Life is full of daily challenges. Staying hydrated shouldn't be one of
them. If you struggle to make sense of the seemingly ever-changing
advice on what, when and how much to drink, especially while on the
run, join the club. But it's not impossible to sort the facts from
fiction. Base your hydration habits on research-based guidelines--not
these four common hydration myths—and you'll stay fueled and run
More: What Does Your Sweat Taste Like?
Myth #1: You must drink eight glasses of water a day.
reality, fluid needs vary widely, both for individuals and on a
day-to-day basis. For women, the Institute of Medicines' Food and
Nutrition Board's general recommendation is 91 ounces (about 11 cups)
of total water daily, which can come from beverages (including
caffeinated drinks) and food sources. On average, water and other
drinks fulfill 80 percent of our total daily water needs and food
supplies 20 percent.
More: Stay Hydrated with High Water Content Foods
Female runners should include nutrient-rich beverages such as 100
percent fruit and vegetable juices, herbal tea and low-fat milk for
calcium, vitamin D and protein. Delivering energy, nutrients and
electrolytes, meal replacement beverages and electrolyte replacement
drinks are a good option before, during and after prolonged or intense
Myth #2: It's best to drink like your fast running buddy.
One-size-fits-all rules for drinking during exercise are out. Sweat
rates vary greatly among runners, especially during prolonged exercise
or in hot weather. How much you need to drink depends on how much fluid
you need to replace, regardless of well-intentioned group guidelines.
In fact, major authorities like the American College of Sports Medicine
(ACSM) and the American Medical Athletic Association (AMAA) have moved
away from giving definitive formulas to runners, especially
marathoners, about how much to drink while running.
More: Measure Your Sweat Loss for Optimal Hydration
Take responsibility for yourself. Daily hydration needs are influenced
by your physiology, fitness level, running speed, the clothing you wear
and the weather. A good rule of thumb: Pay attention to the color of
your urine throughout the day. If it's dark yellow, you're not drinking
Your bathroom scale can also help. Weigh yourself before and
after a run (in the nude is best). If you routinely drop more than two
percent of your body weight on a single run (for example, about 2.5
pounds if you weigh 130 pounds), you need to do a better job meeting
your fluid needs while running. To find your hourly sweat weight, add
the weight lost during a one-hour run with the ounces you drank. The
total number of ounces is what you should consume during each hour of
running to avoid dehydration.
More: 15 Hydration Facts for Athletes