The Drinking Game

Today I’m climbing on my water cooler to preach about hydration…

I tend to badger everyone around me to always “drink, drink, drink.” I must sound like a frat guy playing quarters. The stakes however, if you lose this drinking game are much, much higher.

Now that summer is here and it’s hot as hell, maintaining hydration is one of the most vital aspects of training. Sometimes it’s hard to remember just how important fluid balance is to both health and performance. It’s even harder to know HOW much to take in and WHEN to take it.

Water accounts for 45-75% of body mass, depending on body composition. Men and elite athletes tend to have higher body water content because they typically have a lower percentage of body fat. We need an adequate intake of fluid to keep the body topped off with enough water for physical and mental performance as well as to maintain daily health and wellness.

The amount of fluid needed during training varies from person to person and will depend on how much is actually lost.

However, the goal is always the same: To replace AT LEAST 80% of the fluids depleted during training or racing. If this is not accomplished, then a hydration deficit will be created that is almost near impossible to gain control over without several days of rest and constant fluid monitoring.

Now, it’s very important to remember, especially right now while heat and humidity are high, that training while dehydrated causes the body’s temperature to rise rapidly. This is not only damn uncomfortable, but can also lead to heat stroke before you can get to the next aid station. It’s playing with fire and it’s dangerous. Pay attention to your fluids!!

During light exercise in mild environments sweating rates might be as little as 100ml per hour yet during vigorous exercise in hot environments; some individuals are capable of sweating at over 3 liters per hour. That is a 2 liter+ of Diet Coke …just so you get the picture 😉 How ’bout them apples??!!

High sweating rates (> 1.5 liters per hour) are more likely to lead to significant dehydration and impaired performance. Remaining well-hydrated therefore requires all of us to continually adjust fluid intake.
So the question is HOW MUCH do you need?  
To know what you need, you 1st need to know WHAT you lost! This is the easy part. Weigh yourself before an hour training session, weigh yourself after, subtract the amount you drank (in ounces) and record the weight loss.
One pound equals 16 ounces of fluids lost through sweat. The average individual looses 1-2 lbs in normal conditions. This is my weight loss when its a nice 65-70 degrees outside. Right now, those numbers are doubled. I’m loosing close to 32 ozs per session and struggling to keep up. Weighing AFTER a workout is good for the ego, but bad for the body if you don’t plan on putting it back on ASAP!
Please do not think that swim workouts are exempt. Sweat loss is so close to the same as its land based counterparts, it’s not even worth mentioning the difference. Keep a few water bottles on the side of the pool and drink between sets !!!
The take home message: Consume 16 ounces of fluids for every pound lost in an hour of training. If training sessions, climate, or geographic location change then recalculate sweat loss and adjust it accordingly.
FYI: If you lose only 2% of your body weight, your performance can decrease 10-15%!
HOLY COW! Sorta explains why my runs have been “off” these past few weeks.
And as you can see, it doesn’t take long to reach the ‘danger zone” and that’s NOT a fun place to be.
As far as WHAT to drink, that’s going to be personal choice and another reason why it’s great to have so much opportunity during training to experiment with new things, see what your body likes, and maintain a good fluid balance at the same time.
In the pantry I have Hammer Heed, Gatorade Endurance, Nunn, PowerBar’s Ironman Perform and Pedialyte for those times when things start gettin’ ugly.
Don’t forget, daily hydration is important too. You can “under” or “over” hydrate very easily. Drink enough so that your urine runs pale yellow like lemonade, not to the point it’s clear.

Doing too much of anything good or bad can throw your body off. Avoid over hydrating in training or in the days before the race. Don’t try to cram a week’s worth of fluid in the night before a race. This will turn out bad, very bad! If you dilute your electrolyte levels it can cause a whole separate set of problems known as hyponytremia. This can lead to muscle cramping, nausea or in severe cases coma.

Remember, balance is the key….along with your drink of choice!

Ride Happy, My Friends!

4 thoughts on “The Drinking Game

  1. All very good information! I just posted a blog called “Water: The Liquid of Life” last week. It was about much of the same, but your post is way more detailed. At any rate, I appreciate the information!

    Sarah @ Thinfluenced

    • I don’ t think we can ever read or re-read too much on this subject…esp this time of year. I’m gonna go ck out your post and I’m sure I’ll gain a tip or two as well!!

  2. whoa, informative, thank you! I tend to not do enough hydrating prior to a race, especially race morning because I don’t want to be peeing 10thousdand times! Great info, thanks for posting this, I think I have some work to do!

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