Hydration Guide for Runners - Run Eat Repeat (2023)

Staying hydrated is important for overall health and it’s extra important if you’re an endurance athlete. So here’s a guide to help you figure out how much water you should be drinking, how to stay hydrated while running and how to find the best hydration gear and supplements for your body.

As with most things health related – every body is different. Your needs, goals, health and preferences should be taken into consideration as you make your hydration plan. Use a running log and meal planner to help track all relevant factors like – your activity, the weather, thirst, performance, bathroom needs, etc.

This hydration guide includes…

  • Hydration Basics to get started
  • How to figure out how much water you should drink
  • Tips for staying hydrated for long runs
  • How to create your hydration plan
  • Links to Hydration Gear options

Hydration Guide for Runners - Run Eat Repeat (1)

First, get to know your body and what factors into how much water you need. Even if you’re not training for a race or running long distances it’s a good idea to get to know how much water and fuel your body needs to feel your best. From there you can use that knowledge to help fuel your athletic goals.

(Video) How to Carry Water While Running

  1. Your Body’s Ideal. You need to know how much water YOUR body needs as a baseline (when you’re not running or sweating) to feel your best. Have a reusable water bottle nearby to it’s easy to drink as needed. You can count a lot of drinks towards your total consumption (tea, juice, soda, etc.).
  2. Factor in Activity and Climate. Once you know how much you need to drink everyday – add in enough water (or sports drinks) to make up for any fluid lost while running. Things that will impact how much you need include: if you sweat a lot, it’s a long workout, it’s very humid or very dry, etc.
  3. Take notes and adjust as needed. Check in with yourself after a run – were you thirsty, did you feel dehydrated or fatigue that may have been caused by dehydration? What color is your urine (before & after running)? Things like seasons changing and your training ramping up = will impact how much you need to drink. So check in with yourself more often when anything changes.

Most runners just want to know – How much water do I need to drink? But – Every Body Is Different. So, running coaches and sports dieticians hesitate to say, ‘You need to drink exactly XX ounces during a 5 mile run’. That varies depending on the runner, the day, what food and drinks they already consumed, etc.

So while an exact formula would be the easiest way to calculate your water needs, that’s not realistic given all the factors. But there is one rule for hydrating that most experts seem to agree with… Drink to your thirst.

Unless you’re in extreme circumstances related to your health, the distance you’re running or the weather – it’s probably best to listen to your body and drink when you’re thirsty.

Factors that impact your hydration needs include:

  • Your activity (length and difficulty)
  • Your fitness level
  • How much you sweat
  • Climate
  • Whether you’re acclimatized to the environment
  • Your diet and hydration levels going into the run
  • Other health or medical situations

Keep in mind… a lot of these things change fairly often – so you need to be aware of these factors and ready to adjust as needed.

(Video) 3 Hacks to Get Water While Running

For example: If you’re training for a half marathon using a 16 week program – starting in May. The weather may get hotter and more humid into the summer months AND your runs will increase in distance. But your body will also be adjusting to the distance as your endurance improves. All of this impacts your hydration needs.

Create a Hydration Plan that helps you perform your best. You have to figure this out while training for your race. And it’s important to adjust as needed.

Hydration Tips for Training to Run a Half or Full Marathon

  1. Start your long runs well hydrated. (I go into race weekends thinking – Hydration is my job the day before the race.)
  2. Hydrate during the run by carrying a hydration pack or water bottle OR have your hydration placed throughout the run where you can stop and drink as needed. Either way – have a plan and practice during training.
  3. Use sports drink supplements with electrolytes to help you balance your hydration and fueling needs. Practice this during training so you know the ideal combo for race day.
  4. Drink to thirst after your run.
  5. Keep an eye on your urine color to help assess how your hydration plan is working. Use this information in combination with how you feel and your performance to decide what (if anything) needs more work.

According to a study in the Journal of Athletic Training – urine color can be a helpful way to determine hydration status. [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4741257/] But, you need to pay attention to this on a regular basis and during training to use it as a tool to create your hydration plan.

If you want to use this method, it’s important to know your body’s urine color on well hydrated days, before a run, after a run and any variations on extreme weather days.

