Mysterious Heart Rate Answer?

I explored the link between Summer running and elevated heart rate on the run last week in this post here.  I continued to see oddly elevated HR during some runs — and not others.

What effects high heart rate?
So doing a little sleuthing, here are some more things that can increase your HR while running that I didn’t touch on in the last post:

  • Tricky and/or hilly terrain
  • Fatigue due to overtraining
  • Too much sugar — even simple carbs like pasta and white rice can be a culprit
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure

Hills — check — I have noticed my HR can spike while running up a hill.  The other three and the causes of high heart rate I shared in last week’s post? Nope, I don’t think they’re the culprits.

My HR culprit?
What I *think* is the culprit for me? Electrolytes. I’ve noticed on days I’ve made sure to drink Nuun before my run, even if it’s a hot, humid run, my HR seems to stay in its normal range. This is anecdotal, because I’m not about to start using a spreadsheet.

The bottom line is those electrolytes are important! From this post here:

We lose electrolytes through our sweat and need to be conscious about replacing electrolytes during prolonged exercise, especially in the heat or at higher altitudes. In a liter of sweat the average person loses 13 mg of magnesium, 15 mg of calcium, 200 mg of potassium, and 900 mg of sodium. Some people excrete more electrolytes in their sweat (salty sweaters) and this can be seen by the white crusty streaks on their face and body. Some runners are simply more prone to electrolyte imbalances. Studies also show that you’re going to lose more electrolytes if you’re unfit or not acclimatized to the weather or altitude conditions.

More and more studies are suggesting that most of us are also deficient in Magnesium. Supplementing with magnesium can often help with sleep problems and muscle cramping.

Should you drink Coconut Water?
Coconut water is often touted as an electrolyte replacement. I used to use it occasionally, but haven’t in a long while. I decided to buy some recently. From the Mayo Clinic here:

Some evidence suggests that coconut water is comparable to sports drinks. But it’s no more hydrating than plain water.

As a casual beverage, coconut water is considered safe. Coconut water does have calories — 45 to 60 calories in an 8-ounce serving. Weighing the pros and cons, plain water is still the smart choice.

I don’t remember coconut water tasting so nasty though! A cup of coconut water also has about 45 calories, which is not really a big deal other than it’s somewhat empty calories — but it does have those electrolytes!

I’ve been thinking about making up my own electrolyte drink, which isn’t that hard, I just haven’t taken the time to do it. Because I do drink a lot of Nuun. Even though I love Nuun and it works for me, something that is a bit more “natural” might ultimately be more healthy.

Did you know that there is no definition of natural when it comes to marketing so it doesn’t really mean much on packaging? If I choose ingredients my grandma could have pronounced, though, that’s what natural means to me.

Final Thoughts
I’ve gone back to just looking at HR data after my run, since I think I know what’s going on now. Yesterday I managed (somehow) to down that first cup of Coconut water instead of drinking Nuun, but plan to drink Nuun before my run this morning. I’ll update this post with the results!

Do you like coconut water?

If you answered yes, how do you drink it?

Plain coconut water or do you doctor it with something?


Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

This week I am also joining up with the new Runners’ Roundup linkup.


24 thoughts on “Mysterious Heart Rate Answer?

  1. Never tried coconut water. Don’t like anything but plain water. Not even Nuun.

    But for long runs I always eat a gu or two. It has electrolytes.

    But as you’ve read many of us don’t track our HR.

    Since it’s important to you, that’s great that you solved the mystery.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You did a deep dive into causes for your HR issues, but I’m going to put on my medical provider hat and advise you to get a workup from a cardiologist, including wearing an event monitor. It’s really dangerous to self-diagnose, especially heart concerns. Electrolyte imbalances that are serious enough to cause heart rate issues are rare in recreational runners. Please be careful Judy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I appreciate your concern Wendy but I’m not talking about a huge spike here. Roughly 15 beats higher than normal & randomly at that — which could easily be attributed to heat, too. Making sure to drink Nuun pre-run seems to have resolved even that. Plus I track my resting heart rate, which has been completely normal— and I feel fine.

      Remember the time I fainted when I was sick & had to stay overnight at the hospital a few years back? I did wear a heart monitor then. Again nothing wrong except I was sick!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I tried to love coconut water but I just don’t like it. I even tried different brands but it was still a No for me. That’s really interesting about the effect of Nuun on your heart rate. I notice that on nights went I don’t sleep well, my heart rate tends to be elevated during a run the next morning.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I do believe that lack of hydration can increase your HR and reduce your performance. I am not a fan of the taste of coconut water and I prefer to have the added electrolytes from a product designed for that. I like the sodium as well since I sweat a lot

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I naively bought coconut water (years ago) thinking it would taste like coconut (#WRONG!), LOL. Yeah, it’s pretty nasty. I much prefer the electrolyte “add-ins” because they at least have some flavor, though I’m not a huge fan of NUUN because it’s so fizzy (though the Kona Cola is bearable).


  6. Interesting. Yes, I don’t like coconut water even though it doesn’t taste like coconut, which I also don’t like. I can only think I was looking for a natural electrolyte when I had it. I am not a Nuun fan either, same reason as Kim, the fizziness. Even when people say it’s not, even when I leave it in an open jug for ages to de-fizz, it still tastes like a hangover cure thing to me. Fortunately I like Tailwind, though I have a big bag of it that’s probably past its sell-by date now!


    1. Well I bought some — I will probably try it in a smoothie.

      I know a lot of people swear by Tailwind. I just didn’t even want to try it because of the large amount of sugar in it.

      Hope you & the cats are staying cool! We are at least used to heat. Tough when you’re not!


  7. I don’t like the taste of coconut water either. It definitely helps to take electrolytes on hot summer runs! I’ve been using Liquid IV on my long runs and after all my runs.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Natural is a marketing technique as is organic. Go with what works for you, and switch if it doesn’t. Long ago faced question of death of cancer from fake sugars or dehydration? I’ll take the cancer. My latest concoction is powdered GZero with Crystal Light caffeine. I can control the proportions, which makes it more palatable. I will never againd rink Coconut water because it and my taste buds are not friends

    Liked by 1 person

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