hydration needs


Be Aware of Your Hydration Needs -- and More Vital Tips for Marathoners, All Other Runners

There’s no escaping South Florida’ uniquely stifling humidity – yes, even in January when thousands of professional and amateur long-distance runners converge on downtown Miami for the Life Time Miami Marathon & Half, scheduled for Jan. 29.

For runners from cooler climates, South Florida is unseasonably warm during the winter months, which see several runner events involving a range of distances, including 5K (3.1 miles), a half marathon (13.1 miles) or a full marathon (26.2 miles).

Baptist Health South Florida is a sponsor and the official medical provider for the Life Time Miami Marathon & Half, providing assistance at the various first-aid and medical stations along the full route, on Jan. 29.

Michael Yurubi, D.O., a board-certified family medicine and sports medicine physician with Baptist Health Orthopedic Care.


Even for the well-trained runner, a half-marathon or full marathon can have its challenges when it comes to preventing injuries and stay well hydrated.

“An added danger in South Florida is its high humidity levels,” explains Michael Yurubi, D.O., a board-certified family medicine and sports medicine physician with Baptist Health Orthopedic Care, who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis and nonsurgical treatment muscular-skeletal system injuries. “When humidity is high, the body sweats less and it does not evaporate as easily from the skin. The body then struggles to cool down, making it prone to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.”

For most people, water is the best fluid to drink before, during and after exercise. But long-distance runners benefit even more from “sports drinks” that contain carbohydrates and electrolytes. There are several key physical components to training for a marathon, including establishing a routine for hydration and nutrition, including those carbed-up, pre-packaged gels for the longest runs.


“If you are participating in vigorous exercise for one hour or longer, it is recommended to hydrate with more than plain water by supplementing with sports drinks that contain carbohydrates and electrolytes,” explains Dr. Yurubi. “Consuming large amounts of plain water can result in a condition known as hyponatremia, or low levels of sodium in the blood. Opting for a sports drink that contains electrolytes and carbohydrates will help avoid dehydration.”

A typical, single packet of gel usually contains 25 to 30g (grams) of carbohydrates for runners.

“A good target intake for carbohydrates is 40–90g per hour, which can easily come from a mix of sports drinks, gels, and food options,” said Dr. Yurubi. “In addition, the recommended sodium intake for most runners is 250–500 mg (milligrams) of sodium per hour, which can easily come from a sports drink.”

All runners should be aware of their individual hydration needs after many months of training for the big event. And they should also know the telltale symptoms of dehydration.

“Since everyone's hydration needs are different, active people should be aware of their own needs to maximize their safety and performance,” said Dr. Yurubi. “Common early symptoms include thirst, dry mouth, feeling fatigued or sluggish. As dehydration progresses, symptoms can include headaches, muscle cramps, nausea, fatigue, and even impaired brain functioning, such as lower concentration, alertness, and discrepancies in short-term memory.”

Runners who want to start training for a long-distance event should become fully aware of proper hydration needs early on. You can learn how to measure your “sweat rate,” which is based on the amount of liquid your body loses after an hour of exercise. By calculating your sweat rate, you can better evaluate what you should drink to replace lost fluid and help avoid injuries.

“While training, it is recommended that you learn how much hydration your body needs, especially during long runs,” said Dr. Yurubi. “It is very important to make sure you’re hydrated at least 48 hours before the race. It’s not a good idea to try to catch up after you start running.”

Healthcare that Cares

With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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