Should You Drink Water While Running: Your Guide to Fueling Your Body

Natalie Cecconi
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Should You Drink Water Before Running?

With the recent shift towards a more natural health and fitness culture, the idea of drinking water while running during or after a workout or race has gained some momentum. Some runners drink water during a race or when running, with the goal of staying hydrated. You may have been told that it is not a good idea to drink water when you run. Is that true?

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at drinking water while running as well as other hydration methods. Manual to this, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about whether you want to drink water while running, and if so, when and how much.

Looking to learn more about how to fuel your body for a run, check out our 8-week Marathon Training Program.

How Much Water Should I Drink While Running?

A lot of people think that to stay hydrated during a run, you have to drink water.

That’s not necessarily true. You can stay hydrated and even improve your sweat rate, meaning you lose less water from perspiration during the run, by eating the same kind of food you eat normally.

Don’t drink water just because it’s there.

Should You Drink Water While Running?

Knowing how to drink water while running is essential if you want to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Contrary to popular belief, a small amount of water is actually good for runners and can improve your performance and prevent health issues.

Remember that the human body is made almost entirely of water. It’s also essential among many other things for absorbing nutrients and expelling waste. That’s why it’s so important to keep your body well hydrated.

Since water is a key component in your body, regulating how much you drink is an important part of staying healthy. To ensure that you do not under- or over hydrate yourself, you’ll need to know how to drink water while running.

But first, you need to establish some ground rules. There are official recommendations that can help you make sure you get the water you need without overdoing it.

Drink plenty of fluids before and during your workouts and stretching sessions. Water is the most ideal source of hydration for most people, but you can also choose sports drinks with electrolytes as long as they don’t contain sugar or artificial sweeteners. As a rule, drink enough to help you stay hydrated but stop before you feel an urge to urinate.

Should You Drink Water After Running?

It is recommended to drink water every fifteen minutes on an empty stomach (i.e. not before and not after a workout) when doing intense cardio, like running, in order to avoid dehydration.

As a general rule, a person should drink sixteen ounces of water or other non-acidic beverages every hour for endurance training.

This recommendation is opposed to popular belief that water should be drunk during exercise or active and light exercise.

So why is drinking water during exercise not advisable in most cases?

As the muscles start breaking down with exercise, they produce lactic acid which creates an alkaline environment.

If you were to drink water during the exercise, it could cause hyponatremia (also known as water intoxication).

Finally, hydrating only after you finish running is the best way to drink water after a run because by then you will have a better idea of your total water intake that day.

The total amount of fluids you should consume depends on how much exercise you do. The aim is to reach a total of 18-20 glasses of water per day, each glass being eight ounces.

You should also drink enough fluids before you exercise and be sure to include some water in your nutritional intake every couple of hours throughout the day.

What To Remember

If you’ve ever thought about running a marathon, you’re not alone.

In 2015, about 550,000 runners registered for the New York City Marathon … so yeah, it’s pretty popular!

But running a full marathon can take about 10 hours and if you’re like me, that’s a long period of time without food and water.

Heck, I’m hungry and thirsty just thinking about it!

But all of that discomfort can be prevented by being prepared with the right food and drink before, during and after your run.

If you’ve been putting off running a marathon because you weren’t sure how to fuel your body during the race, consider this your quick guide to running your first marathon.

Get some energy from a variety of sources … preferably with a mix of carbohydrates, fat and protein.

Your body burns through your carbs first, and then onto your fat stores. If you use up all of the carbs in your system, you may feel like you’re starving though you’re actually just burning fat for energy.

What To Consider

In endurance sports, proper nutrition is essential for success. When running marathons or reaching for personal bests, proper fueling is essential for performance. In shorter races and training sessions, balancing electrolytes and fluid is important.

In longer races, the energy demands of the body are greater. Avoiding depletion of body stores requires proper fueling guidelines for successful performance.

Hydration and food intake should be balanced during a run. Dehydration, cramping—or worse—and being unable to complete a distance adversely affect many athletes.

If you train and work out regularly, you already have an idea of how your nutrition works for you on a continual basis.

Measuring heart rate is one way to gauge fueling needs. Understanding what nutrition, food, and fluid are “burning” or providing energy is essential for nutrition.

You should be aware of what your body feels like with adequate and insufficient levels of energy. This will help you decide how much to eat, when to eat, and how much or how often to refuel.

If you have had bad experiences in the past with fueling, this, of course, is different. Consistently poor experiences are worth it to investigate why it is happening.

Conclusion

So, should you drink water while running? The short answer is no. Drinking water while running will make you slower and more prone to injury, along with other potential problems.

If you need to stay hydrated while running, there are a few guidelines you can follow to ensure you don’t run out of drink while running:

  • Drink a lot in the days leading up to your run
  • While running, take bottles of water with you and sip from them throughout the run
  • If you’re planning to keep to your recommended pace, take drink with you
  • Keep a visual on water sources and refill your bottles regularly