Hydration and Exercise
My friend Amber and I are training together for a 6km trail race on July 23rd and the 14km Coho Festival Run taking place September 11th and last Tuesday we did a 6km run around the slightly hilly Grand Boulevard area incorporating 5 minute run segments with 1 minute walk segments 6x. It was 6:30pm when we started and about 20 degrees.
Sounds fairly innocent right? Easy run with rests. We kept our pace pretty low key… able to talk in short sentences fairly comfortably. I felt great and I was taking small sips out of my water bottle on the walk segments and I didn’t feel like I was sweating too much. The thing is I got a pretty good headache about an hour after getting home.
Dehydrated? Check. Thought I knew better but apparently not? Check.
I was a little surprised thinking I had hydrated well before the run given the temperature and taken in water during the run and after. The thing is it wasn’t enough and before you know it you’re playing catch up and feeling crappy.
Eve on a cloudy or rainy summer day and even if you are not openly sweating you need proper hydration.
Here are general guidelines regarding hydration and activity from the American College of Sports Medicine. With any guidlines though I always give the caution that you need to find out through trial and error and experience what your body needs!
General Guidelines for Fluid Needs During Exercise
While specific fluid recommendations aren’t possible due to individual variability, most athletes can use the following guidelines as a starting point, and modify their fluid needs accordingly.
Hydration Before Exercise
Drink about 15-20 fl oz, 2-3 hours before exercise
Drink 8-10 fl oz 10-15 min before exercise
Hydration During Exercise
Drink 8-10 fl oz every 10-15 min during exercise
If exercising longer than 90 minutes, drink 8-10 fl oz of a sports drink (with no more than 8 percent carbohydrate) every 15 – 30 minutes.
Hydration After Exercise
Weigh yourself before and after exercise and replace fluid losses.
Drink 20-24 fl oz water for every 1 lb lost.
Consume a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein within the 2 hours after exercise to replenish glycogen stores.
Hyponatremia – Drinking Too Much Water and not taking in electrolytes during periods of high exertion generally over an hour of activity. Leads to salt loss in the the body fluids surrounding the cells.
What about Sports Drinks?
Sports drinks can be helpful to athletes who are exercising at a high intensity for 60 minutes or more. Fluids supplying 60 to 100 calories per 8 ounces helps to supply the needed calories required for continuous performance. It’s really not necessary to replace losses of sodium, potassium and other electrolytes during exercise since you’re unlikely to deplete your body’s stores of these minerals during normal training. If, however, you find yourself exercising in extreme conditions over 3 or 5 hours (a marathon, Ironman or ultramarathon, for example) you may likely want to add a complex sports drink with electrolytes.
Here’s the baby I use during runs for hydration and I love this hand held water bottle from Camelback but I do find my hand gets sweaty after about 5km even with the breathable mesh between the bottle and your hand. I also use a fuel belt with 2×10 ounce water bottles on either side of my hips for longer runs.
Again everyone has their favourite products… studies have shown people generally like 2 or more bottles around their waist as opposed to just one in the back and I know many people who love wearing a hydration backpack but you have to find your groove and what works for your comfort level and ease of access. Go to your favourite running or outdoor activity store and try these products out for yourself and then hit the road staying hydrated and happy!