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Salt Tablets – Still the Mystery Ingredient

Salt Stick CapsFor those getting more serious about racing the Marathon distance and beyond, don’t ignore the one ingredient that still eludes many distance runners – sodium. These salt tablets as they’re commonly referred to have been used by triathletes for years and are just in the past couple years being adopted by marathoners. During training but particularly racing the average runner will lose 300-500 mg of sodium per hour. We are so conscious of taking in water and sports drinks/gels which will help but if you read the label on your average gel you’re only adding 50-250 mg of sodium each. Generally we take one of these per hour. If you do the math, you can then undestand why after 2 hours of racing you really start to feel the muscle cramps, especially in your calves and quads. What essentially happens is that your fluid levels actually become diluted with a higher ratio of water to salt than when you started. This continues to worsen unless you add more sodium (the secret ingredient). Of course, if you have high blood pressure you will want to consult your physician first to make sure this is ok. My personal choice is Salt Stick Caps with another popular brand being Lava Salts.Lava Salts

Salt Stick Mini Dispenser

Of course, since they are in gel cap form you don’t want to just carry them in your shorts pocket or by the time you need them they will already have started to dissolve. I use the

small dispenser that Salt Sticks sells. I simply put it in the back pocket of my shorts. I tried using ziploc-style bags and saran-type wrap but they were too awkward and time-consuming in a race. Let’s face it, you spend so much money on shoes and clothing and so much time on training from the run program to weights, plyometrics, diet, etc. to be as

fast as possible. So why not take it to the next level just like the elites and pros do! It’s helped me.

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7 comments

  • To Whom It May Concern;

    During my last two marathons I had a huge problem with muscle cramping through out both legs @30 km. My main concern was the involuntary movements of my right foot which happened around the 32 km mark. I do take accelerade gels and drink during my marathons.I do sweat a great deal and feel this is my problem ( sodium loss ). What is your thought? I have been taking sea salt now on my training runs but wonder whether your product would be better.

    Thanks
    Miriam

  • Hi Miriam,

    I’m sure this has something to do with your cramping though I am not a doctor. With regards to which is better, I can’t say how effective or ineffective using sea salt is though I do believe it would help. With the Salt Stick and Lava Salts products I mention, the main advantage is these products are a measured dose so you know exactly how much and what type of sodium you are aking. Also, there is a lot of research done by companies like the two I mention. Good luck with your future running aspirations.

    Mike

  • This information is very useful as I am coaching a team and muscle cramp is an issue with at least one of the runners.
    Personally my hands are swelling. Is this due to a lack of sodium too.
    Richard

  • Hi Mike;

    I ran the Philadelphia marathon last Sun. and I used the Salt Sticks (7 in total, one every 1/2 hr.)
    and I had my best marathon yet, qualifying me for the Boston marathon. I never had any problems with cramping like I usually do. I will definitely let my fellow runners know all about this product.

    Miriam

  • Hey Mike,
    as i just got abck from Wildflower triathlon in california, i shared accomodation with Jonathan Toker, Mister Salt Sticks himself. Nice guy. Had great dicussions about the benefits from his product. I personally neve took some as i don’t race longer than 1/2 IM and i don’t sweat much anyway…however, i have in mind the IM Malaysia for next year and, as you probably know, humity and heat are huge over there, so i may consider sodium intakes.

  • Salt sticks sound ok but another product really proving its worth out here in Andalucia is Eletewater.
    Your water still tastes like ‘water’ but you have sodium, potassium , magnesium and chloride in the mix, no flavours or sticky fluids to deal with and it works really well in multi stage ultras as you can treat the water and use it for cooking in as well.

  • This may sound weird to most of you, but I don’t sweat. is there anything to make you sweat? I live in Alabama. I walk and ride a bike in the hottest weather and there is only sweat around the hair line of my fore head. any suggestions?

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