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The importance of energy replacement drinks

Are you holding that little cup out to ME?  No thank you, I’m not interested.  I don’t want anyone in this race to pass me while I’m drinking from it.  I’ll just continue to run this very, very long race without drinking anything. I’ll have plenty of time to drink once I’m finished.

I realize I’ve been taking the wrong approach to drinking during my races and long training runs.  Prior to November when I ran my first half marathon, I had only been running very short races so I never really thought too much about the need to drink during a race.

On the few occasions when I did take that cup, it would spill all over the place since I never wanted to stop running while I was drinking.

However, now that I’m training for a marathon, my current weekly mileage is up to 55 miles.  Also, my races keep getting longer and longer.  By the time I’m halfway through with these runs or races, I’ve noticed a new feeling—thirst.  And when I’m finished with them, I feel as though I’ve just run through the Sahara Desert.

After doing some research on this subject, I’ve learned how hydration—especially sports drinks—during a run or race is critical for the body. According to an article in Running Times, “On runs longer than 60 minutes, sports drinks have valuable carbs that your muscles need for energy. They also contain electrolytes like sodium and potassium that are lost through sweat but are integral to nerve and muscle function, and contribute to your body’s water balance.

“Your slow downs at the end of your long runs are probably caused by two factors: dehydration (which, with as little as a 2% decrease in body fluid, can negatively impact your performance) and depletion of your muscle glycogen.  To correct both problems, drink a fluid and energy replacement drink that’s based on solid research aimed to improve running performance.”

Furthermore, according to Olympic marathoner and exercise physiologist Pete Pfitzinger, the best strategy on the day of the marathon is to stop and drink at the aid stations. “Aid stations in a marathon are often every 5K or every 2 miles, so there are about 8 to 12 stops. If you stop for 10 seconds at each station, you’ll add about 1 to 2 minutes to your time. If you run through the stops while drinking, you’ll slow a little anyway, so stopping isn’t going to add much time, and can repay you with 10 to 20 minutes gained by the finish of the marathon.”

Increased energy?  Improved performance?  10 to 20 minutes gained by the finish of  the marathon?  Say no more, I’m sold!

Happy running, and if you’re at one of my races, perhaps I’ll see you–while I’m standing still and drinking from one of those little cups that are offered to me at an aid station.  :)

Categories: General

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