Check out this chart from the Georgia Urologist site that labels the different colors of urine and what they may mean. *This is NOT a replacement for medical or health advice. Always check with your doctor before trying any new exercise or diet and if you suspect you have a health issue.*

(Video) Summer Running Hacks

Hydration Guide for Runners - Run Eat Repeat (2)

If you want to get specific on how much you’re sweating and how much you’re drinking you can calculate your sweat rate using the formula below. This is a little complicated so make sure you’ve already mastered all of the basics before doing this exercise.

Also – this calculation gives you an idea of how much you’re sweating versus drinking while running, but unless you’re doing it as part of a scientific study under controlled conditions… it’s still not completely exact. And these numbers will change based on factors like weather, elevation, workout, etc.

Body Weight PreRun – Body Weight Post Run + Fluid Intake – Urine Volume / Exercise Time in hours

See this guide from USA Track and Field for the complete directions.

Using sports drinks or supplements with electrolytes can be a good idea for some runners. Because this post is already getting pretty long – I’ll follow up with a post all about the best electrolytes for runners soon!

(Video) Nutrition Tips for Runners

For a sneak peek… My favorite electrolytes right now are:

Hydration Guide for Runners - Run Eat Repeat (3)

  1. Start every run well hydrated. This requires you to know your ‘normal’ needs and be intentional about getting enough water on a regular basis.
  2. During your run – use hydration gear when needed. If you’re running long or in extreme temperatures – use a hydration belt or vest to have water available during your run. Shorter runs, easy runs and mild temps may mean you can wait.
  3. Post-Run – Rehydrate after your run according to thirst. (Don’t overdo it – it’s dangerous to drink too much.)
  4. Use your urine color as an indicator of your hydration levels (along with how you feel, the weather, sweat rate, etc).
  5. Create your hydration plan. Log all relevant information and use that to create your personalized hydration plan.

Keep Going with these…

  • The Best Way to Carry Water While Running
  • Hacks to Get Water While Running (without a fuel belt or vest)
  • Summer Running Tips with HeatherRunz

Follow @RunEatRepeat on Instagram for daily updates, tips and fun!

*Always consult your doctor before trying any diet or exercise. If you have any history of illness or feel like you may have a health issue – see your doctor asap. This isn’t intended as medical or health advice and is not a substitute for getting personalized medical help or a diagnosis.


How often should you hydrate when running? ›

Maintain hydration: Drink about 5–10 fl. oz. (or a few good long drinks) of water every 15–20 minutes while running. Drink after: Post-exercise hydration gets your fluid levels back to normal and can help with recovery.

How much water should I drink a day as a runner? ›

Try to drink one litre of water for every 1,000kcal you burn daily. (An average male burns around 2,500kcal a day, a runner covering five miles a day more like 3,000kcal.) In general we need two to three litres of liquid a day – half from food and half from fluids.

What are the new rules of hydration? ›

The New Rules of Hydration
  • Old: Drink ahead of your thirst. New: Drink according to your thirst. ...
  • Old: Aim to completely prevent dehydration. New: Aim to slow dehydration. ...
  • Old: Use either a sports drink or water for hydration. ...
  • Old: Protein exacerbates dehydration. ...
  • Old: Caffeine exacerbates dehydration. ...
  • The Cardinal Rule.
17 Mar 2022

What's best to eat before a run? ›

What are good snacks to eat before running?
  • banana with a tablespoon of nut butter.
  • energy bar or low fat granola bar.
  • small yogurt and fruit.
  • fruit smoothie.
  • whole grain bagel.
  • oatmeal.
16 Oct 2018

Why is it important to hydrate before a run? ›

Hydration is particularly important for runners. “Running and sweating increases the amount of fluid we need,” says Skolnik. This can potentially lead to dehydration, which can cause symptoms including headache, rapid heartbeat and fatigue—and it can also slow you down during your run.

How long can you run without hydrating? ›

You can safely run for up to an hour without drinking water at temperatures below 72F (~22C) and if you are of average weight. After that, how much and how often you drink depends on your sweat rate. The more you sweat, the more you should drink in order to maintain hydration.

Does hydrating make you run faster? ›

When runners replenished 150 percent of their sweat loss, their 10K times were on average over a minute faster, which was a three percent improvement over running at the 75 percent hydration state. Put into other terms, that could be the difference between a 4:00 and 3:52 marathon.

