Why Electrolytes is the Basic Essential for Runners?
Running looks like a simple sport but only those who run regularly know how complex running can be. There are a number of varied factors that affect running and performance. Surely all the runners know the importance of hydration but are you completely aware about electrolytes
? And trust me, all of you have had a need to consume electrolytes due to cramps, soaring temperatures or running beyond your limits causing energy drain. Let us deep dive into importance of electrolytes.
What are Electrolytes?
Everyone, runner or not, requires electrolytes to perform various body functions. There are many functions that require electric current and electrolytes provide charge to them to function properly. The four main electrolytes include – magnesium, sodium, potassium and calcium.
Importance of Electrolyte Balance for Runners
When you run, you lose electrolytes due to sweat and breathing. Maintaining an electrolyte balance is quite important for runners as it helps to train and perform at optimum levels. Those runners, who don’t ensure electrolyte balance, then face fatigue, which hampers their running performance. This is a sign of dehydration.
You may say that I will drink water to rehydrate but simply hydrating with plain water isn't enough, as your body will not get the required electrolytes causing a misbalance of electrolytes in your blood. Improper hydration can make cause frequent muscle cramps, spasms and weakness, dizziness, nausea, dark urine, dry mouth and skin, stiff joint and drastic energy loss.
When to Replace Electrolytes?
1. Pre-Run Preparations: Ideally, your preparation for the run day should start a day prior to the event. While you have your favorite pastas, yummy potatoes or any other food that you like to store the carbohydrates to give a boost to your energy as soon as you start to run; you must also start to monitor your hydration levels by observing your pee color, to ensure you are adequately hydrated well in advance.
On the race day, consuming electrolytes just before your run (30 minutes prior) is recommended especially when it's very hot on your running day. This will help you get a good head start into your run.
2. During Run: Refueling electrolytes during the run is highly recommended by most coaches, nutritionists and health experts. Sipping your electrolyte drink slowly, at regular time intervals, helps you to replace lost electrolytes. BEWARE - don’t select a drink, which has overloads of sugar in it as it may then inhibit your running stamina and lead to poor performance. Another important point to keep in mind is that you must not gulp large quantity of your drink in one go. Instead of large sips less frequently, opt for small sips at frequent intervals.
3. Post Run: Even though you adequately hydrate your body with electrolytes during your run, refueling the body with salts post run is equally vital as it helps the body to recover faster and keeps you injury free.
The Best Way to Replace Electrolytes
Let us also look at the best possible ways to replace the lost electrolytes in the body to replenish them quickly and effectively. Yes, there are many popular energy drinks in the market but they contain excessive sugar that can cause more damage than do good to your body. Always, do your research right and choose a supplement, which is effective, acts fast and has no added sugar or ill effects. Check for any certification like Informed Choice or Informed Sport to be sure of the safety, quality and liability or such supplements.
Role of Event Organizers in Runners’ Hydration
After having known the importance of replenishing electrolytes during your run, you cannot neglect their significance and ought to carry some electrolytes or an energy drink with you. Here’s where the role of the Event Organizers is utterly crucial. The event organizers must make sure that the health safety of their participants is prima facie and for that, they need to install Aid Station at fair distances to provide enough opportunity for the runners to refuel themselves. If the marathon or the run you are going to participate doesn’t has such reload stations, you must talk to the event organizers and request them to install reload stations as your health and fitness cannot be put at risk.
Electrolytes play an important role in runner’s nutrition and have a major impact on their performance, health and fitness. Thus, it is vital for a runner to refuel body with the electrolytes lost due to stress to maintain energy levels and improve performance output.
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