The fashion of ‘express’ concoctions in sports: "There are things that work fast, but one of them is not creatine"

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Femke Bol, prodigy from the Netherlands, runner-up in the world in the 400m hurdles, appears in the call room 15 minutes before her World Cup semifinal and right there she opens a can that she carries in her backpack, throws some lilac powder, empty inside a small bottle of water and take two drinks. As? In long races, such as the marathon or the 35-kilometer walk, it is a common practice: runners and runners hydrate until they start because they have more than two hours in the sun ahead of them. But Bol will complete his semifinal in just 52 seconds -this Thursday is his final, at 9:50 p.m., on Teledeporte and Eurosport- and he can supplement himself at another time, it is rare to do so just before going out on track. Why does he do it then?

It is the fashion for espresso drinks, drinks that play with the physiological and the psychological, and which are on the rise in sports. They can work, yes, but they can also be a placebo.

«There are two substances that can be taken and they would give that more or less immediate effect. On the one hand there is caffeine, the black coffee of a lifetime before running, which activates the nervous system, and on the other hand, arginine, nitric oxide. Due to the colour, I think that this is the case with Bol, because it is present in beets, for example. It is a vasodilator, that is, it improves blood flow and can give a power shot and delay fatigue,” he explains. Barbara Sanchez, nutritionist specialized in sports, who currently works with Alcorcón de Primera Federación. Bol might be taking arginine, but she’s still surprised at the moment, so close to her career.

“It is rare because something that is absorbed at the digestive level, such as a drink, passes through the stomach before reaching the blood. I don’t know if it will have an effect in such a short time, although I imagine that the nutritionists of your selection will have it measured. Normally, caffeine, for example, is introduced at the lingual level, through chewing gum, because that way it goes directly into the blood, “adds Sánchez.

The promoter of this type of express concoctions, in his case taken almost to the superstition, is Novak Djokovic. For a decade, in his weakest moments, his team has prepared a secret drink for him in the stands that he sends to him in a hurry, he drinks it -often with straws- and, suddenly, revives. From being sunk to being full. The first time he clamored for his liquidity was in the quarterfinals of the 2014 Australian Open, when he lost to Stan Wawrinka, and since then he has been repeating the request more and more vehemently. Last week, in the final of the Cincinnati Masters 1000, against Carlos Alcaraz, he yelled at his people, “Creatine!”, and thus revealed one of his best kept secrets. Or not.

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