Keeping hydrated during training and racing

Good hydration and nutrition go hand in hand in all exercise and sporting activities, however the body’s ability to metabolise fluid is normally much quicker, and easier, therefore allowing the opportunity to not only hydrate but to gain an energy boost. Good hydration helps regulate your body temperature, transports nutrients around the body providing energy to the muscles and keeps joints supple. Poor hydration results in poor performance and you can experience fatigue, muscle cramps and dizziness. There is not definitive amount of fluid required to keep hydrated during exercise as everyone is different however there are a few tips below that will help keep you hydrated during training and racing.

Top Ten Tips for keeping hydrated

  1. Like exercising you need to train the body to be able to ingest and utilise fluid intake during activity – practice drinking and running during your training sessions;
  2. Start drinking water 2-3hrs prior to exercise and consume about 500-600mls at this time;
  3. Consume around 220mls, approximately one cup full, of water about 20-30 minutes prior to racing/exercising eg. when warming up;
  4. If you feel thirsty then you are already dehydrated – drink small amounts regularly, i.e. 100-150mls (approximately 2 mouthfuls) every 10-15mins throughout your training and racing;
  5. Be aware of the environmental temperature, wind and humidity as this will affect your rate of losing water…if in doubt drink more regularly eg. every 10minutes;
  6. If running in ‘fancy dress’ drink more often
  7. When you sweat you lose nutrients as well as fluid. The key nutrient to replace is potassium….so if using an energy drink check the drink has potassium in its nutrient content;
  8. If running for longer than an hour then mixing water intake with an energy drink, high in potassium, reduces the onset of fatigue and helps you run for longer;
  9. Avoid drinks that are high in caffeine prior to, during and immediately after running, especially if you are running for a long time eg. over an hour;
  10. 10. When you have finished racing or training ensure you drink around one cupful of water (220ml) within 30minutes, then drink as required thereafter. Mixing water with energy drinks high in good nutrients is the most effective way to rehydrate after exercise.

L Doggart

Department of Sport

University of St Mark and St John

Jan 2017