Kara's Camp: How to Stay Hydrated
Hydration is crucial for any runner, let alone a marathoner. There are two types of hydration that I try to focus on: The first type is my day-to-day hydration, the second is performance hydration.
Daily hydration is important for any runner. Getting plenty of fluids helps you recover, reduces stress, boosts your energy, and cleanses your body of toxins. I wake up every morning and try to drink at least 8 to 16 ounces of water right away. You wake up dehydrated, so it's important to start the day off right. For the rest of the day I keep sipping on my water bottle and I make sure that after each run or weight session I take in extra fluids.
Nutritionist Krista Austin once told me a rule of thumb that I follow to this day: If you're drinking with a meal, you can just drink water because you are getting electrolytes from the food. If you are just sipping during the day, you should have some source of carbohydrate or electrolyte in your drink.
The fluids that you're drinking throughout the day should help "top off" your electrolyte stores. My favorite drink to sip on is Nuun — It's simple, made of all-natural ingredients, and tastes great. It has a nice, light flavor that isn't too heavy or sweet, and the electrolytes in it are fueling your stores. I aim for 12, 8-ounce servings of liquid a day – yes, that's 96 ounces per day! I find that if I start my day off with water and have my bottle with me the rest of the day, this isn't hard to do.
Performance hydration is a bit trickier; this is hydration during your hard runs or races, and too little or too much can negatively affect the outcome. The most important aspect of performance hydration is to practice. If the first time you drink a sports drink is during a race, you're most likely going to have some gastric distress. Studies have found that athletes should aim for about 14 grams of carbohydrate per 8 ounces. Now, when you're out running, taking in 8 ounces is nearly impossible. I aim for 3 to 5 ounces every 5K; therefore I get more like 7 grams of carbohydrate with each bottle. Over the seven or eight "bottle stops" during my long run or marathon, this concentration keeps me from having any stomach distress or from running out of energy stores.
Now you know how I do it. What changes will you make for better hydration?
—Kara Goucher, Elite Marathoner