Sunday, September 20, 2009

Doing The Salt

I had a 13 mile run scheduled for yesterday. Because it had been a while since I had been able to get to the Union Square Farmers Market, I mapped out a run that would finish just a few blocks away.

I've heard and read a lot about doing "the salt." According to Dr. Lewis G. Maharam, the medical director for NYRR, the ING NYC Marathon, and several other marathons, people who run or race a 10K distance or more, should take 1 fast food salt packet just before starting their run and another half way through, in order to prevent hyponatremia and cramping. What is hyponatremia? Well, it's a condition that occurs when there is a reduced blood sodium concentration. When sodium levels get too low, people can experience nausea, dizziness, and even brain swelling, unconsciousness, and seizures in very extreme cases. This blog post explains the condition and what causes it thoroughly. Because I desperately want to finish the marathon with the least amount of issues as possible, I decided to give this a try. Now, I am not a fan of salt. I never add salt to dishes when cooking and I always opt for salt free pretzels. There are a few occasions when salt is good - tortilla chips are always best with a little salt, for instance - but I usually stay away from it. I will follow general advice and increase my salt intake in the week leading up to my longest runs and the marathon, but I had a hard time imagining that taking an entire salt packet on its own would be okay. And I was right! I stood just inside the park at 8am yesterday, ripped open the small packet, emptied just half of it onto my fist and licked. DISGUSTING! No way could I finish it and I could still taste the salt 6 miles down the road. I'm really not sure how I'm going to do this, but I'll try again later this week when I'm running 7 miles. How do people do it?

I felt fantastic after the run and enjoyed a quick around the farmer's market before heading home. Later that afternoon the back of my left knee started bothering me. Today, I couldn't run. I tried, but was limping and I know to stop running if an injury effects my form. I'll do a little research to find out what's going on, ice it several times today and hopefully I'll be able to run in the morning. With only 41 days until the marathon, I don't have much time to nurse and injury.


Morgan said...

You might want to try E-caps or something along those lines, it's basically a salt tablet to take in pill form.

Miranda said...

Hi Lisa, it's Miranda from your blog! (I'm chronicling my training for the Philly Marathon on Nov 22 at I also "do the salt" after reading about it's benefits several times over. I also stray away from any added salt and detest the taste. I usually follow my salt packet with gum. If I'm in a race or a run longer than 10 miles, I bring a gel with me and forgo the extra salt packet. Hope it helps for your longer runs!

Lisa said...

Hey ladies! Thanks for the tips! I've heard that salt pills don't work as well because the salt takes longer to get into the system, but I'll look into it. Chewing a piece of gum might help!! I am a fan of shot blocks and never train with sports drink, so maybe that would help keep my sodium level up.

Miranda, let me know if you want to go for a run sometime!

Julie said...

i've been dealing with knee issues lately too. our team coach agrees with me that it's probably "runner's knee" - it's pain directly under my knee cap. ice and advil have been keeping it at bay, so hopefully i'll be good for my up-coming long runs! hope yours is feeling better!

and i can't believe you tried the salt thing! i like to think that gu and powerade give me plenty of sodium....i gag just thinking about eating a salt packet!