Sodium for salty sweaters

I apologize in advance for the lack of pictures in this post; I personally dislike reading blog posts without pictures.

For the past week or so, my runs have not been going well.  I’ve been abnormally tired, my legs have felt like they’re dragging, and they just haven’t been fun.

  • Monday: 50 minutes moderate, but my friend who just got back from vacation was struggling, so it was more like 25 minutes moderate and 40 minutes run/walk to get back.  Felt fine, probably because of so much rest.  45 minute swimming.
  • Tuesday: 45 minutes easy/moderate.  Felt fine, nothing good, nothing bad.
  • Wednesday: 30 minutes tempo, but it was 15 minutes tempo and a fartlek/tag-team type thing on the way back because my other friend and I took turns running with the girl who still wasn’t feeling good.
  • Thursday: 45 minutes easy/moderate.  Felt fine/blah. 55 minutes of Pilates in the PM.
  • Friday: 55 minutes moderate.  Here’s where things get sketchy.  For some reason, I nearly passed out on this run! A fast pace and high humidity at the beginning tired me out immediately, and by the time we got to the halfway point, I was kind of dying.  We had dropped the girl who hadn’t been feeling well all week, but by 35 minutes, I was dragging.  At 45ish, my vision started tunneling and my heart was beating normal pace but extremely fiercely, if that makes any sense.  I had to take multiple extended breaks where I knelt down.  Somehow, I made it back.

My mileage won’t increase at all from last week (still hovering around 30 miles/235 minutes) because I thankfully have both Saturday and Sunday off.  I’m looking forward to these rest days before practice starts on Wednesday.

Anyway, sodium.  On my disastrous run today, my friend and I were discussing the possible causes of my exhaustion and overall feeling of blah.  I’m naturally a heavy and salty sweater; after a sweat-dripping run, my eyes sting profusely, my skin feels gross, and my sweat tastes salty.  I also drink a TON of water and eat a very low-sodium diet.  I eat unadulterated rice and vegetables, I seldom eat fast food, and I just generally crave sweet things (fruit) more than salty things.  I am in no way a nutritionist, but we thought maybe low sodium levels could be a cause of my terrible runs lately, especially because all I wanted to do as we slogged up the hill was chug 27 Gatorades.  Electrolytes, electrolytes, electrolytes.  They are my friends.

I did some research (aka I googled “low sodium side effects in runners”), and came across these articles: http://www.runnersworld.com/nutrition-runners/are-you-salty-sweater and http://www.medicinenet.com/hyponatremia/article.htm

Basically, low sodium levels can result in headache, nausea, and tiredness along with other serious symptoms I don’t have (seizures, etc).  I’ve had a headache for four days (I thought it was just because I read both “Unbroken” and “Once a Runner” in one sitting), I felt nauseous and like vomiting on the run today, and I’ve been so tired I’ve been taking naps every day (something that I never do), along with the general exhaustion during runs.

Soooo, with that in mind, I will be increasing my sodium intake over the next few days by eating more pickles, possibly drinking tomato juice (honestly, that sounds sickening), eating eggs and adding a crap ton of salt, and cooking Asian stir fries because they always have a ton of sodium (soy sauce!!).  I will also make an effort to consume more Gatorade and less water- or maybe put Nuun tablets in my water.  We’ll see.

I think it’s interesting to consider that even though I eat a huge, wholesome diet, I never thought about the fact that I could be lacking in an essential electrolyte.  According to some study in an article I read as I made my way through Google, 90% of American adults consume way too much sodium.  Knowing me, I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum…

We shall see!  If nothing results from this experiment, at least I’ll have ruled one thing out.

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