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During the pre-season, two-a-day workouts I did in high school during the 100° plus days of August as part of trying to make the football team, players were given salt pills on the sideline.  And I typically ate a few during each workout.  I didn’t even know why, I just did what the coaches told me to do.

I know why now.  About 5 minutes after this picture was taken, both my legs began cramping non-stop, leaving me completely incapacitated on the pavement.  The medical volunteers didn’t know what to do but a bystander who just happened to be a collegiate sports trainer instructed them to pour some salt into a bottle of Gatorade and have me drink that.  This worked well, although it tasted as bad as it sounds.

Unlike the Denver Marathon, the Boulder Marathon next month will be stocked at every aid station with Gatorade Endurance Formula.  Gatorade’s website has this chart showing how much sodium to expect to lose during the run.  Apparently a marathon burns the entire recommended daily intake of sodium in the 3.5 or so hours it takes to run.  I suppose that varies based on heat, etc.  The lesson here is that if all you drink during a marathon is water, you’re in trouble.  My in-laws were visiting last weekend and related the recent story of an Austin athlete who died after an endurance rowing event because he drank too much water afterward – a condition termed hyponatremia.  This is certainly more serious than cramps but the point is that you have to understand and maintain certain nutritional balances when participating in endurance events.  It could affect your performance or it could affect your life.

Gatorade’s Endurance Formula has 200mg of sodium per 8 ounces.  I don’t know but would guess the aid station cups at the Boulder Marathon will be about 4 ounces.  There will be 12 aid stations along the course.  Math suggests I should drink 2 cups per aid station.  That will give me close to 2000 milli grams of sodium.  I’m assuming I will have started my day out with some salt already in my body and I don’t see myself being able to swallow more than two cups per aid station.  I will look into the volume per cup though on race day and redo my estimates accordingly.  Cramps hurt.