The Importance of Hydration

Prevent Injury and Illness with Proper Hydration

Hydration is essential to preventing illness or injury during your training and during the event. Hydration needs to become a focus and habit for successful events. Proper hydration starts well in advance of your event, even to the point of making drinking of water and electrolyte solutions a habit and part of your daily routine.

I do however encourage moderation in your soda and coffee intake to help you improve your overall hydration status.

We lose water throughout the day just breathing, sweating and excretion of the body’s waste. Replacement of fluids (mostly water) is important throughout the day to maintain electrolyte balance, cleanse the body and excrete waste.

Water and electrolyte loss increases with any activity and particularly with intense exercise, primarily due to increased breathing and sweating. As we increase our activity through work or exercise the need for water and electrolytes replacement increases. Without maintaining proper hydration we can overheat, experience headaches, nausea, vomiting and muscle cramps. Obviously, all of these conditions will adversely affect your event performance.

There are many good resources to learn about the importance of hydration. One of the best I have read is from the American College of Sports Medicine. (The link to the article is listed below and it is available for reprint.)

Here are some simple guidelines to follow:


• Drink 16-20 fluid ounces of water or sports beverage at least four hours before exercise.

• Drink 8-12 fluid ounces of water 10-15 minutes before exercise.


• Drink 3-8 fluid ounces of water every 15-20 minutes when exercising for less than 60 minutes

• Drink 3-8 fluid ounces of a sports beverage every 15-20 minutes when exercising more than 60 minutes.


• Drink 20-24 fluid ounces of water or sports beverage for every one hour of exercise


• Sport drinks should be 5% to 8% carbs and include electrolytes. It is important to alternate drinking water and sport drinks. You will find that they complement each other and work best in combination.

• If at any point that you feel light headed, dizzy or muscle cramps; listen to your body. Slow or stop your exercise. Drink more fluids, in small amounts until your symptoms resolve, or you have some saliva in your mouth or you have the urge to urinate.

• The color of your urine will be your guide to hydration. The darker and more concentrated your urine is, the more you will need to drink. The goal is to promote excretion of a light colored urine.

Over-hydration is often treated by limiting your fluid intake and increasing the salt (sodium) that you consume. If over-hydration is suspected, you should see your doctor for appropriate lab tests and treatment. You should not consume more than one liter per hour of fluid.

Use, drink fluids, stay hydrated and enjoy your run … Mark

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