Posted by: pursuingsub17 | February 9, 2016

To hydrate or not to hydrate. The real question is: What’s your sweat rate?

One thing about my personality is that I always do research before I completely believe that someone’s advice is the gospel truth, regardless of who they are. Might be the “Jungian” in me (Carl Jung encouraged his students to challenge his and others’ theories in a continuous search for the truth). After all, if we always believed what people told us, we would still think the earth was flat.

That being said, I encourage anyone reading my blogs to do the same. I’ve said this before, what I blog about is strictly what I’ve discovered and what works for me, and is my opinion based on experience and personal research. It’s meant as a guideline.

So – where am I going with this? Well, lately I’ve heard comments regarding hydration that make me scratch my head. There’s a misconception out there that one does not need any hydration during exercise. I’m wondering if this is one of those typical human cognitive errors. Someone hears the valid statement, “you should not take on too much water when running a marathon”, therefore a person interprets that as “hydrating is bad for you. Don’t drink it when doing endurance sports”. You know – when one is told to do something in moderation, it is human to take that as meaning either all or none.

Here are two such statements that I’ve heard recently:

  1. “I never hydrate during a marathon – you don’t really need to.” This was a statement made by a running store salesperson to a personal acquaintance when this individual was enquiring about a hydration pack to use while training for her first marathon.
  2. This one is scary – I actually heard an experienced coach out of the US state, “There is no scientific evidence to prove that you need hydration during training or a race.”

Interesting. And really, as I’ve said before, everyone is different. Perhaps the salesperson and experienced coach have years of experience and have adjusted their hydration needs. Maybe their body mass or sweat ratio affects their needs. Or they are simply human camels (like my cousin). However, they were speaking to individuals who were training for their first endurance sport.

I can’t say I’m an expert on the subject but I do know that personally, I sweat. I sweat a lot. I lose A LOT of fluids and uber amounts of salt, electrolytes, whatever. I would probably die if I didn’t at least start out super hydrated or kept my hydration consistent during a training run…or race. Again, everyone has different needs. You need to find out yours – preferably not the hard way.

Back to my thoughts on doing your own research to get all the information before deciding on a truth…I wrote a blog for the company I work for (health and safety) in 2009 when I was training for my second marathon and first triathlon. I had found some reputable websites that gave the facts on hydration. I wrote it for the industrial worker in mind but it applies to anyone staying active in the outdoors (including cold weather – where you don’t realize how much fluids you are losing due to the cold). I’ve provided the link below. In addition to explaining why humans need water, it provides a source where you can determine your hydration requirements.

Since then, while coaching my cousin last year, I found a few other decent websites that can help you formulate a reasonable opinion about hydration. One of them is the University of Arizona Athletics Sweat Rate and Fluid Replacement Calculations with Recovery Plans. I got my cousin to use it. I use it. I encourage others to use it.

The other is a very good article discussing pre-hydration, and dehydration correlating with a decrease in performance as well as the dangers of hyponatremia. It’s a well-rounded Position Stand that outlines that basically summarizes that everyone’s hydration needs are different depending on factors such as (but not limited to) body type, gender and the environment. It is an online publication by the American College of Sports Medicine’s official journal, Medicine & Science in Sports Exercise, titled “Exercise and Fluid Replacement”.

 I’m sure there is a lot of information out there on the ever controversial subject of hydration needs during exercise. Just make sure that what you are reading is from a reputable site (and not necessarily a blog like mine!). Draw your own conclusions. Test your needs and realize that when someone offers friendly advice, that it is always good to do your homework as well!

For entertainment and an easy read on hydration, check out the blog I wrote for our company back in ’09. I think since then I’ve become even more educated on the subject but I know I still have a lot to learn! #triathlon #ElementAMB


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