The weather has turned warm here in Southern Mississippi. By warm I mean 90 degrees already. With spring racing coming up quick, including the Gulf Coast Half Ironman next weekend, it is time to start thinking about hydration.
This is a tough time to race since we have not had enough hot weather to be acclimated and we are asking our bodies to perform at race intensities. This is a tough combination, indeed.
However, downing countless glasses of water the day before a race will just cause you to stay up all night using the bathroom. It is necessary to start ‘hydro loading’ several days before, if not at all times.
Hydration tips –
Purchase a case of a calorie free sports drink (or mix your own with cool aid and a dash of sea salt). The sodium will allow your body to retain the extra water so it does not just flow through you. I like to dilute the calorie free sports drink about 50 / 50 with water. That is easy to do by drinking the first half and then refilling with tap water. Then, keep this container by your side. Take it with you in the car; keep it on your desk, on the end table in the living room – everywhere. Then just start drinking. Most of the time if you have the container near by you will consume enough.
However, if you notice that the container is still full at the top of each hour then drink 6 – 10 ounces. It is better to drink smaller amounts throughout the day than gulping an entire container all at once. This will give you a little over a gallon of fluids throughout the day. Stopping drink 2 – 3 hours prior to bed time.
You can monitor your hydration by the color of your urine. If it is completely clear you may be drinking a tad too much. A very slight yellow color is normal. Anything darker would indicate that you need to drink more fluids.
A word about hyponatremia –
Hyponatremia is low blood sodium, which can occur when endurance athletes including long distance walkers and runners lose sodium through sweat and are unable to replace it. They may further dilute their blood sodium by continuing to drink large amounts of water and losing further sodium through urination.
This condition is more pronounced in longer events (more time to drink) and in smaller individuals (it takes less fluid to offset their sodium concentration). Drinking sodium containing fluids and eating salty foods should ensure that your sodium levels remain at safe levels.