A Review of the Most Mother Truckin' Sensational Salt Pills Ever aka GU Roctane Electrolyte Capsules

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Beads of sweat began trickle down my forehead towards my nose and I get a little shaky at times during a long run.  My breath also smells as if I've been French kissed by a couple of billy goats or licked their ears in return affection.  My appearance is eerily similar to that of a crack or meth head looking for the next hit.  Sadly, that description isn't too farfetched from the truth.

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I do take stuff... when I run, I mean.  Gallons of Gatorade with miles of Mountain Dew, bottles of B-12 shots, GU gels and most importantly, electrolytes.  Electrolytes (salt), along with carbs (sugar) and fluids during aerobic exercise lasting greater than one hour can improve athletic performance and decrease the risk of dehydration or hyponatremia (low sodium concentration) according to the American College of Sports Medicine.  The ACSM recommends about 500 – 700mg of sodium for every liter of fluid be consumed along with 30 – 60mg of carbohydrates per hour during 'sustained aerobic activity'.

As expected, a variety of commercial products exist to help obtain this recommended balance of salt, sugar and water during an endurance run.  However, GU products have been my trusted resources getting me through races and training, both marathon-length and ultra crazy long.  However, I’ve still struggled with electrolyte tablets. They’ve generally bothered my stomach so I only relied on them on the hottest of days when I reached that “I’ve gotta try something or I'm going to die feeling too fat and old to run and will never get to know how a person runs ultra distances and becomes so skinny that their clothing sizes start actually going in the negative numbers".  In that moment of survival thinking, my legs are usually drunk dead weights and my stomach cramps are so excruciatingly severe, I'm positive I must be in labor. Never mind that I had my tubes tied a few years ago. The pain has convinced me that I'm doomed to become one of those stories you read about in the National Enquirer.

You know the ones. "Forty-year-old woman gives birth to thirteen babies in fold up chair at aid station during 50 mile race. Swears she wasn't pregnant." They'd naturally have a picture of me with messy pigtails, a Mountain Dew hanging from my mouth and a gaggle of babies playing on the floor of the van we all live in down by the trail.

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That image is darn near close to the truth. I'm usually belly-bloated and retaining sodium at the starting line of an ultra race just like the good old, redneck East Texas girl I am. What that means is I loves me some salt. My parents were putting salted watermelon slices in my bottle and dipping my pacifier in margarita salt before I could even form words. Salt was and is its own food group back home and all good southerners know you have to get your four servings a day or your growth will be stunted.

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This half marathon was my only DNF (see me in the center with race bib extended outward from belly).  I ate a gel at the starting line before this pic was taken.  3 miles later, someone asked me when I was due.  I promptly ran back to the start and drove to the pharmacy to pee on a stick.  False alarm as I was just bloated from GU retention.  Not that it would be a bad thing to be pregnant running a half marathon in Florida August heat.  After all, Pregnancy is a breeze. If you consider hurricane force winds to be a breeze.

As you can see, I've been a swollen belly, salt shaking, and salt-lick loving chick for a long, long time.

Way back when I was just a little salt addict and I'd get to spend the night with my grandparents, I'd wake up to the sweet smell of home-made salt-back bacon. I'd rub the sleep from my eyes and follow the trail of smoke to find my grandparents sitting around the table with the second most important staple of the southern diet piled high on a plate in the middle.

Salt.

It has always been the center of my attention. What we put it with, in it or around it is of little consequence.

Unfortunately, my forty-year-old body is beginning to show the signs of my salty life. Hence my most recent run in with nature's most tasty ionic compound.  As a lifelong salt-aholic who struggles with bouts of extreme hunger, I've only recently discovered if I lick the salt off all the crackers in my house before I leave for a long run, I'm stuffed.  Psychosomatically, this helps combat low blood sugar moments and temptation to stuff face at well-stocked aid stations during an ultra.  And I guess it keeps me skinny too.

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