Hydration can be a secondary thought during winter running, but it becomes a priority during summer running. Whether you are running in the heat or starting to build your mileage up for a fall marathon, you need to prioritize hydration to make the most of your training and stay healthy on your runs.
This month’s Run It Round Up will provide you with all of the summer hydration tips you need to keep running strong this summer. Be sure to check out the other posts linked at the bottom of this post!
Summer Hydration Tips for Runners
Record Your Hydration Habits In Your Training Journal
I was reviewing my training logs from marathon training last fall and noticed a theme during my 18-20 milers: I felt like I needed more water. In retrospect, of course I did – I was running 20 miles on sunny days in the mid-50s with just a little 10 ounce bottle of electrolyte water! By recording how much water you consumed on your runs and noting how you felt, you can develop a better idea of how you need to hydrate in training and on race day.
Don’t Forget Electrolytes
Have you ever felt on a long run or after a sweaty track workout that water doesn’t quench your thirst, no matter how much you drink? Or have you ever experienced stomach cramps during a race, despite drinking water? You may be missing electrolytes, which are minerals (sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and others) that are responsible for hydration and fluid balance.
Hyponatremia is a dangerous condition that occurs when your blood is too diluted from too much water and not enough sodium. When you drink too much water without any electrolytes, you risk hyponatremia. Since electrolytes help your body regulate fluid balance, not consuming electrolytes could lead you to drink more water in an attempt to feel hydrated.
Whether you are doing a long run, hard workout in the heat, or running a marathon or half marathon, take electrolytes along with water. How much you take corresponds to how much salt you lose in your sweat; if you are frequently covered in white streaks after a run, you are likely a salty sweater. Even if you don’t see salt streaks, it’s still better to take electrolytes with your water than risk cramping, dehydration or hyponatremia.
Experiment with different types of electrolytes in training for find what works for you. Ryan and I both use Enduropacks Electrolyte Spray, which is flavorless and carb/calorie free so you can use it with your fuel of choice. Nuun is another great alternative to the traditional sugary sports drinks. You can also make your own sports drink using coconut water, sea salt, and lemon, lime, or orange juice.
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Coffee Won’t Dehydrate You
Some runners will skip coffee before a long run or race for fear of dehydration. You may experience a diuretic effect if you never drink coffee and decide to drink a mug for the first time on race day. However, if you accustomed to drinking coffee, a cup before your run will not dehydrate you (as long as you are drinking appropriate amounts of water – don’t have just coffee before you rise and run).
If anything, the caffeine may help you run better in warmer temperatures, according to this 2007 study in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. Numerous studies, including this 2017 study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, indicate that caffeine can reduce perceived exertion in endurance sports – quite the opposite effect of dehydration.
Hydration Packs and Running Form
Even though that handheld water bottle may weigh no more than a pound, you are carrying your water bottle at the end of a swinging pendulum (ie your arm). Especially on long runs, the extra weight of the water bottle, as negligible as it may seem, can actually have a deleterious effect on your running form. Your arm swing may be hindered, which can lead to excessive swinging of your truck to balance out running and then lead to other biomechanical irregularities. This could cause injury, poor form, or at the very least fatigue earlier on in the run.
If you do run with a handheld water bottle, frequently switch which hand you carry it in throughout the run. You may choose to switch hands every mile or 10 minutes, but more often is better than only switching it at the halfway point (which is still better than not switching it at all). Or, if you are wearing shorts or capris with deep side pockets (such as my favorite Saucony Bullet shorts), you can stash your handheld in your pocket instead.
A hydration vest or a waist pack offers an alternative to the handheld bottle. Since these anchor around your core, you do not have to worry about an uneven force throwing off your running form. These will add some extra overall weight and a possible risk of chafing, so they are best reserved for training or trail races, rather than road races where aid stations are plentiful.
Hydration for Your Four-Legged Running Buddy
When you take your dog out on a longer run, you want to tend to their hydration needs just as you do to theirs. Don’t just let your pup drink from nearby ponds, which could contain bacteria. Bring plain water along on the run and use your hands or a small collapsible bowl to let your pup drink a small amount of water from based on this thirst. We have this Ruffwear Quencher Collapsible Bowl for hiking and running.
If you have a larger dog or a working breed, they can carry their water and bowl in their own hydration pack, such as this Ruffwear Singletrak harness that features pockets.
You do not want to restrict water from your pet after a run, but be careful that your dog doesn’t drink too much water within the hour following exercise. Some dogs will throw up or bloat if they consume too much liquid after the hard effort of exercise (especially in the heat) – and some dogs will lap up a large quantity of water if not monitored.
How much you give your dog depends on the size and the weather, but do not set out a large bowl for them to freely drink from. Give your dog a small amount of water (a small bowl or approximately 8 ounces) and then monitor from there. If they still seem thirsty, give them a small amount of water every 10-15 minutes. Once an hour has passed and you have fed your dog, then you can set out water dishes to let them drink at will.
Carly of Fine Fit Day shares her hydration tips and tricks:
Allie at Vita Train 4 Life explains what not to do to hydrate:
Nellie at Brooklyn Active Mama offers her must-have hydration tips
Angela of Happy Fit Mama shares her hydration tips to keep you running all summer long:
How do you stay hydrated during summer runs?
Do you drink coffee before your runs?
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