Author's Note: Who invented sports drinks?
In 2011, I went through marathon training with my running partner, Bill. He was training for the Chicago Marathon, but my goal was never to actually run 26.2 miles. I just wanted to see if my body could make it through the intense training program. We used the Hal Higdon Novice I program, and the longest run is 20 miles. As training ramps up, you do some serious distance. A 10 mile run starts to feel like no big deal when you're doing that much mileage or more a few times a week, but it was on that very first 10 mile run that I discovered I just could not drink enough water. It was the middle of summer and hot despite our early start times. I drank and drank and was still tired and thirsty. It was a terrible feeling!
After that first 10 miler, my partner talked to his dad -- a doctor and fellow distance runner -- who suggested that we start putting salt in our water bottles. On our next long run, Bill and I each put the tiniest pinch of salt into our water. The amount was so small that we couldn't even taste it, but the difference it made was huge. This time we were doing 12 miles, and it was just as hot outside, but that salty water kept my energy going!
I never used store-bought energy drinks during my marathon training time, but that salted water trick saved me. Bill's dad explained to us that you sweat out your salt stores in endurance exercise, and replacing that little bit helped our bodies hold on to the precious fluids they needed to get through the miles.
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