Women

A guide to how much and what to drink during your marathon training runs

While it’s important to stay hydrated during exercise, it’s impossible to create one-size-fits-all drinking guidelines. Your weight, sweat rate and effort level, and the temperature, all affect how much you should drink. But that doesn’t mean you should leave your hydration plan to chance. These strategies can help ensure you drink the right amount before, during and after every run.

Before your run

One of the best way to limit dehydration during a run is to drink enough beforehand

One of the best way to limit dehydration during a run is to drink enough beforehand

One of the best way to limit dehydration during a run is to drink enough beforehand. ‘Checking your urine pre-run is an easy way to see if you’re hydrated,’ says Dr. Lewis Maharam, former medical director of the Rock ‘n’ Roll race series. ‘If it’s the color of iced tea, you need to drink more. If it’s a pale lemonade or straw color, you’re nicely hydrated.’ With the exception of alcoholic drinks, which are dehydrating, all beverages, including water, sports drinks, coffee, tea, juice and milk, can help keep you hydrated throughout the day.

During your run

If you’re out for an 18-miler, drinking mid-run is a no-brainer. But what if you’re going for an hour? Or doing intervals? ‘There have been a range of recommendations over the past two decades,’ says Maharam. ‘The newest brings us back to basics: drink to your thirst.’ It’s advice backed up by the International Marathon Medical Directors Association and Dr. Tim Noakes, author of Waterlogged: The Serious Problem of Overhydration in Endurance Sports. ‘Your thirst mechanism is exquisitely tuned to your body,’ says Noakes. ‘If you drink when you’re thirsty, you’ll keep your body adequately hydrated.’

If you drink when you’re thirsty, you’ll keep your body adequately hydrated

If you drink when you’re thirsty, you’ll keep your body adequately hydrated

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking enough so you don’t lose more than three per cent of your weight through sweat lose more than that and your performance starts to falter. One way to figure out how much lose during an hour of running is to weigh yourself naked pre and post run (without drinking anything during the run). The number of kilograms you lose equates to your sweat loss in liters. So, if you lost a kilo, you sweated a liter of fluid.

On runs longer than 60 minutes, sports drinks are a good idea. They have carbs for energy, and electrolytes such as sodium and potassium, which are lost through sweat but are integral to nerve and muscle function.

After your run

After especially long or hard runs, you also need protein to help your muscles heal

After especially long or hard runs, you also need protein to help your muscles heal

When you come in from a run, drink until you’re satisfied. If your face has white salt streaks on it post-run, it means you’ve lost quite a bit of sodium, so it’s best to have a sports drink, water with an electrolyte tablet in it, or water along with food that contains sodium. After especially long or hard runs, you also need protein to help your muscles heal. That’s why recovery drinks are ideal – they provide protein and fluid to help you rehydrate. ‘Chocolate milk is a great choice,’ says Maharam. ‘The carbs to protein ration is perfect is recovery.’

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