Tips for Staying Hydrated

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.

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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.emileFullSizeRender (1)

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. 

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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

 

 

 

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17 thoughts on “Tips for Staying Hydrated”

  1. I run as soon as I wake uo, which means I don’t follow the “How much should I drink before I run” advice. In fact, I usually drink a glass of water with my morning medicines just as I’m heading out the door. Then when I come back I have another glass right away. I’m probably not drinking anywhere near enough water pre- and post-run, especially since one of my meds is a diuretic. Maybe I should carry a bottle with me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been carrying plain water with me on my runs between 5-10 miles and then water with a nuun tablet in it for runs longer than 10 miles. I have a Nathan handheld water bottle plus my routes have a good amount of water fountains along them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Jane,
    I once attended a running ‘hydration’ lecture where we were advised to measure our “sweat rate” by weighing ourselves before and after a run. 1 litre is equivalent to 1 kg, so if you lose 1kg during a one hour run (assuming no other intake), then you are losing 1 litre per hour (or half a litre per half hour of course). Apparently a 2% loss in weight can lead to a loss of performance, so you basically need to keep your weight above the 98% – by taking in sufficient liquid per hour, based on your sweat rate. It sounds logical, but I’ve never really followed it!
    You have of course to be careful not to over hydrate as that can lead to hyponatremia, which is certainly more dangerous than dehydration and can be lethal.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great advice! Hydration can make or break a race or even a training run.

    I typically don’t carry water with me for runs less than 60 minutes, but sometimes up to 90. Unless I know I’ll be exerting myself or if I know it will be hot. Then I typically use a camelbak handheld which is great. For really long or hot runs I’ll use an Osprey
    Rev 1.5 hydration pak. It gets a lot of water 1.5L with great wearability and a few pouches for extra food and gels. Perfect for long training runs or long races with big distances between aid stations.

    I like Nuun for my own runs but on long races I’ll typically fill my handheld or pack alternately with Tailwind and water. Too much Tailwind gets me in the stomach.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your note & rec on the Osprey hydration pack. I haven’t gotten used to anything other than a hand-held at this point, but really should check out backpacks. I agree re- tailwind! Love nuun.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I like the Osprey Rev line a lot and their Customer Service is top-notch. Replaced two leaky bladders for me (one of which was my fault) with no questions and extra parts. 0 problems since then.

        Packs take a bit to get used to but you’ll love the extra water and nutrition storage.

        Like

    1. I never heard of Nuun until this blogpost so I Googled it. It sounded interesting until I read some reviews complaining they changed the formula and are now adding Stevia. Something about artificial sweeteners triggers my gag reflex. :(

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Interesting post and very useful, thank you. I take water for anything over 45 minutes in the summer. I try to beat the heat by going out very early (when I was marathon training for (what I thought would be) a cool weather mara, I would breakfast at 3am, go back to sleep, then head out at 6am when it was cooler. That helped a lot. I’m a sweater, too, so take plain water or a very dilute squash with me – I prefer the taste and get a bit of sugar. I tried Nuun but found I could never get rid of the slight fizziness, even preparing it hours in advance!

    Like

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