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This summer, Billy Brown learned the value of not only carrying, but actually ingesting salt tablets on longer runs. It turns out that they’re easier to get to when they’re clipped to your chest instead of buried in your pack.
SaltStick Dispenser, $23.95, Saltstick.com
The Good: Makes electrolyte tablets extremely easy to access.
The Bad: Twisting the cap gets complicated when your fingers are covered in sweat.
The Ugly: My plain red shirt looked tie-dyed with salt streaks after the run.
The first stage of the 2011 Gore-Tex TransRockies Run was a 24 miler mountain run in 85-degree heat. Not usually a problem for me, but I salt like crazy when I sweat, and on hotter runs, I need an electrolyte replacement when I run long. I had my electrolyte pills in my pack, but since I didn’t want to stop to fish them out, I neglected to take them. By the time 9 high-altitude miles had gone by, my mistake was already biting me in the quads in the form of severe cramping. It wasn’t a total disaster though – I did get to ask ultramarathon man Dean Karnazes for some “hypothetical” advice on cramping.
It’s pretty hard to find a way to keep capsules handy, though. If they get sweat-soaked in your pocket, you’re going to have salt everywhere. Bringing a plastic baggie is the most obvious fix, but getting to your pills while you’re running down a mountain or chugging away on a bike isn’t easy (for me, anyways).
After Staggering through day one’s finish line, I met Jonathan Toker, inventor of SaltStick electrolyte capsules and the SaltStick Dispenser. Essentially a Pez dispenser for salt tablets, the SaltStick Dispenser clips to your race vest or your bike, and it dispenses a pill when you twist the cap. It holds six capsules, which gives you a good 3+ hours worth of carmp-fighting salt and electrolytes.
I clipped the SaltStick to my vest on the second and third days of the race. The SaltStick kept the caps dry despite my sweat raining down and kept them from being crushed in my pockets as I pushed my quads up steep inclines. Having the tabs right there made all the difference in the world – every 1/2 hour, I’d pop another tab and would be good to go, and over the next two days, I ran 36 miles cramp-free.
The SaltStick can be affixed to race vests and belts as well as mounted on road/mountain bikes; they even fit inside most bikes’ handlebars. If you sweat like a writer when you run or ride, it’s definitely worth a look.
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