The Importance of Hydration in Running

Drink up, me hearties, yo ho!

Christina Morrow / Run Camp Series - Vol. 6

When it comes to hydration, my family finds me annoying. I am the person who will ask everyone else how much water they’ve had so far today and promptly fill up a glass regardless of the response (to be fair, the response is rarely encouraging). So when it comes to running or any sort of workout, I’m so firmly on the hydration train I’m the damn conductor. But I have good reason and I’m not alone! Read on, hydration skeptics, and you too will be riding the hydration rails with me!

Dehydration can easily cause you to bonk on race day. (Bonk definition: /bäNGk/ Informal. In endurance sports such as running cycling, to hit the proverbial wall. A condition of sudden fatigue and loss of energy.). Dehydration can cause your muscles to cramp and leave you crawling towards the finish line (or med tent halfway along the course). It can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea - all things that make finishing your race unlikely. Personally, I’m prone to migraines when I get dehydrated. Since you’re training for a race, I think it’s a fair assumption that you also want to finish said race. Hydration is key. And not just on race day. It’s necessary to train effectively. And part of effective training is figuring out what works for your body - you need to know the amount of fluids your body requires and of what those fluids should consist. Simply guzzling water on race day can lead to hyponatremia (which I’ll elaborate on a bit later) which will also cause you to, you guessed it, bonk and bonk hard.

You need to know the amount of fluids your body requires and of what those fluids should consist

So, now that you want to hydrate properly, what exactly does that look like? Well, the short and somewhat inaccurate answer would be to take in three to six ounces every 15 to 20 minutes during a run. The better rule of thumb, however, is to determine your sweat rate, replacing 75% of the fluid lost in sweat during a run. To figure this out, you can weigh yourself before and after about an hour-long run. That difference in weight (assuming things didn’t go in or out either end) is the amount that you sweat given an hour of work, 75% of which should be replaced during that hour.

Now you know how much to drink, but equally important is what to drink. As I mentioned before, simply drinking water can lead to hyponatremia, which is essentially an excess of water intake causing an electrolyte imbalance. Sodium, magnesium and potassium are all lost through sweat and therefore need to be replenished via an electrolyte drink. Figuring out what product works for you is key.

Equally important to replenishing fluids during a workout is just staying hydrated throughout the week. This can do wonders for your mood, appetite, sleep, digestion, the list is truly endless. But it also means that you’re not starting at a deficit when you go into your long runs. So, drink up!

Shameless plug time: we’re here at Gazelle Sports to help you find both the right electrolyte drink and method of transporting that drink on your runs. From handheld water bottles, to waist packs to backpack-style hydration options, there’s a method of carrying the fluids you need to train and race like a champ. Come see us today!