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Whoa, it's hot out there! If you're one of the many runners who will be training and running in the heat over the next few days, it's more important than ever to ensure you're drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated.
Here's why drinking water is so important – particularly for runners. Plus, the main dehydration symptoms to look out for when exercising in the heat and how to ensure you're drinking enough...
Why is water so important?
Water delivers vital nutrients to our cells. It regulates body temperature, moistens tissues, protects our organs and carries oxygen to our cells. Up to 60 per cent of the human body is water.
How much should we drink?
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recommends a daily intake of two litres of fluids for women and 2.5 litres for men. Higher intakes have not been shown to provide additional health benefits except for the potential prevention of recurrent kidney stones. However, there are circumstances when we require more, such as in hot weather – when we sweat more – and when we run...
Running and water intake
We lose water through digestion, breathing, sweating and other bodily functions. It is essential that we stay hydrated, especially when running, as we sweat and breathe more, and lose water quicker than usual.
What are the symptoms of dehydration
Dehydration can lead to a loss of strength and stamina, and accelerate exhaustion. Other main symptoms of dehydration include:
- Dry mouth
- Dark yellow urine
- Decrease in urination
- Muscle cramping
Chronic dehydration symptoms include:
- Low blood pressure
- Rapid heart rate
- Rapid breathing
- Sunken eyes
- Dry skin
Dehydration negatively affects running performance and can hamper your recovery. Your heart has to work harder to cope with your activity and your mental functions are also compromised. Noting the colour of your urine can help you tell if you’re becoming dehydrated. You want a pale straw colour rather than a dark yellow.
How to stay hydrated as a runner
You need to ensure you are replacing fluid to make up for losses during your run. It’s recommended we hydrate at least 30 minutes before and after running. Research suggests about 530ml of water before and after a workout of any sort will support recovery and help prevent dehydration post-exercise. Recommendations on how much additional water we should consume per hour when running vary from 300-800ml. Consider the outside temperature and how much you sweat, as well as your thirst.
Want to drink on the move, then click below for the best water bottles you can run with -
Practical ways to drink more
Establishing practical ways to ensure you are drinking enough can make it easy to hit your water intake:
- Have a glass of water first thing in the morning, then 30 minutes before each meal. Our body can confuse thirst for hunger, so not only will this habit increase your water intake, but it can also help prevent overeating.
- Prepare a bottle of water the night before, preferably in a reusable water bottle. Jazz up the flavour with fresh lemon or some cucumber and mint.
- If you find yourself forgetting to drink water, set reminders in your phone, or download an app that prompts you to hydrate.
- You can consume water through fresh fruit and vegetables too. Cucumber, celery and watermelon are all good hydration options.
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