Proper hydration is not only important to exercisers, it’s also key to your overall health. Staying well hydrated gives you energy and helps your body function optimally — keeping you at the top of your game in all of your daily activities.
Runners often talk about hydrating on the run, but as a runner, it’s important to think about hydration daily and not just while on the move. To get the most out of your runs, to keep from dipping or crashing, and to stay motivated and just enjoy it, don’t forget to make hydration a priority.
Read on to find some super simple tips to make staying well-hydrated a walk in the park.
What should I drink to stay well-hydrated?
Pure water is essential to staying well hydrated. Opt for water over other drinks when you can and choose an electrolyte replacement, or sports drink, when participating in vigorous activities for an extensive period of time.
Other hydrating drinks might include fruit or vegetable juice, herbal teas or infusions, or un-caffeinated sodas. Juice, sodas, and sports drinks often contain sugar and sometimes other ingredients, that your body might not always need.
If you’d like to avoid added sugar or artificial ingredients, you can easily make a natural sports drink at home with a few simple ingredients.
How much should I drink to stay well-hydrated?
This depends on the individual. Some runners are “salty sweaters” and lose a lot of sodium during exercise. “Salty sweaters” may need to replace more sodium during exercise than others. You’ll know if you’re a “salty sweater” if your clothing and skin has a salty residue.
Take care on warm days and think ahead. You will need to drink more than on cooler days to stay properly hydrated.
Check your urine to get it right
The easiest way to determine if you’re on track to staying well-hydrated is to check your urine. It’s not very glamorous, I know, but it works. If your urine is light in color, a pale yellow, there’s a very good chance you’re hydrating right.
If your urine is dark yellow, orange, or darker, you’re likely dehydrated and perhaps even feeling tired and low on energy. If this is the case, up your fluid intake or opt for drinks that better hydrate you.
Good habits to adopt that will help you stay well-hydrated
Staying well-hydrated is easy if you can adopt a few good habits while on the run and in your everyday life.
- Drink a large glass of water upon waking
- Drink a large glass of water before every meal (this may also help suppress appetite if you tend to overeat)
- Take a large water bottle (1.5 L) with you to work and aim to refill it twice during the day
- Take a bottle of water with you when you’re out and about
- Drink a glass of water before a run
- Drink 1 liter of water one hour before a long run
- Opt for drinks that hydrate (water, juice) opposed to drinks with caffeine (coffee, tea, soda, alcohol) that dehydrate.
- Drink a glass of water with each alcoholic or caffeinated beverage
- Drink more on warmer days and carry water with you when you’re out and about.
Signs that you’re not well-hydrated
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms while on the run, before, after, or throughout your day, you may want to check that you’re adequately hydrated and that you’re getting enough vitamins and nutrients in your diet.
- Muscle cramping
- Stomach cramping
- Side stitches
- Fatigue / low energy
More serious signs:
- Extreme fatigue
- Dry mouth
- Muscle spasms
While a sports drink will help replace electrolytes, it’s also important to get enough nutrients in your everyday diet. For optimal health and performance while on the run, choose a diet of whole foods rich in nutrients and avoid artificial, highly-refined or processed food that are low in nutritional value.
Got some tips for staying hydrated? Have a story about hydration you’d like to share? I’d love to hear about it. Please share with us in the comments below.