Getting the right nutrition to support your running is vital. We all know that you need to keep up your hydration too. The trick is knowing how to hydrate during runs. There are a lot of different sports drinks on the market these days. Are they worth it? Do sports drinks make a difference to your results? If you are doing a short work out (of less than one hour, or at a slow pace) then regular water will be just fine. You won’t be pushing too hard so water will be enough to meet your hydration needs. What if you’re going for a long run or you’re blasting a HIIT cardio session? Then you will probably need the added support a sports drink provides. Why?
What’s in a sports drink?
Sports drinks have additional electrolytes in them. These are designed to replace the ones your body sheds through sweating when you exercise. The longer you run, the more salts your body will lose. To maintain peak efficiency you need to replace them. This is where a sports drink can really help.
How should I use sports drinks to support my running?
Resist the urge to gulp the whole bottle at once. Your body may dump it as urine without absorbing the salts it needs. Sip it slowly during the course of your run. If you’re doing a longer workout water may be boring. This might dissuade you from drinking enough. Sports drinks have flavour so it can keep things interesting for you.
What happens if I don’t use a sports drink?
If you stick to plain water you risk becoming deficient in essential electrolytes. This can have consequences if you don’t replace them after your run. If you drink too much plain water you can actually flush those electrolytes out of your system. This leaves you vulnerable to a condition called hyponatremia – which is caused by low sodium in the blood. The effects are headaches, weakness, poor balance, nausea and in severe cases seizures.
Is there anything else I should know?
Try to avoid sports drinks with added caffeine. If you drink too much over the course of your run you can unintentionally overload on caffeine. This isn’t a good idea long term. The best thing to do is strike a balance between plain water and sports drinks. Make sure you’re hydrated before you run and sip sports drinks while you’re out on the trail.
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Whilst Enertor has over 18 years Orthotics experience, our blog content is provided for informational purposes only and it is not a substitute for your own doctor’s medical advice. Enertor advises anyone with an injury to seek their own medical advice – and do not make any health or medical related decisions based solely on information found on this site