Wondering why you can’t just hydrate yourself to good performance? Here’s all about electrolytes for runners.
What are electrolytes?
Electrolytes are essential minerals—like sodium, calcium, and potassium—that are vital to many key functions in the body such as balancing the pH in your body, regulating muscle contractions, controlling nervous system function, and many others.
Why do we need to replenish them?
Your sweat has a mixture of electrolytes. When electrolyte levels drop too low, it can lead to muscular fatigue (aka “bonking”), cramps, confusion, issues with thermoregulation, etc. (Additionally, taking in too much water without electrolytes can lead to a serious issue called hyponatremia)
What should we replenish them with?
Sodium and chloride are the two electrolytes lost the most via sweat. Supplementing with salt pills, powders, enhanced gels, and sports drinks before and during endurance events is KEY!
How much should we intake?
This varies widely based on sweat production which is determined by event duration/intensity, genetics, clothing, heat/humidity, etc. Replacing lost electrolytes usually comes into play with runs and events longer than an hour.
Unless you’re using Gatorade patches designed specifically for measuring the amount of salt you need to replace, it can be trial and error to figure out what works for you.
It could be as little as 300mg of sodium per 32 fluid oz or as much as 700mg of sodium.
As an example, if you drink 16 oz. of fluid per hour when running and are a salty sweater, then you may need 350 mg of sodium in your sports drink/gel/chews/etc.
You are likely a salty sweater if there is white on your clothes after a run and/or if your sweat stings your eyes
- Real food (pretzels, pickle juice, potato chips, etc)
- Pedialyte (yes, like the kind for your toddlers)
- SaltStick FastChews
- SaltStick Capsules
- Red H Nutrition Go Juice
- Nuun Hydration Electrolyte tablets
- Tailwind Endurance Fuel
I’d love to hear what’s working for you. Drop me an audio note to tell me!