By Steve Born

Product Spotlight #2

Superior cramp prevention

Have you ever had a key race (or two? or three?) go down the drain thanks to cramping? I sure did, and not only was it absolutely one of the most physically painful things I've ever had to endure, it was devastating mentally and emotionally to see all that hard work - plus the time commitment of my support crew members - vaporize because I didn't know how to effectively deal with cramping issues. That happened a long time ago, but I haven't forgotten it. (A DNF stays with you a long time.)

It was 1995 and I was competing in the Race Across America (RAAM). I started the race the fittest I had ever been to that point in my athletic career. Unfortunately, I was ill-prepared for the extreme heat that I encountered during the first day through the Mojave Desert. Long story short, I dehydrated, became thoroughly electrolyte depleted ("Electrolytes? What are those?"), and ended up in the hospital where I required eight liters of IV fluid!

Sadly, my race was over. Thousands of training miles were wiped out within a matter of hours. I didn't even make it 200 miles in a 3,000-mile race . . . what a disastrous bummer! I laugh about it now ("I did the most expensive double century in history!"), but at the time you can bet that it was definitely no laughing matter. Not only was I in physical, mental, and emotional agony, I darn near died out there.

Since then, I've learned a lot about nutritional supplementation, fueling, and their effects on athletic performance; proper electrolyte replenishment is one of the most important things Ive learned. Trust me, you don't want to ever go through what I did, and I never want you to either. You may never ride your bike through the Mojave Desert in the middle of the summer; however, chances are that you will encounter potentially debilitating heat and/or humidity in your training and races, especially at this time of year with temperatures rising on a seemingly daily basis. That's when taking hourly doses of one of Hammer Nutrition's Endurolytes products - in capsule, effervescent tablet, or powder form - isn't just a good idea, it's essential! In fact, Endurolytes is perhaps the most important fuel that you will ever use.

What are electrolytes? Why do I need them?

Electrolytes are chemicals that form electrically charged particles (ions) in body fluids. These ions carry the electrical energy necessary for many functions, including muscle contractions and transmission of nerve impulses. Many bodily functions depend on electrolytes; therefore, optimal performance requires a consistent, adequate supply of these important nutrients.

Many athletes neglect electrolyte replenishment because they've never had cramping problems. Even if youve been fortunate enough to have never suffered the debilitating effects of cramping, you still need to provide your body with an appropriate supply of electrolytes, even in cooler weather. Why? Because the goal in replenishing electrolytes is not necessarily to prevent cramping (though, of course, thats something you definitely want to avoid), but primarily to maintain specific bodily functions at optimal levels. Cramping is oftentimes your body's way of letting you know that it's "on empty" electrolytes-wise. When you've reached that point, the performance of many bodily systems (cardiovascular, central nervous, digestive, and muscular) has been severely compromised for some time, meaning your athletic performance has been deteriorating steadily as well. Cramping is almost sure to occur, and that only makes things even more miserable for you.

You want your body to perform smoothly, without interruption or compromise. That's precisely why, just as you shouldn't wait until you're dehydrated or bonking before you replenish fluids or calories, you never want to wait until you're cramping before replenishing electrolytes.

Complete electrolyte profile required, not just salt!

In addition to completely neglecting to replenish electrolytes, many athletes make two other major mistakes regarding electrolyte replenishment:

  • They equate "electrolyte replenishment" with the intake of salt tablets, or high-sodium foods, fuels, or electrolyte products. While salt (sodium chloride) is indeed an important component of electrolyte replenishment, it's not the whole story. Many athletes place too much emphasis on salt, forgetting that other minerals - potassium, magnesium, and calcium - are required along with sodium and chloride to adequately address and fulfill electrolyte requirements.
  • They consume too much salt in their daily diet, which interferes with, and usually neutralizes, the body's complex and efficient builtin mechanisms that regulate and recirculate sodium from body stores.

Bottom line: When you oversupply your body with salt, you cause more problems than you resolve and end up hurting performance rather than helping it. We have seen this repeatedly with many endurance athletes and their salt intake; they consume too much and end up suffering from a variety of problems, the least of which is stomach distress. We cannot emphasize enough that fluid, calorie, and electrolyte replenishment has to happen in amounts that cooperate with, and do not interfere


Consistent replenishment of fluids and calories is essential to maintain hydration and energy levels during workouts and races. Providing consistent replenishment of electrolytes is an equally important component of proper fueling. Getting your fluids and calories dialed in is fairly easy to accomplish, but fulfilling electrolyte needs requires more attention and fine tuning because there are more variables that need to be accounted for (thoroughly explained in the article "Avoiding the Painful Plague of Cramping" found on page 18).

Using Endurolytes and/or Endurolytes Fizz in your training and racing will make satisfying electrolyte replenishment requirements - an absolutely crucial component of athletic performance - so much easier to achieve. Don't wait until you suffer the painful, performance-ruining consequences of improper electrolyte replenishment before you start using this product!

Proper electrolyte replenishment is important all year long, but now, with temperatures definitely getting warmer and warmer, its a necessity. Endurolytes - available in capsules, effervescent tablets, and powder - contains the right minerals in the right balance. Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes products will accurately and precisely fulfill your electrolytic mineral needs hour after hour regardless of your size, sport, training intensity, fitness, weather conditions, and how well or poorly you're acclimated to those conditions.

For more information on this all-important aspect of athletic fueling, please read the article "Electrolyte Replenishment - Why It's So Important and How to Do It Right" in The Endurance Athlete's GUIDE to SUCCESS. HN