Training in Heat: Hydration is Key

By Diana Davis RDN LDN

It’s that time of year again – hot, humid, muggy! We know it’s what we get every summer in the South, but we still want/need to train to maintain fitness or get ready for our Fall races. The most important detail of your run or bike plans over summer is hydration.

Why: Better hydration (specifically using a sports electrolyte drink) promotes better cooling of the body, better endurance, less muscle damage, less cortisol release, faster recovery and a better workout the next time you go out.

What to drink: This is a very individual choice. If your run or ride is 1 hour or less, water is an appropriate choice. For all runs/rides that are over 60 minutes, I recommend a sports drink – the one that tastes so good that you want to drink it! Your sports drink choice should contain carbohydrates from dextrose, sucrose, and/or maltodextrin and relatively less fructose. Sweat contains the electrolytes sodium, chloride, potassium, and magnesium so your electrolyte replacement drink should ideally contain all of these.

How much to drink: The most accurate way to determine this is to calculate your sweat rate, but if you have not done this, a good rule of thumb is to drink 16-32 ounces of your favorite sports drink for each hour of running.

When to drink: Pre-hydrate well the day before and day of training or racing. Once you are ready to head out, drink early and often, taking sips before you start and continue to take sips while you run or ride. This means that you need to carry or wear your preferred sports drink and have replenishments stashed along your route or circle back to your house, car or other source to refill.