Chara_BostonMarathonFinishLine Chara_BostonMarathonFinishLine

From the NHL to World Marathon Majors and Ironman Races

Athlete Spotlight: Zdeno Chára

It’s not often you see a 6’ 9” giant fly across the marathon finish line with a time of 3:11:04. It’s even more rare for that runner to be a 47 year old retired pro hockey athlete who played 24 seasons in the National Hockey League before retiring in 2022. For Zdeno Chára, running is just a piece of the endurance sports world that he’s decided to bite into post-retirement.

Chara Boston Bruins
Chára is a Slovak former professional hockey defenseman who played for the New York Islanders, Ottawa Senators, Boston Bruins, and Washington Capitals before ultimately retiring with a Stanley Cup win under his belt along with many NHL records. Chára, one of the best NHL defenseman, was the tallest player in NHL history, forcing him to obtain a specific waiver to use a stick longer than regulation height due to his staggering size. He has the most game 7 playoff appearances in all of NHL history and is the oldest defenseman to score a goal during the Stanley Cup Finals. While many retired pro athletes would be happy to hang up their gear and take a well-deserved recovery period after retirement, Chára refuses to stop. He immediately pivoted after his hockey career into endurance sports with no plans to slow down.
Chara Boston Marathon
Chára crossed the finish line at the 2024 TCS London Marathon on April 21 with an impressive 3:11:04 finish after running the Boston Marathon just six days prior. His London Marathon finish was his ninth marathon completion in just over one year. Alongside his training and racing, he has dedicated himself to raising money for the Hoyt Foundation, a charitable foundation close to his heart and one he credits as huge motivation for the Bruins’ journey to the Stanley Cup in 2011.

Chára has been utilizing the Nix Hydration Biosensor for several months during his training and will continue to do so as he gears up for Ironman 70.3 Western Massachusetts taking place on June 9th, 2024 in Springfield. While the run part of the course is mostly flat, the bike portion of the race is notably hilly and will require extensive training to avoid any chance of bonking. The Nix team is using Chára’s previous sweat data in conjunction with historic weather data to prescribe a triathlon training plan that will lead to optimal safety and performance as Chára prepares for his upcoming race in June.

“Running and cycling are so different from hockey and require completely different hydration strategies,” said Chara. “The hydration strategy I used during that part of my career has been completely overhauled since entering endurance sports. Nix took the guesswork out of this for me, and I now understand what my body needs for each respective sport. For example, my sweat rate and electrolyte loss rate are 1.6x and 2.2x higher when I’m running versus cycling, respectively. Having this new understanding of my personal physiology has huge implications for how I train and race.”

While sweat rates and electrolyte loss rates vary from person to person, they also vary significantly from activity to activity for each individual. It is imperative to know how you sweat in different environments and different workout types while preparing for an upcoming race. Nix is honored to have such a significant role in Zdeno Chára’s endurance training as he continues his impressive athletic career outside of the NHL.