Preparing for any endurance event requires more than just physical training. One of the most important aspects of endurance training is to develop and implement your hydration strategy.
You might be surprised to learn that the definition of hydration is not ‘to consume water’ as the majority of us believe. The definition of hydration is ‘the process of combining a substance chemically with water molecules’ to aid in absorption. For this reason, understanding the demands on your body for hydration, as well as the best nutrition to properly absorb the water molecules that you ingest, is crucial in ensuring safe and efficient training.
It is important to understand the basics of hydration before, during and after your training, however, the hardest place to implement your hydration strategies is when you are out training on your long run sessions.
In the days leading up to your long run, you need to start preparing your body in the best possible way. Ensuring you always have a bottle of water and/or electrolyte with you and sipping a small amount regularly, will make a big difference to your overall hydration levels. Make sure to include not only water, but also add electrolytes. such as enIQ, that help you better absorb the water in your body. The more hydrated you start your run, the better you are going to perform during the session.
Due to the physical nature of running, your body temperature will rise a few minutes after you start. This will lead to increased sweat rates and a loss of salts and water. It is crucial to maintain the water and electrolyte balance in your body by continuing to consume water, electrolytes and nutrition throughout your training session, especially when the event is longer than one hour in duration. When refuelling before and during events, you need to be mindful of how much, and what types of nutrition your body is able to process to avoid gastrointestinal distress.
As mentioned above, the hardest session of the week to stay on top of your hydration is the long run. Being able to carry everything you need with you is much harder than when on the bike where you have bottle cages and big pockets. The distances required to be covered on a long endurance run also mean that keeping all of your hydration in one spot is not always an option. For these reasons, you need to plan your sessions and create a set of strategies to make sure you have enough hydration available to you when you need it.
Your first option is to wear a hydration belt. These specially designed belts allow you to easily carry small bottles of hydration and generally have a small pocket for nutrition. These belts are especially useful if you are running in remote areas without any access to shops or taps to refill.
Map Your Run
Another easy option is to plan your run route in advance. Knowing where along your route you can stop if you need to eat, drink or rest for a few minutes is a very simple strategy. With the use of Google Maps, it is easy to create a circuit you can follow with recovery spots planned in.
Running in Circles
Running laps of a smaller loop is a handy way to stay close to home and keep your hydration needs all in one place. This can be especially handy if you are new to the idea of eating and drinking during training, or if you are testing out new brands or types of hydration and nutrition. It will allow you to try new things, but also never be too far away from an emergency stop if your stomach does not agree with something.
Hydration Drop Spots
Depending on the weather and location, it is also an option to choose some spots and leave your hydration and nutrition hidden. If you prefer to do longer out and back style runs, then dropping small bundles off along the course as you drive to the start point is relatively straightforward, as long as you remember the location!
Use a Bike Pacer
Another option is to have a bike pacer with you. This can be a good excuse to bring your family or friends into your athletic life and to share your passion for running with your loved ones. Having someone ride their bike along next to you carrying a bag with all your hydration needs allows you to have access to anything you need at any time.
So in conclusion, you need to know what your body needs, know when your body needs it, and plan when and how you are going to get it. Making sure you properly prepare for your long run sessions will ensure that you get the most our of your run as well as staying healthy and safe. If you need some help in planning your hydration strategy, please contact us and we can put you in touch with our Melbourne Triathlon Coach or our Clinical Nutritionist. We also have a Run Club Melbourne where you can meet other runners and triathletes to share your experiences with.