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1 March 2011

Hydration and Headache

I often hear of people complaining of muscle tension, headaches and lethargy the day after a race, and while some of these issues may be tied to your awesome performance the day before, they’re totally avoidable issues (at least I think so)… Dehydration is the result of water loss. When you’re sweating a bunch on […]

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I often hear of people complaining of muscle tension, headaches and lethargy the day after a race, and while some of these issues may be tied to your awesome performance the day before, they’re totally avoidable issues (at least I think so)…

Dehydration is the result of water loss. When you’re sweating a bunch on a race, it takes its toll on our system. That’s why hydration before, during, and after a race is so important. And while it’s not as simple as just replacing water in your body (you lose valuable electrolytes as well), it’s easy to avoid getting dehydrated.

One problem many face before a race is how much to drink and when to drink it. After all, you’re not busting your gut for a PR just to get foiled by the sudden urge to urinate partway through. There’s likely lots of advice out there about it, but I tend to finish all of my drinking at least 45 minutes before a race – and the last thing I drink is usually a Gatorade Prime drink (supposedly ‘specially formulated’ for pre-race consumption – I love marketing). That usually gives me ample time to get it out of my system before lining up for the start. I kick-start my hydration the day before the race by drinking a higher volume of water then, ensuring I’m properly hydrated the day of the race.

During the run I often don’t have anything to drink in the first 10km, and usually alternate between water and an electrolyte replacement drink (like Gatorade) at stations after that. However, on particularly hot, long runs I find myself making exceptions to that tendency.

Post-race I’ll have some chocolate milk, or a protein shake, and then take in plenty of water (2L+) throughout the day.

65% of your body is water, and losing as little as 1-2% of your body weight can result in dehydration – which can lead to excessive thirst, fatigue, muscle weakness, headache, dizziness, confusion, increased heart rate, and increased respiration.

Do yourself a favour – avoid the headache and make sure you properly hydrate for a long run or race!

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