Hydration Tips for Runners

runner drinking water

Summer running is hard. With increased temps and humidity, it can feel like you need gills rather than lungs on even an easy-paced run.

The warmer the weather, the more you sweat and the more your blood volume lowers. The more your blood volume lowers, the harder your heart has to work to deliver oxygen to your hard working muscles. What would usually be an easy-paced run feels more like a max, all-out effort.

Staying on top of your hydration, particularly for runs longer than an hour, is the key to surviving running in the heat.

So when should you hydrate? There are three time periods to pay attention to when thinking about hydrating for a run.

Before you head out for your run, drink a cup or two of water but not so much that you will be looking for a place to pop a squat within the first mile.

During your run, you'll be sweating a lot more, so you'll need to replenish some of what you've lost. Plan a route that has water fountains, stash water bottles along the way or use a hand-held bottle, fuel belt or hydration pack. If it's really hot and humid or if you are a heavy sweater, an electrolyte drink would be helpful as well.

If you opt to carry your water, what are your options?

There are a variety of handheld bottles on the market that have a strap that secures to your hand. For an extra dose of refreshing hydration, put your hand-held water bottle in the freezer the night before your long run. The ice will melt soon after you start, so you can enjoy ice cold, refreshing water during your workout.

If you don't like to carry anything in your hands while you run, a hydration pack or a waist fuel belt is another option. You could also use the freezer method with a hydration pack except fill the bladder half way with water before stashing it in the freezer. When it's time to pound the pavement, fill the remainder of the bladder up with water. The cold from the ice on your back will keep you comfy and cool in the heat, and you'll have ice cold water to enjoy.

It's best to try a variety of different hydration options. Your friend may love running with a hydration vest but you may hate it. It's really about personal preference when it comes to carrying water during a run.

When you are running long, have a plan for when to hydrate. Plan to take sips of water at least at every mile beep from your GPS watch. If you need more of a reminder, most GPS watches can be programmed to beep at you every 15 minutes with a reminder to drink.

After your run, continue to drink plain water or an electrolyte drink. A recovery drink is another option if you don't feel like eating anything to replenish your muscles. An ice-cold recovery smoothie or a simple glass of chocolate milk will do the trick to rehydrate and replenish as well.

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