Sweating too much?


After my 19 mile run yesterday my wife and son took to the streets to do some running of their own.  My son is not really crazy about it, but at his age he is not crazy about anything but video games so I don’t put too much stock into it.  He did keep up pretty well though, and seemed to enjoy it afterwards.  My wife who has been running for the past year is starting to consider doing the 1/2 marathon at Miami in the end of January 2010 when she finishes her semester at school.  I am excited for her and think she will do great!

Over the past 4 long runs I have noticed a significant fade in strength after I reach 2 hours. (Or 12 to 13 miles.)  While I have drastically improved my performance on runs less than that amount, it was very disappointing I didn’t seem to be able to push past the two hour mark without a noticeable drop in speed and performance.

It all came to a head two weeks ago when at the end of an 18 mile run I noticed that my hands were pretty swollen. This led me to start doing some research and asking around if others had this type of trouble also.  I found that a few could remember clearly that they experienced this, and also had remedies or references that shed some light on the situation.

It seemed that other runners experiencing swollen hands had three different causes, and I was hoping that this would also help out my fade problem:

  1. Not enough electrolytes.  I didn’t think this was my trouble because on the 18 mile run I drank a lot of Gatorade. (About 20 oz. per hour.)  I did not see any way possible that I could be electrolyte deficient, but because of the Florida heat causing sweating I could not rule it out.
  2. Too much sodium.  We all know that too much salt will cause swelling, and since Gatorade is so high in sodium I thought this may be the culprit.
  3. Swinging arms straight down by their side when walking after a long run.  Supposedly this caused the blood to pool in the hands and cause the swelling.  If they raised their hands the swelling would go away.  I felt that this could have been the problem, since I notice my swollen hands while walking for 1/2 mile after my run was completed.

Others I had questioned stated they felt a electrolyte deficiency was the most logical cause, and perhaps if I supplemented electrolyte capsules during my run it may help.

I decided to take a multi-pronged approach on my next long run of 19 miles.

  • Because I do sweat a lot running in the Florida heat (Even in the morning it is already 60+ before the sun comes up.) I thought it was very possible I may not be getting enough electrolytes, and I just happened to have a sample pack with 4 Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes, so decided that I would take one capsule every 1/2 hour during the run.
  • Instead of taking only my CamelBak pack with the normal 60 ounces of Gatorade, I also took along a 20 ounce bottle of plain water.  I knew where there was a drinking fountain at mile 17 to refill it also.  This would allow me to get some plain water instead of drinking strictly Gatorade the entire run.
  • At the end of my 19 mile run I kept my hands elevated a bit, like they had been when I was running, while I walked off the run.
  • I did not mess with my Hammer Gel and continued eating it every 40 minutes to keep my carbs and calories up.

Now that the run is past, I can report my findings. (Of course I will not call it conclusive until I can repeat the experience in my next long run of 20 miles in two weeks.)

I took the Endurolytes each half hour during the run.  I am not sure if it was perception or reality, but I really a difference in my energy level during the entire run.  I only had 4 capsules, so ran out on the 2 hour mark.  I noticed a drop (but not a crash) in my energy level around 2.5 hours (mile 15), and sincerely believe that if I had two more capsules it would have made a difference for the rest fo the run.

The water on the run between drinks of Gatorade made a nice impact, but it was mostly perception I think.  I was not forced to choke down the super sweet sports drink the entire time.  At one point early into the run (3-4 miles) I also felt a bit of stomach discomfort, so switched to water for the next couple of drinks.  This seemed to allow my body to absorb the excess calories from my pre-run meal and the stomach discomfort disappeared. (Very cool.)

I don’t think the elevation of my hands really had much affect, but I will test it out next long run while keeping everything else consistent.  For now I am claiming that the water helped me keep my sodium level in check, and the Endurolytes helped me keep the rest of my electrolytes up higher than on previous runs despite my sweating.

I will follow up on this post after my 20 miler in a two weeks.

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