I remember the first time I did a long run, it was a ten-mile run, double-digit runs are so much fun. You feel so proud that you made it that far. Somewhere around mile 8, I felt sick, I could feel water filling my mouth and my vision went wonky. I got dizzy and felt like I was about to pass out. My heart was thumping and I thought “this is it, I am dying, running killed me!”.
I did not die, my electrolytes were off, I was feeling the effects of not having enough sodium. When I went to my doctor as one does when they think they almost died, she explained that I needed to supplement if I was going to do longer runs. A word of caution, you have to see what works for you. Some drinks will make you nauseous, many have a lot of sugar in them and if you are watching your intake you need to be wary of those. On a personal level I hate the taste of anything artificial, I don't even like fruit juices so it took me a long time to figure out what I could tolerate and what didn't upset my stomach.
After I read Born to Run, I started drinking iskiate, which is chia seeds with some agave and water. I usually have that in the summer after a long run. Then I remembered a drink from my childhood, agua de Jamaica. Agua de Jamaica is iced hibiscus tea but it had a lot of sugar in it. Hibiscus tea contains sodium, potassium, and choline. Choline is like a b vitamin but close to a salt. So, I started making an electrolyte drink with hibiscus flowers, but you can use tea bags if it is easier for you.
½ cup hibiscus flowers
2 cups hot water
1 TBS Sweetener of choice
I steep the flowers for about 20 mins or until I remember I did that, strain add the honey or agave, put it in a jar, and put in the fridge. When I’m ready to go for a long run I dilute it 50/50 with water. If I know I'll be sweating a lot, I add a pinch of salt. At around 20-30 mins into the run, I start sipping. I have found that it sits well in my stomach, has a tangy taste instead of fruity, and hydrates me well. My advice is to start slow, everyone's stomach is different.