Staying properly hydrated during a marathon is a key element to performance and if you actually complete the race or not. If you are dehydrated your body does not perform well and the amount you sweat during the race cannot always be topped up enough on the day. So, it is important to be fully hydrated well before the actual race, in this blog we look at optimizing pre-race hydration.
The basic truth is the human body is not particularly good at storing fluids, unlike something like a camel. Once the body is fully hydrated it rejects further fluids and simply dumps them. Many runners believe that urinating a lot is a good thing, and by producing clear urine is a tell-tale sign that you are fully hydrated. Be careful not to overload your drinking, it will not benefit you and may actually cause problems.
Pre-competition hydration is really a juggling act and is definitely not the case of drinking as much as you possibly can. The human body is approximately sixty five percent water, which is held in two areas, two thirds of the water is in your cells with the rest extracellular or outside the cells. Most of the time your body efficiently moves the fluid around the parts needing hydration, by peeing out the excess and by making you feel thirsty when more hydration is needed. So, an important factor the day of the race is to let your body guide you through the hydration process. Listen and feel what your body is telling you, and as long as you are not sweating profusely then the recommended fluid intake of 6 ounces per hour should be enough. Do not think by drinking excess water that you have an insurance policy against dehydration, this simply does not work.
Body fluids are not just water, in fact the body’s fluid is a very salty concoction that contains electrolytes. Electrolytes perform crucial bodily functions that include muscle contractions and nerve impulse transmissions. The main electrolyte is sodium and should be in an exact balance to your bloodstream so that your body functions as it should do. If your body is too low in electrolytes than a condition called Hyponatremia may occur.
Pre-Race Hydration Routine
Your pre-race hydration routine should deliver you to the start line fully and properly hydrated, that is not over or under hydrated. It will also ensure that your blood fluid levels are in perfect balance. To do this you must avoid over drinking, take in a little more each day prior to the race but no more than this just to make sure your body is fully topped up. The colour of your urine and how thirsty you are the two big indicators how well you are hydrated. Ensure your urine is not too dark and that is clear, also that you are not feeling excessively thirsty. Regarding electrolytes it is good practice to also take some additional sodium a couple of days before you run also. This can be done by simply adding electrolyte supplements to your drinking water.
You are now perfectly hydrated to run your big race, continue to take on fluids little and often during the marathon and there should be no hydration problems whatsoever.