How Often Should You Hydrate On Long Runs?
Knowing how often you should hydrate on long runs is extremely useful in being and feeling your best.
Being and feeling your best? For us runners, let us lean in to anything that serves such an elusive purpose.
But let’s get real. Who thinks about this stuff? Who takes out the measuring cup and portions out exactly what is needed, and then waits for the alarm on their phone to remind them it’s now time to hydrate?
Doesn’t happen. Instead, it just comes natural. When we’re thirsty, we take a drink. It seems pretty straightforward, right?
Well, yes. But remember, we want to be our best selves during our runs. In order to accomplish this, you must have a better plan than the habitual grab and go method. A plan that involves being proactive, not reactive. And a plan that is disciplined and committed – just like you. 🙂
So please allow me to be blunt. For us runners, we can’t skimp on hydration. We need it. We need it like the plants need soil, like your coffee needs cream, and like we all need dogs.
But how much do we need? And when exactly should we hydrate for our long runs?
Well, that depends. We’re all different. Some of us are big sweaters (you know who you are) that require more fluids than those fortunate souls who, for reasons unknown, never seem to perspire at all. But even though we’re all unique, a common bond we humans share is that the majority of our bodies are, in fact, made up of water. So when that water leaves us (aka sweat) we must bring it back in.
Because if we don’t bad things will happen.
So how does this hydration process begin?
Well, the short story on the long runs is that we need to hydrate before, during, and after our jogging adventures. For the sake of this article, I will constitute a long run anything over 30 minutes. Because after the 30 minute mark, it’s generally a good idea to bring some type of fluids with you.
However, before you jump ahead, I want to clarify the most important point of all.
Don’t be a robot.
In terms of when you should hydrate on lengthy runs, there is no single formula that is set-in-stone for everyone. It’s vital that you adjust to the conditions and adjust to what works for you. For example, hotter days require more fluids than colder days due to the heat and humidity. Bigger humans require more hydration than smaller humans due to their body size. So please note that everything is a moving target. You should always test and measure what works best for YOU at all times.
With all this said, below are some general, easy-to-remember guidelines that will set a solid foundation for how often you should hydrate for your next long run.
Just like you shouldn’t cram for a test, you shouldn’t binge down a bunch of fluids right before a run and think it’s going to work. It won’t. Instead, your stomach will turn into a bloated sea of liquids and you’ll be the anchor trying to slosh through a tough run in choppy waters.
You don’t want that.
To prevent the raging waves inside of you, it’s important to hydrate properly at least the week before your run to safely lay down the foundation for peak performance. So bottom line, every day should start with a plan. And what exactly should that daily plan be?
Well according to the Mayo Clinic, who then references the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the recommendation for daily fluid intake is:
- About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day for men
- About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women
For those without a measuring cup handy, an easy way to remember this would be:
- 8 pint glasses of water a day for men
- 6 pint glasses of water a day for women
Simply have your pints (of water) during the week and you’ll be in good shape heading into your big day. And for the day of the run before you actually start the process of running? The two-step breakdown is below:
- Drink 1 pint glass of water about 2 hours before you begin
- Then about a half of a pint right before you head out the door
If you have followed these guidelines, then alas! You have prepped yourself well.
You are now ready for the next step – hydration on the move.
As I’m sure you’re aware, fluid replenishment during the run is huge. It keeps your motor going and your engine clean. But drinking too much and drinking too little are both scary paths we want to avoid. So let’s stick to an action plan that won’t overload us or deplete us, but instead puts us on the blissful road to proper hydration.
Here’s the deal – that feeling you get when you’re thirsty? That’s your body’s way of telling you that you need to hydrate. We know that. However, during our runs, this message often comes in delayed. Because when you reach the point when your body is telling you to take a drink, it’s too late.
So to avoid hydration tardiness, the recommendation for fluid consumption is below:
- 250ml of fluids consumed every 20 minutes
However, it’s hard to keep track of exact milliliters when you’re on the move. So I suggest finding out how many oz or ml you generally consume when you take a sip and then go from there. For me, I average 0.5 oz per sip. That comes out to about 4 sips every 20 minutes. As mentioned above, we’re all different so you could be a little more or a little less than that. It’s important to know where your sweet spot is. Understanding this will keep you in rhythm and performing your best.
Once you get that down, you will have conquered the first 2 steps on how often you should hydrate on long runs. Which then leave us with only 1 step left – the after party.
First of all, congrats! You finished a long run. You did it. Give yourself a pat on the back.
Then mix yourself a pint glass filled with electrolytes and water. Because even if you followed the before and during hydration programs to a tee, you’ve still lost precious fluids and electrolytes during your run.
So kick back, reflect, and bask in the glory of your run being finished.
I’m proud of you. You should be proud of you, too.