Every good runner starts their training plan with a goal in mind – for some of us, it’s simply to finish the race. But if you’re ready to start setting new records, and crushing your PRs, you’ll need to make sure you’re covering all the bases. For most, this means planning for long runs, speed intervals, cross-training, hill repeats, pre-run and post-run stretches, and (of course) rest days. Not to mention, food preparation. Poor fueling often causes more performance problems than lack of training. Without proper nutrition, our bodies will tire out before we’re halfway to the finish.
But there’s one more element to race preparation I haven’t mentioned – a key component that will make or break a runner. And for many of us it seems so simple that we occasionally overlook it, costing us minutes on our finishing time. I’m talking about hydration.
Hydrating effectively means more than just downing a few glasses of water the night before the big day. It’s about incorporating water into all of your training runs. In fact, we should be drinking water throughout the day, even when we’re not hitting the pavement. Why the strong emphasis on water? How can skimping on water cost me a PR?
Runners & Dehyrdration
Dehydration causes your blood volume to drop, which lowers your body’s
ability to transfer heat and forces your heart to beat faster, making it
difficult for your body to meet aerobic demands. As your core warms up, and glycogen stores deplete, the body becomes exhausted.
“Fatigue towards the end of a prolonged sporting event may result as
much from dehydration as from fuel substrate depletion,” says Asker Jeukendrup of Human Kinetics. “Exercise performance is impaired when an individual is dehydrated by as little as 2% of body weight. Losses in excess of 5% of body weight can decrease
the capacity for work by about 30%” (Armstrong et al. 1985; Craig and Cummings 1966; Maughan 1991; Sawka and Pandolf 1990).
“Sprint athletes are generally less concerned about the effects of dehydration than are endurance athletes. However, the capacity to perform high-intensity exercise, which results in exhaustion within a few minutes, is reduced by as much as 45% by prior dehydration corresponding to a loss of only 2.5% of body weight” (Sawka, Young, Cadarette, et al. 1985)
The Bottom Line
Whether you’re a club runner, track star, or ultra-marathoner, water is a priceless commodity to have on hand (and in body). Drinking small amounts of water throughout the day, and during your runs, will lead to more efficient workouts. Don’t wait until the night before a race to get started. Follow these 7 Tips for better Hydration to ensure that you’re getting plenty of fluid, and at the right times.