On my long run this weekend I ran up behind another runner, in a less than desirable part of town, which made it obvious that we were both on a very long run. As I approached the other runner I could see her waist band full of water bottles and thought to myself, “How far she is going?!” I was personally on a 14 mile run in which the only stop I had planned to make was to release some hydration not to add to it. However, I do have a running friend that has constructed a map of every water fountain, hose, cooler, and runner friendly establishment in town and plans his runs accordingly. Now that’s serious. Maybe I’ll get him to post the map. I bet mapmyfun doesn’t have this capability. I wouldn’t know though, I never go to that lame website.
The other runner and I began talking. She was going about 14 miles as well and asked me the question, “You don’t have any water?!” She was amazed that I didn’t have any for a 14 mile run which lead me to thinking, how come I didn’t have any water? I did know of two water fountains along my route but I didn’t stop at them. What makes me different? What are techniques that may allow me to go a little farther without water? It is surely not due to my genetic make-up. Just ask anyone who has had to post up on me in a game of basketball or sit in a chair I have recently sat in after a long run, I’m a sweater. To put it in perspective, it takes me about a 4 mile run in 70 degree weather to make my whole outfit drip with sweat. Some say it’s heredity, I say it’s body efficiency. Don’t be jealous that my body knows how to cool itself off better than yours. My body is a machine, not to mention, my future is so warm, I gotta stay cool…that was lame. Probably the opposite of cool.
At any rate, not being properly hydrated can lead to fatigue, decreased coordination, and muscle cramping, not to mention more serious implications that can lead to hospitalization and even death. Hydration is something everyone who is active needs to monitor. When running long distances over 8 miles it is best to start hydrating a few days prior. I have found this is the best way to make sure you are ready for your run. I constantly make sure I am well hydrated. When I think of my hydration for the day I don’t consider any liquid intake other than sports drink or water. I have found the best thing to pre-hydrate is to make weak sports drink. You can buy the powder based sports drink (this is cheaper too) and mix it at half the recommended amount or even less. This beverage tastes the same, well weaker, and while you are not exercising it allows you to intake more fluids without giving you unnecessary extra calories or electrolytes that you don’t need during the day. My pre-hydration is why I require less liquids while running. Don’t hesitate, pre-hydrate.
Consuming large amounts of fluid directly prior to your run is not a good way to hydrate. You should only drink about 16-24 ounces of fluid before every run. During your run it is a good rule of thumb to try to drink 6-8 fluid ounces per 20 minutes; however, every runner is different and only you know your body. I don’t bring water with me on a run unless I am going to run more than 14 miles in a moderate weather day. However, that’s just my preference, but I don’t even like bringing a house key with me or a even a shirt, they’re just so constricting. Bring whatever amount of water you feel comfortable with. Also remember to not let the weather fool you on how much water you bring on your run. Too often runners think because it is cooler out that they will not sweat as much and therefore do not need to hydrate as much. This is a misconception which can lead to serious dehydration. A good rule of thumb is for every pound of weight you lose from sweat (weigh yourself before your workout, then after) amounts to 1 pint of water. So figure out about how much water you usually lose when exercising and hydrate accordingly. After your run you should drink from 20-24 ounces, or more simply, until you aren’t thirsty anymore. Try not to “gulp” down any water but drink it slowly to give your body time to disperse the liquid efficiently. Just like oil makes an engine run efficiently, water makes a body purr.
Your race hydration amounts are more intense than your normal run but it is good to practice your race day hydration. Just like your practicing your race pace, practice your drinking rhythm for race day. Where do you plan to stop for water? It is good to view a map of your race’s water points so you don’t get caught needing water when it is not available. Also, when you do get your water I have found it is more beneficial to slow down or walk when you drink it. It doesn’t take that much time and your body with thank you for not giving it a shockingly huge gulp of water as it is banging itself up and down on the pavement. Slowing down also gives you a chance to make sure you are drinking the correct liquid that you chose to. I ran a marathon that had red bull girls handing out red bull at the water stations. The problem was that Red Bull’s hired help was a lot more attractive than the race volunteer staff. It took about 4 cups of red bull for me to realize that none of the good looking girls had water or sports drink. Did that mean I stopped getting red bull? No, I just stopped drinking it. Drink up!