Many runners find themselves overwhelmed when exploring running hydration for the first time. We know the importance of staying hydrated, and the further we run, the more we become aware of our need to drink water while running.
However, with so may tips, tricks and different opinions, it can be hard to know what is actually best for our bodies.
Luckily, learning how to stay hydrated while running doesn’t have to be so complicated.
Should you drink water while running?
For some runners, drinking water before and after a run is enough to keep them hydrated and avoid feeling thirsty. But when your runs last for longer than 45 minutes, or you’re heading out on a particularly hot day, you should highly consider drinking water while running.
Drinking during your run is crucial during long runs and in hot weather.
Many runners are surprised by just how thirsty they feel when running long distances. While the idea of running hydration makes sense, figuring out the specifics can feel surprisingly overwhelming.
If you’re heading out for a long run or running on a hot day, plan to drink water while running.
Below, you’ll find everything you need to know about running hydration. Check out how much water to drink before, during and after running, plus the scoop on sports drinks and electrolytes.
There are many ways to stay hydrated while running – whether you prefer carrying a running water bottle, or using a hydration pack or belt.
Stay hydrated this running season and set yourself up for successful, healthy training!
A Guide to Running Hydration
The first step to staying hydrated on the run is learning exactly how much water you should drink before, during and after a run. Follow these guidelines as you prepare for your long runs, but keep in mind that every runner is different.
You may find that you need to drink slightly more during a run in the summer than in the winter, or that you feel especially thirsty after a hot and humid run.
When you’re really pushing the pace and working hard, you might need to drink water even if your run doesn’t last longer than 45 minutes.
Listen to your body and adjust based on the signals it is sending. Creating a successful running hydration strategy involves preparation and flexibility during each run.
How much to drink before a run
In terms of hydration, what you do before a run plays a crucial role in your success during the run and recovery afterwards.
Aim to drink about 16 – 20 ounces of water before your run. Try to finish drinking at least 15 minutes before leaving for your run to provide your body with time to absorb the water and avoid it sloshing in your stomach as you start your run.
Starting a long run with plenty of fluids in your system will help avoid dehydration and provide your body with the energy it needs to stay moving.
How much to drink during a run
Drinking water while running is a bit more challenging than just fueling up beforehand. Not only can it feel like a puzzle trying to find that sweet spot between too much and too little, but the actual act of drinking while running proves to be quite a challenge.
If you are heading out for a short run that will last less than 45 minutes, you can safely forgo drinking water during your run. Make sure to drink before and after running to avoid dehydration, and enjoy your time on the run.
On the other hand, if you are heading out for a long run lasting more than 45 minutes, you’ll need to drink water during the run.
As a general guideline, you’ll want to consume about 5 ounces about every 20 minutes, or 10 ounces for every 30-45 minutes.
Some runners find success drinking 10 ounces all at once, while others find that this is too much for their stomach to handle. If this is the case, try spacing it out by taking smaller sips of water more frequently while running.
How much to drink after running
One of the key components of running hydration takes place after you are actually finished running. Making a point to drink water after running is crucial for a healthy recovery and training season.
The amount of water you need to drink after a run will depend on the length of your run, your size and the amount of sweat you lost.
Listen to the signals your body is sending. If you feel thirsty – drink water. Rehydrate as soon as you return and continue to drink more water than usual throughout the next 24 hours.
6 Tips to Stay Hydrated While Running
Consider sports drinks or electrolytes
Drinking water by itself provides so many benefits for your body, but can’t replace lost calories or electrolytes.
When you are running really long distances or in exceptionally hot weather, it might be beneficial to test out some sports drinks or other electrolyte packets to help reduce what you lose in sweat.
There are many drinks out there that can aid in recovery and performance on a run – from quick drinks like Gatorade to lighter options in the form of powder. If you’re really struggling to stay hydrated on long runs, try adding some extra electrolytes to your hydration strategy.
Plan a route ahead of time
A simple way to make running hydration easier is to strategically plan your route. Try running in areas where water fountains are present, such as local trails or parks.
Not only will these water fountains be helpful for refilling water bottles or hydration packs, but they might provide cold water on a hot day.
Having access to water on the run makes it so you don’t have to carry as much with you. You’ll be able to take quick sips whenever you pass one and fill up your gear for the next section.
Invest in a running water bottle, hydration pack or belt
Staying hydrated on a run involves quite a bit of skill. Successfully drinking water while running requires practice and patience, as many new runners discover that it is considerably more difficult than they might expect.
Test out different running water bottles, hydration packs and fuel belts until you find what works best for you.
Handheld running water bottles make drinking water on the run convenient. You always have easy access to your water bottle, and can usually carry quite a bit at one time. However, many runners find holding a water bottle to feel especially cumbersome during a long run.
Hydration packs make drinking water while running easier than ever – all you have to do is lift the straw to your mouth. Your hands are free throughout the run and you can carry enough water that you never have to worry about refilling. But on the flip side, some runners find that these hydration packs make their backs sweat during a run that is already hot.
Running fuel belts are another option for runners who are looking to stay hands-free during the run. These belts usually fit multiple, small water bottles, which helps distribute the weight evenly on your body. However, getting the water bottle in and out of the belt can sometimes be complicated while running.
Test out different running hydration options to find what works best for you.
Set a hydration reminder
We usually don’t need a reminder to drink when the sun is out in full force, but it’s a bit easier to forget during those cloudy, cooler runs.
A great way to ensure you stay hydrated when running long distances is to set regular reminders. Set an alarm on your phone to remind to drink water you after a certain interval of time. Keep this alarm continuous throughout your run so you don’t even have to think about staying hydrated.
Drink small amounts consistently
Many runners find that drinking more than a few ounces of water at a time during a run leaves their stomachs feeling a bit uneasy. A simple way to combat this is to drink small amounts more frequently.
Rather than drinking 10 ounces of water ever 40 minutes, try drinking 2 ounces every five minutes. Sip your water frequently while running and you’ll probably find that you consume the same amount over time as you would when drinking larger amounts.
Drink before you feel thirsty
One of the biggest mistakes new runners make during their long runs is waiting until they feel thirsty to drink water. If you are hydrating correctly, you should be drinking water frequently enough that you never truly feel thirsty while running.
Try to drink water often, even when you don’t think you need some. Stay ahead of the game by being proactive with your hydration strategy. If you find yourself starting to get thirsty, you’ve likely waited too long.
Running hydration doesn’t have to involve anything fancy or complicated. Overall, remember that you know your body best. We all require different amounts of fluids on long runs, and listening to your body and responding to its signals is the best hydration strategy you can follow.
Make a point to always drink water before, during and after your runs and you will set yourself up for maximum success.