How to prevent dehydration at your next race

| 3 min read

Women smiling and drinking a water bottle outside
It’s no secret you need to be well hydrated to perform your best, but did you know that being hydrated for a run should start far before the gun fires on race day and continue long after you cross the finish line?
According to Runner’s World Magazine, in warm or humid environments, being more than two percent dehydrated can cause a decline in your running performance. Dehydration causes your blood flow to drop, decreasing your body’s ability to transfer heat, and forces your heart to beat faster. This is when your body starts to shut down and your ability to cross the finish line becomes much more difficult.
In addition to your training schedule, incorporate these hydration tips before, during and after your run. And always remember to listen to your body because proper hydration will depend on the heat, soreness and distance.
Before you hit the pavement
  • In the days leading up to your run or race, drink plenty of water and nonalcoholic drinks. Alcohol dehydrates you and can prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep, a critical aspect of a pre-race routine.
  • An hour or more before your race begins, drink about 16 ounces, or two cups, of water. Be sure to stop drinking at this point so you don’t have to go to stop to use the restrooms along the race!
  • Right before the start of the race, you can drink a half to a full cup of water to ensure you’re still properly hydrated, if desired.
During the race
Hydration while out running is simple: drink if thirsty. Research has shown this approach helps to prevent under hydrating, which leads to dehydration, as well as over hydrating. However, a general “rule of thumb” during your run is:
  • For every 20 minutes of running, drink 4-6 ounces (roughly one cup) of water.
  • If you run faster than an 8-minute mile, it is recommended to drink 6-8 ounces (more than one cup) of water every 20 minutes.
  • When you are running for 90 minutes or more, adding a sports drink to replace the lost sodium and electrolytes will help you absorb water faster and stay hydrated longer.
After you’ve crossed the finish line
Most experts believe you should drink at least three cups of water after you have finished a run or race. However, flavored or protein drinks such as iced green tea, coconut water, chocolate milk or a low-fat smoothie are also excellent options post-run.
With nearly 200 races happening across the state the rest of this month, it’s time to get serious about hydration. So how do you know if you’re properly hydrated? If “you void large volumes of pale urine at least six times a day,” you’re good-to-go!
Photo credit: Ridofranz

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