Preparing for SAC: Fluids, electrolytes, calories

Posted By: Zak Smith on August 25, 2015

Doc Bruce sent us this short guide on fluids, electrolytes, calories as it relates to the SAC:

Here is a basic primer on how to stay out of trouble. If you get behind on fluids, electrolytes, or calories during a very long term strenuous activity, especially in hot weather, you will get nauseated and weak, lose hunger and thirst drivem and it will be very difficult to get out of the hole. You may have to go sit under a tree for 2 or 3 hours, trying to make up your deficits. You won’t want to be out of action for that long. Also, depending on weather conditions and just how sick you feel, you may not be able to recover enough to continue. Happens every year at this event.

You need a plan. Any plan is better than no plan.

1) Drink at least a few sips every 15 to 20 mins. Keep ahead of the curve. Drinking about 1/2 straight water and 1/2 some sort of electrolyte solution (Gatorade, Powerade, etc), seems to work for most people. You must drink BEFORE you feel thirst to stay ahead.

2) You will probably benefit from taking electrolyte caps or simple salt tabs every 2 hours or so. IF you present enough electrolytes and fluids to your kidneys, they will take what they need and piss out the excess. If they don’t have enough to work with, Mr. Nausea comes on board. For the first 8 to 10 hours, a goal of peeing every hour or 2 is good, but don’t worry if you can’t keep up that frequency as you get further into the event. You WILL get a bit behind at times, but should be able to catch up, IF you keep in mind your plan. Remind each other.

3) Eat BEFORE you feel hungry. When you get hypoglycemia, the nausea, poor appetite and weakness, make it hard to eat. Also, hypoglycemia makes us stupid and hard to remember our plan. You all have your preferred trail food, the trick is to actually consume enough of it. Energy gels can’t really sustain your for long periods alone, BUT can be extremely helpful in getting out of a minor hole, so you can feel well enough to get real food in. The gels can actually reverse hypoglycemia in literally 2 to 5 minutes. Cliff shot blocks are very convenient and less messy than gels.

4) If and WHEN the med support team gets a call about somebody who feels like crap, nauseated, weak, dizzy, rapid pulse, we will assess you and probably give some IV fluid, stuff some energy gel in your face. In 15 or 20 mins you will feel like continuing on. We will pat you on the butt, give you a stern warning about following your plan better, and send you on the way. The majority of people we treat are able to continue.

5) The above are the basics for those who need them. Over the years of doing Med support for this event, we have noticed that the experienced teams never get into trouble. Also, we have noticed that one highly skilled and experienced adventure racers team NEVER looks physically stressed. We won’t name names on this one.