Hydration for Runners: What to Drink Before, During and After Running

Hydration for Runners: What to Drink Before, During and After Running

Staying well hydrated both when training and in competitions is as important as a proper diet, and, moreover, a poor diet can worsen our performance by increasing fatigue and dehydration, being directly related to thermoregulation, and can have fatal consequences for our health.

Importance of Staying Hydrated

Body water accounts for 50-70% of our total body weight and has very important functions for our body, including thermoregulation, nutrient transport, elimination of metabolic waste, joint lubrication and nutrient absorption and digestion, amongst others.


Running, like other physical activities, involves significant water losses through sweat, which must be replenished

Of all these, the fundamental one for the endurance runner is thermoregulation, especially when running in hot environments.

Fluid loss during physical activity

This depends on the characteristics of the athlete, the activity he or she performs, and the environment in which they finds themselves, and can from 1.5-2 litres to 6-10 litres in long-distance running training.Importance hydration runners

How to Stay Hydrated During a Run?

What we should drink will depend on the type of training we do and the conditions under which we do the training, but in general terms, I would recommend sports drinks for athletes.

Composition of Isotonic Drinks

These drinks contain 6 to 8 grams of carbohydrates per 100ml, in addition to mineral salts such as sodium, chlorides, potassium, calcium and magnesium in various concentrations.

You can incorporate into your training or competition Evocarbs as an isotonic drink

Why drink Sports Drinks?

Nutrient supply

Sports drinks are designed to be quickly absorbed by the digestive tract, and their main objectives are to:

  • Supply carbohydrates in order to maintain blood glucose levels and delay the depletion of glycogen stores and thus fatigue.
  • Replenish the electrolytes we have lost, especially sodium.
  • >strong>Replenish the water lost to prevent dehydration.

Athlete Performance

In addition to their proven effectiveness in improving runner performance, these drinks taste good, making it easier for the athlete to hydrate.

It’s not advisable to drink only water in long-distance endurance races, as this can lead to a “dilution” (reduction in the concentration of a chemical) of the body fluids, to the extent that physiological functions can be affected.

Avoid Hyponatremia

Moreover, when you drink too much water in events such as a marathon or long-distance triathlon, you can get “hyponatremia” (lowering of sodium concentration in the blood).

Hyponatremia in sport can put our health at risk, accompanied by nausea, vomiting and even alterations in the electrical functioning of the heart.

Test to check your Hydration level

A simple test we can do to check our hydration level before a race is to look at the colour of the urine: ideally it should be a light colour, but if on the contrary it is concentrated and has a strong smell, we should hydrate immediately.

How much and how to drink?

Before the exercise

The first recommendation when approaching a competition is to hydrate well the entire week leading up to it.


In the hours leading up to exercise, it is a good idea to hydrate yourself with drinks containing some low glycemic index carbohydrates

Commercial beverages, besides hydrating us, will provide us with some glucose, salts and important minerals such as sodium and potassium.

During the exercise

It is advisable in long-distance races such as a marathon, to drink, from the start of the race, about 150-200ml of the sports drink we’ve chosen every 20-30 minutes, rather than waiting to drink a lot every hour.


The environmental conditions may slightly change these general recommendations.The use of carbohydrate gels with mineral replenishment is quite common.

Bear in mind that, even drinking the right or recommended volume, it will be difficult to reach the water balance with respect to the losses (the stomach has a maximum emptying rate), so, in the best case, we will almost always end the race slightly dehydrated.

After the exercise

Hydration after the end of training or competition should start as soon as possible, drinking slowly and at regular intervals.

Aid station

Sports drinks containing sodium or any food rich in carbohydrates that has some salt is recommended.

Weighing ourselves before training and doing it again at the end of the exercise can give us a reference of the water lost at the end of the training or the competition

Sports Supplements for Runners

Post-Training Objective

After intense training, whether in strength or cardiovascular work, muscle contractions have occurred which will have degraded muscle glycogen reserves. So a basic objective that we all need to take into account is replenishing these energy reserves. If we don’t replenish and our training sessions are intense and long lasting, we can progressively deplete these deposits, resulting in low performance in the short and medium term.

Protein is not only recommended for strength athletes but can also be a determining factor in endurance athletes, as is the case with Hydrolyzed Protein and its Benefits for Long Duration Activities

Enhancing Recovery

When pursuing performance objectives, training loads should be as important as recovery means. Without considering supplements, it will not be possible to cope with such demanding sessions without falling into over-training and chronic fatigue.

Endurance runner

In cardio activities such as running or cycling, the degradation of these glycogen reserves is much greater than in strength sports.

Supplements for Runners

Traditionally, supplements have been considered for strength athletes and for a muscle development objectives, however, they are equally if not more suitable for long-distance athletes and ultra-distance specialities where the training load is very high.

There is an almost total depletion of glycogen reserves and the continuous muscular contractions end up causing inflammation and ruptures in the muscular and connective tissue. If these structures are not replaced, it won’t be long before ruptures and states of muscular catabolism appear.


The energy and muscle wear of a triathlete or marathon runner is greater than that of a strength athlete.

So endurance athletes also need to promote their recovery with this type of aid in the form of protein shakes to supplement their diet. It’s also important to take this post-training powder with water only for correct and rapid assimilation, as if mixed with milk or juice, gastric emptying will be delayed and the desired rapid assimilation effects will be lost.


  • J. L. Chicharro, D. Sánchez. (2014). Fisiología y fitness para corredores populares. Editorial: Prowellness.

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Review of Hydration for Runners In-Depth

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About Paloma Sala
Paloma Sala
Paloma Sala is an athlete who is constantly learning to give her best. Paloma is an experienced high performance athlete who has been doing Athletics for more than 20 years.
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