What’s the deal with water?
Hydration is an important factor year-round to overall health. Slight dehydration of even 2% of your body weight can negatively affect performance, and it’s been shown in studies that staying properly hydrated is the best way to enhance or improve performance.
The most common situations that cause athletes run into dehydration troubles include, more than 1 training session per day, competitions held in hot and/or humid environments; if the athlete is coming from a colder climate, the impact is even larger in competitions of long duration such as marathons and triathlons (specifically half and full ironman distances).
Signs that you’re dehydrated include, dizziness, confusion, lightheadedness, dry lips, mouth and skin, physical and mental fatigue, decreased pace and performance, darkened urine (one of first indicators because the kidneys are very sensitive and they will let you know!) and increased body temperature.
Dehydration is a common concern but over hydration, or hyp0natremia, can be an overwhelming concern for endurance athletes who tend to spend consecutive hours training or racing.
Drinking water is important, but too much water with too few electrolytes impairs performance and body function. This metabolic condition in which there is not enough sodium (salt) in the body fluids can be caused by over-hydrating and/or hydrating with only water, which can flush electrolytes from your body.
Signs of hyp0natremia include, nausea and vomiting, headache, confusion, loss of energy, fatigue, restlessness and irritability, muscle weakness, spasms or cramps, seizures, unconsciousness or coma.
Hydration rate – how much do you need to drink?
The answer depends on many factors, including but not limited to body physiology, fitness, temperature, intensity of training, and diet. We recommend that athletes perform a sweat test to determine how much water is shed during training, and electrolytes can be fine tuned from there.
Calculating Your Sweat Rate
Average sweat rate is typically 1 – 1.5L of fluid per hour (32-48oz), and 500 – 1,500mg of sodium per hour, however your personal sweat rate will depend on several factors such as environmental conditions (temperature, humidity), genetics, and athletic conditioning.
Your sweat rate can be determined by a simple "sweat test". Take your body weight before a one-hour moderate intensity bike or run, then record the amount of liquid consumed during workout, and weigh yourself again after the workout. Calculate the weight change and remember to add in the amount of liquid consumed during the workout. Every pound lost during your workout is equal to 16 oz of fluid.
Most people’s sweat contains about 500mg of sodium per 16oz. Very salty sweaters can have up to 1000mg or 1500mg per 16oz of sweat. As a very general rule of thumb, during long walking or running events, you should pee a minimum of every 2.5 hours to ensure you are staying hydrated.
Staying properly hydrated
Keys to hydration success include drinking fluids throughout the day and before/during/post workouts. Maintaining a good hydration status on a daily basis by staying a step ahead of dehydration is the best approach. Waiting until you are thirsty to drink fluids is too late – you are already dehydrated and you’ll find yourself constantly playing the game of catch-up.
Each day try to consume half your body weight (in pounds) in liquid ounces PLUS what you sweat out in training (your sweat rate). For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should aim to consume 75 ounces of water or electrolyte drink per day plus losses that occur during workouts.