The Long Run: Electrolytes

"You can turn that liquid into anything you want: engine oil, bat's blood, moose piss... you just gotta release the evil." - "Little Nicky"

“You can turn that liquid into anything you want: engine oil, bat’s blood, moose piss… you just gotta release the evil.” – Mr Beefy ‘Little Nicky’

On Saturday I planned to do a long run of about fourteen miles.

I began the run feeling pretty good: I’d been psyching myself up for it all day and was feeling positive. I’d gone for a short, lazy run the evening before at a pace that felt easy and perpetual: like I could keep it up forever. I hoped the long run would feel the same.

My first mistake, however, was under-estimating just how hot it would be at 6:15 in the evening on a sunny day in June. According to Google it was 89 degrees and 40% humidity and I’d been enduring a light sweat all day long and had been gulping down water to compensate. 89 degrees was one thing indoors in front of a box fan while reading a book and quite another when running outside in the low-but-not-quite-setting sun.

I had divided my route into two loops: the goal was to run slightly more than half the distance, stop for water, then go out again for another loop to reach my goal distance. I wanted to run late enough that the day would be cooling off, but not so late that I would be running in the dark.

I accomplished neither of these intentions.

After four miles I was sweating like it was my job. I turned back to the apartment and (after reassuring the Curmudgeonly Lion that I was OK, just thirsty) consumed an entire 20 oz bottle of water in about two gulps.

Thus refreshed I went back out for a second loop. The sun was setting and a portion of my planned route that took me on a bike path beside the river. I didn’t want to run this path in full sunlight as it had no shade. Nor did I want to run it in the dark because, duh, I’m a woman running alone and I’m not a moron. So the second loop was much longer than the first and by the time I reached the end of the bike-path portion I had sweated out every ounce of the bottle of water I’d consumed at my last break. My mouth was dry. My motivation was weak. My hands were becoming clumsy. And it was getting dark.

I knew I was legitimately dehydrated. It had slowed me down so much that the Curmudgeonly Lion started to walk backwards along my route to look for me (I was only about 100 yards from home when I saw him). I needed the break and I knew I was going to need both water and electrolytes on this pass so I decided to prepare one of the sports-drink packets that I’d purchased earlier that day: “Pure Kick Endurance Energy Drink” these were called. They promised to energize, hydrate, and focus me with no crash and an orange citrus flavor. Once mixed with water this looked like a bottle of moose piss and tasted like orange with an under-note of anise and pine, but I didn’t care: it tasted like it had come from God’s own private water fountain.

I knew I couldn’t drink too fast: that my body was in a water-debt to itself and that anything I drank would be paying off the interest on that before I had any liquid assets again. I also knew it was getting late: it was fully dark by now and well after 8pm. I didn’t really want to still be running at 10. I changed my running outfit- partly because I had sweat through the first one and partly in an attempt to be more visible in the dark- and decided to take a bottle of water with me on the final lap.

I ran the final lap along city sidewalks, sticking to familiar paths and street lighting, spurred by a desperate fear that if I stopped or slowed down I would Worry My Husband again. Each time that I did stop I would dole out a few sips of water to make sure I was staying hydrated. I was less than a mile from home when I finally ran out of water and finished strong, sore, and soaking wet.

So the bottom line is that I need to start sooner and stop for water more often. The Pure Kick Endurance Energy Drink seemed to deliver on it’s promise of energizing, hydrating, and keeping me focused even if it fell short on flavor and presentation, but if it saves me from having to endure the Drinks Aisle again then I am OK with that.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on June 30, 2013.

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