Pickle juice? Yes, you read that correctly!
Pickle juice could be that magical piece of your triathlon training and racing nutrition that is missing right now.
When describing the nutrition strategy I used during Ironman Wisconsin, I typically get the most questions about my consumption of pickle juice: You really drank that? How did you carry it with you? Why pickle juice? Did it really work?
Let me enlighten you.
Yes, I really drank it. I drank 2.5 ounces at mile 40 of the bike course, 2.5 ounces at mile 80 of the bike course, and another 2.5 ounces at mile 13 of the marathon portion.
While some athletes opt to carry a small amount of the juice from the bottle of the dill pickle jar you buy at the grocery store, I carried the 2.5 ounce pickle juice shots manufactured by the Pickle Juice Company.
During training, I found that after a few hours on the bike I would sometimes suffer from intense muscle cramps in my hamstrings. They sometimes occurred while on the bike and other times they cropped up as I transitioned from the bike to the run.
To prevent the pain and training interruptions, I adjusted my fluid intake and closely monitored my electrolyte consumption. But the best solution I found to keep the leg cramps at bay was pickle juice.
I’m not the only one who recommends drinking pickle juice either. In fact, athletic trainers and coaches have been prescribing pickle juice to athletes suffering from muscular cramps for years. But there is more to it than an old wives’ tale.
In 2010, a study from North Dakota State University and Brigham Young University used an electrical current to induce muscle cramps. Pickle juice reduced the duration of the muscle cramps by almost half.
The acidic nature of pickle juice, due to the vinegar content, triggers a signal to the nervous system that either prevents or releases the tightening of muscles.
If you have suffered from a muscular cramp while training or racing, pickle juice just may be your solution.
Talk to TriDot:
Has anyone used pickle juice in their triathlon training and racing? What other uncommon methods have you used to complement your triathlon nutrition needs?
Miller, K. C.; Mack, G. W.; Knight, K. L.; Hopkins, J. T.; Draper, D. O.; Fields, P. J.; Hunter, I., Reflex Inhibition of Electrically Induced Muscle Cramps in Hypohydrated Humans. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 2010, 42 (5), 953-961.
Elizabeth James is an Ironman, a USAT Level 1 Certified Coach, and a TriDot Coach. She made the transition from running marathons to triathlon in 2012 and has completed sprint, Olympic, 70.3, and full Ironman distances. She and her husband, Charles, live in Garland, Texas. Her TriDot Score is 33-35-45.