As I ramp up in miles, so too does my need for proper hydration and nutrition increase. This is especially the case during my long runs. But what is the best way to stay hydrated and fueled? These things seem to vary widely based on the individual. Here’s what works and what doesn’t work so well for me:
I think have the hydration issue mostly settled with minor tweaks based on distance and temperature. Throughout the week of a long run (bi-weekly for my training) I increase my fluids and add a regular regiment with coconut water. I realize some might not enjoy coconut water, but I have found one that is low in sugar, high in potassium and has a great flavor (thanks to the pineapple). It has no cholesterol, no fat (check your brand) and is low in sugar (again, check your brand). This coupled with constant water intake, especially the day before, plus a little extra salt with dinner the night before, can really make the difference in how I am feeling in the hydration department. And although, no amount of hydration can curb my wilting decline when the temps exceed the low 70s, it gives me a bit of a buffer even on warmer days. Besides, it is better to have extra hydration and not need it, then to need it and not have it.
Fuel has been a trickier issue for me. The night before, I try to “carbo load” by pour on the pasta. I learned from a friend the benefit of plain pasta as opposed to saucy pasta, still bland is as bland does. What I have found to be a nice treat and also pack in the carbs is a balance of gluten free pasta coupled with fresh veggies or a salad. I think the more complex ingredients in the gluten free pasta sustain me longer than burning out on simple white flour sugars. During a run, I rely on a number of different fuel sources. I have found that I really like ShotBloks by Clif Bar for their amazing amount of sodium (in the marguerite flavor only). Also, if it’s hunger that I am trying to satisfy, I goggle a LaraBar, or at least part of one, near a water stop or on a walking break (hey, there’s no shame in a nice walking break!) As far as Gu goes, I have yet to find one that I love. But something that I do love lately is called Runa. This is a high energy beverage that is packed with naturally-occurring caffeine. As a bonus, the company aims improve livelihoods for indigenous farmers in the Amazon. I have never once felt a crash from this beverage like I have the few times I’ve tried Red Bull (honestly, I can count these occasions on one hand). Besides the eco- and fuel benefits of Runa, I also really like the taste. It’s like a sharp iced tea without bitterness.
You may find some of these methods and products to your liking or you might think I am completely off-base. Remember, everyone is different. What I would suggest is that you experiment on training runs and zero in on what works for you.
Whatever your choices are, remember to fuel both your body and your spirit. Always keep a happy mantra in your thoughts on the road or trail.
Happy flying, little bees!