Running: Hydration & Fuel

More than anything, people have been asking me about hydration and fueling, which is always a hard question for me to answer. Although there are plenty of scientific examinations of fueling and hydration strategies, there is no universal practice or formula. What works for one person might not work best for you. Every runner is unique.

I’m still figuring out running and nutrition myself so I turned to local blogger Ali Mohsen from Miles with Style. Ali has ran 8 marathons + several halfs. Did I mention she is super fast? Her half PR is 1:30:31. She’s also on the board for Girls on the Run. (This girl knows her stuff!)

Here is what Ali had to say about running nutrition:

Hydration and fueling are an extremely important piece to running, and are a vital piece of the puzzle to ensure success on race day. Through my years of running, I am still learning exactly how to hydrate and fuel before, during and after a race. But I do feel that I have come a long way and have developed an understanding of what works best for me.

I could discuss my love of water with you all day, but for now I will spare you of that long conversation! Rule of thumb for daily hydration is to consume half your body weight in ounces per day. I view that number as the minimum to consume. I strive to hit 100 ounces every day. I find when I reach 100 ounces, everything in my body feels better. The day before a race, getting 100 ounces is extremely important. Hydration during a race is also vital. If I am running a marathon, I will stop at every water stop alternating between water and Gatorade. During a half I hydrate less, probably every other water stop. I find I don’t need as much during a half since the race is shorter. But if you are just starting your half marathon career, I would recommend hydrating at each stop. Post race, make sure you grab that bottle of water they give you and force yourself to drink it. Doing so will help with recovery and get you back to normal faster.

(Click here to see what elites drink per Runner’s World.)

Fueling is another beast in itself. While training, make sure you are getting enough calories to replenish what is lost during training. I feel like I am constantly eating when I am training! (Probably because I am.) During training I mix my proteins and carbs. If I try to cut back on carbs during training, my energy lacks. If you are serious about running, you must keep the carbs in your diet. The day before my races, I adhere to the Runner’s World guidelines for carb intake. This is a great article that explains the types of carbs you should have, and also how many. During a race, I start my fueling 45 minutes in, and continue to fuel every 45 minutes during the race. My fave chews are Honey Stinger Organic Energy Bites. These bites are easy to chew, easy to stuff in your pockets and not as sticky as others. If I am opting for a gel, I usually stick with GU. Most flavors are bearable and go down pretty quick. Make sure you plan your fuel stops with water stations though. If you take your fuel without water, you can get quite a tummy ache during your race (and nobody has time for that!).

Post race fuel is vital to repair your muscles and speed up recovery. It will also just make you feel better in general. While those post race beers are quite appetizing, make sure you are also getting in some quality calories. I try to always eat a banana and a chocolate milk if they are offered. For my training runs, I try to have a protein shake within 30 minutes of the run. This helps repair your muscles and build up muscle as well.

If you follow proper hydration and fueling, you will see a positive impact in your race time. Good luck on your next running adventure!

If you have running nutrition questions for myself or Ali, leave them below and we’ll do our best to answer. 

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