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The Hydration Police + A GIVEAWAY

Posted Jun 02 2011 12:00am

Ok so I’m venting first before we get to that giveaway, but it’s about time we did another one don’t you think? How’s a $100 GNC Gift Card sound? Interested? Then read on my friend. Read on.

First, in the interest of full disclosure, I should admit that I have issues, specifically hydration issues. Ever since my first marathon in Detroit a few years back in which I ended up with a wicked case of hyponatremia (Fancy Nancy’s word for low blood sodium), I’m a little bit sensitive when it comes to the issue of hydration because, to put it bluntly, to not be properly hydrated blows massive chunks in a major way. In fact, it can even be life threatening.

So when I saw this little article called What You Need to Know About Runner Hydration   posted by Active.com’s Facebook page last week, I took a little peek and found myself fiercely annoyed, partially with the article, but more so with many of the commenters (my apologies if you happened to see that article too and commented. I surely am not referring to YOUR comment ;-).

You can read the article for yourself if you like, but the basic premise is this: drink when you’re thirsty, no more no less. Badda boom badda bing. You’ll be good to go. Now here is the point where I’d like to pick apart various aspects of the article and a few logic problems in even some of the arguments made by “the experts” such as this statement from William O. Roberts, M.D., past president of ACSM and long-time medical director of the Twin Cities Marathon. "Slower, back of the pack runners who aren't sweating as much don't need to replace so much fluid." (I’m sorry, has he not ever taken a look at the back of the pack? Not only are some of these people sweating MORE than the ones up in the front, they are doing it for a longer period of time and because it takes longer for them to complete their race they are often doing so during a hotter portion of the day which would make a person what? Say it with me now…sweat more. HELLO?)

And this by Timothy D. Noakes, M.D., a professor of exercise and sports science at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and author of The Lore of Running, speaking on why thirst should be the only indicator as to when you should drink, “It is the only system used by all other creatures on this earth. Why should it not also be ideal for humans?" (Um…I don’t know…maybe because humans actually know that they’ll be running for another 15 miles and that the weatherman said the temperature is going to reach 90 degrees while they’re out there doing so?)

But rather than go through each and every point where I said to myself, “yeah, but…” let me just for the sake of space, move on, because when I finished the article what was even more frustrating was the FB comments in which I was introduced for the first time to the hydration police. Did you know there is such a thing? I had no idea.

Now, in case you’re like I was, blissfully unaware of their existence, let me fill you in. Apparently, there is a whole slew of people who have the one the ONLY answer, for all of us silly runners on exactly how we should hydrate. Never you mind that these hydration laws vary from officer to officer.  The important thing is to just drink more in your daily life and use nothing on your runs…or drink exactly 16 ounces of water before and 16 ounces after….or use ONLY Coconut Water…I mean flat pop (that’d be soda for those of you who are not from MI) and nothing else as nothing else stands even a remote chance of meeting your hydration needs. (Note to reader: I did not actually go re-look up the comments and cite the hydration laws specifically as commented. If you would like the accurate law for your area from your officer, please check the Active FB page, find the post and contact your officer specifically. I can not be held responsible should you find yourself charged with the breaking of a hydration law and subject to a penalty of…well, I don’t know, but it’s probably something like being forced to suck down a few Gu Packets of your least favorite variety with no water to wash it down or something like that. Hydrate at your own risk ;-). Apparently, these people are THE official source for proper running hydration for EVERYONE. Any other ideas on hydration are just wrong, at least according to the self appointed fluid patrol anyway.

PEOPLE! This is so stupid! If there is a hydration law it’s this: Everybody’s different, and thankfully the Active article is salvaged at the end when it admits just that. What works for me, may not work for you or your cousin’s uncle’s sister (which would probably be your aunt then eh?). People vary in size, sweat rate, the amount of sodium in their sweat, what their stomach can tolerate, and on and on. Runs vary in length, duration, and weather conditions. Science changes. Technology improves. What’s true today isn’t always true tomorrow. So when it comes down to it, really each one of us has to figure out what we need on a run by testing it out. There is no one size fits all answer for how to hydrate on a run which is unfortunate because it IS vitally important. Trying to adhere to someone's surefire hydration rule when your body is telling you otherwise is not by any stretch of the imagination a wise move.

YES! If you are thirsty, you need to drink (DUH! Really, did we need scientific experiments to tell us this). But perhaps drinking a little swig of a sports drink that’s high in electrolytes ( G2ProSeries is one I like because it’s higher in electrolytes than the average bear and I kind of like the taste, but it’s not by any means the ONLY one that works. Ok sidetracked. Where was I? Swig…sports drink…ah yes…), every mile or two works better for me because I’m generally lost in my thoughts when I run and I don’t think about being thirsty until it’s too late, waaaaaaaaaay too late and then it’s really hard for me to recover from. PLUS, I don’t like that sloshy stomach feeling I get if I have to chug a lot at one time.  But that’s just me, and it’s taken some trial and error on my part to figure it out. But let me say it one more time, everybody’s different! In fact, I am going to PROVE that to all of you out there, particularly any newbie runners, who are still scratching their heads.  Just wait and see…

Now, let’s move onto more fun things :-)

I don’t know about where you live, but it’s certainly getting hot around these parts. Other than today (which was just beautiful!) it’s been more Augustish than Junish lately and if that’s any indicator of what summer is going to be like this year, we’re all going to be in need of a few extra hydration products I do believe! Fortunately for us (go us!) Jeffrey, with GNC has offered both little ‘ole me and a lucky one of you a GNC gift card so we can do just that (OR you could just buy whatever your little heart desires. As you wish my dear :-).  So let’s get to giving away shall we?

Requirements for Entry:
1. Follow this blog (upper right corner) OR become a fan of Secrets of a Running Mom on Facebook.

2. Become a fan of GNC on Facebook.

3. Follow both GNC and GNC’s Marketing Director, Jeff Hennion on Twitter.

4. Leave me a comment. Letting me know you’ve done all of the above and also how you hydrate on a run (see…here’s the part where I show you the wide variety of ways to tackle hydration, how everybody’s different, and all that jazz).

I know that’s more requirements than I usually…um…require, but the good news is that Jeffrey said they do a lot of giveaways on their FB page and Twitter accounts and besides, seriously, I left you all the links right there so we’re just talking a few clicks and since I know you all are constantly logged onto Twitter and Facebook anyhow, it shouldn’t be that big of a deal. ;-)

But I know you probably want a few ways to earn some MORE entries for such a sweet prize right? So I’ll give you a few more for doing a little PR work and promoting this contest. Don’t worry, nothing too tough. You could email your friends, post it as your Facebook status, tweet it, blog about it, put a link on your blog, mention it on a chat board in your favorite running community, whatever you can come up with to spread the word. For each different method you use, I’ll give you one more entry into the contest, limit 5, just make sure to include in your comment what methods you used.

This contest is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only (sorry my international friends, them’s the rules this time.) And if you’ve already won a GNC gift card in 2011, then you are unfortunately not eligible this time around. All entries must be received by 11:59:59 PM on June 24th, 2011. The winner of the $100 GNC gift card will be selected randomly by either my Tiger Toddler or my T-balling 5 year old from a giant bowl filled with all of your names on little slips of paper (we’re old school here and, hey, it’s fun for my kids). I’ll announce the lucky gal or fella the next day.

Best of luck to you all! And happy hydrating!

'Til next time...

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