These longstanding guidelines of drinking a minimum of 36 OZ per hour have been challenged by studies indicating that too fuel intake, during running at least, can be the cause of gastrointestinal discomfort (basically cramps and other problems). A new study conducted by Dr. Ian Rollo and colleges at England’s Loughborourgh University found that “intuitive” drinking or hydrating at-will during a long road race can improve your performance when compared to drinking by the rules. Ten runners ran a total of three separate 10mile races, and they had to abide by the following rules: no-drinking, drinking at-will, and drinking the prescribed amount of 36 OZ per hour (one during the course of each race). These were the results they found:
Trial 1, No liquid:
- The ten runners ran a combined average time of 72:05 min
Trial 2, Drink at-will:
- The ten runners ran a combined average time of 71:14 min with an average consumption of around 10.6 OZ per hour
Trial 3, 36 OZ per hour:
- The ten runners ran a combined average time of 72:05 min with 36 OZ of a performance sporting drink per hour.
Performances in the no-drinking and prescribed drinking trials were almost identical. But the runners covered the ten miles almost a full minute faster when drinking at-will.
It’s important to bear in mind that this study involved a race or relatively short duration and subjects who were mostly unaccustomed to drinking during exercise. However, one subject who did routinely use a sports drink during his training – who just happens to e a triathlete – recorded his best record in the prescribed drinking trial.
So we can say that all-in-all those who routinely use sports drinks and practice ingesting carbs and fluids during their training will stand a better chance during race day.
TL/DR: Hydrate at your own pace, and you’ll run better.
More importantly, have fun.