Hydration 101 for runners

Man drinking from a soft flask while staring at the mountains in front of him

Dehydration is a phenomenon encountered by almost everyone at some point in their lives. Although often without serious consequences, dehydration does cause some discomfort: headaches, irritability, low energy, etc. It is important to stay hydrated to avoid these symptoms and allow our organism to function properly. Among other things, water helps regulate body temperature, eliminate waste, and supply oxygen to the blood.

The average person will need to drink 1.5 liters of fluids throughout his day. This need increases for runners, due to the higher level of activity. Hydration around a run is something to be thought of even before putting on your shoes.


Staying well hydrated during exercise

Several factors influence the quantity of fluids you will have to drink during you run. Your weight, your sweat level, your heat tolerance, and the weather are the main ones. While it’s important to stay hydrated throughout your workout, it is also important to listen to your body. It is a myth that by the time you feel thirsty, it is too late. Thirst is an indicator: listen to it before dehydration affects your performance and well-being. For most runners, this is equivalent to drinking 125-250 ml per hour of activity, and even more in particularly hot weather.

To prevent discomfort, prioritize small sips, even if that means drinking more frequently. About one mouthful per kilometer should keep the thirst away, without weighing down your stomach. Feeling waves with your every stride is not a good way to enjoy your run!

After a few trainings, you should have a good idea of how much fluids you need to drink while working out. You will then be in a better position to select which hydration product to bring with you depending on the distance you are covering.

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Hydration starts before you do

Drinking enough is not just for when we are moving. The body needs fluids even at rest, to replenish the losses caused by breathing. By making sure you are always well hydrated, you will have better blood circulation and more energy. Your body will be ready to push itself when you ask it to.

Drink frequently to avoid getting into a state of dehydration. Need a trick to remember to hydrate? Carry a water bottle with you all day long. Having it near you will encourage you to take frequent sips.


Choosing your drink

If you are running for less than one hour, water stays your best option in terms of hydration. It is when your trainings get longer that it becomes relevant to look at sports drinks. The longer you run, the more electrolytes you will lose and need to replace. You can also choose to take an energy gel or to mix it with your water to replenish your reserves, either during or after the effort.

To know if a product is right for you, pay attention to the nutrients in the drink or gel. Prioritize carbohydrates and sodium, which will replace what you lost during your run.

Read also: What to eat before and after a run


Optimal hydration is not something you will learn overnight. However, by paying attention to the signals your body sends you, you will get to know your needs. You will only enjoy you runs more!



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