For years I have been helping athletes with their hydration issues, learning how to know what their personal signs of dehydration are and putting a plan together to help them race better in heat and humidity. Few realize that their athletic performance and recovery is being compromised by dehydration and sodium losses they encounter.
Now, I have access to a new Sweat Test that measures electrolyte and sodium losses in your sweat. So I want to review how I have been using Levelen sweat testing with my athletes! (Use code NIMPA)
Here is a simple video of the testing itself when I did it for cycling. Same test for running, but just a different exercise! You order your kit at www.levelen,com (use NIM to get 10% off the testing kit) and within a week of sending the kit in, you get your results. If you are a triathlete, please order the multi-sport kit which has 2 test kits – one for your run and one for the bike. You do sweat differently whether running or cycling!
I have three clients who have done the testing so far, with another two who are waiting for their results to come in.
Client 1 – Ironman triathlete, 60 years old
Background – cramps during long distance triathlons on the run, mainly half and full Ironman distance runs. Client calls himself a heavy sweater.
In the past, we have increased the electrolytes (they are using Salt Tabs brand) and determined the need for 1-2 Salt Tabs along with his higher electrolyte levels in his personalized Infinit drink mix.
But come race day, he would forget to take the salt tabs. He tried Hot Shot and sometimes it worked, and sometimes it did not.
This year, we found this Levelen testing and he did the cycling and run tests. The testing showed 2000 mg of sodium losses during the bike, and 3800 mg on the run. With this information, we had tangible numbers to work with and the client was then able to electrolyte load adequately as well as increase the electrolyte and sodium intake on the bike and run.
He is now following the potocol more closely as the numbers validated the need for increased electrolytes, and he no longer forgets to take his electrolyte tabs! So far, he has completed one half Ironman and improved his time by 20 minutes as he was able to run better than past races without the cramping.
Next weekend he will be competing in Ironman Santa Rosa. Without using the Levelen testing, the client would forget to supplement adequately until it was too late. Now, he will be supplementing appropriately and the cramping should be a symptom of the past.
Client 2 – Ultra runner, 56 years old
Symptoms – nausea and fatigue after mile 18-22 of any marathon or ultra event. Thought it was just a part of getting older.
We developed a good hydration plan before he got his Levelen testing results. Even with just a sweat rate test, we were able to determine that he, too was dehydrating significantly. We electrolyte and sodium loaded the day before his next 2 x 20 mile runs, and increased his sodium and electrolyte intake during his runs.
He sent me an email and text after that first 20 miler and couldn’t believe the nausea did not happen. He also had several other symptoms including fatigue, despondency and inability to eat go away.
‘My runs were super! Best runs in over 4 years! I even felt great at the end.”
We got the Levelen test results a week later and were able to improve the plan and also included some chicken broth instead of just electrolyte capsules (client is using Succeed tabs).
He just completed an ultra at 36 miles total, and felt great the whole way.
“I have a new dialogue in my head. Rather than worrying about getting nauseous after mile 28, I was thinking about my symptoms. And because we had talked, I was able to deduce from several symptoms that I was dehydrating, and needed to adjust my sodium intake as we discussed.”
Client 3 – ultra runner, age 62
Background – started running at 50.
Symptoms – Usually tired by mile 12, heavy legs (like concrete) by mile 20-26, after 4 hours, no desire to eat or drink. Just wants to stop and sit.
We had our first session which addressed adding electrolytes, and some blood sugar management principals. The client ordered the Levelen testing and we got the results before the second coaching session.
He is also a heavy sweater, so we already knew that he needed to add electrolytes the day before, the morning of and add more during training runs. This client is using Succeed tabs, but was also interested in using chicken broth and V-8 to increase sodium before the event. Yes, you can use real food options!
He just competed a 24 hour event, which unfortunately he tripped and pulled a hamstring at mile 15, but he continued to walk 21 more miles and scaled back the plan of electrolyte use accordingly.
When I spoke to him after this event, he said:
“It was a huge improvement from prior runs. Usually I am tired at mile 12. This time I felt like I had just started. The ultra was fun and exciting!”
Regardless of what age you are, using the Levelen testing can help confirm your electrolyte and sodium needs during training, recovery and before and during races. Knowing your sodium sweat rate will improve your performance so you train better, race better and recover faster!
If you would like to stop guessing how much you need, schedule your Table to Race plan and order your sweat test kit. Together we can optimize your hydration needs to guarantee a perfect race.