I promise I have not forgotten about this blog. It’s just been a little hectic around here the past few weeks. You see, the Hubs and I just moved into a new place, and we decided that within the span of two weekends we should paint a majority of the new place in addition to all the standard packing, moving, and unpacking! Whew! Well, now we’re here, and I’m back to share a nutrition tip with you.
I was a little sad to be leaving our old place simply because I had established so many running routes from our prior location. Within minutes I could be at the local state park staring at the mountains, watching deer and coyotes, and away from the traffic. However, this past Friday I found myself particularly excited to go “exploring” around my new location.
As you may recall, I am currently training for my first triathlon (or perhaps, my first triathlon season…), so instead of running six days each week, I am divvying up my training between all three disciplines: biking, swimming, and running. This past Friday happened to be a running day, and I was planning on a long run. My schedule on Friday happened to be a bit more open than I had planned, so I spent the morning taking care of odds and ends at home before heading out for my run around 12:30.
As soon as I stepped outside, I realized that this run might be a little bit rough. However, once I get my mind made up about something, I have to finish it. So, I headed out on the roads. Sure enough, after only a half mile or so, I started getting stomach cramps and feeling cold. I didn’t know it at the time, but I believe it was about 95 on Friday. It’s just that it’s so dry here in Colorado that I often don’t notice how hot it actually is.
Needless to say, I was not moving as fast as I had hoped, and it was all I could do to figure out how to finish the loop I started and get home. About 2 1/2 or 3 miles in, I was much less focused on my “long” run and just ready to finish. It turned out that my run was only about five miles or so (as opposed to the seven or eight I planned on), which was really good because I found myself feeling terrible, still sick to my stomach, and breathing much harder than my less-than-stellar pace called for. It was pretty clear. I was dehydrated.
Dehydration can just sort of creep up on you, especially here in Denver. You have to drink more water than at sea level due to the extreme dryness. Since the air is so dry, you may be sweating much more than you realize because you’re drying off so quickly. I had only had coffee that morning while I was doing things at home since I had planned to head out for my run much earlier. (Big mistake…) So, needless to say, I hadn’t helped myself out at all.
Now mind you, this sort of dehydration is not really the end of the world. I made it back home just fine. I felt a little sick, but all in all, I was okay. However, I knew I needed to get some electrolytes into my system. My legs were really cramping near the end of this run. I thought about pouring a big glass of water, adding some sea salt and some fresh squeezed lemon, but I decided to run over to Walgreens to see what they had.
I perused the shelves and aisles of less-than-healthy fair to no avail. Tons of snack food, but no real food. I looked at the Gatorade, but just couldn’t bring myself to down all those sugary calories just for a few electrolytes. Finally I spied this in the refrigerated section:
Now this was what I was after! I had forgotten all about coconut water as a natural electrolyte replacement drink! I knew nature had something better than Gatorade! 680 mg of potassium (more than one whole banana!), a good source of iron, and five essential electrolytes (potassium, magnesium, sodium, calcium, and phosphorus)–this is what I needed! Plus, coconut water is much lower in calories than Gatorade. In fact, this 14 ounce bottle had just 110 calories and zero artificial sweeteners!
Now I’ll be honest, I’ve tried coconut water before, and, despite the glories of its health benefits, I could not get it down. For a person who loves coconut, this stuff did not taste as good as I had hoped. So, when I spotted this brand that had a bit of chocolate in it, I was sold. I’d really like to wean myself off of the flavored kinds of coconut milk and get used to drinking the real thing, but this did the trick on Friday.
Thankfully, my little tale of woe has a happy, coconutty ending. Now that drinks like Zico are being sold even at convenience stores, we’ll never have an excuse for reaching for sugary electrolyte replacements again!
Drink to your health!