Contributed by Dawn Holmes, MS, RD, CSSD, LD
Adequate fluid intake is key to cooling your body and preventing dehydration. Have you experienced any of the following while running or walking?
- Fatigue – mental and physical
- Increased heart rate
- Decreased performance
- Dark urine color
- Unable to think clearly or quickly
- Feel like you are working harder than normal
- Muscle cramping
If these are familiar signs, you’ve likely experienced dehydration. Try the tips below to keep hydrated throughout the day and before, during, and after your training
Daily fluid needs: A helpful rule of thumb is to divide your body weight in half, which equals the number of fluid ounces to consume each day. To make this more practical, there are eight ounces in a cup. For example, a 155-pound person would need 78 ounces or about 10 cups of fluids throughout the day. Keep in mind this is a guideline and each athlete has unique hydration needs. Fluid consumption around exercise is in addition to daily needs. Fluids can be from a variety of beverages – water, milk, juice, coffee, as well as other liquids from soups, fruits, and vegetables.
Before Training Run or Walk: Slowly hydrate for about 2 hours, for example 10-16 ounces for a 155-pound person. If your urine is a dark color, try drinking additional fluids. You should finish drinking, except for sipping, about 15 minutes before your run or walk to allow time to use the restroom. Adjust the timing and amount of fluid to your own habits and experience. Eating sodium-rich foods like pretzels and crackers will help your body absorb the fluids (and provide carbohydrates for energy). You could also try a sports drink.
During Training Run or Walk: Drink 4-8 ounces every 15-20 minutes. If it’s hot and you run at a fast pace, you’ll need more. If it’s cool and you run at a slower pace, you’ll need less. Running longer than an hour? Add carbohydrates and electrolytes, like sports drinks, or gels and water.
After Training Run or Walk: If you lost weight during the activity, rehydrate with 20-24 ounces per pound of weight lost. Otherwise, regular snacks, meals, and fluids should be adequate to replace lost fluids and electrolytes over a 24-hour period.
Dawn Holmes is the owner of Real Life Fuel (RealLifeFuel.com) where she enjoys creating personalized hydration strategies for athletes of all abilities. She is also the Sports Dietitian for Marathoner In Training and put her fueling plan into practice to run 1:53 at the Columbus Half!