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Exercising in the Heat? How to Know You are Taking in the Right Amount of Liquid

Posted by Kathy .. Healthy Living Professional

I see a lot of people posting about running or taking up a running program during the brutally hot days of summer. Many have questions regarding running and exercising in the heat. Since many marathon programs run for about five months, those embarking on this journey are now beginning to train for endurance, which means covering a lot of miles when the days are at their hottest.

I always run in the early morning hours, typically starting before the sun even peeks over the mountains. It’s nice and cool, traffic isn’t ridiculous and I can get some quiet time, alone, just to think.

Yet I do see people out running in midday, when temperatures to me are soaring. But then again, anything over 75 to me is hot!

If you are wondering how to tell whether or not you have lost too much liquid during a workout, here’s a good rule to follow:

Weigh yourself before you go out, and then again when you get back. If you lost more than a pound, you aren’t getting enough to drink.

How much should you be drinking?

7-10 ounces of liquid every ten to fifteen minutes during a longer endurance run. If you are going far, shoot for something with a mix (6%) of sugar to keep the energy levels up.

Afterwards, continue to drink, consuming up to 20 ounces of liquid for every pound you lost while you ran.

Seem like a lot? Possibly so, but your body needs to stay hydrated.

So here’s the thing: I began thinking about this over the weekend, when I had the horrid run on Saturday. I have been tired lately, more tired than usual. And yes, I’m a working mother of two daughters under the age of four, but I also get plenty of rest and I eat well. I take a multivitamin since I’ve been known to run low on iron. I do yoga every night to unwind and relax before bed. So, what the heck was going on, I wondered?

Then Chris of Fab, Fit and 40 commented about the dehydration aspect and I thought, bingo! Immediately I knew that this was probably the case. Why?

First of all, I drink too much coffee-about three cups a day. Two in the morning, one in the early afternoon. Sometimes I even have another half somewhere during the day. Coffee has been a staple of mine for a very long time. My family drank tons of it, putting on a pot in the morning and running one throughout the entire day. I love the smell and I love the taste. Ironically, I don’t like the effects when I have had too much. I’m pretty sensitive to caffeine.

Secondly, I’m not drinking enough when I run. I do drink, I make sure of it, and I generally pound a drink when I get home, a 16 ouncer after a run. But take this morning. I didn’t take a bottle of water along with me and I went five miles. I was really hot and sweaty and thirsty when I got back, so I am now pounding a 16 oz water as I type.

I weighed myself before I left the house this morning to see if I was right. I wanted to test out my theory. I was 140 when I left; I was 137.6 when I got back. So, I lost 2.4 pounds during my 5 mile run, which was definitely too much to lose.

I have to make this a better goal. I’ve decided to replace my afternoon cup of coffee with a cup of tea. I enjoy something warm while I’m working, so I don’t want to give that up completely, but a cup of decaf lemon would be good, hot and not caffeinated.

I’m also going to start wearing my belt when I run on those four to five milers during the week. I’ll take along a water so I know I get enough, and make a point to drink every 10 minutes.

On the weekends, I guess it means guzzling more fluids, and maybe switching from water to Gatorade for a while, until the heat dies down. I don’t really like the sugary fluids. I generally use gel packs, but maybe the heat calls for something more than plain water.

When I went out last weekend, the bad run that I had difficulty finishing (and that I only completed 8 miles of instead of 9), I didn’t weigh myself before, but when I got back I was at a very low 134.5. Now, I haven’t seen 134 in ages, so I knew something was up. I didn’t equate it to losing too much liquid, but I did spend the day drinking tons of water.

So that is my goal this week: Get in the fluids. Avoid the caffeine more. Cut back on the coffee, two mugs a day max. Drink more when running.

If you are concerned about your liquid loss during a session, check your weight before and after, and make sure you are getting enough to keep your body healthy! Signs of dehydration include thirst, dizziness, chills, loss of energy. And if you are at the point of feeling dizzy, sit down and rest and drink. If you are at the point of chills, get medical attention immediately.

Stay safe!

Happy Running Trails . . .

Answers (1)
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Thanks for sharing with us. Staying hydrated is critical to good health. A cup of water weighs about half a pound, so the 2.4 pounds you lost equates to about 5 cups of water or 40 oz of water. Yes, you were right, that is too much weight to lose from a run, especially for a 5 mile run. We need to drink extra water in the winter, too.

The test that I use to know if I'm dehydrated is the color of my urine. A slight yellow after I've run is ok but a darker color means dehydration.

NOTICE: The information provided on this site is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your physician or other qualified health provider because of something you have read on Wellsphere. If you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.
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