Running Hydration

A Runner’s Guide to Hydration – Why Electrolytes Matter

There are hundreds of sports drinks and electrolyte replacement products on the market today. And each one claims to provide exactly what your body needs as a runner. Without question, running and hydration strategies are important in order to perform your best. But knowing which products are best and how much to replenish can be difficult. This Runner’s Guide to Hydration is here to help. Did you know excessive electrolyte replacement can be just as detrimental as inadequate hydration. Therefore, understanding the basics of electrolyte balance and proper hydration when running is important.

Notably, a number of factors can affect your electrolyte replacement needs. Some runners naturally have saltier sweat than others, and some sweat profusely while others don’t. Likewise, the clothing you choose, outside temperatures, and levels of humidity also play a role. And the duration and intensity of your runs will alter your hydration and electrolyte needs. But despite this, there are some basic rules to help you develop an effective running hydration strategy.

Runner’s Guide to Hydration 101

It’s no secret that we need to replenish fluids and electrolytes when we run. But there are many misconceptions about running and hydration. For example, your body is generally able to run for 30 minutes without requiring electrolyte replacement. Unless conditions are extreme, hydrating properly before and after a run of this duration is adequate. It’s only longer runs that benefit from electrolyte replacement.

The vast majority of the electrolytes you lose while running are lost from sweat. Major electrolytes in your sweat consist of sodium, chloride and potassium. Others in lesser amounts include calcium, magnesium and phosphate. Each of these are important in helping us maintain proper fluid balance in the body. If our fluid balance becomes too low, then circulation can suffer. And this may affect our body’s ability to get oxygen and nutrients to working muscles.

At the same time, electrolytes are needed for cells to function properly. This is why electrolyte replacement is essential in order to perform our best. Electrolyte imbalance can lead to muscle fatigue, muscle cramps, heat intolerance, and even disorientation. It may also cause dizziness and gastrointestinal problems. For these reasons, runners can benefit greatly from an effective running hydration plan.

Best Practices for Electrolyte Replacement

When planning electrolyte replacement, runners benefit from hydrating ahead of time. Eating a well-balanced diet can also help provide adequate amounts of the key electrolytes lost in sweat. But electrolyte supplements and drinks may also be used, especially for endurance runners. The exact amount of electrolyte replacement each person needs varies, and therefore, some experimentation may be required.

The products you choose for your running hydration plan are also important. Many electrolyte replacement drinks have simple sugars and artificial sweeteners, which should be avoided most of the time. Instead, products that contain ample amounts of sodium, potassium and chloride are most important. Likewise, products that lack specific allergens and gluten and are compatible with a vegan diet may also be a consideration.

Finding Your Electrolyte Sweet Spot

With a bit of trial and error, it doesn’t take long to develop an effective running and hydration strategy. Most runners make sure they’re well hydrated before their runs, and then replenish appropriately immediately after their run is over. If your runs exceed half an hour, electrolyte replacement while running should also be considered. These strategies along with the right electrolyte replacement product will ensure you will be performing at your absolute best.

Author Note: Our friends at Ultima Replenisher (official hydration of the Virtual Women’s Half Marathon) have provided us with a special offer for our runners/readers. Go to and automatically get 20% off your cart. Coupon is valid until 11/15/20.

Ultima Replenisher is a clean electrolyte drink mix that has 6 electrolytes plus support minerals (Potassium, Magnesium, Chloride, Calcium, Sodium and Phosphorus), including Vitamin C and zinc, that work together to provide restorative hydration. It’s sugar free, sweetened with organic stevia leaf, and uses plant-based colors and flavors. Ultima Replenisher is unique in its kind as an electrolyte drink that’s free of sugar, calories, caffeine, GMOs, and gluten. To learn more, go to:

Dawna is a mom of two, author of ten books and founder of Women's Running magazine and the Virtual Women's Half Marathon series. She is also a certified health coach and motivational speaker. Dawna has appeared on the Today show, MSNBC and morning news programs on NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox. Dawna has launched and sold two wellness companies and loves combining her passion for health and wellness with her love of running. Learn more about Dawna Stone.

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