Every morning in Africa a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve. It doesn't matter whether you're a lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you'd better be running.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Scoop on Hydrating

Its summer. Its hot. You sweat a lot. And you are running. Thirsty much?? How do you stay properly hydrated as a runner? Why is it important?

According to the book Physiology of Sports and Exercise by Ph.D.'s David Costill and Jack Wilmore, "It has been estimated that we can survive losses of up to 40% or our body weight in fat, carbs and protein. But a water loss of 9-12% of body weight can result in death".

How can I stay hydrated?

CamelBak BPA-Free Better Bottle with Bite Valve,Blue,1 LiterSo how to prevent this? Drink consistently throughout the day. Carry a water bottle with you wherever you go. Get one that you really like, it makes drinking a lot easier. I love my Camelbak water-bottle because it has a straw. If you hate drinking water then invest in some Crystal Light To-Go packets or some Propel To-Go packets. Also they have some stuff called Mio that is concentrated drops instead of powder. These things add flavor to your water without adding a lot of calories.

Also, weigh yourself before you go on your run. When you get back, wipe off all your sweat and weigh yourself again. Drink back at LEAST 80% of the amount of weight that you've lost to ensure you don't get dehydrated. So if you've lost 1.5 pounds, you would need to drink between 19 and 24 ounces of water (1 lb. = 16 oz.)

Why is staying hydrated so important?

Your bodily functions are controlled by your body fluids. An adequate water supply allows your body fluids to accomplish several tasks that are essential to exercise. When you are dehydrated, your cells malfunction and work inefficiently, sweating decreases causing heart rate and body temperature to increase, blood volume decreases and you have less blood to transport oxygen and glucose through your body (The Runner's Handbook, Bob Glover).

Your performance is affected by water loss as well. Without adequate fluid your exercise tolerance will show a pronounced decrease during long term activity. A study by the above mentioned Dr. Costill showed that a 2% loss of body weight results in nearly a 10% decline in exercise performance! Think hydrating properly is important yet?

How can I tell if I'm hydrated?

Check your pee. I know every one of you loves to stare at your pee before you flush right? ;) haha. The lighter your pee, the more hydrated you are. You want to aim for as light as possible. Also if you are always thirsty or feel chronically tired, add more water in your diet!

What should I drink?

Water is the best hydrater. You can drink flavored water if you can't stand plain water. Its easier to drink it when its cold too. Juice is fine, but it is a ton of calories and a ton of sugar without really giving you the hydration you need.

Should you drink sports drinks instead of water? Depends. Sports drinks have electrolytes, carbs and sodium in them. These are good because it helps you retain water. Also it is absorbed in the body up to 30% faster than plain water and waaay faster than juice or soda. Sports drinks were designed for intense training days, i.e. runs longer than 40min or a really intense workout. Don't just chug these things all day.

Stay safe, stay hydrated and enjoy the heat!! Remember you can get dehydrated when its cold too. Especially because you don't feel thirsty as often. But by the time you are thirsty, you are already getting dehydrated!

I used these two books as references for this post. I recommend both of them for any runner, but especially The Runner's Handbook. Awesome stuff there.
The Runner's Handbook : The Bestselling Classic Fitness Guide for Beginning and Intermediate Runners (2nd rev Edition)              Running Well

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