Doesn't it feel that this will be your year? The idea of 2020 looking and sounding balanced, is a good start. As you know, I love to talk about the five pillars of health and wellbeing. One of the pillars is hydration. We all seem to be attuned to how to hydrate throughout a normal day. But what about hydrating when running? Let's delve a little further.
How Much I Should Drink?
The current advice about running and hydration is very simple: Try to drink to thirst. Scientific evidence says that drinking when you're thirsty can help prevent underhydrating (which can lead to dehydration) and overhydrating, which can lead to hyponatremia (low blood salt level due to abnormal fluid retention).
The general rule of thumb for fluid consumption during runs is: Take in 100ml every 20 minutes.
Runners running faster than 8-minute miles should drink 150-200ml every 20 minutes. During longer workouts (90 minutes or more), some of your fluid intake should include a sports drink to replace lost sodium and other minerals.
Signs of Dehydration
Be aware of the signs that you need more fluids. Early symptoms include:
Feeling fatigued or sluggish
As dehydration progresses, symptoms can include:
What to Drink
There are options beyond plain water for rehydration. Some are only appropriate for longer, more intense runs.
Drinking your water chilled helps cool your body down, which slows sweating (and therefore the associated loss of water). Research shows that drinking cold water or even an icy slush can improve and extend your performance when running. Plus, most people prefer the taste of cold water, so they may drink more water when it is chilled.
I remember as a kid, my mum forcing down Dextro tablets to give my body a surge. Now, you can get the same from a bottle of sports water.
When you run for more than 90 minutes, especially when you are sweating, you should begin to use an electrolyte replacement sports drink. Depending on the conditions, you may alternate it with water or switch to only sports drinks at that point.
Sports drinks, such as Gatorade or Powerade, contain electrolytes such as sodium and potassium, the components of table salt. When you are running, your body loses electrolytes through sweat. You've probably seen the salt stains on your running hat and tasted the salt in the sweat running down your cheeks.
Since electrolytes help your body retain fluids and may prevent muscle cramps, you need to replace them. After 90 minutes, you also need to take in more carb calories to maintain your effort, and so a sports drink that provides both carbs and electrolytes is helpful. Some runners find that it's sometimes easier to get their calories through liquids rather than solid foods, especially during the later stages of a long run or race. If you don't care for the taste (or sugar content) of commercial sports drinks, you can make your own.
Runners who don't sufficiently replace electrolytes during long runs or races can risk over-hydration. Hyponatremia, which is low blood sodium concentration, can occur when athletes drink excessive amounts of water and don't replace salt lost through sweat.
Some runners like to hydrate with coconut water or use it as a recovery drink. It contains both carb calories and some electrolyte micronutrients, including potassium and magnesium. It also contains naturally occurring sugar that could provide an energy boost. However, it does not contain as much sodium as sports drinks do.
Some research shows that consuming caffeine before a race or a long training run can help with performance and endurance. And if you depend on coffee in the mornings, it's fine to drink some before an early run.
Caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it can increase the need to urinate. So keep that in mind in terms of bathroom access on your run. But caffeine doesn't increase the risk of dehydration, so you do not have to worry about that. While not everyone can tolerate coffee or other caffeinated drinks before a run (it can cause stomach upset), if you can it is fine to drink it. Personally I've been caffeine free for coming up to 6 years and see more benefits in water. However! Everyone is different
The carbonation in soda can also upset your stomach, causing gas and bloating. So it's usually not a good idea for before or during a run. And of course, the sugar in non-diet fizzy drinks can promote weight gain. If you are drinking fizzy drinks, you are not drinking water or some other healthier beverage. However, during endurance events like marathons, some runners like a bit of cola to give them a burst of energy (via sugar and caffeine). I personally wouldn't recommend this.
Along with what you're drinking and how much, when you drink matters too. Your hydration strategy will vary depending on where you are in your day and in your run.
Especially f you're doing a long run or race (more than 8 to 10 miles), it's important to make sure you're well-hydrated during the few days leading up to your long run. You know you're well-hydrated if you void large volumes of pale urine at least six times a day. Drink plenty of water and non-alcoholic fluids. Not only does alcohol dehydrate you, but it can also prevent you from getting a good night's sleep.
It's not a good idea to run with a hangover because you'll most likely be dehydrated when you start running.
An hour before you start your long run or race, try to drink about 1/2 litre of water or other non-caffeinated fluid. Stop drinking at that point, so that you can void extra fluids and prevent having to stop to go to the bathroom during your run.
Prior to a run of any length, make sure you're hydrated from the start by drinking at least 400ml right before you begin your run.
Drinking on the Run
You will need fluids every 15 to 20 minutes during your run, so you need to either carry it with you or make sure it is available along the way (say, at a drinking fountain or by running a loop that takes you back to your home or car where you have extra water). Drinking small amounts frequently helps your body absorb the liquid better, and you won't have that feeling of it sloshing around in your stomach.
Set a timer on your watch or phone to prompt you to drink. Or use landmarks or mile markers as reminders. One study found that athletes who had a hydration plan and wrote it down drank more than those who didn't have a plan.
If you forget to drink and get behind on hydrating, it's hard to catch up. You may have to walk for a bit to conserve energy and cool down.
If you don't have access to water on your running routes, you'll have to carry your own fluids with you. You can try handheld bottles, packs (like backpacks or vests), or fuel belts; it's a matter of personal preference. However, if you're running in a race, you shouldn't have to because there will be water stops on the course.
Post-Run Hydration and Recovery
Don't forget to rehydrate with water or a sports drink after your run. Some people feel the effects of dehydration hours after their run because they failed to drink fluids after they finished. Weigh yourself again after your run. You should drink 600 ml of water for every 0.5 kilo lost. If your urine is dark yellow after your run, you need to keep rehydrating. It should be a light lemonade color. Also depending on what you ate the night before, you may experience unique smells. Such as asparagus can have a pungent smell.
Common Hydration Mistakes
Staying alert to these common problems can help you stay healthier and more comfortable during your runs.
Drinking Too Little
Make a plan and stick with it. Be careful not to run out of water during a long run. You can't always count on drinking fountains (they can break) or stashing water along your route (someone might take it, or it will get too hot to use).
Drinking Too Much
The issue is not so much taking in too much liquid. It's drinking too much without replacing sodium, which can lead to hyponatremia. If you gain weight during a run, you are drinking too much. Add in a sports drink, salt shot, or salty snack to replace the sodium you're losing when you sweat.
Drinking the Wrong Fluid
As noted, drinking plain water when you need electrolytes could be trouble. It's also a problem to drink something new and different during a race. Work out your hydration plans and preferences during training, or else your performance (or stomach) might suffer.
Gulping Instead of Sipping
When you're running, your digestive system slows down because blood is diverted away from it. So taking giant gulps of water can be hard on your belly. Try small sips instead—even immediately after your run, when you might feel like chugging a whole bottle of water. Take it slow.
As a general rule of thumb, you're looking at sustaining 2litres of water per day per person on top of you pre and post hydration techniques. The whole reason why we want to keep hydrated is to help the muscles and organs stay in really good condition to continue working in the manner they are attuned to.
If you're needing a little help with hydration on a daily basis....Grab your own printable weekly Water Tracker here to help you keep on track.
Thanks for Reading