Home-Made Electrolytes. A perfect pocket companion for any endurance athlete.
Learning from each other is a great way not to invent the wheel, but careful what you adopt.
Electrolytes are all the rage these days, but most of them are full of sugar and are only sodium based.
(I'm thinking NUUN, pedialyte, and other similar brands.) Fizzy and sweet which tastes great but DO they have what you NEED in them to get the job done?! Especially BIG jobs like the Javalina 100 run. NOPE.
I was lucky enough to be able to test my electrolyte making skills at the Javalina Jundred, a 100 mile running race in the Arizonan desert this year.
The question I hoped to answer was...
"Can you make your own electrolytes? And if you can, will taking MORE keep you from "hitting the wall"?
These questions I set out to answer for you, and I came back with great info to share for all, and a new personal record at that distance, yay!!
Ok, why is everyone so excited about electrolytes?
For those of you newbies, (and those of us still learning and testing) electrolytes are extremely important because the body uses them to make your muscles relax and contract (think the heart), if they become imbalanced, you could lose a very important function.
I started on this journey after having heart issues at the Maces50 and i began looking closer at my nutrient content, fueling strategies, and hydration mistakes. This electrolyte post is one
of many to discuss the do's and don'ts of properly preparing for and fueling during a race.
If we continue to deplete our electrolytes, drinking only water, we will see less and less performance out of our bodies. Where are you?! Take this quiz with Precision Fueling.
Electrolyte Imbalances can lead to:
Inability to tell time/disorientation
Heart and kidney distress
Risks of falls/Traumas
Electrolytes do NOT include sugar.
Electrolytes DO include minerals such as:
Right: My silliness, running in a costume as "THE POOP FAIRY"...but at mile 77, I had lost my wings... ;-)
The discussion of electrolytes goes hand in hand with HOW MUCH WATER to drink...
If you look closely, you can see THREE water bottles in my possession on this race. And I filled
them up every 5 miles (2 hours) .
The water-electrolye-fuel balance matters JUST as much as anything else, so keep tabs on it. A guy I ran Leadman with set a 10 minute timer for water and an hour timer for fuels. He had a great race!! (As an aside, if you fall behind on fuel, hydration or electrolytes, it can sometimes take HOURS to catch back up so the best strategy is prevention).
So before I forget, once we have our electrolyte program designed, we pair our electrolyte choices with hydration AND a steadfast way of telling if we are following our program. Mine was visual, and tactile, I wanted ALL my water bottles empty at each aid station, so I carried enough to ensure I had enough (and a little extra for the extra hot lap) just to make sure the electrolyte concentration is ideal.
Ok, so on to the fun part…..
How do you make your own electrolytes?!?
Keeping costs down is a priority to most athletes, especially if you are an endurance athlete. Many bodies cannot tolerate sugar as a
main source of fuel for elongated distances and one must turn towards healthier fuel sources. This is one reason I began making my own. That and I could not find them last-minute at any nearby Crested Butte/Gunnison shops...
Here is an easy way to make your own electrolytes to take on the trail, at home (with filtered water) or during that next race:
Number 0 pill capsules
Sea Salt (Celtic sea salt or Himalayan pink salt are my favorites!) $3.99
Calcium Magnesium Citrate Powder
Decaffeinated Green Tea extract
(for these add-ins, if interested visit FullScript for a discounted medical grade e-catalog that ships straight to you.)
Access these discounted products (20% off) here: https://us.fullscript.com/welcome/dbrin
Step 1: Mixing
I use 2 tablespoons of sea salt to 1 tsp of the calcium-magnesium citrate powder and any add-ins. For the green tea extract, I added 2 capsules to this blend for free radical and oxidative stress support.
Step 2: Filling your Own Capsules
Wash hands/wear gloves
Simply scoop with capsules and close
Step 3: Put in a dry place/jar.
It's that simple. I put mine then into bags for my dropbags or pockets. I usually do backup salt pills incase I DROP them (which can happen!!!). I LOVE the Walgreens pill pocket pouches in which I can fit 6 hours of salt pills (3/hour) and can label them per lap/mile.
How many electrolytes do I need?
Rule of Thumb: If you sweat heavy, see white on your clothes after exercise or feel cramping or fatigue, start with 2 pills an hour (size 0) or 1500mg/hour.
If you taste yo
ur sweat and it is NOT salty, take 1 cap per hour (with 16 oz minimum of water).
If you are a har
d sweater, bump up your salt and your hydration to 1500mg Sodium AND 32oz water per hour.
As I was out in the desert, I used 3 salt pills and 16oz x 3 per hour.
Above: My "results" from precisonhydration.com/planner
This last race I ran was so hot that I used 3 electrolyte pills an hour during the heat of the day and 2 electrolyte pills an hour during the evening (for a 24 hour race).
(If one were to use SaltStick Electrolyte Caps or Ecaps, two well known brands of electrolyte pills, that’d be almost $30!!)
ALWAYS TEST YOUR STRATEGY PRIOR TO A BIG EVENT. Heat, altitude, stress, clothing all factor in to change your dietary needs AND your fuel focus. Using the precisionfuel.com/planner here is what my guess work was for my prior (cooler/shorter) race:
That race (Creede50k) which I tested this new strategy went excellently, with my body allowing me a fabulous kick at the finish. (Noted in my training log), so for Javalina I decided to copy this plan with even MORE electrolyte/water as I would be sweating WAY MORE. (Here's a great video for heat training and sweat calculation in hot races such as Javalina, Death Valley, Badlands, etc)
I push you to test out what your body needs and to continuously monitor your results and make changes accordingly.
Other fueling strategies that can adversely affect your race include:
Water is too cold
Too much sugar overall
Not enough calories
incorrect digestibility level of calories
Fuel too thick/goopy to digest (Gu's)
Too much fuel at one time
Fructose sensitivities (fruit sugar)
Fuel never tried prior (new form of carbohydrate)
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