Staying Hydrated While Running: Top Tips
Staying hydrated while running is essential. Much like a car, the body needs a good amount of fuel before it can function properly. Especially when it’s always on the move, like you would be when training for a race.
The only difference? We don’t run on petrol or diesel. We run on water!
(And food, but water is the more essential of the two)
It can be dangerously easy to become dehydrated when running which will not only limit your running ability, but if left unchecked, could seriously damage your overall health too.
At The Running Bee Foundation, we’re all about giving back to our local communities and promoting active, healthy lifestyles through our amazing running events. One way to ensure you stay healthy is to drink plenty of water.
So if you’re gearing up for a race, or if you just run for fun in your spare time, and you’re worried you aren’t staying properly hydrated, here are 5 tips on staying hydrated while running:
Dont drink too much
Let’s start out at the opposite end of the spectrum…
As important as staying hydrated while running is, it’s also important to remember that over-hydration can also be an issue.
When we begin to push ourselves, the body can begin to trick you into thinking you need more hydration than you actually do.
This is most commonly caused by dry mouth and is usually more common when running in hotter conditions.
Here’s how it usually goes:
We’re running, we’re thirsty, we take a drink and get back to running.
All of a sudden two minutes later our mouth is dry and we need to take another drink.
If this sounds like something you experience regularly on your runs, when you do reach for that drink try not to down a drastic amount of water. Rather, take small sips just to take care of that pesky dry mouth.
Otherwise, you may begin to weigh yourself down, or maybe even cause yourself to throw up, if you drink too much.
Another good way to try and avoid drinking too much on a run is by taking a regular sized water bottle and not an oversized one.
An oversized bottle could tempt you to drink more than you need, whereas a regular sized one will encourage you to limit your water intake over the run and reserve it for when you need it most.
Many of us focus on topping up our hydration levels during and after a race. After all, we need to keep ourselves going when running and we need to refuel afterwards, right?
Even though staying hydrated while running is important, it’s also essential not to forget to hydrate the appropriate amount before a race or run.
Pre hydration will give your body ample time to let the water do its job, complimenting all the essential organs and helping to make sure you don’t run out of steam even before your run has begun.
The morning of a run, it’s recommended you drink at least two glasses of water two hours before the official start time. This will allow you to work the water through your system in plenty of time.
Then, in the thirty minutes before a race, take a smaller drink just to keep your body topped up.
Don’t forget, you’ll be drinking throughout the race so you needn’t worry too much about knocking back tons of water before you start.
Some people even find it beneficial to limit themselves before a race and just to focus on rehydrating when they’ve lost a significant amount of it through sweat.
It’s really whatever works best for you and your body. Everything in moderation.
Make no mistake; Water is the undisputed king of liquids to keep on your person when staying hydrated while running.
No other drink will keep you as well hydrated than good ol’ fashioned H2O!
Having said that, sometimes we need a little something extra to keep us going…
No, we’re not talking about performance enhancers (stay away from those!). We’re talking about electrolytes.
What are electrolytes? In simple terms they’re chemicals within the body that help our muscles do their job properly. And we can lose a heck of a lot of them during a hard run or training session!
There are various ways we can get them back – there are many powders and supplements available that help us replenish our stock of electrolytes.
But without question the favourite method is to pick up a sports drink of some kind. These are usually packed with all the electrolytes needed to keep you moving, and they do a pretty decent job of hydrating you to boot.
But don’t overdo the sports drinks. As we’ve discussed, water is still and always will be your best friend.
Drink enough on a daily basis
We could all do with drinking more water.
Neglecting our recommended daily intake is something we’re all guilty of. Probably because most of us are just too busy to remember to drink or we begin to get complacent.
Be honest, when was the last time you got to around lunch time and thought to yourself:
“I’ve barely drank anything today!”
Besides the odd cup of tea or coffee, of course. Which don’t do a very good job of hydrating us at all, by the way!
Just drinking on your race or training day is not enough. You need to keep your body at full capacity the rest of the time too.
That means drinking enough water every day.
Otherwise, by the time it comes to train or race, your body won’t be able to perform to its fullest potential due to an avoidable case of under-fuelling.
You wouldn’t leave your car’s petrol tank teetering just above zero, would you?
Don’t stop to drink
At some point, you will NEED to drink during your race. It’s inevitable if you want your body to last to the finish line.
But then the question becomes, if you do have a drink during your race, should you stop?
The answer? Probably not.
Firstly, if you stop to take a drink during a race you’ll be throwing yourself off the natural rhythm you might have set for yourself.
And it can be a real struggle to get yourself going again, both mentally and physically, if you’re really tired.
Plus, if your part of a popular race with hundreds of other runners, stopping dead in your tracks, or even pulling off to the side to take a drink, might cause an accident.
If you see race volunteers on the side lines handing out cups or bottles of water, the absolute best thing you can do it to grab it and keep on going.
The same goes for carrying your own water. It might be a bit awkward, depending on the bottle you have, but it’s most likely the best option.
The Running Bee Foundation seeks to enlighten people on options about leading an active, healthy lifestyle.
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