This weekend, I had a 17 miler on the calendar as I get ready for Grandmas Marathon. I decided that it would be really smart to try to do some heat training after this year’s Boston Marathon and last year’s Grandmas Marathon, where I died out in the heat at the end. So, I ended up kicking off this run on Sunday afternoon around 4 p.m.
The temperature: 82ish degrees with pure sun. Yeah, maybe not my smartest idea. It was going well until I hit mile 10 and ran out of water, and for some reason, none of the water fountains were turned on until I had about 3.5 miles left. At that point, when I drank water, I think my body was too confused to do anything with it… so it just sat in my stomach and made me feel nauseous for the last few miles.
If you follow me on Strava (yes! I finally joined), this run was way off my typical pace… but that’s okay. The miles are in and I’m hoping that it taught my body a pretty solid lesson.
Given this mistake (and several other I’ve made in my running life… oh man, so many in Florida), I thought I’d talk a little bit about conquering dehydration while running. I think during this year’s Boston Marathon, I was running through dehydration during a good chunk of the race and somehow managed to recover and kick it in towards the end.
What I’ve learned about dehydration
If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated.
Generally, once you start experiencing thirst, it means that you may be up to four percent dehydrated. For the normal person, not a big deal… but for a runner? This can make or break a run (especially on race day). The best way to get beyond this is making sure that you don’t get to this point.
Bring water on the run
It sounds silly but it took me forever to realize that this was a thing I should be doing. I think it’s because I can be super stubborn (oh hey German genes) and didn’t want to seem like I was weak because I had to have water. I spent nearly three years in Florida running at the heat of the day, without water, and wondering why I couldn’t finish my run. Right now, I’m obsessed with THIS from Nathan but will probably transition to THIS during ultra training.
Salt pills are miracle workers
I can’t remember which marathon I first used these (I think it may have been the Madison Marathon back in 2009), but they are truly saviors when you are running in the heat. I usually take one every five miles… and they make sure your body has enough salt to convert the water in your body to sweat, which helps cool you down. If you don’t have this, it can cause some serious issues. I swear by SaltStick and now have a huge bottle in my cabinet.
Your body tells you what you need
During my run on Sunday, and during the Boston Marathon, my body was so angry about being dehydrated that when I started running, I would immediately feel nauseous and would have to stop. I have had races where I’ve had GI issues and just stopped drinking altogether, and that never ends well either.
Listen to your body.
If you stop sweating, that’s a huge warning sign that something is going awry. If you are thirsty, you need fluids. If you get chills when it’s hot, that’s always a huge warning sign. Being in tune with your body helps you recognize these even subtle signs to make sure that you are keeping your body hydrated and in a good spot as you push it to its limits.
Most importantly: everyone is different
OK, this one is not mind boggling… this is what we learned when we were kids 😉 But! It applies to drinking water and dehydration too. I always blame it on my Norwegian genes, but I do not do well in the sun or humidity. I know other people who can go out and run in the 70s and feel fine; I, on the other hand, feel like death. So, it’s important to learn what works best for you and your body. Knowing this will go a long ways and help you adapt the best to the heat.
I’ve shared some other posts about hydration on the run, so in case you missed them in the past, check them out:
- 5 simple ways to drink more water
- 8 reasons to drink more water
- 7 tips to master drinking at race water stops
- The rules of hydration
What about you? How do you feel when you run in the heat?
Any other tips to share with runners?
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