Running a marathon is a physical feat that requires adequate training—and getting through a race with a smile on your face pretty much depends upon the preparations you made before the big day. While this article is not about training for a big run, it’s going to discuss one crucial aspect of running—or any workout for that matter—that’s right, dehydration!
Any runner knows that to make good time, one has to drink enough fluids and electrolytes. The human body is not the best at holding water—after all, by just sweating, breathing, and urinating, we already deplete our stores! This perhaps explains why a person can resist hunger pangs better than thirst.
To prevent dehydration, it is essential to pre-hydrate. Runner Gino Garcia says he takes water about an hour before he goes for his regular Sunday run. While a short run (about 20 minutes to an hour) does take a toll on hydration, pre-hydrating takes away the need to stop for water. When you drink a certain time before you run, you have time for other pre-run preparations, such as taking a bathroom break.
According to Coach Cassie Dimmick, R.D., taking 8-16 ounces of water or sports drink one to two hours before the run helps the body to meet the demands of the workout. If you didn’t plan ahead, she suggests taking 4-8 ounces of fluid 15 to 30 minutes before the run instead.
Runners who are hydrated make better time than those who aren’t. According to a study published in the April 2010 issue of the Journal of Athletic Training, runners who started a 12K marathon when they were dehydrated finished two minutes slower than when they began a race hydrated. The science behind this is that dehydration causes the blood volume to drop, which leads to poor heat transfer and contributes to increasing heart rate, hence tiring out the body faster.