I'm a less experienced runner, training for a half marathon. Up until now I only ran a maximum of 10 miles and I never felt the need to hydrate, but I read it's better to hydrate during the run.

What should I use for hydration, just water? I read that energy drinks don't make a lot of sense during a run, and are better to drink after the run, or not at all. And how would I carry it? I've seen belts and hydration packs, but they don't seem comfortable.

  • Related question here but focus on aid stations.
    – hhh
    May 22, 2016 at 21:32

4 Answers 4


Being a runner myself I used to take a bottle of water with me which was great for interval training. I could drink when I was walking to recover.

Nowadays I'm starting to run without stops and leave the bottle at home and drink before and after my run.

Here is a link with some more information:

If you're looking for a general rule of thumb for fluid consumption during your runs: You should take in 4 to 6 ounces of fluid every 20 minutes during your runs. Runners running faster than 8-minute miles should drink 6 to 8 ounces every 20 minutes. During longer workouts (90 minutes or more), some of your fluid intake should include a sports drink (like Gatorade) to replace lost sodium and other minerals (electrolytes). The carbohydrates and electrolytes in the sports drink also help you absorb the fluids faster.

As for carrying I used to hold the water bottle in my hand because I also found that the carrying belt looks uncomfortable.

edit: I bought a water bottle belt which holds 2 small bottles. No big discomfort while running. Actually in my opinion ( after using a belt ) its better to use a belt to then holding it in your hand.

  • 3
    The belts are just a matter of habit... I have had a couple of runs where I regretted not bringing the belt... only to discover later that I did in fact bring the belt... Just to illustrate that after a few runs, you will completely forget about the belt... Feb 10, 2012 at 13:41
  • I'll by one this week! Had a long run this weekend and had no water on me. I had a big headache after the run.
    – Xander
    Feb 13, 2012 at 8:07

I agree with most of the posters about duration.

That is, for longer runs, where the definition of longer is very personal, water at least for hydration is required. Water bottle holders come in all shapes and sizes now.

  • Fanny packs, which can irritate the small of your back where the bottle top bounces into it.
  • Angled bottle fanny packs, which try to alleviate that pain.
  • Fuel Belt and copycats where there are many small bottles on a belt.

Everyone is different, and hydration requirements will differ.

You can get an estimate of how much you sweat, and thus need to replace, by starting a workout, fresh, weigh yourself, do your workout, no drinking, for a reasonable amount of time (an hour works well) and then shower, and weigh yourself clean after.

Since you cannot appreciably burn off significant mass in an hour of exersize, you can estimate how much you sweat out. A litre weighs about a kilo, (which is why Metric is so useful).

Worst case is usually 1 to 1.5 litres an hour for heavy sweaters. If all you are doing is an hour or three then you cannot dig youself too deep into a hole. However for longer stuff like marathon and long course triathlons, it is important to stay ahead of the drinking and not get into the hole, since you will not be able to get out of it during the race.

I am at the heavier end of that sweating scale, and on my first Ironman drank 18 litres on the bike, 8 litres on the run, and lost 7 lbs. It was a bit extreme.

  • 2
    Geoffc gives a lot of good points, especially to test how much you sweat, don't just trust estimates - every body is different. You will also sweat A LOT more depending on temperature, altitude, etc. Once you get past an hour or two, you also need to start thinking about electrolytes (salt) and calories. Yes, you can get by without it, but your performance will hurt without it. For runs longer than that, it can be dangerous to only drink pure water, and not replace electrolytes, a condition called hyponatremia. At these distances, consider a Camelbak. Feb 9, 2012 at 16:59
  • 2
    @MikeHedman Hyponatremia sucks! Been there, often, alas. I sweat so much over a long race day, that I literally just eat a salt packet every hour or so. 3g every hour or two is enough to keep up.
    – geoffc
    Feb 9, 2012 at 17:50
  • I am also a heavy sweater, have you experienced cramps if not getting enough salts like on aid stations? How do you plan your drinking over aid-stations (this q here)? Can you rely on them? Can you share about which kind of drinks you use? Home-made sports drinks? Vinegar, lemon, salt, sugar and water?
    – hhh
    May 22, 2016 at 21:30

When it comes to drinking and eating anything under running, I agree with @baldys answer to https://fitness.stackexchange.com/questions/2834/what-should-i-eat-or-drink-before-jogging/2845#2845 that nothing special is needed for anything less than 1-1.5 hours of running (@baldy actually writes 2.5 hours, but I personally need something when running for that long). If we are talking anything less than half-marathon (HM), I usually just eat a banana 15-20 minutes before start and drink some water just before I leave for the run... And nothing special under the run apart from a little water every 5 km.

I sometimes bring a little money, so I can buy a banana or two en route if I feel I need that... which is more often in the evening after a long day at the office than in the morning when I'm fresh and ready for the world... but it is the exception rather than the rule.

If we by long distance running mean HM or longer, then I think it is more important what you eat the days just before and after the run than what you eat during the run. This is described pretty well here:

The major source of fuel for active muscles is carbohydrate which gets stored in the muscles as glycogen in the days before exercise. It takes time to completely fill glycogen stores, and what you eat after exercise can help or hinder this process. Eating the right foods at the right time after a workout is essential for recovery and being ready for the next workout.

So lots of pasta and white bread before the run... all the stuff we usually try to avoid.

As for any of the supplements listed in the articles... I really haven't tried any of them, as I really don't see what they can provide that is not already in various fruit - especially carbs and potassium.

[Adapted from F&N: https://fitness.stackexchange.com/a/4208/1664]

  • 2
    You say that you drink little water every 5 km (in a HM). How do you carry that?
    – Xander
    Feb 9, 2012 at 10:54
  • and where do you buy bananas in the evening?
    – FLY
    Feb 10, 2012 at 9:54
  • @Xander For my longer runs (HM+), I carry a belt with water (approx. 600ml). I have been looking at a camelback as well, but have not decided yet. Feb 10, 2012 at 10:01
  • @scubaFLY We have plenty of kiosks and tank stations around CPH which are open late and carry all sorts of fruits. Feb 10, 2012 at 10:03
  • @TonnyMadsen Thanks! I live in the countryside, buying bananas is not really an option for me :). I think I will get a belt as well!
    – Xander
    Feb 11, 2012 at 8:01

I want to stress the importance of temperature, which was only mentioned in Mike Hedman's comment to geoffc's answer, particularly if you're training through summer.

Story: So far I've run 27km as my longest training run (HM-plan), and managed without a drink. I usually don't feel the need. On a later occasion though I had 18km on my plan but it was nearing 30°C(86°F?), for which I was completely unprepared. I did fine for the first 10km, then just dropped in my output on a long easy up-hill stretch, and couldn't get going again after. When I cam home I drank a liter(1/3 gallon?) of water. The day later my digestive system revolted, and it took me 2 weeks to recover and be able to eat normally again - not to mention my running schedule that was ruined.

Answer: Since then I always carry water(drinking-backpack) for >24°C(75°F) and >10km, but still rely on my body to decide when I want to drink and when I don't, although I tend to take a sip on a hint of thirst rather than to wait for a definite need for water.

Refer to other sources for food/electrolyte/etc.. intake - but I haven't met anyone who uses such for HM-distances in training. Races I join usually offer food/drink every 5km. I take a little at 5km and 15km.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.