Refueling While Doing Cardio

by Jessica B. | March 13th, 2012 | Cardio

It’s one of the age old questions, how much do you have to work out before you need to start thinking about refueling? Sometimes I see people out for a 5K jog with a water belt around their waist.  I know friends who have headed out for a half marathon with nothing but the clothes on their backs. So what is the best combination? Well that depends a lot on you, the weather conditions, and what you hope to accomplish.

1) Hydration – When to have an extra water bottle? If you are working out at the gym, this is a no brainer. It certainly doesn’t hurt to have a water bottle parked by your treadmill or elliptical trainer. But I would hold off on drinking until you hit your workout cooldown or at least the 45 minute mark. The same goes if you are out for a run; you don’t need to carry water if you are going to be out for less than an hour. Why? As long as you are hydrated before your run and have access to water immediately after, you should be fine. If you know you cover a lot of ground in an hour, you may want to consider carrying a bit with you, but for the most part, you should be able to make it through.

Personally I find a water belt can get a bit heavy and irritating during a long run. If I am running a longer loop, I might throw my water bottle in a bush and pick it up after the first round, but usually I just save it for the end.

2) Powerbar or Gel – Again, like water, you don’t really need a powerbar, gel, or even a banana until after your shorter run. These help you push through the wall, but hopefully you won’t be hitting the wall if you are only out for a 5K jog.

That said, when I had some blood sugar issues, I spent time running with an extra power bar even for my shorter runs. I had recently lost a lot of weight and occasionally felt my blood sugar plummet and leave me feeling faint at the end of a run, and this little kick was the difference between me crawling home and me running home. Mostly, you should listen to your body and what it says about you needing an extra kick along the route.

If you are a new or amateur runner, your best bet for hydration and refueling is to do so after your run. Enjoy your water and banana after your stretch and before your shower. If you are starting to test your longer runs and are nervous or uncertain, bring along what you think you might need and give it a test drive, but wait for food until you start feeling like you need it. Otherwise you could bother your stomach.

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All health and fitness information is provided for educational purposes. Please consult with your physician before beginning any exercise regimen.