While running my marathon, I was constantly passing med stations where you could stop and get assistance for everything from nausea to busted blisters and more. But more importantly these volunteers stood along the course offering up salt packets and tongue depressers heavy with vaseline. For those who don’t run long distance, let me explain these two things. The salt is to help with fluid and electrolyte balances. Knocking back this tiny salt packet can make a world of difference when you run. This I learned at mile 16 on my race when I finally gave in and grabbed one, because I felt so awful that I would just about try anything they gave me. And it was instant relief!!
The vaseline is for chafing, a common problem for runners. So you grab the tongue depresser and start rubbing as you run, quite a sight let me tell you. Some people also use it to keep sweat out of their eyes, but that’s what super cool 80s sweatbands and the new Halo and gutter style bands are for. I mean why go for greasy vaseline when you can make a fashion statement!
All that aside I was really surprised by how quickly the salt was able to help. I talked to many runners and triatheletes before the race and even after who have never taken a salt packet. Basically as long as you hydrate well and grab the gatorade that’s offered, and have your gels you don’t need the salt. Well, I had tons of water, plenty of powerade on my belt. Gels and more as well, and that salt was a saving grace twice on the course. So I know that I will be packing my own little packets as I train and on my next race day. Which is just 4 months away now!
Recently, I stopped in at Wendy’s to get a salad and baked potato, my go to for lunches when I’m using my lunch break for errands. I was getting silverware and saw the salt packets that are so common at fast food establishments. Those little packets are what they have on race courses by the way. Not sure if they order them or like me just grab a handful every time they stop by. So seeing salt, I scooped up a massive amount and tossed it in my bag. It was when I got back to the office and was transferring my loot to my desk drawer that I realized that something was different about this salt.
You may remember that Wendy’s recently made some big changes to their menu. Starting with using Sea Salt on their fries. Well, they didn’t stop there. The salt packets I scooped up, were Sea Salt!! That’s right! Tiny little paper shots of Sea Salt! How ingenious and subtle. To switch over to these. But then I thought, well is Sea Salt as good or better than the table salt I was expecting to get? Would it make a difference while I ran? Would I flop out because I had the “wrong” salt?
I began questioning this, and asking runners again. No one had an answer. It seems that it’s an age old debate as to the validity of these claims of health benefits of Sea Salt. Even today as I prepared to write this blog, I did some quick research and found varying opinions. All in all, the facts are the same. Table salt is processed and some additives are added, but in small amounts. Sea Salt is harvested and retains some minerals in small amounts. Either way, you shouldn’t eat a lot of either and there is no definitive study saying one is better than the other. I would love to see a study related to running but even the mighty Google and Bing were not that helpful with results.
For now I have a drawer full of Sea Salt packets, and I’ll just try those and see. If I don’t feel I’m getting results, I’m sure I can find a Hardee’s or McDonalds with some salt to snag! For now, feel free to read the posts below where I found some good information.