Just as a car needs Fuel to run, our body needs to be properly hydrated to function during a run. Here are some practices you should consider implementing as part of your life as a runner.
1. Develop a normal routine
Each runner’s hydration needs are different. So the rule of thumb we suggest is this, “Drink what your body needs.” As part of your normal routine, try to stay away from diuretic fluids like coffee and caffeinated sodas, as these sap your body’s water, and leaves it parched. Instead, go for decaf products, or good old water.
2. On race day, do what you do in the dojo
The common mistake many of us make on race day is to over compensate on our body’s hydration needs. And this could lead to hypnotremia, a condition brought about by an over dilution of our body’s sodium levels through the over consumption of water.
We mentioned earlier that you drink what your body needs. But how does one determine what the body needs? Thirst often times may not be the best indicator, as thirst often comes too late, only after the body is starved of fluids.
The scientific way to do it is to determine your body’s needs during your training sessions. Weigh yourself before a run, and keep count of your fluid intake. If your body weight before and after a run is the same, then you know how much it is you have to drink to replace all that your body has lost.
3. Pre-race hydration
The best time to load up on fluids is during the 24 hour period before a race. But don’t over do it. It is best to stop your heavy consumption of water 2 hours before the race starts, to prevent you having to stop for a bathroom break once the race starts. You can take sips if you like till the race starts.
4. During the race
If you have loaded up on fluids as we suggested above, you need not consume too much during the race itself. This of course depends on the distance you are running. For something like a 10K race, a few mouthfuls of water at the midway point should be sufficient.
5. Running the long format
If you are running in a marathon, you will have to consume a lot more water to keep your body hydrated. You should also consider sports drinks to replace the sodium your body has lost, and in some instances, drinks with sugar in it for energy. Stay away from drinks with too high a sugar content, as these could cause your body to have a sugar crash. The recommended value is 4-5 percent sugar.
6. Hydration after a race
What you drink after a race is crucial to enable your body to restore itself to health. Immediately after a race, what most needs to be replaced are electrolytes and glucose. Feel free to drink as much as you can to replenish what was lost. After a race, you need not worry as much about hypnotremia. Studies have shown that hynotremia tends to strike during a run, not after.
Once you get home, you can be more elaborate with the type of drink you consume. If you have raced long and hard, many of your muscles may be in need of repair. So some protein may be good. A protein shake, blended with bananas and other fruits may be a good tasty option. If you’re big into Japanese, Miso soup is an interesting option you can try. It is made out of salted beans, and is a good source of both sodium and protein.