When you run, your body generates 20 times more heat than when you are resting, and your body cools you down by sweating.
However, as you sweat, you also LOSE important fluids and nutrients, such as electrolytes, potassium, and sodium.
Therefore, it is very important to hydrate before, during, and after a run.
Water is what DELIVERS nutrients to cells, keeps organs functioning, regulates body temperature, and keeps your joints lubricated – all of which are important for runners.
This article gives tips on how to manage your hydration in your morning runs.
Typical Hydration Advice Doesn’t Work For an Early Run
Many of us wake up dehydrated in the morning.
Running when dehydrated is not so fun and usually leaves with a bad aftertaste (HEADACHES, anyone?). That’s not a good way to start the day.
You’ve all heard this TYPICAL advice about hydration: Hydrate two hours before running. Hydrate before going to bed.
Yes, yes, we know that. But that doesn’t suit for early morning runners at all. Here’s why:
- The American College of Sports Medicine suggests drinking liquids several hours before you exercise. But that’s IMPOSSIBLE if you want a good night’s sleep before your morning run.
- One typical piece of advice is that you should prepare for a morning run by drinking a lot before going to bed.
- But that, for most of us, means that we have to get up a couple of times during the night to pee. And unless we drink quite a bit every time we get up, we end up dehydrated in the morning anyway.
- Another typical piece of advice on hydrating in the morning is to get up 30-60 minutes before the run and drink like crazy.
- But that LEADS to most of us having to pee all the time during the run. That is somewhat difficult in populated areas.
So are there any better ways to hydrate for a morning run?
How to Hydrate for a Morning Run
Here are some tips we gathered and tested. Every individual is DIFFERENT, so what suits one might not suit another. Be prepared to fine-tune your morning run routine:
1. Stay hydrated throughout the week by drinking plenty of water. Keep your water intake up all day long. Have a water bottle on your desk at work, and empty it several times a day. This helps prevent cotton mouth in the morning.
2. Go to bed hydrated, but don’t overdo it. Try to find the right balance.
3. Keep your bedroom cool so that you don’t sweat at night.
4. Have a glass of water on hand so you can have a sip if you wake up at night.
5. Drink a glass of water when you wake up before a run.
6. Eating before running is generally recommended. On those light and moderate morning runs, you can run on an empty stomach (or with a light snack). Running long distances or doing high-intensity runs requires eating before.
7. Take a water bottle with you on the run (this is the most important thing!). We typically think of carrying a water bottle only on long runs. But when you run in the morning, take a water bottle even for a shorter run. That way, you don’t have to stress about drinking so much before a run.
8. Drink enough water after your run to avoid becoming thirsty. Having breakfast, or snack within 30 minutes of your run helps recovery.
How to Carry Water on a Run
Many runners prefer to LEAVE their bottle of water at home while they run, as it can be uncomfortable to carry.
However, if you are going on a run that’s an hour or longer (or for a morning run with cotton mouth), you should be drinking water regularly.
For shorter runs, you can take a handheld water bottle.
Another option, which leaves your hands free, is a running belt with a water bottle holder.
For longer distances, run with a hydration pack.
It’s also a good idea to take some form of carbohydrates or electrolytes with you. Many runners find sports gels useful when it comes to this, as they are very easy to consume on the go.
Other Tips for Hydration
The current advice about hydration is to drink when thirsty. If you want some numbers: fluid consumption during runs should be between 4 and 6 ounces every 20 minutes.
But what about if you want even more precise numbers?
1. Measure Your Sweat Rate
As you sweat, you lose important fluids, but you also lose a bit of your body weight.
If you lose more than 2 or 3 percent of your body weight through the fluid (equates to 3 to 5 pounds for someone weighing 150 pounds), then this can lead to severe dehydration.
To know the exact numbers you can measure your sweat rate.
- Measure your weight before a run (ideally without clothes).
- Go for an hour run.
- Measure your weight after a run (again no clothes, and towel yourself dry).
