Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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3 Hours of Running....No sports drink?

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My husband Stephen is a marathon runner and has been for several years. He is usually very good about his nutrition before, during, and after runs, but yesterday it all fell apart.

He met his friend to run 18 miles, which is not unusual for a long run on a Saturday morning. They had their course mapped out and thought they had their Gatorade and water stops mapped out as well. In Orlando where we are, there is a group of marathon runners from the major running store in town, Track Shack, who puts out replenishment every 2 miles long the routes. Every Saturday this group of 300+ runners meet and run around at wee hours of the morning. However, yesterday there was no planned replenishment because there was a major race in town instead. Stephen and his friend did not know there would not be any Gatorade out. Result: Stephen ran 18 miles (2.5 hours of continuous running) without any sugar or electrolytes and water from water fountains quite sporadically.

Of course, you can image the lecture he got from his favorite sports dietitian when he got home and I learned of this. To his credit, it was not intentional. Usually he drinks Gatorade every 2 miles. He did not have any money on him, so he wasn't able to stop at a convenience store and he doesn't usually carry gels.

The rest of the day yesterday Stephen felt more fatigued than usual and today he has tight muscles and fatigue that he doesn't typically have. I am sure it is from no replenishment during his run.

If you are a runner or cyclist or any athlete going for longer than 60 minutes of continuous aerobic activity, please adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Drink 4-8 oz of sports drink (brand and flavor of choice) every 15-20 minutes
  • Start this replenishment at the first 15 minute increment (don't wait until you are an hour into your exercise)
  • Eat or drink at least 200 calories and 16 oz of fluid before your exercise session
  • Drink 16 oz for every pound you lose during exercise
  • Follow exercise session with food (or sports drink until you can get food) within 30 minutes of finishing. Your meal should be complex carbs (bagel, toast, potatoes, pancakes, pasta, rice, etc) and protein (eggs, milk, meat, beans, nuts/seeds) with a little bit of fat (not too hard to find in most foods).
If you pay attention to how you fuel yourself, you will perform better and stay healthier (injuries)!
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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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