Every runner needs to keep a close watch on their hydration before, during and after a race, writes Deepthi Velkur
Drinking enough water is of paramount importance not only during summer months but all year round for runners. When you run your body heat rises, and this saps the water content in your body through excessive sweating. Hydrating the body well with fluids is essential before, during and post a run as lack of proper hydration leads to dehydration (fatigue, headache, muscle cramping ), exhaustion and heat stroke.
So how much water do you need? There is no definitive answer as different people require different levels of hydration during a run as some people tend to sweat more than others. Temperature and climatic conditions also play a major part for runners. A good balance of water and sodium levels help ward off fatigue and enhance your running performance.
Pre-Hydrate to run fast
Keeping yourself well hydrated a few days prior to the run is essential. A good indication to know your well hydrated is when the urine is pale yellow in color. Avoid diuretics such as tea, coffee, and alcoholic beverages as they dehydrate you quickly. It is good to hydrate yourself well before bedtime if you need to race the next morning. Drinking 500ml of water and adding one ORS\sports tablet to it, boosts your sodium levels. This should be had an hour or two before you start your run.
Hydration during the run
A simple strategy to keep in mind while running is to drink when you feel thirsty. Strenuous running generates 20 times more heat and it is important to dispel this heat to regulate and stabilize the body temperature. Hydrate with 100-200ml of water every 15 minutes. For longer runs, substitute with a sports drink to replace lost sodium and other minerals(electrolytes).
Weigh yourself pre and post-run and assess the weight loss as this determines the current intake of water. If the weight loss is 2% of your body weight, that’s a sign your water intake should be more on your next run.
Mind over Matter
Most importantly be conscious of your water consumption and never to over hydrate. Forcing yourself to drink more fluids, makes you feel uneasy while running. Over-hydration can also lead to gastrointestinal distress and in some extreme cases water intoxication or hyponatremia. So it’s true when they say you can’t have too much of anything, not even water.
Re-hydrate after running
Hydrating post a run is of equal importance as much as it is before and during a run. Replenishing your body with fluids like 500ml of water or sports drink is crucial as most of the runners tend to skip which leads to dehydration.
For runners, proper hydration during a run makes a vast difference to fluid levels in the body thereby improving efficiency and overall performance.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Deepthi Velkur is a former sprinter who is trying her hand at various sports today. A tennis fanatic, who believes that sleep should never be compromised.