First rule to fuel: Stay hydrated

Summer on the Run is a 12-week blog and video series that follows former Olympic swimmer and avid runner Summer Sanders on her journey to train for Disney's Princess Half Marathon on Feb. 24. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, she will share training tips, and a little inspiration, as she gears up for the main event. Use hashtag #GoRun on Twitter to follow Summer and be part of the ongoing conversation.

Fueling during training is something we all overlook at some point. It hurts when we do! It's important to put thought into it now, not later, so you can get it right on race day.

And one of the biggest parts of the fueling equation is hydrating properly. What you drink is one of the most important factors in how you feel after your workout and can help you on all of your long runs.

I've found the best way to stay hydrated is to have my own water bottle and carry it with me everywhere I go. My kids, Skye and Spider, each have their own water bottles, too. It's a good rule to let everyone choose a cool bottle, and then stick to only drinking out of your own. Aside from staying hydrated, you'll stay healthier. After fighting the flu last week, I learned how important it was to keep my germs to myself! If we were all sharing water bottles, I could have gotten everyone sick.

A critical part of using the water bottle all the time is keeping it clean. Wash out all the bottles for your family every night -- make it part of your routine. Then put them in a conspicuous spot, like right next to your purse or by the front door, so you can't leave the house without them.

I'm often in the car for a large portion of the day, so having water with me is a lifesaver. If I'm wearing running clothes while doing errands, which I often do, I can jump out for a quick run whenever there's time; it would be much harder if I didn't have water with me to stay hydrated all day. It's such a simple thing that makes a huge difference.

One benefit of living in Utah is our water is nice and cold. I can leave that bottle in the car and return to a fresh, cold bottle after doing my errands. Invest in a good water bottle if it'll encourage you to drink more; it's a one-time purchase you'll use daily, so it's well worth it.

It takes some time to figure out what your body needs. There are so many products out there -- sports drinks, recovery drinks, water with flavors and electrolytes. As you train, you have to pay attention to how you feel and tweak your fueling plan all the time.

Drinking enough before, during and after your runs is equally important. Getting the right balance is the hardest part; you'll get better at it the more you train and pay attention to how you feel. Water can't do it all when your body also needs electrolytes (sodium and protein found in recovery drinks) if you're not eating immediately after your long runs.

It's a matter of trial and error. Test out the products your friends and fellow runners recommend to figure out what brands and varieties you like -- the sooner, the better! We're all different. Start concentrating on your fueling plan this week with me so you can feel confident that what you are putting in your body works for you.

Summer is on the hunt for some new running sneakers to wear during Disney's Princess Half Marathon on Feb. 24; tweet her at #GoRun to share your favorite kicks so she can find the perfect pair. You may even see her wearing them for her race!

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