Do I need expensive sports drinks for running?

Running coach and mountain leader Rachel Sheldrake of says home-made options can be just as good

sports drink

by Rachel Sheldrake |

The longer you run, the more likely your thoughts are to turn to drinking on the move. Whether it’s for keeping yourself hydrated, fuelling your body for the run or recovering afterwards, there is certainly a wide range of commercial products available out there. Many of these are promoted through clever marketing strategies that would have you believe they are the most effective solution to your hydration and fuelling needs. This is often enhanced through social media, where everyday runners are busy convincing their peers that their favourite product is the only one that works.

Yet when you read between the lines, many have found that even the most expensive products don’t work for them. Commercial sports drinks can often cause GI distress, and in some cases contribute to dehydration. An increasing amount of research shows that not only can home-made, real food alternatives be just as effective in providing us with the electrolytes, carbohydrates and protein that we need, they are nutritionally much better for us too, as well as cheaper.

Putting together your own hydration, fuelling and recovery drinks can be pretty straightforward. While some people prefer to use drinks that require no preparation at all, such as coconut water for hydration, with a little time invested, some simple yet effective drinks can be made. A quick Google search will give you numerous recipes for making your own, often using ingredients such as water, maple syrup and salt. Coupled with some real food to provide the calories you need, such as boiled potatoes or the newly researched potato puree, your home-made drink can provide a low-cost, easy solution.

In summary, you don’t need to buy expensive sports drinks at all. You can meet all of your hydration, fuelling and refuelling needs at a much lower cost by making your own, and you get the benefit of tailoring it to your own tastes and stomach too.

Rachel Sheldrake is a running coach and mountain leader with a passion for trails.

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