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A Question for Runners: Dehydration?

I drink only water 95% of the time (the other 5%: Beering with my colleagues on Friday nights, and one Dr. Pepper a week as a special treat), so I don’t need to drink more water, or so I thought.

But the last couple times I have run, I have felt dehydrated later in the evening. Obviously I need to make sure I am drinking more before, during, and after my runs since I’ve been feeling dehydrated, so that is not my question.

I try not to drink after 9:00 because I want to avoid waking up in the middle of the night to relieve myself, but tonight, I’ve given that up because I hate the dehydration headache, and I hate taking a pill for it when more water will make it go away.

So the question: Should I trust the pee test (it’s pretty clear, but I still feel icky)? Or should I trust the “once you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated” test (I definitely feel thirsty still)?

4 thoughts on “A Question for Runners: Dehydration?

  1. Linden

    09 Jun on 2008 at 8:17

    @victoria: I like the “experiment of one” idea. I had interpreted Kevin’s (and the Science of Sport’s) advice to refer to hydrating afterwards. I really felt that dehydrating about 3 hours after my run was over. But, since I’m a fairly new runner, it’s nice to be reminded that I need to be hydrating before I starting feeling like crap in the long runs.

    Thanks for the comment! I’ve scanned some of the recent posts on your blog and really enjoyed them, so I subscribed. Looking forward to reading more about your trail running, having beer at the aid stations (surely they’ll do that here in Deutschland?!), and placing in your division!

  2. Victoria

    09 Jun on 2008 at 2:00

    I love the science of sport blog too, but I don’t know that I would just say “drink when you’re thirsty.” I know (through experience) that when I’m running long distances (over 15 miles), I get distracted by any number of things (talking to people, thinking about the race, trying to catch the person in front of me, etc.) and I forget to drink or eat enough very easily and I only notice when I crash and want to sit down and cry (my normal low-blood sugar response). If I weren’t in the middle of a race, it wouldn’t be a big deal– I’d eat, wait 15-30 minutes and feel better. However, if I’m trying to keep up a continuous pace, I can’t have 30 minutes of catch-up. I think it depends on a bunch of things–how far are you running? How good are you at listening to your body? Comparing us to animals makes a lot of sense, except that I know I don’t run half as relaxed as my australian shepherd– I’ve learned how to hold a bunch more stress in my body. I don’t think I’m as good at recognizing when I need to drink or eat in the middle of a race. That sounds hard to believe, but trust me–it’s definitely true.

    That was rather a long response to your question. I would experiment with what works for you or doesn’t. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard recently about running: we are all an experiment of one. What works for me might not work for you and vice versa. Have fun figuring it out… and good luck training for the Berlin marathon!

  3. Linden

    14 May on 2008 at 5:25

    Thanks for the thoughts and the links, Kevin! I figured it was best to just go ahead and drink when I was thirsty. When you put it that way (animals), it makes a lot of sense… :)

  4. Kevin

    13 May on 2008 at 20:41

    i think you should just drink when u r thirsty. you should go to the scienceofsport.blogspot.com web site. they are real sports scientists and have a very good series on dehyradtion. their main point: if animals drink when they are thirsty and survive, why do we as humans need some kind of external sign to let us know when its time to drink. take a look at it. its pretty interesting.