For years now, I have used the typical lime green sports drink to hydrate myself during long runs. Some of these drinks are colorful and excessively sweet, others are bland and far too salty. What are the best drinks for distance runner fluid replacement? - Fueling for distance
I was once asked by a college professor to summarize, in a single word, the elemental composition of the human body. "What are we made of?" he asked. I turned to him, confidently, and said "Chemicals". Of course, he was my Chemistry professor, and I was doing my best to impress him prior to the mid term exams, but there is some hint of truth to my claim that all living things, composed as we are of biological matter, are in effect made up of chemical compounds.
As it is with the internal combustion engine, we runners require our own specially formulated fuel to ensure proper functioning, especially when traveling distances far beyond those of mortal human beings.
Now, like you, I've read lots of articles about the advantages of drinking "pickle juice" and "bee pollen" laced beverages... and although they sound "interesting", I find myself reluctant to experiment with such concoctions. I generally tend to avoid any food source which is described to me with the adjective "interesting".
Many of the sports beverages on the market are both expensive and distasteful (literally). I can't see myself chugging down a bottle of sweet gherkins in the minutes just prior to a marathon... I'm eager to set a personal best, but I'm not desperate enough to drink questionable chemicals in the achievement of such a goal.
Thankfully, for you and I, there are beverages out there that are loaded with the carbohydrates we need for energy conversion along the long run. Based loosely on the principle that sugar is a complex carbohydrate, and on the marketing concept that "whatever is sweet, sells", several sports drink manufacturers have come out with a blindingly bright array of neon colored beverages which runners like you and I will find considerably more attractive than the unconventional "insect fermented" beverages that we are led to believe will empower us well past our own physical prowess.
Chemically speaking, these drinks are composed of water, sugar and electrolytes. These ingredients combine to hydrate, fuel and replace various key elements the body eliminates in its attempt to "cool down" the over heated runner.
The legendary track star Steve "Pre" Prefontaine was known to chug down a bottle of flat or un-carbonated cola in preparation for his track meets... but who wants to risk that associated indigestion?
The "best" sports drink for the distance runner may simply be water, cool clear and refreshing, combined with the consumption of salt tablets and chewy candy. What's best is what works for you, and that usually requires good flavor, refreshing ingredients and essential minerals... dare I say "chemicals" to support your body's demand for fuel over the long run.
Run long and taper.