When I started running in 2006, I wasn’t at all familiar with hydration-on-the-run nor did I know what an electrolyte even was! After a year of 5Ks and another year of 10Ks, I started ramping up to the half distance and the training programs I followed all stressed the importance of both hydration + electrolyte intake so I started experimenting; yet, in my newbie-ness still only carried water and avoided on-course electrolytes… until I started training for my first marathon.
I completed my first marathon through Team in Training and was lucky enough to learn from some of the best running coaches here in the San Francisco Bay Area- and they taught me about hydration, informed me about different products and how much water/electrolytes to take in during which hour of my run, and insisted that we carry electrolytes for any run over an hour.
As any veteran runner or coach will tell you, electrolytes (electrically-charged minerals such as sodium, calcium and potassium) are important to replace while running in order to keep the systems of the body functioning properly. As a Super Duper Sweater, I quickly learned that all the cramping I suffered plus all the salt I was covered in following a run meant that I was losing too much of those all-important minerals through sweat during my long runs and if I truly wanted to improve my running performance, I would certainly need to replace them along the way.