Hydrating for a 10+ Mile Run

Endurance ath­letes need to prop­er­ly hydrate before, dur­ing, and after work­outs and any race, to ensure the body is bet­ter suit­ed to fight off dehy­dra­tion and pos­si­ble ill­ness. But it’s often hard to try and deter­mine what’s best for your body, espe­cial­ly with so many experts offer­ing con­flict­ing infor­ma­tion regard­ing prop­er hydra­tion and nutri­tion while training.

How­ev­er, there are a few basic tips that peo­ple run­ning and rac­ing 10+ miles should con­sid­er before, dur­ing, and after they compete.

Before the Run
Hydrating for a 10+ Mile RunIf you plan to run fur­ther than 10K, it’s impor­tant to make sure you’re drink­ing an appro­pri­ate amount of water at least 2–3 days before a hard work­out. Remem­ber: If you’re going to drink, do it after a race, because alco­hol con­sump­tion dehy­drates the body and can inad­ver­tent­ly inter­fere with your sleep schedule.

Drink at least eight to 16 ounces pri­or to the work­out, ide­al­ly one to two hours before an intense work­out. In addi­tion to water, drink some type of sports drink that pro­vides electrolytes—if in a pinch, one rec­om­mend­ed method is to use watered down Gatorade or Cytomax.

Dur­ing the Run
Drink before you’re thirsty! Ide­al­ly, you don’t want to be thirsty while you run, as you should drink water and elec­trolytes to stay hydrat­ed and avoid becom­ing over­ly parched. Start with water before work­ing out, and uti­lize some type of elec­trolyte sup­ple­ment after your body is warmed up.

Depend­ing on the weath­er con­di­tions, if you’re out for one to four hours, you’ll want to con­sume up to six ounces of flu­ids every 15–20 minutes. 

During the Run

If you plan to eat an ener­gy gel, chews, or sim­i­lar prod­ucts, it’s best to wash it down with a quick gulp of water.

Dur­ing an orga­nized race with aid sta­tion sup­port, car­ry a bot­tle or two of an elec­trolyte mix. Refill the water bot­tle at an aid sta­tion some­where on course, and use the elec­trolyte mix to help make it eas­i­er to con­sume an ener­gy gel.

After the Run
In addi­tion to eat­ing a light snack that pro­vides carbs and pro­tein, drink­ing water and some type of sports drink is impor­tant for recov­ery. Nutri­tion­ists rec­om­mend you try a pro­tein recov­ery drink with­in 15 min­utes of a work­out. I pre­fer the carbs to pro­tein ratio of 4:1 after an intense phys­i­cal effort.

It’s rec­om­mend­ed to con­sume 16 to 24 ounces of water per pound of water weight lost dur­ing a work­out — it’s not an exact sci­ence, but you can always check urine col­or to deter­mine how much fur­ther hydra­tion is needed.

Bonus Tip
Even if you aren’t work­ing out, try to get in the habit of car­ry­ing a water bot­tle with you through­out the day. Nutri­tion­ists rec­om­mend try­ing to drink 60 ounces of water each day – and be sure to drink one glass of water for every cup of cof­fee or soda you have. Ide­al­ly, you want light yel­low urine when you vis­it the bath­room, and mon­i­tor­ing urine col­or gives you a bet­ter gauge of your hydra­tion habits.

Final Thoughts
Work on drink­ing the appro­pri­ate amount of water and elec­trolytes dur­ing your train­ing efforts, and do the best you can on race day. Try to stick with the same amount of water and if the race isn’t hand­ing out the same sports drink, you can con­sid­er bring­ing your own.

Keep hydrat­ed, stay safe, and have fun out there!