Hydration: A Summer Running Refresher
The sticky summer weather is upon us which means it’s time for a little refresher on hydration! In general, it is important to stay hydrated for all types of summer activities, but running in particular has a way of making people extra sweaty. In fact, depending on intensity, duration, temperature, and humidity, the body can lose more than a quart of water per hour. As such, runners run a higher risk of dehydration and should pay special attention to the amount of liquid they are consuming before, during, and after each run. (Psst…if you’re partaking in another popular summer activity, drinking cold beer, be extra mindful of your water intake!)
Last spring, on a particularly hot and humid day, I set out to run 12 miles per my marathon training plan. The weather was warm and I assumed that the city water fountains were on and ready for the drove of Minneapolis runners and bikers. They weren’t. I stumbled home a couple hours later, blind from sweat, covered in salt, and near-delirious, and sprinted inside the house in search of sweet, sweet water. I had made a rookie hydration mistake by not planning ahead – don’t let this happen to you!
When to Hydrate?
Hot and sticky weather makes pre-run hydration essential. If you’re a morning runner, aim to drink plenty of water the night before, and at least one full glass before a run. If you’re an afternoon or evening runner, aim to drink 40-60 ounces of liquid throughout the day. All runners should monitor the color of their urine (yes, really!) to ensure proper hydration – a light, lemonade shade is best.
On the Run
Hydration on the run doesn’t have to be confusing or complicated. Short distances are O.K. without replenishment, but if you’re planning to run for longer than 60 minutes, bring a handheld water bottle or hydration vest. (Find our favorite water bottles in our 2016 summer gear guide.) You can also plan your running routes around public water fountains, but make sure they are turned on before heading out for a long run. (I’ve been burned more than once on West River Pkwy!) For the more savvy and organized runner, try dropping pre-filled bottles along your route, or ask a friend to crew your run on bike. Once you have your fluid accounted for, aim to drink according to thirst (or 3-6 ounces every 20 minutes), plus a little more if it’s particularly hot or sunny.
Even if you’ve hydrated properly before and during your run, it’s still important to replenish with liquids after a steamy workout. Vitamins and minerals such as sodium and potassium are vital to your overall health, and are lost through sweat. Find a sports drink or homemade alternative to offset any lost nutrients. A good rule of thumb is to drink 16-24 ounces for every pound of body weight you lost during exercise. And don’t forget to continue drinking throughout the day!
How to Hydrate?
Water, of course, should be the number one liquid you consume for hydration purposes. It supports nearly all of our bodily functions and is a serious player when it comes to staying healthy.
However, if you’re looking for extra electrolytes, carbohydrates, or other vitamins and minerals, there are a variety of excellent drink products on the market.
Several of our writers love NUUN for it’s plant-based, additive-free formula, tasty flavors, and ability to be used with any bottle or hydration system. Many other runners and household-name elites rave about Generation UCAN because of their specialized complex carbohydrate formula and delicious taste. A few more great hydration products include traditional sport drinks like Gatorade and Powerade, Clif SHOT Electrolyte Drink Mix, and the all-natural favorite, coconut water.
Regardless of your drink of choice, be sure to drink plenty and often!
How do you hydrate for sticky summer runs?
There are so many different products and gadgets that help runners stay hydrated. What are some of your favorites?