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Tara Gidus

HOW MUCH FLUID SHOULD I BE DRINKING?

With spring here and summer right around the corner, the rapidly approaching heat may leave us longing again for our cool morning runs….and a cold glass of water. One of our biggest obstacles as runners can be the hot, humid days and knowing the best way to properly hydrate for our training.

When we exercise we lose fluids through sweating, and unless these fluids are replaced adequately we can become dehydrated very easily. When dehydration sets in, blood flow is reduced and heat dissipation from the skin is also reduced, causing the internal body temperature to rise. Even slight dehydration can not only lead to reduced training performance, but it can also cause physiological consequences.

Can Drinking Too Much Water Be Bad?

We know that not consuming enough water is bad, but what about drinking too much? As it goes, there are two sides to every story and that’s no different when it comes to proper hydration. Over consumption of water can actually lead to hyponatremia, aka “water-intoxication.” This happens when you drink too much water, sweat a lot, and don’t replace the sodium lost in sweat.  Over hydration can lead to nausea, disorientation, and muscle weakness-symptoms, and even death. To prevent it, drink full strength sports drinks during exercise lasting more than an hour to get enough electrolytes and sugar.


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How We Can Stay Properly Hydrated

How can we make sure we are properly hydrated and maximize our training potential? Here are a few tips for a fluid success:

  • Drink up. A general rules of thumb is to drink 8-16 ounces (1-2 cups) 15 minutes before exercise, and 4-8 ounces every 15 minutes during exercise. If you’re not sure how much an ounce is, it’s equivalent to a nice big gulp of fluid.

  • Schedule it. Logging and planning out when you’re drinking and how much you’re drinking not only holds you accountable, it also reminds you to hydrate and replenish. Follow your plan instead of just relying on thirst.

  • Be in the clear! A great way to monitor your hydration is to pay attention to the color of your urine. The lighter the color, the more hydrated you are.

  • Know your sweat rate. Keep track of your weight before and after a run to know how much you should be consuming during your workout. Even a 2% loss of body weight from dehydration can cause your performance will suffer. Replenish 16-24 ounces per pound of sweat lost, or until you reach pre-run body weight.

  • Train for hydration. Just like anything else, proper hydration, especially during long runs and races, is something that must be practiced. Take time and pay attention to your hydration schedule to decide a plan of action that leads to optimal performance.


With hydration tips in hand, maybe now those long summer runs won’t seem so unnerving and more like a cool, mid-morning, spring run!


Have questions or comments? Tweet me @DietDivaTara


Known as the "Diet Diva," Tara Gidus is a nationally acclaimed nutrition expert and the official nutritionist of runDisney.