Runners’ Hydration Levels

heat_0I was so thirsty during a weekend half marathon a couple days ago. It was hot, but I normally don’t get THAT thirsty. I drank so much during the race, I got waterlogged and it was tough to finish. I clearly wasn’t hydrated properly.

This caused me to pause and start researching hydration. What is the best hydration technique for an endurance runner in a marathon?

In the article “Fluid Replacement During Marathon Running,” by Tim Noakes, M.D., published in the “Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine,” it states, “During endurance exercise, about 75 percent of the energy produced from metabolism is in the form of heat, which cannot accumulate. The remaining 25 percent of energy available can be used for movement. As running pace increases, the rate of heat production increases.”

The greater the body mass, the greater the heat production. Thus, to keep oneself cool, you need to drink fluids to ensure proper sweat availability for evaporation and circulatory flow.

But how much is enough? Surprisingly, the article didn’t give specifics. Rather, it just states for runners to drink ad libitum, meaning, drink what you need, but no more than 400 to 800 mL per hour. Drinking too much water can lead to hyponatremia, which is when electrolyte balance falls too low. Too much body water can dilute the serum sodium.

I conducted more research and found helpful information from the International Marathon Medical Director’s Association (IMMDA). Being a visual learner, this chart helped me to discern proper fluid intake levels:

Fluid Intake for Marathoners During a Race*

Finish Time
Race Pace
Fluid Intake
Fluid Intake Total
< 4 hours 10-12 oz / 20minutes 3.5-4.0 liters
< 8 minutes/mile 30-36 oz / hour
1000-1250 ml/hour
4-5 hours 8 oz / 20 minutes 3.0-3.5 liters
9-10 minutes/mile 24 oz / hour
750 ml / hour
> 5 hours 4-6 oz / 20 minutes 2.5- 3.0 liters
> 10 minutes/mile 18 oz / hour
500-600 ml/hour


For anyone running in an upcoming race, this hydration chart is helping me to gauge what I need to do to not feel so water logged and hopefully finish strong.


Lighten Up on the Nighttime Caffeine

ankle sprain, painIt should go without saying that drinking a caffeinated beverage will keep you up at night. This hurts morning time running–we all know how important sleep is to repairing and restoring your body for optimum performance. However, no research has showed that evening caffeine delays the internal circadian clock, until now.

Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder and the Medical Research Council’s Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England discovered that evening caffeine delays the circadian clock–the internal clock that tells  when to get ready for sleep and when to prepare to wake up.

The research team showed the “amount of caffeine in a double espresso or its equivalent three hours before bedtime induced a 40-minute phase delay in the roughly 24-hour human biological clock.”

Researchers used five participants: three females and two males in a double-blind, 49-day study and tested in four conditions:

1. Low light and a placebo pill.

2. Low light and the equivalent of a 200-milligram caffeine pill based on the participants’ weight.

3. Bright light and a placebo pill.

4. Bright light and the caffeine pill.

Participants who digested the caffeine pill under low-light conditions had a roughly 40-minute delay in their nightly circadian rhythm compared to those who took the placebo pill under the same conditions.

In addition, bright light alone induced circadian rhythm delays of approximately 85 minutes and bright light combined with caffeine induced circadian rhythm delays of approximately 105 minutes.

“This is the first study to show that caffeine, the mostly widely used psychoactive drug in the world, has an influence on the human circadian clock,” said Wright, a professor in CU-Boulder’s Department of Integrative Physiology. “It also provides new and exciting insights into the effects of caffeine on human physiology.”

What does this mean for the runner? With the amount of daylight decreasing, your workouts may be either morning or midday. To keep yourself on track, do not take in caffeine at night and keep off the lights while you are in bed. Keep your computer and phone off once you get into bed and make sure your blinds are shut to keep the bright light out to ensure you are properly rested for your earlier workouts.


Do Runners Need Protein?

Runners fuel their bodies with carbs, energy gels and bars, and sports drinks. They carbo load before races and replenish electrolytes after a long run with fruity drinks endorsed by athletes. Perhaps they take in a protein shake after a workout, but are they really getting enough protein? Most are not.

Protein needs are higher for those who run because you burn through your fuel stores at a much quicker rate. For runners, a general gauge should be to maintain a daily diet of 0.5 grams to 0.8 grams per pound of body weight. This is according to a 2009 study published in the Journal of American Dietetic Association. This is quite substantial quantity higher than in a typical diet of someone sedentary.

Here is a standard calculation for determining just how much protein you should take in daily:

Step 1:  Take your weight in pounds divide that by 2.2.

Step 2: Take this number and multiply it by 0.8-1.8 gm/kg = protein gm. Use a higher number if you’re a training for race such as a marathon.

Here is an example for a 140-pound female runner:

140/ 2.2 = 64. This is her weight in grams rounded up.

64 x 1.3 = 83 grams rounded up. This is the total number of grams she should shoot for each day. The number 1.3 is used because she is in a heavy part of her training program for a marathon.

It is possible to achieve the recommended dosages with a little advanced planning. For breakfast, try adding in yogurt into a smoothie. For a mid-day snack, eat a hard-boiled egg. For larger meals such as lunch and dinner, add healthy protein such as grilled chicken to a salad, lean red meat to a sandwich and try adding beans into side dishes.

If you fall short on protein, the risks aren’t worth it. You’ll lose your ability to build up your muscles that you need to run and train at an optimal level.


Why You Should Add Omega 3s to Your Running Diet

untitledRunners burn through calories and often, for endurance athletes, they dip into their fat storage for long runs. To execute workouts at optimal performance, runners need to gauge their nutrition just as much as they track their Garmin numbers.

We all know how hard it is to follow a proper diet. We are all busy and taking the time to make nutritious meals takes effort–but so does following your running schedule. It’s almost best to cut back on workouts to take the time to fuel your body with the right nutrients.

One vital nutrient runners need is Omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3s do help with larger lifestyles issues such as controlling blood clotting, heart disease, and potentially cancer, stroke and inflammatory bowel diseases.

However, on a smaller scale, they are helpful to runners in that they can limit inflammation. Even with stretching, icing and taking Aspirin, another way to change how your body reacts to inflammation from a long run is by adding Omega 3s into you diet.

Omega 3s also help in weight management. The leaner you are, the less exertion you need to make as you run.

According to a study published in “Advanced Nutrition” in 2012, Omega 3s do keep you healthy and aging properly–allowing you to keep running for a long time.  But because our bodies don’t naturally produce some omega-3 fatty acids , it is necessary to obtain proper amounts through fish and fish-oil products.

You can either add Omega 3 supplements to your diet or start eating foods such as soybean, canola, flaxseed, vegetable oils or fatty fish like salmon. If you don’t like to eat fish, it’s best to add in an Omega 3 capsule of 500 mg per day to receive the maximum benefits.