Hydration is important for runners...any athletes and even for the average ‘joe’ and ‘janet’ for that matter. But fluids and proper hydration, electrolytes and other nutrients besides just plain water, is especially crucial for endurance athletes.
The conditions you are running in can make this even more of an issue but even if you’re running in the dead of winter and don’t even think you’re sweating all that much, you ARE. You’re still sweating but you may not come back dripping in sweat stains because the cold air sucked up that moisture before it was able to get you all nice and drippy.
There are different kinds of liquids with various amounts of nutrients and depending on what you’re aiming to replenish you need to pick accordingly. Yes, water is water and we all need it to survive, but it doesn’t have any real nutritional value, there are no electrolytes, vitamins, or nutrients for energy…and if you drink too much of just straight water you can actually end up diluting your electrolyte balances (ie: potassium and sodium levels among others) and wind up with some serious issues.
Different Liquids With Different Purposes
* Water: No brainer, we all need water, don’t avoid it just make sure that you also get in the electrolytes you need too. Pee check! What color is your urine? Without becoming a toilet creeper you should check your pee and aim to get it as clear as possible..bright yellow is not a good sign.
* Electrolyte/Vitamin Waters: These are the waters, or low-calorie drinks, that tout having electrolytes in them. These are great sips throughout the day to make sure you’re not just diluting yourself of electrolyte levels by drinking too much straight water.
* Sports Drinks: In years past Gatorade sort of monopolized the market here but Gatorade of years ago was mostly just sugar water and to an extent people really didn’t need ALL of that sugar. But, I’ll hand it to the brand because their newer product line is revamped and I’d say improved on the whole offering more ‘substance.’ With these drinks, make sure whatever you have has the electrolytes you’ll want and not just loaded with a ton of sugar which will just be empty calories.
* Protein Recovery Drinks: There is a bit of a cross-over here between these and sports drinks but the difference is that with today’s advanced science there are LOADS of various endurance athlete targeted drinks. There are pre-workout, during, and post-workout variations; the first two are going to contain mostly fast-acting, quickly absorbed carbs for immediate energy but the post-workout ones you want to make sure contain adequate amounts of protein in addition to carbs to enhance your recovery. (HERE I did an article for Running Times that touches on what you want to look for in liquids depending on your workout; the nutritionist I spoke with really likes Generation UCANN and suggests it to many of her top athletes)
* Life Drinks: Here we’ve got your coffee, fruit drinks, soda’s…all that stuff. I’m not going to lie, I’d rather just EAT my calories and not drink them away…but coffee has been shown to improve workouts in some instances. Most fruit drinks you’re better off EATING the fruit because of all the added sugar, and soda, sorry, is just not that good for you and will dehydrate you.
Are you sick of putting that much thought into what you pour into your cup yet? Well, don’t be and bear with me because it’s important stuff ESPECIALLY if your training runs are long enough to warrant needing hydration along the way. Think runs over an hour and if you’re training for a marathon you want your hydration and energy plan down before the race. If you’re bonking, cramping, and feeling like you have no energy, one ‘obvious’ reason is that your fueling needs some tweaking…it can be tough to find the right strategy that works for you.
Now, I was contacted by NUUN Hydration to test out some of their products; they sent me two free flavor tubes to try and here is what my thoughts are and the low-down on NUUN. I’ve actually been wanting to try this stuff because I’d kept reading and hearing about it on other blogs and sites.
* Fall into the ‘enhanced waters’ category: NUUN is low in calories (less than 6 cal’s per tab, which makes 16 ounces) but it has all the important vitamins and electrolytes athletes will need without any added sugars.
* Quick and portable: What is actually cool about NUUN is that they come in little tablets which you drop into two cups of water and they start to fizz and dissolve…not going to lie there is the ‘fun, cool’ effect to watch.
* Taste: There are lots of flavors and I tried the Lemon-Lime and Orange flavors; I liked them because they are not overpoweringly sweet or strong but enough of a twist that it perks up that water.
* Best for: These would be best for people who don’t like to taste of just average water and need to get in their electrolytes. Tons of people pop that Crystal Light stuff, have the Sobe Lights or Vitamin Waters…I’d say NUUN would be a better pick because it will give you more nutrients and has less extraneous calories/sugars than Vitamin Water.
* Not for: If you’re running a marathon and need actual energy; because there aren’t any real carbs, protein, or calories in NUUN you’re going to want something with more substance if you’re running a long distance event or doing a marathon type workout. Here is where the various sports drinks (ie: UCANN, Gatorade) would be your better bet.
Overall: Like I said, if I’m going to drink something I want it to be DOING something for me and not just a waste of calories because I’d rather EAT me my calories. NUUN offers up essential micro-nutrients and electrolytes to balance out the water I drink. It tastes good and with 12 tabs in a tube it’s a decent bang for your buck.
Keep on sipping wisely runnerchicks and runnerdudes!
1) What kinds of liquids do you tend to drink? What are some of your favorite sports related drinks and how do you use them?
2) Have you tried NUUN, and if so what were your thoughts?
3) What do you look for in the drinks you get?
4) When it comes to ‘life drinks’ what kind of person are you? Are you a coffee addict, soda guzzler, reformed diet soda addict, or like me and usually opt to just eat more instead??