A while back a friend of mine was telling me how he never drinks while running. At the time, well, it blew my mind. I couldn’t understand it. I was looking around for some kind of decent hydration solution (see what I found here) and asked him, as he was one of the more experienced of my friends when it came to running.
No water. None. I asked what he does if he runs a 10k. Just runs it. 1/2 marathon? All the way through. Yipes.
At the time I didn’t understand. I mean, was it like chewing gum and walking? Surely it wasn’t that tough right?
Fast forward to today and it has finally become clear to me why some people have trouble drinking while running. A multitude of factors gets involved. How uneven is the surface? How stable is your core? How out of breath are you? It becomes frighteningly easy to breath in some of your water/electrolyte drink, and that can ruin your run. Literally, on a couple occasions that was it for me, my run was done. Keep in mind I have asthma, and breathing in sugar water can definitely set it off. Which, basically, sucks.
As it happens, I’m pretty sensitive to being dehydrated. Just a bit of dehydration and my already molasses slow pace drops even further. Usually, then I push to try to maintain pace, and by the time I try to drink I’m a bit wobbly and out of breath. Bingo, bad drinking incoming.
So the first tip is definitely to drink to thirst, and by that I mean the first signs. If you wait till you’re parched you’re already playing a catch up game that you’ll probably lose the hard way.
OK, so how the heck do you drink when you’re tired, running on somewhat rubbery legs, and you desperately want a slug of that blue stuff in your bottle.
Let’s take a tip here from scuba divers and snorkelers. Whenever they replace their snorkel or regulator they “clear” them, usually with a big strong huff of air. That’s what we’re going to do here.
To start, make sure you’re not running so hard that you’re barely able to keep up breathing. Honestly if you’re pushing that hard the drink won’t help, you’re gonna hit the wall when your glycogen runs out in 3… 2…
When you’re ready, grab your bottle and “unlock it”, making it ready to drink from. On my Ultimate Direction bottles that requires grabbing the nipple and popping it out. Erm, that sounded bad. Moving on…
Take a breath in and then, while holding your breath, get a mouth full of liquid. Here’s the important part, take a breath in and out with your nose. That will help you when you swallow. Take a half breath in and quickly swallow the liquid, then strongly huff out that half breath.
Yes. This seems ridiculous, until you spend 3 miles coughing and choking as your lungs try desperately to rid themselves of whatever atrocious chemicals Gatorade puts in their drinks these days.
Since I began doing this I have not had a single incident of accidental liquid inhalation. Yes, I have gotten some odd stares, but then again I’m running in giant platform shoes wearing calf sleeves and a mesh vest. I’m pretty used to stares. And it sure beats someone asking if I wanted them to call for an ambulance. Yes, that happened. And I was able to, just barely, wave them off as I wheezed my way home. I’ll take the stares anytime over that.