Hydration for runners is an important element of training. Not only is running performance affected by poor hydration, but there are some health risks that could be involved.
If you have ever run out of energy in the middle of a run or experienced cramping or dizziness, then you have likely suffered the side effects of poor hydration. When running in hot weather, there is also a risk of heat stroke which can put your health in danger.
Do not assume that you must be taking long runs to worry about hydration. For runners, hydration is important regardless of the distance and the weather.
It becomes more important when running in hot weather or when running a long distance, but it is also important for shorter runs and runs in moderate to cold weather.
Hydrating before the Run
Proper hydration for runners starts long before your feet hit the pavement or the trail. If you are going on shorter runs, make sure you are drinking adequate amounts of water or other fluids a day or two before the run.
If you are running for ten miles or more, then you should be well hydrated for at least a few days prior to the long run. It is not possible to hydrate your body during the run if you start out dehydrated.
The best way to ensure you are well hydrated for all of your runs is to drink a lot of water and other fluids every day. Make it a natural part of your life and you won’t have to worry about hydrating for an upcoming run or race. You will naturally be well hydrated at all times. This is good for your overall health as well as your running performance.
Hydrating during the Run
You don’t want to drink too little during a run, but you also don’t want to drink too much. Even if you start out well hydrated, you can become dehydrated over the course of a long run without proper attention to hydration for runners.
If you drink too much at once, your stomach will feel bloated and uncomfortable. This makes it difficult to finish the run.
Some runners do take the “drink when thirsty” approach, but it is always best to give a little more attention to hydration for runners.
If you stay hydrated all the time, whether running or not, then you may be able to take a few sips throughout your run as you feel it is needed.
If you are not so great with hydration between runs, then a more detailed plan will be essential.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind for race day or training runs:
- If you are running longer distances, make sure to drink sports drinks as well as water during the run.
- Water the sport drink down so the simple sugars do not prevent the energy from reaching your muscles.
- The faster your run, the more fluids you will need to take in during your run.
- Drink smaller amounts throughout your run, rather than stopping and chugging it down all at once.
Hydrating after the Run
You need to continue drinking water or sports drink after your run. You need to replenish moisture lost during the run. One good rule of thumb is to drink until you notice your urine is clear or a very light yellow. That is always your sign that you are well hydrated.
If you run frequently, then you need to pay attention to these guidelines of hydration for runners all the time. Make it a point to stay hydrated all the time so you are always ready for your runs, regardless of distance or pace.
High Quality Fluids
Hydration for runners goes beyond just drinking water. Not only does plain water get boring and bland, but it also falls short of completely replenishing the body after a long run or race.
Drinking water is certainly healthy and essential for runners, but there are times when you will need to consume sports drink as well. A sports drink will replenish electrolytes and other important nourishment that can run low when you are sweating.
There are also some fluids that dehydrate the body, and those should be avoided within a few days of a run or race.
Alcohol is the most damaging to your dehydration plan, so make sure not to go out drinking during your training season. If you have ever tried to run through a hangover, you may know that it is very unpleasant and potentially dangerous.