Nutrition, Hydration and Running: A Road Map for Runners

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By: Tim Simmons, Sports Medicine Manager, Gwinnett Medical Center

We all run for a reason. Some run to lose weight while others run to challenge their physical abilities. Running can be a great stress reliever or a time to nurture friendships. Regardless of your reasons, a good diet and staying hydrated are vital for running your best. Following guidelines, especially on your long run days, will help you feel refreshed rather than exhausted. Here are some nutrition and hydration guidelines to nurture your running:

1.#### In preparation for your run, consume about 25-30 grams of complex carbohydrates one to two hours prior to exercise. Avoid foods that are likely to upset your stomach such as greasy foods, high-fiber foods (whole wheat products or vegetables), high-protein foods (beef, chicken, or legumes) and caffeinated drinks. Carbohydrates with a low glycemic index rating, such as#grapes and apples, are best pre-exercise and always remember to drink 8-12 ounces of water or sports drinks along with the carbohydrates. Train your body to get used to drinking this much liquid prior to exercising.

2.#### During your run, consume 25 grams of carbohydrates, such as an energy bar, toast or banana, for every 45 minutes of exercise. Consuming sports drinks and carbohydrates during most runs reduces the stress on your body and improves post-run recovery. Train your body to get used to drinking four to eight ounces of water for every 15 minutes of exercise completed.

3.#### Immediately after exercise, consume 25-30 grams of carbohydrates. This can be a combination of food and drink. You will need to rehydrate with water if your carbohydrate intake consists of energy bars, bagels, etc. Weighing can be a great indicator of hydration levels. To replenish, drink 16 ounces of water for every pound lost during exercise and continue to drink water throughout the day.

4.#### Thirty minutes after exercise, consume another 25-30 grams of simple carbohydrates (like fruits, milk, vegetables or meal replacement powder).

5.#### One hour after exercise, consume 50-100 grams of carbohydrate drinks and gel packs.

Endurance athletes, especially those who train in hot and humid weather are at constant risk of dehydration and cramping. Without proper hydration, this can diminish energy and impair performance.

The risk becomes greater the longer the workout.# In preparing for an endurance event it is necessary to have a hydration plan prepared in advance. Hydrate two to three hours before training and competition. Arrive prepared and hydrated on the day of an endurance event. Bring plenty of extra liquids to keep you hydrated throughout the day. Drink to replace sweat; however, the key is to not consume more than needed so follow your intake guidelines.

Endurance athletes, especially inexperienced runners who tend to run slowly and stop for more fluid breaks, risk over-hydrating, which can lead to a dangerous condition called Hyponatremia. Hyponatremia occurs when an athlete takes in too much fluid and the sodium level in their blood pressure drops to an extremely low point.

No matter how well you prepare and train, every year, millions of people unexpectedly suffer sports injuries”from football injuries and torn rotator cuffs to runner”s knees. The Sports Medicine Program at Gwinnett Medical Center is dedicated to helping all athletes prevent injury, manage pain, heal properly and get back into action as soon as possible. Learn more, request a free sports injury toolkit or take a sports injury quiz at

About Gwinnett Medical Center

Recognized by HealthGrades”# as America”s 100 Best Hospitals, Gwinnett Medical Center is a not-for-profit healthcare network with acute-care hospitals in Lawrenceville and Duluth.# Offering cardiovascular, orthopedic and neuroscience specialty care as well as a full continuum of wellness services, GMC”s 4,200 associates and 800 affiliated physicians serve more than 400,000 patients annually. To learn more about how GMC is transforming healthcare, visit or follow us at,