Thanks to Melissa McDonough, RD, CSSD and Coaches Julie & Lisa @ Run Farther and Faster for providing much of this content.
Summer running means sweat, slower paces, and serious tans (please apply sunblock before heading out the door!). Just because it’s hot outside, doesn’t mean you need to scrap your run. Appropriate hydration techniques will help get you through those sizzling days.
Dehydration can lead to serious complications, so staying hydrated should be a main focus for runners and non-runners alike. Depending on the climate, you should aim to get about 2 to 4 L of water throughout each day – approximately 8 to 16 cups. You may need to modify your total fluid intake each day depending on how active you are, or for factors such as gender, weight, age, heat, humidity and altitude.
Tips for improving hydration:
- Keep a bottle of water with you throughout the day and sip frequently
- Eat foods high in water content such as fruits and vegetables
- Use cut fruit or fresh herbs to flavor your water. Or try adding a cinnamon stick!
- If you’re not a fan of still water, make it bubbly
- Drink tea (low or no-caffeinated such as herbal or green tea is best)
Photo cred: @mel.emile
How hydrated am I?
To know if you are hydrated, it’s a good idea to check your urine. Urine that is darkly colored (think apple juice) and of relatively low volume signals that you need to drink more. Note that if you take certain medications or vitamins (specifically B vitamins) your urine will be a different color.
How much water should I drink before my run?
Staying hydrated throughout your day and week will help when you’re ready to run. To gear up for a run, be sure you are having about 1 ounce per 10 pounds of body weight 3 to 4 hours before your run. This would mean a 150 pound runner would need approximately 15 ounces of water (about 2 cups).
How much should I drink during my run?
Drinking by thirst on your run is not that reliable. As humans, we’re easily distracted, so we may not be as in tune with our thirst signals (especially if we’re focused on making it up the hill!). And sometimes, water isn’t always available, so you may be thirsty, but there’s nothing to drink. Third, if you’re thirsty, you’re likely already slightly dehydrated. Runs lasting less than 60 minutes may not require fluid intake, but consider your sweat rate and the conditions. During a run, you may need anywhere from 0.5 – 1.5L per hour. Practice drinking during your training runs to acclimate your stomach. To assess the ideal fluid intake for you, it is best to consult a registered dietitian.
I tend to sweat a lot during runs (no matter the climate), so I always carry a hand-held water bottle on my runs that are longer than 45 minutes, especially in the summer months. Carrying water takes some getting used to, but the small annoyances are worth it for adequate hydration!
Should I try a sports drink?
Sports drinks can be a good option when you need to get in fuel before or during your run and you don’t want to eat something. Also, we tend to drink more when something is flavored. You may find you like certain brands or flavors better. When choosing to use a sports drink, consider that 1 cup (8 ounces) has 15g of carbohydrate along with electrolytes such as sodium. Drinking a sports drink will add calories and fuel in the form of carbohydrates for your run.
Here is some additional guidance on sports drinks vs. water.
Disclaimer: The above nutrition tips do not substitute for medical advice from a physician. Consult with your physician and a registered dietitian, especially if you have a known medical condition.
How are your summer runs going? Do you carry water with you? If so, how?
Favorite sports drink? Do you enjoy nuun/gatorade/tailwind?
Have a Happy Thursday! xx