When my best running buddy, Mark, collapsed at the finish line of the London Marathon a few years ago it struck home to me that I needed to understand more about hydration during endurance sessions. Whatever your sport, many of us are pushing our boundaries to the limit to perform at our best. We are not infallible! Dehydration can creep up on you and before you know it, your performance starts to dip, risking injury, exhaustion, disorientation and worse. We can all tell we are dehydrated if our mouth is parched but there are less obvious signs too.
Try these top tips to keep your cool!
- Drink water regularly throughout the day, especially in the days leading up to a race. Leave a pint of water by your bed and drink it as soon as you wake up.
- Replace lost fluid with a sports drink (see recipe) for if training for over an hour. Sip as you go, drinking to thirst – practice drinking and running/cycling at the same time …it’s quite an art!
- Snack on hydrating foods. Juicy fruits such as oranges and watermelon (97% water) provide great hydration. Try this delicious watermelon and feta salad – it’s hydrating and packed with electrolytes.
- Salty foods, too, will replace electrolytes lost through sweat – a marmite sandwich as a post run snack works a treat!
- In hot weather, choose a shady route to run in.
- You can lose 70% of your body heat through the top of your head, so when it is really hot, and in races, don’t just drink water, pour water over yourself when you run to cool you down.
- Wear appropriate clothing; loose-fitting clothes made with high tech material rather than cotton, which can cling to your skin.
- Wear a sweat proof sunscreen.
- Recognise the warning signals. Don’t run through heat cramps.
- Stop if you feel faint, weak, dizzy or confused. Rest, get into the shade and drink a sports drink.