SMRC Running with Moe RRCA
  Home About the Club Current News Club Runs Places to Run TX Running Clubs Running Links Useful Stuff  
  Upcoming Races Race Results Country Roads 10K ARA-Moe's Better Half Marathon Running with Moe Contact Us!  

May 14, 2017

Knowing when to listen to your body and stay hydrated

There was an interesting article in the newsletter Consumer Reports On Health  this month that is of interest to runners. It will apply to people who work outdoors in the hot sun and to those individuals who do a lot of exercise. The article was titled, “Could you be dehydrated?” and listed a few guidelines for keeping the body hydrated.

For marathon runners, getting dehydrated can be a real problem; and I have seen a few runners in 10Ks fall by the wayside because of dehydration problems.

There is some disagreement among experts when it comes to how much fluid is necessary for a person. The problem is that there are a lot of variables that can affect the amount of fluid a person should take. The size of the person is one factor; other factors include whether the person is on a medication, or if they are ill and vomiting, or if they have diarrhea or even have a fever from the flu.

If a person is obese, the amount of fluid needed is increased. Older people tend not to drink enough fluid. Weather can also be a factor; if it is hot and humid, that can increase the need for more fluid.

One of the most common practices used by experts is to check the color of your urine. It should be a shade of a pale straw color. One expert mentions that the color of the urine is not a good indicator, as it can be a dark color even though you are adequately hydrated. Excess vitamin pills, aspirin, or certain vegetables and fruits can cause urine to be darker in color. But in general, most people use the color of urine as a good guideline to follow.

When a runner becomes dehydrated, they have a difficult time concentrating; they may experience an increased heart rate, lower blood pressure and fainting; and even death if the dehydration is severe. One misconception that I hear from runners as they stagger along the road is that, “He is okay. He is an experienced runner and he is just tired.”

I remember one occasion where a runner was lying in a ditch, unable to move; and his buddy said, “He is an experienced runner and will be okay.” Another runner made a turn too soon, crashed into a large store window and fell on the sidewalk. He said, “I am okay. I need to finish the race.” I told him that he was finished with this race, and sent the next three runners to the finish line to summon the EMT units.

Treatment for a fallen runner suffering from dehydration and overheating is to cool them down, get cold water into them, and try to get them into shade or an air-conditioned space. Out on the race course there is usually not a handy option available for cooling them down. Getting them to a shady area and using something to fan them is a better option than not doing anything.

But the best treatment for dehydration is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Be aware of some of the symptoms that a runner may experience before dehydration reaches that critical stage.

Some little signs a runner needs to recognize are things like getting “goose bumps” on the skin on a hot day, or feeling like the hair on the back of your neck is standing up. If the runner has a hard time concentrating, or finds themselves not able to focus on things while running, these are signs that you need to stop and get some fluid at the next aid station.

Drink before you feel thirsty or parched. Drink some fluid before you start the run; drink during the run, and drink after the run to be on the safe side. It is better to drink several small amounts of fluid on a regular basis than it is to drink a large amount at one sitting.

Understand that you do not have to take in the required amount of fluid by drinking only. Eating soup, fruits and vegetables contributes to adding fluid for the body. And the fluid does not necessarily have to be water; coffee, tea, sports drinks, juices and soda can be included as fluids. Some of these are much better than others, but all are classified as fluids.

It may seem premature to write about the problems of dehydration before the hot summer weather arrives; but the problem can occur at any time, and hot weather is not a necessary factor. The key is to listen to your body; know the signs of dehydration; use preventive measures prior to the race, and have a safe summer of running.

Moe Johnson
Dr. Maurice Johnson - better known around San Marcos as “Moe” - is a professor in the Department of Health, P.E., Recreation and Dance at Texas State University - San Marcos. Moe has been a fixture in the San Marcos running community - both as a runner and race organizer - since way back when Moby Dick was a minnow. His column on running and fitness appears each Sunday in the Sports section of the San Marcos Daily Record.

Recent “Running With Moe” Columns

HomeAbout the ClubCurrent NewsClub RunsPlaces To RunTX Running ClubsRunning LinksUseful Stuff
Upcoming RacesRace ResultsCountry Roads 10K & Kids RunMoe’s Better Half Marathon“Running With Moe”
Contact Us!