Water is one of the most important things a runner can consume. About 60% of a runner’s total body weight is water. Water helps maintain body temperature, improve digestion, and helps with circulation and excretion of wastes.
If a runner doesn’t drink enough water, they won’t able to sweat adequately, and this is how body temperature is regulated. If they don’t drink enough water their body temperature will rise. This can negatively impact physical performance and will eventually cause dehydration. Even a very small amount of dehydration can impact a runner’s athletic performance. Thirst is not an indicator of dehydration. Dehydration can happen before an athlete even becomes thirsty.
The body will pull water from its reserves when it’s deprived of fluids to maintain a safe body temperature. If the body is chronically low on water, a variety of hormonal changes can occur. Extra water should be taken to avoid an imbalance if a runner is drinking alcohol or coffee.
The small intestine can absorb water at a rate of 8-10 ounces about every 20 minutes. Drinking cold water is better because it will enter the small intestine faster. Take small sips before, during, and after your workout to avoid dehydration. Make sure not to drink large amounts all at once. Spacing out your water is better for the body.
The only way for a runner to prevent dehydration is to make sure they are properly hydrated before, during, and after a training run. Make sure you have water readily available during training and make sure you drink enough water before and after a training run. Know what your sweat rate is. It can be different for different people. Know how much fluid you’ll need to replace. A good rule of thumb is to drink about 20 ounces of water for every pound of weight lost because of sweating.
Some runners think that water is just too plain and boring. If that’s you, try a good sports drink with your favorite flavor. The most important thing is to make sure you replace fluids and stay hydrated.
If you have signs of dehydration, like weakness, headache, thirst, dizziness or chills, not only is your running going to suffer, but you’re putting yourself in danger of a heat related problem. It’s better to avoid that in the first place by making sure you are drinking enough water.