Salt That Run

It’s a little thing but it is most likely having a huge impact on my running.

I went today to see my nutritionist, Meredith Terranova; first was a yummy cooking class (gluten-free lasagna — I do NOT miss these cooking classes if I can help it) and then she and I had an individual consultation. I’d contacted Meredith the other week about getting help going to an all-liquid race diet. The reason behind this was I’ve been having such trouble keeping up with my nutrition on these hot days. My runs were petering out at the end and I was feeling like crap afterwards, not wanting to eat and being run down. I was sure that if I could just get around my heat issues, I’d have better nutrition, which would mean better runs. And since I’d been drinking an insane amount of water on every run, I was sure that liquid nutrition was the route for me.

Meredith asked some probing questions and quickly came to the realization that I was not taking in enough sodium. Even though I am taking tablets, each contains about 40mg of sodium and I was only taking one an hour. Ideally, I need something like 350mg of sodium each hour; even a math loser like me can figure out that I was woefully behind. The lack of sodium causes the stomach issues, which makes me not eat, which causes me to bonk, and then I’d go the rest of the week without enough sodium. And then I’d run again.

It’s been a vicious circle of salt deprivation where I never got caught up. It’s especially evident when I look back to that one 20-miler that wasn’t; the day was extra humid and so I sweated out even more and even faster and my stomach went south very quickly — nausea, cramps, no way to eat. I had to walk the final miles and then only after picking up a Coke Icee at the store. Which brings me to Coke…no WONDER Coke is my magic elixir. Did you know it has sodium?  75mg in a bottle.

Next, Meredith went through the different liquid products with me, sorting out which ones were safe (no wheat, soy, peanuts, and orange); she also went through gels, just so I’d know in an emergency which ones worked for me. It’s interesting that the one brand I absolutely need to stay away from is Hammer, and I’d gone to all Hammer products back when we trained for Pikes Peak and the Leadville trail marathon. Now, my thyroid stuff hit full bloom at that time, and allergy and thyroid are both auto-immune issues. Makes me wonder.

Anyway, she talked me through what I like and don’t like to do during a race and we came up with a nutrition plan that I am extremely excited about implementing. I can’t wait for Saturday’s 22-miler!

Now that I know that my sodium has been inadequate, I look back at last weekend through a slightly different perspective. On both Saturday and Sunday, I faded drastically at the end of my runs, neither of which was particularly long or hard. Saturday was a 14-miler on the road with a wonderful posse of girlfriends; I was feeling good and having fun until we got back to Lake Austin, where I just seemed to run out of steam (now, I’d had to make three bathroom stops during the run, which is unheard of for me, but I’d eaten some pizza with whole wheat crust the night before and the lesson here was that I just can’t do wheat then, even though it’s okay more than six hours prior to exercise). I blamed lack of nutrition for the bonk because I’d only managed to eat half of what I needed because my stomach had simply shut down on me.

On Sunday, I had a fun, unexpected trip out to Bastrop to give my trail running friend Amy a tour of the purple and red trails, 10 miles give or take. My partner in crime Stacey also skipped her recovery day to come along (I ask you, what is more recovering than a fun run on the trails?!?) and we were having a grand time. And then I totally petered out when we hit the red trail. Stick a fork in me, I was done. It was not the way I wanted the run to go, and I totally blamed the heat and humidity for the melt-down.

So I’m looking forward to seeing what my new improved nutrition and supplements will do for me. I’m so glad I went to see Meredith!

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Published by Leah Nyfeler

I'm a writer, editor, runner, and adventurer who is always looking for the next new story, exciting adventure, and good meal/book/movie. My focus is on helping people find their best, healthiest self through sharing what I know and how I've come to learn it. In addition to my blog "Enjoying the Journey: Observations on the Fit Life" at, my articles have appeared in a variety of print and online magazines. You can hear me as part of the 2015 Austin cast of Listen To Your Mother.

0 thoughts on “Salt That Run

  1. Snape apparently also thinks you need more sodium.

    Because of my behemoth sweat rate, causing high sodium needs, I switched a couple years back to Salt Stick Caps. Each capsule is 215mg sodium, which makes logistics and feed much easier, only needing 3-4 and hour instead of half a bottle of Endurolytes.

    Thanks again for treating us to Bastrop! I hope your runs this weekend go great with the new nutrition.

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