[I will always preface any topic (just like any training program) with the fact that each runner is a different individual and what may work for one may not work for another or you will need a combination of both.]
It’s that time of year here in Florida to start adjusting our hydration for running (northerners will follow in a month or so). As some of us may have fell into bad habits during the colder parts of the year, especially since we sweat less and therefore put our fueling on the back burner. I want to create an accessible place for my runners to find resources on a wide array of topics and we will start with Fueling.
Let’s start at the beginning of the hydration process: the Day Before. That’s right, the liquids you put in your body the day before will have an affect on your hydration levels the next day especially if you are a morning runner. So the “perfect” amount of fluids anyone should drink in a given day to be hydrated is 50% of your body weight (120lbs = 60oz) and that's if you are not doing anything strenuous. Now what is consumed is just as important as how much. The standard corporate employee will consume an average of 3 cups of coffee (~27oz); which accounts for 45% of daily fluid intake! Now I’m not going to knock coffee drinkers (although I don’t drink coffee), but a better way to heighten your awareness first thing in the morning is with tea or fresh juice smoothies (add ginger, that will surely wake you up!) and your internal balance won‘t be off right away. Drink an additional glass of water with each cup of coffee.
Now throughout the day most individuals will drink only when thirsty (please don’t do this) or carry the 64oz jug of water and try to finish before getting home (better habit but not so much). Drinking water, water, and more water all day leads to a similar flushing process as too much coffee. Old school of thought was that you are hydrated when your urine is clear. Now it is known that you are removing vital nutrients in your blood stream and rest of body causing a massive internal imbalance (leads to quicker over-heating, dehydration, & muscle
cramps). So, depending on how much you sweat determines what and how much additional nutrients you need to add to your hydration process (salt, sodium, electrolytes, etc). Only through a brutal summer of trail and error did I determine that what works best for me is a 2:1 water to Gatorade/Powerade (sugar free) ratio (and that fluctuates based off of how much I work outside). I would highly advise going through a similar summer that I had in 2019 and be more thoughtful about what kinds of fluids you consume throughout the day. Now by dinner time you should have taken in most of your fluids and add a last 1-2 glasses of water (before a hour before bed) should top you off and feeling ready for the morning run.
A hour before the run you should be fine with a coffee, water, or sports drink. If you are running for less than a hour you shouldn't have to worry about extra fluids consumed during the run. If you know a run will surpass the hour mark it would be in your best interest to take in fluids roughly every 30 minutes (8oz). This will push off dehydration and possibly over-heating (during the summer months). Additional supplements such as Gu and Salt Tablets can help during the long run of the week (consume every 30 minutes as well). The Gu adds Carbs, Electrolytes, and even Caffeine (select flavors) whereas, the salt tablets is a good quick intake of Electrolytes (such as SaltStick). These are good habits to build during the slower and smaller mileage of the summer so it sticks during the Fall/Winter Race Season.
As mentioned at the on start, this is not the Almighty Hydration Method for all to follow, but I would recommend changing some of your hydration habits if they are not similar. Take a week or two, to experiment with flavors or how much fluids until it's just too much (urinating all day). Last tip I'll leave you with: if you need to lick your lips because they are dry, then it is one of your bodily signals to go and drink something!