All the organs and cells in the body need water to properly function. Water regulates your body temperature and flushes waste products out of your body. Because you lose fluids when you sweat, it’s critical to pay attention to hydration—particularly before, during, and after your workouts. Dehydration can drag down your performance, and make running at any pace feel tougher. And if you’re trying to shed pounds, it can be a problem too. is easy to mistake the thirst and fatigue that go along with dehydration for hunger. And that can cause you to reach for extra calories that could drag down your weight-loss efforts. But with the dizzying array of drinks on the market, it can be confusing to know how much you need to drink, and which thirst-quenchers are going to help you be your best. Here are some tips to stay hydrated.
Drink when you’re thirsty. In recent years, health authorities have recommended that in order to stay hydrated, you need to simply drink when you’re thirsty. Aim for half your body weight. If you forget to drink, feel like you’re struggling through routine runs, often feel thirsty, or just want a formula to follow to stay hydrated, use this rule of thumb: drink half your body weight in ounces of fluids each day. So if you weigh 180 pounds, aim for 90 ounces of water or calorie-free drinks per day. If you weigh 120 pounds, aim for 60 ounces.
Take small sips. Try to chug all that water or sports drink right before you hit the road, and you could end up with a sloshy and nauseas feeling in your stomach and having to interrupt your run for bathroom stops. To avoid this, sip fluids throughout the day. Always keep a water bottle within reach. That way you’ll be well hydrated whenever you hit the road.
Stick with water most of the time. Boring as it might sound, plain old water will hydrate you well in most cases. If it is hot, humid, you are running long, or doing a speed workout, a sports drink can provide the electrolytes that you lose through sweating, and some carbohydrates to keep you energized. Be careful not to overdo it on the sports drinks; they can provide a lot of extra calories and additives that can drag down your performance. Reach for low-calorie or sugar-free sports drinks whenever possible.
Do the sweat test. In order to replenish the fluids you lose on the run, do the sweat test. Weigh yourself naked before you go on your run, and then again when you return. Take note of how much fluid you consume during the run and add it to the amount of weight you lose. For every pound of body weight you lose, aim to drink an additional 16 ounces of fluid. Perform the sweat test in different weather conditions, and record the results.
Do the pee test. How do you know whether you’re well hydrated? It’s simple. If you’re well hydrated, your urine should be pale yellow. If it’s darker, say the color of apple juice, then you’re dehydrated. If it’s clear, you can back off the fluids.