- Check how much you drank during the run (weight).
- Add the weight of the liquid you consumed to the lost weight.
- Your sweat rate is that number/hour.
For example: before a 1-hour run, you weigh 170 lb (77 kg). After the run, you weigh 169 lb (76.5 kg). That means you lost 1 lb / 16 ounces (0.5 kg). You drank 8 ounces (0.2 l) of water. Total fluids used is 16 + 8 ounces = 24 ounces (0.7 l). The sweat rate is equaling 24 ounces (0.7 l) of fluid per hour.
In this example, you should drink around 24 ounces (0.7 l) of water each hour to stay optimally hydrated.
An average person sweats between 27 to 47 ounces (0.8 to 1.4 l) per hour during exercise.
Note: Calculating sweat rate is not an exact science. It is always best to follow your body’s signals. Following the calculated numbers strictly doesn’t make sense.
There are several FACTORS that will determine your sweat rates, such as outdoor temperature, gender, and fitness levels.
For example, experienced runners tend to sweat more than those who are inexperienced, as those who are fitter have bodies that are more efficient at cooling themselves.
2. Drink Regularly
Your body should be hydrated 24/7, even if you aren’t running that day.
Drinking water throughout the day will ensure you stay hydrated. This is better than drinking only at mealtimes or having lots of water in one go.
You should carry a bottle with you at all times, and keep drinking consistently. Consuming fruit is also a great way to stay hydrated, as most fruits contain a lot of water, electrolytes, and fiber.
You also may be DEHYDRATED WITHOUT ACTUALLY FEELING thirsty:
- Instead of measuring your hydration levels through your thirst, measure them through your urine.
- It should be a clear, light yellow. If it is darker, then you are dehydrated and should start drinking more water.
You should also limit your alcohol intake. Alcohol dehydrates you severely and increases the amount of storage of carbohydrates in your muscles.
This will lead to a higher risk of injury and poor performance when it comes to your running. If you are a consumer of alcohol, be sure to fully replenish your fluids the next morning.
3. Hydrate Before, During, And After Your Run
Staying hydrated before, during, and, after your run, is just as important as staying hydrated on regular days.
Other than morning runs, try to have around 16 ounces of water 2 hours before a run. This equates to around 2 cups.
If you’re able to, pair this with a snack or small meal. This will provide you with more energy on your run as it will fuel you.
When the time gets closer to your run, around 15 minutes prior, make sure to drink around 6 to 8 ounces of water. This equates to around one cup.
After your run, you should try and drink 16 ounces of water (around 2 cups) with some food. However, if you do know your sweat rate, you can use it as a guideline on how much to drink.
Extra Tips For Runners
Ensuring that you’re topped up on water is essential, especially when it comes to running.
But there are other tips that will keep you healthy and performing well.
1. Don’t Always Avoid Salt
A diet that is very high in sodium can lead to poor health, but we still need some salt in our bodies to stay hydrated.
As you sweat, you lose sodium, so add these to bring your sodium levels back up:
- a sprinkle of salt to your food, or
- snacking on a few salty peanuts
2. Don’t Forget About Magnesium And Potassium
Magnesium and potassium are key minerals needed for fluid balance and good muscle function. If you are deficient in either of these, it can accentuate the feelings of dehydration.
Eating a well-balanced diet ensures you get enough of these vital nutrients:
- Sources of potassium include bananas, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, oranges, and pomegranate juice.
- Good sources of magnesium include almonds, pumpkin seeds, leafy greens, broccoli, and lentils.
The Bottom Line
Staying hydrated does not only help your performance as a runner, it keeps your body in check, ensuring all your muscles and organs are working properly.
Even if you’re on a rest day, making sure you’re hydrated throughout the day is crucial for your health.
If you’re running for an hour or longer, or running in the morning, then you should also be drinking at intervals on your run.
We hope this article has given you some guidance on how to stay hydrated as a runner.