My Dear Partner in Sweat: A recap on hydration for my own sake!

The Hottest Summer on Record is finally over and I learned a few good lessons this year, maybe the wrong way, but I figured I’d share (ha, who am I kidding, if I don’t write it down, I will forget it all by next year).

After a few very crazy hot half marathons and long runs where I got dehydrated, I realized it takes a lot more than eating pretzels the day before and drinking Gatorade every two miles.

Yes, water alone will not do it. You need to keep the damned electrolytes leveled. Given that I consume salt packets religiously before every big run, I realized something else was missing as I got head-splitting headaches after some weather-unfriendly runs this year; one of the signs of dehydration.

More importantly, I learned that there are three types of dehydration: hypotonic or hyponatremic (primarily a loss of electrolytes, sodium in particular), hypertonic or hypernatremic (primarily a loss of water), and isotonic or isonatremic (equal loss of water and electrolytes). My conclusion was that, not only I needed water AND salt, but the balance of each had to be right too. And, how on earth am I supposed to know which one I have????

Enter Gatorade. Or, my new favorite thing: E-lyte, it’s the same as Gatorade but doesn’t have any flavor, or any sugars, which might work out better for some of you who can’t stomach G!

Before and after a run/race, I make sure I get a couple of glasses of E-lyte, as I don’t like carrying liquids with me. It comes in regular water bottles but also condensed, so you just put a few drops in your water (very convenient when you travel for races). I really feel like it helps when I get home and I am recovering from a 20 miler. If it’s a race, Gatorade (or whatever they have) will do.

But if I am doing a long run, now, instead of carrying any electrolyte drink, I bring a pill!! They are called S-caps. They are mostly for ultra runners. But, if you are going on a run of 20 miles or more, and you sweat a lot like I do, this can really help. I had one on Mile 15 on my last run and it was great. Blaise was put to the test too! If you have it too early on your run, you might feel very thirsty, so it’s NOT for short runs! But it is definitely easy to carry, and I am planning to have one on Mile 20 of my marathon. Plus the Gatorade every 2 miles, and a gel every 4 with water (if gels make you sick, consider this one). And a salt packet in the morning + 1 baby aspirin.

One extra note, I have very low blood pressure, so if you don’t, be careful, this might be too much sodium for you. I also sweat a lot, so I need to replace a lot of electrolytes!
Another extra note, when I did Boston, my friend Andrea who ran the whole race with me, finished a few seconds after, turned white, then blue, and a few minutes later she ended up in the medical tent, getting a few bags of saline solution pumped into her intravenously. This hydration thing is serious business. Be careful out there if you feel hot, thirsty, dizzy or way more tired than you should be. 

Treadmill Attack Update: My arm is moving a little bit today, hoping it gets better soon. SOON. I am seeing an Orthopedic Surgeon next week, so we’ll see if I need PT. UGH. I will still attempt the 16 miler tomorrow.. we shall see!

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