How many types of sports hydration can you name?
Probably something new for every day of the month, if that’s what you are in the market for! Sports drinks with electrolytes, or maybe just straight up soda like I’ve seen some long-distance runners do on occasion; Gel packets, salt sticks, energy beans, drink mixes, supplement capsules or perhaps those purple fizzy things? If forced to choose from this list – I would prefer something with ingredients that I can pronounce – or my old faithful: real water!
For as long as I’ve been running, I never let myself get overwhelmed with the surplus of colorful packages out there! Back when I began running, I used to carry a bottle of spring water – 16oz was typically my go-to because it fit in my hand just right and felt natural – without being too weighty or bulky. Back then I never needed to drink any of my water mid-run, but as soon as I finished and began my walking-cool down session, the water was all I wanted! Fast forward some years and for reasons that I am not sure of – I got out of the habit of carrying water, even while I was doing up to double the mileage!
When I got my current running vest – a Salomon S-Lab 12L (12 set as they dubbed it) featuring two 16oz soft shell bottles, Ciara and I were primarily running the White Mountains of NH; I had not really begun taking – or needing my vest on more local runs yet. But even when we did get vested up for the mountains, the first several months contained just plain water, which was super convenient for refilling at the many huts throughout the National Forest (I have also always carried a Sawyer mini-water filter in my vest, which I have used many times!).
Fast forward again to that time when I thought I would have my first go at a full marathon – I knew that I would need water for that one! While we both agreed there were some ‘reputable’ hydration/electrolyte replenishment options out there, we always prefer to be resourceful with what we have and we decided that making our own would be the way to go!
I knew using ingredients that my body already knew (being fully plant-based for over two years at the time) would definitely be the way to go. We did our research into what other folks had come up with – so it’s not as if we really invented the concoction ourselves, we just tweaked what other folks had previously done, and we found that it worked well..
so well in fact that for 26.2 miles, I did not crave any other food!
I desperately wanted to try our liquid creation on a long run, just to ‘experiment’, and see how my body would react (it’s either going to love it or I’d be in the woods with it coming out one end or the other!) to it, but time proved to not be on our side, once again!
The weekend of October 13th found us in a cabin on a chilly evening prior to my first full marathon, consuming all the home-made plant based food (some in the crock pot, some raw desserts – which, of course, were amazing!).
We had everything we needed to re-create the recipe that we tweaked to our standards:
- Coconut Water (4 cups/ 32oz)
- Maple Syrup (0.25 cup/ 4 tablespoons)
- Himalayan Pink Salt (1/4 teaspoon)
*Our original recipe also called for, but we did not add in on race day:
- Fresh-squeezed Orange Juice (1 cup/ 8oz)
- Fresh-squeezed Lemon Juice (0.5 cup/ 4oz)
I give both options because the first three ingredients worked completely fine for my race, powered me through just fine – but, if I have the luxury of running water and a place to wash knifes and clean up sticky citrus – I will totally be adding the fruit portion into the mix next time!
What I recommend, and actually what I did (and what I am incredibly thankful of..) was fill this coconut water hybrid into one of my 16oz water reservoirs, and the other 16oz bottle with just plain filtered water. I began my race by sipping on the blended coconut water, not sure how it would settle for me (and not wanting to spoil my race only 6mi in with cramps and other annoyances..) so I kept each sip in my mouth, almost ‘chewing’ (ever go to a beer tasting? think of this..) it for 30-60 seconds before slowly swallowing it – sounds waaaay to tedious for some, but I was determined to baby my stomach as I was coming from a habit of taking in no nutrients while I ran 20+ miles (for my fear of cramping).
Now I am sure, by now, you are probably asking yourself why would anyone go with some hippie-junk like this – salt? citrus? maple syrup? coconut water? what the heck is this trash?? Everything listed is here for a reason –
each ingredient is in there to replenish our bodies and help it to persevere!
First off here, coconut water? Come on, were not on Survivor here..why would we need coconut water? Coconut water is one of the best, all-natural ways of re-hydrating the body – containing many minerals and nutrients that we just don’t get from water alone (and I’d rather know that I am getting these nutrients from a plant instead of some rainbow colored powered shit made in a lab!)
Coconut water is:
- 95% water
- 4% carbs (the good sugars that don’t give you diabetes!)
- 0.1% fat
- 0.5% iron
- 0.02% calcium
- 0.01% phosphorus
The best (for us) coconut water can be found coming from the young green coconuts; these little fella’s contain the most powerful anti-oxidants, higher levels of vitamin C and B (complex) and potassium. Also, containing trace amounts of sodium (great for when you are sweating!), magnesium, and phytochemicals (studied for its anti-aging/anti-cancer properties!). While coconut water alone has been found to help aid the liver and help return the blood volume back to normal levels post exercise – not much comes to us without a risk, or a ‘downside’, unfortunately!
