If you’re running under the sweltering sun in the tropics, it is crucial to maintain hydration. Not only is this important for your performance, your health is involved. Water helps regulate our bodies’ temperature, helps improve recovery, minimizing injury and cramps, and maximizes performance.
As we exercise, our bodies generate many more times of heat than we are resting. To compensate for the excess heat, we cool down by sweating. However, this will invariably lead to loss of water and electrolytes from our bodies.
During an intense workout, we could lose up to 1 litre of water per hour. If we don’t replenish this loss, dehydration will set in, causing cramps, or worse: our heart rates will increase, leading to an increased blood pressure and ultimately impacting our performance.
How can you stay hydrated? Here are some tips:
1. Drink regularly
While we know that it is important to drink water to stay hydrated, how are we doing so? Instead of drinking water all at one time, it is better to drink throughout the day to replenish fluid losses. This will aid in providing your body with enough fluid to stay cool over the course of your run.
It is also good practice to start the habit of drinking water first thing in the morning, albeit in smaller amounts. During the day, one way to encourage yourself to drink regularly is to have a large water bottle beside you and sip from it as the day progresses. Including fruits as part of your diet is another way. Fruits are a great source of water and they also contain lots of fibre and electrolytes.
2. Hydrate before, during, and after a run
It is important to stay hydrated throughout your run. That would mean making sure you drink before, during and after your run. If you are embarking on a longer run, take a water bottle along so that you can drink at intervals. Of course, depending on personal preferences, some may prefer a hydration pack, especially on longer runs like marathons.
3. Consume Plenty of Electrolytes
Electrolytes has an important role as they will directly impact your hydration status. The more you sweat, the more quickly you will dehydrate if you don’t replenish your electrolytes. Consider drinking fluids that contain electrolytes. Isotonic drinks can be a suitable source of electrolytes. Read the labels though, you don’t want to consume too much sugar along with it. This is especially important during longer runs.
4. Limit Alcohol
Avoid alcohol. If you must, then rehydrate before drinking alcohol. It is good to limit alcohol consumption before or after a run, as it can lead to dehydration. That in turn can lead to a very unpleasant experience, like nausea. Another culprit that may lead to dehydration is caffeine.
The Bottom Line
Hydration during running is important. It is wise to plan ahead. Also, remember the need for carbohydrates and electrolytes, they will aid you in staying suitably hydrated. Balance is needed as there is too much of a good thing when it comes to hydration. If you feel thirty, drink. On the other hand, don’t overdo it as you certainly don’t want to feel like a water bag with water sloshing around as you run. Plan ahead and make it a habit to stay hydrated!
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