Does anyone have suggestions for electrolyte supplementation during longer distance triathlons? The past few years my times are being ruined by leg cramping, mostly on the run, especially after 1 1/2 hours of racing. Drinking Gatorade and sucking down GUs does not help relieve the debilitating leg cramping. I know some people take electrolyte capsules throughout their race. I would be afraid to attempt to swallow a capsule while racing. I just about choke if I even take a vitamin pill. Does anyone know of a product that works and is easy to ingest? Please help!!
If drinking Gatorade and sucking down GUs is not helping with the cramping, chances are electrolytes are not the problem.
There are many more likely causes of your cramps. The most common is simply you are racing above your fitness level. If you were to slow down, you would most likely not experience the cramping. Cramps are also caused by overstretching the muscle. If your bike saddle is too high, you may are stretching your calves with each pedal stroke, that can result in calf cramping. Or if you are a long time cyclist or if you have a desk job, you may have shortened hip flexors/quads from being in that seated position. If you suddenly decide to pick up running, which is a very upright posture, that could also result in quad/hip flexor cramping.
Thanks for your reply. Most of my triathlons are Xterra, so my bike seat is not high, I do not have a sit down job. I may ingest 4-5 GUs in a 5 hour race along with very diluted Gatorade, that is about all I can tolerate of those things. I know many athletes take electrolytes capsules throughout the race. I was looking for some electrolytes that would be easy for me to take in the longer races.
When during the races do the cramps occur? How long into the events?
You could try something like Clif Electrolyte Replacement Drink
Or Infinit Nutrition at: http://www.infinitnutrition.us/
No pills required. I would also agree that taking little capsules would be difficult.
The cramps come mostly into the run at some point, unless I am racing at elevation, then I may get some on the bike after 2 1/2 hours of being on the mt. bike. I am very sensitive to many of the drinks, I seem to be able to tolerate diluted Gatorade and Vitamin waters. Thanks for your suggestions!
I asked because if they are coming on that early in race, that points to the cramps not being electrolyte related. During the run of an Ironman, possibly, but not after only 2.5-3.5 hours. That timing increases the likelihood of the cramps being intensity related.
Gatorade is pretty low in electrolytes even in non-dilute form. If you're diluting it further, you are getting very little electrolyte at all. I haven't reviewed the research for a while, but my recollection is that 200mg of sodium per 8 ounces of fluid was optimal for absorption. Gatorade has about 110 mg per 8 0z. serving. It's worth googling "sodium concentration in sport drinks" to look at the research yourself.
Several other products have a higher concentration of electrolytes. I've used Clif and Powerbar in the past. The Powerbar formula in particular suited me because it was substantially less sweet-tasting than Gatorade or, God forbid, Powerade. Unfortunately they quit making ice tea flavor, my personal favorite.
If you feel the need to dilute your drink, you can add electrolytes. Hammer Nutrition has electrolytes in powder and capsule form. Other than a tendency to separate out if you don't shake your bottle before drinking, it works pretty well. I've also simply added table salt to my drink to increase sodium. Although it doesn't sound that appetizing, toward the end of endurance workouts a little added salt tastes better than you'd expect.
Whatever you do, experiment in training so you know what to expect in a race.
I second the Hammer Endurolites. I train in the AZ summer heat so have used them alot for training. Most of my races aren't during the hot time of the year so I usually only take one before the start of a longer distance race. If it is a longer race I've usually got some salty cashews or nuts in my bento bag. I've never tried soy souce packets - interesting.
I like Propel Zero. It's simple, easy to find, and doesn't have sugars or heavy flavor. i've tried a few of the different electrolyte shots, but they tend to gag me when i'm working out. Gatorade is definately a good one if you're not too woried about the sugars, but the G2 doesn't have much. Also, Pickle Juice seemes to quench me and settle my stomach, as well as stave off cramping. I'm not to sure on the medical reason why, it does carry a bunch of sodium, and after a couple of hours it makes me feel re-energized.
I'm in the same boat as the OP. I agree that it's probably due, in part, to lack of fitness. However, I suffer from the same problem (I need to ramp up my game!) and I sweat A LOT. Like abnormally so. It's genetic. So, I'm constantly battling cramping/dehydration when I race or workout. Cramps destroyed my time during my first Olympic last summer. I'm in a constant search of a magic formula that will eliminate my cramps (almost always my quads).
My drink of choice is now Pedialyte. Yes, it's a little more pricey than anything else, but it seems to help a lot. It has way more electrolytes than any other drink I know of.
DO NOT buy the name brand stuff (unless it's the powder packs - there's no generic for those). I've found the best place to get them is the store I hate most: Wal Mart. The bottles are like $3.49 and are like 32oz. They also have the best price on the 8-pack of powder for around $8 or so. I'll use two packets per 32oz of water. Yes, it can taste sweet. But you can dilute it a bit. I wish there were more options but the manufacturer seems to have pretty tight control over the stuff and you can't find it anywhere else for cheap. CVS has it, but it's almost as expensive as the brand name.
I also pop a few Endurolytes before I start a workout/race.
Outside of working out, I like to drink stuff that's high in sodium, potassium, etc. I've become a big fan of V8 juice. It's good just in general.
After all that, I still cramp up. But I'm beginning to increase the intensity of my training, so hopefully my body will adjust accordingly. I hope.
BASE Performance and Infinit Nutrition is the way to go.
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Check out First Endurance products. I live in AZ and the EFS products don't stay on the shelves of most bike shops during the summer.
I've used Hammer product before, but EFS works for me.