Brief Thoughts On Salt And Those Hot Triathlon Race Days

Hi folks! Glad you came by!

Salt 'Factory' in Santa Pola, seen by FitOldDog whilst visiting his mother and sister in Torre Vieja, Spain. Pure salt from the sea has been generated from brine lakes for hundreds of years in this region.

Salt ‘Factory’ in Santa Pola, Spain, seen by FitOldDog whilst visiting his mother and sister in nearby Torre Vieja. Pure salt from the sea has been generated from brine lakes for hundreds of years in this region.

Understanding the flow of salt (sodium chloride) entering into, passing through, and being eliminated by your body is critical, especially when racing under hot humid conditions.

There is a lot written about salt, it’s impact on your body, including the dangers of an excess or insufficient salt in your blood. For a great review of the subject see the post by Mark Sisson at Mark’s Daily Apple, entitled, “Is Salt Healthy?” The debate as to how much salt you need whilst running continues, with arguments for and against supplementation. In fact, salt was the subject of active discussion on The People’s Pharmacy, National Public Radio, recently.

With the debate raging, what are you to do about salt? I say determine what works for you, personally, by trial and error, but be careful.

If you have a tendency towards hypertension, you might need to watch your salt intake, but otherwise, unless you eat salt in gross excess, I suspect that your body is quite able to regulate this important material. However, when you’re racing, especially running, in intense heat (90°C+) with high humidity, it is another story.

FitOldDog's current electrolyte supplement.

FitOldDog’s current electrolyte supplement.

Get your salt out of whack and you’re in trouble. There are lots of guidelines on this subject, but at the end of the day it becomes a matter of trial and error. You can have laboratory tests carried out on your sweat to assess your salt loss rate, and thus determine how much you might need to supplement. But conditions change, your body varies from day to day, and it is only too easy to get it wrong.

FitOldDog’s advice: to avoid muscle cramps, nausea, or worse on the bike or run during hot weather, carry plenty of water and a generous supply of electrolyte supplements. With practice you will get to feel how much you need. In my most recent really hot race I took two Endurolytes tablets every mile with water, and had no problem, whilst others were cramping up. If I take less I get into trouble. I’m not saying that you should do this, it just works for me, making those hot runs much more enjoyable.

Determine what works for you and take your own supply of electrolytes.

-k @FitOldDog


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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.