Staying hydrated during the summer months can prove difficult when putting in those extra miles required by your training schedule. Whether your training for a 5k, half, or full marathon, you should pay close attention to your water intake. Becoming dehydrated can lead to headaches, fatigue, muscle cramps, or even heat stroke. You should take precautionary measures to ensure that your body is well hydrated and ready to take on those longer runs.
But how much water should you drink before, after, and during your run? It’s equally important to hydrate through all of these stages. Lets take a look at a few pointers to keep you on track with your hydration needs.
1. Drink plenty of water in the days leading up to your long run. You will know that you are hydrated when your urine becomes clear. Dark urine is a sign that you need to be taking in more fluids.
2. As a general rule, you should consume 6 to 8 ounces of fluid every 20 minutes throughout your run. There are many ways to carry water with you: hydration belts, handheld water bottles, and hydration vests such as Camelbak’s Marathoner Vest. You may even be able to find a route that has water stops along the way.
3. Water isn’t the only thing you lose through sweat; precious electrolytes (salts) are also secreted through our pores during rigorous activities. Among these vital ions: Sodium, Chloride, Potassium, Magnesium, and Calcium. There are many ways to replenish your losses: sports drinks, energy gels, or fresh whole foods such as dates, bananas, sweet potatoes, and green leafy vegetables.
4. Determine your rate of water loss. Before heading out for a run, weigh yourself completely nude. When returning from your run, weigh yourself again (before drinking any fluids). Generally speaking, one pound of overall weight loss equals one pint of water loss. For example, if you lose one pound during a 30-minute run, then you should be consuming about 4 ounces of fluids every 15 minutes.
5. Drink to thirst. The newest scientific research shows that the best way to determine your water needs is through thirst. Although it seems quite obvious, drinking to thirst will prevent under hydration, but also keep you from over-hydrating which can lead to hyponatremia (abnormally low level of sodium in the blood).
6. Remember to hydrate your body after your run. It’s normal to have light yellow urine after a long run. This is an indication that you are in need of re-hydration. Drinking 20 – 24 ounces of water for every pound in weight loss should get you back on track.
7. Stay proactive. It is difficult to recover from dehydration during your run. Once you have crossed that line, it is hard to reverse with your body still in motion. Take the necessary steps to ensure that your water needs are met, allowing you to finish your planned runs.
Remember that each person is unique; no two people will lose the same amount of fluid (or electrolytes) at the same rate. Be mindful of your personal needs and test to see what works best for you. Prepare for those extra hot days; take an extra few ounces of water with you and perhaps some hydration tablets (containing electrolytes).
How do you stay hydrated during your long runs? What is your favorite method for carrying water? Do you use water or sports drinks?
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