Hot Drink Hydration for Winter Runners

Hot Drink Hydration for Winter Runners

If you are a die-hard runner committed to your training and schedule, nothing stops you from your runs, not even the cold winter. When the temperature drops, you are faced with new challenges for your run, including your body’s need to keep warm. Running in winter can be complicated because you generate sweat from the exertion, but then you begin to cool down quickly, which then triggers your body to warm up. When this cycle happens, you can get the shivers. So, what’s a runner to do when old man winter arrives? Reach for a hot drink to warm and recharge.

Why a Hot Drink?

Just like in the summer months, you need to rehydrate after your run. In the winter you can choose a hot drink for hydration that provides everything you need: liquid for hydration, sugar to replenish glycogen, and electrolytes for your muscles. When you get back from your run, a warm drink is perfect and should be consumed within half an hour.

Winter runners get discouraged from drinking enough when they reach for a cold drink in frigid weather. Despite the cold, you still have to top up your fluid levels but cold drinks only add to the chill. It’s also common to think there is less chance of becoming dehydrated in the cold, but you can still become dehydrated when you sweat. This can actually be even worse if you wear multiple layers of clothing. The cold air also tends to be drier, which means that you can lose fluids from your respiratory tract, not just through sweating.

Hot drinks are comforting after a cold run, and you will be more likely to enjoy it, which in turn encourages you to drink more. This brings us to our second reason warm beverages work in the winter: They are a perfect reward at the end of a run.

The idea of getting home and clutching a steaming cup of coffee, cocoa, or tea is a morale booster, not to mention an incentive to keep up the pace and get back home where it’s warm. It’s also a great incentive mid-run if you are training for a marathon, offering a sweet warm reward that gives you the courage to keep going even in minus temperatures.

Hot Drinks on the Run

If you are going for longer runs and would like to have that warm drink handy, there are a few things you can do:

  1. Family support
    Training alone can be dismal, especially in winter, while having support can encourage you to keep going and give you the strength to reach your goals. Have a family member, friend or partner meet you at a designated halfway point ready with a flask of your home brewed coffee, milk and sugar. By the time you get to them it will be the perfect temperature and provide you with the hydration, warmth and encouragement you need to carry on.
  2. Carry a flask
    If having a cheering team is not realistic, plan B is to find a well-insulated flask to keep with you during your run. A good quality double-walled stainless steel flask is ideal and will keep your coffee, cocoa or tea at the perfect temperature. Always add boiling hot water to your flask first, then dump it and immediately fill it with your hot drink. This will ensure it is as warm as possible. The only problem with this idea is that you need to unscrew it while running to get a sip, and flasks can also be kind of heavy.
  3. Plastic bottle
    You can always just use your usual plastic bottle and fill it with a very hot beverage. It will stay warm long enough to give you a nice hit unless you will be out running for hours, but this isn’t the safest option.

What to Drink

So, what are the best drinks to brew for your winter hydration? Let’s take a look:

  1. Hot Chocolate
    You might already know the benefits of cold chocolate milk after a run, and your hot chocolate in the winter is no different. You have the benefits of great flavour in hand with calcium, potassium, Vitamin D and protein. Always use milk, not water, to get the full benefits, renew muscle cells, and replenish your electrolytes. Never go for the instant version of hot chocolate. You want the full flavour and benefits of antioxidants so it’s always “scratch” hot chocolate made with pure powdered cocoa to get you feeling good after a run. In fact, you will get more antioxidants from hot chocolate than chocolate milk, red wine, or tea because the reaction to the heat brings out the power of the antioxidants.
  2. Tea
    Tea is always viewed as a healthy drink but the truth is when you drink it black, regardless of the type of tea, you will not be re-energizing your body. The reason for this is that black tea provides zero calories, which is why it’s a good choice for dieters. As a runner, you’ve got to get those calories after your run, so add milk and honey to help recover those muscles. Drink your hot tea right after your run to reap the full benefits. Tea is also a good choice because it contains less caffeine and will allow you to rehydrate better. Go for the teas with the most antioxidants, such as oolong, black, and green tea. These also have the added benefit of detoxifying properties to get rid of free radicals that can damage muscles.
  3. Coffee
    Coffee is the go-to morning drink for 67 percent of Canadians. Like tea, it has to be enjoyed with milk and sugar to get the calories required for recovery. This way you will get the energy needed for your muscles to recover after the exertion of your run, and the milk will provide calcium and Vitamin D as well. Like tea, it also provides antioxidants to get those muscles repaired after your run. Go for a robusta bean over an arabica as it contains more antioxidants.

For more information on hot beverages for runners, call Faema at 416 800 2368 or contact us here.