How to hone your hydration

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Now that it’s getting hotter..

As a runner, it’s easy to think just drink more water to stay hydrated when it gets hot outside. But, it’s a little more complicated than just drinking more water. Even pro runners who have a team of experts dialing in their every need struggle with hydration. You have to factor in heat, humidity, acclimation, altitude, intensity level, and how much you drank before you ran, in addition to your individual sweat rate. Everyone’s needs are different.

Hydration status

Sweat reduces your blood volume, which means your heart is working harder. Becoming dehydrated by 2 to 3 percent will slow you down, and anything over 4 percent could land you in a medical tent. The easiest way to determine whether you’re dehydrated is with a pee test,. Pale yellow is where you want to be. This test should be done before you run. But if you’re training for a half marathon or longer, an additional step is required. You should calculate your sweat rate by doing the following: weigh yourself before and after an easy hour-long run in which you don’t drink any fluids. Every pound you lose is equivalent to 16 ounces of liquid you need to replace. So if you lose two pounds during an hour-long run, drink 32 to 48 ounces of liquids in the two to four hours after to replenish. 

Don’t rely on thirst

Thirst isn’t a good indication of your fluid loss because as soon as you drink, nerve endings in your tongue and throat send sensory signals to your brain to reduce your thirst before your body has absorbed enough water. It’s best to plan your hydration ahead of time.

  • Running up to 60 minutes: drink water. Aim to drink 3 to 6 ounces of water every 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Running 60 to 90 minutes in hot and humid conditions: drink water and electrolytes. It’s recommended to start with 750 mg of sodium per one liter (32 ounces). 
  • Running 90 to 120+ minutes: drink water, electrolytes and eat carbs. For workouts up to 150 minutes (2.5 hours) it’s recommended to take up to 60 grams of carbs per hour. For long runs over 2.5 hours, up it to 90 grams of carbs.

Keep in mind electrolytes become even more important for performance in three to four hours of continuous exercise. Also, pay attention to the heat and humidity index as that will affect your hydration levels as well.


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