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How Much Water Should A Runner Drink? | Long Distance Running Hydration Tips

Running long distances takes hard work and determination. Physical training is paramount, and so is planning your nutrition and hydration. Here’s all you need to know on hydration when you’re tackling long distances.

Avoiding dehydration when running

Dehydration is a major risk among runners who do not prepare adequately. Your body will be generating plenty of sweat to cool you down as you tackle this serious cardio. As such, without replenishing your body’s fluid you’ll soon run into trouble.

Many organised long distance runs provide hydration points to prevent runners getting into any difficulty. However, many runners prefer to bring their own water so as to avoid the back up that can occur at these points.

Additionally, this allows you to tailor your liquids to deliver exactly what you need as you’re tackling a long distance. You could stick to plain refreshing water, or replenish your salt and sugar with a sports drink.

drinking water

What is the difference between water and sports drinks?

Water does one job as you are running; replenishing fluids.There are different categories of sports drinks, which achieve different aims.

  • Isotonic sports drinks are the most commonly used. These contain the same concentrations of sugars and salts as should be present in a healthy body.
  • Hypertonic sports drinks contain a higher concentration of sugars and salts than isotonic. This makes them good pre and post-workout drinks. They are also a popular choice among ultra long distance runners who require more energy.
  • Hypotonic sports drinks contain less salt and sugar concentrations than their counterparts. This makes them a good choice for people who want to replenish their fluids effectively but don’t want a higher energy boost. If you have only used water so far, you may find it interesting to experiment with sports drinks while training.

When Should You Drink?

Have around half a litre of water around two hours before you are due to embark on your distance. Then, experts suggest you consume between 385 and 800ml of liquid per hour. This variance is quite large, and is affected by weight, weather, fitness and gender. Some organised distance runs have scales at their hydration stations. By weighing yourself just before the race, you will be able to calculate exactly how many fluid ounces or millilitres you need to replenish by seeing how much “water weight” you have lost.

Do NOT wait to feel thirsty before having a drink when running long distances. Prevention is the best cure.


Can You Drink Too Much When Running?

Yes. If you begin to feel full or like water is sloshing in your stomach, stop drinking for at least 15 minutes. This could impact your performance as well as your comfort. Listen to your body and don’t push to drink more than you need to. More water doesn’t necessarily mean more healthy.

In rare cases, overhydrating can be fatal among long distances runners. This happens when you greatly reduce your sodium levels as a result of sweating and rehydrating with plain water. Even well-trained runners could become too susceptible to this, especially if their normal running conditions (e.g. Temperature) do not occur.So, stay hydrated and listen to your body. It could push you to a personal best or leave you feeling even better after that post-run buzz!

Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.

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Faye Reid

Faye Reid

Writer and expert

Faye Reid has a Master of Science in Sport Physiology and Nutrition. She puts her passion into practice as goal attack for her netball team, and in competitive event riding. Find out more about Faye's experience here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/faye-reid-8b619b122/.

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