What to eat and drink after running? ›

Best foods to eat after a run for recovery
  • Recovery bars with 3:1 balance of carbs and protein.
  • Protein shakes for easy consumption post-run.
  • Fresh fruit smoothies.
  • Chocolate milk.
  • Fresh yoghurt with fruit, honey or granola.
  • Nut butters.
  • Tuna, salmon or chicken.
  • Salty foods like salted nuts.
21 Feb 2022

What happens when runners drink too much water? ›

When you drink too much water before, during or after exercise, your blood sodium concentration falls below normal. This overwhelms your kidneys, which can't remove the excess water. Cells start to absorb the water, leading to swelling in the body and a condition known as Exercise-Associated Hyponatremia (EAH).

What to drink before running in the morning? ›

In addition to your pre-run snack, drink 5–10 ounces (150–295 ml) of water to keep you hydrated ( 2 , 3 ). Limit the same foods you would in a pre-run meal, which include foods high in fat and fiber. You may also want to avoid dairy products, especially if you don't know how you tolerate them.

What to eat before jogging in the morning? ›

Here's a list of our favorite foods to include in your breakfast before a long run.
  • Sweet potatoes. We love including sweet potatoes in a pre-run breakfast. ...
  • Oats. A bowl of oatmeal is Shalane's favorite high-carb pre-race meal. ...
  • Toast. Toast is one of my favorite carb sources to have before a long run. ...
  • Bananas. ...
  • Smoothies.
30 Apr 2019

What are the 5 tips for hydration? ›

Five Simple Tips to Stay Hydrated
  • Drink the right amount for you. Everyone is different and has different hydration needs. ...
  • Keep a water bottle with you throughout the day. ...
  • Set an alarm or reminder to drink water throughout your day. ...
  • Monitor caffeine and alcohol intake. ...
  • Add flavor.
13 Apr 2017

What are 3 tips for athletes in terms of hydration? ›

Drink 8 ounces of water 20 to 30 minutes before you start exercising or during your warm-up. Drink 7 to 10 ounces of water every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise. Drink 8 ounces of water no more than 30 minutes after you exercise.

What are 5 benefits of proper hydration? ›

Drinking enough water each day is crucial for many reasons: to regulate body temperature, keep joints lubricated, prevent infections, deliver nutrients to cells, and keep organs functioning properly. Being well-hydrated also improves sleep quality, cognition, and mood.

What not to eat after running? ›

What not to eat after a run
  • Pizza. Nothing tastes better than a big slice of pizza after a long run, but unfortunately, it's not your best post-run food option. ...
  • Spicy food. ...
  • Carbonated beverages. ...
  • Fried foods. ...
  • Fruit smoothies. ...
  • Just water.
29 Nov 2021

What to avoid before running? ›

Foods to Avoid Before a Run
  • Legumes.
  • Broccoli, artichokes, or other high-fiber veggies.
  • Apples, pears, or other high-fiber fruits.
  • Cheese, red meat, bacon, or other high-fiber foods.
  • Caffeine (in large amounts)
  • Spicy foods.
30 Jul 2018

How long before a run should I eat? ›

As a general guideline, it's recommended that you wait 3 to 4 hours after a large meal before running. If you've had a small meal or snack, wait a minimum of 30 minutes or preferably 1 to 2 hours before going for a run. Keep in mind that everyone is different.

How do you start hydrating? ›

6 tips for staying hydrated
  1. Don't wait till you're thirsty to drink. By the time you feel thirsty, you're already slightly dehydrated. ...
  2. Flavor your water. ...
  3. Eat water-rich fruits and vegetables. ...
  4. Stay inside when it gets too hot. ...
  5. Dress for the weather. ...
  6. Be aware of the signs of dehydration (below).
22 Feb 2019

How do I know if I am properly hydrated? ›

A simple way to gauge your level of hydration is to pay attention to the color of your urine. If your urine is very dark and has a strong odor, you are definitely dehydrated and should increase your water intake. If your urine is completely clear, you are likely drinking too much.

