Running in the good old days used to be uncomplicated and simple. Some people remember runners before going out running with nothing with them. After a time, they come back and drink their water.
Drinking (or hydration) was not such a big deal before. Today, there are some runners who carry their own water and enough gadgets to monitor their exact intake during a run or a race.
Hydration and dehydration
Of course, we all now know how important water is when it comes to strenuous exercises like running. One thing about water is that it is not ideal either to get very little or too much of the fluid.
Severe dehydration (loss of water) and over-hydration both cause serious consequences on the body, including death. Knowing the difference is sometimes hard because the symptoms are the same.
In dehydration, the symptoms include weight loss, lethargy, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, confusion and dry mouth or lips. Over-hydration includes weight gain or swelling, headache, nausea, lethargy and confusion or disorientation.
What is terrible is that nobody knows about the problem until the symptoms are already in the advanced state. Even medical personnel can be hard put in figuring out what exactly is happening. (This usually happens after a hard race.)
Knowing how much fluid you need can prevent either dehydration or over-hydration. One way of knowing is that your performance will decrease significantly if you are dehydrated by as little as 1%.
Your running slows down by about 2% if you are dehydrated by only 1%. Another point to consider is that hydration is important not just for your performance but also for your health. As a runner, you need to know how much you need to hydrate yourself daily, and in the critical times of before, during and after running or a race.
One formula given by experts to calculate your daily fluid needs is as follows: multiply your weight (in pounds) by 0.55 to know how many ounces of fluid you need every day.
The hydrating beverages include water , sports drinks, tea, decaf coffee, low fat milk, yogurt drinks, juices, soda and soups or other foods with water.
Water, of course, is the best source for body hydration. Intake of beverages with sugar and other additives should be limited, especially if you are trying to lose body fat.
Alcohol is one drink that significantly dehydrates the body. It is a total no-no to drink before races, or even the night before any race.
After your daily fluid intake, you need to know how much you need before, during and after exercise (like running) to achieve optimum performance. Most people need 8 to 16 ounces of fluid one or two hours before any exercise.
During exercise, your fluid needs depend on the rate you perspire which is different from person to person or the weather.
The best estimate is to take 4 to 8 ounces of water every 15 to 20 minutes and weighing yourself before and after exercise. This is to check if you are losing or gaining weight, and adjusting your intake the next time.
Depending on its intensity, running is considered strenuous enough for your body to need more fluid than ordinary. Listen to what it says.