Dehydration can sabotage a long run. Hyponatremia (consuming too much water) can literally be fatal. Learn how to drink just the right amount of water with help from a feature on a sports watch. From The Chi Marathon: The Breakthrough Natural Running Program for a Pain-Free Half Marathon and Marathon, by Danny Dreyer and Katherine Dreyer.
There has been lots of controversy over how much water to drink during a marathon, with doctors, exercise physiologists, and race directors urging all runners to “drink a lot, but not too much.” Well, that’s good advice, but you’d have to agree that it leaves the exact amount for you a bit nebulous.
Dehydration happens when you don’t drink enough water. It can show up as dizziness or a light headache, a lack of mental focus, fatigue, and, in more extreme cases, a rapid pulse. An important fact to note is that dehydration reduces your body’s ability to take up oxygen. So don’t let all of that great aerobic training go to waste by not drinking enough water.
Hyponatremia, on the other hand, is a very dangerous state where there is too much water in your body. If you drink too much water it will dilute the salt content in your blood, reducing your body’s ability to conduct the subtle electric current needed to fire your muscles and, more important, the neurotransmitters in your brain. If your brain doesn’t fire, your life-support systems become compromised, and that’s really not where you want to go. Some marathoners have died needlessly, and others have had to drop out of their race, all because of drinking too much water. I heard someone once say, “Drink intelligently, not maximally.”
Here’s a foolproof way to never again have to worry about drinking too much or too little during your race. I set my countdown timer to beep every ten minutes and drink a mouthful of water every time it goes off. This way I never drink too much or too little. When you drink just the right amount you’ll never get dehydrated and you’ll also never have to stop to pee (which can put a huge hole in your finish time).
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