May 24

Hydration for Runners – What Not to Do

When I saw the theme for this week’s RUN IT link up, I laughed out loud. If you know me at all then you know I’m a horrible hydrator. I’ve written about it, I’ve tried to get better, hell I even once had surgery because I think I’m chronically dehydrated. So instead of pretending I actually drink anywhere near the amount of water I should for the training I do, I will caution you to do as I say and not as I do.

Of course there will be four other much more intelligent and regimented runners who can help you with proper hydration in the Run It link up below, but let’s start with some fun at my expense.

Most hydration advice for runners is basically the same so I’ll go with the 4 Key Hydration Tips for Runners on and then tell you what I do instead:


What they say: “Drink eight to 16 ounces one to two hours before a run. Sports drinks and water are good choices, says running coach Cassie Dimmick, R.D. Iced coffee and tea are fine, too. Didn’t plan ahead? Fifteen to 30 minutes before going out, drink at least four to eight ounces of fluid.”

What I do: Wake up at 5:00am and have 8-12 oz of hot coffee, black with one sugar. I may have milk in my cereal if that’s my breakfast choice. I take a gulp of water before heading out for a run or swim at 8:30am. I have an advantage on the bike since I can bring water with me but I don’t think that’s what they mean by “pre-hydrating.” Oops.

The outcome: I don’t really feel the effects unless it’s a very hot day, then it’s a suffer fest, but I’m not sure I would feel a huge difference if I were pre-hydrated. Or maybe I’m just stubborn.

I like to post-hydrate.


What they say: “Before going for a hot run, have a slushy made with crushed ice and your favorite sports drink. To keep drinks chilled while you run, fill a bottle halfway, freeze it, and top it off with fluid before starting. Running a loop? Stash bottles in a cooler along your route, says Dimmick.”

What I do: Who has time to make a slushy before a run? I guess I would if I planned ahead but I have never done this. And, the only time I’ve had the pleasure of bottles stashed for me on a route is when I was marathon training with other women. One had an amazing husband who put out water and electrolytes for us and the other asked a good friend who happened to live on the route. Bless them.

The outcome: I remember being on a long run in the heat once and actually looking for hoses in people’s yards because I was going to turn it on and drink right out of it I was so thirsty! After that, I got a little better at bringing water with me but it’s still a complete PIA. Unless I’m running over 10 miles, I leave all liquids at home.

I love my Orange Mud hydration pack but have barely used it now that I mostly race shorter distances.


What they say: “Note your thirst during your runs, and write down how often and how much you drink.”

What I do: Is it safe to say no one does this? I mean actually write it down? What the…?

The outcome: Apparently there is a way to have your watch beep every 15 minutes or something to remind you to drink or take in fuel. I probably need this because when I’m racing, I put off drinking on the bike (why???) and then I regret it in the run.

Drink up!


What they say: “For shorter runs when you want the benefits of a sports drink minus the extra calories, swishing just might do the trick. It’s also good news for runners who get queasy from ingesting a lot of sugar at once. But for runs over an hour, find a drink you can stand to swallow.”

What I do: I have never bothered to swish a sports drink. If I’m having electrolytes, I need them desperately and will swallow them down until the bottle is empty.

The outcome: I feel a lot better having sports drinks after a hot and sweaty workout. Since the NYC marathon debacle, I’ve started having half a bottle of sports drink prior to heading out into the heat and it works amazingly well. Baby steps.

In a perfect world, alcohol would have electrolytes!

Now that you know what NOT to do, here are some experienced runners who hydrate correctly and have the PRs to prove it:

angela | happy fit mama


laura | this runner’s recipes



nellie | brooklyn active mama


carly | fine fit day


Are you good or bad at hydrating?

Do you have any advice for me?


1 ping

Skip to comment form

  1. Can you imagine if alcohol did have electrolytes? Runner’s would be stumbling all over the course from the alcohol not from exhaustion. Lol! I’m not the best at hydrating on the run but I’ve improved some. At least I carry it on most of my long runs now. And I’ve jumped fences to get to watering hoses because I was dying on a run where I didn’t have any water. The things we do!
    Angela @ happy fit mama recently posted…Hydration Tips and Tricks for RunnersMy Profile

    1. Races would be a lot less competitive and a lot more fun tho!
      And I’m so glad I’m not the only one who would jump a fence for water 🙂

  2. I think that my watch beeping to remind me to drink would just make me not drink in order to defy it. Like when watches beep to tell you it is time to move. Like NO I WILL NOT DO YOUR BIDDING YOU PIECE OF TECHNOLOGY.
    I am basically a camel–I majorly prehydrate and then don’t drink much when I run. Doesn’t work for everyone, but it works for me.
    Susie @ Suzlyfe recently posted…Test Your Knowledge with this Running IQ Quiz (Coaches Corner)My Profile

    1. I feel you on that!! Every time my watch tells me to move (especially when I have like 19,000 steps!) I’m all “F YOU!” I’ll move when I want. #micdrop

  3. I take a sip every time a new song comes on my iPod, which tells you how serious I am about running, much less hydration! I always drink coffee before I run or bike, and if it’s really hot and I feel really ambitious, then I pour it over ice to make it an iced coffee. That’s about as fancy as I get!
    Wendy recently posted…How to Prevent 8 of the Most Common Heat-Related Running IssuesMy Profile

    1. That’s actually a great way to do it!…except I don’t listen to music when I’m on my bike so…but def would work on the run.
      And, you go further that I do with the “fancy” ice coffee 🙂

