Top 10 tips for hydrating when training for a half marathon

Getting fluids in you during your long runs is key for optimal training. But how much, when and why? Here are 10 tips to making sense of it all...

1. Have fluids on you rather than depending on water fountains. You can hydrate at a specific rate (time) and better control the amount of fluids you are consuming.

2. Take the thinking out of it and set your watch timer at 15-20 minute intervals. Every time it goes off, hydrate.

3. Like an eyeglass prescription, everyone's fluid needs are different. Some may need more fluids, some less. Calculate your "sweat rate" by weighing yourself before a 60 minute run. Mark down your weight in your log. Weigh yourself after the run and keep track of the temperature, speed you ran and how much weight you lost. Every pound lost equals to 16 ounces. If you lost 2 pounds (32 ounces) on that run, you would aim to replenish fluids (not replace) in those conditions, about 6 ounces every 15-20 minutes.

4. The goal is to offset hydration, not replace all the fluids lost. Especially when it is very hot and humid. This is especially true for heavy sweaters as the body can only absorb so much fluid per hour (about 1 liter or less).

5. Train with the sports drink that is served on the race course (Gatorade Endurance Formula). Consume sports drink most of the time on the run. It will offset electrolytes lost in sweat and also provide quick fuel to the muscles.

6. Mix it up and put water in one Fuel Belt bottle and sports drink in the other three. It is fueling on demand and a great way to have a variety of options on the long run.

7. Walk to get the fluids in. Unless you have mastered drinking on the run, it is better to get the fluids in you rather than on you. You will more than make up the lost time walking over the duration of the run.

8. For those with a sensitive system, consider drinking fluids more frequently, but in smaller quantities. Perhaps 2-ounce sips every 10 minutes.

9. Watch the color of your urine when you go to the bathroom. If it is "clear" that means you are drinking too much. If it is dark, you need to drink more. If it is light yellow like lemonade, your hydration is just right.

10. Clean your Fuel Belt and hydration system right after your run with soapy water. It is easier to clean and avoids mold from growing (yuck).

Credits - Coach Jenny Hadfield is the co-author of the best-selling "Marathoning for Mortals", the "Running for Mortals" and "Training for Mortals" series. She is the co-owner of Chicago Endurance Sports, Chicago's largest multi-sport training company.

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