Tips for the Trail – Summer Hydration – XTERRA – 5-24-2013

By Rachel Cieslewicz

published on XTERRA May 24, 2013

Summer is finally on the horizon. Outside temperatures are on the rise while the heat is up in the XTERRA racing world.  With energy building, as the race season moves forward, endurance athletes have a lot on their plates to stay on top of their game. At this time of year, proper hydration becomes one of the keys to success for all athletes. A few days ago, I was reminded of this crucial element to success while out on a run with my husband.

In my desert town, we went from pleasant 70 to 80 degree temperatures to 98 degrees in a single day.  My husband Eric is new at running and has never run in the heat before.  We were going out in the late afternoon for an hour run.  I told him to bring water. He complied by taking my smallest handheld and filling it less than half full. Knowing what was about to happen, I took my largest handheld and filled it completely full and added in a little sea salt.  Off we went into the desert heat.  By 20 minutes into our run, Eric was not only out of water, but sweating profusely. Ten minutes later he was very upset and barely walk/jogging.

Fortunately, I had been sipping water all day and still had a nearly full water bottle.  I was able to give Eric my water bottle and we enjoyed the rest of our run once he recovered from near disaster.  Eric learned a critical lesson on this run. He is fortunate he learned in a safe way on a training run with someone who understands the dangers of high temperatures.

Regardless of how well trained an athlete is, dehydration and lack of adaptation to the heat can not only ruin a race, but also impose serious risk of health.  Less than 2 percent of fluid loss from sweat and breath can lead to decreased performance while greater percentages of fluid loss create cause performance to go down fast while increasing the risk of heat related illness.

So how do you assure proper hydration in your daily living and training regime? A general rule of thumb is for an individual to drink .5-.7 ounces per pound of body weight of water each day. If you are training, additional water and electrolytes are imperative.  Before you head out on your runs, weigh yourself.  While out on a run, take water in your favorite handheld, waist or backpack.  Sip throughout your run, according to thirst. If you are prone to excessive sweat or will be out longer than 90 minutes, ensure you have enough electrolytes to replace what is lost and avoid cramping.

When your run is over, begin optimum recovery by replacing approximately one pint of water or other hydrating fluid per pound of bodyweight lost while exercising. Check the color of your urine to ensure that it is light. If not, keep drinking. Keep in mind that essential minerals and electrolytes may need to be added. Fruit, celery, leafy greens, etc. can assist in this process.

I grew up in the desert.  Throughout my life I worked, trained, raced, thrived and suffered in extremely hot conditions.  I won races because I was hydrated when others were not. I lost races when I was not hydrated.  At this point I take it for granted that I know what to do while exerting a lot of energy in hot conditions, I naturally drink more water and electrolytes in preparation.  I take water and salt tablets on my hot runs and know my body’s general fluid requirements while out training and racing.  Through experience and learning to listen to my body, I know what my body likes when it comes to hydration.

Hydrating properly is a crucial, throughout the day process. Learning to listen to your body will help you always fly strong when the heat is up. You will “Live More” by racing with a happy hydrated body.

Rachel Cieslewicz is an elite runner and triathlete based in St. George, Utah. She is a past winner of several XTERRA Trail Run events, including the XTERRA Lake Las Vegas Trail Run, and placed ninth overall in the women’s field at the 2012 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship at Kualoa Ranch, Hawaii. She is a talented sports massage therapist, Pilates and yoga instructor, and is a certified running form and endurance coach. She can be reached atrcanyon1@gmail.com  or visit her website atwww.newageathlete.comor follow her onwww.twitter.com/newageathlete.