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Why You Need to Drink Water as an Athlete and How Much You Should Drink

By Edited May 10, 2015 0 0

Why Water is the Drink of Champions

It's funny how runners will try and find the best nutritional substance to take with them on their runs. They will focus on planning the perfect diet, getting advice from who they think are the experts in the field. However, the one thing that they are missing is water.

This is something so basic, but it is so vital. You would definitely need some other kind of substance on long runs because you are sweating a lot and you need to replace the salts, but don't ever forget about water.

water faucet

credit: flickr.com/photos/dottiemae/5202454566

You may feel you are fine at this point and you will take something at the next water point because you don't want to slow down, but at the end of the day you could end up being dehydrated and not even having a hope of finishing the marathon. This happens time and time again. Athletes finish races tired and overheated and they win the race, but not many win who are dehydrated.

The Function of Water

Since our bodies mostly contain water and they can't function without it, it seems logical that you will want to replace that lost water. On a daily basis water is being used in the muscles and joints for lubrication.

It regulates our temperature and wastes in the body. Not only should you drink water on your run, but it is just as important to drink a liter of water a day whether you are running or not. This is what most runners forget about.

The effects of dehydration

It is bad enough not sticking to your daily quota every day, but if you are on the road and you think you are fine you will eventually become dehydrated. The effects of this can be disastrous if you let it be. It can start with a couple of muscle cramps and then the more serious side effects can lean toward dizziness and even stroke.

At a marathon when the time is up and the paramedics are on the road attending to those who didn't make it you will find that most of those runners suffered from dehydration. If the weather is hot you have to increase your intake even more. This seems logical and yet runners still seem unaware of this fact.

How much water to drink

Everyone is different and so your needs will vary. There is no simple recipe to stick to. It is really a case of trial and error and you have to find out what is right for you. There have been cases where people have drank too much water, but this rarely happens with runners.

This sometimes happens to the cyclist who has water on them the whole time. So don't be afraid that you are going to overdo it. Some people will sweat more than others, some will run on different terrains and burn more calories, and therefore more water is needed.

drinking water

credit: flickr.com/photos/cristic/423806317

There are two ways in which you can get an idea what your situation is and how much water you will need.

  • The color and amount of urine - a darker colored urine means you are dehydrated and need more water, whilst a light colored urine, in excess means you are hydrated and are doing fine.
  • Weigh yourself before you go running and when you come back. If you lose weight then you will know that you are not drinking enough water because this will be a loss of fluid in your system. If you are putting on weight during your run then you are drinking too much. I cannot see this happening all that often.
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Drinking Sports Drinks

If you are someone who is occasional goes out for a jog, then water should be your first choice and whenever you see a water fountain then be sure to stop off here. However, if you are more serious and are running for more than an hour, sometimes in different terrains then you need to change your perspective.

A good sports drink will replace sodium, potassium and the rest of the electrolytes that have been lost and which are essential to keep you up to speed. Don't drink this solely because it puts on calories and you need water as well.

Drinking water before and after your run

  • About 2 hours before your run you should have up to 20 oz of water and a couple more sips 15 minutes before. You should be drinking throughout the day as well.
  • To be more technical - if you weigh yourself and have lost weight then drink approximately 20 oz of water for every 1lb you have lost.

A Quick Look at the Health Benefits of Drinking Water

Of course, it is not only athletes that should be focusing on their water intake. Everyone should be swapping over from the coffee, tea and countless sodas you drink during the day, and substituting it for more water.

Let's take a look at how this can help you:

  • It regulates your appetite
  • It increases your metabolism
  • It boosts the energy levels
  • There will be less water retention in your body
  • It helps reduce blood pressure
  • It minimizes headaches
  • It reduces high cholesterol
  • Joint pains will be reduced
  • Research tells us the risk of cancer is also reduced
  • It Lessens the chance of developing kidney stones
  • It releases toxins within your body, which can be harmful
  • The overall condition of the skin is improved

How Water Can Help You Lose Weight

In the off season, when you are not doing any exercise, it is important to maintain your weight. By drinking water, you can definitely help with this.

Drinking water is vital for unclogging the waste that builds up in your kidneys. The kidneys and the liver are the main organs that deal with metabolization, and getting rid of toxins in your body. If you don’t have enough water in your body then these organs won’t be able to function as efficiently and the toxins will basically stay in your system.

Your body flushes out any old water that it has been holding onto just to get by with. Your body will be pleased to take on some fresh water.

When your body is dehydrated you will probably retain water. When you start drinking water the kidneys realize the intake of fluid and let go of it.

Sometimes we think we are hungry, yet when we have had a glass of water our appetite automatically decreases to a degree. So that mindset of always thinking we are hungry is often just saying that we are thirsty.

You May also be Interested in:

What to do about muscle cramps - why does this happen and what can you do to prevent it?

Hip pain from running - catch this before it goes to far



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