Hydration Tips for Hot Weather Running
It should be simple... if you run in the heat, are sweating more frequently, you drink more water. But figuring out how much to drink, when to drink, or when to take a gel while running in hot weather can be complicated. Then enter electrolytes, and possibly gels, and now it just got confusing. I got you though with some straight forward hydration tips for hot running. First and foremost, you have to trial and error, practice, build up your tolerance and find what works best for you and your digestion.
Now bring on science baby! Hydrating while running in the heat is important because your body uses water from your blood for sweat which in turn, cools your body. If your blood doesn’t have enough water, it gets thicker, and can’t get oxygen to your muscles as fast, which causes you to slow down or cramp. Taking it a step further, if you don’t have enough water to sweat, then you can overheat which will hinder your performance and can be life threatening.
Along with water, you need electrolytes. Electrolytes are essential minerals and are a key component for hydration. They help regulate your body’s water balance, muscle function, muscle contraction and more.
How much water and electrolytes runners need can vary widely from runner to runner and run to run. Hydration needs are also affected by factors such as humidity, air temperature, run duration, altitude, run intensity, fitness level, clothing, genetics. However, there are general rules of thumb for hydration. Using these guidelines plus experimentation during your training can help you master your hydration needs. Consuming carbs and drinking fluids along the course is crucial for sustained energy. So, be sure to take enough carbohydrate blocks or gels with you for mid-run fuel.
1. Drink early and often. Drink water and electrolytes before your run. A good rule of thumb is to drink at least 16-20 ounces of fluid about 1-2 hours before you start running and then continue to hydrate as necessary during the run. I like to take my PE Science electrolytes at this time as well. I usually drink 16-20 ounces 2 hours prior then have another 4-6 ounces just shortly beforehand. Also, the recommended fluid intake is 0.5 ounces of water per pound of body weight. In hot conditions, increase up to 0.75 oz. So being aware of this prior to your run is key, so you know how to hydrate yourself.
2. Consuming carbs and drinking fluids along the course is crucial for sustained energy during a long run or endurance race. So, be sure to take enough carb blocks or gels with you for mid-run fuel. If I am running anything OVER 60 minutes, then I like to have something every 40 minutes of my run. I learned that runners need 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour if running for more than an hour. Use the products that worked for you during training. Do not switch up or experiment with new products on event day. Plan your electrolytes. You want to take in about 200-500 mg of electrolytes an hour (depending on various factors). So do the math before your training run or race: how many electrolytes are in your energy gels or drink? Do you need to supplement with salt tabs? Experiment with what combination works best for you during your training.
3. Plan ahead. Think about how you will carry your hydration and fuel on your training runs and during race day. Some people like hydration packs, hydration vests, while others prefer to carry two handheld water bottles as well as store things in their pockets, sports bra, and more. If you follow my stories you know that I always plan out my long run routes prior and sometimes I even stash my bottles along my running route. On race day, I use the race’s water stops. This is because I do not like carrying things, especially when running at an intense effort. So I always study the course map and hydration stations ahead of time so that I am prepared.
Finding your key fueling strategy will be what helps you perform best and not "bonk" during your training or on race-day (meaning, hitting that dreaded wall where your body stops performing). Therefore dosing frequently with fast-acting carbohydrates and hydration to boost blood glucose levels will help you go the distance. Below are products that I love and use for my endurance events.
Electrolytes - Versalyte, essential minerals
"melissa" saves you 10%
Carb Mix - VersaCarb, clean easy digesting fuel, no spike or crash from it
"melissa" saves you 10%
I hope this was helpful!