Week Two of my new running routine finds me less sore but with a new set of problems. Namely, the more I look up becoming a good runner, the more bad habits I realize that I have. This post is going to be about the things aspiring runners (or anyone trying to get healthy) shouldn't do.
I don't have a drinking habit per se, but I definitely enjoy the occasional beer. And now that summer is around, my refrigerator is stocked with Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy. Some of my friends tell me that wheat beer is for girls. As a feminist, I find that as offensive as it is incorrect. Delicious beer knows no gender.
Here's the problem: alcohol changes the tonacity of blood, causing cells in the body to leak water. This results in dehydration. The splitting headaches associated with hangovers actually come from the constricted blood vessels that result from dehydration. Why is this bad for people trying to get active? All bodily processes tend to require water. Without it, your muscles can't recover from workouts.
Don't Drink (Only) Water
Wait, not drinking water? But all the medical experts say that Americans tend not to drink enough water. But, especially after a workout where you've done plenty of sweating, drinking only water is not ideal. In fact, it can actually dehydrate you over time.
When you sweat, your body releases stored water out of the pores in your skin. When that water evaporates it cools your skin, relieving the heat your muscles make during exercise. But anyone who has done a good deal a sweating knows that sweat isn't just water - there's salt in it, too. In order for your body to hold on to water it needs a careful balance of salts and water. These salts are called "electrolytes."
Instead of sticking only to water to re-hydrate, be sure to mix in a sports drink as well. A lot of these sports drinks are heavy in sugar in order to make them tasty, but if you visit a GNC or other health store, you can easily find powdered electrolyte additives that aren't loaded with empty calories.
Often when we're working out, we're also actively counting the calories we're burning. Many treadmills and bikes have convenient counters that tick off the little devils as we sweat and listen to music. (I usually get pumped up on Slayer.) Anyone who has spent an hour on a recumbent bike knows all too well what a 200 calorie soft drink really means in terms of energy.
However, counting calories has a dark side. If we focus only on burning energy, but forget to add more, our bodies will break down from the lack of fuel. Studies show that eating within an hour after a workout can reduce aches and pains. Focus on starches like pasta, bread, and potatoes. And a little protein doesn't hurt either.