Passion For Running Part 4: Proper Hydration

Proper hydration is a tricky but necessary issue for every athlete. Hydration affects multiple areas of the body.

A multitude of opinions are out there for how much to drink, what to drink, and when to drink. Ultimately, the perfect solution for you will be just that, unique and personal for you. The same solution won’t work for your running buddy.

The most complex issue you will face is figuring out how much to drink. Most times, athletes worry about not drinking enough. Dehydration causes cramps, fatigue, decreased coordination, not to mention dry mouth. It is uncomfortable and painful.

But did you know that an even bigger issue is drinking too much? The condition is called hyponatremia and it occurs in even the most elite athletes. The danger is low blood sodium, which can result in brain swelling and possibly seizures and other life-threatening complications.

The factors that most impact proper hydration are sweat rate and length of exercise. How long you plan to run will obviously require more hydration. But, determining your sweat rate is important as well. How do you do this?

{fluid loss} …can vary between 1 to 4 quarts per hour. Weigh yourself nude before a timed training run and then again after. One pound of weight loss equals 1 pint of water loss. Calculate your sweat rate and use this to determine your fluid needs during a run or race. For example, if you lose 2 pounds during an hour run, that’s 2 pints or 32 ounces. Thus, you need 8 ounces of water or sports beverage every 15 minutes. ~ excerpt from About.Com Running and Hydration

To be honest, I avoid anything that involves mathematical thinking, much less calculations. So, let me tell you what works for me: knowing how much drymouth I experience in relation to how much yellow is in my urine and how often I pee. It’s that simple.

There IS one other thing you might want to consider in terms of how much to hydrate. I feel the most important issue is to keep hydrated all the time, not just when you work out. Don’t wait for that 6 mile run, or that 5K race, to worry about hydration. Maintain proper hydration all the time, even on rest days. This includes, by the way and I hate to bring it up, watching your consumption of both alcohol and sodium, both of which drastically impact hydration. If you do these things, proper hydration won’t be so much of an issue on race days.

Now, on to what to drink. I am here to tell you that water is not enough during your workout. Water is fine during your rest days. During workouts, some form of electrolyte drink is imperative to restore minerals that are lost when you sweat. These minerals are critical in fighting fatigue and muscle cramping. If you want to make it through your workout, it behooves you to drink an electrolyte replacement drink and not just water. Just try to keep the sugars low. Try Physique by Shaklee.

When to drink…refer back to paragraph 7. My suggestion is basically all the time. However, on my running days I try to drink eight ounces of water about an hour before. In this way I get the benefits of the hydration, and then my body gets to pee out the excess before I get going.

Now, some of my suggestions may differ from what you have heard. For example, my yoga instructor suggests drinking only a mouthful every 10 to 15 minutes. The key being that if you are peeing it out, you are basically taking in more than your body needs. I agree with some of that, but I am not sure whether he is has ever been an endurance runner. I know for certain that I would pass out from cramps or dehydration if I were to only take in that amount of water. Sometimes I would like to just hook up a mobile IV…but that might look a little funny.

The bottom line here is that you need to know your body and do what works for you. Seek out information, new theories, and experiment with them. And, most important of all, keep working at it.

“To keep the body in good health is a duty…otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” ~ Buddha

© 2010-2013 Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior approval from Kimberly Yoss.


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