitamin D?

The dangers of sun exposure are well-known. Here’s one of many scary stats: As few as two blistering sunburns during your life can increase your risk of skin cancer by 50 percent. Less dramatically, regular exposure over many years, such as is true of many recreational athletes, can be just as harmful.

In recent years, concerns about skin damage may have made people forget a benefit of sunlight. Your skin converts the sun’s ultraviolet B rays into vitamin D, which plays a crucial role in heart and bone health, as well as a properly functioning immune system. Consider the case of Deena Kastor, the women’s American record holder in the half marathon and marathon. After a few skin cancer scares, Kastor became fastidious about limiting her sun exposure, via sunscreen, hats and clothing with built-in ultraviolet protection. After suffering a broken bone in her foot a few miles into the 2008 Olympic Marathon, Kastor learned she was severely deficient in vitamin D.

So what’s the right course of action here?

Brian Adams, M.D., M.P.H., a sports dermatologist with the University of Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Veterans Administration Medical Center, puts it this way: “Why jump from your second-floor window when you can take the stairs?” In other words, don’t engage in the risky business of getting adequate vitamin D from sunlight when there’s a safe alternative, namely, your diet.

What’s true in most matters is true here—real food trumps supplements. Research published earlier this year found several favorable health impacts for people with higher vitamin D levels, but only from vitamin D3, the form imparted by food (and sunlight), not vitamin D2, the form found in most supplements. Vitamin D occurs naturally in just a few foods, most notably fatty fish such as salmon and tuna. Most people get food-based vitamin D from fortified foods, most notably dairy products.

As for sunscreen, Adams recommends applying 30 minutes before heading outside. “Athletes, like non-athletes, frequently under apply sunscreen,” he says. “A shot glass full of sunscreen is the target amount.” Adams reminds vigorous exercisers that one sunscreen application might not be enough. “Increasing the intensity of the activity, the amount of sweating and the exposure to water” can quickly dissipate the sunscreen you applied pre-workout, he says. “An intense workout with loads of sweating could require reapplying as early as 45 minutes after application.”

If all else fails to convince you of the value of sunscreen, go with aesthetics. Research published last year showed that regular sunscreen use can reduce signs of skin aging, such as wrinkles.