What comes to mind when we first think of running are the words: distance, pace, and strength. These three are usually the factors we focus on when we seek to improve our running. Nevertheless, equally important to running are carbohydrates, protein, iron, and many many other nutrients. We can maximize our running benefits when we take care of the nutritional requirements the same way we do with our training regime or technical aspects.
Now, there is no secret. What we give to our bodies, it will give it back to us in health and performance. The foundation of a good nutrition is a well balanced diet. Tomes have been written both in the form of articles, and scientific research concluding that a well balanced diet is one that is high in carbohydrates and low in fat.
But while providing the right fuel for your body is critical, we also need water.
Water moisturizes our joints, intestines, the heart. Water flows between the cranium and spine to regulate changes in pressure within the brain. It plays a crucial role in regulating our body temperature, and it plays an extremely significant role when running in hot and humid weather conditions.
The adult body consists of 60% of water. Henry H. Mitchell, writing in the Journal of Biological Chemistry tells us the brain and heart are composed of 73% water, and the lungs are about 83% water.
It does not cease to surprise me how people pay so little attention to their daily intake of water. I encourage you to do a little test for a day, asking your colleagues and friends about their water intake. You will be in awe of how little water is consumed, some people may drink as little as 2 glasses of water per day. And sometimes even runners are not any different.
We all know that water consumption is important. We can live for weeks with no food, but only days without water. We tend to focus so much attention on including enough carbohydrates and vitamins to keep us full of energy and healthy yet we neglect the need of water.
When we run, we sweat and water is lost. We are all good in drinking water after a run when we are thirsty, but we need to pay more attention to our pre-run water consumption. If you don’t hydrate properly, you will become dehydrated. Your health will not be affected at low levels, but you will notice a deterioration in your running performance.
What does it mean to have deficits of water loss, even so small such as one per cent of your body weight?
It can increase your body temperature, increase your heart rate, if you don’t refuel and you keep losing fluids then your ability to run will decline. Furthermore, you may experience some physical symptoms such as nausea, chills, in extreme loss of water you may experience dizziness, disorientation, fainting, vomiting. Dehydration does not happen only when running during summer; dehydration is something that runners who are not hydrated well, will experience as well during fall, winter or spring time.
Under optimal levels of hydration may not kill you but will surely have an impact on your endurance, it will lower your running performance and will leave you fatigued. Similarly, overhydrating can be problematic, so don’t overcompensate by drinking 5 liters of water per day!
Mitchell suggests that generally, an adult male needs about 3 liters per day while a female adult needs about 2.2 liters. Keep in mind also that your water consumption depends on various factors such as your height and weight, how fit you are, you daily activity, how much you sweat. If you are thirsty, drink, if your stomach is full, don’t, but don’t simply ignore your need to drink water. Always carry a (reusable) bottle of water with you and sip regularly. Also juices, milk, sports drinks can help sufficiently hydrate you. Add to that, fruits and vegetables which include lots of water as well, and there is little possibility that you may never feel the effects of dehydration. And if you cannot remember to drink water regularly, post a note on your desktop, your refrigerator, your things-to-do list, or simply download an app to remind you to drink water!
Most importantly, make it part of your daily life, it will have great effect on your health overall, and yes, also help you significantly with running.
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