Running during the hot months of the year presents a problem for most runners unless they are fully hydrated or water replete. Of course, the best way to be fully hydrated on a permanent basis is to:

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  • Eat 60% of daily calories as carbohydrates, 20% as protein and 20% as fat
  • Drink 8-10 8 oz. glasses of water daily
  • Avoid dehydrating beverages like alcoholic drinks
  • Restrict high sodium foods…
  • Anyone feel overwhelmed yet?
    Okay, some of you may do all of the above consistently but for everyone else, here are some ideas to help make those summer runs more pleasant and productive in your training.

    Why Do We Need Water?
    Water makes up 60% of our body weight and is our most important nutrient. It is necessary for every important physiologic function including fluid balance among blood and other body fluids as well as regulation of body temperature.

    How Do We Lose Water?
    Water is lost through obvious ways, sensible, like urinating, fecal loss and sweating. But we also lose water through ways that are not obvious, insensible, like breathing. The more we breathe, the more water is lost and that is in addition to the sensible losses listed above.

    How Much Water Do We Really Need?
    Every person has an individual formula for water requirements. It is one of the most frustrating things about hydration- there is no one recommendation suitable for everyone. You must determine your personal water prescription. Water needs are subject to many factors including:

    • Genetics
    • Sweat rate and composition of sweat
    • Duration and intensity of exercise
    • Environmental conditions including clothing
    • Hydration status pre workout

    How Do I Figure Out My Personal Water Prescription?
    To address the above factors, you need to pay attention to a few things as the weather heats up.
    First, weigh yourself before and after each run. A weight loss of more than 2% can have a negative impact on performance and health.

    For example:
    [Weight before run (130 lbs)] – [Weight after run (125 lbs)] = [Weight lost (5 lbs)]
    Weight lost/Weight before run = % Weight lost => 5 lbs/130 lbs = 4% Weight loss

    The above example represents a water loss that is unhealthy and can be avoided by drinking more water before and during and after your run. Adjust your preworkout meals to be higher in carbohydrates like fruits and vegetables and lower in protein and fats found in meats. Remember a good portion of carbohydrate is hydrate or water.

    Second, check the color of your urine throughout the day, especially before a run. This can alert you to a possible hydration problem before you even hit the road.


    Go ahead and drink 8 -16 ounces of cold water right before your run. Start one hour before if your urine is in the 4-5 range in the table above and 2 hours before if it is in the 6-7 range drinking 8-16 ounces every hour. Do not refrain from urinating if your feel the urge. This is your body’s protection from overhydration.
    If you have urine the color of 8, do not exercise until your have achieved a ‘safer’ color; which might not happen until you have a non-workout day eating carbohydrates and drinking water throughout the day. If this urine color persists, seek advice from a physician.

    Third, do not disregard THIRST. Feeling thirsty is the first defense against dehydration. Many people have been led to believe that feeling thirsty, means you are already dehydrated. That is an urban legend resulting from well-intentioned coaches encouraging athletes to achieve optimal hydration thus avoiding thirst altogether by consistently hydrating. In other words, drink enough water consistently to avoid thirst.
    But for most of us, thirst is an excellent indicator that we need to drink some water. If we respond appropriately with 8-16 oz. of cold water, not a soda or a latte, the thirst mechanism has served its purpose, that is, to avoid dehydration.

    Hydration Facts:

    • People with more muscle mass contain more body water
    • Urine accounts for 1500 ml water loss per day
    • You can sweat 1-2 L/hr in high temperatures wearing protective clothing
    • Exercise Related Muscle Cramping (ERMC) is not believed to be due to hydration status or electrolyte loss
    • One liter of water lost is equal to 2.2 pounds
    • Cool fluids are better tolerated and absorbed during exercise
    • Glycerol loading may allow for ‘water storage’ prior to exercise

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