Thanks for taking the time to take our online Sweat Test and to send over your Q’s, it’s great to hear that you loved the podcast!
The advice in our online hydration plans is based on nearly 10 years of work with elite athletes across many sports, including with a long list of pro sports teams in the NFL, NBA, Premier League, Formula 1 etc, and uses an algorithm to provide a starting point for athletes to begin personalizing their hydration strategies. The algorithm looks at factors such as your total training volume, amount of indoor training vs outdoor training, typical race conditions and duration, along with perceptions of your sweat losses (something research has shown has a strong correlation with an individuals actual sweat outputs, but more on that in a second!).
Now, unfortunately not everyone has convenient access to a Sweat Test Center (one day we hope they will!) and this is why we developed the online Sweat Test. Whilst it’s clearly not as good as actually giving us a sample of your sweat to analyse, the online test does have genuine efficacy.
We sent the data from thousands of physical Sweat Tests to some researchers at Sheffield Hallam University and they found a very strong correlation between how athletes perceive their sweat rate and sweat sodium concentration and reality. (We ask the same subjective questions in the Advanced test as we do in the online version and we compared athlete’s perception of their sweat pre-test to the actual sweat test data).
In other words, salty/heavy sweaters tend to know that they’re losing a lot of sodium in their sweat because they see the evidence on their kit and tend to suffer with hydration-related issues, which are caused by not replacing enough of what they’re losing in their sweat. This finding - and a few others - were published in a research paper in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition and here’s a precis of the paper if you’re interested!
With that said, we’re certainly not claiming that the online Sweat Test should be used as anything more as a starting point for some good old fashioned ‘n=1’ trial and error in training, from which you can refine things based on how you respond to our advice.
I like to use this analogy: if our Advanced Sweat Test is like buying a tailored shirt, the online Sweat Test is us suggesting that Athlete X is a Small and Athlete Y is a Large, which is likely to be a better starting point for finding a shirt that fits you than simply giving everyone a Medium, which is what most sports drink brands are currently doing.
Now, on to your specific results. Looking at the volume of training you’re doing, how long you’re racing for and the level at which you’re competing at, we’ve recommended that for particularly long and tough sessions you should try preloading before with a PH1500 and then drinking some PH1000 during the session/race. Although this may seem like a lot, or at least considerably more than what you were taking on previously, we know that the average Sweat Sodium Concentration from all of our physical Sweat Testing is ~950mg/L, so even as a ‘moderate’ sweater you’re likely to be losing quite some sodium within those big sessions and across whole weeks (that’s where the real ‘wins’ come from, aiding consistency).
As for the effect upping your hydration has on recovery, Andy has wrote a great blog on this exact topic and I’d suggest taking 5 minutes to read it (here).
Apologies for the lengthy answer Adam, hopefully that helps? If you’ve got any more questions feel free to fire them over!