Consider The Chilled Water Stream Flowing Through An Absorption Unit Nutritional Tips for Trail Running

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Nutritional Tips for Trail Running

Trail running is quickly becoming one of the most popular sports in the outdoor industry. Barely recognized as a sport a few years ago, running was seen as a fast alternative to hiking. However, with the advent of long-distance off-road running, the prestige that comes with winning a trail race has increased tremendously. As trail running grows in popularity, it’s important as a runner to remember some key nutritional information that will make any trail run even more enjoyable.

Hydration: the key to performance

Proper hydration is at the forefront of any activity you plan to participate in. If your body is in motion, you need to make sure you are hydrated. Water is essential for the human body. 60-70% of our body mass is water, up to 90% of our brain mass is water and up to 75% of muscle tissue is water. Water is also the main component of blood – an important carrier of glucose, oxygen and other nutrients. In general, your body loses 64-80 ounces of water daily through urine, feces, sweat, skin, and exhaled air. This water should be replaced by consuming 64-80 fluid ounces daily. Another, though much less scientific, way to determine your daily fluid needs is to evaluate your urine. Dark and concentrated urine is a sign of insufficient fluid intake. Urine should be pale yellow to clear and abundant. Trail running is a sport of four seasons. You can run in almost any weather, on almost any terrain.

In warm weather, the only way to ensure you don’t become dehydrated is to prevent it before it happens. When you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Therefore, it is important to hydrate properly before any event. The cliché of eight glasses a day doesn’t take into account your standard active athlete. If you’re training in the heat, you don’t need to worry about how many glasses you’ll drink, but rather focus on drinking occasionally throughout the day. Always keep a water bottle close to you and sip on it constantly. This will ensure that your cells are maximally hydrated at the start of any workout. While water is great to drink if you plan to sit still all day, if you’re active you should hydrate with a carbohydrate solution, preferably a solution somewhere between 6-8% carbohydrates. This will ensure that your body not only gets the hydration it craves, but also maintains the right amount of electrolytes. During the run itself, focus on continuously sipping water from the bottle. It’s best if you can run with a handheld water bottle or find a comfortable hydration pack. Weigh yourself before and after exercising in hot weather to ensure adequate rehydration. For every pound you lose while running, rehydrate with 24 oz of fluid, or 150% of your total water loss.

In the cold, you have to remember to still hydrate. Your hydration needs in cold weather are just as important as in hot weather. You won’t feel like you need to drink as much liquid; however, you should avoid dehydration. Although you won’t lose as much fluid through sweating, you should have fluids on hand, especially if you plan to run for more than thirty minutes. Try to drink every ten to fifteen minutes to ensure you don’t get thirsty.

Choosing the right fluid is critical to hydration success. Find a carb drink that fits your stomach and budget. If you’re competing, train with a drink that will be available on the course, as you’ll be drinking it when you get out. Look for an electrolyte drink with 4% to 8% carbohydrates. Drinking a 10% carb solution can cause gastrointestinal issues, which can be quite uncomfortable whether you’re training or competing. High sugar content can slow down the release of fluid into the intestines and slow down the rate of absorption. With a 4-8% combination of carbohydrates, your body can absorb the proper balance of electrolytes, which is recommended for all events lasting longer than an hour. Although caffeinated beverages provide hydration, they are not the best choice, as excessive caffeine consumption can disrupt sleep patterns and has a mild diuretic effect. Try to limit your intake of these fluids during the day, especially if you plan to run long distances.

Get Gear: Finding the Right Hydration System

If you’re new to trail running, you need to find the hydration system that works best for you. This may take some time and will only improve with experience, so be patient. For a long distance training run, look for a hydration system that is lightweight, comfortable, and will carry enough fluid to meet your hydration needs. Personally, I prefer to run with hand-held water bottles because holding the water bottles reminds me of the need to drink. If I run with a hydration pack, I seem to get exhausted during the run and forget to drink. However, holding the bottles is a constant reminder to stay hydrated. The only downside to carrying water bottles is having something in your hands. This can become a problem when running long distances when your body gets tired and the last thing you want to do is carry a multi-pound water bottle. That’s why running with a pack can be an advantage.

In the beginning, hydration packs were cumbersome and not worth the discomfort they entailed. However, this has changed in recent years as the outdoor industry has continually improved the lightweight and comfortable hydration pack. In cold weather, the bag is ideal. When you first start running, you will more than likely wear too many clothes. Putting away a few layers without putting them anywhere can be a problem; but you can easily put them away with the package. Then, if the weather turns bad, you can simply pull them back out. Also, since you more than likely won’t be drinking as much fluid, you can better regulate the amount of fluid you carry with you based on how much fluid you put into your bladder. If you like to run with hydration in warm weather, look for one that can cool your back. The main problem I found with early hydration packs was that they trapped the heat coming off the back. I found that I was losing a lot of fluids from the sweat caused by the rubbing of the hydration pack and back. Choose a hydration pack like the Patagonia Houdini Hydration Pack, which has mesh straps and an airflow system, or use a waist pack like the CamelBak Alterra Hydration Pack to stay cool and hydrated even in the hottest conditions.

Watch your calories: you need fuel!

If you plan on running for more than an hour, you need to make sure you take into account your nutritional and hydration needs. Your body size and the activities you choose will determine how many calories you should consume during exercise. Typically, most experts recommend that athletes consume 100 to 150 calories per hour in order to maintain proper glycemic and caloric balance. Regardless of the type of food or gel you use for fueling, carbohydrates remain your best source of energy for training and racing. Remember not to avoid real food instead of synthetic food. Fig Newtons, banana peanut butter sandwiches, and Larabars are great options that can be easily packed in a hydration pack or taken on a run.

When your body is pushing its limits, make sure you give it the right fuel to work. In summary, staying properly hydrated throughout the day is critical to the success of your workout. If you plan to run longer than an hour and plan to consume 100-150 calories per hour of exercise, find a drink with 4-8% carbs that your stomach can handle. Finally, experiment with different hydration options until you find a hydration system that works for you. We are all different, but taking the time to find the right way to stay hydrated and fueled will have huge benefits for any athlete in any discipline.

For more information on trail running gear, visit

http://www.rockcreek.com/articles/trail_running/trail_running_gear_guide.asp

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