Friday, May 24, 2013

Hydration 101 for Runners

Hotter weather is upon us, and with it comes an increased risk of dehydration.  Even being as little as 2% dehydrated will start to decrease performance, so it is critical that you get plenty of fluids.  Dehydration causes your blood volume to drop, which makes your heart beat faster and limits your ability to cool yourself down.  Keeping yourself hydrated requires a focused effort.  Try these tips to beat the heat and stay hydrated!

1. Pre-Hydrate: Don't wait until you are thirsty to hydrate - by then it is too late!  A good goal is to drink 8 to 16 ounces of water or sports drink 1-2 hours before a run.  If you start out slightly dehydrated, you are setting yourself up for failure.

2. Plan Ahead: Never leave home without your water bottle!  Always have something to drink with you... you would be surprised how much you will drink just out of habit or boredom by having it at your desk all day.  Even better, try to keep track of how much and how often you are drinking.  Consciously trying to drink a few ounces of water every 15-20 minutes is far more effective than simply pledging to drink "more" water.  You will be much more successful at staying hydrated and be able to better determine what amount, type, and timing works best for you.

3. Drink Mid-Workout: Try to have a few ounces of water or sports drink every 15-20 minutes of exercise.  Don't let your body get totally depleted before you start to replace some of the liquids you are sweating out and using up during your workout.

4. Replenish: Rehydrate post-run!  You should be drinking enough water that you need to use the restroom within 60-90 minutes of finishing your workout.  Even if you don't feel that hot or thirsty, you need at least 8 ounces of water after your run, and possibly a lot more depending on your level of exertion, the heat and humidity, and a variety of other factors.

Basically, it's the little things you do (or don't do) every day that make or break your performance.  Make hydration a priority, and you will feel and perform better!

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