The engine of your car needs gas and various fluids to operate. If it doesn’t get them, the result is that you don’t get where you are going or you breakdown on the way. The same is true regarding hydration and nutrition for runners.

HYDRATION-four considerations

First, is safety. You can die if you are poorly hydrated, especially under extreme heat conditions. The second issue is performance. A 2% loss of fluids due to sweat can lead to decline in performance. Blood is fluid and loss of fluid through sweat thickens the blood resulting in the heart having a more difficult time pumping it out to the muscles. When the muscles don’t get the oxygen from the blood, they don’t work as well. The third consideration regarding hydration for runners is, how much fluids to have.

There are several methods to consider when determining the right amount for runners. In addition to the normal fluids a person takes in in a day, a runner needs at least 16 ounces before, 16 ounces during and 16 ounces after the workout. Another formula would be to take in one third of the runner’s weight in ounces before during and after the workout. Many experts recommend the urine test. The color of the urine should be light. If it’s too clear, it’s because there are too many fluids present and if dark, not enough. The final consideration is what to drink. When a runner sweats, they lose potassium and sodium in significant amounts. These minerals need to be replaced through proper hydration and nutrition. Various sports drinks and juices can easily do this task.


When you should drink is an important consideration. The easiest answer is, “all day”. It is important not to wait until right before a workout and then gorge on water. The result is likely to be uncomfortable and counter- productive. It is best to take your last fluids about fifteen minutes prior to vigorous exercise. One trick is to take a swallow, swish it around in the mouth and then spit it out. Science tells us that this tricks the mind into thinking it is hydrated, but you don’t feel full after. Of course, you need to be adequately hydrated before.

NUTRITION-Fuel for your engine, “no gas, no go”

What should a runner eat?

Roughly 55-60% of your diet should be carbohydrates, 20-25% protein and 20-25% fat. Complex carbohydrates (whole grains, veggies) provide the runners key energy source. Protein rebuilds and strengthens muscles and helps replace damaged cells. Fat is necessary for injury prevention and prolongs the use of carbohydrates for energy. Since hydration/nutrition for a runner is crucial, pay attention to what you eat.

When should a runner eat?

This answer can vary depending on workout or race times. A big meal should be at least two hours before a race to give time for digestion. For morning races and workouts, 20-50 grams of carbohydrates within two hours of the race or workout is a good guideline. This can take the form of bagels, toast, energy bars and bananas. Post-race is crucial too. Studies show that within 15 minutes a cup of low-fat chocolate milk is a great source of recovery products.

Use a Food Log to determine your hydration and nutrition for runners

Take a week and write down what you eat and drink daily including snacks. Then go to a website of your choice and find a calorie and nutrition calculator. MyPlate Calorie Counter | Livestrong.com Input your foods and see how you are doing with your balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat.


DON’T MAKE EXCUSES for proper Hydration and Nutrition-There are none

If you think you can go without water (it makes me full!) YOU CAN’T

If you think you can go without fuel, YOU CAN’T

Experiment, explore but work at it

RESOURCES for Hydration and Nutrition for Runners

Run Fast. Eat Slow. (runfasteatslow.com)   This is website for the wonderful cookbooks by Olympian Shalane Flannagan and Elyse Kopecky–my wife and I have had many of these

www.active.com     Nutrition Tips for New Runners by Scott Gray

Nutrition for Runners by Jeff Galloway   https://shop.jeffgalloway.com/products/nutritionforrunners

Performance Nutrition for Runners-Runners World

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