Staying hydrated is important for anyone striving to maintain a healthy mind and body. It’s especially critical, however, for runners. Hydration in sport is vastly different from hydration in daily life, and running hydration plays a vital role in helping runners reach peak levels of performance. With so many “expert tips” about running hydration, it can often be difficult to break through the clutter and determine what really works. Ultimately, running hydration is personal; a hydration routine that works for one runner might not work for the next. That being said, we’ll help you get started by laying out some general running hydration facts so you can discover what works best for your body. Keep these tips in mind for your next long run so you can continually push for that next PR.
Maintaining a Solid Hydration Baseline is Key
Hydration isn’t a singular event. Rather, it’s a continual process. Before you focus on hydration in sport, you’ll want to make sure your basic daily hydration is up to par. Since running causes you to lose lots of fluids, you’ll want to ensure you’re staying hydrated even before running enters the equation. Think of it as maintaining a good baseline. While it can vary, the basic daily fluid intake guideline for men is about 15.5 cups (or 3.7 liters). For women it’s 11.5 cups (or 2.7 liters).
If you’re not already, consider carrying a water bottle with you throughout the day to ensure you stay hydrated.
Running Hydration is a Before, During, and After Run Process
Once you’ve mastered hydration in daily life, you’ll be better prepared to focus on hydration in sport, or running hydration. Here is a process to fight dehydration, starting before your long run.
Before the Run
Most runners are well aware of the need to rehydrate after a run, but several don’t grasp the importance of hydrating before the run. The body needs plenty of fluids, especially when it will be losing them through perspiration. Plan ahead by storing up on fluids before the run. A good rule of thumb is to take a drink the same number of minutes before the run as the run is long.
For example, if you’re doing a one hour run, it’s best to hydrate no sooner or later than one hour before the run.
During the Run
Some feel they can get through a long run or marathon on adrenaline alone. While adrenaline may provide a short burst of energy, it’s not the most effective on long runs. Staying hydrated will help you maintain a more consistent level of energy and help keep your stamina up.
For shorter runs (15 to 30 minutes), you may not need to carry fluids with you on the run. Be sure, however, that you rehydrate and refuel after the run. In all cases, it’s best to experiment and listen very closely to your body when it comes to hydration.
How much should you drink on a longer run or race?
While it varies from person to person, the typical recommendation is to consume about 4 ounces of fluids per mile.
Keep in mind that heat and humidity may mean more fluids are required. Also, it’s important not to over hydrate during the race as it could lead to nausea, bloating, and decreased levels of performance.
What should you drink during a long run or race?
This is a frequent question among runners. While drinking water during a long run is important, there are other drinks that can offer even more benefits. Many runners turn to an electrolyte replacement drink. Some prefer to use salt tablets or salt sticks (about 1 gram per hour of high intensity running). While electrolyte replacement drinks offer many benefits, other options are even more beneficial. Drinks like Hype from PROGENEX, for example, not only help you rehydrate, but also increase your body’s ability to fight fatigue and maintain focus. Hype contains special peptides that fight fatigue by providing LNAAs (large neutral amino acids) and branched-chain amino acids. These acids work to slow down serotonin synthesis, aiming to decrease the body’s perception of exertion and mental fatigue during long runs. Supercharge your water with Hype and you’ll see the difference when hydrating with it during your next run.
After the Run
Recovery after the run is critical for any runner who wants to keep their body in top condition. Look for a recovery drink that you’ll take around thirty to forty-five minutes after you cool down.
Be sure to rehydrate with water or an electrolyte replacement drink in order to avoid uncomfortable headaches and inflammation. Be careful not to take in fluids or food to quickly, as it may take some time for your stomach to settle.
Proper Clothing Makes a Big Difference When it Comes to Running Hydration
This fact is so simple, yet so many fail to remember it. It’s that hotter clothing makes you sweat more, and the more you sweat, the more fluids you lose. In other words, your clothing plays a bigger role than you may think when it comes to staying hydrated during your run. If it’s hot out, try to avoid wearing black, as it can attract the sun and make you sweat more. Turn to light- colored, breathable, lightweight materials. If it’s cold when you start your run, layering can be a good solution so you can strip of layers to ensure you don’t overheat.
There are Several Ways to Carry Your Fluids
When it comes to how you carry your fluids on your run, there are several options. It comes down to preference. Some runners enjoy the convenience of a backpack hydration pack, while others prefer a hydration belt to hold water bottles around their waist. There are pros and cons to each. You’ll just want to find the one that suits you best.
Don’t Sweat It: Closing Thoughts
While these guidelines are a helpful starting point, keep in mind that each runner is different. Stay in touch with your body and use these tips as guidelines. As you hone your hydration techniques, more enjoyable and faster long-distance runs await.