What is the Most Important Fuel For Your Run? (hint it doesn’t even have any calories)
Good old fashioned H2O. We’re all taught to drink plenty of water throughout the day, and that it’s important to be hydrated. I’m going to go a step further and tell you why – especially how it relates to your run performance. To understand the importance of hydration we must first talk about three ways in which your body improves aerobic endurance.
1) Your muscles need oxygen to work properly. Oxygen is carried to your muscles through your blood. As fitness improves, your muscles will be able to extract more and more oxygen each time blood passes through the muscle.
2) As fitness improves, your heart will be able to pump a greater amount of blood with each beat. This gives your muscles a chance to take in more oxygen.
3) As fitness improves, your heart rate won’t increase as much because the heart is pumping more blood with each beat. The heart actually grows and gets stronger (remember, it’s a muscle). This is why athletes have lower resting heart rates. Their hearts don’t have to beat as quickly to get enough oxygen to the muscles.
So what does water have to do with this? Blood is made up mostly of water!
As a runner without proper hydration, you’re already starting at a disadvantage. You have less fluid in your body and, thus, less blood. Your muscles will not be able to take in as much oxygen, you will not be able to pump as much blood with each beat, and your heart rate will elevate to try and compensate, thereby causing fatigue and a decrease in performance. Think about starting a long road trip in your car with only a quarter tank of gas. You are simply not going to be able to go the distance.
Daily hydration recommendations are inconsistent and can vary depending on activity level and climate. The current recommendation is about 0.5 oz -0.75oz. per pound per day. The easiest way to test is by urine color – keep it clear folks. Make sure to hydrate properly during a race too. A general rule of thumb is to drink 8oz every half hour. For races under one hour water is fine but if you go longer consider an electrolyte supplemented sports drink with at least 110 mg sodium per 8 oz. of fluid. Also for every pound of water you lose in a run, 16 oz. of water is needed to rehydrate.
Stay tuned for the latest news on pre/post workout nutrition!
Yours in good health,