If you are training for an Orlando marathon, you will most likely be concerned with running in humidity. With typically high humidity levels and long distances, hydration can be more crucial than ever. If you are concerned with marathon or half marathon hydration, you can prevent low fluid levels from spoiling your run and affecting your health by following the tips listed below.
Start Good Hydration Practices While You Train
While staying hydrated in a Florida marathon is your primary goal, it will be easier to accomplish if you keep your body well-hydrated during the training process. Start your morning with a glass of water and be sure to consume additional glasses throughout the day. Limit or completely avoid drinks that can cause dehydration, such as caffeinated and alcoholic beverages.
According to Harvard Health, there is no “one-size-fits-all” answer to how much water you should consume per day for good hydration and it is possible to consume too much water if you have certain health conditions. Speak with your doctor to find out what amount of water is right for you, and don’t forget to mention your running schedule and marathon habits.
Acclimate to Local Temperature & Humidity Levels
If you know you are likely to be racing on a hot and humid day, you will need to make sure that your body is acclimated to those types of conditions before the race. There is no Florida race that is guaranteed to have cool weather just because of the time of year it occurs; even the December half marathons in Florida can be subject to unseasonably hot and humid weather when compared to the rest of the country.
Instead of limiting your training to an air-conditioned gym, train in temperatures similar or slightly warmer than what you expect to experience on race day. This will help your body make adjustments that can allow it to tolerate the heat and humidity better. If you live in an entirely different climate, try to arrive at the event location at least a few days or a week before the event so you can start training your body to the local weather. Your body will respond to the rise in temperature by increasing its sweat rate and blood volume, reducing your heart rate, and creating hormonal responses that can induce thermoregulation.
Remember Your Electrolytes
Electrolytes are a vital component of your system that aid in keeping your digestive, cardiac, and muscular systems balanced and working properly. Imbalances can lead to cramping, fatigue, nausea, joint pain, and lightheadedness. When running, you will lose sodium and potassium during the sweating process, which are crucial electrolytes in your body. You can replenish these by drinking sports drinks or taking electrolyte tablets during training and running sessions.
Adjust Your Diet During Training
Part of your training should include some dietary changes! This will help you stay healthy and hydrated while preparing your body for intense activity. Try to consume at least five cups of fruits and vegetables, all containing some measurable water content, and make sure to choose some that are rich in potassium. If you drink juices, be sure to mix them with at least 50% of a sports drink or water. This will allow you to direct the water and electrolytes more quickly to your heart. If you are a person that tends to experience high sodium loss during their exercise regimen, add some healthy salty foods to your diet.
Water Before, During, & After the Race
Prep your body for your run by drinking a large glass (or bottle) of water an hour before the run is scheduled to start. You should also drink a large glass of water after your run is completed. During the run, take small sips of water, so that your body stays hydrated without becoming overly full.
Also, try to drink lukewarm water; even though a cold glass of water can be inviting, especially during race day, it can actually affect your hydration levels. Since the water is significantly colder than your body temperature, your body will respond by trying to warm it up, which will result in heat loss. Most people mistakenly believe that cold water will cool down their body temperature. Instead, the thermoreceptors in your stomach may limit sweat production in response which can cause you to become hotter. Sweat is vital to cooling you down during your run.
Choose the Right Water Container
When it comes to holding your water while running so you can take a drink when you need it, there are many products to choose from. Many half marathons will have hydration stations, during your training, you will likely have to find a way to bring water with you for longer races.
One option is a standard handheld water bottle, which can hold enough water and be strapped to your hand or wrist to prevent it from being dropped. The biggest drawback to these types of bottles is that they can weigh quite a bit when full, which can put additional weight on your one arm and lead to muscle cramps or irritation.
There are also portable, hands-free options such as belts and hydration packs. With belts, you can often hold anywhere from two to four bottles of water or sports drink. These are often made of lightweight, flexible material, so they do not feel tight. Hydration packs are the perfect option for those who want to run for multiple hours and not have to stop to refill. They rest on your back, like a backpack, and are an excellent handsfree option to stay hydrated during long runs.
Stay Hydrated for Your Next Florida Marathon
Whether you are running a half marathon, 5K, or full marathon, staying hydrated is essential to prevent injury and give your body what it needs to stay active and healthy—especially when you’re running in the hot Florida sun. While you could get lucky and have your race fall on an overcast or low-humidity day, it’s best to expect our standard weather. By following these tips, you’ll be able to stay well-hydrated during your next Florida marathon and develop healthier hydration habits for your day to day life.