Hydration Basics for Trail Running
Hydration Basics for Trail Running
When trail running, staying properly hydrated is one of the most important elements. Water is important for your body because it gives you more energy, provides you with better endurance and boosts recovery time after a hard run. So, how can you be sure you’re properly hydrating and what can happen if you don’t?
What happens in case of improper hydration?
When you lose more fluid than you take in, you can experience dehydration. If you don’t counteract the feeling of thirst by drinking water, you can experience dry mouth, energy loss, cramps, headaches, nausea and reduced urination. Luckily, the cure for dehydration is easy: drinking water. However, in order to stay properly hydrated, it’s better to sip water frequently, than to chug a full bottle infrequently. Some sports drinks can also boost hydration and provide the body with lost carbs and electrolytes.
Hydration tips for trail runners
Trail runners need to be extra careful when it comes to hydration. Just like you invest in top-notch durable running shoes to keep your feet and joints safe, you also need to invest in a good water bottle. These two are probably the most important running gear elements for both safety and performance, so check out plenty of reviews and tips online. Next, you need to have a few tricks up your sleeve:
Plan your route
A 16 oz. water bottle can weigh over a pound, so if you want to skip carrying all that extra weight during your run, make sure to plan your route well. For instance, you can go through your local park where you can top off your small bottle with fresh water from a water fountain. If you’re running loops, you can use your car as an aid station during longer runs.
Set a timer
Many people get too into running that they forget all about hydration. So, in order to avoid that from happening, set an alarm to remind you to rehydrate and grab a snack.
Have some water at all times
No matter if you’re using a handheld bottle, a waist belt, a flask or a hydration vest, you always need to have some water with you. If you always have to stop to hydrate, you will slow down your time and won’t hydrate frequently enough.
When you sweat a lot, you lose water and electrolytes so your performance can be subpar. During shorter runs (an hour or less) you don’t need to worry about electrolytes, but longer runs will require some compensation. Replacing sodium and potassium is especially important. The easy want to replenish your electrolyte supply is by drinking sports drinks. There are also powders and tablets you can put in your water bottle, just follow the directions on the packaging.
Basic things to remember
How much water do you actually need? Everyone is different but the formula usually goes something like this:
Pre-hydration: take 17 to 20 fl. oz. before your run (two hours or so) to start properly hydrated.
Hydration: every 15 to 20 minutes into your run, take between 5 and 10 fl. oz. of water.
Post-hydration: get your fluid levels back to normal and boost recovery by taking between 16 and 24 fl. oz. of water.
If you’re taking a very short run (less than 45 minutes) you might be able to skip drinking water during your run. However, if the weather is very hot and you sweat a lot, rehydrate regardless of your running distance.
How to know you’re properly hydrated
Like stated above, shorter runs don’t require any hydration monitoring but runs that last over an hour do need proper focus. The longer you make your runs, the more watchful you need to be when it comes to your hydration. When you sweat, you lose water and electrolytes, so both your performance and recovery can suffer. So, in order to see whether you’re properly hydrated, check your urine. If it’s too dark, you’re not hydrated enough and if it’s too light, you’ve diluted your electrolytes too much. Light yellow is what you need to aim for. Proper urine monitoring and timed hydration will ensure you’re in top shape, especially before an important race.
Good hydration can yield amazing results while bad hydration can do the exact opposite. No matter what you do, trail running will be challenging, but with good care for your body, it can be made a little easier with hydration monitoring.
Bio: Noah Markin is an extremely boring person, according to his mates. He likes writing and lifting heavy things all day long. He’s the editor of Runnerclick.com.