Running in the Sun: Hydration Saves Lives

Posted: July 25, 2012 in Rebel Running

Unfortunately heat is not often considered when some runners head out to pound the pavement. Some of us find out how hot it is once we are already outdoors, and at that point we’ve already committed to our running journey. But lacking the energy and resources to complete a run successfully can negatively impact not only your run, your training as a whole, but you also risk fainting or even worse, death.

Some tend to cram hydration in right before a run. This may help you get hydrated, but if you drink 12-24 ounces right before you set out on a run, you’re likely to feel uncomfortable with the water sloshing around in your stomach, or you might still end up with a cramp, or “side stitch”, along your run. The best case scenario is to be well hydrated throughout the entire 24 hours prior to your run. It’s also important to note that while dehydration is a concern, hyponatremia (drinking too much water) should be of equal concern.

So what is the right amount? Well, that’s hard to say since there are different circumstances affecting each of us. Many people have heard of the “8×8” rule, that is, drinking 8 glasses of 8 ounces of fluid daily. This to me is a little light intake, even for the inactive. For people with active lifestyles a general rule of thumb or starting point is having ½ to 1.5 ounces of water per your pound of weight. So for example, if you weigh 160 pounds, 80-240 ounces of fluid daily is a good range to be within. While this is a wide range of intake possibilities, this variance can depend on your activity level that day.

A good way to “put your best foot forward” when it comes to hydration is to have 3 glasses of water when you wake up, which will leave with a solid base for the remainder of your day. Many people have Nalgene or other water bottles that can hold at least 24 ounces of fluid that they aim to finish before or while drinking their morning coffee or other beverage. Hotter days and longer runs will require you to expend more energy and sweat, so you must be aware of this and adjust your intake accordingly. The best way to identify your level of hydration is to monitor your urine. The general rule is, the clearer the urine, the more hydrated you are. But you do not want your urine to be completely clear, you should be able to see the yellow tint in it. Exceeding an intake of 28 ounces of water per hour can certainly lead you to a hyponatremic state, you want to be sure your sodium levels are not diluted with your water, as water is not your only savior.

By now I’m sure you’ve heard of the importance of electrolytes, so during activity you want to be sure you’re having about 8-12 ounces of a sports drink per hour of activity. For any ultra-runners that will be active for 2,4, and 6 hours will require complex sports drinks and tablets to replace your potassium, magnesium, and sodium in order to avoid muscle failure.

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