Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Reconsidering electrolytes for Cozumel

For years, I've been convinced that, as a "salty sweater," it was necessary for me to take in considerable amounts of salt during hot-exercise training and racing.  At Mountains of Misery this year, I took in nearly 800 grams an hour for the 10-hour ride in 85-degree sun, and felt great.  Likewise, at Musselman Half, I PR'd the run on a very tough course in extremely hot conditions, and I was taking a similar amount of sodium (among other things).  Recently, though, I've begun to rethink whether it's all necessary.  Joe Friel has been convinced for years that we can basically do without electrolyte supplementation as long as fluid is consumed only to thirst, rather than to excess.  His position relies heavily on the research of Dr. Tim Noakes, an interesting interview with whom can be found here beginning around the 35-minute mark.

At Ironman Wales last week, I decided to give Noakes a try, and I took in no sodium beyond what was contained in four gels.  For hydration, I had water, and for calories, CarboPro 1200 and gels.  The course and conditions were simply macabre -- a race report will appear here soon -- but I nonetheless set a 40-minute run PR without a hint of cramping.  I'm still trying to figure out what I think about it all heading into Cozumel in two months.