EDITOR'S NOTE: George Frazier, manager at CentreTown Fitness in Wheeling, and his staff will be providing a series of training articles leading up to the 37th-annual Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic, scheduled for May 25 in Wheeling.
One of the most important pieces of training advice that I can give every participant in this year's Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic and the 5K Run and Walk for Health is to learn how to be properly hydrated in order to achieve a successful performance on race day. I have competed in 32 of the 36 races now associated with the history of this great event, and I can attest to the importance of proper hydration from an educated point of view and personal experience.
Nothing affects your performance or your health more than hydration. Hydration is a crucial factor in your ability to sweat and maintain a stable body temperature, pump blood to your working muscles, metabolize stored fat and rid your body of toxins that accumulate during exercise. Proper hydration also keeps your skin moist to protect it against bacteria, viruses and premature aging.
A good rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water every day. If you exercise, you need to drink that amount plus an additional amount depending on intensity and duration of exercise. This means plain water or properly mixed energy drinks only. Caffeine and alcohol beverages, although they are liquid, have a diuretic effect and can actually dehydrate you. Also, sweetened fruit juices and sodas do not adequately contribute to hydration due to their excessive sugar content.
Most people don't even come close to drinking half of their body weight in ounces of water daily (and that's if they're not exercising). Studies show that 75 percent of Americans are chronically dehydrated. The key to preventing dehydration is to drink before you are thirsty.
Some of the early signs of dehydration may be as follows: Dark urine, small volume of urine, going a long period of time without urinating and an elevated heart rate.
The more serious effects of dehydration may include increases in body temperature, impaired performance, gastrointestinal problems, heat exhaustion (skin feels cold and clammy), hallucinations or even circulatory collapse. Dehydration can be a very serious problem or can even result in death.
Follow these two basic guidelines to ensure that you are drinking enough water and you are adequately hydrated.
1. Have clear urine: Your urine should be nearly clear when you are optimally hydrated.
2. Check your weight before and after exercise: Weigh yourself before and after you exercise; you should weigh the same, indicating you drank what you lost in sweat. Remember, losing weight during exercise is just temporary water loss and will inhibit fat burning in the hours after exercise, when most permanent weight loss occurs.
The weather for the Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic and the 5K Run/Walk is usually hot and humid, so it is very important to follow the advice for proper hydration during all of your training sessions and especially the day of the events.
The key to good hydration is to take advantage of the early water stations along the route and continuing to ingest fluids throughout he race. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids after you cross the finish line until your body cools down and you feel well hydrated. These steps will ensure a good and healthy recovery from race day.
Proper hydration and healthy beverage choices are important for good training practices and healthy living. Pay attention to your body and choose wisely.