Staying hydrated while running is important, but so is staying hydrated all day long. It is also important to know when you should be drinking electrolyte replacement drinks (Gatorade, Nuun, etc.) because they are not necessary all the time.
1. Staying hydrated all day long. It is important to drink water throughout the day, not just before and after a run. Sometimes I do not enjoy drinking just water so I add different low calorie sweeteners to make it more appealing to me. I personally feel better when I am hydrated throughout the day, and can tell when it comes time to run. If I haven’t stayed hydrated all day it will definitely have a negative impact on my next run.
2. Drink while running. For me, this really depends on the weather. If it is a wonderful 45-50 degrees and I am only running 5 miles I will not stop to drink during my run (unless I am absolutely parched). I will drink before and after though. However, it is substantially warmer outside and the sun is directly on me, I will stop during a 5 mile to drink some water. A good rule of thumb is to consume about 5-15 ounces of fluid for every 15-20 minutes you are running.
3. When to drink electrolyte replacements. You do not need to drink electrolyte replacement drinks if you are running less than 60 minutes; water is just fine. However, if you are running more than 60 minutes you need to drink some form of sports drink to replenish your electrolytes as well as carbohydrates. I personally drink NUUN, which is a sugar free electrolyte replacement. I love the lemon line flavor.
4. Don’t drink too much. I’ve preached the importance of drinking, but you should also be aware of how much you are drinking. If I drink too much before or during a run I get stomach ache and can literally hear the water in my stomach moving around.
5. Hyponatremia. This is a potentially fatal condition caused by taking in too much water and too little salt. Hyponatremia, or “water intoxication,” usually happens only during long, hot runs, when a runner loses a lot of sodium through sweat and consumes a great deal of plain water. This combination may unwittingly dilute sodium levels in your blood, which sets off an electrolyte imbalance. Hyponatremia can trigger seizures, coma, and even death. Initial warning signs mimic those of dehydration, including confusion, disorientation, muscle weakness, and vomiting. Women and slower, beginner endurance runners are at most risk of this condition.
6. Plan your route around water. I do not like running with a running belt full of water or holding a water bottle. Therefore I plan my routes along water fountains. If there are no water fountains available where you run try placing a water bottle on your front step. Why front step? If I have to go in my house to get a drink chances are I will get distracted and lose focus. It also does not mimic a real race. I try to keep my long runs as authentic to races as I can.
Please stay hydrated!