Sports drinks - what's best for marathon runners
What’s On continues its Dubai Marathon training blog, Uncool Runnings, with advice on energy drinks and best drinks for marathon running.
When it comes to drinks on race day, is there one beverage better than all the rest? What’s On‘s Uncool Runners try, test, and talk to experts in advance of the Dubai Marathon.
We tried Vita Coco, a leading coconut water brand just launched in the UAE. The unflavoured version remained a classic, something we’d happily drink before a run.
Vita Coco say: “As more and more people look for healthy beverage alternatives, it seems only fitting that we bring [coconut water] to people living in one of the hottest places in the world where living a healthy lifestyle is top of the agenda.”
Gabriele Kurz, Executive Wellbeing Chef of Talise Nutrition: “It’s very good because it gives you electrolytes. If it’s the only thing available, there’s nothing wrong with it.”
Rafat Shawe, Professional MMA Fighter and Personal Trainer: “This is very good because it contains about 470ml of potassium per 8oz, and potassium helps prevent muscle cramps.”
We sampled fresh beans from local Dubai roaster Coffee Planet. The brew tasted smooth and like delicious shots of energy. Both caffeine addicts, it’s not unusual for us to drink a cup before a run.
Coffee Planet say: “Before preparing to exercise, a cup of coffee will give you a much needed boost. The level of caffeine in coffee gives the nervous system a lift, so the body will be ready for sporting performance.”
Gabi: “Coffee’s a tricky thing. It gives you the impression that you have more energy than you actually have. Pre-run, it would be ok, but you have to be careful.”
Rafat: “A pre-run caffeine has been shown to enhance performance and endurance, so you may notice a little boost during the race. I personally recommend taking an espresso an hour before the race.”
Coca Cola tastes like fizzy goodness. Everyone knows this. Sometimes we drink it on a long run because they remind us a bit of road trips, and there’s nothing better than Coca Cola on road trips.
Coca Cola says: The group supports over “290 physical activity or nutrition programmes in around 125 countries around the world,” but doesn’t exactly praise coke as a sports drink.
Gabi: “Coca Cola has a lot of sugar. It shoots you up quickly, but you’ll crash quickly. For long runs, I wouldn’t recommend it. I’d rather coffee, no sugar.”
Rafat: “Coke has caffeine in it, so it might give you a little boost during the race, but at the same time it might leave bloated because of its carbonation and that will make your run more difficult and may slow you down, so I personally would not recommend it.”
SPORTS DRINK (POWERADE/GATORADE)
We tried a Tropical Fruit Gatorade. It wasn’t exactly a colour found in nature, but it tasted like melted popsicle.
Gatorade say: “Hit the switch. Starting strong starts with energy. Muscles need a steady supply to continuously fire at peak potential.”
Gabi: “From a health and nutrition perspective, I wouldn’t recommend them. They’re usually artificially sweetened and coloured.”
Rafat: “I personally recommend a sports drink after a race because of the electrolyte content.”
EXPERTS RECOMMEND: BEETROOT JUICE
We went with an old favourite: the beetroot juice from Urban Bistro. This stuff is fresh, delicious, and perfect when mixed into the café’s green juice.
Urban Bistro say: …They don’t, really. But our two experts can’t stop praising the stuff.
Gabi: “Fruit juices in general quite high in sugar content, that spikes your blood sugar levels. I recommend making a mix of fruit and vegetable juices, and if you can include beetroot juice, that’s very good. Before the actual marathon, start beetroot juice every day. It gives you more endurance and performance.”
Rafat: “I recommend beetroot with carrot juice an hour before the race, as beetroot is high in natural nitrates that allow our muscles to use oxygen more efficiently.”
EXPERTS RECOMMEND EVEN MORE: WATER
Everyone knows this classic is a classic for a reason. Do we really need to say more?
Gabi: “The drink I recommend above all is something very simple: water with a pinch of salt. Add a few slices of lemon and that’s even better.”
SO WHAT’S IN STORE ON RACE DAY?
During the Dubai Marathon, runners will find water and Isostar (a sports drink). At the finish, there will be bananas, Nature Valley bars, Isostar, water and juice. In the Marathon Village, there will be Hardee’s Crispy Crème and other brands with coffee, tea, soft drinks, popcorn, nachos, and hot dogs. Come on, it would be rude not to treat yourself.