Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Electrolytes--it's what's for dinner!

So apparently electrolytes are important to being an effective and efficient runner.  So is sodium, and potassium. Oh, and water.  All these things supposedly help you from bonking/cramping/fainting/getting sick/dying, etc.   I learned this after my half marathon last weekend.  

Thank you, by the way, to all the great advice/suggestions/tips on how to fuel pre-race and how to stay fueled and get electrolytes into your system.  I am still confused as to what combination of drinks/gus/tablets/foods works the best (apparently some counteract each other?), so I decided that I would just have to experiment.  With our hot summers just around the corner, I wanted to make sure I was prepared.

So I went to our local running specialty store, First Gear, and asked if they had S-tabs or E-caps or electrolyte stuff or whatever it's called.  The guy behind the counter looked confused, but just then another guy came out from the back and said, "oh yeah, you can get that at Bicycle Exchange" (the local bike specialty store).   It was only a couple miles away, but as I walked to my car I was confused as to why the running store would not carry these items.
I went to the bike store and picked up some Nuun (not even sure how that's pronounced) and some Salt Sticks.  They didn't have Succeed Caps, and the Salt Sticks looked pretty much like the same thing.  

I am going to start this week putting the Nuun tablets in my water, and will use the Salt Sticks for right before long runs or running on very hot days.  Hopefully they don't make me sick or anything.   For the Nuun, I got Lemon-Lime and Orange.   Not sure what flavor is the best.  Anyway, that's the update, we'll see how it goes.  Oh, I did run 4 miles this morning and I have a toothache.

21 comments:

Lisa Slow-n-Steady said...

Experimentation is where it's at. You need to figure out what works best for you.

Best wishes.

fyi - i've tried nuun. it's weird, but seems to work for me.

ShirleyPerly said...

Most of the local races in my area (FL) are short races (5Ks and occasional 10Ks) and very few are in the heat of summer so just consuming sports drinks and gels with electrolytes is probably fine for most. I think that's why even the running store I work at does not carry Nuun or other salt products either.

Not sure ... but to be honest, even though I've run a lot of marathons, I never worried much about electrolytes until I got into tris which have me doing much longer (4-6+ hr) workouts and racing in much hotter conditions (80-90+ deg). My guess is that is when people start relying on electrolytes more and hence why cycling and tri stores carry them. Most runners, unless they are marathoners or heavy sweaters, don't need them.

Hi! I'm Erin said...

I really wanted to try Nuun, but then I discovered that it had artificial sweeteners in it. I don't drink anything with artificial sweeteners so that got scratched off the list. Which is too bad because I don't really like Gatorade or any of the typical sports drinks.

I typically used Jelly Belly Sports Beans and water on any run longer than 7 miles but I'm going to experiment with other types of gels, etc. My other problem is that so many of them have caffeine and caffeine and I don't get along. I guess I'm just picky :-)

I'm interested to hear how the Salt Sticks work for you. Keep us updated!

The Tri Runner said...

I've heard that Nuun is pretty good. I've never used it but would like to try it. I would love to hear how and if it works for you.

Jess said...

I'm surprised your running store didn't have those products.

But yes, experimentation is key.

For instance, I know that GU, as well as other high-sugar things like Gatorade, upset my stomach and make me nauseous. But I only discovered that during the course of training.

Fair Weather Runner said...

I love First Gear, but they aren't always UP on the latest and greatest... or some staples in general. I went in to sign up for the River Run and asked about compression socks and they don't carry them. BOO :(

Rookie on the Run said...

How in the world did marathoners run in the days before electrolyte drinks, salt tabs, gels, sport gummies, etc? I'm surprised any of them even lived long enough to cross the finish line. ;D

IzzyBubbles said...

I didn't even know there was such a thing as compression SOCKS. But I know a few months ago when I was looking for arm warmers I had to go to the bike store to get them.

Is the toothache related to the 4 miles??

I've never done anything other than Gu and Gatorade, but I tried to eat pretty salty the week before the race. I think it's all just one big experiment, it's hard to know if anything works until you try it.

RunToFinish said...

seriously weird that they didn't carry it!! Maybe you are the only hard core runner in town

Chad in the AZ Desert said...

I've never used Nuun, but I know several ultrarunners who swear by it, so give it a try and see if it helps.

As for any running store that doesn't carry electrolyte products, it's time to find a new running store. It's only a major topic in every issue of every running magazine on the market.

I Run for Fun said...

Let us know if it works. I run very little in the heat, so gatorade's been adequate so far.

Marci said...

I don't know much about this, but I would be curious to learn what you find out. I use eload heat formula in the summer.

joyRuN said...

Other than GU, I haven't really needed anything yet. I should probably try the salt thing during the summer though.

Everyone's got their special combo ;) Have fun figurign yours out!

Ashley said...

Wow, I'm really surprised your running store didn't have the S-Caps! Oh well, at least you found something and I hope it works for you. Also hope the toothache gets better. ;)

Nobel4Lit said...

Glad you are experimenting with those. I was never able to get the salt tablet regime down, so I just stopped entirely.

TiredMamaRunning said...

I love the Kona Cola Nuun tabs...REI sells a variety pack so I buy those in the summer because I know I'll use 'em...a little cheaper that way. I sweat like a pig and used to get horrible upset stomach on plain water-the salt helped buffer my gut so I don't have that trouble in the summer.

http://www.rei.com/product/791943

Looks like they're actually on sale there now.

I'm actually a pretty minimal GU user these days and suspect that I took too many during my first marathon, even though I didn't have THAT many. I backed way off in my second, and surprise, no stomach problems. Personally, I think sports drinks/electrolyte drinks are more effective and less likely to cause problems than supersweet energy gels, but that's just me.

Tea Time said...

Congrat on finishing your half! Can I recommend Endurolyte from Hammer Nutrition for your electrolyte needs. I have not had a cramping issue since using them. I normally take a baggie of these pills with me on long runs and races and they work great. Hope you get to try them out.

IzzyBubbles said...

Don't know if you've heard but we're meeting up at 7:30 by the horse in front of the Bank of America building Sat if you're still running.

givings said...

Nice post. I run a great deal and in Texas every day in the heat. I also sweat quite a bit. Consequently, post hard run or race, my electrolyte imbalances can cause wild quivers in my calfs and bad cramps if not addressed. I have tried all kinds of things. Electrolyte Stamina and Hammer's Enduroltytes work pretty good. A D.O. also recommended some magnesium supplements. I'm not satisfied with any of the products out there. If you have other recommendationsm, I woudl be glad to hear them. BGK

Matt said...

Have you tried ZYM?

www.drinkzym.com

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