Hydration and nutrition go hand in hand when it comes to training for a marathon. You will be given different kinds of advice pertaining to it. For example, someone might tell you to drink gallons of water in order to boost your electrolyte levels just before running, while you might read elsewhere about upping the water intake during the marathon.
One of the biggest blunders you are likely to make before a marathon is trying a new approach, unless there is something wrong with your previous method of hydration. Fluid needs are highly dependent on an individual’s physical conditioning. It is up to you to make sure that the electrolytes levels are replenished because there will be some loss through sweat, while hydrating in moderate amounts.
Here are a few tips for hydration:
Pre-hydrating is the smart thing to do
If you enter a race dehydrated, you are likely to lose and by a much wider margin as compared to other runners. A survey in April 2010 claims that a runner began a 12K race dehydrated on an 80°F day, and finished almost two and a half minutes slower than those who had hydrated properly. When your body is deprived of the necessary water supply, the volume of blood drops sharply, thereby reducing your body’s ability to exchange heat and coercing your heart beats to accelerate. This makes it tougher to match up to the aerobic demands, so it impacts the overall speed. Drink about 8 to 16 ounces of water about 1 to 2 hours before a run. You can opt for iced coffee and tea or sports drinks as well. At least 4 to 8 ounces of fluid must be consumed 15 to 30 minutes before the marathon starts.
Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise conducted a study back in 2008, which clearly proved that cold beverages are more effective for longer runs. Cyclists who had consumed cold fluids before and during workout sessions exercised about 12 minutes more than those who had warm liquids. The cold beverages helped to reduce body temperature and perceived effort, thereby allowing them to exercise for a longer period of time. If you are going for a long run, drink a slushy with crushed ice and your favorite sports drink. It is necessary that the drink needs to be chilled while running, so fill up a bottle halfway, freeze, and then pour the fluid on top before beginning. If possible, take a cooler to store the drinks.
Determining the sweat rate
Calculating sweat rates is crucial because the degree of hydration required depends upon this factor. Since the fluid requirements of people vary, the sweat rates also differ that way. The rate can be between 1 to 4 quarts in an hour. Before a time training run, weigh yourself and record the weight, and repeat the process after you come back. A pint of water loss is equal to one pound of weight loss. You can use this measurement to compute your sweat rate and gauge your fluid needs accordingly. For instance, if you lose about 2 pounds during an hour run, that’s 2 pints or 32 ounces. Therefore, you need to consume 8 ounces of fluids every 15 minutes. The weather conditions also play a role in the sweat rate because you will sweat more on a warm and sunny day rather than a day in winter. You will need to modify your consumption as per the changing conditions.
Stick to the schedule
A written record is much more effective than a memorized one. It has been proved that athletes were able to hydrate properly when they wrote down details of their plan for hydrating during workouts by outlining the exact times and quantities. Documenting helps you to remember better. Ideally, you should drink smaller amounts at regular intervals as it allows the body to process the fluid more effectively and prevent stomach sloshing.
If you don’t feel like drinking huge quantities of sports drinks, it is not necessary. You might opt to rinse your mouth with a carb solution right before and every 15 minutes during hour-long training sessions. Runners have been found to run faster and about 200 meters farther than those who rinsed with a placebo. This happens due to the carbs triggering the reward centers in the mind, so it can utilize the incoming energy. A sip or rinse is fine for shorter runs, but for longer distances you need to consume a few ounces.
It is best to consult a fitness expert in this matter who can recommend the best way to hydrate before running a marathon. Never try to predict the right levels of hydration by yourself, as it can literally throw you off-track during the main event.
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