We all know that we need to be well hydrated. It’s pretty hard to forget the graphic displays of varying levels of diluted apple juice serving as hydrated vs. under hydrated urine back in health class, no? As athletes who perspire somewhat excessively, we lose a lot of necessary things like minerals (sodium especially) and electrolytes through our sweat, so it’s extremely important to replenish lost fluids. But we can’t forget to begin our runs and workouts as hydrated individuals.
Did you know that you can significantly increase the quality of your run by consuming not just fluids, but cold fluids ahead of time? A study done in 2008 with a group of cyclists- hello, fellow endurance athletes!- found that those who consumed cold beverages before and during their workouts exercised nearly 12 minutes longer than those who drank warm beverages. A later study proved the same thing with runners on longer runs. Keeping your body’s core temperature as cool as possible before a run, race or any activity outside in the heat can impact your performance, so it only makes sense that the fluids you put into your body play a role in that.
Concerned about when to hydrate, with what and how often? Check out these hydration rules:
“Fluids” on this chart refer to water or sports beverages and with so many options, it can become a little overwhelming when trying to pick and choose what to drink. As an example, let me give you a rundown of what I typically do for running hydration.
Pre-run: Consume about 16oz of coffee and/or tea (I love me some morning beverages!) until the time I step out the door. The caffeine in both gives me an endurance boost (according to studies).
During: On shorter runs I’ll stop about 2-3 miles in to grab some water at a fountain and on longer runs I stop earlier (usually this coincides with a bathroom break 1-2 miles in), go for 35-45 minutes more, stop again at a fountain and either finish the final miles or repeat the last step a few miles later.
After: When I’m done, I grab a water bottle loaded with water, a Nuun tablet and L-Glutamine and slam it within about 5 minutes. On longer runs I’ll have my protein beverage mixed up, which includes water, Hammer Nutrition Recoverite, a Hammer FIZZ/Nuun tablet and L-Glutamine. I’ll also snack on beef jerky (high in protein and a great sodium replenisher!) or Clif Bloks after shorter runs.
This whole hydration thing may sound complicated, but it really isn’t because the average active person can get away with drinking water for activities up to an hour in length and a sports drink, like Gatorade or Powerade, coconut water (a great natural source of electrolytes and low on the glycemic index) and even chocolate milk (good carb/protein ratio, restores energy) for longer or more intense activities.
Keep in mind that sports drinks contain dissolved minerals (sodium, etc.) and carbohydrates, whereas water doesn’t, so water doesn’t reach the bloodstream as quickly (Active.com). Consider this if you’ve run or worked out intensely but for a shorter amount of time and need to replenish fluids and electrolytes sooner.
Also be sure to remember that if you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated, so don’t use thirst as an indicator for fluid need. Happy hydrating!