Hydrate or DNF: Top tips for staying hydrated during your next race
Posted Jul 10 2010 7:23am
Curious how important triathlon hydration is? How about how much you should
actually be drinking during your triathlon?
Consider the following triathlon hydration facts:
* Your cycling and running speed decreases about 2% for each 1% of body
weight lost through dehydration.
* By the time you feel thirsty, you can already be at 2% body weight loss .
* A 3% weight loss indicates dehydration has occurred.
* Loss of fluid during exercise varies, but averages about 34 ounces per
hour (and can be 3x that much in hot and humid conditions!).
* Hyponatremia, which is just as dangerous as dehydration, is a term used to
describe "water intoxication" and can occur with excess water intake above
30oz of water an hour.
* Acclimatized individuals who are used to training in hot climates or hot
rooms can reduce fluid loss by up to 50%.
Based on these facts, it would pretty important to make sure your triathlon
hydration is properly planned. Here is how to do it:
* Divide your weight in half to determine the ounces of water you should
drink per day for adequate triathlon hydration. So a 160 pound triathlete
would consume about 80 ounces of water, or 10 8 ounce servings. While some
nutritionists will recommend drinking even more if you exercising, you need
to remember that you're also getting water from all the food you eat about
20% of your daily fluid intake is typically from food.
* During exercise, your triathlon hydration goal should be to consume about
17-25 ounces per hour, or around 4-8 ounces every 15-20 minutes. A typical
large water bottle is 20-25 ounces. During hot and long races such as
Half-Ironman and Ironman, you can shoot for closer to 28-30 oz of water per
hour although smaller individuals will need to take caution with this
level of fluid intake.
* Before a long exercise session, such as a multi-hour workout, race or
trip to the gym, your goal should be to consume 17-25 ounces per hour for
2-3 hours leading up to event (but always taper off fluid consumption about
20 minutes before to eliminate stomach sloshing).
* Over 30 ounces of fluid per hour can cause water dilution in the blood,
which disrupts normal cellular metabolism and physiology, often with
dangerous consequences, such as swelling around the brain. High-end intake
above these values should only occur during exercise in hot and humid
There are a few other good triathlon hydration tips you need to take into
* To avoid taking in too much water, you can combine your triathlon
hydration with doses of external water to control heat stress, such as
squirting some cold water over your head, putting ice in your jersey or
uniform, or using ice sponges.
* For people who tend to sweat and cramp excessively, glycerol
supplementation can help maximize water storage, but this is illegal in some
events so use caution!
* Cold water is absorbed more rapidly than warm water giving you a good
excuse to use thermal water bottles and freeze them overnight.
* Pay attention to your urine color - pale to light yellow is optimal. If
you're still peeing dark yellow a couple hours after an event or training
session, continue to re-hydrate.
* You can lose up to a pound in glycogen, fat and muscle tissue during a 3+
hour training session, so account for this when re-hydrating, or when
weighing yourself after exercise to see how much you've lost
* Remember...you still evaporate water in cooler training environments, so
if you're training in cold weather, triathlon hydration is still important!
No discussion of water would be complete without emphasizing that liquid
compounds that are full of fructose, glucose or artificial colorings and
sweeteners are not to be considered normal triathlon hydration methods, and
should only be consumed when completely necessary, such as during a
multi-hour training session during which calories are necessary, or when no
form of pure water is handy.
Finally, whenever possible in your triathlon hydration, choose clean,
filtered water, and avoid heavy consumption of water from plastic bottled
sources, especially those that have been exposed to heat. For more audio,
video and article tips just like this, visit the Rock Star Triathlete
Academy at http://www.rockstartriathleteacademy.com/freevideogift
Ben Greenfield is the Renaissance man of the sport of triathlon.
He's a fast triathlete, a coach, a personal trainer, and much more