Spring is notorious for variable weather, and as the weather changes, the choice of post-race hydration may need to do the same. FWIW, herewith are three faves:
Cold weather often means starting out in lots of layers, stripping them off as you start to sweat, then staggering around steaming into the chill air as you cool down. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to know exactly when to start putting those damp layers back on; way too easy to find oneself suddenly on the edge of hypothermic as the body furnace shuts down and running clothes turn into cold compresses. Years ago a post-race exposition featured giant vats of hot soup being ladled out by residents of a nearby native American reservation (thank you, first residents), and boy did that hit the spot! Ever since, my cold weather apres is a cup of soup and the most convenient is Lipton Cup-a-Soup.
Yeah, it ain’t my Brooklyn Grandma’s recipe, but it’s hot and salty (electrolytes anyone?), with just enough fat and carbs to start recharging the ol’ blood stream. And all it takes is a packet, a cup and hot water. I’ve even made it up with hot tap water, in a pinch. All the better when consumed while soaking in a toasty hot tub!
The onset of spring’s warmer weather though, can quickly send some of us to the fridge for a post-race beer instead. On the surface it seems like a great idea – water-based for hydration, loaded with carbohydrates, and that refrigerated chill helps cool an overheated core, if either the weather or your performance has been hot enough to make that an issue. However…a little research reveals that alcohol is a diuretic, so consuming it tends to make the body shed liquid, right when you need to re-hydrate. Solution? Non-alcoholic beer; and lucky for us, there are plenty on the market these days, including the prototypical O’Doul’s, copies from big brewers like Busch and Coors, along with smaller brands like Kaliber (from the makers of Guiness), Paulaner, St. Pauli and a host of craft breweries (a quick web search came up with over twenty varieties). My favorite so far is Heineken’s 0.0.
Properly chilled, I doubt I could till it from the regular variety (at least not until I’d consumed enough to feel the buzz, or lack thereof, that is). Drinking responsibly never tasted so good!
Neither of those float your boat? For the best all-round post-race toss-down, how about chocolate milk? Taken cold or hot, depending on the time of year, it’s got liquid for hydration, carbs to replenish what you’ve been burning and protein to get the muscles started on their exercise-induced regeneration. Ending your run at a remote trailhead, or a parking lot far from a refrigerator or convenience store? In our part of the country, Horizon sells these nifty single-serving cartons that do not need to be refrigerated until opened!
For above-freezing days in the winter, I park one of these in the shade beneath my car before a run, and it’s nicely chilled when I get back. Other times, toss one in a cooler with some ice (and maybe one of those Heinekens, just in case). If you’re feeling social, prep that cooler with several bevvies and set yourself up at the finish line or trailhead with two lawn chairs – some great post-run acquaintances have sprung up from no more effort than that.
Whatever post-run potation you prefer…drink up; you’ve earned it!