My Take on Electrolyte Consumption
I've found (from experience) that I need more electrolytes during an event than what I thought I needed.
I'm still working on optimizing that aspect; but with all of the factors involved (ie: heat, humidity, dryness, wind, sun,
exertion rate, altitude, etc), it can be difficult. My rule of thumb is usually 350 mg of sodium for every 60-90
minutes of running, for races with temps over 60F. When the heat, humidity or exertion rate is higher, then 350
mg of sodium for every 45-60 minutes works. Keep in mind, I sweat a lot, but even runners who weigh 50 lbs less than
me, take this same amount.
Why do I talk about sodium? Sodium is the element that you will lose
the most in sweat. There are high amounts of Potassium is in a lot of sports products for some reason, but the ratio
from sweat loss is about 90/10 of Sodium/Potassium.
You can tell when you get far behind on sodium intake by these indicators:
swelling of the hands (and feet), water sloshing in your stomach, calf cramps (or any other muscle cramps), and nausea.
The swelling of the hands and feet factor has a lot to do with runners getting blisters on their feet. I normally don't
get blisters anymore, even in 100-milers, due to having the electrolyte issue "dialed-in" better. Sloshing in your stomach
is caused by your body not letting in any more low-sodium fluid or food, which would dilute your blood electrolyte levels
even more. And muscle cramps are caused almost exclusively by low electrolyte levels.
Sometimes you will have no indication of a low electrolyte balance during
the race, but the next morning after the race, you'll have swelling and stiffness. This can make traveling back from
an event problematic, if you have to drive or fly long distances.
My favorite brand of electolyte is SUCCEED, which you can get locally at Gribbles on 119th St & Quivira. Endurolyte (brand) from Hammer Nutrition are fine to take occasionally, but in ultra events lasting 8 hours or more, their high potassium
to sodium level can be problematic for some runners. They also don't have as much sodium in them, so you have to take
(and buy) more to get the same effect as with the SUCCEED brand, so there's not as much "bang for your buck." I usually use this strategy in a 100-miler: I take 3 Succeed
capsules for every 1 Endurolyte (over time). Yes, I mix them. Endurolytes have more magnesium as "trace minerals"
in them than Succeed, and the magnesium comes in handy late in a 50 or 100-miler. Again, this is what myself (and other
ultrarunners and ultracyclists) have gleaned from experience, and from exchanging our successful strategies.
This Summer, try differing electrolyte approaches during your "experiment
of one," while on long runs in the heat and humidity.
Everybody is different. Find a strategy that works for YOU.
Here are other brands to check out: SaltStick, Lava Salts, Zym, and
I've had a sample tube of Nuun, before. I guess it would be fine
for someone doing a 5K or 10K race, but it is a VERY EXPENSIVE product for the piddling amount of sodium you get with
each dose. It's "fizzy," though, so it must be fun...right???
Gaiters for Trail Runners
Some folks may not know
what gaiters are. Old-timers might call them "spats." Gaiters are fabric "wraps" for the end of your legs that help keep the
crud out of your shoes on trail runs. More information HERE.
Washing Running Clothes - Keeping out the Funk
By Bad Ben
Always wash your running clothes immediately after use.
Into the washer put: a little bit of dry powder detergent, a scoopful of baking soda, and a little splash of hydrogen
peroxide. Always wash them in COLD water on the "fast" setting and set it for an extra rinse cycle.
Always hang to dry. NEVER put your synthetics into the dryer...they will dry out in about 2 to 4 hours hanging up, anyway.
If you use regular chlorine bleach, many times your synthetic clothing will
take a beating or discolor, but bleach is very effective for "super-funk." I've used it for my waist-water-bottle-pack,
when the Summer sweat-funk sinks into the foam rubber parts. Just be sure to add some rinse cycles after washing.
Two or 3 should do it.
After a 50-miler or 100, I'll rinse out my clothes right after the race
and keep them moist in a bag until I get home...don't let them dry completely out. I'll wash them when I get home and
put a whole bottle of peroxide in.
It works. I have some Patagonia tops that I've worn since 1991, and
they still aren't funky. But if you don't wash your clothes for a few days, the funk will set in pretty hard.
My thoughts regarding headlamps and flashlights:
If you have ever thought of running a 100-mile ultra or doing a 24-hour Adventure
Race, night Rogaine, etcetera; read on.
Lighting is very important for your safety and success in a race. I
believe in using LED lamp technology. The LEDs don't burn-out, and the batteries last much longer. If you're
a fan of 4-D-cell Rayovac incandescent flashlights, "go back to the swamp, Gomer! " LEDs Rule!
What I use: In a nightime race,
I don't use a headlamp as a primary source of light. Instead, I use a simple inexpensive Black Diamond 2-LED headlamp
pointed up and out, to see trail markers and low-hanging branches. My primary light source: I use a hand-held flashlight
for seeing the trail surface. It's a 1-LED 4-AA flashlight, with a high-watt (adjustible) LED in it. Hand-held
flashlights need to be held low and parallel to the ground, so that you cast a shadow and show the height of all trail obstacles.
A headlamp won't do that; it is about the same height as your eyes. If you point it down at the trail, it won't cast
a shadow, and you could end up tripping over roots and rocks. You should test this theory yourself, on some night runs
(on rough trails). That's just my opinion. Many runners do just fine with just a very-good headlamp.
Keep in mind that your light source(s) should have these characteristics:
2) Your light source should use "normal" AA or AAA batteries. Special camera batteries, etcetera, will
cost you a lot of money, and are hard to come by in small towns on the road. For a race (especially a 100-miler or all-night
AR), spend some extra bucks and buy lithium batteries. They weigh 1/2 as much as normal AA or AAA batteries. You
can buy them at any Target or Office Depot, if you're on the road.
3) The device should cast a fairly wide lighting pattern.
A narrow, bright pattern will bounce around a lot, and literally make you sick on a long night run.
Your light should be bright (...the more lumens, the better, measured with a long battery life, too). It should
be bright enough that you can run at your daytime pace. I've been on many 100-milers and have seen "truly ignorant runners"
picking their way slowly at a "mall-walking pace" with a dim light pointed at the ground. I've also seen runners fall
and injure themselves from using a wimpy light source or none at all. There's no excuse for this except stupidity and
stubborness. (Darwin will take care of them, eventually).
5) It should have a battery life of 9 hours or more on
the brightest setting. This will help get you through the night. This is another reason why incandescent lights
(like xenon-bulbs) suck so badly...they are wattage hogs.
You should also PRACTICE using your lighting system
on the types of trails you will be encountering, in all types of weather conditions, especially RAIN, which will diminish
it's effectiveness greatly. Using your system a lot prior to an event will also give you an indication of
battery life, which is a good thing to know.
You should always have a back-up (and very lightweight) light
source with you. I carry a very bright 3-LED flashlight that lasts for more than 9 hours, and only cost
me $5.99 at Glowbug.com.
More Trailrunning Articles:
(This is a treasure trove of information put together by a sensible & experienced
QUIZ: Are You a Trailrunner???
ICEBUGS Trail Running Shoes
What if you don't want to screw your shoes?
Ice Bug Multi – The outsole
of an ICEBUG shoe consists of a specific rubber mixture and is enhanced with carbide tip steel studs.
Disclaimer: I haven't tried these shoes out on a run.