Healthy Hydration for Pat’s Run by Banner Health!

Blog, Banner Health | 04/11/2022

Pat’s Run is less than a month away! We are beyond thrilled to have you all join us in Tempe this year for a fun and safe return to our marquee event. Whether you are completing your 4.2 miles in the Arizona sun, or are joining us virtually from your respective race tracks, Banner Health has some tips for ensuring you stay healthy and hydrated before and after this challenge!

Whether you have been a runner for a long time or are new to racing, proper hydration is key to maximizing performance and can also be dangerous if ignored. Water makes up 60-70% of the human body and many of the body’s vital functions rely on maintaining hydration status. Research has shown that adequate hydration is one of the most significant predictors of race performance. Losing only 1-2% of our total body fluid – 1.5-3lbs of “water weight” in a 150lb individual – can negatively impact performance and cause early fatigue during activity.

What should you do leading up to your race?

Your number one tool against dehydration is PRE-hydration, research suggests an athlete should pre-hydrate 2-4 hours before a race. Start with water, 2-4 ml per pound of body weight.  That’s 300 – 600 ml or 10 – 20 ounces for someone weighing 150 lbs. For reference, a standard 16.9oz water bottle is 500ml of fluid.

How about while you’re running?

Another key in preventing dehydration is to monitor your fluid status during the race. Unfortunately, your thirst mechanism typically kicks in after you have already reached mild dehydration levels. An easy way to track your hydration level is to monitor your urine output during the race. When you become dehydrated, your kidneys create more concentrated urine and hold on to more water for the body, resulting in more concentrated urine and less urine overall. Here are some ways you can monitor your hydration:

  • Color: your urine should not change the color of the water in the toilet bowl or your urine should be a very light-yellow color.
  • Timing: You should need to urinate every 2-3 hours throughout the day and the race.
  • Amount: You should not notice a decrease in your urine output after exercising.
  • Once you “feel thirsty” you are already behind and should increase your oral consumption of liquids.

There are water stations along the race trail, be sure to take advantage of those to keep your hydration levels up!

Post race hydration time!

Good hydration is not only key for performance, but also for recovery. Stay on top of hydration, continue with good fluid intake. Research suggests that for every pound of weight lost to sweat during exercise, you need to drink at least 20 ounces (590ml) of water to replace this!

If your race lasts less than one hour, drinking plain water is an excellent choice for rehydration. If your race is longer than one hour, a standard sports drink containing carbohydrates and sodium is a good option. Carbohydrates (like sugar) from sports drinks helps to provide a fuel source as well as increasing hydration by helping with the absorption of fluid within the gut. Sodium helps our body to hold on to the water and decreases the amount we excrete in the urine as well as replacing the sodium we lose in our sweat.