Staying hydrated is the key to stay safe while running.
Around three-fourths of runners drink less than what is recommended. Our body contains around 60% water. If you consider your body as a car, water is the oil required to keep it running. So, staying hydrated while running is vital for comfortable running and improving performance. Water regulates the temperature of our body. When you are dehydrated, the body fails to regulate the heat. Thus, your heart rate increases. Water also helps the removal of waste, energizing the cells, and providing a cushioning effect to the joints. No matter if you are hitting the trails or roads; adequate hydration can minimize injuries and help recovery.
Why staying hydrated while running is important
Dehydration might lead to headaches, fatigue, muscle cramping, nausea, etc in runners. Runners must also stay hydrated to avoid heat-strokes. Dehydration also impairs running performance by slowing one down.
Dehydration is quite normal for runners
People talk about dehydration during the summer months. But this can also happen in winters. Modest dehydration is quite normal for runners because they toil hard during running. The energy need of runners is more and they also sweat profusely. But this is a temporary condition and do not cause any serious medical implication if they hydrate themselves properly.
Things to know about hydration
You need to hydrate yourself before the run, during the run, and after the run. Like no size of shoes fits all, there is no clear-cut rule about how much to drink. This is because the body of each individual is different. The drinking requirement is also related to temperature, humidity, and sweating. One must, therefore, replenish the losses. Our body does not have an easy-to-read indicator. As such, runners must know when and how to hydrate.
One should not drink all water at one time on a normal day. It is better to spread it over the day. This yields better hydration results.
Hydrate before you hit the track
Ideally, one should drink around 450ml of water 60 to 90 minutes before going out for a run. In case, that is not possible, one must drink at least 175 to 240 ml of water 30 minutes before running. But if you plan to run 15 kms or more, you must start a proper hydration plan a few days before the feat and also eliminate alcohol intake. Alcohol adversely affects the hydration plan. Add electrolytes to your drink to compensate loss of sodium, magnesium and other vital nutrients during a long run. You may also consider including energy gels.
Drinking during the run
Against the popular belief that one must refrain from drinking water while running, studies indicate that drinking during the run helps runners to fare better. If the run is for more than an hour, one should drink regularly especially when it is hot and humid. The best way to stay hydrated during running is to sip water when you feel thirsty.
Drinking after running
Maybe you have completed your running spree and sipped water regularly during the workout. This does not mean that you need not hydrate more. Drink a couple of glasses of water after the run. If you are aware of your sweat rate, then drink 1000 to 1500 ml of water for every kg lost.
Take care of the signs of dehydration
Dehydration is a red flag. So, one must be cautious about the signs and symptoms. Several telltale signs of dehydration are there. The most common sign of dehydration is thirst. Thirst is normal in our life and one feels thirsty after he or she is dehydrated. So, one should drink enough water, spreading over the day, to avoid the need for quenching the thirst.
Fatigue, dry mouth, cramps, headache, etc are other signs of dehydration. When dehydrated, a runner may stop sweating, while running, despite sweating earlier. So, dehydration must be addressed as early as possible. Otherwise, it might lead to fainting, convulsions, and in extreme cases might result in hypovolaemic shock leading to an untimely death.
Check the color of urine
The color of your urine should be light yellow. While dark yellow color urine suggests dehydration, completely clear urine is a sign of overhydration. Drinking too much water is also bad and hence, to be avoided.
Water is not the only source of hydration
Contrary to popular belief, water is not the only source of hydration. Solid foods, especially fruits are also a very good hydrating source. Apricots, blueberries, oranges, peaches, pineapples, plums, and raspberries have more than 80% of water content. Cantaloupe and watermelon contain above 90% of water content. Veggies also have ample water content. Eating fruits and veggies regularly helps one to stay hydrated. Runners can also have coconut water and sports drinks, especially when they are sweating. They help to retain body electrolytes.
Some common hydration mistakes
Being alert about the common hydration mistakes helps a runner to stay healthy and run comfortably.
• Insufficient Drinking: Drinking too little causes dehydration. One must make a daily drinking plan and stick to it. Remember, you can never make yourself hydrated all at once. So, drink throughout the day. Arrangements should be made for not to run out of water during a long run.
• Over Drinking: Drinking too much water is also bad. If you observe a gain in weight during a run, that indicates overdrinking. You must replace sodium while you drink. Include a sports drink and add salt for replacing the sodium lost through sweating.
• Drinking wrong fluid: Work out your hydration and electrolytes plan and stick to that. Drinking something new during the run is likely to cause problems and hence to be avoided.
• Gulping the drink: Never take a big gulp of water. As you run, your digestive system also becomes slower due to the diversion of blood from it. So, gulping water could be hard on your stomach. Drink in small sips even when you feel like finishing a bottle.
The bottom line
Running and hydration are intimately related. One needs to hydrate the body during running for improving performance. So, drink sufficient water and do not forget carbohydrates and electrolytes for improving performance. One should also take professional help for understanding individual needs.