Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Salt Tablet Junkie

Up until my sabbatical last February, I was a salt tablet junkie. When I made the switch to long course and Ironman racing, I was constantly bonking both in training and races. I thought the culprit was lack of salt/electrolytes. Thus, I started popping salt tablets whilst training (mostly biking), as much as one every 20 minutes. But during my training stint in Kona last February, I started to rely less and less on salt tablets. I finally decided to kick the habit when I trained with Bek Keat on the Gold Coast. She told me salt tablets are rubbish and that she only carries them for emergencies. I wouldn't say they are rubbish but I definitely don't need them as much as I thought I did. In fact, during my time on the Goldie, I realized that the more fit I was, the less dependent I was on salt tablets.

My current philosophy on salt tablets, like Bek, is that I only carry them for emergencies. If I feel the shakes/bonk coming on, I know that I've made a mistake in training, specifically, I've done too much too soon; in other words, I'm training above my fitness. If I pace my training correctly, I should be able to build volume and still not require salt. I am currently in a big volume training block. This past Saturday, I did a 3 hour hilly bike ride followed by a 50-minute brick track workout. No salt. I wouldn't have been fit enough to do this workout a month ago, and had I done it a month ago, I would have needed to take 1-2 salt tablets. Thus, I use my dependence, or rather my lack of dependence on salt, to guage my fitness. However, when I race long, I do put myself on a regimented "salt drip" of sorts. Besides salt, here are some other signs that make me realize I am getting fit:

I have a lot more patience when doing my long run/bike because I don't have the urge to go faster to gain more fitness.

I just do my training sessions rather than think/vacillate and then do the sessions, training feels more automatic.

I'm usually more motivated because I want to nurture the progress.

When I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror (like after a shower), I think DAAAAAY-AM!

Oh, and the picture is of Bek Keat swimming...not me, but I think you already figured that out?


Beth said...

HA! Love the last sign of how you tell you are getting fit!! :)

The fitter you are and the more adapted you are to the heat/temps you train in, certainly the less salt you should need. Although I still do think that some people will always need salt no matter how fit they are!

Jill Costantino said...

I just read your last two posts - LOVE them both! It's so funny how we all go through such different things at different times in our lives. I am currently motivated to NOT get caught up in training, mine and others. I can't tell you how hard that is to read blogs and FB posts and twitter posts about these "stellar" workouts that people are knocking off and to not feel a bit like I wish I were doing that,(but I don't really want to be). Different balances at different times in our lives.
So glad for YOU though, that you are motivated and that you are nurturing the progress - you've got an AMAZING year a head of you! I am "motivated" to make some cool signs to tell you to get your A$$ moving in Canada!!!

Kathleen @ ForgingAhead said...

I've been reading your posts on BART but can't figure out how to comment via blackberry - hence the radio silence from my side of the Bay. Glad you're feeling good and strong! I'm solo this weekend and looking for a cycling partner if you by any chance are up for riding at a slower pace :-)

Matt said...

sounds like things are going well. I agree with you on the salt stuff too! Looks like we are both racing IMC and I am a local for your other one, so I will be out on the course cheering...then can buy ya a beer ;)

BreeWee said...

I am so glad you wrote this because I never use them training bit on race day I seem to use them and I dont even know why I do it since I dont in training... habbit? Thanks for the insite.