It should go without saying that proper hydration results in a better chance of crushing your performance goals. But too often, people fall into some surprising hydration traps before, during, and after their workouts that keep them from performing their best when it counts most. To help set you on a path to hydrating like a pro, we teamed up with a Honey Stinger athlete and pro sports dietitian to bring to light the hydration mistakes you may be making and the fixes that will make sure your fluids are perfectly topped up.
You wait too long to drink
For professional double-amputee runner and Honey Stinger athlete Brian Reynolds, the hydration window for a big run actually begins the night before. “If I try to drink too much right before a race it leaves me with a belly full of water sloshing around and a bloated feeling that is not comfortable for the first few miles.” Instead, Reynolds, who has broken multiple world records for double below-the-knee amputees in the marathon (3:03:22 PR) and half-marathon (1:17:05 PR), takes in two bottles of Honey Stinger Rapid Hydration Mix (“Prepare” Formula) the night before, then a modest 4 to 6 ounces of fluid the morning of his workout.
Allison Maurer is a professional sports dietitian for Honey Stinger and Major League Baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates. She also supports Reynolds’s night-before “hyperhydration” strategy.
“It’s best to start early with your hydration using an electrolyte drink instead of panicking shortly before a race and trying to drink too much to make up for the lost time,” she says. If you find yourself needing to pee about an hour before your workout, it’s a good sign you’re well-hydrated.
There is only water in your bottle
“Until I settled on Honey Stinger, I used to suffer on my long runs by not taking in enough carbohydrates and electrolytes,” Reynolds confesses. He now brings along a 14-ounce water bottle spiked with Honey Stinger “Perform” Formula and supplements this with fluids from aid stations during races.
Maurer says plain water lacks the electrolytes to improve muscle function and help stave off cramping, and the fast-absorbing carbs to fuel the working body. “The combination of carbs and sodium helps your body hold onto more water for better hydration.”
She says the honey used in Honey Stinger Rapid Hydration Mix absorbs quickly for improved digestion and more efficient fueling without gut rot, while its sodium can help replace a portion of the sodium lost on the run—as much as 1,700 milligrams of sodium per liter of sweat.
You don’t train your gut
It took Reynolds years of trial and error to fine-tune his run hydration and fueling to a method that works for his system. “I suffered through numerous stomach issues until I figured out that the Honey Stinger products settled things down and helped me perform at my best.”
Maurer agrees with taking a highly individualized approach to sports nutrition. “You need to train your gut to see what works specifically for you, in the conditions you’ll face.”
In other words, there is no universal fluid, electrolyte, and carbohydrate guideline to use during workouts. Maurer explains you need to test your hydration strategy during training to gauge tolerance instead of trying something different during a big event.
You gulp it all down at once
Reynolds has learned that lots of little sips spread throughout works better than guzzling back large amounts less frequently when it comes to midrun hydration. “Drinking small amounts every mile or two is easier on my stomach and keeps my mouth from drying out.”
Maurer stresses that your goal is to avoid the sluggish, ground-down feeling brought on by dehydration and low fuel stores instead of trying to correct the dreaded bonk after it occurs.
Frequently consuming a well-designed hydration product like Honey Stinger Rapid Hydration Mix ("Perform" Formula) will keep you charging hard, as studies have suggested that drinking a predetermined amount of fluid at set times can deliver greater performance gains than simply consuming liquids based on thirst.
You overlook postrun hydration
From experience, Reynolds knows that his hydration needs don’t grind to a halt once he crosses the finish line. “I make a plan to drink 16 to 24 ounces of fluid with the electrolyte-based Honey Stinger Rapid Hydration Mix ("Recover" Formula) shortly following a big run and then keep on hydrating throughout the day.” He knows his recovery will suffer if he doesn’t rehydrate properly.
But Maurer says to space out your rehydration efforts instead of drinking huge amounts of fluids at once. “Drinking too much can make you feel full, which is counterproductive to eating enough to properly refuel.”
Research shows that a honey drink can improve recovery by increasing hydration and replenishment of spent energy stores, leading to better performance during your next workout.