Staying hydrated is important to overall health and very important if you are an endurance athlete. So here’s a guide to help you figure out how much water to drink, how to stay hydrated while running and how to find the best hydration equipment and supplements for your body.
As with most things related to health – every body is different. Your needs, goals, health and preferences must be taken into account when developing your hydration plan. Use an operating log and meal planner to help keep track of all relevant factors like – your activity, weather, thirst, performance, bathroom needs, etc.
This hydration guide includes …
- Moisturizing basics to get started
- How do you know how much water to drink
- Tips for staying hydrated long-term
- How to Create Your Own Hydration Plan
- Links to humidification equipment options
First, learn about your body and the factors that determine how much water you need. Even if you are not training for a race or running long distances, it is a good idea to know how much water and fuel your body needs to feel your best. From there you can use this knowledge to help support your athletic goals.
- Your perfect body. You need to know how much water your body needs as a baseline (when you’re not running or sweating) to feel your best. Have a reusable water bottle near easy to drink as needed. You can count a lot of drinks in your total consumption (tea, juice, soda, etc.).
- A factor in activity and climate. Once you know how much to drink each day – add enough water (or sports drinks) to replace any fluids lost during the run. Things that will affect how much you need include: If you sweat a lot, this is a long workout, it’s too wet or too dry, etc.
- Take notes and adjust as needed. Check in with yourself after your run – have you been thirsty, have you felt dehydrated or exhausted that dehydration might have caused? What color is your urine (before and after running)? Things like changing seasons and the intensity of your training = will affect how much you need to drink. So check yourself out often when anything changes.
Most runners just want to know – how much water do I need to drink? But – every body is different. So, running coaches and sports nutritionists hesitate to say, ‘You need to drink exactly XX An ounce within 5 miles. This varies with the hostility, the day, the foods and drinks they have already consumed, and so on.
So, while the exact formula is the easiest way to calculate your water needs, this is unrealistic given all factors. But there is one rule of hydration that most experts seem to agree with … Drink until your thirst.
Unless you are in extreme conditions related to your health, the distance you run, or the weather – it is probably best to listen to your body and drink when you feel thirsty.
Factors that affect your water needs include:
- Your activity (length and difficulty)
- Your fitness level
- How much you sweat
- Whether you are adapting to the environment
- Your diet and hydration levels are in the running
- Other health or medical conditions
Keep in mind … a lot of these things change quite often – so you need to be aware of these factors and be prepared to adapt as needed.
For example: If you’ve been training for a half marathon using a 16-week program – starting in May. The weather may get hotter and wetter in the summer months and your running distances will increase. But your body will also adapt to distance as your endurance improves. All of this affects your hydration needs.
Create a hydration plan that helps you do your best. You have to know this while training for your race. It is important to adjust as needed.
Hydration tips for half or full marathon running training
- Start running long distances well hydrated. (I go to race weekends thinking – water is my job the day before the race.)
- Moisturize while you run by carrying a hydration pack or water bottle, or apply fluids throughout your run where you can stop and drink as needed. Either way – have a plan and practice while training.
- Use sports drink supplements that contain electrolytes to help you balance your water and fuel needs. Practice this while training until you know the perfect race day combo.
- Drink until you feel thirsty after your run.
- Watch the color of your urine to help assess how your hydration plan is working. Use this information, along with how you feel and your performance, to determine what (if anything) needs more work.
According to a study in the Journal of Sports Training – urine color can be a useful way to determine hydration status. [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4741257/] But you need to pay attention to this regularly and during training to use it as a tool to create your own hydration plan.
If you want to use this method, it is important to know the color of your body’s urine well on humid days, before a run, after a run and any variations on severe weather days.
Check out this chart from Georgia Urology website Which names the different colors of urine and what they may mean. * This is not a substitute for medical or health advice. Always consult your doctor before trying any new exercise or diet and if you suspect you have a health problem. *
If you want to determine how much you sweat and how much you drink, you can calculate your sweating rate using the formula below. This is a little complicated so make sure you have already mastered all the basics before doing this exercise.
Also – this calculation gives you an idea of how much you sweat versus drinking while running, but unless you do so as part of a scientific study under controlled conditions … it’s still not entirely accurate. And these numbers will change based on factors like weather, altitude, exercise, etc.
Body weight before running – body weight after running + fluid intake – urine volume / exercise time in hours
We see This guide is from USA Track and Field For complete directions.
Using sports drinks or supplements that contain electrolytes can be a good idea for some runners. Since this post is already long – I’ll follow up with a post on the best electrolytes for runners soon!
To peek … my favorite electrolytes right now are:
- Start each run well wet. This requires that you know your “normal” needs and intentionally get enough water on a regular basis.
- While running – use hydration equipment when needed. If you are running for a long time or in extreme temperatures – use a hydration belt or jacket to save water while you run. Shorter rides, easy jogging, and cool temperatures may mean you can wait.
- After running – Your body will be re-hydrated after running according to feeling thirsty. (Don’t overdo it – it’s dangerous to drink too much.)
- Use urine color as an indicator Your hydration levels (along with how you feel, weather, sweat rate, etc.)
- Create your own hydration plan. Record all relevant information and use it to create a personalized hydration plan for you.
Keep working with these …
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* Always consult your doctor before trying any diet or exercise. If you have any medical history or feel you may have a health problem – see your doctor as soon as possible. This is not medical or health advice and it is not a substitute for personal medical assistance or diagnostics.