If you look at general running tips, you will always find a sizeable bit of information on hydration. Most running experts make a big fuss over hydration in relation to running. Why is this so? To be frank, the difference between sufficient hydration and insufficient hydration equates to a good run or a horrible run.
Inadequate hydration can cause a number of ailments such as heatstroke, fatigue, headaches, cramps, hindered coordination and more. Proper hydration is essential for your health and well-being and performance, point blank.
Proper hydration does not just entail gulping as much water as you can on race day or just before training. In fact, the hydration process should begin several days in advance. Drink enough water or non caffeinated liquids regularly. At no point should you feel thirsty. Especially if you are doing a long run, you have to stay properly hydrated in the days leading up to it.
The “eight glasses of water a day” rule is a myth as there is no solid evidence to support it. If you’ve had your eight glasses of water and you are still thirsty, then that is your body’s way of telling you that you need more. Also, consume foods like fruits and vegetables which promote hydration.
One sign of efficient hydration can be your urine being pale yellow (not clear which is also a misconception) and relieving yourself at least six times a day. Steer clear from alcoholic beverages as they have dehydrating properties and they will prevent you from a good night’s rest as well.
You should try to drink around just under half a liter of water an hour before your race, and drink around 200ml of water just before you run. As dehydration typically affects performance in workouts that are over an hour, drinking fluids are optional during that hour. For runs that are over an hour, try to take in about 120ml to 240ml every 20 minutes during your run. For runs consisting of 90 minutes or more, you can include selective sports drinks in your liquid intake to compensate for diminished sodium and electrolytes. Studies have indicated that specific sports drinks have properties that boost performance, especially during high intensity situations and long runs.
Immediately after you have run a lengthy race, drink fluids that are cool. For the next 24 hours, try to consume about 240ml of water every two hours. Also ensure proper nutrition, eat high protein meals to bump up your energy and to rehydrate the body; in fact, make a note of reading our feature on Ten Energy Boosting Foods You Should Be Eating.
Note, this is merely a rough guideline to adhere to, as hydration requirements may vary from person to person, and weather conditions will also influence your fluid intake needs.
Do you hydrate in a specific way before training or race days? What results have you seen?