Temperatures are dropping, and runs are getting chillier and chillier. You’re probably coming in from your long runs with numb fingers and toes, and you’re probably not thinking much about proper hydration when a hot shower is beckoning. But even if you’re not sweating a lot, staying hydrated before a run and replenished after are important. You don’t need to limit yourself to just ice water or a sports drink, though — just keep in mind that there are warm beverages that complement a run, and there are warm beverages that don’t.
Check out this guide, and mix up your winter pre- and post-running routine with some hot seasonal drinks.
DRINKS THAT BOOST YOUR RUN OR RECOVERY
Hot apple cider: For a post-ride treat that will replenish glycogen stores in your weary muscles, hot apple cider is a great option, thanks to its natural sweeteners. It’s also antioxidant-rich, so it’ll boost your recovery even more.
Dark hot chocolate: Similar to cider, hot cocoa made with dark chocolate will provide an antioxidant boost, plus the milk and sugar will provide protein and carbohydrates to your tired muscles. Think of it like a post-run chocolate milk with a slightly more foodie-friendly twist. Share the love: Invite your run club over and serve a batch!
Coffee: Great news. Coffee is still considered a performance-enhancing substance (but a legal one!). Drink a cup or two before your workout, and let the caffeine work its magic by making harder efforts feel slightly easier. Warning: Different genetics mean different tolerances to caffeine, so while some people might have a great run and get to sleep just fine when they drink coffee late in the afternoon, some people will be up all night. So before you start slamming espresso before your run session, experiment to see how quickly the caffeine boost wears off for you.
Ginger tea: About 50% of athletes experience gastrointestinal distress (and as many as 80 percent of marathoners, in one survey) when training. Help ease the cramping, runner’s trots or nausea by sipping on a mug of ginger tea before or after your run. The spicy, tasty brew helps ease digestive issues, warms you up and doesn’t give you a surge of caffeine, so it’s fine even for post-dinner workouts.
Green tea: Caffeine has been said to boost weight loss and stave off weight gain, and studies conducted using green tea as the caffeine source recently added credence to that theory. Catechins, a major component of green tea, have also been linked to weight loss. But whether or not you’re hoping to shed pounds, green tea and matcha are packed with antioxidants and have been known to boost immune system function and detox your system (much needed after holiday party binges). Plus, green tea and matcha are both best straight, without added milks or sugars, so they’re a zero-calorie boost that will warm you up before or after a run — and keep you revved at the office after.
DRINKS THAT HINDER A RUN
On the flip side, there are some drinks that should be avoided after your runs — or, at least, accounted for in your caloric intake.
Eggnog or pumpkin spice/peppermint/gingerbread lattes: Usually packed with sugar, artificial flavorings and fat, these calorie bombs should be avoided after a run. For example: A large gingerbread latte comes in at 360 calories. You could drink that, or you could get a gingerbread cookie and a large black coffee for only 200 calories.
Drinks with caramel and whipped cream: Any hot drink, from espresso to cider, loses its healthy title when you add a ton of caramel sauce and/or whipped cream. These extras turn an otherwise acceptable drink into a calorie-dense dump of sugar — and the inevitable crash that follows will likely cancel any boost you got from running.
Hot mulled wine: Warm, sweet wine is admittedly delicious, and sipping it provides both a sugar bomb and an alcohol buzz. It’s easier and faster to drink than a standard glass of red wine, and you’ll end up with a sugar-fueled hangover of epic proportions if you go overboard.