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Winter Hydration Tips for Runners

While you may only connect dehydration with warm weather running, dehydration in winter months can be common. These hydration facts will help keep you hydrated and healthy when crafting your winter or cooler weather running hydration plan.

It’s that time of year where temperatures drop, cooler and stronger winds, and more dark times.

While some people prefer running or exercising in cold temperature versus hot, there are things to be aware of when running in colder months in order to make sure we are adequately hydrated, to perform more efficiently.

Water makes up over two-thirds of a healthy human body. Water is incredibly important for the body, especially for the brain, heart, and muscles.

Water helps rid the body of toxic wastes, helps carry nutrients and oxygen to all cells in the body and helps keep our muscles fluid & pliable (rather than rigid and stiff).

When we think of it this way, it’s no wonder that hydration has a role in running and contracting muscles.

Hydration can be quite confusing, which is why we have a whole module on developing our hydration plan in our endurance fueling course.

A general rule of thumb for a healthy individual is to aim for drinking half our body weight in litres of water (or other non-caloric beverages) per day. Electrolytes, namely sodium and potassium, help our body “keep” that water around longer.

Therefore, it can be beneficial to drink slowly throughout the day or to drink something with added sodium or potassium and other electrolytes in order to help our body retain the fluids.

Dehydration in Winter Months

One reason for dehydration in colder months, is that we may not notice our body’s thirst signals as clearly as during hot weather, which may result in our drinking less fluids overall in the colder months.

Secondly, if we are not dressed properly for colder weather, our body may have to work harder in order to maintain its core temperature, which results in the body then losing more fluid through respiration and sweat.

Therefore, by underdressing, we are making our body work harder. However, overdressing can be problematic as well.

If we are overdressed in cold weather, our body may be producing more sweat than we realize. And, the cold, dry air from outside can lead to an increase in fluid loss.

Causes of Dehydration in the Winter

1. We don’t get or feel as thirsty: Our thirst response is diminished because of our blood vessels when we feel colder and prevent blood from flowing freely to our extremities.

2. We wear more warm clothes: Wearing warmer clothes or more layers can cause our body to conserve heat but also makes our body work harder and causes more sweat and fluid loss.

3. We breathe too much: Colder weather makes us breathe harder, causing more fluid or vapor loss as we breathe. Vapor breath in colder weather is actually fluid loss from our body.

4. We sweat a lot: Sweat evaporates faster in colder weather. We think or feel like we are not sweating in cold air, but we really are sweating even while running in colder weather. Our body evaporates fast, so it feels like we are not sweating. That’s why even in colder weather we need to hydrate properly according to our running distance and body type.

Signs of Dehydration

  • Lethargic

  • Muscle Cramps

  • Feeling Groggy, Slow or Weak

  • Feeling Sick (toxin build-up)

  • Feeling Chronically Cold and Shivering

  • More Dry and Itchy Skin

  • Constipation

Try Drinking Warm Beverages

While drinking cold beverages in the hotter months may be appealing and feel good, there may be a benefit to drinking warm or hot beverages during the winter months.

Warm or hot beverages may be more appealing during colder temperatures, which would likely result in them actually being consumed.

Also, warm or hot beverages can help to regulate the body’s internal temperature. Using an insulated container for tea, broth, soup, or other warm beverages is recommended in the cold weather months to help avoid dehydration in winter.

Being properly hydrated can help reduce the risk of injury.

Hydration After Exercise

After exercise, it is important to rehydrate the body along also with recovering with carbs and protein.

Research shows that to achieve rehydration after exercise, athletes should consume a moderate to high-sodium beverage in a volume equivalent to 150% of fluid loss.

That is, 700ml of fluid intake for every 1.5 kgs of body weight lost over the course of an exercise session. Weighing ourself before and after a long or hard run can help us get an idea of how much fluid we are losing during exercise.

Cool Weather Run, Good Hydration, Good Running Clothes, Enjoy The Nice Cool Run!


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