5 running hydration myths

[00:00:00] There are a lot of things that you hear about what you should do to be hydrated because it means you’re going to race better, right? It means you’re going to run better, you’re going to run faster and get the best out of yourself. But there’s also a lot of hydration myths surrounding racing and running and performing. So today we’re going to go over the top 5 hydration myths that need to be busted.

[00:00:33] If you haven’t been with me here before, I’m Jesse Funk, this is a show I call Runner’s High where we talk about everything running. So if you like running, you’re gonna want to stick around, hit the Subscribe button, Tuesdays and Thursdays, all new episodes come out every single week. Now, if you just want to know about hydration. Stick with me because a lot of these apply to you whether you run or cycle or play basketball or in gymnastics, whatever it is, these are things that kind of apply across the board to performance and how hydration affects you. So let’s start with number one.

[00:01:05] And number one is you must drink eight glasses of water a day. Absolutely false. It varies by individual, right? So it’s a good guideline, but it’s just not going to work right. First of all, what’s a glass? Ok, I’m sure when this recommendation was made that a glass was defined as a particular amount of fluid. But when you go, “Hey, let’s drink a glass of the day”, do I have it with me? No, but let’s say you use this for example.

[00:01:36] Say, this is my glass, my giant glass beer mugs here, the trophies. Well, that’s going to be a lot more fluid than if I use like my NoZeroDays mug. Ok? It just doesn’t make sense to say a glass that’s more easily defined as a amount of fluid ounces, right? So I think the original suggestion was eight ounce cups or glasses, so eight of them sixty four ounces a day. But it can vary. Some people need much more than that. Some people might need not need quite as much and as a thought experiment to make this a little more intuitive.

[00:02:19] Let’s think about what our bodies are using water for, right? So, yes, sweat. We’ll get to that in a minute. Obviously, sweat and we’re going to talk about the details of that. But beyond that, what’s our body using water for? Well, it’s in part and used for when we’re getting rid of things during digestion, we pee it out.

But beyond that blood volume, so we need water to have the proper blood volume, which means we were consequently, when we’re dehydrated, sometimes our blood volume decreases and then our blood pressure gets messed up. So to continue, continue the thought experiment. Let’s think about two individuals. We’ll use myself as an example. I’m five 10, roughly one hundred and sixty five pounds. And let’s think of somebody on the other extreme, like Shaq, who’s seven foot one and over three hundred pounds.

[00:03:12] Do you think that Shaq has a larger amount of blood in his body than I do? I think we can probably say yes. And that because of this, our needs for hydration each and every day are going to vary. So if you just think about the poles of something, typically you can see whether a idea or in this case, a myth holds up. It’s does this make sense? Does this apply to everybody? How does it apply to me? So thinking in those extremes is usually how you can debunk myths. But let’s get on to number two.

[00:03:51] Number two is you should drink like that fast friend of yours now. Maybe that fast friend is like a running star. Maybe it’s me. Maybe it’s an actual friend that you have. Again, think about number one, our hydration needs vary, the amount we need varies. Why? Well, the amount we sweat out varies from person to person and activities the activity and it can change when the temperature changes as well.

So I actually did a video on how to calculate your sweat rate, which is how much you sweat out in a given period of time. It’s again going to vary a little bit, but you can usually get a pretty good range for yourself and have an idea. How much do I sweat? And then from there, decide how much do I need to take in as a consequence of that sweating? So at the end of this video, I’m going to link to that video so you can know how to calculate your sweat rate. So stick tuned to the end.

[00:04:47] But the other thing and this is something that I’ve been working on for the last year, it’s taken a long time to get this together is that the amount of electrolytes that you lose in your sweat varies from person to person as well. So I actually took a suggestion from my friend and I was drinking this particular sports drink for a long time, and it turns out I was taking in twice as many electrolytes as I needed, and as a consequence of that, that I was actually wasting water that I was taking in. Because when I was taking those excess electrolytes, my body is using water to try to get rid of them.

[00:05:24] So we came out with a series of drinks like this. It’s called SYNC and going to dial in the needs that you have for your particular electrolyte losses and you go, “Jesse, how do I figure that out?” Well, again, that’s a service we offer. There’s an at home sweat test where you can send me in my team a sample of your sweat. We have a machine. We can give you lab quality results and tell you where on the spectrum of three hundred to three thousand milligrams per liter that you fall.

[00:05:53] I actually did the test myself. I lose about six hundred and thirty milligrams per liter of salt or electrolytes when I sweat, which is on the low end. My friend who made that suggestion, he’s about average. He was at 20 30 milligrams per liter and actually tested somebody just yesterday who is at 2460 on the very high end of the spectrum. So our needs are going to vary greatly depending on largely our genetics and then some other lifestyle factors like diet.

