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Hydration for Young Runners: Staying Safe and Hydrated

Staying hydrated seems easy enough, but often times, especially for young runners, taking the time to refuel can be forgotten when the focus is on training or the excitement of race day.

But the reality is hydration should be at the top of the priority list for all runners, both kids and adults, because of its economical and effective way it helps increase performance and protects health, just by the simple act of refueling one’s body.

In children, the negative effects on performance can occur even sooner, especially when exercising in hot and humid conditions.

So, what does dehydration look? It’s easy enough to shrug off signs of dehydration when in the midst of a run.  Feeling thirsty, having a headache, dry mouth, muscle cramps, fatigue and nausea are all signs of dehydration, that can arise by not knowing how much hydration your body needs in order to be at its peak.

A good way to stay on top of how much hydration your body needs is to figure out your sweat rate, or how much sweat is produced when running and how much water is lost. This means weighing yourself (without clothes) before you head out for a run, and then measuring yourself upon return.

It’s important to keep track of how much water you are drinking during this run, so you can add this to your calculation.

According to Hoag Sports Medicine physician Dr. Paiyuam Asnaashari, D.O., “One pound of weight loss equals 1 pint of water loss. Post run, young athletes should replenish what water they lost and keep themselves hydrated.”

But a common question we get from runners of all ages is water or sports drink? What counts as the best source of hydration?

The best options for liquids, during and after running are water and sports drinks. Sports drinks replace electrolytes and potassium. But for those wary about little young runners drink sports drinks, alternatives include:

  • 100% fruit and vegetable juices.
  • Milk or chocolate milk (best after the run)   
  • Smoothies made from real fruits.

Young runners should drink water before, during and after their run, this will help rebalance fluid levels, and keep performances at peak level.