Hydration for Runners: Why Hydration is much more than just sipping water!
To register a new PR in your next marathon, the finish or the last phase of your run is as important as making a good start in the beginning.
While making a good start is rather easy, given the preparation you have had, the carb loading you have been doing and pre-race glucose or energy bars helping you with the initial kick. But how well you finish the race depends highly on your hydration strategy. And hydration here is not just water but having a balanced level of essential electrolytes in your system, to give you that additional edge or peak in performance to finish on a high.
The above is only an example of endurance sports (marathon), but the hydration plays a vital role in most sports that demands you to be active for more extended hours like football, hockey, tennis, badminton, etc.
Understanding the role of Electrolytes in Hydration
Fluids are a great way to inject nutrients into our bloodstream quickly, and one of the most popular options available to us are Energy drinks and Electrolytes. If merely put, electrolytes are electrically charged particles that help in the normal functioning of the body and prevent cramping. These include Sodium, Potassium, Calcium and Magnesium. Calcium and Magnesium help muscles contract and relax, while Sodium and Potassium help maintain the water balance inside & outside of cells and increase muscle communication. When you sweat, Sodium is the electrolyte which is lost in the highest concentration. This is why, an energy drink is a mandate for runners, because it provides instant energy in the form of calories, and the right mixtures of electrolytes to refill the lost fluid.
The real challenge is when it comes to choosing the right drink. While picking an energy drink for yourself, please be careful of what you want. An ideal energy drink should have low sodium concentration and should not be very sweet; meaning that the fructose content should be small, along with a carbohydrate concentration. It is essential to understand that water isn’t the only source of hydration, and it is necessary to build your routine in a way that minerals and electrolytes are going into your body throughout the day. If the workout is intense and lasts longer than 45-60 minutes, or if the weather conditions are hot, humid and muggy, just drinking water is indeed not enough. Even during winters, staying hydrated is equally essential for a good run. Make sure you hydrate yourself before, during and after your race to avoid any cramping because of dehydration. You can use warm fluids in your water bottle and take it along with you while running.
To help understand how to pick the perfect energy drink works, let’s take the example of popular energy drink from Enerzal. While most energy drinks might offer the right balance of electrolytes, they can also come preloaded with lots of sugar or carbs making the drink a tad unhealthy for consumption. The level of carbs in the 200 ml (Enerzal composition) is 6.5%, i.e., 13 gms in 200 ml. The percentage is optimum to help in quick intestinal absorption of Electrolytes and to retain fluid.
Ensuring proper hydration on non-running days is also a crucial part that most people ignore. Water is needed to regulate the temperature of your body and lubricate the joints. It also helps in transporting the nutrients in the body for sustained energy levels. How much to consume is a difficult question, but the answer is simple. Drink whenever you feel thirsty, or about eight glasses of water on non-running days to keep your system hydrated and run-ready. There is also a simple check to ascertain proper hydration. If your urine is consistently colorless or light yellow, you are most likely staying well hydrated. Dark yellow or amber-colored urine is a sign of dehydration.
But it is best to hydrate with an energy drink like Enerzal, which will not only replace the lost electrolytes during or post workout, but also provides you with instant energy on-the-go. Trust me, you will feel the difference. EnerzaL is available in powders and can be easily mixed in water and consumed. It is also available in a 500ml tetra pack and a 1-liter tetra pack, to keep you energized throughout the week.
Let us also take a moment to appreciate the thoughtful video ‘Unsung Heroes’ that Enerzal launched recently to honor the men standing at the border and protecting us from every danger around-the-clock.