Hydration and exercise is a pretty basic equation, right? You run, you sweat, which causes your body to lose water, salt, and other electrolytes. To counteract this, you drink to replenish the loss in water and electrolytes.
Although a relatively simple concept, it becomes more complex when you think about what you should drink, how much, and when?
Did you know our body literally needs water for our system to function properly and effectively? Our body is made up of 70 percent water; our blood is 90 percent water.
So, what’s a runner to do?
I run in the morning, meaning I’m already dehydrated before I begin. What works for me is to start hydrating at a time that is equal to the duration of my planned run. So if I have a 60-minute run, I get up early enough to begin hydrating about one hour prior to my workout. This gives my body enough time digest the water prior to running while still reaping the hydration benefits.
If you are about to head out on a longer run or a very hot run, make sure that you are taking in both some electrolyte-replacement and water. Back off the fluids with about 30-minutes before your long run to prevent that sloshing in the belly sensation.
The best way to stay on top of your hydration is to drink while you run. Once you fall behind on your fluids, it’s hard to catch up and still continue running your best.
Your mid-run fluid requirements depend on how long you are going. If you are running for an hour or less, generally three to six ounces of water every 15 to 20 minutes is recommended. If you are running for one to four hours, three to six ounces every 15 to 20 minutes. Alternate between water and an electrolyte drink to help replenish the sodium, potassium and magnesium lost with sweat.
There are many options to ensure you drink while you run. One of the easiest ways for me is to purchase a fuel belt that comes stocked with four-ounce bottles that you can fill with water and a sports drink. If you are running on a treadmill, you can have water bottles on the platform. If you are running outside, you can also plant water bottles along your route or plan to run by a convenience store.
Once you have completed your run, continue to hydrate. My rule of thumb is to focus on hydrating for a similar time to how long you worked out, just like your pre-workout routine. One sign that you’re well hydrated is when your urine is pale yellow in color.
One of my favorite summer sipping alternatives is making popsicles with water, a nuun® hydration tablet, and fresh fruit. Mix it all up, put in Popsicle molds, freeze and enjoy.
There is no “one size fits all approach” to anything. The moral of the story is this: your body needs to recover from the losses you undertook during the exercise. You need to repair your muscles, refuel your tank, and rehydrate. So carry a water bottle with you and drink up!