5 Performance Hydration Tips for Pat’s Run!

Blog, Banner Health | 04/09/2024

Runners, listen up! Water, water, water – before, during, and after your race! Staying hydrated is key to avoiding those dreaded dehydration or water overload situations. Check out these 5 from Sports Dietitian, Jacquelin Danielle Fryer, RD, CSCS from Banner Sports Medicine, tips to keep your body happy and your performance peppy!

#1 Know the signs of dehydration.

It’s like a cautionary tale: even a hint of dehydration can throw your body’s temperature control into a tizzy! As things heat up, the risk of heat-related troubles skyrockets. Keep cool by tuning in to the warning signs of dehydration:

Thirst, feelings of discomfort, fatigue, flushed skin, headaches, dizziness, chills or heat sensations, nausea, vomiting, GI cramps, decreased performance.

#2 Begin hydrating, HOURS before the event begins!

Runners, before kicking off any event, make sure you’re hydrated like a champion. Here are some top-notch pre-run tips for you!

  • **1-2 hours before the event, ** Drink 20 ounces of fluids. Ideally, drink along with a small carbohydrate-rich meal that is low in dietary fiber and dietary fat. Choose plain water or stick to your usual pre-run liquid choices like coconut water, low-fat milk, or a smoothie. It’s essential to avoid trying new foods or drinks on race day to prevent tummy issues. It is best to rely on familiar options.


  • **During the hour leading up** to the race, stay hydrated by consuming water or a sports drink, aiming for approximately 8 ounces of fluid.


  • **10 minutes before** the event, athletes should drink an additional 8 ounces of fluid. Choose plain water or a sports drink like Gatorade or Powerade. These brands contain less than 10% carbohydrate and suitable sodium levels for efficient gut absorption. Avoid using lifestyle beverages, (Prime, Vitamin water, energy drinks, soda, or juice) as they lack the necessary glucose/sucrose/sodium ratios for athletic performance.


  • Tip: If your run lasts longer than an hour or you’re a heavy sweater, or you will be running in hot conditions, sports drinks could be your hydration saviors!


#3 Hydrate During Activity

During your runs, you will perspire to regulate your body temperature. This results in the loss of both fluids and electrolytes. Therefore, the aim during exercise is to reduce dehydration caused by sweating. Be sure to drink at every drink station! Drink 3-8 ounces of fluid every 15-20 minutes during activity. 

Handy tip! – chugging roughly one ounce of fluid is equivalent to one big gulp. Shoot for 3 to 8 hearty gulps of water or a sports drink whenever you run by a hydration spot to keep your energy up!

#4 Rehydrate Following Activity

After victoriously crossing the finish line, it’s essential for runners to replenish lost fluids and electrolytes from sweating. Runners should aim to drink 20-24 ounces of fluid for each pound lost during the exercise. If unsure about the amount of weight lost, don’t worry. Begin with at least 20-24 ounces and keep hydrating until you feel adequately quenched.

Adding sodium after a run helps refill lost salt and boosts fluid retention. Snacking on salty treats after sweating it out can be a game-changer. Here are some tasty ideas to consider packing for immediately after your run, and before your larger, post run recovery meal:

#5 Avoid Overhydrating

On the hydration front, runners need to walk the fine line between staying hydrated and not turning into a water balloon during workouts. Chugging too much liquid can throw sodium levels out of whack, causing a case of diluted blood sodium, also known as hyponatremia. Keep your fluids in check!

Symptoms of hyponatremia include:

Swelling of hands, feet, or both, bloating, headache, nausea and vomiting, confusion, changes in mood, seizures, respiratory distress.

Hyponatremia is no joke, and it poses a serious risk, possibly resulting in coma or death. Runners need to be cautious not to gain weight while active by excessively consuming fluids. Monitoring fluid intake by weighing before and after activity can assist athletes in avoiding overhydration.

Download this guide from Banner Health Sports Medicine to stay prepared, healthy and hydrated this Pat’s Run!

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