Summer Running: How to Handle the Heat & Stay Hydrated

Summer Running: How to Handle the Heat and Stay Hydrated

By Laura Barreca, PT, DPT

Summer is upon us and that means say hello to summer running. Let’s talk about how to run in hot weather and the do’s and don’ts of staying hydrated while running!

First off, running in the summer is hard.

To get the best out of your training cycle, you want to make sure to be hydrating throughout the day, during, and after your runs to properly take care of your body. It’s simple, while running, you lose fluid and electrolytes to sweat resulting in dehydration and dehydration can lead to declined performance. So, let’s get into how to avoid this!

Hydration before a run is going to differ from person to person and the simplest test is the pee trick. This is not the most accurate assessment but an easy one to do – by using pee color, we can assess hydration status. We want this color to look like lemon juice as opposed to apple juice!  

Hydration during a run means intaking the amount of fluid that you are losing to sweat.

Losing >2% of body weight to sweat can affect performance.

Let’s do some math here as an example – if you want to be exact, you can weigh yourself before and after your run. Let’s say you are 150 pounds pre-run and 146 pounds post-run. 2% of 150 pounds is 3 pounds so this means you lost > 2% of body weight to sweat and need to intake the equivalent to replenish the system. About 16 ounces is equivalent to 1 pound so this means that this runner should be taking in about 16-48oz of water throughout the run. Of course, there are outlying factors here such as using the bathroom, fueling throughout the run, etc. but this is a basic and simple assessment to see where you’re at – speak with a professional about how to perfect the system for you!

Hydration after a run means replenishing the amount of fluid lost but also electrolytes. Electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium are lost through sweat. Replenishing these electrolytes can be done through a sports drink or simply food and water and is just as important as fluid intake! With all of the above techniques, we want to focus on bringing them with us from training to race day.

Lastly, is there a thing such as overhydrating?

YES – this can happen when you drink TOO much water. This is correlated with something called hyponatremia or “lack of sodium”. What happens is when too much water is taken in, sodium is flushed out of the cells. This results in cell function becoming impaired. Symptoms of this are fatigue, headache, and nausea. A good way to keep track of overhydration is through weight gain during a run. To avoid this, you can fuel with gels that have sodium throughout your run, limit water intake to not be in excess, and have a snack with salt after your run such as pretzels.

Get out there, get practicing, and stay hydrated this summer!

By Laura Barreca, PT, DPT

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