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?
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