  4. Hydration is really, really hard for me as a person who sweats an obscene amount. I drink about 100 oz of water a day (on days when I am not training) and even more on days I am training. Summer running is at the point where my body really just can’t do anything over about 13 miles because I lose so much fluid and cannot replace it. I seriously wish I had the ability to not worry about hydration, but it is a focal point of my day. After my stomach surgery, I could only drink about 32 ounces of fluid per day and I ended up being hospitalized because I was so dehydrated. It’s RIDICULOUS.
    Danielle @ The T-Rex Runner recently posted…Workout Roundup: Week of May 15, 2017My Profile

    1. OMG seriously? I would be dead by now. That is insane!

  5. Ha ha ha! Twins. Except I would post-hydrate with beer. Now that I’m pregnant, I FORCE myself to drink water, SO MUCH FRIGGING WATER, so that my uterus stays happy and I can keep running like a badass.

    Just remembered something. When I was training for my ultra, I’d stop at the fire station and the firemen would give me water. HOW MUCH DO I RULE?!?! I’d go in there in my tight little shorts and sports bra, all sweaty with my ponytail swinging, my eyelashes batting, and then I’d score some perfectly cooled water handed to me by big hunky guys in uniform.
    Suzy recently posted…Pregnant and Running: 25 Week UpdateMy Profile

    1. It was torture when I was pregnant with ALL THE WATER but, like you, I did it for the health of my babies. It was truly awful so I feel for you mama.

      YOU RULE SO HARD…but you knew that. And I also may try that but our forestation is less than a mile from my house.

  6. I am laughing right now because I am that insane meticulous person who writes down hydration in my log and race plan! I hate carrying water with me but I need it for anything over 10 miles – and over 13 I need a LOT of it. It’s like a switch flips and I go from needing no water to all of the water and electrolytes. I think I am going to get Ollie a hydration pack and make him carry my water! And goodness, do I wish beer had electrolytes!
    Laura @ This Runner’s Recipes recently posted…Summer Hydration Tips for Runners {Run It}My Profile

    1. OMG that is a great idea to get Ollie a hydration pack!! :-)))

  7. I’m the same way and do better if I have had a sports drink after a workout. I will drink during longer races (half/fulls) but rarely any other time. Then again, I don’t 20 milers LOL.
    Hollie recently posted…Visiting New York CityMy Profile

    1. Exactly. So glad I’m not doing LONG running miles so I don’t have to worry about it.

  8. LOL at stopping to write down when I get thirsty! At first I used to drink everything in sight because…it was available LOL I learned that lesson REAL fast! I can go short distances like 5 miles and under with nothing but anything over that and I’d better be drinking!!
    Nellie recently posted…Must Have Hydration Tips & Tricks For RunnersMy Profile

  9. This cracked me up! I never really pre-hydrate. I also never run more than 7-8 miles. Even when I did run 10-13 miles at a time I didn’t take water. I feel like I drink so much all day that if I wake up and go I have some in the bank. Not sure if that’s a real thing, but it seems to work.
    Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table recently posted…Healthy Vanilla Matcha Latte with Almond MilkMy Profile

  10. Oh man hydration is so hard for me! I actually wake up at night and down a few cups of water sometimes. I don’t bring water with me very often because I forget. I usually wake up and get out there after a few gulps of water. When I remember, it is nice, but I still don’t drink much more than a cup or two. I haven’t been recently because I haven’t been running too long.
    The slushie thing sounds delicious, but also a lot of work…
    Ellie Pell recently posted…The Mental State of Rest and How to Enjoy ItMy Profile

  11. I have been the extreme opposite and over hydrated. I can honestly say I nearly lost my life because I actually seized from too much water. The medical word for that is not in my finger capacity right now but it’s like hypo something. Anyhow I was water logged and my minerals were so diluted I seized. This is no joke. I was one of those dumb teenagers that thought if I drank tons of water I’d be skinny. It clearly got out of hand. I’ll leave it at that. I’m a different person now. Probably literally brain damaged which explains a lot. But water is seriousky over hyped and we don’t need that much. It’s such a complicated topic. I know most people think they don’t drink enough but it’s a lot better than drinking too much. It’s just not as glamorous.

  12. I am so with you on this. I may have a few sips of water pre-run if I’m lucky and never take it with me. It just feels like too much work! But with summer coming, I know I have to pay more attention to hydrating.
    Laura recently posted…Doing less now to get stronger laterMy Profile

  13. As always so many great tips! Hydration can be tricky but there is nothing worse than running out of water or sports drink before you are done!
    Sandra Laflamme recently posted…The Friday Fresh LOOK!My Profile

  14. I hate drinking when I work out. I feel is GOLSHING around in my stomach and it’s so insanely uncomfortable!!! That being said, I know NOT drinking isn’t exactly the healthiest approach, but I do replenish when I am done!
    GiGi Eats recently posted…Lets Take a Shot At Perking Up Your MugMy Profile

  15. Drinking plenty of water is crucial, especially when doing exercise or running! Awesome tips!

    1. So true…now I need to get better at doing it.
      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  16. Such great tips for the Hydration of Runners
    Shows you what can be done. Thanks for the guidance, great work. Very nice blog.

    Cheers Sharon…
    Sharon recently posted…The 5 best full face snorkel masks reviewed & which to avoid in 2018My Profile

  1. […] Allie from Vita – Train for Life […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

CommentLuv badge

%d bloggers like this: