Monday, July 9, 2012

Drinking Water on Your Run

Continuing with the previous post about hydration and running...  I want to speak a little about my experience.  Living and running in South Florida is a bit different than anywhere else (except places like, say, Texas).  The summers are hot, but it's the humidity that gets you if you are not acclimated to it.  The sun is very intense, even in the winter months.  You have to drink somewhat more here but it's still "drink to thirst."

When I first began running (here in SoFL) I did not drink anything before or during a run, which was fine because my runs were usually around 5 to 8 miles.  At that time I knew very little about running and I felt that drinking anything would make me feel bad, so I didn't.  Even when I started training for my first marathon, I did not drink anything for runs up to 12 miles.  Even in our SoFL hot and humid summer!  I only began drinking during runs when I started doing longer long runs, more than 12 miles.  I ran alone mostly and not on A1A where there are drinking fountains all along the path, so I would go out early before my run and stash water bottles (which I had put in the freezer the night before) along my running route.  I also did not use any sports drinks or gels for those first couple marathons.  And I had no problems.  I ran 3:56 for my first marathon (at age 39)--New York City 1993, which was the warmest NYC Marathon on record, up in the high 70's I believe; and 3:37 for my second--again NY the following year, 1994, and the second warmest with temps in the low 70's.  (No chip time then, by the way!)  I remember trying to drink some at each water stop, but missing several, as I wasn't ready for it when it came up and would be in the middle of the road or on the wrong side so I would just keep going.  I did just fine in both marathons.  Of course I had trained all summer in South Florida, so 75 degree temps with 50% humidity felt great!

Fast forward many, many marathons later, when I began doing ultras, I learned to carry water with me, as a lot of ultras at that time had long periods (many miles) between aid stations.  I started out with a single bottle in a pack around my waist, which I did not like at all (it bounced), then went to a Fuel Belt, with four little bottles evenly spaced around the belt, which I also didn't like.  I eventually started using a handheld, and got so attached to it that I now carry it on all my runs...  it has become a part of me.  It just works for me.  I like to be able to drink when I want to.  It's not that I drink a lot, it's just that it's there when I want it and I can take sips instead of having to take in as much as I can at the water stops.
Me in my huaraches with my handheld
 So, I am totally on board with Dr Noakes' "dehydration myth."  We need to trust our bodies, trust how we feel, rather than advertisements based on fear.  I believe that having access to water WHEN you want it is best, so that you don't need to force yourself to drink more than you want so that it will "last" till you get to the next water stop.  That's why I like carrying a bottle.  My favorite handheld is the Ultimate Direction Fastdraw 20-oz, but there are many to choose from. has lots:

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