Running: Our Guide to Hydration & Dehydration
What is the secret to staying hydrated when you’re running, enabling you to train or race at your best? We’ve all read how important it is to drink when doing sport but when, how much? It’s not so easy to get that perfect balance but it’s vital to a successful race/run.
So, whether you’re a guzzler or swear off running with a bottle, if you get muscle cramps or feel drained after hot weather running, let’s talk hydration….
Knowing how much you need to drink per hour of exercise is the challenging bit. Research suggests that we need between 300-800ml of liquid per hour, depending on conditions and the individual. That is a large margin of difference, so how to narrow it down?
Firstly, trust your thirst. Then consider the weather. Aim for 300ml in moderate temperatures and 400ml in hotter conditions, but carry more so you can increase if you feel the need.
Experiment, write down how much you drink and how you feel in the 24 hours after your run. Check your urine immediately after your run and the next day. Then adjust what you drink next run. If you write down the results you won’t be struggling to remember and you will establish exactly what works for you.
Now, what to drink? You will need to experiment but there are two basic options: Water plus electrolytes or plain water combined with gels. If you choose the latter you need to make sure you’re consuming enough gels to hit the electrolyte balance, just one gel on a 90 minute run is not going to work.
So if you are consuming good quality gels (see below for my recommendations) every half hour or so and sipping water regularly you only need to experiment with how much water you need – as laid out above.
If you don’t use gels much then mix your water with electrolytes (see Hypotonic options below)
If you experience stomach cramps, a feeling of indigestion, or like your stomach is uncomfortable from being full of water, then drinking less is not necessarily the solution, especially if you feel light headed when you cut down water consumption. Instead you need to increase the sodium going into your body. Personally this is my experience on hot, long runs. A combination of nuun in my water plus electrolyte-rich gels has solved the problem.
Finally, if you suffer from an upset stomach during intense workouts, try Active Root. The ginger solution calms your tummy and provides energy and electrolytes at the same time.
These quench your thirst, absorb faster than water and supply a little bit of energy.
These absorb at the same rate as water, quench your thirst and also give you an energy boost. Tailwind appears here again as you can alter the amount of water you mix it with.
Hydration package when you’ve only got access to water, like during a race.
Carry some salt chews (they taste fine) plus whichever gels you like best of these sodium packed options. The Gu Watermelon, Salted Caramel and Choc peanut have the most sodium.
Hydration package for your training runs
Choose one solution for your water bottle and supplement with some gels for addition energy. On cooler runs you can ditch the gels and just rely on Tailwind in a stronger dilution.
How to carry water on your runs
These belts are an investment – I’ve used my Fitletic belt on every long run for 3 years and it’s still perfect. Even the bottles survive well as long as you clean them properly.
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