Staying hydrated is one of the most important things that you can do for your running performance. The list of reasons of why you need to focus on staying hydrated include the following: 1) Water helps dissolve nutrients and carry them to all parts of the body, 2) Water helps to carry away waste products from the body, and, 3) Water is essential in allowing the body to sweat. Here are a few pointers about staying hydrated:
How Much Water to Drink a Day?
How much water to drink varies from person to person, However, most nutritionists agree that, in order to stay hydrated, we must drink 3 quarts of water a day, which is about 3 of those 32 ounce bottles of Gatorade. This might seem like a lot of water, but runners sweat a lot when they run. This fluid loss can lead to dehydration and disastrous results for a race or workout. Most runners, including me, currently don’t drink 96 ounces of water a day, but it is important to be mindful of the best amount of water to drink a day in order to stay hydrated.
How Much Water to Drink a Day for Racing
If a runner does not focus on staying hydrated on the day of a race, there is no way he or she will be able to run to his or her ability. Even though a runner may not have to worry about staying hydrated before normal training runs, racing puts much more stress on the body and therefore, it is essential to be hydrated. Here are some rules about drinking water before a race that will ensure that a runner has enough fluids without causing a stomach ache.
- Runners need to down at least 8 ounces of fluids 2-4 hours before races. Drinking this amount of water ensures optimal absorption of fluids and shouldn’t give a runner any stomach problems while racing.
- Runners should not drink a large amount within 2 hours of a race; however, try to keep sipping liquids. (Note: Some people can handle a ton of water during this time period and have no problems with their stomach, but not me!) The reason you can drink 5-10 minutes before a race is when a race starts, your kidneys shut down so you shouldn’t have to go to the bathroom.
- Sports drinks and water both work great before races.
However, because sports drinks include minerals such as sodium, they might have a slight advantage over water. These minerals help fluids to be dissolved into the bloodstream more quickly and also help to regulate the fluid balance in muscle fibers.
- Remember, everyone’s digestive system is different, so experiment with these tips in practice. Don’t wait till a big meet to try these pointers out!
Drinking After a Run or Race
Right after a run, and especially a race, it is imperative that you fill your body back up with fluids. At the very least, down the equivalent of one of those small Gatorade bottles (8 ounces), but ideally maybe around 16 or more ounces. One good way to see if you are hydrated is to see your urine is white or very light yellow; if it is, you have plenty of fluids in you.
I do want to give a warning about the dangers of drinking too much water before a race. This is known as water intoxication or “hyponatremia,” and it can be deadly. There have been a number of recent marathons in which runners have died from drinking too much before the start. Water intoxication happens when a runner drinks so much water that the balance of electrolytes is increased beyond the limits of the human body. However, it is important not to get too concerned because the amount of water that causes water intoxication is huge. As long as you pace your water drinking before a race to about 16-32 oz every 1-2 hours, you should be fine. The bottom line is that it is a serious mistake to think that massive quantities of water will improve your performance. Staying hydrated is important, but if it can be dangerous if you drink too much.
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