If you fail to properly fuel your car, it won't run effectively. The same goes for your body. Of course, we all know when to add gas to our cars because of the fuel gauge. Because your body doesn't come equipped with such an easy-to-read indicator, it's essential for your performance—and your health—to know when and how to hydrate.
Proper hydration before, during and after a run is imperative to meeting your goals. When dehydrated, your body won't effectively transfer heat. When your body fails to transfer heat, your heart rate increases, which negatively affects your performance and your body. This is especially dangerous when running in hot weather.
Knowing what to drink, and when to drink it, is vital for runners. Follow these simple steps to stay hydrated, maintain good health, and get the most out of your run.
More: What to Drink, How Much and How Often
Before Your Run
It's good to hydrate at least 30 minutes prior to running, but 60 to 90 minutes in advance is best. Try to consume at least 16 ounces one hour before your run, or 4 to 6 ounces if hydrating 30 minutes before your run.
Avoid popular bottled sports drinks, as they often contain artificial ingredients or dyes. Look for all-natural, alkalizing options, such as Vega's Pre-Workout Energizer or Electrolyte Hydrator, which can be easily mixed into cold water.
More: Sports Drink Myths Debunked
If you plan to run longer distances—10 miles or more—work on proper hydration a few days prior to your race, rather than focusing on the day of the race. Your urine should be the color of diluted lemonade for the few days leading up to the race, and you should be urinating often. Eliminate alcohol consumption, as this is counterproductive to your goal of running in a perfectly hydrated body.
During Your Run
Some experts believe one should abstain from water during a run, but several studies show that runners fare better when properly hydrated. Dehydration during a run can cause cramping. However, in order to avoid the sloshy stomach effect, limit the amount you drink during your run.
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