H20 On-The-Go: The Importance Of Staying Hydrated During Your Run
By Ryan Light, Running/Anxiety Coach
Runners know that it’s crucial to stay hydrated during a run, especially during hot weather. Dehydration makes it harder to lose heat, makes the heart beat faster and lowers the volume of blood, which puts runners at risk for heat exhaustion or the more dangerous heat stroke. Here are some ways to stay hydrated during a run.
Replace Sodium and Electrolytes
During a run, sodium is lost through the runner’s sweat, especially if they’re doing a long run. A runner can actually see that they’re losing sodium because their dried sweat leaves white streaks on their clothes. Sodium is a vital electrolyte and an athlete can run into problems if levels drop too low. Energy drinks are a solution, but many have too much sugar. They should either be diluted with fresh water or the runner should dissolve hydrating tablets in fresh water and drink according to instructions. However, plain, clean water is good for a short run of less than a half an hour. People who drink well water can call a company such as the Water Systems Council to find out how clean their water is.
Find Out Personal Water Needs
There are still sports medicine experts who believe that people should drink at least eight 8 ounce glasses of water a day, and increase that number if they run. But everyone has their own physiology, and what might work for one person won’t work for another. One tip is for a runner who’s going to participate in a race to weigh themselves, run for an hour in an area whose terrain is similar to that of the race, then weigh themselves after the run. The difference in weight is how many ounces of fluid they shouldn’t go over per hour of the race. Finding out the right amount of fluid to drink is important because the runner not only loses sodium through sweating, but can lower their levels of sodium by drinking too much.
Despite all the photos of runners carrying big, sweating bottles of water, this is not the most comfortable way to stay hydrated. The good news is that there are several ways to carry water and keep the hands free and the mind focused on running. The bottle can be strapped to the hand by a bottle holder, the runner can wear a belt that holds special water bottles, or they can wear a hydrating vest. Long-distance runners benefit from a hydration pack.
Having a plan for keeping hydrated during a run isn’t that complicated. The right balance and levels of fluids and electrolytes are easy to maintain and make running healthy and fun.