[00:06:23] So when you take those into account, you can figure out what you need, not necessarily what your fast friend needs, and that helps you optimize what your particular situation is. If you want to check out that sweat test or the drink, go to Solpri.com/shop. Check those out there. Let’s get on to number three.

[00:06:42] Number three is kind of a myth kind of saying, and if you’ve ever been anywhere where people are well intentioned and want to keep you hydrated, you may have heard the phrase clear and copious. What are we talking about? We’re talking about pee. It’s clear and there’s a lot of it. So this is a myth because you don’t actually need your pee to be clear, to be hydrated. And if it is, you actually may be taking in too much water and diluting the balance inside your body of the electrolytes and cell fluids and blood volume, all the things that are automatically regulated.

[00:07:25] So all the things that where water flows into and out of the cell, there’s a particular balance that your body likes. So if you’re taking in too much, then that can disrupt that balance. Now, this was a phrase that we used at Scout Camp because at least in this part of the country, the Midwest, it is hot and humid in the summertime. And for boys are going to be outside for all day, basically for 10 days straight. You need to remind them to drink.

[00:07:56] So I think as kind of skillful means, as the Buddhists might say, to try to keep people thinking about drinking and making sure you’re drinking. Probably a good idea, but if you already have a routine down, you’ve already figured out what your sweat rate was. You know, from that last tip, then trying to get to that point of clear and copious is not necessary.

[00:08:21] Myth number four, if you don’t drink during a race, your performance will suffer. Now, this is partially true. So again, it depends, and that’s what we talk about on the channel all the time, right? It depends in the various situations that it depends. So subscribe if you like getting into the nitty gritty, but what factors are involved in knowing, Do I need to drink for this particular race? Well, length of the race is a good thing, right? To know how long am I going to be out for, number one. So for me, like I specialize kind of in 5k 10k now I did triathlon for a long time, I’m training my professional license post-college where I ran collegiately, and those races would last anywhere from two hours to four and a half hours, depending on the race length for me.

[00:09:13] In those cases, I’m going to lose a considerable amount of water and a little bit of dehydration actually is not typically going to make performance suffer. That’s what we’ve seen in studies. But we know that there is a point where you lose enough water volume and electrolytes that your muscles don’t perform at the same capacity as they did before for various reasons. So again, so 5k 10k short for me. You know, 5k this this year, like seventeen ish minutes maybe wouldn’t get me back into this high 16s. I shouldn’t be drinking for that race. It’s very short. There’s pretty much no reason besides trying to slow myself down, similar with the 10k, you know, thirty five, thirty six minutes something in that range. Probably not going to unless maybe it’s really hot. And that’s that time range.

[00:10:11] So anything under a half hour probably really not necessary. And that’s training runs, races, whatever. Again, unless it’s very, very hot and you haven’t acclimated to the heat yet. Forty five minutes is kind of the kind of turning point for me.

[00:10:30] I sweat more than the average bear or a person in this case, so I know that I’m going to want to start taking in fluid at forty five minutes. If you don’t sweat a lot like, podcast guest on the Smart Athlete Podcast, Brian Bergford, we tested his sweat and he sweats very little. So it was very hard to do a sweat test for him when we finally got it done. But his sweat rate is very, very low. Again, you can do the sweat rate calculation with that video at the end of this one.

[00:11:01] So it depends. Forty five minutes kind of a turning point. If it’s passed an hour, then for the majority of people, I’m going to say yes, you should be hydrating past that point. And then there’s a separate conversation to have about should you take in carbs, which almost all sports drinks involve carbs. Ours does not for various reasons that I’ll get to later, not in this video because it’s beyond the details of this. But carbs probably don’t really need to be started taking until like an hour and a half.

[00:11:32] So that’s the first thing. How hard is the race, which I’ve kind of touched on? You’re going to sweat more when it’s hot, right? So that is a consideration where that timer starts coming down. As I kind of touched on a little bit, my forty five minute mark is pretty typical like ideal conditions 60 70 degrees, even 50 degrees, or I’m not going to sweat as much. Forty five minutes. That’s where I’m starting to think about it.

[00:11:56] But if I’m out racing, and it’s, you know, I don’t know, 90 degrees, I don’t know why I’m racing when it’s 90 degrees, but if it is for some reason probably going to start thinking about it much earlier, you still probably get away with it if it’s only a half hour. But if I know that the race is, say, an hour long, I’m not going to start drinking it forty five minutes, I’m going to start drinking earlier because of the entire duration of the run.

