First Ultra Run

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Newbie to running, however managed my first trail marathon Saturday, not sure why but have just signed up for an ultra next week.

I managed to keep myself well fueled through the marathon however I sweated loads and seemed to have lost lots of body salts ( all on skin once sweat had dried), i was chatting to one guy along the way and he mentioned salt tablets.. are these any good? or can someone recommend a better way to manage this.

Any tips would be greatly appreciated as starting to wonder what the hell I've done now.. I don't even like running.


In reply to Tommy Harris:

Did you feel unwell?  If not your body handled it just fine, you don't need to stack yourself full of supplements.

In reply to Tommy Harris:

I’m not even sure I like running either but am ridiculously addicted to it. Every time I do a fell race I swear never again and then am signing up to something else come Monday morning. 

We’re you cramping during the race? That’s the reason why I’d be taking on extra electrolytes

In reply to Neil Williams:

Hi Neil, I felt OK yes considering, I felt great at 30k then bang my legs died and I hit a wall, the last bit was tough but had more in the tank (I think), Was just concerned as dont want it to hit me all of a sudden and be down to something that I may be able to manage better.

Not quite sure how u can measure salt levels during the run, I did eat some crisps and salted potatoes at the checkpoints.

I know I am fairly fit so management of the food and hydration is the make or break for me.

In reply to Levy_danny:

Thanks for reply, didn't have any cramps no, legs felt like dead weights after 30k, just not sure what to expect after I pass that marathon distance, I was a bit naughty and hardly trained for it so was surprised how well i actually felt. 

 yorkshireman 27 Sep 2021
In reply to Tommy Harris:

Seeing dried salt on your clothes is nothing to worry about - perfectly normal I think (it certainly is for me).

How long is the ultra? 50k you just treat like a marathon - 100 miles obviously a different kettle of fish. Is it mountainous? 

I find salt tablets can help if it's really hot and the sweat level is going to be higher than normal. However in an ultra I tend to be eating real food and try to manage my salt intake accordingly by eating salty food at the aid stations or on the run. 

I just did the UTMB and they sent a guide before the race with hints and tips and they strongly recommended against salt tablets, suggesting just go with the real food. As it turned out it wasn't too hot so I didn't really feel like I needed them.

In reply to Tommy Harris:

The make or break of an ultra is almost 100% mental.  It is near impossible to feel good by the end of one.  "The wall" is when you run out of glycogen and there is no way to avoid that.  You're fairly fortunate if it doesn't happen to you until that far into the race.

Your body generally stores enough salt for a sweaty day (e.g. digging the garden) - but salty foods can help if not.  You do need to eat during an ultra (even though it might be hard sometimes if you feel off) and it's best for it to be actual food than gels etc.

Post edited at 10:57
In reply to yorkshireman:

That's great Info, its 52k with on 600m of elevation, the peaks marathon on Saturday had just under 1000m and it was very hot and muggy. I was eating loads at the fuel station and paying particular attention to getting salts in, as a newbie I wasn't sure how quick this could hit me if I didn't have enough, its only 10k more but I have read it feels more like another 40.. I will stick to eating loads and getting through natural foods.. I was just curious after the guy mentioned about the tablets and wondered if this was a normal thing for runners.

In reply to Neil Williams:

Thanks Neil, Luckily I managed to eat loads and wasn't put off by it.. 

 mattck 27 Sep 2021
In reply to Tommy Harris:

Salt/Electrolyte tablets aren't really necessary, unless you're experiencing a specific issue related to a deficiency in them. If it was incredibly hot, then I might think about taking them, but salt on the skin isn't really any indication that you need it. 

My skin is almost always salty when running, and I even notice it on clothing once it dries.

You hitting a wall could simply be down to lack of experience/mileage behind you, or a lack of calories. How much food did you take in during the run?

Best of luck for the Ultra!

Post edited at 11:01
In reply to mattck:

Hi Matt, Not sure how much exactly, I took on a carb bar every 45mins, there were three stations and at those I had a few slices of orange, half a banana and a bag of crisps.. i was drinking Electrolyte all the way around, along with a tiny cup of cola at each station..

All in all I reckon I gained weight on that run.. 

 SouthernSteve 27 Sep 2021
In reply to Tommy Harris:

My comment would be not what to eat, but have you really found out what you body thinks about the marathon. So often I feel ok for 5-7 days after a race and then the niggles start. A two week gap, if I understand your post correctly, seems a very short interval. Having said that you may have years of road experience which makes this a breeze!

In reply to SouthernSteve:

Hi Steve, body feels ok today, I don't run much but do lots of training/fitness, also spend a fair bit of time in the mountains climbing, run marathon Saturday, ultra is this Saturday so one week.. 

riddled with injuries' and niggles but putting that down to being an old git.

 climberchristy 27 Sep 2021
In reply to Tommy Harris:

However fit you may be in general terms, one week between your first marathon and first ultra is worryingly short. You may feel fine now but whether you'll get through the ultra without picking up injuries is a concern with such a short timescale. Do you need to be in such a rush? Plenty other events to enter later. 

 Marek 27 Sep 2021
In reply to Tommy Harris:

Sweating and salt stains is perfectly normal on a long run. I'd only get worried if you're hot and NOT sweating! If you're eating reasonably 'normal' food during the event, you shouldn't need any extra salt. The 'electrolytes' in hydration drinks are more to help the gut with water absorption. Also, remember the old idea that cramp was caused by lack of salt was debunked years ago.

The main think you have to learn with (UK) ultras is how to feed on the run - what works for you and what doesn't. If you are new to it all and slow (recommended) then pretty much any normal food is best. You'll quickly learn what your body craves (and it's sometimes quite weird and intermittent). The trick is to be disciplined about eating early, little and often - even when you're feeling a bit grim.

Also, remember: If you are feeding, drinking right and running at a sensible pace, you are still likely to have a 'bad spell' at some point. It is likely to be mental as much as physiological and will pass in time. Just have faith and plough on - you'll probably get your second (or third) wind in 5-10 miles time and be smiling again.

Post edited at 14:51
In reply to Marek:

Thanks Marek

Some great info there, much appreciated, Il stick to eating the foods I did last week and see how I get on, for a first ultra its quite tame i think, there are options to do a shorter route mid way around should I feel I need too. And I think your right its all going to be how mentally strong I am to keep going, last week I ran with a friend so we played off each other all the way around, this week I'm going solo so nobody to kick my arse when i decide to walk for a bit.

 blackcat 03 Oct 2021
In reply to Tommy Harris:

How did you get on pal.

 cousin nick 25 Oct 2021
In reply to Tommy Harris:

I quite like Tailwind for its mix of energy and electrolytes without the sickly gooiness of gels.


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