Athletes will go to great lengths to shave seconds off of their running time, and that includes runners. So running and dehydration should be one of the first things to be aware of. As little as 2% dehydration could slow a runner down and have a negative impact on their performance. Studies show that you tend to slow down about 2% for each 1% loss in bodyweight because of dehydration.
When the body loses water content and essential body salts, dehydration can occur.
It’s easy for pros and beginners alike to underestimate how much water they need to drink to stay hydrated. Once they get to the point of being thirsty, dehydration is already setting in. 2% of your body weight can be lost before you actually feel thirsty.
Marathon trainers will tell you to start hydrating several days before you begin training. Drink more water more often than you normally do. Drink at least sixteen ounces of water or sports drink several hours before you go running and drink a few ounces of water or sports drink at least every fifteen minutes during your run. Drinking cold water will keep your body at a normal temperature.
Some of the symptoms of dehydration include:
Thirst, Fatigue, Confusion, Dizziness, Headaches, Dry skin, Skin flushing, Muscle weakness, Increased heart rate.
A good way to determine if you are drinking enough water is by checking urine color. It should be light or clear in color. The darker the urine color, the more dehydrated you are. This is a sign that you need to start drinking more water.
Running in the heat accelerates dehydration. That’s why you need to take precautions to avoid both dehydration and heat stroke. It can take up to two weeks of running in the heat to acclimate your body to the hot temperatures.
Water and electrolytes are lost through sweat and need to be replaced. Essential body salts, such as sodium, potassium, and phosphate need to be replaced. This can be done with a good electrolyte drink mix. It will also improve your performance since it will help to hydrate you better. Sodium replacement is essential for prolonged running.
Sodium helps the body to retain fluid and potassium is essential for muscle and nerve function. The body needs a balance of these to function properly. Too much or too little sodium can be devastating. Too much or too little potassium can seriously affect the nervous system. That’s why you need a good, balanced electrolyte drink.