Hydration 101: Runner Edition

Feb 24, 2023 | Ideas

A hydration strategy for runners helps prevent dehydration and maintain proper fluid balance during exercise. This can improve athletic performance, prevent fatigue, cramping, heat illness and ensure proper recovery post-run. A well-planned hydration strategy involves drinking adequate fluids before, during and after exercise to replace fluid losses and maintain optimal hydration levels.

Marathon runners can improve their hydration strategies by taking the following steps:

  1. Hydrate before the race: Drink enough fluids in the days leading up to the race to ensure you are fully hydrated when you start.
  2. Plan your fluid intake: Decide how much fluid you need to drink during the race and at what intervals, taking into account factors like the temperature, humidity, and your sweat rate.
  3. Use electrolyte replacement: Electrolyte replacement drinks can help replace sodium and other minerals lost through sweating, which can help prevent cramping and dehydration.
  4. Drink frequently: Aim to drink small amounts frequently rather than large amounts infrequently to help ensure proper hydration.
  5. Listen to your body: Pay attention to your thirst and other signs of dehydration, like dark yellow urine, dry mouth, and fatigue, and adjust your fluid intake accordingly.
  6. Practice: Try out different hydration strategies during training runs to find what works best for you.

Hydration strategies depend on several different factors for the individual such as weather, intensity, duration of the run, personal sweating rate, etc. so it’s important to listen to your body and adjust your hydration strategy accordingly. However, here’s a good starting point: 

  • Pre-run: Drink 17-20 ounces of water 2-3 hours before the run, and then another 7-10 ounces of water 10-20 minutes before the run.
  • During the run: If the run is less than 60 minutes, water may be sufficient, but for longer runs, consider a sports drink that contains electrolytes. Aim to drink 7-10 ounces of fluid every 10-20 minutes during the run. 
  • Post-run: Drink 16-24 ounces of water or a sports drink for every pound lost during the run. Weigh yourself before and after the run to determine fluid loss. Other rehydration strategies for post workouts include adding electrolytes to your water 

There are plenty of hydration myths out there, so it’s important to understand what’s real and what’s not, especially as a runner training for a race. To get started, understanding your unique sweat profile will help you know when and how much to hydrate and allow you to train and perform at your peak. 

Learn more about how SweatID is helping runners and athletes sweat smarter and sweat safer. 

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