You know you’re supposed to hydrate when you exercise. You know you’re supposed to drink more when it’s hot out. But do you really know how to hydrate?

drink water

I grossly underestimated the power of the summer heat earlier this year at the North Face Challenge. I sipped on my water bottle all morning, but I failed to account for one big thing: the race didn’t start until mid-afternoon- when it’s really hot.

Unfortunately I realized my mistake only after I was 3 miles into the middle of the woods- dizzy, confused, and nauseas. I won’t go into explicit detail (but if you really want to know I did get a bit graphic in my race recap.) It wasn’t pretty.

With a 24 hour bike race around the corner in the peak of August heat, it’s time for me to make sure I don’t repeat that same mistake.

So now, the 6 simple rules of hydration I always knew but never quite followed until now:

How to Hydrate in the Heat

1. Start early. Don’t wait until the morning of the race to start drinking. You can only absorb so much so fast- you don’t want all that hydration going straight to the toilet. Worst case- start the day before. Your best bet- begin hydrating a few days before your event.

2. Replace sweat loss. To stay hydrated, you need to replace any fluid you lose. If you sweat a lot, you better bet you need to be drinking a lot! A good rule of thumb: weigh yourself before & after a workout. The amount of weight you lost is the amount you need to drink. (For every pound lost, drink 16 oz of fluid.) Don’t want to weigh yourself? Check your urine– it should be pale yellow, not dark & concentrated.

urine chart

<— “3” is the magic hydration number.

If your pee is darker, drink up!

(Chart developed by L. Armstrong, PhD)

3. Don’t rely on thirst. Our bodies are usually pretty good at telling us what we need, but unfortunately they’re a little slow on the uptake when it comes to thirst. You only feel thirsty after you’ve started to become dehydrated. Plus, your thirst is quenched before you’ve gotten all the fluid you need. So drink even if you’re not thirsty!

4. Drink at regular intervals. Water can turn to sweat in as little as 10 minutes. Drinking regularly throughout your workout or event is the best way to stay hydrated. Having small amounts of fluid frequently also helps to prevent that unpleasant sloshing feeling in your stomach.

5. Make it good & easy. The easier water or other fluid is to access, the more likely you are to drink it. Figure out what works for you- carrying a water bottle, using a Camel Bak, etc. Making it taste good helps you drink more too; so does having the fluid cold.

camel bak nathan water bottle

6. Choose fluids wisely. Water is fine for short events, but if you’re exercising for more than an hour, you probably want to try a sports drink or other fluid with electrolytes. What to look for: a drink that’s 6-8% carbohydrate & has at least sodium & potassium in it. [Most beverages marketed as ‘”sports drinks” meet these requirement; this isn’t the time to choose the low sugar option!]

Read this post to learn more about hydration.

As an added bonus, leave your best tip for staying hydrated & be entered to win a BPA-free insulated stainless steel water bottle from Thermos! They’re celebrating the launch of their Cold Matters series and one of you lucky SoS readers gets to win!

thermos bottle

For extra entries, share the hydration love and tweet this post!  (You know you like free stuff ;))

“Learn 6 Keys to Hydration from @sideofsneakers & get a chance to win a prize from #ThermosCold series!


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Let me know how you’ve entered with separate comments on the hydration post!!!! Ends Sunday 8/29!!

Have you ever gotten dehydrated during a race? What about in training?