I’m not sure when it happened, but somewhere between the countless hours at a desk, eating junk food on the road or slamming back my daily triple venti something or other, I no longer fit into my good jeans. That’s when I decided to take a healthier approach to my life and I began a steady exercise program outside of riding and racing ATVs. It was not easy. My home, although perfectly placed for an ATV enthusiast, is no where near a gym, and my work hours limited my “exercise time” to the early morning or late evenings, so I broke down and purchased my first piece of exercise equipment. This Horizon Fitness treadmill, which started out as my worst enemy, quickly transformed running from a daily chore to a full on addiction. I was hooked. Running twice a day, 7 days a week, and after only a few months, I signed up for my first marathon. Boy, was that dumb.
After 20 of the 26.2 miles, my legs cramped up so bad I wanted to curl up in a ball and cry myself to sleep. With help from a friend, I continued on and in what seemed like an eternity later, I hobbled across the finish line with a new found respect for endurance athletes. My ass was thoroughly kicked.
A few weeks after the marathon, I got over the feelings of failure and began researching ways to improve. My first step was to determine the cause for my muscle cramping, and after speaking with a few well-respected endurance athletes, they all said the same thing, “Hyponatremia”, which is a medical condition marked by low blood sodium levels, which can lead to nausea, fatigue, cramping, vomiting, weakness, sleepiness, and sometimes even worse. Yup, that sounds exactly like my first marathon experience.
The problem? When you sweat, you’re losing 1000mg of sodium per liter. I was drinking water alone, which does not replace the loss in sodium, and the typical sports drink only has 440 mg of sodium per liter, which was clearly not enough. There are five electrolytes in particular that play a pivotal role in maintaining normal human muscle function. Sodium, which is the predominant electrolyte lost in sweat, and a quartet of other electrolytes (potassium, magnesium, calcium, and chloride) that performs crucial roles in muscle contraction, relaxation, and performance. A shortage of any of these electrolytes will affect athletic performance, and that’s why I was on the ground, crying like a little girl.
The solution is simple. The same endurance athletes that pointed out my hydration mistakes, introduced me to electrolyte capsules, and the SaltStick brand was on the top of their list. These caps have been formulated to provide your body with balanced electrolyte content in the suggested serving of 1 capsule per 20-60 minutes. Two SaltStick Caps in an hour equate to 430 mg sodium, 126 mg potassium, 22 mg magnesium, and 44 mg calcium per hour: The ideal ratio to keep you moving. My next marathon, although it wasn’t a record setting pace, had a completely different outcome from the first. I took two capsules the eve of my race, another 30 minutes before the start and 1 every 2-3 miles during. My muscles felt solid throughout, and I eventually shaved 45 minutes off my time.
This might seem off topic for an ATV magazine review, but after feeling the benefits from electrolyte tablets for running, I introduced them into my riding routine. ATVing is one of the more physically demanding sports on the planet, and proper hydration is key. The SaltStick capsules work perfect for long days on the track or trail, and you can even drop a couple of the water-soluble capsules in your hydration pack. The whole ATV Rider team used them in La Tuque, Canada, for a 12 Hour Endurance race, for the 2013 Score Baja 1000 and continue to rely on them for the testing in the World Off Road Championship Series.
SaltStick electrolyte capsules can be purchased in a 3 Count Trial Pack, or in 100 Count bottles for $19.99. There is also a PLUS capsule that includes contains 190 mg sodium, 53 mg potassium, 14 mg calcium, 7 mg magnesium, and 100 IU Vitamin D plus 30 mg caffeine. These caps kept me awake and hydrated for my midnight to 4am leg of the Baja 1000. SaltStick also sells a cool dispenser that holds a few hours worth of capsules, and mounts to your ATV's handlebars, etc.
Check out SaltStick’s website at www.saltstick.com, or capsules can be purchased at http://www.trisports.com/saltstick.html, or by calling (888) 293-3934.