A Female Runner’s Guide To Hydration (Before, During. After)
Get hydration right and you’ll be rewarded with better running performance
Striking the right balance of hydration is key to running well. Get it right, and your running performance, pace, speed, and recovery will all benefit. Get it wrong, and you risk headaches, cramps, digestive distress, and heat related illnesses – or worse.
Before You Run
Start getting your hydration right before you set out. And this doesn’t mean 30 minutes before you run. Pay attention to your hydration all day – and even in the days leading up to your next running session.
You might think this sounds like staying hydrated 7 days a week – and you’d be right. You should never be dehydrated.
Hydration levels are particularly important for runs of 60 minutes or more. Make sure your pee is pale (that’s a good sign!), drink plenty of water, eat food that’s high in water (fruit, salad vegetables) and avoid too much alcohol.
Get a good night’s sleep the night before a race or significant training run – poor sleep can leave you dehydrated too.
An hour before your run, drink about 500ml water, or electrolyte drink. If you’re already well hydrated, this should be enough.
During Your Run
If you’re well hydrated going into your run, it will be enough to drink to your thirst – if you know your body well, and can listen to it! This strategy can help keep you from being dehydrated and over hydrated (which can lead to hyponatraemia).
For runs longer than 90 minutes, include some sports drink and electrolytes in your hydration strategy.
For training runs, you’ll need to carry drink with you, or run a series of loops with a water bottle stashed along the way. For races, water stops will be provided. But it’s your responsibility to know where they are and how regularly they are spaced along the course.
After Your Run
It’s really important to keep hydrating with water and electrolytes after your run. This would be a good time to have a homemade smoothies with protein powder, frozen fruit, plenty of ice, and water. Coconut water is another lovely option for the post-run window. Try to include some water-heavy foods during the rest of your day (a large salad, or a snack of raw crudite vegetables). Add a little salt to your food after a long run too.
Keep drinking for the rest of the day – avoiding caffeinated drinks and alcohol if you can – and remember to kick start the following day with your morning strategy of water or a herbal tea.
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