After bonking 10 miles into a 15 mile run, I found myself with a whole new set of questions. At this point in my training, a 15 mile long run should be tough, but manageable. So, what went wrong?
I reached out to Dr. Laurel Wentz, an Assistant Professor of Nutrition Science at East Carolina University. It turns out that I made some poor choices when it comes to hydration. I ran out of water fairly early on, it was 70° in January, and the water fountains along the greenway were still off for the winter.
When we become dehydrated, our heart has to work harder. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine,
Water lost in sweat comes out of your bloodstream. You need to replace the water so your blood won’t get thicker. Thick blood puts more strain on your heart as it tries to pump blood to your arms and legs. This makes it hard to get blood and oxygen to your muscles.
This is why my heart rate skyrocketed and all of my energy flew out the window.
Dr. Wentz shares strategies for staying hydrated during a workout, like stashing full water bottles along your running route. I prefer to carry a handheld water bottle for shorter runs or use my trusty Osprey Rev 24 backpack for long runs.
I’m a salty sweater. I can feel the salt on my face after a run. My favorite hat has white streaks … salt leftover from all the sweat during my runs.
Sodium and potassium are two of the electrolytes we lose when sweating. These electrolytes serve very important roles in the function of our bodies. They’re electrically-charged giving our muscles and nerves the juice they need to contract and send messages. In the case of sodium, it helps to regulate the amount of water we have around our cells. Drinking too much water without replacing sodium can lead to hyponatremia, a potentially fatal disorder.
My friend and ultra runner, Nathan Maxwell, fought hyponatremia back in 2013 after running a 50k in North Carolina. Read Nathan’s story on his blog.
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Additional Research Articles
- Hyponatremia among Runners in the Boston Marathon, The New England Journal of Medicine
- What are electrolytes?, How Stuff Works