Effects of Dehydration – How Your Straight Path to a Successful Marathon Became the Grueling Hike Up Kilimanjaro
August 26, 2009  |  Nutrition


photo credit: j.t.cph

The effects of dehydration are critical to your performance during your training as well as your ability to finish your marathon on race day. Notice that I didn’t say hurt your performance on race day but your ability to finish your marathon on race day. When you are dehydrated during a race (god forbid!), the chances of you finishing are extremely low. Let me explain why:

When you run during training, there is much less excitement, adrenaline and anxiety than on race day. There are so many things that are going through the average runner’s mind that it’s sometimes overwhelming. But, that’s not where you should worry…you should worry when you feel you aren’t hydrated enough to run that marathon.

I will tell you right now, if you think a few cups of water before the race and along the course of the race will help you out, I got bad news for you. You, my friend, need to be hydrated from at least 2 days prior to race day. What does that mean exactly? You can’t lack your body of proper nutrition and hydration in the last week of training prior to the marathon. You need to be at your “nutritional and hydration prime”.

Effects of Dehydration

There are many ways that you can gauge if you are dehydrated. Based on your regular patterns of your lifestyle, you can see which one of these symptoms are caused by dehydration and which ones are caused by your boss yelling at you in front of all your co-workers. If you aren’t convinced how serious the negative effects of dehydration are, here are the nitty-gritty details:

  • Dry skin
  • Sore, tired eyes
  • Crappy sleep
  • Crappy concentration
  • Joint problems – you need a serious warm up to  get back that mobility
  • Throbbing headaches
  • Digestive disorders – “the butterflies in my stomach feel like piranhas chewin’ their way out!!”

[Sighhh] I didn’t want to go down that road but the effects of dehydration just SUCK.

Actions Steps To A Hydrated You!

Hydration should be a well established component of your marathon training since Day 1 but it’s even more critical during the week leading up to the marathon. If you haven’t taken your hydration seriously, here are action steps that you can take to implement hydration into your training regimen:

  • Drink 500mL of water first thing in the morning and before you go to sleep. When you sleep, your mouth becomes dry as it isn’t going to be hydrated for the whole night. This alone has helped me a lot because I feel just feel good à Try it.
  • Drink at least 2 (two) liters of water on your days off training.
  • Drink at least 3 (three) liters of water on your training days.
  • Carry around a 1 (one) liter bottle with you – this helps mentally (I don’t know why it works but you just end up drinking more water).
  • Drink a glass of water preferably before drinking any caffeinated drinks – caffeinated drinks such as coffee further fuel the thirst.
  • Drink water when you feel hungry because sometimes we mistake thirst for hunger.

Note that these numbers are the end-all-be-all of proper hydration. If you are training in warmer weather, you are likely to drink more water.

It’s important for you to understand that you need to hydrate yourself before, during and after your workouts/races. Like I mentioned, you need to be well hydrated in prior to your race day and with these straightforward action steps, I want you to take ACTION.

Have you suffered from the serious effects of dehydration? What did that feel like and how did you overcome it?
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