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  • Writer's pictureChris Toepker

Yes: More Salt, More Sugar

Updated: May 15, 2020

Recently I looked to add something different, increasing the "up" with some stairs. Mix it up, if you will. Or, “add something that sucks,” as one of our adopted sayings goes. I took the stairs. That is, on one of regular routes, I stepped to the side to step it up.

I thought it was going to be easy. I mean, it’s only a five mile route and one or two sets of stairs shouldn’t be that hard. Right? Wrong. There was no silver bullet reason, but the suck was more than I could handle that day. Indeed, the cramps that hit my calves hobbled me.

I could feel them coming on, too. After the first set of stairs, various strings along the length of my calf were twitching and seizing. I drank some water and kept on, taking a moment to stretch and then attempting another set. The size of the string and the length it seized began to orchestrate and I could feel full lockdown coming on. Time to stop!

As I started walking, I realized that most likely I simply hadn’t had enough salt lately. Too bad for me that I hadn’t brought my usual mix with me. I had to hobble all the way home! When I got there, I mixed my usual “lite” salt (mix of sodium chloride and potassium chloride salts) with water. Viola! No problems. To be sure, I stretched. Can’t be too careful, can you?

The next day, I struck out on a half marathon. Determined to be more prepared, I added ¼ teaspoon of my salt to each liter of water in my pack then took off. Happily, the heavy uphill didn’t bring on the cramps. The salt seemed to be working and so...did I.

Happily, I hit halfway up on the west side of Cougar Mountain and, knowing that I’d been out for a while already, I ate a Cliff bar. At the time, I thought it might be enough to get me back. After all, it was mostly downhill from there. Wrong again!

I could feel the difficulty ramping up, even as the trail led downhill. I was simply running out of fuel! By the time the last mile came around, I was really feeling it. Even when slowing to a stroll, I was panting like an overheated dog. My heartrate readout was fine, so I could only conclude that I needed to fill the tank. I recalled some of Karnazes stories and began dreaming of Slurpees. The sugar! The cold! Too perfect. A shop along the way had them, but when I got in and in front of the machine - no wallet. I hadn’t expected to need it.

So, pant by panty pant, I made my way through the home stretch. It was tough. I could feel the lightheadedness creeping in, but I kept asking myself: what if this were only half way? Of course, I replied “You would have been more prepared.” Lesson learned. Crawled home.

Now I’m absolutely sure to mix up a batch of my running mix. For each liter (quart) of water, ¼ teaspon of “lite” salt and a tablespoon of cherry KoolAid. (Yeah - kid at heart!)

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