Even though summer is coming to an end, it doesn’t mean that we have to throw our running hydration strategy out the window. I know that I am more likely to skip bringing the handheld (similar to this one from Nathan Sports) when the temperatures go under 70* when I run. But you still need to have the right hydration strategy… for you.
Yes, that’s the important part: you need to find the running hydration strategy that works for you, your body and your training.
All of us are different; we are all made different and we all have different requirements when we run. It took me a really long time to realize this, unfortunately.
What should your running hydration strategy include?
Ideally, this covers three areas:
When you aren’t running
You should be hydrating throughout the day… usually, I try to drink at least half my body weight in water in ounces every day. I will sometimes drink more than that if I have a double workout or if it’s really hot out and I’m sweating up a storm (or if I ended up eating really spicy food). But generally, this is the right amount of water for me to feel like I have enough.
While you are running
Beyond that, you need to figure out what your hydration strategy should be on the run. If it’s not a million degrees outside, I generally bring a handheld with me if the run is in the double digit range (sometimes I get lazy and this pushes up to like 13 or 14 miles).
I’ve gone back and forth with this… depending on the race, I may not bring any water or electrolytes with me. If they have enough stops, I don’t need to worry about bringing my own. Smaller races, though? I definitely need to bring some along. I generally try to alternate between water and Gatorade between every stop. Usually I just get a gulp, so it doesn’t overwhelm me and slosh in my stomach.
What counts as hydration?
Well, actually, not really. Alcohol tends to dehydrate us, so always make sure if you have a beer, you have lots of water. That also makes the next morning more enjoyable too.
A solid running hydration strategy includes a combination of water and electrolytes. I’ve tried a couple of different things over the year. Remember when I was a Nuun ambassador? I drank this stuff religiously and loved it. I mean, it’s super easy to carry and just pop a tablet in your water and wah-lah, you have electrolytes! Plus it tastes pretty good. Sadly, it didn’t agree with my body and caused some GI issues… so I had to stop drinking it 🙁 but I know that it works for a lot of people.
Now I drink a lot of water and rely on a few different beverages for my electrolytes. After a run, I love drinking Minerals & Antioxidants, which not only has electrolytes but some great minerals essential to your recovery. During my run or fitness class, I am a big fan of the unflavored water from Propel –> it doesn’t have sugar or calories like other drinks, but still gives you all the sodium and potassium that you need (fun fact —> you need sodium because we lose it in the highest concentration when we sweat. And, sodium helps support better hydration because it stimulates thirst and promotes fluid retention).
How do you find the right strategy for you?
This is the hardest and most important part. It takes a lot of trial and error, actually (see Nuun story above). You need to find what works best for you and your body. What works for me, may be devastating for your body and vice versa. I do love reading about the elites and how they handle hydration, as well as seeing what other people post on social. It helps to know what other things are out there and create a combination that works best for you and your body.
As a side note, I think this is an area where I am constantly learning and changing. Which makes sense, because our bodies change as we go through training each and every time — especially depending on the seasons.
And how do you know if it’s working?
Easy: you feel amazing. Your running hydration strategy should be part of a comprehensive fueling strategy to make you a successful runner. You will feel a difference if you are hydrating yourself right. Your muscles will be happy, your body will feel good and your recovery won’t take as long.
What does your running hydration strategy look like? Any other tips to share?
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