These hydration tips for summer running will give you ideas to make sure you stay hydrated while running in the summer heat.
Hydration is always important for runners in every season, but we tend to lose a LOT more water through sweat while running in the summer heat. Thus, it can be a little more difficult to stay on top of hydrating enough—especially on longer runs.
Why is Hydration Important for Runners?
You body loses both fluid and electrolytes when you sweat. Electrolytes are tiny particles that carry electrical charges, and they help your body maintain proper body function by balancing water both inside and outside your cells.
When you sweat, you can become dehydrated if you aren’t hydrated properly before your run and/or if you don’t hydrate during your run. Dehydration can really impact athletic performance negatively—even as little as a 2% decrease in hydration can decrease performance. On the more extreme end, you could experience muscle cramps and fatigue.
How Much Hydration Do You Need?
Best advice for hydrating during exercise: Drink to thirst.
But DON’T force yourself to drink MORE than your body is asking for.
Drink at a comfortable, natural rate during long periods of exercise. You can usually plan on this being around 13 to 27 ounces per hour.
You can download my fueling strategy cheat sheet, which summarizes the key targets for both hydration and carbohydrate intake during long runs, half marathons, and marathons:
6 Hydration Tips to Stay Healthy and Fuel Your Summer Running
Now that we know why hydration is important and how much to drink, let’s talk about a few hydration tips for summer running to help you make sure you balance your fluid levels while sweating buckets in the summer heat.
Find a Good Hydration Belt or Vest
For medium distance runs, this hydration belt works great and carries around 20 ounces, which makes it perfect for 1-2 hours. It also has a pocket to stash your phone or a few gels for your fueling plan.
Over 2 hours, however, you may need the ability to carry more fluids. I really like the Ultimate Direction Women’s Race Vesta (See review below), because it holds 2 16oz bottles on the front, plus has the ability to carry a 1.5L or 2.0L bladder on the back. Typically, I just fill the two bottles, giving me 32 ounces, and that’s enough for most of my long runs. On longer marathon training runs, it’s nice to have the option to carry extra water in a bladder on the back.
By finding a comfortable hydration belt or vest that fits you, you’ll be able to carry your hydration with you and won’t have to worry about finding water along your route.
Related: Ultimate Direction Women’s Race Vesta Review
You Need More than Just Water
This is an important point to make, because not all runners realize this.
While water is better than nothing, you also need electrolytes for optimal hydration. These electrolytes help your body balance water across your cells and maintain proper body function. The risk of drinking only water during prolonged endurance exercise is hyponatremia, also known as water intoxication. Hyponatremia results when the sodium concentration in your blood falls too low due to prolonged sweating combined with excessive fluid consumption.
The risk of hyponatremia is pretty low for short workouts, but increases with marathons and long triathlons, so it’s something to keep in mind.
Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, and Bicarbonates are all important electrolytes to look for in a sports hydration drink.
Use Low-Calorie Hydration for Your Shorter Runs and Workouts
On the majority of your workouts, you won’t want your hydration to be filled with unnecessary sugar. After all, many people start running to lose weight and don’t want extra calories unless they’re needed.
That’s why I love Nuun Hydration. They offer options for your workouts without all the extra calories when you’re exercising for less than an hour. Nuun Sport is a great option for hydration with just 15 calories per serving and the full, balanced electrolyte profile you need for optimal hydration.
Related: 29 Reasons to Love Nuun Hydration
But You Might Need Carbohydrates in Your Hydration for Longer Workouts
For your long runs, you ARE going to need a hydration drink with more calories to help your body keep going. These carbohydrates not only serve as fuel, but also help facilitate the absorption of electrolytes and water into your bloodstream.
Nuun Endurance is one of my favorite products. At 60 calories per serving, it contains enough clean carbohydrates to help with your fueling and you can increase the carbohydrates easily by adding an extra scoop if you need it. The complete electrolytes will help maintain fluid balance and optimal muscle function when your workout exceeds 90 minutes.
Herbalife24 Cr7 Drive is another hydration product that works well and I use for long distance running hydration.
Plan Out Water Stops or Convenience Stores Along Your Route if You Need Them
If you don’t have a vest or belt to carry enough liquid and fuel with you, you can plan to stop at a convenience store or a park water fountain. Just be familiar with all available stops beforehand to make sure you have ample opportunity to hydrate on your run.
I’ve been surprised several times during summer long runs at just how much hydration I needed due to how hot it was and how much I was sweating. Even though I had carried what I thought would be enough fluids in my hydration belt, the heat beat me out and I ended up stopping at a gas station to top off my bottles with a sports drink. Carry a credit card with you in your armband or belt so you can easily purchase a sports drink during your run if you find you need it.
Always better safe than risking dehydration or a heat related illness from not hydrating.
Run in Loops and Leave Your Water Bottle in One Place
This is another option if you don’t want to carry your hydration with you. You can leave it at a safe place on your route and run in loops so you can take a sip when you run by.
This is one of the hydration tips for running that works fairly well if you have a relatively short loop for your runs. Remember, you won’t want to go more than 2-3 miles without access to water if it’s really hot, so keep that in mind when planning out your route or loops.
I tend not to like this option as much (unless it’s at the track and I can maintain sight of it) due to that message of “don’t lose sight of your drink” advice that moms give out to their teenage daughters. There is a (slightly irrational?) fear in the back of my mind of someone spiking my water bottle with something unfriendly. Unlikely to happen, but still.
Related: Running and Self Defense
If I use this option, I try to hide my drink somewhere unnoticeable. You could leave your water bottle behind a tree, at your car, or at your house if you’re looping around the neighborhood. It’s still better to hydrate when you need it.
Have you ever run into the issue of not having enough hydration while running in the summer heat?
- Transitioning from the Half to Full Marathon: 7 Critical Factors for Success
- 6 Smart Hydration Tips for Running in the Summer Heat
- How to Pace Your Half Marathon with 4 Simple Strategies
- Ultimate Direction Women’s Race Vesta Review
- What is a Recovery Week and How it Can Boost Your Running
About Me: I’m Alexis, Founder of RunningMyBestLife! I am an avid recreational runner, half marathoner, wife, dog mom, busy professional, downhill skier in Northern Utah. My mission is to help new enthusiasts fall in love with the sport of running. I believe that running is a catalyst to taking control of your life and living your best life by design. Learn More –>