Hydration and Running

Keeping the body hydrated is extremely important when it comes to exercise. The body contains about 60% water, depending on size and weight. Hydration and running go hand in hand if the body becomes dehydrated or overly hydrated. It can have severe consequences, which we will discuss later.

What are Hydration and Dehydration?

Hydration is the process of replacing water in the body. We mainly do this by drinking water. Hydration is when our body regulates body temperature. It keeps our joints lubricated, helps prevent infections, and keeps our organs functioning properly.

Dehydration occurs when the body does not take in enough water to replace the water the body loses through any activity.

Benefits of Hydration

The following are the benefits of hydration when running

  • to reduce the risk of heatstroke
  • Reduces body temperature
  • Minimize injuries
  • Helps endurance
  • Maximizes performance
  • Reduces muscle cramps

Hydration before Running

The amount we need to hydrate before running varies from 1 person to the next, depending on the distance we are planning to run.

On the run day, try to drink a glass of water about 30 minutes before exercise. After that, drink at least two glasses of water 60 to 90 minutes before the workout.

If we plan on doing a long run that will take more than 3 hours, we need to put a hydration strategy in place a few days before the run to ensure that the body is adequately hydrated. Our urine should be a clear color the days before the run.

Hydration when Running

It is essential during a run that we hydrate as we run. Ideally, we should drink 6 to 8 oz every 20 minutes as we run. It is better to sip water than gulp it down. If we drink too much water too fast, it will more than likely lead to a side stitch when running, which leads to a whole different problem. It’s good to put an electrolyte tablet in the water we will drink while running as it helps replace the salt we lose as we sweat. We can take salt tablets as another option to replace the salt we lose.

I like to use isotonic energy gels as they are easy to carry and use while running. It is essential to use isotonic gels as they are pre-mixed with water, so they are liquid. The non-isotonic gels are thicker, and you will need water to take these gels. The Isotonic gel that I recommend is Science in Sport SiS Go Isotonic Energy Gel Variety -3 x x 60ml by Science In Sports

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Hydration after Running

After we finish, it’s essential to drink lots of fluids. We can drink water, but we should also drink sports drinks. We can still feel the effects of not dehydrating properly hours after our run. I didn’t believe this until one day, it happened to me. I felt like crap a few hours later. If our urine is a dark color after our run or if we do not pass urine for hours after a run, it is a sign that we are not drinking enough liquid. It’s imperative to avoid alcohol if we are not appropriately hydrated.

Dehydration symptoms

How do we know if we are dehydrated? The following are the symptoms of dehydration.

  • Extremely thirsty
  • Very strong smelling and dark-colored urine
  • Making very little urine
  • Feeling dizzy and lightheaded
  • Feeling very tired

Dehydration causes

There are many causes of dehydration

  • A fever causes excessive sweating; the higher the fever, the more we sweat. If we don’t replace this water, we will become dehydrated.
  • Vomiting and diarrhea – vomiting and diarrhea will cause dehydration quickly as our body removes large amounts of water and does not replace it.
  • Exercise – all types of training, including running, will generally result in excessive sweating. If you follow the recommendations above, it should prevent this type of dehydration.
  • When the weather is hot, we will sweat more, so it is essential to replace this water to prevent dehydration.

Treatment of dehydration

We can treat dehydration quite quickly by drinking clear fluids or sports drinks. However, some more severe dehydration may have to be treated intravenously. If Dehydration is left untreated, it can result in some severe complications.’

  • Urinary and kidney problems – regular prolonged dehydration can cause urinary tract infections or even kidney failure.
  • Seizures – if your body is out of balance, it can result in a seizure as electrolytes are not moving correctly around the body.
  • Hypovolemia shock – occurs when low blood volume causes blood pressure to drop and a decrease in oxygen in the blood, which can be life-threatening.
  • Heatstroke can occur when out in extreme heat or when exercising in the heat and not replacing the water expelled from our body by sweating. Heatstroke can be another life-threatening condition.

Overhydration Symptoms

Overhydration occurs when we overhydrate the body, this can happen when we drink too much. This occurs when the amount of salt and other electrolytes in our body becomes too diluted. Overhydration can be more severe for the body than dehydration.

The symptoms of overhydration are pretty similar to dehydration. The following are the symptoms

  • headache
  • nausea/vomiting
  • change in mental state

Untreated overhydration can cause more severe consequences

  • seizures
  • muscle weakness
  • unconsciousness
  • coma

Treatment of Overhydration

Overhydration must be adequately treated.

  • cut back on your fluid intake
  • Taking diuretics will make us pass more urine.
  • Replace sodium in severe cases.

Final Thoughts

It is essential to hydrate the body regularly and adequately for hydration. We have looked at the benefits of hydration and how to hydrate before, during, and after running. In addition, we now know what happens to the body when it’s dehydrated or overhydrated and the treatments for both.


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