Your running hydration plays a key role in how you feel during a run or race. It is one of the most difficult things to know when and how much fluid to take on your longs runs. Let alone on easy runs. It can come down to personal preference but it is important to know how and why you should apply hydration to the majority of your runs. Think of your body as a car. If you fail to properly fuel your car, it won’t run effectively.
The same goes for your body. We all know when to add fuel to our cars because of the fuel gauge telling us when petrol is low. Because your body doesn’t come equipped with such an easy-to-read indicator. It becomes more difficult to know when you need to hydrate.
So, why is it important to hydrate on your long runs? You know that feeling you get the day after a long run, dry lips, feeling lethargic, dark urine, cramps? This all comes down to hydration. After a long run you gulp any water to claim back that fluid you lost mid-run but why not do it during your run?
RUNNING HYDRATION -WHEN TO HYDRATE DURING YOUR LONG RUNS
The most important thing to realise is just how much liquid you need to take on as you run. That all comes down to how long you are going to be running for. If it is just a half-hour easy run, I wouldn’t worry about taking any hydration, unless it is a silly hot day.
To get the most out of your hydration, it is important to consume fluids before, during and after your run.
Before your run, it can be easy to drink too much water to be hydrated before you run. This can lead to you getting that sloshy feeling in your stomach of water jumping around. As a rule of thumb, your urine should be a light yellow or silver colour before you head out for a run. You then know you’re not going to suffer early on with dehydration from the start.
Like I said previously if your run is 30 minutes I wouldn’t worry about taking any fluids with you. Unless the temperature is soaring. For your long runs, that is going to be over an hour it is always best to take around 250ml of fluid on every hour that you run. This probably won’t hydrate you completely. It’ll keep you hydrated enough before you start to feel the effects.
It can be hard to hydrate during a specific long run session as you are going to be running harder and going to find it more difficult to drink as you run. That’s why practising this beforehand can be so valuable.
This is crucial to your recovery and feeling better the next day. As soon as you finish your run, start sipping on some water/carbohydrate drink/protein shake as soon as you get in the door, and throughout the day. Your body has a way of catching up on you with hydration. Although you may not feel dehydrated, Unless you have taken in fluid, a couple of hours after your run, your urine is going to be dark yellow and those hydration headaches are going to settle in.
RUNNING HYDRATION -HOW TO HYDRATE ON THE RUN
It is one of the most difficult things carrying a water bottle in your hand for a couple of hours. Not forgetting to mention how warm that water bottle could potentially get because of the heat radiating from your hands. Noone likes hot water on a run!
If you are familiar with the routes around you and you don’t mind doing a looped course. Drive out to where you are going to run and leave your bottles out en route somewhere safe. So that when you go running past it you can just pick it up and sip away! It also gets you used to taking on board hydration as you are running which is what you are going to be doing in a race scenario.
One of the most effective ways of taking on board hydration as you run is to get a hydration backpack. Most backpacks allow you to carry at least a litre of fluid alongside a couple of 500ml bottles, so more than enough fluid for up to 6 hours of running.
A hydration backpack allows you to run knowing you have all you need on you without having to worry about picking up a bottle en route. You can store your gels, mobile phone and emergency cash within the backpack too.
Saying this, that extra fluid in your backpack can become very heavy, especially if you need all 6 litres, try to plan a pit stop within your run to refill your bottles. For your electrolytes, carry tabs with you to add to your bottles as you fill them up.
This is often something that runners neglect in their preparation towards an event. Then when it comes to event day, they take on some hydration and their body isn’t quite used to drinking on the run which can play havoc on your performance so ensure you are practising what you want to emulate come race day.
Content and Community Manager at Kinetic Revolution and Eastnine from Norwich
Age group: Open
Club: City Of Norwich Athletics Club