Hydrate – For A Well Tuned Machine
The best possible training and competition performance stems from proper hydration. For most people it can be a challenge to drink the required 8-10 glasses of fresh water per day but proper hydration is necessary for countless bodily functions and essential for athletes of all levels.
Water is vital for bodily functions. Water “transports nutrients and oxygen into cells, moisturizes the air in lungs, helps with metabolism, protects our vital organ, helps our organs to absorb nutrients better, regulates body temperature, detoxifies and protect and moisturizes our joints” 1. For athletes, understanding hydration is crucial. If fluid is continuously lost through sweat and breathing with little to no fluid replenishment, dehydration will quickly follow and exercise will become more challenging.
Maintaining proper hydration levels is always important regardless if you are training or preparing for a race. It is important to weight yourself before and after your run to see how much fluid was lost as you can expect to lose up to 1 litre of fluid (2.2lbs = 1 L of fluid). To pre-hydrate for your run, consume 250-500ml of water 1hour beforehand. Depending on the length of your run and the temperature in which you are running you should aim to drink between 120-250ml every 15-20 minutes, the more active you are the more water you will need. For exercise less than an hour, fresh water should be sufficient to maintain hydration however you can include a small amount of concentrated juice or a sports drink for a boost of energy. For runners exercising over an hour, replenishing hydration stores every 20 minutes with a carbohydrate and electrolyte beverage will help replace sodium stores and maintain energy levels. A carbohydrate and electrolyte based drink absorbs much quicker than plain water therefore; many runners prefer this option to avoid cramps or uncomfortable “sloshing” in their stomach when running.
Listen to your body as it is very good at telling you what it needs as thirst is the first sign of dehydration. Drinking according to your thirst will prevent under hydration and over hydration. Under hydration leads to dehydration causing elevated body temperature, rapid onset fatigue and muscle cramps. If your urine is dark yellow and you are not using the washroom every 2-3 hours, increasing your fluid consumption is imperative as these are signs of dehydration. Over hydration of water leads to hyponatremia which causes an electrolyte imbalance resulting in low blood salt levels.
Water is to your body what oil is to your car. If you’re a runner either professional or recreational, in order to maximize your performance and get the most out of your body you must take hydration seriously. Drink up or seize up!