In the heat of the summer, long runs can be brutal – especially in states where temperatures reach triple digits shortly after the sun peeks over the horizon. Hydration is vital to the performance and health of any athlete – regardless of fitness or pace – you can’t give it your all when you are lacking fluids.
The latest trend in hydration is “fuel belts.” These unique contraptions allow you to carry your water wherever your feet may take you, but hydration if about more than having a stash of water at your convenience. Follow these tips for peak performance hydration:
- Develop a hydration habit. Don’t just drink water when you feel thirsty – drink water all the time. Try to achieve an absolute minimum of 64 ounces per day, although 100 ounces is more ideal.
- Make up the difference. If you chug gallons of coffee, soda or energy drinks throughout the day, be sure to make up the dehydrating effects of these beverages with additional glasses of water. Although these beverages are made with water, they still dehydrate the body. If you were out for happy hour the night before, you will need even more fluids to refuel – alcohol is severely hydrating.
- Focus on hydration. If you are planning a 60-minute run, plan to focus on hydration 60 minutes before your run – consuming hydrating fluids consistently within that hour. The rule is the same if your run is two hours and so on – dedicate as much time to hydration as you are to your run
- Hydrate while you work. Strategically-located water fountains or a hydration belt (fuel belt.) If you are logging some serious miles, a hydration belt is your best resource – you can fill up on not only water, but sports drinks that will give your body more of what it needs to sustain the long journey.
- Recover. The hard labor may be done, but your fluid intake following your run should be continuous. Much like your pre-run hydration, your post-run hydration should equal the length of your run. If you ran 60 minutes, focus on hydrating for 60 minutes following your run, etc. Recovery drinks are ideal in this case or you can alternate sports drinks and water.
If you are wondering which is better for hydration – sports drinks or water – well, the answer is sports drinks, but that doesn’t mean that the average person should consume them all “willy-nilly.” For performance, sports drinks are the optimal choice – loaded with electrolytes, carbs and, in some cases protein, these drinks support absorption and muscle function better. However, if you are not performing high-intensity activities, sports drinks are an extra dose of liquid calories you don’t need.