The Importance of Hydration
By now, I'm sure all of you would've seen this amazing footage of the Brownlee Brothers finishing the triathlon in Mexico. Jonny, leading the race, was struggling with heat stroke in the last few hundred metres of the run when he was assisted to the finish line by his older brother, Alistair. The footage is quite distressing as you could see a visibly ill Jonny on the brink of collapsing.
How can you prevent this from happening on a race?
These athletes are primed for these races. They have trained for years and their bodies are prepped for these situations. However, in difficult conditions, where weather is hot and humid, there is more risk of suffering from heat related illness.
The first thing is to train appropriately and sensibly in order to ready your body for the event and to minimise the risk of injury. Develop a program and make sure the volume is correct so you don't overload your body. Talking to a coach or a physio to tailor your program can be a great help.
Before the event, pre-hydrate and practice drinking appropriate amounts. Remember, even though it is cooler here in London, you do lose body fluid even if you don't feel like you sweat. To get an idea of the volume you should be drinking, weigh yourself before and after a run to see how much fluid you have lost. You should aim to replace this and a bit more.
Replenish your electrolytes
During the race, you sweat more than water. Salts such as sodium, potassium, calcium bicarbonate and phosphate are also lost, which impact the way your body works. It is important to replace these through electrolyte drinks. Most of these drinks contain ridiculous amounts of sugar, so you can make your own drinks or it is useful to mix half of the drink with water and add a teaspoon more of salt.
Signs to look out for during the race of early symptoms of dehydration are:
- increased heart rate and breathing
The next stage of dehydration is heat stroke which is a much more serious condition. Losing this amount of fluid has significant effects on the body. It is important to stop if this ever happens and to seek medical help. Symptoms include:
- hot dry skin
So prepare, hydrate, and keep re-fuelling to ensure you enjoy your race right to the finish line.