Do you need to take water on a run

Running, like any form of physical activity, requires adequate hydration for optimal performance and overall health.

With multiple methods available for carrying water, it can be challenging to determine the most effective strategy.

This article will delve into why staying hydrated is essential during a run, and how to efficiently bring water with you.

Hydration: A Runner’s Best Friend

Dehydration, which occurs when the body loses more fluids than it takes in, can have a profound effect on a runner’s ability to perform and think clearly. It is therefore essential for runners, especially those tackling longer distances or exercising in hot weather, to prioritize maintaining a proper fluid balance.

While it is normal to experience mild dehydration during exercise, it is important to note that this can be managed without any significant negative consequences.

Carrying Water: When is it Necessary?

For short runs or in cooler weather, it is generally unnecessary to carry water. Drinking before and after the run usually suffices. However, for runs that exceed an hour, especially in hot conditions, carrying your own water becomes crucial.

It is important to stay hydrated during longer runs to prevent dehydration and maintain optimal performance. In hot weather, the body loses more fluids through sweat, increasing the risk of dehydration.

Therefore, it is advisable to bring water with you to replenish the lost fluids and stay hydrated throughout the run.

How Much Water Should You Bring?

There’s no definitive guide to how much water to carry when going for a run. The amount of water you should bring depends on various factors such as the weight of your body, the length of the run, and the prevailing weather conditions.

However, a practical rule of thumb is to ensure that your bottle or reservoir is completely filled for the first hour of your run. After that, it is recommended to take small sips of water every 15-20 minutes to stay hydrated throughout your workout.

Different Ways to Carry Water

Hydration Pack

Various water carrying methods exist for runners, each with its own set of advantages and drawbacks.

1. Handheld Bottles

Handheld bottles are a simple and cost-effective solution for shorter runs. Many of these bottles are uniquely designed with a moulded grip and strap for easy handling. However, carrying a bottle in one hand can feel imbalanced and the sloshing sound may become a distraction.

2. Hydration Packs

Hydration packs, also known as camel packs, are small backpacks equipped with a reservoir that can carry between one to three litres of water. The weight is evenly distributed across your back, and they often have room for other essentials. However, they can potentially cause rubbing and chafing.

3. Hydration Belts

Hydration belts, essentially holsters for your water bottle, are a good compromise between handheld bottles and hydration packs. They allow natural arm movement and don’t chafe the chest or shoulders. However, they can bounce while running, causing distraction and potentially affecting your gait.

Avoiding the Need to Carry Water

For those determined not to carry water, there are a few alternatives.

Pre-hydrating by drinking a couple of glasses of water a few hours before heading out is one option. Planning a route with safe water resources, like natural springs or drinking fountains, is another.

Lastly, carrying a micro water filter like a Lifestraw could be a viable solution if running near water sources.

Avoiding Over Hydration

Drinking Water on a Run

As explained, it’s essential to stay properly hydrated, but there is also such a thing as overhydration.

Drinking too much water can lead to a condition called hyponatremia, where the balance of electrolytes in your body is disrupted. During a run, drinking excessive amounts of water can dilute the sodium content in your blood to a dangerously low level, so it’s important not to take in too much.

How much water is too much?

  • Drinking more than 1.5 litres of water per hour can push you into the overhydration territory.
  • It’s important to listen to your body and drink when you’re thirsty, rather than trying to force excessive amounts of water.

Why overhydration before and during a run can be bad

  • Overhydration can lead to low blood sodium levels, causing symptoms like nausea, headaches, confusion, and in severe cases, seizures and coma.
  • Drinking too much water before a run can also lead to frequent bathroom breaks, which can disrupt your performance and rhythm during the run.

In conclusion, it’s crucial to maintain a balance and not overhydrate, especially before and during physical activities like running.

Listening to your body’s signals and drinking water in moderation is key to staying properly hydrated without overdoing it.

Wrapping Up: The Essential Role of Water

In summary, water plays a vital role in a runner’s regimen. Whether it’s a short sprint or a marathon, staying hydrated significantly affects performance.

Understanding your body’s needs and choosing the right water carrying method can make all the difference in your running experience.

Remember, the key is to find a balance that suits you best. So go ahead, tie up your laces, fill up that water bottle, and enjoy the run!