All that it takes is one tough run in the heat to realize that you may need to figure out how to hydrate correctly. However, there are many different hydration options available to runners and fitness enthusiasts and sometimes the number of options can be overwhelming.
It may not seem obvious to everyone but plain water is the place to start. If you start using multiple hydration products all at once and you don't feel well, how will you know what product caused the distress? We suggest starting with plain water to see if that might be just what you need. In all honesty, for most runners and walkers water is enough if you are exercising less than an hour and the temperature is cool and humidity lower. If you're going out for less than 40 minutes or so you could even go without hydration but it's not a bad idea to have some anyway just in case.
It's important to begin your run or walk already hydrated. It's good to drink about 16 ounces a couple of hours before your run so you will be well hydrated before you start. It's not the best idea to drink a lot in the last hour before your session unless you have access to bathrooms along on your route.
While running, around 9 to 12 ounces an hour is what most research says you'll need. However, just like the recommendation to drink 8 glasses of water a day, following those guidelines blindly can be wildly inaccurate for you. A person that weighs 160 pounds drinking 12 ounces an hour is entirely different than a 110 pound person drinking the same. Start on the low end at around 9 and then increase or even decrease as you get used to what works for you. Remember that it's better to drink smaller amounts more frequently than to drink it all at once.
If you're going to be running longer than an hour or in hotter or more humid conditions, you should add some type of electrolyte to make the running easier. Sodium, calcium, potassium, and magnesium are all electrolytes that you can get from either your solid nutrition or hydration products. The levels of electrolytes in your body can become too low or too high when the amount of water in your body changes, which it will when you are exercising longer, in hotter weather, more humid conditions or a combination of any of the three. Supplimenting your hydration with the added electrolytes that you can get from gels or an electrolyte product will help you to have a more successful and enjoyable run or walk.
Electrolyte options are available in several different combinations that you can choose from. The most common are powders or tablets you mix with plain water
or electrolytes mixed into energy chews and gels. What you decide to use depends upon what you want it to taste like, the consistency you like, how you plan to carry your hydration or nutrition, and how long your run or walk is going to be. In reality, this all is an experiment to figure out an electrolyte replenishment strategy that will work for you!
A tablet like Nuun mixed in 16 ounces of water will give you the electrolytes that you need as would Gu or Honeystinger gels or chews. Howerver, it's important to remember that if you're going to be out for longer than an hour or racing that you'll need to have some additional carbohydrates to continue at the intensity you start at. Since I don't want to have blog that takes you an hour to read, I'll tackle those requirements soon in another post.
For more information about nutrition, check our our earlier blogpost or come in for some in-person advice. We also have a full range of hydration bottles that will work for any situation.
tHE ORC cOMMUNITY
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