Athletes know just how critical fluid replacement is with or without a competition. A lot has been said about this. Even until now, however, the emphasis is still on the importance of monitoring hydration levels. This clearly indicates that even up to now, many still find it easy to neglect even the simplest way to health — consuming enough fluids to allow maximum performance of the body’s system.
Proper hydration remains a struggle for runners, especially during the hot season. Experts have thoroughly studied this topic to determine if there is a perfect formula for hydration. Most of the research results indicate that there is really no perfect formula when it comes to the appropriate amount of liquid that one should take. Hydration is indeed a personal thing and it varies from person to person.
Improper hydration, as we all know, leads to dehydration. That is what we don’t want to happen, especially when you are out on the road for a long run. Fortunately, many experts in the field have already come up with some guidelines that will help runners to prevent dehydration.
Dehydration and Its Impact on a Runner’s Performance
Dehydration happens when the water levels in your body drop beyond the normal. This happens as your body continuously use water to do its normal functions like bringing oxygen to the brain, digestion, releasing toxins through sweating, defecation, and urination, and so on. When you perform intense workouts like a long or a competition run, you release more body fluid through sweating. If the total amount of liquid released is not equal to the amount of fluid replaced, dehydration begins. Once the amount of fluid lost equals about 2% of your body weight, you will begin to experience dehydration symptoms and your performance will be greatly affected.
There are different factors influencing dehydration, however. Professional athletes, for instance, will have a higher percentage of body weight lost during a performance before they will experience the symptoms of dehydration. Other factors, such as the environment (temperature and humidity), age, gender, overall health, and so on will determine how the body will respond to the lack of water replacement.
Symptoms of Dehydration
As for the symptoms of dehydration, the most common would be a dry mouth and lips, lightheadedness, dizziness, and headaches. Note, however, that not everyone will experience all of these symptoms, and not every symptom will be the same for everyone. It is just enough to alert you of such a condition that you can do something about it before it is too late.
The best way to determine whether you are already dehydrated is to weigh yourself before and after a workout. If the weight that you have already lost has already reached 2% or more of your bodyweight, then you are already dehydrated.
So, how do you prevent this?
Athletes have superior physical fitness. They acquire this through constant practice and training in the right environment. Runners, for instance, will train to acclimatize to the temperature and humidity level on the route that they will have to go through during the race. They spend several weeks to make sure that they are well-conditioned to the same environmental features that they are expecting to experience on the day of the event.
Once they have acclimatized to the mimicked environment, they will gradually increase the length and the pacing of the run to train for endurance, stamina, and speed.
Another way to prevent dehydration is proper hydration. Sufficient fluid intake begins not on the hour or a few minutes before you start the run, but it should be done days prior to the big event. You can’t just empty a huge water container a few minutes before you head out the track and race.
Hydration will also not end after the race or the run starts. It continues throughout the training or the event, and even after it ends. Hydration should, therefore, be a lifestyle and not just a program that you have to go through every run. You need to make sure that your body continuously receives the right amount of fluid from food and drinks available. Just make sure that the fluid sources are of high quality. No alcoholic drinks and unhealthy food sources as they may also affect your overall health.
You may think that if it is just the case, then you will just drink and drink and drink until you don’t feel thirsty. Note, however, that people can also die from excessive water drinking. That happens when the sodium level in the body becomes depleted as the body is holding too much fluid. Such a condition is known as hyponatremia.
This is not surprising since it could really be difficult at times to think about drinking when you are already in the lane or on the road running. That’s the reason why there are smart devices now that has features such as a lap watch that you just need to set to remind you of your next due to drink. Also, if you have one of the best water bottles for running, it will be easier for you to sip smartly even while on the run.
But how much do you have to drink to stay hydrated?
When and how much you need to take in will be your next concern. As to when experts recommend regulating your drinking. Setting your watch to remind you to drink after every 15-20 minutes is just about the right time to ensure that your body will be provided the fluid that it can use to replace the lost fluid while the remaining body fluid is being used up as you continue to run.
Not only does your fluid intake differs from another person, but environmental, as well as those other factors mentioned will influence how much and when you need to take in replacement fluids. To be sure that your body is properly hydrated drink before, during and after your runs. Find the most appropriate fluid that will encourage you to drink throughout your training and even after you are done with it.
To make sure that you will be at your best any time you need to train or workout, always remember to hydrate. You can easily do this if you bring with you one of the best water bottles for running. You’ll be more encouraged to do it any time you need to as you can easily sip smartly from it. For a better fluid replacement, try coconut water. It’s more nourishing than a sports drink and will easily be absorbed into your body, so you’ll feel refreshed quicker.