HOW TO PREVENT SUMMER DEHYDRATION
By Lance Olian, CSCS
Ever lay by the pool on a hot summer day, the sun baking your skin, and became exhausted from doing absolutely nothing?
Sure, the beers that found their way into your mouth may have contributed to the sluggishness, but the primary factor has less to do with the liquid going in, and more to do with the liquid leaving your body: Sweat.
The pool of water that has collected on your bronzed summer-bod equates to a much greater volume than you realize. The outcome? You’re losing more water than you’re putting back in. That’s right, even though you’ve hardly moved, you’re dehydrated.
THE MATH OF DEHYDRATION
The underlying reason you become dehydrated is pretty straightforward: More water out than in. This is because we have a tendency to overestimate how much we’re drinking, and underestimate how much we’re sweating. On average, a healthy adult can lose up to 50 ounces of sweat during an hour of exercise.
To translate that into a visual, you need to consume 2.5 20oz. bottles of water every hour, just to make up for the loss.
Workout at high intensities (over 70% of maximal exertion)? More water. Workout last longer than an hour? MORE water. Training in temps over 90 degrees and/or high humidity? EVEN MORE WATER. Training at high elevation (above 8200 ft)? You get the idea.
MEASURING DEHYDRATION: WATER, WATER
EVERYWHERE – BUT NOT A DROP TO DRINK
Even being only slightly dehydrated makes a huge difference. Just losing 2% of your body weight in sweat can decrease your performance by 25%. That means if you weigh 150 pounds, and lose 3 pounds of sweat that you don’t replace, your typical 8-minute pace is now slowing to a 10-minute pace!
If you are looking for exact numbers on the topic, I point you in the direction of this scholarly journal article published by the American College of Sports Medicine.
For those of us that don’t train in a laboratory with a team of doctors, let’s keep it simple by focusing on easy solutions for staying hydrated. Most of the time, running on road or trail means we won’t have access to a water fountain. Nor do we want to be weighed down with cumbersome water bottles that are great for the gym, but don’t make sense for our run.
HYDRATION: GET SUN AND RUN READY
Handheld water bottles built specifically for running, are ergonomically designed to reduce wrist and hand fatigue. Depending on the model, the bottle may offer a wrist strap, thumbholes, and even pouches or pockets to bring your keys and identification along for the ride. For longer runs, hydration belts are lightweight and adjustable, can accommodate more storage and liquid than a handheld, and come in single, double, and multi-bottle options. Running-specific hydration packs are going to have a superior fit over general hydration backpacks, in order to prevent bouncing around during your run. You’ll also find them constructed with lightweight and breathable materials that prevent chaffing. In general, packs will hold the greatest volume of liquid, and offer the most storage space.
If you’re training or competing with substantial duration, the addition of electrolytes becomes essential. Recall, the longer and more intense you exercise, the more water you must consume. But consume too much water and you can throw off your electrolyte balance, ending up with hyponatremia, also known as water intoxication (yes, a very real – and not fun – thing for endurance athletes).
Maintain that hydration balance easily with electrolyte tablets, capsules, or electrolyte powder that can be mixed with your water mid-run. Not only will this keep you powered, but it adds a nice flavor boost as well! Nuun, Skratch, Hammer Nutrition and SaltStick have some great electrolyte powders and drinks.
Now that we know why avoiding dehydration is so important, and how to better stay hydrated during activity, we’re better equipped to survive the brutal heat of summer.
I’m looking forward to seeing you out there in the sun, strapped up in your hydration packs with your electrolyte drinks ready to go. With a little forethought about hydration, the summer won’t slow us down, at least not until we’re ready to… by the pool, with a cold beer in hand.
About the Author:
Lance has previously been fat, weak, and injured. Lacking any real innate athletic ability, his application of data and science has produced some pretty awesome personal results, such as bench pressing over 500 pounds in competition. As a professional Strength & Conditioning Coach he’s helped enhance the performance of NFL athletes, olympians, ironmen, and improved the race-day performance of hundreds of runners.