If you plan to run for less than an hour, plain water should be all you need to top up your fluid levels while you’re out. Exercise for longer, though, and you may find sports drinks helpful. These usually contain sugar, maltodextrin and electrolytes including sodium – the exact constitution will vary between manufacturers. Experiment with several varieties to see what suits you best, and which flavours you prefer.
For long runs (over 60 minutes), consider taking a snack with you so you’re not left running on empty. Energy gels washed down with water will give you an added boost, as will jelly beans or a banana. Few runners are able to tolerate anything more while on the run.
If you’re planning to eat or drink during a race, try doing so a few times in training beforehand. There’s no way of predicting how your body might react to anything new and you don’t want any nasty surprises!
Replacing fluid after a run is just as important as before and during. Drinking around 500ml of water or diluted juice in the first 30 minutes after your run should be plenty, but if you have a headache or feel nauseous you should have more.
After hard sessions, especially if you plan to train again the next day, think about having a recovery drink. The carbohydrate-protein ratio of these drinks will speed up muscle repair, rehydrate you quickly and also give your immune system a boost.
Energy bars are also good for topping up your fuel reserves when you get back. Like recovery drinks, they contain a mixture of carbohydrate and protein that will help your muscles recover faster. Other good post-run snacks include eggs on toast, a fruit smoothie and a tuna sandwich. If you can, try to eat within an hour of completing your run, as this will maximise the benefits.