Is it better to drink running or still water? ›

In an emergency, a crystal clear, fast moving stream or waterfall will likely be the better option than drinking out of a smelly stagnant pond. But, we wouldn't recommend making a habit of drinking untreated water, no matter how fast it's moving.

Can I run a 5K without water? ›

The longer it takes someone to complete the race, the more they will need water. You might not need water if you can finish a 5K in 17 to 20 minutes, but for someone out there 45 to 60 minutes, water becomes critical.

What happens if you don't drink water when running? ›

You may be seriously dehydrated, risking dizziness, collapse, even death. ''Stay ahead of your thirst,'' athletes and would-be athletes are told. But now USA Track & Field, the national governing body for track and field, long-distance running and race walking, says that advice is wrong.

What will hydrate you faster than water? ›

Research shows that milk is one of the best beverages for hydration, even better than water or sports drinks. Researchers credit milk's natural electrolytes, carbohydrates, and protein for its effectiveness.

What should I drink before running for energy? ›

Some Energy Drinks recommendations that Meet the Requirements for a Long Distance Runner
  • Gatorade Thirst Quenchers. The most notable (and probably widely used) energy drink is the Gatorade Thirst Quenchers. ...
  • Generation UCAN. Meb Keflezighi uses Generation UCAN as his form of energy. ...
  • Tailwind. ...
  • Other popular options:

How much does hydration affect running? ›

The results indicate that runners slowed nearly 80 seconds during a 5k and lost 2 minutes and 40 seconds over a 10k due to dehydration. For half marathoners and marathoners, this data also makes it clear that hydration becomes more important as the race distance increases.

What is the best drink after a run? ›

Drink at least 16 ounces of water or healthy drinks, such as coconut water, green or black tea, and chocolate milk. Or you can choose a low-sugar sports drink. These drinks contain electrolytes, such as potassium and sodium, that can prevent and relieve muscle cramping.

What is the best snack to eat after a run? ›

Some post-run snacks include:
  • Trail mix with dried fruit, soybeans, cereal or pretzels.
  • A peanut butter and jelly sandwich or wrap.
  • An energy bar with a mix of carbohydrates and protein.
  • A handful of salted nuts with pretzels.
  • Pita bread with hummus.
8 Feb 2021

Why do runners spit out water? ›

New research shows the longer the drink stays in your mouth, the bigger the boost. People still have trouble believing it, but the research has been out there for nine years now: swishing a sports drink in your mouth and then spitting it out boosts performance in endurance events lasting longer than about 30 minutes.

Why we should not drink water during exercise? ›

The general rule is: if you're sweating, you need to be drinking fluids. It is possible to drink too much during exercise. Over-hydration, in rare but severe cases, can lead to death. To avoid over or under-hydration, it can be useful to know your sweat rate.

Should you drink electrolytes before or after running? ›

After: Rehydration

You lose fluid during exercise because you sweat and breathe heavily, so replenishing lost water and electrolytes should be your first priority after you've finished your workout.

What happens if you run on empty stomach? ›

“Running on an empty stomach increases your endurance”

Training duration and intensity are severely restricted by the lack of glycogen. Therefore, the intended training stimulus is rather low. A high-quality workout lasting longer and at a higher intensity is better for improving your performance.

Is it good to eat a banana before a run? ›

The bottom line. Bananas are rich in nutrients like carbs and potassium, both of which are important for exercise performance and muscle growth. They're also easy to digest and can slow the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream, making bananas a great snack option before your next workout.

What should I eat while running? ›

What to Eat While Running
  • Honey. A series of experiments at the University of Memphis found that honey mixed with a touch of water fueled exercise just as effectively as commercial sports gels. ...
  • Maple Syrup. ...
  • Sweet Potatoes. ...
  • Pickle Juice. ...
  • Chia Seeds. ...
  • Bananas. ...
  • Homemade Energy Drink. ...
  • Raisins.
15 Apr 2016

Should I drink coffee before running? ›

Is It Good to Drink Coffee Before a Run? Before a run, coffee (or any form of caffeine) can increase your energy and reduce discomfort. Many long-distance runners and endurance athletes (including marathoners, cyclists, and triathletes) use caffeine supplements on race days to boost their performance.

