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Tips For Staying Hydrated When Running

9 Incredible Tips for Staying Hydrated While Running

It’s no secret that running is one of the great joys of life. There’s just something about the open road, having the wind in your face as fresh air fills your lungs and the steady rhythm of your pace on the asphalt.

One of the keys to having the best experience running long distances is to make sure that your body has everything it needs to perform optimally. That means providing good nutrition, including plenty of water. And yet staying hydrated while running can be challenging. 

This article takes a look at tips for staying hydrated during long runs so that you won’t risk cramping or worse. Keep reading to discover the inside scoop on how to give your body the water it needs when you don’t have time to slow down.

1. Start Hydrating Early

One of the keys to staying hydrated is to start drinking water as early in the day as possible. This helps to provide your body with the water it needs to stay cool over the course of your run without risking a heavy stomach right before race time.

It’s important to start drinking small amounts of water as soon as you wake up. Keep a bottle of water with you throughout the day so that you can take small sips rather than gulping. 

2. Drink Water Before Every Meal

Here is another useful tip for water management before a long-distance run. Drinking water before meals will help keep you hydrated for your run while also reducing the size of your meals. This is a diet tip many people have used for years. After all, consuming a glass of water immediately before a meal helps you feel less hungry, thus reducing the impulse to eat more than you really need.

Feeling overloading with food or water at race-time can result in sluggishness that will sap energy and slow you down.

3. Drink According to Thirst

It’s also important to keep in mind that everyone is different. This, of course, means that each person naturally has different physical needs, including the amount of food or water you’ll need for optimum performance during a long-distance run. 

The rules for food and water consumption aren’t chiseled in stone. There’s actually a number of factors that should be considered when it comes to nutrition for runners. These include age, physical size, and even gender. There are plenty of variables that can impact each individual in specific ways that might not affect anyone else. So always listen to your own body before relying on the suggestions of others.

It’s really pretty simple: Drink when you’re thirsty. Take the time to determine the amount of water you’ll to drink in order to best at your best, both in everyday life and when prepping for race day.

Runner grabbing water Canaan Valley Half Marathon
A smiling runner grabbing a cup of water at one of the water stops during the Inaugural Canaan Valley Half Marathon

4. Consume Plenty of Electrolytes

Never underestimate the value of electrolytes. Why? Because your current level of electrolytes will directly impact your hydration status.

This means that water alone isn’t enough to keep you hydrated once you start moving and sweating. In fact, the more you sweat without replenishing your electrolytes, the more quickly you will dehydrate, which can create a dangerous situation if you attempt to push through the discomfort.

The key for most runners is to consume fluids that contain electrolytes or take salt supplements during their race. Salt supplements can make a huge difference in maintaining healthy hydration levels, thus providing you with the energy that your body requires for optimum performance.

You’d be wise to look for sports drinks that contain electrolytes yet aren’t overly sugary. 

5. Keep in Mind that Everyone Sweats Differently

As mentioned previously, everyone is different. This includes the way you sweat. Each body has different needs and consumes fluids at different rates, thus you will become dehydrated at a different rate than your fellow competitors.

This is why it’s crucial to learn to listen to your body. If you notice that you’re sweating heavily, this could be a sign that you’re not getting enough of the right kinds of fluids. Keep in mind that this can quickly impact your energy as well as your cognitive health.

On the other hand, if you find that you don’t seem to sweat much even during extreme exertion, then this could be a sign that you require less water than those around you.

6. Limit Caffeine & Alcohol

When it comes to proper hydration, caffeine and alcohol aren’t your friends. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to avoid caffeinated or alcoholic drinks altogether, but you should definitely limit these types of drinks prior to long-distance running.

Believe it or not, drinks that contain caffeine or alcohol will actually contribute to dehydration. You might think that all fluids help to hydrate the body, but this notion is false.

In fact, drinking a cold beer on a super hot day is actually one of the worst things you can do. This will simply accelerate the dehydration process, and could potentially result in a life-threatening situation when conditions are extreme enough.

7. Take Small Sips From a Hydration Pack

Another helpful tip is to wear a hydration pack during your run. This will enable you to take small sips during your run rather than gulping larger amounts of water before or after your run. 

8. Figure Out What’s Right For You

Ultimately, you need to experiment. Find the right balance that works best for you. Talk to your doctor about your athletic goals and health-related concerns. The more information you have, the easier it will be to put together a running plan that will keep you properly hydrated and performing at your highest level.

9. Don’t Overhydrate

And finally, be careful to not overhydrate. Drinking too much water can significantly slow you down during your run, and can also wash away electrolytes and minerals that are crucial for keeping your body operating efficiently.  

Important Tips for Staying Hydrated During Long-Distance Runs

Long-distance running can take a huge physical toll on your body. Fortunately, these tips for staying hydrated can help maximize your performance when it matters most.

Click here for a pace calculator that will help you track your performance during your next big run.

Picture of Robby McClung

Robby McClung

This article was written by the editorial staff of the Canaan Valley Running Company and Robby McClung. Robby is the founder of the Canaan Valley Running Company. You can read more in the about section of the website on Robby and the Canaan Valley Running Company.