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Hydration: Science, coachspeak, or my own intuition

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5ksandcabernets: Hydration: Science, coachspeak, or my own intuition


Monday, June 30, 2008

Hydration: Science, coachspeak, or my own intuition

After last Saturday's group run, the Luke's Locker people put on a little symposium about hydration.

The speaker was a Dr. Robert Vaughan, assistant cross country coach at the University of North Texas.

Vaughan had spent 16 years as an exercise physiologist at the Tom Landry Sports Center and Research Center. He has also coached numerous elite athletes including five-time Olympian Francie Larrieu Smith.

A real live expert. Somebody to tell me why I cramped so bad in my last (and only) two marathons. To tell me exactly how much and what to drink on long runs and races.

But I left the symposium a little underwhelmed. Vaughan said a lot of stuff I already knew. And he said something I totally disagreed with: That on long runs and races you should drink a set amount of fluids every 15 or so minutes, and not wait until you are thirsty.

That goes totally against what the bloggers over at the Science of Sport say. In one of their posts, titled, Why waiting until you are thirsty is NOT too late, they argue that thirst is a deep-seated psychological desire for water and when you drink too thirst your thirst will always keep you from drinking too little or too much.

In both of my marathons, I drank a set amount of water or Gatorade on schedules. And bombed both times. My head got fuzzy, my stomach sloshy, and in the last few miles I had to pee every other mile.

Here is something else the Sports Scientists say: If animals can run and run and run all day long and survive by drinking (or maiming other animals to eat) only when thirsty (or hungry), then humans, with their sophisticated makeups can do the same thing.

I know that there is no one answer fits all when it comes to how much and what to consume during long runs and long races. I know that running is an experiment of one. But I believe more in the scientists than good old Dr. Vaughan.



Blogger Victoria said...

While I agree with the SofS people in theory, I tend to get distracted by racing and forget to pay attention to my body (particularly with eating enough) until I'm totally crashing. I think that were we all as in tune with our bodies as animals are (and I'm not convinced we are) the "don't drink until you're thirsty" makes sense. However, in a race, you're in different psychological conditions than you normally are, and I think (for me at least) this has the potential to override your body's instincts to eat and drink at a point that won't mean you're waiting for your blood sugar or hydration to catch up with you. That's my 2 cents, at any rate...

July 1, 2008 at 12:21 AM  
Blogger Derek said...

You should do a sweat test to see how much water weight you lose per hour. Comming from a triathlon background, it was important to know your sweat rate when you would spend 4-6 hours on a bike ride. It is simple to do and can help you figure out how much fluid to put back in your body. Everyone is different, and it sounds like you were putting in too much fluid in your past marathons.

July 1, 2008 at 12:48 AM  
Blogger Sadie J said...

I've always heard that if you are cramping, then it is an electrolyte issue. Rather than focusing on your water, have you tried focusing on your electrolytes (beyond Gatorade)?

My husband had horrible cramping issues in a few of his early marathons. After experimenting with a few different brands of electrolyte tablets taken during long runs and marathons, he now runs cramp-free.

July 1, 2008 at 11:32 AM  

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