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Race Day Hydration

Brijesh Gajera talks about how he handles race day hydration, one of the most important aspects of running the healthy way.

 

Water, water, everywhere,
Not a drop to drink;
Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink.

– The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Have you ever felt your body and mind losing energy during the course of a marathon? Ever felt yourself melting drop by drop in your own sweat as you continue to push every step of the way or the water being sucked out of your body? Ask any seasoned runner and they will tell you that over-hydration or lack of it can make or break your marathon performance.

I have had first-hand experience with one of my trainees. He was participating in a 10K race and the weather was unusually hot that day. He was a newbie to running and was not used to hydration while running. To top that, he started the race with a rather aggressive target. A little after the 6K mark, he started feeling disoriented which ideally should have set off a warning sign for him, instead, he chose to ignore the signs and with the intent of achieving his target, he pushed on. A couple of kilometers down the road, he started wobbling. A fellow runner noticed this and saved him from falling to the ground. I happened to be there cheering runners and recognizing him for a distance, I noticed his discomfort and ran towards him. By the time I got there, he was almost unconscious – we instantly took him to the mobile ambulance on site and once he was administered IV drips, he felt a lot better. The doctor confirmed that it was a case of dehydration and that he was lucky to get timely intervention.

Imagine if we could store water somewhere in our bodies and not worry about it as we knock off mile after mile, right? Unfortunately, that is not possible but instead, we have the ability to continue performing in a moderately dehydrated state before the need to hydrate arises.

So how exactly should you hydrate in a long-distance race? In general, I am quite wary of giving a definite number or quantity as everyone’s bodily demands and reactions are somewhat unique. So, I would rather use Coleridge’s epic poem to help you decide for yourself.

Imagine you are surrounded by a limitless expanse of water. Unlike Coleridge’s mariner which was treading the salty waters of an ocean, here you have access to fresh sweet water. How will you drink water then? It is a no-brainer! You will drink it when you feel mildly thirsty or drink regularly like you would on a normal day. You will not wait for the moment when you are dying of thirst or drink too much water and feel bloated. It is almost the same while running a marathon. You do not have water everywhere around you but you know upfront where exactly the water points are located. All it takes is to look at this detail and plan your run around it. Instead of running as far as possible without water, just keep sipping water at every aid-station or at an alternate aid-station.

And for the record, there is something also known as over-hydration! Excessive water can lead to hyponatremia (the low concentration of sodium in the blood due to drinking too much water). It can lead to nausea, headache, weakness, and other problems. As much as you do not want dehydration, you also want to avoid over-hydration. Drinking an energy drink and water alternatively is also a good strategy to avoid both extremes. If you are taking gels, many of them also contain electrolytes so drinking water regularly along with it should help.

Here is how I take care of my hydration:

I typically carry a small bottle of water in all my training runs. If not, I do my training runs in loops of 3-5km so that I get back to the point where I keep my water bottle. For the very long runs, I keep the plain water as well as electrolyte drinks and alternate between them. For the races I participate in, the first thing I look at is the placement of aid-stations on the route and drinks available in them. I still prefer to carry a small bottle of water for my races not because it gives me the freedom to have water whenever I need it but also to reduce the usage of paper cups or plastic bottles. I would rather refill my bottle than use a disposable cup or bottle.

The real place to try all these is on your training ground. Do not think of your training just as a way to increase mileage. Think of it as a way to fine-tune your hydration, nutrition and race day strategy. In fact, that is the place where you can afford to fail and find ways to succeed.

So why not try your hydration during the training and make sure your boat sails smoothly on the race day?

GUEST COLUMNIST

 

Brijesh Gajera is an avid marathoner, aspiring ultra-marathoner and coach at Ashva Running Club.

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Staying hydrated as you run!

Hydration doesn’t always mean water, Deepthi Velkur explores all your options for hydration during a run.

Staying hydrated during your runs is a critical element to a successful run – less so in a 5k, way more so in a marathon. How much hydration you need during a run depends on factors such as – age, gender, temperature, intensity, and distance.

Especially on hot and humid summer days, hydrating during your long run is of the utmost importance. As you are aware, any form of exercise leads to sweating and the more you sweat, your blood volume decreases further making your heart work harder than usual to supply the required oxygen to your working muscles.

It is important to hydrate yourself to reduce the negative effects of dehydration, but pay attention to what you should be drinking, how much and how frequently? At first, avoid overhydration – drinking more than what is required. Overhydration may lead to gastrointestinal distress or in extreme cases a condition called hyponatremia.

Secondly, drinking to offset sweating serves no purpose when it comes to boosting your performance or regulating body temperature versus drinking according to your thirst.

Dehydration kicks in only for runs longer than 90 minutes and the amount of hydration required depends on each individual as the sweat rate varies. Keeping sufficient reserves of palatable drinks accessible to you during your runs and drinking only when you feel thirsty optimizes your overall performance.

Here are some simple and most convenient on-the-go options to fuel your runs:

Sports Drinks: On very hot days, when you tend to sweat much more, just drinking plain water might not be sufficient and you might require a beverage which contains electrolytes and carbohydrates especially potassium and sodium. Sports drinks give you a blend of carbs which are easy and quick fueling options that instantly boost your energy and keeps you well hydrated. Drink two 236ml(8oz) every one hour to pump in a minimum of 30 grams of carbohydrate.

Energy Gels: They are the most popular on-the-go fuel source amongst runners. The energy gels are the best source of fast-acting carbohydrates as they are easily absorbed by the body to give you the instant boost of energy. Using one every 30-40 mins into your run works wonders and opt for gels that have 25-30g of carbs and 50g sodium. You can also pick gels that contain caffeine along with carbs. Most importantly, it is essential to consume water (avoid sports drink) after having your gel.

Bite-size chews give you that punch of energy and pack in the same amount of carbs found in gels and sports drinks. Drinking water is a must each time you pop one in your mouth to avoid the risk of choking.

Here are some organic options if you want to avoid artificial drinks :

Coconut water: This natural drink contains 9g of carb and plenty of potassium more than 20times that of a sports drink. Coconut water with a pinch of sea salt gives you the sodium you need to stay hydrated.

Orange Juice: Drinking citrus juices provide the required potassium and mixing it with water helps to dilute the juice to prevent stomach cramps. One portion of orange juice with one part water and a pinch of salt will do the trick.

Honey: It contains simple sugars like glucose and fructose which are also found in sports drinks. These sugars enter the bloodstream quickly giving you the sudden burst of energy. Try the honey packets or straws for a mess-free snack.

Watermelon: A juicy watermelon provides you with a refreshing feeling. It contains 11g of carbs and a bit of potassium. Sprinkle some sea salt to avoid the fruit from getting mushy and pre-freeze it.

Drinking 250ml of water every 15 minutes during the run along with the above options is recommended. Practice your hydration plan well before race day, and learn to trust it.

In conclusion, do not over-complicate your plan, keep it simple: “Drink when you are thirsty”.

 

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.

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Hydration & Running

Runner need to watch their hydration, 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).

Sweat Test

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.

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