From a running chemist to you, here are some of the best tidbits about the elements we use in our every day running lives:
Ag (silver): Silver has antimicrobrial properties (meaning it can kill bacteria). Silver nanoparticles are introduced into sports accessories (like yoga mats) to kill stink-causing bacteria from your sweat.
Au (gold): An Olympic gold medal has 6 grams of gold, making it worth approximately $548 on today’s market.
B (boron): The compound sodium borate (aka Borax) is a laundry powerhouse. Add a ¼ cup of Borax to your laundry to get rid of nasty athlete odors from your running clothes. Voila!
Ca (calcium): Ever get cramps and side stitches from running? Exercise scientists think that a lack of calcium can cause side stitches, since calcium is required for proper muscle function.
Fe (iron): One of the most common, and undiagnosed, problems among runners is low iron (aka anemia). If you feel unusually sluggish, tired, and chronically have “dead legs,” low iron could be to blame.
Fl (fluorine): Many stain and water resistant athletic clothes have the addition of fluorinated compounds, which serve as repellents to a number of substances.
N (nitrogen): The chemical composition of wool includes 25% nitrogen. Wool-blend socks are often recommended to runners instead of cotton because of moisture-wicking properties.
Na (sodium): One of the dangers of drinking too much water is developing hyponatremia, which is caused by an imbalance of sodium in the blood stream. This condition affects thousands of marathon runners each year who drink too much water because they are afraid of becoming dehydrated.
Ni (nickel): If you wear sunglasses while you run, they likely have a nickel oxide coating to keep UV rays from damaging your eyes.
O (oxygen): Oxygen comprises many anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties in super foods. For instance, blueberries and strawberries found in your favorite post run smoothies contain salicylic acid, which has three oxygen atoms and is touted for its inflammation reducing benefits. And, obviously oxygen is kinda important for running...you know, breathing, VO2 max, etc.
Pm (promethium): A radioactive element, promethium is typically used to backlight watches (no worries about radiation poisoning – the particles are not strong enough to penetrate the case of the watch).
Se (selenium): For ultra endurance athletes, selenium supplementation is recommended. Selenium is found in the lining of the digestive tract, as well as in lungs and skeletal muscle. Extreme long runs can deplete this element, causing stomach distress. Get your selenium from your diet, and yummy nuts like brazil nuts!
Si (silicon): For most running shoes, a silicone polymer is used as the material that adds cushioning to the heel.
Ti (titanium): When combined with oxygen, titanium dioxide is formed, which is the white compound used in sunscreen to reflect sun and UV rays from your skin during summer (and winter, spring, and fall) long runs.
There you have it, besides running in the elements - a half marathon with wind resistance, running a marathon in the rain, on muddy trails, and more...what are your favorite elements to run in?
Anna Weber is a 2:38 marathoner (!!!) who's qualified for the Olympic Trails, runs with our friends over at Oiselle (only love here!), a Nuun and Zensah ambassador, a chemist and a believer in karma (like us!).