Take a minute to think about what you do before a race. Do you make sure that you’ve properly warmed up? Do you take a few minutes to stretch your muscles? What about hydrating before a run?
Hydrating is one of the most critical steps in your race preparation process, but it’s often an afterthought. Many athletes get so caught up in the excitement that a race is about to begin that they forget to hydrate properly before.
That’s right. There are proper and improper ways to hydrate. You might think it’s as simple as drinking a bottle of water right before the race, but that’s not the case.
Pre-race hydration, when done right, can help you perform at your best. When done wrong, it can be detrimental. Not only can it lead to poor athletic performance, but it could also cause dehydration.
Don’t worry—we’re not going to let you figure out how to pre-hydrate through trial and error. At Tailwind Nutrition, we are passionate about helping athletes learn more about how to hydrate for a run, and that’s why we created this guide!
Keep reading, and by the end of it, you’ll better understand proper hydration for runners, including:
- Reasons for Drinking Water Before Running
- How Much Water to Drink Before a Run
- How to Create a Marathon Hydration Plan
- Example of a Pre-Hydration Strategy
- What You Should Drink Before a Race
- The Best Way to Pre-Hydrate
Is it Good to Drink Water Before Running?
Absolutely! Some runners shy away from drinking right before a run because they worry they’ll get the urge to run to the bathroom before the finish line. Others avoid it because they fear they might upset their stomach.
However, we can’t stress enough how important it is to make sure you drink plenty of fluids before you start your race. If you don’t, you won’t just put yourself at risk of dehydration. You’ll also miss out on some of the energizing and hydrating benefits that come from sports drinks or electrolyte waters.
Even if you just drink water, your body stands to gain several benefits, including:
Regulated Body Temperature
- Whether you’re running in a hot climate or not, your body’s temperature will increase throughout the race. Fortunately, your body uses water as a thermoregulator, which means that it can help keep you cool. It does so through the evaporation of sweat from your skin surface.
- Every stride puts pressure on your joints, and the more you run, the more you put yourself at risk for injury. However, water can help drastically reduce the impact of running on your critical joints, including your knees, hips, and ankles. The water acts as a cushion and keeps you protected through the race.
Reduced Risk of Cramping
- Since running causes you to lose both water and electrolytes through sweat, you could find yourself struggling with muscle cramps. Your muscles rely on those nutrients to function correctly, and without them, they will contract involuntarily or become sensitive.
Transportation of Energy to Cells
- The majority of the human body is made up of water, so it should come as no surprise that water can move between cells. This mobility makes it the perfect mode of transportation for energy. As a result, glycogen can get to your muscles and provide them with the energy they need to power through the race.
How Much Water to Drink Before Running
Now that you know the answer to the question, “should I drink water before running?” let’s look at how much water to drink before running.
You know that not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration. Drinking too much fluid right before your run could also cause stomach problems (such as fluid retention) and leave you feeling nauseous.
What’s the optimal amount of water to consume for hydration before running?
The number largely depends on a few different factors, including:
- Your Sweat Rate
- Your Weight
- Your Speed
- Your Body’s Condition
- The Weather/Temperature
For the average person, we recommend that you drink about 16 ounces of water before running. We recommend doing this when you are about two hours out from your run. Doing so will allow time to use the restroom before you need to line up at the start of the race.
When you are 15 minutes from the start of the race, you should take another drink. However, you should limit your fluid intake to just 6-8 ounces.
If you aren’t sure if those numbers will work for you, we recommend that you practice hydrating as you train. You can check your hydration status by comparing your body weight before and after your run. You’ll want to weigh yourself without clothing and dry off any sweat for the most accurate results.
If you lose more than 2% of your body weight, you will want to increase your fluid consumption. You will want to aim for only losing 1-2% of your body weight if you are trying to find the proper running and hydration balance.
Tips for Creating a Hydration Plan
Now that we’ve covered how much to drink before a marathon or other race, we recommend that you start putting together your very own strategy for hydrating before a marathon. We know it can be overwhelming, but we think you’ll be successful if you follow these recommendations.
