Can a slurp of seawater boost recovery?


11.04.19 at 10:00 am

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I am a sucker for gimmicks. Top of my Christmas list this year was a set of ‘Smellwells’ inserts for my trainers and cycling shoes. The former tend to get wet when I mistime the tides on a beach run. The latter often get soaked as I leave home in glorious sunshine but end up under a cloud down the coast at work.

Our town, as any estate agent bumf will tell you, once held the record for the highest annual total of sunshine in Scotland – 1,523 hours; in the South East you’ll get 250-plus more, but those will be spent on a train, sweating. Wet shoes smell, but thanks to these “non toxic” inserts, mine don’t. Yet.

Given all that sunshine, my feet can get sweaty too. In fact, I’ve been suffering quite a bit from dehydration, which can have a pretty detrimental impact on performance (as Dr Garry Palmer previously discovered for The Draft).

This isn’t because I lose copious amounts of moisture through my hooves; nor is it because I am an excessively sweaty person (those who know me, please direct mail me if this is not the case and you’ve never quite known how to tell me). Maybe I should drink more water and less coffee? Boring.

Prevention is better than cure, of course, but I’m a time-pressed triathlete; surely, I thought, there is a quick fix potion on the market. Some snake oil I can chuck a few bob at? Indeed, Jack and his beans have nothing on me once I start down that rabbit hole called Google searching for gimmicks.

I don’t even need to internet – a local shop will do. I once bought granola that according to the packaging design would help me both cycle faster and play the saxophone (which was on my Christmas list that year but failed to materialise). DIY stores, needless to say, are off limits.

Indeed, my wife’s interest in whatever innovation I manage to unearth has, over time, diminished. Without uttering a word she manages to convey her disappointment as I struggle to explain the ‘beanstalk’ that awaits.

Which brings me to Refix. I’d read about the new “functional recovery drink” on and had to have some. After all, this was made from 20% seawater (from Costa del Morte in Galicia, no less), and promised to not only quench my thirst after a turbo session but could also be a hair of the dog too. It helps to “alkalise and reduce acid levels”, said cofounder Raúl Anta.

The ingredients are simple: spring water, seawater, lemon juice and stevia (a small shrub-like herb native to South America that many brands are using to sweeten their drinks these days). Keen not to spend our family’s hard-earned beans, I asked Anta for some samples of the “restorative drink with no sugar, preservatives or colourings”.

A few days later, they arrived. The sun, naturally, was shining, so I layered up (in merino – believe the hype, it’s an amazing material) and went out in a bid to get very sweaty (but not smelly, thanks to the merino). I succeeded. What’s more, so did Anta’s potion: I didn’t feel the need to spend the next two hours consuming any liquid available in the house (including Elderflower). I quite liked the taste too.

I’ve since read that Rafael Nadal drinks “cold-microfiltered seawater to help recover minerals in his body”. That’s after 15 hours on court in the US, rather than an hour on a bike in East Lothian, but if it’s good enough for Rafa…

I have kept three bottles to one side, which is the required dosage for a hangover (two before bed and one in the morning), and this Friday night will be spending my time down the pub putting the other claim to the test.

But that will be it. I won’t be buying any more Refix. At around £1.50 a bottle I can’t afford it. There’s also the issue of packaging. The little glass bottles look quite lovely in our ‘sports nutrition cupboard’ and are fully recyclable, but we are a household hell-bent on reducing packaging waste rather than just recycling it.

Bottling up water and carting across the continent when there is plenty in the tap and at the beach also makes very little sense.

My wife pipes up: “Next time you get caught the wrong side of the bay, just squeeze your socks out into an empty milk bottle instead,” she says.

I can’t tell if she’s serious, or still mocking me for the time I strapped a few Battenberg cakes to my bike as a cheap, unpackaged alternative to energy gels. Still, it’s worth a try.

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