There’s a strong link between Precision Fuel & Hydration and the Jurassic Coast Challenge. I initially ran the JCC route in spring 2005 when I was trying to improve my endurance in preparation for Ironman UK that year.
I was training under the guidance of Dorset running legend Paul Hart at the time and he’d first run the same route in the early 80s when training for the London marathon. Whilst I absolutely loved the challenge, hydration was one of the things I got very, very wrong at the first attempt and it made the latter part of each day on the coast path very painful indeed!
It wasn’t that I didn’t drink enough fluid either. I actually think I drank too much water each day as I was worried about getting dehydrated as it was quite warm and I have a high sweat rate.
Doing this without taking in sufficient salt to replace what I was losing in my sweat lead to me getting mildly hyponatremic (low blood sodium levels). I experienced really bad muscle cramps towards the end of each day and felt horribly lethargic and nauseous overnight, to the point where I nearly didn’t start the final day at all. What made the difference in the end was that I added a lot of salt to my breakfast on the final morning as I had a huge craving for it (as my body was clearly so depleted) and as a result almost instantly started to feel a lot better when it got into my system. This gave me the confidence to push on and finish the route.
Of course, since then the JCC has grown steadily into the fantastic event it is today, with hundreds of competitors taking on the challenge each March.
It was partly in response to my experiences on the coast path that I started looking more deeply into the science of hydration, electrolyte replacement and performance for my own training and racing, and ultimately this lead to founding Precision Fuel & Hydration a few years later.
We’re delighted to be involved with the Jurassic Coast Challenge again. Our multi-strength electrolytes will be available at aid stations on the course (we'll be manning one of them ourselves) and I've put together some JCC-specific guidelines to help those of you doing it from making the same mistakes I made first time around!
The evening before each stage:
- Drink a 500ml bottle of water containing 1 x PH 1500 sachet.
- Take this instead of plain water you’d normally have had the day before the challenge, not in addition to it.
- There is no need to drink it all in one go, just sip it over 2-3 hours.
The additional sodium in the PH 1500 helps your body to hold onto more of the fluid you consume meaning you pee less of it out and maximise your blood volume and hydration status for the next day. On the evenings between stages it also helps you to ensure you are fully re-hydrated and are not becoming depleted gradually over the course of the event.
The morning of each stage:
- Drink another 500ml bottle of water containing 1 x PH 1500 serving.
- Again, take this instead of plain water you’d normally have had before the start, not in addition to it.
- Aim to finish drinking it between 45 and 60 minutes before you are due to begin.
As with taking it the night before, the additional sodium helps your body to hold onto more of the fluid you consume. It does this without lowering your blood sodium levels as can be the case if you just drink lots of plain water. This means you will pee less and have the capacity to sweat out more without sodium and fluid stores becoming depleted so quickly. Finishing drinking it in good time before you start allows your body to absorb what it can, and for you to pee out any excess before the off.
During the stages:
- If you're someone who is moving relatively slowly, does not sweat a lot and you don’t really suffer with muscle cramps: take 1 SweatSalt capsule per hour during the course of the event. Wash the capsule down with at least 2 or 3 mouthfuls of water.
- If you plan on moving more quickly and think you will be sweating moderately: increase the dose to 2 capsules per hour.
- If you will be running really hard and consequently sweating heavily, feel like you sweat a lot or often get muscle cramps: take up to 3 SweatSalt capsules per hour (without exceeding 10 capsules per day).
SweatSalt capsules contain 250mg sodium along with a small amount of the other key electrolytes you lose in sweat. By taking them on during the stage itself you are able to mitigate some of your losses and help maintain blood volume and performance. For many people, getting sufficient sodium in with fluid during exercise can help reduce or prevent muscle cramps too.
For a more personalised hydration plan for the JCC, take our free online Sweat Test. If you'd like to take things a step further and find out exactly how much sodium you lose in your sweat and have us build a personalised strategy around that, you might want to consider taking our exercise-free Advanced Sweat Test. We'll be bringing our mobile testing kit with us to the event, so we can get you tested in the evening if it's not possible to get you tested before then. Just email Jonny for more details.
Best of luck with your final weeks of training and enjoy the event.