Training Tip: Staying Hydrated

Dehydration can do a number on your body — and slow down your run. Here’s how to stay hydrated while training for a marathon or half-marathon.

by Staff
woman running with water bottle image
Photograph: Photo by: iStockphoto

Plan developed by Mindy Solkin, owner and head coach of The Running Center in New York City.

Much has been made about the need to drink plenty of fluids while exercising, and that’s certainly true when it comes to running. Dehydration is very stressful to the body, says Nancy Clark, author of Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook. "Your body temperature rises, your heart beats faster, and you have trouble concentrating. Plus, your workouts will feel more difficult." Losing as little as 1 percent of your body weight through fluid loss can have an effect on your performance. But it’s also possible to drink too much water or other fluids. Hyponatremia, or overhydrating, can dilute your body fluids and create a dangerous imbalance in sodium levels that can be deadly, notes Clark. Marathoners who have been out on the course for several hours and also drinking large amounts of water can be at risk.

To help you stay hydrated — but not overly so — trying using a sports drink such as Gatorade during your long runs (be sure to try this out a couple of times before race day), and snack on some salty foods like pretzels or soup before you exercise. On the race course, drink about every 20 minutes. And stop drinking if your stomach is "sloshing," warns Clark. That’s a sign that you’re probably plenty hydrated.

Next Training Tip: Should You Run If You're Feeling Sick?

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Originally published on, January 2009.

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