Newport Beach Triathlon Race Finish


All too often you’ll read articles or hear discussions about the importance of electrolytes for endurance athletes.  Electrolytes are ionized minerals that conduct electrical impulses and action potentials (e.g. contraction of a muscle), and are present throughout the human body.  Simply put, the balance of the electrolytes is critical for normal function of cells and organs.  A majority of the focus has been sodium (Na+), calcium (Ca2+), and potassium (K), which will be discussed in other articles.  Unfortunately, magnesium (Mg2+) is often overlooked, yet plays a critical role for extended bouts of muscular contractions and cramp prevention – just as much as the other three.  Most people do not realize that magnesium plays an important role in Ca2+ and oxygen (O2) transport throughout the cells of the human body.  In fact, more than 300 nerve impulses and enzymatic reactions require magnesium as a co-factor.  Besides Ca2+ and O2 transport, magnesium can directly affect sodium and potassium inter-cellular transport throughout cells as well.  Longer and more intense exercise can deplete magnesium levels.  Mg+ is excreted primarily through sweat and urine, therefore, cold fluids (empty out of the gut faster) are the preferred choice for replenishment during exercise.  Regardless of the type of sport or exercise, muscular contractions could not consistently occur without magnesium’s presence.  Through aerobic and anaerobic metabolism – glycolysis occurs, in short, oxygen is delivered and utilized via magnesium.  Therefore, O2 delivery to working musculature and energy production in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) (the source for all energy production) would not happen without magnesium presence.  Magnesium is found in unrefined whole grain breads and cereals, as well as green leafy vegetables, lentils, peas, beans, nuts, and seeds.  Meat, fish, fruit, dairy products, and processed foods are poor sources for magnesium.  Magnesium imbalances may often be caused by things such as diuretics (e.g. caffeine), alcohol consumption, sweat loss, and both high intensity and endurance (or extended periods of) exercise.

For athletes, especially those training and racing in endurance sports, magnesium deficiency indicators may be one or more of the following:


  • abnormal muscular weakness
  • muscular cramping and “locking”
  • muscular spasms
  • impaired glucose breakdown (for ATP/energy production)
  • inability to sustain exercise intensity for extended periods
  • irregular heartbeat (e.g. elevated performance heart rate)
  • disorientation and confusion


Conversely, excess magnesium is filtered by the kidneys; however, if overly excessive, kidney function is adversely affected.  When this occurs, just as with deficiency, side effects may surface in the form of muscular spasms, and as I call it, muscular “locking”.  Through proper monitoring, athletes can often supplement with 300-900 milligrams (mg) per day without contraindications.  Larger dosages as in 700-900mg, should be broken up into 2-3 dosages throughout the day with food.  Female athletes should supplement at the lower end of this range, and don’t normally require any dosage above 300-400 mg.  If O2 uptake increases are a result, no matter how minor, could (for example) improve a cyclists sustained power output.  At ~5,500 revolutions per hour, such impacts may facilitate improved performances over normal homeostatic processes.  In summary, if you’re an endurance athlete or you exercise for either long periods or extremely high intensity, look for beverages that not only have calcium, potassium, and sodium, but ones with magnesium as well.  If you’re cramping during longer training sessions or races, and have ensured that the other three are being replenished, then there’s a good chance what you’re experiencing is attributable to low magnesium levels.   


“Dial it in”, train smart, and recover harder!

Coach Parker 

About the Author.  
Todd Parker is a former Professional Triathlete and holds
a Masters in Exercise Physiology from San Jose State University. 
Todd is an exercise physiologist, certified cycling and endurance
sports coach, strength coach, and personal trainer.  You can reach
Todd at: , 215.80.Coach (215.802.6224),
or at his secure website 


Magnesium isn’t the precursor for contraction and relaxation of muscle, but it delivers potassium and calcium, which are.  Magnesium is essential in the creation and delivery of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) – the energy source in all human movement.  On the muscular recovery and rebuilding end of the spectrum, protein would not by synthesized, or combined and processed at the cellular level without Magnesium.  So, in short, Magnesium plays important roles in your metabolism – the delivery and usage of fuel, and on the repairing and rebuilding of muscular “damage” from rigorous training/exercise via the protein processing cycle.  For most, 200-500mg per day is sufficient; whereas, those athletes training and competing 10 or more hours per week, may take up to 800-900mg per day, with food, and preferably broken up into 2-3 doses.   For more information, on Magnesium, deficiency symptoms/impacts, or the other three of what I call “the Big 4” (Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium, and Calcium), feel free to contact me at  or at my secure website .

Magnesium isn’t the precursor for contraction and relaxation of muscle, but it delvers potassium and calcium, which are.  Stay tuned in as we delve deeply into just how important this electrolyte is, and how you’ll never ignore this one again!

Gran Fondo National Championship

Yesterday in Frederick, Maryland

Well, for a little more on the Gran Fondo National Championship Race today, like I mentioned earlier, it was a great day. In the 45-54 Age Group (I’m 50), I came in 4th, and 20th Overall. Unfortunately I flatted just 2.5 miles into the race, which translates into the next 16 miles I was solo – working more in the wind than if I had been “sitting in” the peloton with my competitors, while the young bucks were workin’ hard up front pulling, or breaking the wind for the peloton. So, would I have been on podium had I not flatted – without a doubt, but that’s racing, and sometimes a little luck can make the difference. In 100 miles, we climbed 10,536ft. Some mountain descents were not only fast, but very technical as well. By that I mean, while you’re flying down the mountain, all of sudden there’s a 90 degree turn, and if you enter the turn too fast – without very good handling skills, you end up on the ground or off the road! Some did lay it down, and some did go off the road. Thankfully nobody was seriously injured. In all, it was a great day, I did my best, and am happy with the outcome. Just being able to ride is one thing I never take for granted, and I am grateful for more great race memories.