Salty Sweat

On Tuesday it was 89° during my run at Fleet Feet. This was at 7:00 PM. Considering last week we hovered in the 50’s for several days, this means a fast transition to heat training. I usually find I have about two acclimating periods as we move into summer. Once the temps are above 85 I need a heat acclimation period in my running and once again when the temps top 100. But overall, I don’t mind running in the heat that much. In fact if I had to choose between running in 100 degrees vs. 30 degrees, I’d choose the 100’s any day!

After my run on May 4 2010
That said, one thing I notice in the summers is how much saltier I end up after a run. I seriously end up soooo crusty and it makes me a little self-conscious. None of my other friends seem to end up with this white film everywhere, but I’m so coated you could probably set me out to serve as a salt lick for horses.*

I started doing a little searching on the web and found this information about salty sweaters:

All runners do not lose sodium at the same rate. Some lose a little while others lose a lot. There have been several studies conducted to determine the rate of sodium loss in athletes. All of the studies have shown the sodium losses can vary greatly from athlete to athlete from around 2g per hour to over 10g per hour.

When you take into account the fact that our average daily sodium intake is 8 to 12 grams it is easy to see how a salty sweater can get into trouble when running in hot weather.

How do you know if you are a salty sweater? The easiest way is the taste test. Does your sweat taste salty or does it sting your eyes? If so you may be a salty sweater. Another way to tell is to look for salt stains on your workout clothing or salt residue on your skin. If the residue is there it is a sign you may be a salty sweater. Another sign of a salty sweater are frequent muscle cramps or problems with dehydration.

Does my sweat taste really salty? YES
Do I have salt residue on my skin? YES

I’ve suspected that my problems with stomach troubles during races could be attributed to this. The stomach is an involuntary muscle (meaning that it works without my controlling it, most organs are of this classification) so perhaps my stomach is just cramping up from sodium depletion.

Thus my plan is to make a concerted effort to work on electrolyte consumption during the summer heat. I’ll drink electrolyte drinks, even on shorter runs. If it’s a short one where I feel I don’t need the extra energy from carbs, I’ll use a drink like Nuun. I’ll pop Endurolytes… I’ll eat more salty food (I don’t eat a lot of added salt or pre-packaged foods)… I just feel I need to take another step to help myself feel better in races.

Do any of you have exceptionally salty sweat? Do you use any salt aids? What methods or tactics have helped you? I can always incorporate your hints while trying to find something that works for me!

* Please, nobody ever set me out as a salt lick for horses. I really don’t like horses. They’re almost as creepy as birds.

9 comments

  1. I don’t really sweat much. It seems salty when I do, but it never stings my eyes. I’m going to start checking.
    I would definitely choose 30 degrees over 100…that’s what Pittsburgh does to you! It’s always humid here, too..which is no fun!

  2. I’m right there with you. I have unbelievably salty sweat. My dogs look forward to me coming in the door after a run so they can lick the salt off of my shins. It hasn’t been a problem with respect to races yet, but who knows. At least you know you’re keeping your sodium levels below critical.

  3. I am always a salty mess. Even in the winter but I will agree it is worse in the summer. I think this is what attributed to my loopiness at the finish line of the KC Marathon because that was before I trained w/ electrolytes. My doctor scolded me about using them and so now I do on every long run. I also don’t watch salt content in my food like some people do because I know that I sweat it out profusely. 🙂

  4. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I sweat tons summer and winter…obviously more during the summer though. Thanks for your thoughts on finding a group to run with. Eventually I’ll look into it.

  5. I take a salt tab before 1/2 marathons but honestly, only because I have heard that is a good idea. I sweat like a complete pig and I am gross when I finish a work out but I never noticed any residue or anything.

  6. During hot summer mtn bike rides i can often see the little salt crystal formations on my arms. I never made the connection that i was depleting my salt supply, i just thought it was cool.

  7. Hey thnx for the info..i sweat profusely in summer and it leaves residue on all my clothes,.am i sodium deficient?

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