Don’t ever underestimate hydrating. Listen to the stubborn old gal who hates hydrating, begrudges hydrating, and complains about it to anyone who will listen. It is a constant battle for me, but I assure you it is 100% necessary. Water, Gatorade, tablets, supplements……it’s not as there isn’t a lot of options out there and yet it still is a challenge. There are reasons I do struggle, but there are also things that help. A lot. So let’s go down the rabbit hole.
I’ve heard it more times than I can count from fellow runners and nutritionists. I’ve read article after article about the benefits of and the problems of not hydrating properly. Hell, I’ve even written some copy on the subject myself. It’s easy to make lists. It’s easy to say bullet point this, bullet point that………..and all that information is available to all of us, but really what is at the core of not being able to follow through on something our body needs to survive.
I Need To Hydrate Too
After a lot of years struggling with it I don’t have one solid answer. I know water tends to make me full and nauseous. Too much Powerade or Gatorade and I’m peeing every thirty seconds (yay Mommie bladder), and I haven’t noticed any significant change when using supplements.
Not Messing Around
What I do know is dehydration and heat exhaustion above and beyond anything else is on the top of my concern list as a runner. Not running in the freezing cold, not fear of attack, and not running while pregnant. The heat and dehydration. I’ve ran in just about every element imaginable and I’ve struggled in all of them, but nothing has been as physically exalting as running in those hot temps and even more-so when I haven’t properly hydrated.
Don’t Drink and Run….or uh Do, but Drink Water
A few summers ago I ran a July half-marathon, which in South Eastern Michigan is not unusual for temperatures to be upwards of 90 degrees with miserable humidity. This mid-July morning was miserable. The race started early, but it was already warm and sticky. The course was composed entirely of rolling hills around a large lake and on a good day would have been challenging. The day prior my husband and I had a friend in from out of town. We had a few casual beers and stayed up later than I normally would have. On it’s own, it would not have been enough to affect me, but add no hydrating all day and the elements and it was a recipe for disaster.
It was five miles into the race and I was already burnt out. I was light headed, dry mouthed and things were already starting to spin. Luckily I had found a running buddy and we were keeping each other company. Truth of the matter, we walked more of that race than we ran. I absolutely blame my lack of hydration, but I was not the only person affected at that race. I have never seen so many in shape runners passed out, or pulled out by ambulances from dehydration and/or heat exhaustion. It was a serious reality check and since that race I have taken my hydrating a lot more seriously.
In the past few years I’ve spent a lot more time training and have more consistently. The runs I haven’t hydrated properly I can feel the difference. I get light headed, feel weaker in general, dry mouth, even close to hallucinating at times.
Just Do It
Now, I force myself to drink the right amount of water. I avoid caffeine and pop the day before a run, especially long ones. I don’t drink alcohol at all anymore and I drink Gatorade when I can’t stomach anymore water. Sometimes I make slushies with it to help myself out. If I’m out on a long run I make sure I have my hydration pack, but I also bring a little extra money in case I run out of water when I’m out. If it’s a race, I hit every hydration station whether I’m thirsty or not.
Now, I do my diligence. At the end of the day I just do it. I commit myself and make myself do it. If not I pay the price. That price could put me in the hospital and I haven’t done all this work to be lazy about something so important. Do yourself the same favor and take it seriously.