Hydration for Runners : Dr Dan

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From right to left this photo shows Dr Dan, myself and Neil Jarrett along with a number of Gosport Road runners. The reason/excuse for us meeting in a pub was a talk by Dr Dan on hydration, hosted by Alton Sports, the 5.45 running club and the Four Ale Tap Room.

The 5.45 club is a Gosport running community initiative set up by Nick Carter. All are welcome to the Wednesday “quarter to six” run, whether you’re a club runner or not its an all inclusive invite. Additional to these runs are occasional visits to drinking establishments and talks that are arranged.

Gosport Road Runners (GRR) naturally form the majority of the group but I’ve always felt welcome as a visiting Fareham Crusader runner. Doctor Daniel Roiz De Sa is the Senior Medical Officer at the Institute of Naval Medicine in Gosport as well as a GRR runner. Hayley Sparshott (another GRR runner I know) was also there.

Unfortunately travel commitments ( I caught the bus) meant I couldn’t arrive early enough for the run but a good number of runners had set off from the Alton Sports shop (just up the road). So, a run, talk, real ales/cider and sandwiches …. “yes”, that’s my kind of night ūüôā !!

Our venue for the evening was the Four Ale Tap Room which had numerous beverages on offer considering its relatively small size. The atmosphere is friendly and the chap in charge was as knowledgeable and passionate about his ale as we are about our running. I had two pints of berry cider¬†which went down very well ūüôā

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Now that I’ve set the scene I’ll try to summarise some of the points Dan made. Naturally Dr Dan is an expert in his field and has years of analysis to call on, I’m simply going on what I remember so please¬†bear this in mind¬†while reading !!

Summer running is a curious and ever changing sport. One week the temperatures can sore into the thirties and then another week the humidity can be just as sapping even if the temperatures are ten degrees less.

So, what’s the best way of coping ?? This depends on your age, height, sex, weight and conditions so bear this in mind too and just remember even the best athletes don’t always get it right … we’ll never forget Jonny Brownlee staggering towards the finish line in Mexico¬†due to¬†his heat exhaustion.

Running¬†when the¬†air temperature his hot will increase your core body temperature. The body sends more blood to circulate through your skin, this leaves less blood for your muscles which then increases your heart rate. If humidity is added to this, then sweat doesn’t easily evaporate and you’ll need to take action against dehydrating.

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This photo from Race to the King shows the kind of hot Summers day that’s beautiful to look at but needs quite a lot of planning and thought¬†hydration wise.

Water not only makes up 60% of body weight in men and 50-55% in women but also regulates temperature. Water is lost in urine and sweat, so, to avoid dehydration you need to replace it regularly with both fluid and food. Water, sports drinks, soft drinks, tea and coffee are your obvious starting points and as a measure six to eight glasses of fluid are needed each day.

What I hadn’t considered was that you take in water from the food you eat. Some 20% of your total daily water intake comes from food with¬†fruit and vegetables being 80% water,¬†so eating “real food” on longer runs becomes important¬†as well as on a daily basis.

Becoming dehydrated usually includes a dry mouth, the start of a headache and worsening concentration. One other clear sign is when the colour of your urine becomes darker !!

So, keep well hydrated in the¬†build up to your race, stop drinking alcohol 48 hours before and don’t forget to have a drink as soon as you wake up on race day as well as an hour beforehand. Sipping on a regular basis while running is much more effective than drinking a large amount in one go and you are far less likely to need to go to the toilet !!

At this point I’d also like to mention reducing your single use plastic when drinking. I now take my cup and soft flasks whenever I run. I carry two 500ml flasks and refill them. Help save the planet too !!

 

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Another factor to consider is where will you source your fluids from ? Races have feed stations but while out training include garages and shops for your top ups.

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I’ve considered my fluids : Water – No calories, Low Fat Milk – nutrients & protein, Hot drinks – drink to suit and¬†Sports drinks – for activity beyond an hour, I¬†personally use SIS hydro tablets that you dissolve in 500ml¬†of water and these include electrolyte.

Other¬†practicalities that were also discussed were, avoid the mid day sun if possible, always wear suntan lotion, it’s personal choice but a visor or a cap can help and finally wear loose fitting wicked material¬†shorts and top¬†to prevent heat building up under your clothes.

Dan mentioned a number of athletes and personalities he’s help and to bring his experiences right up to date he told us he’d be working with celebrity SAS winner Wayne Bridge as he¬†prepares for the 2020 Marathon Des Sables. Wayne will be able to acclimatise in Dan’s heat chambers and be monitored but we can also acclimatise to the heat by running progressively longer each time during the build up to our chosen race.

The last time I listen to Dan was after his own personal 2017 MDS race and a talk that he gave on it. Dan raised sponsorship for Walking With the Wounded in 2017, Wayne will be in 2020 and I did for my Race to the King 2017 focus event so in a small way we have something in common.

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So, it’s a huge thank you to Dan for the talk and the various¬†people that¬†helped to make it happen. Typically August seems to have settled into a cloudy 19 degrees but that’s still no excuse not to stay hydrated for your best efforts when running !!

Thanks for reading …. Roger

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