Tip Tuesday: Hydration

It’s Tip Tuesday! Tonight’s tip is all about WATER. The name of the game is hydration. The folks at Road Runners Club of America want you to know that water delivers nutrients to working muscles and assists in temperature regulation. We all know that it’s important, but how can we be sure were consuming enough?

Symptoms of dehydration are dizziness, lethargy, nausea, dry mouth/lips, cramps, runners trots, and decreased performance. Here’s the secret to avoiding all of that: you must be hydrated on a DAILY BASIS to achieve optimal hydration for training. This means managing your water intake is essential ALL DAY, EVERY DAY if you want to be able to achieve the goals of each and every workout. In my house, we affectionately refer to this as “pre-hydrating.” Don’t wait for thirst to be your cue to drink! By the time you feel thirsty, you’re already behind the 8-ball. Staying ahead of the game can make or break a good training session…or a race. The good news, according to Harvard, is that all liquid drinks containing water (COFFEE!!!) contribute to your overall hydration, as do water-containing foods, like fresh fruits and veggies.

Aside from maintaining proper hydration consistently throughout your day, here are some helpful guidelines that you can use or tweak to make work for you during harder effort workouts (i.e. long runs, speed intervals, etc.):

1-2 hours before workout: 10-16 oz

During workout: 4-8 oz every 20-30 minutes if going over 60 minutes

After exercise: 24+ oz of water or other liquid to replace glycogen stores and electrolytes lost during workout

Got any tips, products or cool gear that help your hydration game? Share them in the comments!

Part 2: Adaptation

According to the Road Runners Clubs of America and legendary running coach, Jack Daniels, superb training and racing success is built upon this idea: the body adapts to stress. Time spent running is the stimulus for your body to make 3 major cellular adaptations which improve running efficiency and performance:

  1. Muscular cells modify as the number, size, and distribution of mitochondria (tiny powerhouses responsible for converting stored energy into usable energy) increase. More running = more mitochondria produced = more energy supplied to running muscles!
  2. More capillaries become active, distributing more blood. More blood means more oxygen delivered to muscles, enabling them to fire more efficiently.
  3. An increase in certain enzymes means delivered oxygen can be processed by those muscles at an improved, faster rate.

Is it cliche to say that running changes you? Maybe. But biochemically speaking, it does. Running, over time, changes you right down to the cellular level. The more miles you put in, the greater the chances your heart, lungs, and skeletal muscles (i.e. legs) will start to function more efficiently, making you…a better runner. These changes can ONLY occur in the aerobic zone, which is about 1½ – 2 minutes SLOWER than your current (yes, CURRENT- not “best” or “before I had kids” or “when I’m not injured”) 5K race pace. This is the magical, albeit sometimes elusive “conversation pace,” achieved when you are easily able to carry on a conversation while running.  But don’t confuse “‘feeling good” with “easy.” Conversation pace involves no huffing or puffing. It is slower than almost every runner I chat with feels like they SHOULD be going, but it’s important to find it! CP will enhance overall training duration and eventually have a positive impact on your racing speed. Trust the science.

What does this mean for YOU? Essentially…slow the heck down. For the vast majority of us, MOST of our miles should be easy. Slower running is the best way to allow the cardiovascular and respiratory systems to adapt to the stress training puts on them and recover in an appropriate amount of time to continue stressing them. Remember that time spent running is a key component to this deal- by slowing down, you are significantly decreasing your chances of injury, allowing you to stay on your feet longer. Easy miles means more miles! This is especially important during the “off season,” the time before your 12,16, 20, etc. week race-specific training plans begin. Building a good, strong aerobic base before a true training regimen begins makes setting and achieving higher level goals easier to attain. You can double down on these effects by heading up to the mountains and really amp up your red blood cell count, but if travel isn’t already in your plans, altitude training is best left to the pros. 

Of course, there is a time and place for going fast and running hard. A good coach can tell you when, how long, how often, and how fast your hard sessions should be based on your training, performance and ultimate goal. If you’re looking for a running coach to help you navigate the ins and outs of this whole running thing, you’ve come to the right place. Head over to my Contact page and shoot me a line! Stay tuned for the 3rd and last installment of why you need to run slower to run faster!