I cannot suggest re-hydrating with coconut water without being ‘responsible’, and letting you know of the risks! Coconut water alone, while it contains somewhat higher levels of potassium is great for us banana-eaters, but should not be used as a cure-all on super hot days; it has been found (when consumed in stupidly high quantities!) to result in ‘hyperkalemia’, even with some medical knowledge, I had to look this one up! This is basically kidney disease; resulting in the breakdown of both red blood cells and the muscle itself, incredibly high volumes of coconut water (the study I read about involved 90oz of coconut water while exercising in the bright summer sun with no other liquids to speak of: so be sure to drink water too!!) alone can produce an abnormal heart rate and result in a blood pressure that is just too low for the body to survive and will eventually, potentially, kill you – this is the main reason why I brought one water, one coconut water mixture on my marathon, turns out after the salt, maple syrup and coconut water, my body absolutely craved regular water, so listen to your body!!
The next up into the recipe is Himalayan Pink Salt.
And if I know you correctly, you are probably asking to yourself “what the heck is ‘Himalayan salt’ and why do I need to get fancy, can’t I just use my table salt??” You may be able to reap the same benefits from regular table salt – but that junk is so much more processed, I just chose to avoid it! This Himalayan Pink Salt comes from the second largest salt mine – straight from Pakistan. It appears pink (while regular salt is obviously white) because of the trace amounts of iron oxide.
This is one of the easiest ways to escape the clutches of the electrolyte powder, tablet, stick craze; containing sodium and chlorine, salt is absolutely essential (in small quantities, this does not mean dip your greasy fries into heaping piles of salt..) in helping the brain send electrical impulses to nerves and fundamentally – the muscles. So without salt, long runs just don’t exist, your muscles will lock up and you will be a hot mess on the side of the trail!
Himalayan Pink Salt is:
- 0.16% calcium
- 0.28% potassium
- 0.1% magnesium
- 0.0004% iron
And of course, my favorite ingredient: REAL Maple Syrup!!
Corn syrup and high fructose this and that has been cut from my diet for years – just don’t need that trash (is how I try to look at it!)! And going right alongside of that laboratory-made non-sense, is white table sugar – too bleached, too refined, too processed! I suppose one could make the argument that, yes, maple syrup is also processed to a degree (and I’m talking about the local maple syrup that someone’s family is making, NOT the store bought Auntie Jemima fake shit!) but it’s essentially just boiled down – a wee bit different in my eyes.
I’ve always loved the real deal maple syrup – my grandfather had a sugar shack and tapped his own trees, this was a treat of going to visit the grandparents from an early age, I would dream of home made blueberry pancakes on the farm with his cherished maple syrup! It was almost like “top shelf” – being only broken out of the pantry for special occasions (like when the grand-kids came to visit!!).
Anyone who has had the pleasure of going to a maple syrup tasting knows that there are varying grades and colors and densities of real maple syrup, but the majority of the amber sticky stuff out there comes from (but not limited to!) sugar, red, or black maple trees; the trees are tapped in late winter/early spring for the starchy sap, which has been converted to sugar by a combination of colder weather and the tree just doing what it does! The sap is collected (I’ve tried the sap, doesn’t taste like a whole lot at this point!) and boiled down to rid a majority of the water, leaving our beloved syrup.
The primary ingredient of the sap collected is sucrose along with water, which is decreased from the boiling process to make a sweeter end product. According to the most trustworthy sources over at wikipedia.com, maple syrup provides 260 calories/100g.
Maple syrup is:
- 67g carbs
- 32.4g water
- 0.06g fat
- 0.04g protein
- 106% riboflavin (daily recommended value)
- 138% manganese (daily recommended value)
- 10% calcium (daily recommended value)
Of course, being a natural plant-based food – there are also trace quantities of thiamine (B1), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), vitamin B6, iron, magnesium, potassium, sodium, zinc and a whole slew of volatile organic compounds.
If and when I get to try the citrus portion in our hydration creation, I’ll include that in here with findings and such; but for now this has worked wonderfully for us – like I said earlier, I was able to feel full on just minimal amounts of the coconut water, pink salt and maple syrup combination, which is great for us folks who can’t feel weighted down by fuel jostling around in our guts mid-run!
If you end up trying this recipe – and it works (or even doesn’t work), I’d love to hear about it!
Am I missing something from my recipe that you swear by, that hadn’t occurred to us to include in our water – let us know down in the comments below!
And – as I said earlier, but as a friendly reminder.. don’t forget to drink real (filtered) water also, there’s not much better for a body in motion than just plain, regular h2o!
I hope this helps you run, hike, go longer and better than before you read it!
Cheers & Happy Trails