It’s that time again… the heat and humidity are here to play. Let’s take a look at some of the what, why, when, and how’s of optimal hydration. (For the purpose of this article, please note, I am solely focusing on water consumption. This does not include electrolyte or salt/sodium consumption.)
Drinking water sounds simple, right? Wrong! How many times do you get busy at work, around the house, or doing errands and the logistics of your life and you look up and realize, “Crap, I haven’t had any water all day long!” Take that and double the distraction when we are out there training and racing. We forget the necessity of drinking water. Our bodies are made up of 60% water. From the moment we step out the door for a training session or race, we begin losing water. It is vital that you stay on top of your body and its need for water.
Did you know a simple 2% drop in weight can result in up to 20% performance potential of the day??? In other words, when we lose focus and neglect our hydration we stand in our own way, hindering our performance and recovery.
How often should I drink water OUTSIDE of training and racing??? I always recommend clients to NOT force water down their pipes. Many times as clients begin to take note and ‘read’ their bodies better, they find that drinking 6-8oz every hour that they are awake is actually easy to do. More importantly it is what their bodies need for optimal health, daily concentration, satiety, and recovery.
How often should I drink water DURING training and racing??? This all depends on the individual’s needs. A simple rule of thumb is every 12-15 minutes on the bike and roughly every mile on the run.
Carrying water can be tricky in training, but thanks to the array of products out there, we have no excuses.
On the bike, I always recommend an aero bottle, regardless of whether you are doing short or long course. Also consider adding 1-2 bottles extra on the frame but NOT behind the saddle.
(In a previous article I elaborated on this concept) Consider doing a plank hold for 2min. Now sit up and reach behind you. You’re a bit a tight, right? Now think about being in aero formany minutes or hours, pumping those legs, maintaining focus on the road, and balancing the bike… Do you really want to sit up, slow down, balance the bike, watch the road, and try to reach around to grab that bottle? Is it really worth it? To me, no, but again it is always the athletes choice. Back to the bottle placement that I recommend. The aero bottle literally stares back at you the entire ride. She cannot be ignored, which is a constant reminder to drink, and drink often. During training the bottles on your bike can be used to easily refill your aero bottle as it runs low.
On the run, consider doing your run on a multiple loop course, carrying a hand held water bottle, or utilizing a hydration belt. This way you are able to drink consistently throughout the session. Both the hand held water bottles and hydration belts are now designed in many shapes and sizes that easily fit to your body and needs.
Now in racing however, we are many times ‘gifted’ with awesome race directors and volunteers to ensure we are well hydrated.
On the bike, I always remind clients that for every 16oz bottle of fluid you have on your bike, you are adding roughly another pound (might I remind you that many of you paid to have your bike as light as possible, so don’t waste it!) In most long courses (70.3 and 140.6’s) aid stations are set up every 10-15 miles (always check the course maps for aid station details). I always recommend a client simply fill their aero bottle on the bike and that’s it. Now there are exceptions, if you are anticipating taking longer than 45min-1hr and/or the heat and humidity are soaring that day, then yes, be on the safe side, carry that extra bottle on your frame to ensure you are properly hydrated.
As for the run, again how much do we love those volunteers for getting their happy butts out of bed to ensure we are having a great race?!? Aid stations are typically placed every 1 to 1.5 miles apart (again, check with the course maps or race director if you have questions about where and how many will be on the course). Regardless, use them!!! Normally these cups have about 2-4oz in each. If you need more or don’t want to hassle with the traffic of the station, carry your hand held bottle or put on that hydration belt and drink to your heart’s content (make sure you practice this in training as you want to ensure you are comfortable and accustomed to how it moves with you).
WHAT CAN I DO TO DIAL IN MY SPECIFIC HYDRATION NEEDS?
At Playtri our goal is to dial in a client’s hydration, sodium, and caloric needs in and out of training and racing. We can do this a couple ways:
A. Resting Metabolic Rate & Caloric Testing
For more details about these services and testing specifics, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
B. Pre and Post Training/Racing Weight with detailed feedback of how often and how much was consumed on the bike and/or run.
Here is an easy way for you to start taking a more detailed look at your hydration needs.
1. Take your weight, preferably naked, prior to leaving the house for your ride or run.
2. Make sure you pay attention to not just simply how much you are drinking during the workout, but also when you start and how often you are drinking.
My suggestion is to start drinking from the very beginning of the workout and roughly every 12-15 minutes.
3. Upon returning, weigh again to determine a loss or gain.
4. If you have lost more than 2%, don't make the common mistake of simply adding more salt or calories. Rather determine if you kept to a regular schedule of drinking water and how much at each interval. If you were able to maintain this rhythm and still lost more than 2%, consider adding 2-4oz more at each 12-15 minute marker the next time you train. This is an easy 10-16 more ounces of water.
5. The next time you head out, do the exact same thing. Get your starting weight, commit to a drinking schedule and amount per interval, and step on the scale upon returning.
Again, this is just one quick and easy way to dial in your hydration needs. If you need further direction or detail, please contact one of our Playtri coaches at email@example.com to help determine your training and racing needs.
Here’s to staying hydrated and enjoying a great summer of training and racing!