July 20, 2017

Hydration Tips for Triathletes

Hydration Tips for TriathletesWater. We all know how essential it is to athletes, but how much is enough and when should we drink it? How will it affect our performance?

The answers to some of these questions are complicated and can be critical to the endurance athlete. Many factors determine the proper amount, including your weight, body chemistry, fitness condition, diet, and the environment in which you plan to compete in.

Dehydration in a competition can be very serious and inadequate water consumption can be physically harmful. A loss of 2% of body weight due to sweating can lead to a drop in blood volume. When this occurs, the heart works harder in order to move blood through the bloodstream. Pre-hydration and re-hydration are vital to maintaining cardiovascular health, proper body temperature and muscle function.

All exercisers can increase performance, delay fatigue and muscle pain by staying properly hydrated. Athletes are more prone to suffer symptoms of dehydration. However, drinking 12 – 16 ounces of water one to two hours before exercising helps to pre-hydrate before an event.

You can also get a very good idea of how much you need to re-hydrate by weighing yourself before and after your workouts. Any weight decrease is probably due to water loss (sorry, but you didn’t just lose two pounds of body fat). If you have lost two or more pounds during your workout you should drink 24 ounces of water for each pound lost.

Another regimentation is to consume three to six ounces of water for every 20 minutes of exercise. Keep in mind that each person’s sweat rate is different; slightly less is required for smaller athletes in mild environmental conditions; more, for larger and competitive athletes at higher intensities in warmer environments.

Endurance athletes may need to drink fluids containing sodium, which you lose through perspiration. These are athletes who are performing at a high intensity for 90 minuets or more. During normal training it is not necessary to replace losses of sodium, potassium and other electrolytes during exercise since you’re unlikely to deplete your body’s stores.

Researchers have found that many sports drinks lack enough sodium to do much good, but some can be better than none. Before a long workout or an event, consider consuming extra sodium with meals and snacks. Those who are competing in extreme conditions over five or six hours, such as an Ironman or ultra-marathon, you will want to add a complex meal replacement drink with electrolytes.

Many commercial sport drinks are effective and contain water, sugars, and electrolytes. However, most commercial sport drinks contain just slightly less than the amount in your average soft drink and juice. You can make your own sport drinks by diluting two parts of a sugared soft drink with one part water and adding salt, about 1/8 teaspoon per quart.

The best advice is just to drink plenty of fluids on all days, training or not. Do not wait until a competition to work on hydrating yourself adequately. Drink, drink, drink and do not rely on thirst to regulate your fluid intake.

Alyson Wolfe

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