Hydration Tips for Running and a Personal Hydration Failure
Hydration is such an important part of running. Let’s talk hydration strategies for running. It is easy for dehydration to sneak up on you which can impact running performance and also make you feel sick. You can also optimize your running performance by maintaining good hydration strategies throughout your day and during your training.
Recently the Vermont City Marathon experienced higher than normal temperatures and extreme humidity. This can be a nightmare for trying to stay hydrated during a race. I did not race this year but I vividly remember racing in similar conditions when I was trying to qualify for Boston. Due to a chest cold prior to the race I was under-hydrated going into the race although I didn’t realize it. I also went out too fast on race day so with my body working harder than it was used too my body in the heat I was set up for dehydration. the race went well until it didn’t and then everything went bad. Thankfully I was running with my friend Bridget otherwise complete and total disaster may have ensued. After we ran up the hill around mile 18-19 and we headed into the neighborhoods where shade cover was limited I knew that I was starting to be in trouble. I could feel cramping happening in my hamstrings. I pushed through the cramps and tried to hydrate and refuel but by about mile 20 nothing was working.
As we headed downhill around a corner I realized that I could no longer run in a straight line. Bridget was smart and quickly ushered me off to the side of the course near a med tent where a race official checked in with us around mile 21. Bridget and the official had me consume two cups of gatorade and checked to see if I could still run. Had Bridget not been with me I think they would have pulled me from the course. We ran on for the remaining 5-ish miles of the race which consisted of walking breaks due to nausea and taking time to try to take in fluids. We finished the race and as we crossed the line I was quickly whisked into the med tent for some I.V. hydration and medical attention. This was the perfect storm of hot race day conditions, going out at a pace that I couldn’t handle, and not paying attention to my needs for hydration. While this was of course an extreme case, dehydration is not something to joke around about and can happen quickly. As I have continued to run and train for triathlon I have learned to listen to my body more which includes watching for early signs of dehydration. I have also become more proactive about hydration so as to not run in to problematic situations either on race day or in training.
It is important to be on the look out for mild signs of dehydration to make sure that it does not become severe.
Mild Signs of Dehydration:
- dry mouth
- infrequent bathroom stops
To learn more about mild and severe signs of dehydration please visit the mayoclinic.com
There are many precautions that you should take to prevent dehydration from occurring in the first place. Here are some of the best ways to stay hydrated to ensure that you get the most out of your training in the hotter summer temperatures.
Tips for Hydrating for Summer Running
- Don’t wait to drink until you are thirsty.
- Always carry a water bottle with you.
- Eat foods during the day that have a high water content such as: cucumbers, radishes, tomatoes, watermelon, peppers, and spinach.
- Carry a hydration pack or a handheld water bottle so that you can drink during your run.
- Drink water and drinks that contain electrolytes.
- Avoid caffeinated drinks as these cause you to pee more frequently.
- Taking in fluids during exercise is critical and the amount you need to take in is affected based on temperature. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 16 to 20 ounces at least four hours before exercise and three to eight ounces every 15 minutes during exercise.
***Also please be aware of a condition called Hypornatremia which is overhydration. According to the Mayo Clinic, “drinking too much water during endurance sports — causes the sodium in your body to become diluted. When this happens, your body’s water levels rise, and your cells begin to swell. This swelling can cause many health problems, from mild to life-threatening.” Hypernatremia can be just as dangerous as dehydration. To find out more please visit the Mayo Clinic
Please be sure to smart about hydration as the warmer months continue!
Happy running and training!