Do I need to drink a Sports Drink while running?

Proper hydration for running is essential to avoid causing injury and to improve performance, but often runners are unsure if they should consume a sports drink or just plain water?

For short duration (<60 minutes), low to moderate intensity activity, water is a good choice to drink before, during, and after the activity.

Sport drinks (4-8% carbohydrate) are good options for moderate to high intensity activity lasting longer than 60 minutes, especially when the goal includes replacing carbohydrate and electrolytes. Electrolytes help your body retain fluids and may prevent muscle cramps. As your body loses electrolytes through sweat, you will need to replace them when running more than 60 minutes.

For those who experience high sodium losses while performing, ensure you replace your losses by including foods naturally high in sodium such as celery or even an isotonic drink.

Don’t forget to rehydrate following activity by drinking enough fluid (water or sports drinks) to replace fluid lost during activity. Replace fluid and sodium losses with watery foods that contain salt (soup, vegetable juice). Replace fluid and potassium losses by consuming fruits and vegetables.

You can make your own sports drinks using these recipes:

Recipe 1:

  • 40-80g sugar or glucose powder.
  • 1 litre water (previously boiled and cooled).
  • 1g salt.

Recipe 2:

  • 500ml fruit juice.
  • 500ml water (previously boiled and cooled).
  • 1g salt

Recipe 3:

  •  200ml fruit squash/cordial.
  • 800ml water (previously boiled and cooled).
  • 1g salt.

Mix all ingredients until dissolved…