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Optimal hydration strategies for runners

May 1, 2024 - By Anne-Marie Lacroix

Temps de lecture 3 minutes

Hydration plays a crucial role in runners’ performance and health. During a run, water requirements vary according to the duration and intensity of the exercise, individual characteristics (age, gender, genetics), as well as the surrounding humidity and temperature. The perspiration rate of adults during exercise can vary from 0.5 to 2.0 L/h. That’s a lot to consider! Let me share with you my optimal hydration strategies for runners!

Avoid dehydration at all cost!

Moderate to severe dehydration can have a number of consequences, such as increasing the heart’s workload during exercise, making exertion seem more difficult. More severe dehydration can also affect mental performance. Finally, it can lead to a reduction in aerobic performance, especially when training in the heat.

Is water enough during my run?

For optimal hydration during a race lasting over an hour, runners should choose a sports drink that contains electrolytes such as sodium and potassium to replace minerals lost through perspiration. In addition, carbohydrates in the form of simple sugars such as glucose or fructose can provide rapidly absorbable energy to sustain the effort. It is therefore essential to have carbohydrates at a concentration of 5-10% for races lasting over an hour. For races lasting less than an hour, water alone is sufficient.

Which sports drink should I choose?

An isotonic drink, with a concentration like that of body fluids, is ideal as it is absorbed more quickly than water alone. In this case, a concentration of 80-200 mg/L potassium and 500-750 mg/L sodium is recommended. I invite you to consult the chart below for examples of the different beverages available on the market that are best suited to runs lasting more than an hour.

How much should I drink…500ml, 1 liter, 2 liters?

There’s no universal recommendation for the ideal amount of water to drink during a race, as everyone’s needs are specific and vary according to a several factors. However, it’s important to start a run by making sure you’re well hydrated. Remember to drink a glass of water (5-7 ml/ kg body weight) 2-4 hours before the start of the race, whatever its duration.

Keeping up the pace with hydration!

In conclusion, adequate hydration is essential to maintain performance and avoid dehydration during running. Choose a well-formulated sports drink to support your efforts and stay hydrated throughout your run. Still unsure about your hydration strategies? Don’t hesitate to consult a sports nutritionist! A specialized nutritionist, like me, will be happy to guide you according to your specific running requirements.

New webinar for runners!

If you’re interested in learning more about nutrition and hydration for running, sign up for my webinar “Runners’ Kitchen – How to Optimize Your Performance” (In French only) starting May 14, 2024!

Recommended for prolonged exercise (>1hr)Potassium: 80-200 mg/L of liquid consumed Sodium : 500-750 mg/L of liquid consumed Carbohydrates : 5-10% concentration
Biosteel – Liquid rehydration mix (per 500mL)225 mg230 mgNone
Biosteel – Hydration mix powder (per 7g)32.5 mg140 mgNone
ATP – Electrolytes XL powder (for 5g)30.6 mg220 mgNone
Gatorade endurance formula (for 24g = 350 ml)140 mg300 mg22 g (6,3%)
Gatorade – (590 mL)  75 mg270 mg34 g (5,8%)
Prime hydration drink700 mg10 mgNone


Exercise and Fluid Replacement. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 39(2): p 377-390, February 2007. | DOI: 10.1249/mss.0b013e31802ca597

Optimal hydration strategies for runners is a post from Nautilus Plus. The Nautilus Plus blog aims to help people in their journey to fitness through articles on training, nutrition, motivation, exercise and healthy recipes.
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