Consider Your Recommended Fluid Intake Pre-Event
While we gave you some guidelines for where you can start, it’s really up to you to calculate the answer to “how much water should you drink before a race?” As we said before, every person is different, and your fluid intake amount could even vary depending on where and when you’re racing.
You’ll want to take the time to figure out how much you sweat during a run so that you can plan accordingly. If you don’t sweat as much during some races, you might be able to reduce your fluid intake. If you know that it will be hot out, you should consider increasing your workout hydration plan to account for the extra sweat.
Account for Post-Event Fluid Intake
Even though this article focuses on how to hydrate before a race, you still need to think about hydration before and after you run. The most effective strategy should also create a plan for hydration after running a half marathon or longer race. These endurance races can push your body to the limit, so pre hydration alone won’t cut it for an optimal race pace. You could experience post-event hydration problems.
As a guideline, we recommend that the average person rehydrates with at least 16 ounces of fluids after a run. For those who have taken a sweat test to calculate their sweat rate, you should drink 20-24 ounces of fluid for every pound you lose.
Don’t Forget Marathon Training Hydration
When you make your strategy for hydrating before a half marathon, don’t forget the days you are training. As you get closer and closer to running the entire length of the race, you will need to make sure that you are adequately hydrating for every training session.
Not only will this ensure that you are performing safely at your best, but it will also allow you to test how to hydrate before a run. These tests can show you whether or not you need to make adjustments to your strategy based on how you feel and how much you sweat.
Example of a Pre-Marathon Hydration Strategy
If you’re still not sure where you should begin, don’t worry! We know that creating a perfect strategy for hydration and running performance can be overwhelming for first-timers. That’s why we have put together an example plan for how to hydrate before a marathon.
You must understand that this is only an example on which you should base your strategy. Ultimately, only you will be able to determine what hydration plan works best for your body.
Hydration Week Before Marathon
If you thought that you only need to plan how to pre-hydrate the day of a race, think again. It would help if you started to prepare days in advance. You should pay attention to how to hydrate the week of a marathon.
You don’t need to put yourself on a strict regimen, but you must keep yourself properly hydrated throughout the week leading up to the race. You’ll especially need to focus on drinking more water as your practice runs increase. This means that you should try to drink a minimum of 3 liters of water every day.
How Much Water to Drink Day Before a Marathon
When you fail to prioritize hydration the day before your run, you could find yourself paying for it on race day. Your body will be playing catch up from the previous day’s dehydration. As a result, the water you consume on the day of the run will be used to help your body recover instead of preparing you for the race.
The average person should drink about 2-3 liters of water per day. This is an excellent place to base your hydration strategy, however. You may need to increase it depending on any exercise you choose to do the day before the race.
Hydrating Before a Race Begins
When you look at how much to drink before a marathon, the day of the race is where you should focus most of your attention. Pre-hydration before exercise is critical to your success.
As we mentioned, this is the portion of your strategy where you would want to drink about 16 ounces of water with a light breakfast. You should consume no more than 8 ounces in the 15 minutes before your race.
Preventing Dehydration During Marathon
If you’re wondering how to stay hydrated during a marathon, you’ll want to keep reading. Hydration for a marathon requires that you drink throughout the race. Athletes can do this one of two ways:
- You can carry water or hydration supplements with you. They make convenient and comfortable runner belts and packs for these reasons. Keeping the water with you will allow you to drink the water every 15 minutes to avoid dehydration.
Using Water Stations
- If you don’t want to worry about carrying anything, you’ll have to use the aid stations. However, you’ll be at the mercy of the water station spacing, which could cause some dehydration issues in some people.
What to Drink Before Marathon or Other Endurance Races
We’ve covered all of the basics of how to hydrate for running, but we haven’t covered what you should be drinking. Fortunately, there are several different options, so you are sure to find one that works best for you.
