Hydration for runners


Now that we are right smack in full on Summer weather, running can be difficult. The hot weather makes it a little tougher on the body, mind, and training. So what happens when you run, you sweat. What happens when you run during the hot days? You sweat so much you feel like you went swimming!

Well, its time to talk about hydration and its benefits. Being hydrated is VITAL to your performance and overall health. empty_water_bottle-t2

Dehydration is where your body lacks the amount of fluids, mainly water, to function properly. Our body is made of more than 60% water, so when we sweat, breathe, and use the bathroom, we are using up that fluid percentage. So if we are constantly using our reserves, we can become dehydrated.

Here are some symptoms to look for in case you suspect dehydration on your run:

– Dry mouth

– Weakness

– Dizziness

– Palpitations- where it feels like your heart will jump out of your chest.

– Sluggish running/walking

– Fainting

– no longer sweating (webmd.com)

What do you do if you believe you are suffering from dehydration:

– Get to some shade quickly

– Sip some water or electrolytes to replace lost nutrients

– Suck on some ice pops or ice chips

– Remove or loosen your running clothes

– If you are alone, call someone to come help you, otherwise don’t run anymore

Now that you know the danger of dehydration, let’s prevent it from happening!

If you are gearing up to run, hydrating before is important. The days leading up to a double-digit run, drink extra fluids!! The night before a run, you MUST hydrate. So you aren’t waking up every hour to go pee, drink plenty of fluids at dinner and keep going until maybe an hour or two before you head to bed.

Make sure you don’t over hydrate, yes it is possible to do so. Forcing yourself to swallow more fluid than your body really needs while running may cause GI distress, and in extreme cases it can cause a dangerous condition known as water intoxication, or hyponatremia, too much water. The best advice I can give is to drink to your thirst. Or keep an eye on your urine color. I know many of you do a urine check before a race to make sure you are properly hydrated.

Runner urine check
Runner urine check

The clearer your urine is, the better. Shoot for a very pale yellow. It is a safe assumption that you are well hydrated for a run. Drinking 2 cups of water about an hour and a half or so before a run can top off your fluid levels, and giving you enough time to go to the bathroom before the race.

If you are headed for a 30 or 45 minutes run, you should be OK to just take off, so long you had enough fluids the night before. If you are running double digits distance, make sure you have one last small cup of water 30 minutes before.

When you are out there running, keeping yourself hydrated is VERY important. If you run less than an hour, drinking just water is fine. But anything more than that you will have to add some electrolytes, like Vega Hydrator or gatorade to restore what you lose when you sweat. I’d say to just drink as you feel you need it. There are many articles that state you need a certain amount of fluids, but I believe everyone is different and can tolerate things at different levels. By that I mean, drink as much fluids as you need to stay hydrated. You SHOULD drink often but small sips to avoid getting bloated, or having that belly full of fluids sloshing around.

Luckily in the place I run at, it has a water fountain after about each mile, so I stop to get small sips. I cannot drink much water because it makes me go to the bathroom a lot and it makes it uncomfortable. Especially when I have to do deep in those bushes! And I KNOW I am not alone on that.


When I run a half or marathon, I alternate my fluids on the race course. The sports drinks at the races tend to be too sugary and don’t sit well with my stomach. But I know that I need some electrolytes so I take small sips at the hydration stops. I also don’t sweat much but my sweat is salty which means I need to hydrate with electrolytes as I am losing important nutrients through my sweat. A great indicator if you have salty sweat is to taste it or if you see white sweat rings in your hats, or see crystals on your skin from sweating. Water alone won’t do. Those crystals are sodium, aka salt. Sodium leads to greater fluid retention, facilitates thirst, and helps to maintain proper electrolyte status, which is essential for a great run.

Another option is to carry your own hydration concoction. Since I train with the Vega hydrator, I do mix it and divide them into bottles that I either carry on my hydration belt, or keep it in the car. Just keep in mind that wearing a hydration belt can and will slow you down if you are trying to do faster runs. It would be smart to train with the fluids that will be offered at the races so that you have a plan on race day. Keep in mind that on a hotter than usual day, you will need extra hydration. Just keep an eye on the color of your urine.

If you want to make your own sports drink mix: Combine 1 cup of water with 1 cup of 100 percent fruit juice and add 1/8 teaspoon of salt. Mix well and enjoy.


When you are done running, hydration is still a MUST! You have to replenish what was lost. After you finish, drink to quench your thirst and then some. Keep drinking to restore all the water you lost. Some runners know exactly how much fluids to drink by weighing themselves before the run and after. For every pound lost, drink 24 oz.

I usually can’t drink or eat much after running long. I have to let my stomach settle and then I can easily down 2 bottles of gatorade. The only thing that I can stomach immediately after running is the Vega Recovery Accelerator. Yes I need more than just 12 oz. of recovery fluid, but as I post stretch, my stomach settles enough for me to drink fluids and eat. Again, keeping an eye on your urine, you can see how hydrated you are by the color.

Make sure you choose your fluid wisely, such as, 100 percent fruit juice, diluted fruit juice, non-fat or 1 percent milk, or soy milk. These nutrient-rich beverages provide not only fluid, but carbohydrates and electrolytes as well.

Where are my chocolate drinkers at?!? Chocolate milk is an excellent recovery drink because it not only provides carbohydrates, but contains the electrolytes sodium and potassium which are lost in sweat. The quantities contained in milk are much greater than that contained in sports drinks. It also contains calcium and vitamin D, which are essential for strong bones, as well as protein, which is important for muscle recovery.

Make sure you all stay well hydrated out there! The heat hasn’t been forgiving and I wouldn’t want you all to have an improper run due to lack of hydration. Keep that water next to you all day and avoid getting thirsty, it’s your body telling you that it needs fluids. Take a peek at your urine color and stay pale yellow and you are good to go!





4 responses to “Hydration for runners”

  1. The Dude Run Run Avatar
    The Dude Run Run

    So what you are saying here is beer is not a recovery drink at the end of my race? 😉 All joking aside this was a well written article. As I progress into my longer runs I am having to consider stashing water or something on my route. I am one of those weirdos who hate carrying things and cant stand the running packs. It’s all mental I know.

  2. wanderwolf Avatar

    Reblogged this on deutscherwanderwolf and commented:
    I kind of think this works as a pretty good PSA.
    Plus, people have been asking me how I run in such temps (other than that, compared to South Florida, these temps are fine, baby!) and I think much of being able to handle the temps are due to being properly hydrated. I drink at least three liters of water during times like this.
    Also, something I learned last year was that dew-point is a good indicator of how difficult the run will be, more than the heat-index.

  3. Tammi Avatar

    Thank you for this. I live way north but we have had unusually high temps for this area. Being a fairly new runner still the heat has been a struggle to deal with. I have been trying to stay hydrated but this really shows me why its important. Thanks for the info.

  4. […] regardless of your hydration choice, all runners must pay attention to the signs of dehydration and ensure that they stay hydrated. Additionally, one must understand that runners can become […]

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