Hydrating for the Big Race — or Just Some Fun in the Sun

Hydrating for the Big Race — or Just Some Fun in the Sun

by Jennifer Bain, MEd, RDN, LDN


If you are training for a big race like the Flying Pig Marathon or even for your first 5k, you have likely been told about the importance of staying well hydrated. Hydration, however, is just as important if you’re working in your yard, chasing your children and grandchildren, or just walking the dog on a hot summer night. Planning for proper hydration might begin with water and sports drinks during your race on a hot day, but it is equally important on cool days and should be part of a daily routine.


If water is key for hydration, why do so many sports and athletes endorse sports drinks such as Gatorade? Our muscles need electrolytes (these are minerals such as sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium) to contract. Not only do electrolytes help our muscles move but they carry other key nutrients to our cells. During physical activity, sugars can also help our cells utilize electrolytes. Unfortunately, many of today’s sports drinks are filled with excessive sugars, food colors, an imbalance of sodium to potassium, and resemble a soft drink more than a nutritional aid.  Did you know that a banana can be more hydrating in marathon runners than sports drinks? This is because the fruit is filled with the proper balance of electrolytes, and contains adequate sugar along with other nutrients to properly nourish.


Adequate hydration starts days before an event, drinking plenty of water and focusing your diet on foods high in electrolytes such as vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. Your daily water intake should start at about 1oz per 2lbs of body weight. To calculate this, take your body weight and divide it in half. That equals how many ounces you should drink daily just to keep your body working efficiently. For most people, this equals 8-10 (8 ounces) glasses per day.


The following are guidelines to meet fluid needs during physical activity, such as race day!

  • Drink plenty of water and eat your plants the days before the race
  • Drink 2-3 cups of water within 2 hours prior to the race
  • Drink 2-4 cups of water every hour during the race
  • Drink 3 cups of water for every pound of weight loss post-race


Note: It is extremely important to replace electrolytes and sugars only if you will be physically active for longer than 1 hour. You can do this by snacking on bananas, oranges, watermelon, or apple slices.  If you find it difficult to chew while physically active, consider a homemade sports drink. This may take a little planning but offers great benefits over store bought sports drinks.


If you would like more information on hydration, nutrition for race day, or understanding the effects of sports drinks/products on performance, call the office for an appointment (513) 760.5151. Good luck on your race and stay hydrated!!


Homemade Re-hydration Solution:

Nutrition: ~4-8% carbohydrates, sodium: 0.5-0.7gm/L water, potassium 0.8-2gm/L water



3.5 cups water

6 Tbsp honey syrup (mix equal parts local raw honey + water until honey is dissolved)

2 Tbsp lemon juice

2 Tbsp lime juice

1/4 tsp fine sea salt



8 oz orange juice

3 cups water

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda