The Importance of Hydration

If you run, hell if you do any sort of cardiovascular activity, you should know that hydration is key. Drinking water throughout the day, upping the amount before, during & after a workout, and ensuring that you never EVER get to the point of lightheadedness should come as a no brainer…right?

In theory, yes. You happily tote around your BPA-free water bottles pretty much everywhere. You gulp glass after lemon-laden glass at restaurants, and you set out disposable bottles along the route of  your long run. We know better then to screw with the delicate balance of hydration while running especially, especially, when the temperatures start to rise. 

Until one day you screw up. And Sunday was my day.

There are many factors that contributed to my screw-up and it all started the day before with a meal that consisted of not food, but rather a wonderful batch of sangria I had made for myself. Yup – the solid food of my lunch consisted of the alcohol soaked fruit I had added to my sangria. It was all downhill from there. Don’t believe me? Check out my tweets from Saturday…I’ve never been more proud.

It's all fun and games until you forget to eat.

It’s all fun an games until someone has to run the next day

So Sunday rolls around. And yikes. I wake up parched and with a headache that only too much wine can give you (this is a message to you kids, the older you get, the worse your hangovers are. Trust.). But, I have a long run planned and I have to put in a short shift at job #2 so I don’t have time to wallow in my self-loathing and dismal state.

I get up, have half a cup of coffee and head out to work. I have maybe 3 cups of water out of the water cooler. Actually, I’d hardly call them cups – those stupid little cone things that can fit maybe a third of a cup of liquid can hardly be called cups. Either way, that’s all I have. Then I get home, change clothes, and head back out the door to run 11 miles…WITH NO WATER. Not a belt or bottle, not a pre-placed “aid station”, not even a sip before I head out. What is wrong with me?

I get to mile 4 before I really start getting the dry mouth. At about 6 the effects really start to hit me. Of course by this time I am nowhere near anywhere that I could stop at so in all my brilliance, I keep trucking. I mean, I’ve got to get home. I am lagging at this point. My splits are miserable at best, and I am starting to have dirty thoughts about an ice cold glass of anything (except sangria). At mile 81/2 I stopped under the shade of a tree to rest for a few minutes. That when the dizzies started. You know you’re in trouble then. But again, I had to get home, so I kept up running. 10.3 miles later, there I was. Chugging Gatorade like there was no tomorrow. Craving something, anything with salt. And I felt like garbage. My hangover morning had nothing on this un-hydrated to miles I just did.

I had the chills, I had an upset stomach, and had the aches. I mean, were talking borderline flu-like symptoms. It took about an hour and a hot bath for everything to relax a bit and even then, I still felt I couldn’t quench my thirst.

Point is guys, I’ve done smarter things in my life. And this is my Warm Weather Running Warning to you: Drink up. When you think you’ve had enough, drink a bit more. Don’t be stupid. I’m lucky it wasn’t too hot out or those dizzies I got could have led to fainting, or worse.

Need to gauge how much and when you need to start sipping? Well I’ll save you a Google search and show you this info, stolen straight from this article in Runner’s World:

Three to six ounces every 15 to 20 minutes. Water is usually fine. For a tough run over 30 minutes, consider a sports drink to give you a kick of energy at the end.

Three to six ounces every 15 to 20 minutes. A sports drink with carbs and electrolytes will replenish sodium. Prefer gels? Chase them with water to avoid sugar overload.

Drink three to six ounces of sports drink every 15 minutes, after which use thirst as your main guide (drinking more if you’re thirsty and less if you’re not).

Replace fluids, drinking enough so you have to use the bathroom within 60 to 90 minutes postrun. Usually eight to 24 ounces is fine, but it varies based on running conditions.”

Here’s the God’s honest truth, not that you care to know, but as I write this, it’s been 8 hours since the run, I’ve had two jumbo cups of ice water, a La Croix, a bottle of Gatorade, and a few random sips of J’s beverages and I still have not peed. I also got on the scale when I got home, I was down 5 pounds. That’s 5 pounds of water I was short. My body is not happy with me

So here’s the moral of this story: keep your body happy. Drink up. Drink often and be careful. Drink Up

End of lecture.

Happy Monday!


9 thoughts on “The Importance of Hydration

  1. Yikes! Glad that you made it home OK!
    I find that my hydration needs can vary quite a lot. Those Runner’s World guidelines are on the heavy end for me — I don’t know if it’s the Northern California climate or what, but I can get by with 6-10 ounces of fluid for a 2 hour run in moderate temps which I know is on the very low end of things. Have you heard of this book that came out last year called “Waterlogged”? It’s supposed to have the latest research on hydration (confession: I have not read it), and it advocates a “drink to thirst” approach to avoid overhydration, which has also become a huge problem with runners.

    • I feel like I’ve never had a problem running long distances (around 10 miles) without water but as I’ve progressed as a runner I’ve become more thirsty quicker. Is that normal? I think I’ll head over to my favorite place (and yours) the library and search out this book. I’ll keep you posted.

      • I don’t know if it’s normal to become more thirsty, though I’ve heard that you can become more efficient at sweating… and that seems to go hand-in-hand with thirst, so I’m going to say: Yes, it’s normal. 😉 Let me know what you find out about the book.

  2. I am a huge hydrate-r. That pre-run breakdown sounds miserable and I know know that dehydration feeling you described, miserable. You’re definitely lucky nothing worse happened to you. Better you learned this lesson now before the summer time temps hit!

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