During my first ever visit to Laguna Seca as a spectator of the MotoAmerica and WSBK races, I pre-arranged a visit with the folks at MedAge to perform a personalized sweat test. I wanted to see what my personal needs were to stay properly hydrated.
Full Disclaimer: This is NOT a sponsored post. I am NOT paid by any company for this review. While we offer Precision Hydration products on our site, we simply chose to become a reseller because we believe in the product. Everything in this post is of my own personal opinion and you are free to believe in the results or not.
Now that we got that out of the way 🙂 Let’s flash back to 2015 — where this whole interest in hydration started.
Before using the hydration tablets, Red and I would frequently find ourselves suffering from headaches, fatigue and muscle cramps. We always knew to stay hydrated and we thought we were. After every session we would drink a bottle or two of some kind of Sports Drinks and maybe a water or two and mix it up throughout the day. Depending on the track, weather and temperature – we may not even feel the sweat. But afterwards our gear and skin would be covered in chalky white powder.
Fast forward a few track days and we are heading down to Jennings, FL to attend a track weekend at Jennings GP, along with my first race school – the Apex Rider Development Course. At that time, we would stay just a few exits north of the track, just off the interstate — making for a short 10 minute drive.
After a good night’s rest, we grab a quick breakfast from the hotel buffet and hit the road for the track — that’s when hell broke loose… literally… in the two short exits down, my gut drops as my stomach makes an ungodly noise and I go into a full-body sweat — I’m in immediate danger and in need of a bathroom.
Seems the hotel decided to serve sausage and eggs with a side of food poisoning. :/
With no open gas stations or a bathroom of any kind for the next few miles, I had to sweat it out – all the while my friend and Red are hysterically laughing at me. I’ll spare the details – but let’s just say I barely made it through the gate and to the bathroom where I was able to exercise my vocabulary and the demons from my body.
Sitting in the first rider’s meeting, I chat with the instructor, Tim Hunt, and explain to him how extremely dehydrated I am and may be not up to the task. Tim hands me a water bottle and a tube of hydration tablets and says to put one or two of them into a bottle of water and drink one every hour and see how I feel before the final assessment.
Much to my relief – in a matter of a few hours I was feeling nearly 100%!
From that moment on I became a believer — not just in the product, but also in how important proper hydration and electrolyte balance is in preparing your brain and body for any demanding tasks.
The Hydration Test: How it works
When someone tells you that you are about to take a sweat test, visuals of running on a treadmill with EKG wires, oxygen masks and a whole heap of sweating comes to mind, right? Thankfully, this test only required my forearm and me sitting on my butt for about 45 minutes!
The sweat test only requires strapping a few discs to your forearm and about 45 minutes of your time.
First, two discs are strapped to your arm – and connected to a small box with black and red cables (like for a battery). These slightly stimulate the sweat gland and once removed, a blue disc is put on the same spot as the positive charge (red) spot and then collected into a small coiled tube. There is a dye inside the blue disc to help make the sweat more visible when extracting.
Once enough fluid has been contained, the tube is removed, and your blue-dyed sweat is injected into an analyzer which calculates the amount of sodium in your sweat.
This video, provided by MedAge, shows the process better than my little photo:
To optimize my performance, my body requires approximately 1453mg of sodium for every liter of sweat that I lose.
This amount is pretty fixed, only varying slightly if I’m not fully acclimated to the surroundings. So, it can be used reliably to inform my decision on how much sodium to replace when I’m training, on the track or otherwise sweating heavily.
Electrolytes, including sodium, come from your diet and from limited reserves in the body. However your reserves are not particularly large and can be quickly depleted when sweating heavily, especially in hot conditions, for long durations or on back to back days. (Thanks, Alabama!)
To stay at your best, sodium levels need to be maintained within a narrow range, so, if you start to become depleted, your performance can start to suffer.
To help prepare for a track day or race, I’ve learned preloading is key. I drink plenty of water throughout the week before a race; then the night before, I take an additional 1500mg tablet before bed. This helps boost my blood plasma volume to help prepare for the next day.
On the day of a race or track day, usually about an hour before I go out (maybe during the rider’s meeting) – I’ll drink another 20-32oz of water with an additional 1500mg tablet. Then throughout the day, I’d keep track of how I feel and based on heat, self-assessed sweat amount – and adjust my intake of sodium and other electrolytes to keep the cramps and mental fatigue at bay.
So what’s the cost and where can I get tested?
If you are interested in the test, you must contact MedAge and schedule a test at their facility, or when they are on-site at select track events around the US.
I paid $150 for my on-site test – which may seem steep for so little effort. But to be honest, if you perform any kind of sweat analysis with a sporting facility – I imagine it would be a similar cost. In my opinion, staying hydrated and finding what works for you is the best thing you can do to perform your best.
My recommendation isn’t simply to buy the product – rather, I want you to pay attention to your routine; understand and listen to your body. Keep an eye out for symptoms and signs of heat exhaustion and dehydration to keep yourself safe and working at the best level you can!
Tip: How to know if you’re hydrated?
It may sound gross, but keep tabs on your urine! I’m sure we all know the signs by now… but I’ve included a simple chart so you don’t have to Google it. 🙂 And one thing not mentioned; if your urine is clear, you’re over-doing the fluids and possibly washing out your electrolytes — which can have similar effects. So the goal is to keep it “fresh”. lol