Drink like a Kenyan


When I was in college we were instructed to weigh ourselves before and after our runs, on a scale that was accurate to a tenth of a pound. The trainers provided us with sports drinks that we were encouraged to drink until our pre-run weight was restored. If you have ever tried this you know that on a summer day you have to drink a lot of sport drink to meet this guideline.


After observing elite Kenyan runners this guideline has been adjusted. Researchers recently studied the training and dietary habits of elite Kenyan runners for ten days prior to their national championships. The researchers found that these Kenyan racing machines only drank “ad libitum” – meaning they simply drank when they felt like it. Typically they would drink water and “milky tea” that had electrolytes similar to our sport drinks (although lower in sodium). Sorry, no beer or high tech sports drink for this group.


In 2005 the majority of top ten male performers from the 800m to the marathon were Kenyan athletes. While most of us will never be able to chase a Kenyan down we can certainly learn from their dietary habits by drinking water and electrolyte drinks as desired instead of forcing a particular volume.


Bryan Whitesides MPT, OCS

Physical Therapist


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