Things runners need to know about hydration

Dehydration will severely reduce your training and race performance, but you can stop it before it stops you....

Hydration is one of the most important training topics for runners and triathletes. If you don’t properly hydrate, your performance is certainly going to suffer – and there are worse problems (like heat stroke, heat comas or even death) if you seriously get dehydrated. On the flip side, drinking too much fluid is not good either. Hydration is a careful balance of drinking the right amount and replacing what you need.

You need to be well hydrated before you start your run or workout. If  you start partially dehydrated, it only gets worse from there.

How much you need to drink depends on how heavily you sweat. The more you sweat, the more you need to drink.

Electrolytes are lost along with fluid when you sweat. You need to   replace these electrolytes through an energy drink, electrolyte solution  or electrolyte tablets.

If you don’t replace electrolytes, particularly sodium, you won’t be able to absorb the fluid you’re drinking. This means that you could be drinking plenty, but not re-hydrating.

Dehydration leads to a loss of performance, cramps, digestive problems, and ultimately an inability to cool the body. These progressively worse problems will eventually stop you in your tracks.

Drinking too much plain water can also be a problem. Drinking lots of plain water can dilute the sodium level in your blood, leading to a problem called hyponatremia. This is why it is important to use a hydration product to replace electrolytes.

The term “drink to thirst” means that you should not drink just for the sake of drinking. You need to drink an amount of fluid that replaces what you’re losing in your sweat.

You may not actually feel “thirst” while running or racing. If you don’t ever feel the sensation of thirst, don’t make the mistake of stopping drinking completely. Continue drinking fluids in a moderate quantity to make sure that you’re getting what you need.

The color of your pee should be pale yellow, rather than clear or dark yellow. It should look more like lemonade than orange juice.

You should constantly be working to find the best method of hydration   for you in your training runs. You need to learn how much you need to drink; what energy/fluid replacement drinks work best for you; and what it feels like to be well hydrated.

On race day, do what you’ve practiced in your training runs. Don’t try anything new. If the race supplies a hydration product that doesn’t work for you, make sure to carry your own drink in a fluid or powdered form so that you have what you need.

Jargon Buster....

Electrolyte drinks: Contains sodium and potassium to help your body hydrate more effectively. Your sweat contains a variety of electrolytes...

Minerals: Required to regulate your body’s functions. Can be lost in sweat...

Sodium: An essential mineral for the human body. It plays a vital role in nerve and muscle function, the absorption of major nutrients and maintaining water levels...

 

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