Hydrating & Anti-Inflammatory: The Perfect Runners Drink

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A few days ago I realized my second marathon is next weekend and I had a mini meltdown. Am I ready? Will I survive the infamous Nashville hills? Why hasn't John Stamos replied to any of my tweets? Now that I'm entering into the period of training where I will taper my miles I'm now trying to be extra vigilant about my diet. My goal is to show up on race day as hydrated and well fueled as possible. I came up with the idea to have a smoothie (and I really hesitate calling it that because it's more like a juice consistency) every day until I leave town and cramming it full of the best hydrating and anti-inflammatory foods possible. After weeks of running 25-45 miles a week my body is almost permanently inflamed in one area or another. After work on Monday I stopped by the store to pick up some ingredients that I often read were some of the 'top' foods for runners.

Runners Drink

 

  • Coconut Water: Eleven ounces contain 14 grams of sugar and 670 milligrams of potassium. Potassium works with sodium to maintain water balance and helps trigger muscles to contract and relax.
  • Aloe Vera Juice: Aloe Vera contains over 200 active components including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, polysaccharide, and fatty acids. It hasn't been studied extensively and most research has been mixed so if you wanted to save $$ and skip something definitely pass on this. Try subbing beet root juice instead!
  • Spinach: very high in iron which is lost in sweat and is consumed during muscle contraction.
  • Ginger: contains very potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols that help reduce the tissue inflammation that causes stiff, aching muscles and joints. One study found that adults who took 2 grams of ginger as a daily oral supplement reduced exercise-related muscle pain by 23-25%.
  • 100% Tart Cherry Juice: packed with unique anthocyanins and other compounds that naturally mediate the inflammatory process. One study found that runners who drank tart cherry juice experienced a substantially smaller pain increase after the race. For best results it's recommended that you start drinking tart cherry juice a few days before your race.
  • Bananas: High in potassium and during exercise such as running, potassium is released from skeletal muscles and is lost through sweat. Also high in B6 which will help maintain energy, support muscle activity during running and keep the immune system healthy.
  • Blueberries: also contain Anthocyanins which assist with post-run recovery and muscle repair.

Of course I got all of my ingredients together, took photos to show off on Instagram, turned my blender on and ..... silence. My old POS cheap blender from Target finally bit the dust. I must have looked so pitiful standing in my kitchen pouting and trying to decide how to salvage the expensive ingredients I just put into my blender while the dreams of this perfect drink shattered. I put out an SOS on twitter and asked for recommendations on a new blender that didn't cost as much as one week of my pay (seriously Vitamix?) I heard overwhelmingly positive reviews for the Ninja, so I ran out and bought the Ninja Professional Blender. I've only used it a few times but so far it's getting the job done!

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The Perfect Runners Drink (put ingredients into blender in the order they are listed)

1 cup spinach

1/2 frozen banana

1/2 cup frozen blueberries

1 T. tart cherry juice

1/2 T. fresh minced ginger

1 cup coconut water

1 cup aloe vera juice (or plain water, beet juice, almond milk,...)

Stevia, to taste

I usually throw in a few ice cubes to bulk it up a bit and add about 3 packets of Stevia. I'll be honest - it's not the greatest tasting drink in the world. The way I make it comes in at about 250 calories. That's including 1/4 avocado I throw in to add some healthy fats to give it some 'staying power'. I get a nice little green energy buzz after drinking it and it may just be a total placebo effect but I'll take whatever I can get this close to marathon day!

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Sources:

Best Food for Runners by Runners World

Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Tart Cherry by Life Extension Magazine

Natural Sports Drinks by Runners World

Top 12 Benefits of Aloe Vera

What are your favorite 'superfoods'?