Staying adequately hydrated is a constant struggle among runners, especially during hot weather. Running & dehydration go hand in hand often. You would be surprised to know that you can survive up to a month under moderate climatic conditions without food but would struggle in staying alive for a single day without water. Water is second to oxygen when it comes to listing essentials for life. It makes up 60% percent of the total body weight & plays a vital role in carrying out crucial bodily functions, such as nourishing cells; transporting food throughout your body; eliminating waste; normalizing your body temperature; cushioning & lubricating joints; while maintaining blood pressure and volume.
We lose fluid through sweating, urinating, and even breathing. When it comes to running it’s the sweating that runners should pay attention to as soon as you begin your run, you incline towards dehydration. Almost 75% of the body energy you release during exercise gets converted into heat & then lost. This is why working out makes you feel warm.
An additional amount of heat dissipates from your body to keep your core body temperature in safer limits – around 37-38°C. Sweating is the body’s natural mechanism of keeping itself cool. It’s done by replacing crucial fluids. Failure in consumption of enough fluid & the blood will start thickening, reducing the heart’s efficiency, while boosting heart rate & raising overall body temperature.
Out of all the elements that running involves, hydration is most significant of all but gets overlooked often till it’s too late. You will be amazed to know that even experienced runners are under-hydrated.
Water is the key component for your blood, it contains needed oxygen & sodium, that flows quickly & easily to the heart, lungs & muscles while helping your body to keep functioning at its peak. Dehydrated, thickens your blood, and that makes pumping blood harder for your heart. Drinking fluids regularly while running offsets the liquid loss via sweating & keeps everything in perfect balance. How much water you should consume depends upon your gender, fitness level, duration, and intensity of your running. You must pay attention to the hydration levels. Buy premium quality running shorts from here.
How Dehydration affect your performance?
Studies show that the performance of a runner gets negatively affected if he gets hydrated 2% of his body weight. It’s the marathon runners who are at the greatest risk of getting dehydrated. A lot of components and body mechanisms get affected by inadequate hydration. Raise of core temperature & depletion of muscle glycogen induces fatigue at a quicker rate. The thickening of blood affects the supply of oxygen to the muscles that you need for running. Moreover, dehydration would reduce your sweat rate and keep your body’s temperature elevated from normal. A lot of factors play a role in regulating your sweat rate. Including air temperature, running intensity, gender, body size, running duration & your overall fitness level. Well-trained runners tend to sweat more compared to fewer fit runners, as their bodies are more efficient for cooling themselves down.
To be stated simply dehydration happens when the fluid in take of your body is lesser than fluid loss. Just by the decrease of 2% hydration your body’s performance will start to get affected. Dehydration rate majorly depends upon the environment you’re running in. The rate of your fluid loss increases when you workout in hotter environments and humid conditions.
One of the most common symptoms of dehydration is thirst, dryness in your mouth others are nausea, dizziness and headache. You must pay attention if you experience any of them while running regardless of what your intensity is.
Moderate dehydration is a pretty normal & temporary condition by which the majority of the runners go through. Most of the time it doesn’t lead to serious medical conditions. Elite athletes do not have enough time for drinking water at sub-5-minute mile pace, and mostly they are dehydrated. Luckily it’s the state that they can reverse and pass quickly by consuming enough water within minutes after they are done with the race.
Replacing your fluids after you are done running is important. For each kg of your body weight you lose, you must drink 1.5 litres of fluid. You can do it by drinking upto 500ml within 30-minutes after you are done running. Then gulp for every 5-10 minutes till you reach the target. Drinking sports is also a good option for leveling up your fluids level.
How much you should drink precisely depends upon the intensity and duration of your runs and how much fluid you have lost while running in your running clothes. Following are some basic guidelines that you can follow for a 45-minutes long run.
- Pre-hydrate: You should drink 17–20 fl. oz. almost 2 hours before running. It will help you in starting off adequately hydrated.
- Maintain hydration: You should drink 5–10 fl. oz. of water after every 15–20 while running.
- Drink after: Post-running hydration will raise your fluid levels while helping with recovery. For every pound you lose while running, consume 16–24 fl. oz. of water.
Water, diluted juice & sports drinks are amazing fluid replacers. If you have been running for almost 30 minutes plain water will be a good choice, but for runs longer than that drinks having sugar or maltodextrin & sodium would be a good choice. Sports drinks that have carbohydrates increase water absorption in the bloodstream, it helps especially when you are sweating.
Researchers say that drinks with approximately 6gram of carbohydrate/100ml will be absorbed most rapidly. Your body is capable of sorting out sodium concentration in fluids of your intestines itself, and absorbed as required. Sodium present in sports drinks has a direct effect on your performance, and also increases the urge to drink more.
Drinking water throughout your day is the effective and best way of replenishing your fluid losses, compared to drinking a lot of water in one go. You can follow these tips. They will help you in relishing your fluid loss.
- Keep a water bottle with you throughout the day and sip from it after regular intervals.
- Consume fruits. Fruits are a great source of water, salts and electrolytes along with fibers you need for staying hydrated!
- Not always thirst is the most accurate indicator for your hydration status. In fact the color of your urine helps in determining it more precisely. The lighter it is means your fluid levels are almost normal, darker means you need to drink more.
- Rehydrate yourself before consuming alcohol. Alcohol leaves a dehydrating effect on your body & causes inadequate storage of carbs in the muscles, all of it leads to poor athletic performance.
The opposite of dehydration is hyponatremia (overhydration). It’s a rare condition which directly affects the endurance of athletes. Under this condition the sodium levels in your blood gets diluted to the level that your cell function becomes impaired. Under extreme conditions, hyponatremia can lead to death.
Symptoms of overhydration are like dehydration: headache, fatigue & nausea, it causes runners to drink excess amounts of water. Main key to preventing overhydration is keeping a check on how much you are drinking.
- Do not overdrink— Drinking about 10 fl. oz. After every 20 minutes try not to drink more than you are sweating. Post drinking weight is a sign of indicating that you have consumed way more.
- Adding salts—make sure you keep the salt levels in-check and balanced by drinking sports drinks having electrolytes rather than plain water.
Ann Edwards is a fully qualified personal trainer. She has been helping people in the field of bodybuilding and fitness from more than a decade. Her career in nutrition and physical therapy has made her a fine addition for our team.