Stay hydrated. It's just about the oldest advice in running. But when it comes to running trails, the stakes are raised.
"You tend to be off the beaten path in more extreme terrain and weather conditions–all of which can influence your fluid needs," says Suzanne Girard Eberle, R.D., author of Endurance Sports Nutrition. "And there are no aid stations out there if you get in trouble."
In high humidity or on hilly, strenuous terrain, the body pumps out more sweat–and electrolytes. On cold runs, a lack of thirst and aversion to stripping down in the woods for a pit stop often lulls runners into under-drinking. And beginning around 8,200 feet, runners may tend to urinate and exhale more, losing fluid with every breath.
"If you lose even 2 percent of your body weight, that can affect your performance," says Vail, Colorado-based Katie Mazzia, R.D., co-winner of the 106-mile Gore-Tex TransRockies trail run in 2008. "You won't ever see me out running without a water bottle."
Carrying enough water, though, is not the only way to make sure your body is getting the hydration it needs. Here's a primer to slaking your body's thirst.
THE DAY BEFORE: Drink enough that your urine is the color of light lemonade (roughly 100 ounces daily for men, and 72 ounces for women). Note that this should be true of every day, not only the day prior to a big race.
PRE-RUN: Drink 12 to 16 ounces of fluid two hours before you run. This gives your kidneys time to process the liquid, allowing for one last pit stop before hitting the trail. If you run first thing in the morning, down at least 8 ounces 15 minutes before you head out. If you're a coffee drinker, don't skip it. Research shows little or no diuretic effect from caffeine. And there are few things worse than a withdrawal headache at high altitude.
DURING: If you're running less than an hour, an occasional sip should do the trick. For longer runs, "drink early and often," Mazzia says. "Your body absorbs that better than if you take a big gulp all at once." Set your watch to beep every few minutes, or take a sip after each song on your MP3 player. Shoot for 4 to 8 ounces per 15 minutes. (Men, larger people, and well-trained athletes tend to sweat more and need more fluid.) Consider your location too. If you're running at altitude, you may require more fluids than you would at sea level, Mazzia says. In hot or humid weather or for runs over 90 minutes, add in a gel or sports drink to replace electrolytes lost through sweat. Shoot for 250 to 350 mgsodium per 15 ounces of fluid.
AFTER: Drink 16 to 24 ounces within 30 minutes, along with 1 gram of carbohydrate per kilogram of your body weight to replenish your glycogen stores. Two of the best recovery drinks are chocolate milk and a fruit smoothie. If possible, weigh yourself. If you've lost more than 3 percent of your body weight, re-evaluate your hydration strategy because you're under-consuming. And that's not something you want to make a habit of.

Category: Diana's Blog

About the Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.