Marathon Training Week 8 - Get Salty
Staying hydrated is an ongoing struggle. Particularly, as I noted in my last post, since I sweat a lot even when running isn't part of the equation. Add in running, the heat and humidity of a summer in the southeastern US, and the miles that I'm logging and my hydration situation can actually be a health concern if I'm not careful.
I noticed after my long run this past weekend that I had salt build up on my upper arms - it was probably other places as well, but my brain wasn't really in observation mode having just finished 13 miles of running.
The run hadn't been one of my better ones and the salt on my skin gave me an indication that something was going on that was out of the ordinary so some quick Googling turned up myriad resources which seemed to be suggesting that my salt intake was lower than it should be for how much I'm sweating.
This was an odd realization, though not entirely surprising, due to my active efforts to keep my salt intake low. I had long prided myself on not cooking with much or any salt, if I could help it. Knowing that I sweat a lot, I had been taking in more salt to try and compensate, but the signs were pointing towards it not being enough to cover the gap. I mean, if people with normal sweat rates need to do things like take salt tablets on 12+ mile runs in reasonable climate conditions, then my body running in this heat DEFINITELY needed to make salt intake a more present consideration.
I've started experimenting with ways to get more salt in my body without changing up much about my diet, so my first point of concentration is my hydration methods.
The Gatorade mix that I've been using pre, post, and during runs, has a good bit of sugar, which is good for those times so I can get some quick carbs. For the rest of my day, though, I don't want to be taking in a bunch of extra sugar. With that in mind, I started messing around with some homemade hydration solutions. So far that's lemon juice, water, and salt - maybe a touch of sugar here and there depending on the situation.
I'm still in the experimental phase with this, but I have seen a positive correlation if nothing else. It could, in part, be the weather beginning to slowly shift towards a more tolerable condition, or it could be placebo, but my runs have felt stronger and I don't feel as much like I'm dying faster than normal.
The thing I do need to keep an eye on is that I don't take in TOO MUCH salt. I started doing some research on salt intake and found this article initially. Its Google page description is a little misleading, but what I found most interesting is about 3/4 down the page where it notes some possible harmful effects of too little sodium, one of which being hyponatremia in endurance athletes.
I'm certainly not a nutritionist and I don't have a ton of knowledge on body chemistry so I won't venture to qualify the validity one way or another; I mainly found it an interesting counterpoint to the common narrative of "eat less salt." What I can say is that I've experienced at least one pretty unnerving instance when I was not careful about having adequate sodium intake, I was drinking a ton of water, and I was running 5+ miles in the heat. That situation hasn't repeated since I've made it a point to take in more salt and electrolytes.
Again, could be strictly correlative, but I've had positive enough results that I'm continuing to experiment in the direction of higher sodium intake. This topic further reinforces my desire for some kind of wearable tech that would give me real-time information on my nutrient levels and whatnot. Like a Pip-Boy, for those of you familiar with the Fallout series (my feelings on smart watches notwithstanding).
I'd be interested to hear from any of you if you've had experience dealing with maintaining electrolyte intake!