This week's Take It and Run Thursday is about gearing up for warm weather running. My advice on this subject is so simple that it is pretty well condensed just in my title. I am hoping that you will still continue to read.
So, we have all read that drinking water/Gatorade/whatnot while running is important and that getting dehydrated is bad. It is such a simple concept that we haven't really absorbed it. Dehydration kind of doesn't seem like that big of a deal; I mean, it seems easily solved, doesn't it? Run in hot weather, get thirsty, drink water. Done and done!
But there's a little bit more to it than that. The thing is, we need to avoid getting to the point where dehydration is a problem to be solved. I think that the first step is to understand just how much water you can lose running in hot weather. Last summer, I ran a 20 mile training run. I started early in the morning, so it wasn't as hot as it could have been. As an experiment, I weighed myself before and after the run. I was shocked to discover that in the time I was out running, I lost about eight pounds.
Take a minute and think about that, and not about the fact that losing eight pounds in just a few hours without giving birth is a tiny bit awesome. Eight pounds is about a gallon, so picture the milk jug in your fridge and think about the fact that I sweated out that much water. I know, totally sexy, right? And totally disturbing to lose that much water weight.
In other fun anecdotal news, I was having some problems with cramping in my left calf a few weeks ago. The weird thing is that it wasn't necessarily happening when I was running - it'd cramp up if I was just watching TV or something. I mentioned this to one of my running buddies after a training run. "You could be dehydrated," he said.
Pfft. Yeah, right. No way was my very unique and weird cramping related to something as simple as dehydration. But I figured it wouldn't hurt to drink more water, so I did.
And you know what? It worked. No more cramping. Turns out it was not so unique after all.
Do I have you all sold that dehydration is no joke and that you should not mess with it? Good. The next step, especially when the weather gets hot, is to have a Hydration Strategy. It's going to take more than just a vague plan to drink water, people.
I've started taking my Batman Utility Belt by Fuel Belt with me on long runs. I really like knowing that I can grab a drink whenever I want to. I will probably invest in a couple more bottles so that if I need to, I can swing by home and reload. I also recommend enlisting aid from your loved ones. When I was running 20 milers in the heat last summer, I asked my mom to put out water for me. Not only did she put out gigantic bottles of water in her driveway, but she put ice in it. It was absolutely heavenly. Yay, Mom! And finally, it's smart to drink water throughout the day, so that you're not starting your run in a deficit situation.
Dehydration: It's no joke.