What to drink after jogging in the morning? ›

Right after running, it's important to replenish your body with a balanced mix of protein and carbs.
15 Best Post-Run Foods
  • Chocolate Milk. ...
  • Fresh Fruit And Yogurt. ...
  • Boiled Eggs, Avocado, And Sweet Potato. ...
  • Nut Butter And Berries Open Sandwich. ...
  • Leftover Chicken Breast.

What should I do the night before a morning run? ›

The Evening Before
  1. Drink an extra 16 ounces of water. ...
  2. Get out all the gear you will need for your run. ...
  3. Prep any breakfast or snacks. ...
  4. Say goodbye to screens 30 minutes before bed. ...
  5. Head to bed early to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep. ...
  6. Sleep in your running clothes. ...
  7. Don't hit snooze.
17 Aug 2020

What do marathon runners use to hydrate? ›

Casa recommends carrying water with you—whether in a hydration pack, fuel belt, or handheld water bottle—so you can sip water throughout your run versus relying on aid stations, where people tend to gather to chug down fluids.

Is Gatorade Good for runner? ›

When you exercise, it's important to stay hydrated. Water is the most logical form of hydration. However, sports drinks like Gatorade contain sugar and electrolytes like sodium and potassium. Sports drinks can help replace what we lose during longer duration exercise, especially in the heat.

How do you carry fluids when running? ›

Like a backpack, a hydration vest allows a runner to carry more water than a handheld. However, a vest is more likely to carry the weight on the front of the body, in soft flasks held on the chest (though some vests use a water bladder on the back, like a backpack).

Why do runners put salt in their water? ›

When running long distances, like a marathon, the three main nutrients your body needs to keep going strong are fluids, electrolytes, and carbohydrates. Salt, particularly sodium, is the primary electrolyte lost when you sweat. (Potassium, magnesium, and calcium are lost as well, but to a lesser extent).

What drinks are good for runners? ›

The Very Best Beverages for Runners
  • Tea or Coffee. Aside from providing a performance-boosting caffeine jolt, both drinks are rich in antioxidants. ...
  • Water or Sports Drink. ...
  • Chocolate Milk—or Wine (or Beer)! ...
  • Tart Cherry Juice or Beet Juice. ...
  • Coconut Water or Maple Water.
28 Jul 2014

What should I eat and drink after a run? ›

Best foods to eat after a run for recovery
  • Recovery bars with 3:1 balance of carbs and protein.
  • Protein shakes for easy consumption post-run.
  • Fresh fruit smoothies.
  • Chocolate milk.
  • Fresh yoghurt with fruit, honey or granola.
  • Nut butters.
  • Tuna, salmon or chicken.
  • Salty foods like salted nuts.
21 Feb 2022

What are two tips for staying hydrated? ›

How to Stay Hydrated
  • Drink water—and plenty of it! ...
  • Know the signs of dehydration. ...
  • Check your urine. ...
  • Avoid alcohol, sugary drinks, and/or caffeine. ...
  • Cool down. ...
  • Eat foods with high water content. ...
  • Replenish when you sweat. ...
  • Choose water during flights.
28 Jun 2019

What drinks should runners avoid? ›

Sugary Sodas

Sugary sodas tend to instantly satiate you but eventually cause dehydration and elevated sugar cravings. They are also tough to digest and interfere with your energy levels, so it's best to avoid them as much as you can as they are the worst foods for runners!

Which juice is good for runners? ›

Juicing for runners
  • 3 stalks celery.
  • 2 beetroots.
  • 2 pears.
  • 1 cucumber. Beetroot contains nitric oxide, which helps oxygenate blood and may enhance exercise performance, while ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and may reduce muscle soreness. ...
  • 1 orange. ...
  • 1 green apple.
  • 2 mint leaves.
  • 1 large carrot.
22 Jul 2014

Where do I put my water when I run? ›

Belts and waist packs are a nice way to carry water on the run because your hands are free, and they don't cause that restricted sweaty-back feeling that a hydration vest or pack can. They also tend to have other pockets for carrying a phone and more snacks than can usually fit in hand-held bottle pockets.

How long should you run without water? ›

You can safely run for up to an hour without drinking water at temperatures below 72F (~22C) and if you are of average weight. After that, how much and how often you drink depends on your sweat rate. The more you sweat, the more you should drink in order to maintain hydration.


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