It’s recommended that the average person consume 8 glasses (roughly 64oz) of non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic fluid a day…we all know what that means though, WATER! However, runners are not quite the “average person” so therefore we can’t adhere to the same hydration tips. There are a few simple pointers to making sure you stay healthy, hydrated and ready to run! Between hydrating for normal runs, workouts, pre-race, and post-run/race recovery, there can be a lot of rules and tips to keep track of, we’re here to help!
Don’t simply rely on feeling thirsty to clue you in to the need to hydrate, keep a consistent hydration schedule, know the facts, know your body, and establish residency in Hydration Nation!
Guidelines to Tracking and Keeping up with your Hydration:
First up, the running classic, the pee test. It is in fact as simple as it sounds, check you urine for the proper color. Pale yellow or clear is the goal, don’t overthink it, just aim for avoiding the bright yellow color and certainly brown.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Instead of trying to pound through a gallon of water at a time, break it up into manageable 12oz cups every hour or so to keep track of your consumption and allow your body to hydrate fully. Plus that gives you a chance to take and retake the pee test a few extra times.
It’s always going to be a bit better to drink slightly more than the recommended 64oz per day than less. While you shouldn’t try to gulp down your weight in water, a recommended and easy rule for consistent exercisers is to drink 50% of your bodyweight in ounces of water per day. Stick to that tracking system and you’ll always maintain the age old adage of N.Y.U, No Yellow Urine.
Tips to Hydrating the RIGHT Way for Training and Racing:
Do not over adjust your hydration in the final few days before a hard training session or a race. Adding as little as an extra 2 cups (16oz) of water per day for the final 2-3 days before the big day is sufficient to guard against any potential hydration shortcomings. DON’T OVER DO IT! Hydrate properly throughout the week, stick to the guidelines above and don’t simple “water load” right before a hard training session or a race.
Don’t dodge salt, embrace it…but don’t fall in love with it. Losing too much sodium while you sweat can only increase your dehydration risks. A small salty snack or a little added salt to a meal can make all the difference when you start to sweat significantly during a race or training session. Add to that a little extra potassium (bananas, sweet potatoes, cucumbers) and magnesium (almonds, pumpkin seeds, kale), both of which also are contained in sweat and are necessary for hydration, and you’ll be good to go.
Sports Drinks: The Great Debate! While some people swear by the Gatorades, Nuuns, and Powerades of the world, others aren’t so sure. The key to understanding the sports drink debate is to know that while it’s a good idea to consume a beverage with 4-8% carbohydrates and electrolytes, not all are created equal and they should never be used to completely replace water. Sports drinks are really most beneficial during very strenuous exercise and have to be monitored carefully. Anything containing fructose as the primary sweetener is likely to cause an upset stomach due to slow sugar absorption. Finding the right drink for you (even if it’s a homemade half juice-half water combo) that provides the fluid absorption and energy benefits of a sports drink takes some trial and error but can be worth it.
Post workout/run hydration is key. If you’re a runner that is in the habit of weighing yourself before and after exercise be sure to try and replace each pound lost with 3 cups of water within the first 30min - 1hr. Remember that hydration occurs faster with a presence of sodium and that you need to replace your carbohydrates stores within 15-30 minutes, so a manageably sized snack or even a sweetened drink like fruit juice along with water should cover you until get to your upcoming meal.
Final one, and it’s a BIG one: Be sure to listen to your body, learn its needs in terms of hydration and NEVER experiment during competition. Use controlled training periods to experiment with different hydration techniques and fluids. If it doesn’t make you feel good, don’t do it, as simple as that!
Welcome to Hydration Nation! Now that you’re well on your way to full-time residency it’s time to take advantage of your new home and get out the door for some vigorous, hydrated, exercise!