Drinking Tips for Runners

We all know preventing dehydration is crucial for running, but you can’t just glug it down. Sipping the right stuff at the right times will make all the difference. Here’s some top tips for drinking on the run.

What should you drink?

Water, water… When we lose water through sweat, our blood volume drops, our body heat rises and the heart beats faster. It all makes running harder.


Drinking water is the obvious answer, though sports drinks can help replace energy and minerals too.


When should you drink it?

Before, during and after. We all know about replacing fluid after a run, but drinking before is important too – a third- or half-litre an hour or two before you go will do the trick.


‘Little and often’ is the mantra for while you’re on the go – aim for a few sips every 15 minutes if you’re running for more than an hour. With shorter runs you can usually skip it.


Drinking on the move is a tricky skill, especially from a bottle or cup. Walk if you have to. Try a fluid belt or backpack, or carry a runner’s bottle.


Be careful, though. Too much water while running can be harmful. Drink when you’re thirsty, don’t force it down.


Afterwards, drink enough to replace what you lost. How do you know? Take a peek at your pee: dark yellow urine spells dehydration; pale is perfect.


Drink half a litre straight after; the rest over the next few hours.


What’s the gen on gels?

Energy gels help replace the muscles’ carbohydrate, and the sugar rush gives your brain and body a little pick-me-up.

 You’ll rarely need them on a shorter run, but if you’re entering marathon territory take one after an or hour so to keep you going in the later stages.


Always ingest with water and never too many – tummy aches are a runners’ curse.


Does coffee help or hinder?

Caffeine boosts performance. Yep, that morning cup o’joe can actually make you faster. A small cup an hour before you run can help endurance.


Again, moderation is key – a light head is a hindrance. Avoid the jitters.


Is alcohol a no-no?

Not always. A bellyful of beer won’t help you run and alcohol makes you dehydrated.

 But a small red or beer with food shouldn’t hinder if you’re also drinking water. To be sure, go dry for two days at least before the race.