I was going through my Twitter feed the other day when I saw this tweet posted by elite runner Tyler McCandless (@TrackTy):

Tweet, Tyler McCandlessHe went on to win the Kauai Marathon the next day in a course record time of 2:21:34. So, I figured maybe he was onto something and began researching the use of Pedialyte by endurance athletes.

Pedialyte is a rehydration and recovery drink formulated to help rehydrate infants and toddlers that have experienced vomiting and diarrhea. It is found in drugstores and supermarkets in the health or baby sections, not in the beverage isle alongside Gatorade, Powerade, and other sports drinks. Pedialyte is not marketed for athletes, and the company (Abbott Laboratories) doesn’t have any plans to do so.

Pedialyte was first used by endurance runners in the 1980s and 90s. Popular ultra-runner Dean Karnazes used Pedialyte for electrolyte replacements when prepping for his ultra-running events as reported in his book, Ultra Marathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner. NFL, NHL, NBA and MLB athletes are known to consume Pedialyte on and off the field to combat dehydration and improve performance and recovery.

PedialytePedialyte has nearly twice the sodium of Gatorade and just half the sugar. Also, it does not contain sucrose, a sugar that other sports drinks use for flavoring that has a dehydrating effect. To avoid any type of artificial sweeteners and  flavoring, you may want to choose the unflavored Pedialyte. Many professional sports teams stock Pedialyte for their athletes to use before, during, and after games.

The price of pedialyte is a bit higher than Gatorade. A single bottle will cost you close to $6. That has not stopped many athletes from choosing Pedialyte over sports drinks. Gatorade responded by launching a new product line with twice the sodium content called Gatorade Endurance back in 2005 and the low-calorie, low sugar G2 product launched in 2007.

One negative against Pedialyte is the taste. It tastes a bit like salty chalk dust. But, people aren’t buying it for the taste.

In my experience, I found Pedialyte to be a great recovery drink after my long run yesterday. It’s easier on my stomach than the sugary Gatorade drinks and I noticed a quick recovery time. I have not yet tried Pedialyte as a hydrating drink before competition. But, I will try it before running a half-marathon this weekend and report out.

UPDATE (09-08-13) : I ran a very challenging course at the Freeport Half Marathon today and set a new PR by over a minute. I hydrated yesterday with a bottle of Pedialyte and water. It could have been the training, the shoes, the cool weather, or a the hydration strategy that gave me the bump today. But, I’m not going to mess with what works.

Have you tried Pedialyte?

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19 thoughts on “Pedialyte for Runners

  1. I’ve heard a few cross-country runners and some highly competitive runners in my running group talk about using pedialyte for endurance running… Not exactly sure what to do about timing of when to drink it… Still researching. Have you had any more experience with it or found out anything more on it?

    1. Well, I know some runners take it before a race. But, generally speaking you can’t really stock up on electrolytes. So, I drank a bottle of Pedialyte after racing in the NYC marathon and I felt a remarkable difference in a short amount of time. I’ll stick with it since it worked. I definitely wouldn’t recommend it for events lasting less than an hour- no real benefit.

  2. I used this before my state meet when it was 95 degrees and I was beginning to feel dehydrated. I ran a 3 second pr 0f 4:15.. It is now a ritual before every race.

  3. Got a 10 mile training run this Sunday in preparation for a 50K near the end of the year. Plan on taking it before and after the run.
    Will update on Sunday.

  4. I could not believe the difference when I used Pedialyte for my long run last Sunday. What I did was down 1/2 a bottle before, carried a hand held for during, then finished off another bottle immediately after the run. Wow! felt a remarkable difference in a short amount of time and for the rest of the day.
    I intend on using this product for al my long runs, and especially the 50K in December.

  5. Ahh..I only wish I had known about this stuff sooner. This has been crucial for me on B2B weekends and was HUGE for me immediately following a 50 miler this past weekend. My only wish is that I could find a way to make it more accessible during a race to me. I must be part of the strange few who actually enjoys the flavor of the grape. I’ve found it to be cheapest at Target (either for Pedialyte or Target’s own Up&Up brand) and they usually have an additional 10-20% off of it if you use their free Cartwheel app 🙂

    1. Have you thought about using a hydration pack of some kind? They work well, and make you more self-sufficient.

      1. I have a Nathan hydration pack that I’ll use on long runs sometimes. I prefer to drop bottles along the route if I have time. I never liked running with a bunch of gear.

  6. I run Marathons, 50k, and 50 mile Ultras. I have run my long runs and races with Pedialyte for the past few years, logging in many thousand miles. I find Pedialyte works very well for me, “Easy on the stomach”. It keeps my body hydrated and allows me to keep going with a balance of electrolytes . I am a heavy sweater, and need to stay aware of my hydration needs. If I am running with gels etc, I find you must have just plan water with you as well. I recently ran a marathon and was planing on only running with Pedialyte, something I have done countless times. On this day my body wanted nothing todo with the Pedialyte, I relied more on plan water and just used the Pedialyte very limited. After the race I had no issue with drinking the Pedialyte, in fact my body welcomed it and helped re hydrate myself quickly. I have found if I do a training long run 20 plus miles and only have Pedialyte my body craves water after, and it is very refreshing. After a few years of using Pedialyte I am learning a better balance of both water and Pedialyte. I find the balance changes on temp, humidity, my hydration at the time, and how long the run is on that day.

    I am not crazy about the color and other things in the Pedialyte. I have played around with some homemade natural alternatives, nothing yet works as well as the Pedialyte.

    As with anything you need to try for yourself. Please give it a fair and honest chance, one or two runs will not tell you enough. In a way this is science and you need to figure out what works for you over time.
    I use the powder packs and mix with my own water, works very well. The powder packs do not cost as much as the pre mixed bottles which I do not use.

    1. Hey Maddie, It’s debatable if you’d see any advantages given the length and duration of a 5K race. However, if you’ve been feeling dehydrated it would probably boost your performance or at least your recovery afterwards. Cheers!

Thoughts?