Don’t Let Dehydration Slow You Down!

Once again the summer months are upon us.  The time of year that runners and triathletes have a love/hate relationship with.  We love to get out in the warm weather without the necessity of gloves, hats and cold gear, however, when it gets too warm the heat can really take it’s toll.  Dehydration becomes a major factor during summer racing and training.  Once the body becomes dehydrated performance can plummet.

Knowing how much fluid your body needs can take a bit of trial and error.  Everyone is different, therefore, these needs should be determined on an individual basis.  One of the first factors to be determined is whether or not you are a heavy sweater.  The more fluids you lose through sweating, the more fluids you need to consume for replenishment.  The flip side of that is if you consume too much fluids this can affect your stomach and adversely impact your performance.  Finding the correct balance is key and that will need to be done by trial and error.

Another factor to consider is electrolyte replenishment.  While sweat is mainly water, there are also salts and other electrolytes lost through sweat.  For any workouts or races longer than 45min in duration you should consider a sport drink such as Gatorade instead of water.  These drinks are usually rich in electrolytes which the body needs to function efficiently.  For longer, endurance races or training salt tablets may also be necessary, if your stomach can handle them.  If you are planning an extended training session or have a long race for a day that excessive heat is forecasted you can also consider increasing your salt intake the day before.  Be sure to take in plenty of fluids before the start  and if it’s necessary, carry a water bottle with you.  There are many products on the market to help you stay hydrated including Camelbaks and Fuel Belts.

Dehydration can ruin a race or training session very quickly.  Don’t wait until you feel thirsty–often times it’s too late then.  Stay on top of your fluids to ensure your body has enough to allow you to complete your workout plans for the day.  Enjoy the warm weather while it’s here and plan ahead.  Train hard, train smart!