Water is the tried and true method for hydration before a half marathon. As you know, your body is made of more than 55% water, so it makes sense that plain water would be an excellent choice. Your body is made to absorb it, and you don’t have to worry about the side effects of drinking other additives.
For example, many sugary drinks might offer more energy to endurance runners, but you must be careful. Too much sugar or the wrong type can cause an upset stomach. You never have to worry about too much sugar when choosing regular water.
If you are looking for a drink with more nutrients, you might want to try drinking sports drinks instead. There are countless options available, and many of them can be purchased right at your favorite grocery store.
The typical sports drinks are designed to provide you with carbohydrates and electrolytes. The carbohydrates will provide your muscles with energy in the form of glycogen. When you are running a half marathon or longer race, you’ll need this boost of energy to power through.
The electrolytes are also essential because they help your body function properly. They are also a key component in hydration because they help your body absorb more water. Last but not least, the electrolytes aid in muscle contraction and relaxation, so they are a great way to prevent cramping.
Oral Rehydration Solutions
Don’t want to carry several bottles of sports drinks on your run? We don’t blame you! The extra weight can make it more difficult as you run longer distances. However, you don’t have to give up carbohydrates and electrolytes for convenience.
You also have the option of carrying oral rehydration solutions (ORS) with you. They come in several forms, including powders and tabs. You can simply mix them into your water to enjoy all the benefits of a sports drink without the excess sugar, stickiness, and weight.
Best Product for Pre Workout Hydration
For those who are more interested in the latter, we are happy to let you know that you don’t have to go far to find a solid ORS for your hydration strategy. Tailwind Nutrition has worked hard to perfect a formula that provides you with both hydration and convenience.
We offer our Endurance Fuel in easy-to-carry, single-serving packages that you can take with you on any run. That means you can provide your body with the following benefits even when you are racing:
- Our formulas are designed to mix easily with water. We recommend that you use 20-24 ounce bottles for best results. The combination of sugar and electrolyte balance means that you will get the most out of every drop of water you drink.
- Not only does the sugar aid your body in hydration, but it also provides you with more energy to get through those long races. We never use any artificial flavors or sweeteners in our products, though. Instead, we use a combination of dextrose and sucrose, which match what your body is designed to absorb into your bloodstream quickly. This will ensure that you reach your ideal blood glucose levels most efficiently.
- Finally, we make sure that every serving of our Endurance Fuel has the perfect amount of potassium, magnesium, calcium, and sodium levels. These critical electrolytes replace the ones that you lost in sweat, and they ensure that you absorb the fuel more efficiently.
Let’s Sum it Up
While it can be a bit overwhelming to add a hydration strategy on top of your training and nutrition, you must have a solid understanding of why and how to hydrate properly. We understand that there’s a lot of information to process, but we hope that you know now more about:
- Why You Need Pre-Exercise Hydration
- How Much Water Should You Drink Before Running
- Tips to Strategize Pre-Hydration for Athletes
- Sample Strategy for Marathon Hydration
- Fluids to Drink Before Running
- The Best Hydration Product to Drink Before Races
Whether you’ve already signed up for a race or plan to do so soon, Tailwind Nutrition is here to help you with all of your hydration needs. You can try out our Endurance Fuel products to see all of the benefits for yourself.
We currently offer several bundle packages so that you can easily try our different formulas and flavors. You can also purchase our products in single servings and create your sample pack!
How do you hydrate before a race?
Hydration before a race is an important aspect of preparing for the event. The three main things you want to do before your run are to drink plenty of fluids, eat healthy foods like fruit and vegetables (which will provide energy), and practice good breathing techniques by taking deep breaths in order not to be too thirsty when it's race time!
How much should you hydrate before a race?
It is generally understood that you should try drinking roughly 16 ounces of either water or a sports drink a few hours before your run begins.
What do athletes drink before a race?
It is recommended for runs that last less than 90 minutes to mainly focus on drinking water. But if you plan to run longer distances then sports drinks are ideal because they replace electrolytes and other fluids that are lost by sweating