[00:12:23] How well you’re conditioned to the environment also matters. So if I’ve already done heat acclimation via training runs or via the bathtub method, then you can probably get away with a more normal situation for yourself again, fFor me to like forty five minute mark.

[00:12:43] How much do you sweat? Again, I sweat a little bit more than average, so figuring out that sweat rate, that’s important. And then how many electrolytes do you lose. So if you sweat a lot like I do, but then lose very little electrolytes again, like me, you might have more wiggle room in certain situations than somebody who like the person I tested the other day who lost like 2400 milligrams per liter of their electrolytes. They’re going to have a much smaller window because the the rule of electrolytes play in your body do very well lots of things.

[00:13:21] But what we’re interested in particular is like muscle firing and then also neuron function like so they play a role in how our brain communicates to our muscles and help us move. So when we lose too many of them, or if in your case, you lose a lot of them compared to normal people or average not normal like that person I tested the other day, then drinking earlier for a race that’s going to go on for a little bit of time is probably going to be a good consideration for you. Again Solpri.com/shop. You can check out that sweat test. We can give you that number and sweat rate calculation at the end of this video, but let’s get on to number five.

[00:14:05] Our fifth and final myth is you can’t over hydrate. Now, this is something that you would think somebody who produces a sports drink goes, “No, you absolutely want to drink.” No, no. You don’t want to absolutely drink as much as you possibly can. You absolutely can over hydrate. There was a case in the 80s where I was having more often so many race directors pushing the idea of drink, drink, drink. Make sure you’re really hydrated, especially in the marathon scene, because again, it’s a longer race. People are out there for longer and people were basically consuming just water at that time. Gatorade was on the scene, but not as big as it is today, and there are not as many diverse options in sports drinks as there are today.

[00:14:56] So what was happening? Again, this is rare, so I don’t want to seem like I’m fear mongering here, but it’s an example of what can happen, is that people were drinking a lot of water on the course. They were still feeling like thirsty and muscle crampy and dizzy, and they’re like, Oh, these are symptoms of dehydration. I need to drink more. And then they would drop dead somewhere along the race or at the finish line. It’s a condition that can be severe, called hyponatremia, which is basically saying you’re over hydrated.

[00:15:29] So remember, at the very beginning of this video, I talked about how there is a osmotic balance, so a balance of water inside your cells and extracellular fluids. So all the fluids around cells that your body likes. And part of that has to do with the balance of electrolytes and other constituents in your body as compared to that cellular and extracellular fluid.

[00:15:56] When you increase the amount of water your body is taking in, then you can upset that balance. And importantly, if you’re not taking in electrolytes, then you’re going to continue taking in water by itself and not replacing those electrolytes. So you’ve now diluted what is should be the normal equilibrium in your body. Why does this happen? In part because of osmosis.

[00:16:24] So osmosis is the process of water moving through a semi permeable membrane. What am I talking about? So your cells are semi permeable, meaning that some things can pass through them. Some things cannot. Water moves by osmosis, meaning it doesn’t need a gatekeeper to let it in or out like sodium does, which we’ll talk about in another video. So osmosis is a process of water moving from low concentration to high concentration, and that is a consideration of how much stuff is dissolved in the water in this group of water versus this group of water.

[00:17:02] So if you’re taking water alone, that’s going to have less in it than the stuff inside of your body, so water is going to move from low concentration, the stuff you drink to high concentration, the stuff inside your body. But because you’re not replenishing those electrolytes and all those other things you’re losing, you’re not diluted the amount inside your body. And that can end up with that dangerous situation of hyponatremia and people ending up dead.

Again, that’s a very rare case. But the trouble with hyponatremia is that its symptoms are very similar to dehydration. I was actually talking to Maryke Louw, another podcast guest, recently on her show, and she was talking about, you know, at that time, she was active in the physical therapy community and talking about knowing that the first thing people would do at these races, when when these racers would come in with these symptoms is give them an IV, which is the last thing you want to be doing. 

[00:18:07] Because they hadn’t yet figured out the difference is the subtle differences between dehydration and hyponatremia over hydration, and it’s important to tell the difference because they’re treated completely separately so you can do it to yourself. Or you can become over hydrated and upset that osmotic balance, the osmotic pressure inside of your cells inside of your body and create a dangerous situation.

[00:18:34] So those are the 5 hydration myths that can make your performance suffer. The takeaway from this video is it depends. It depends on you and your personal needs and the things that you need to do to figure out what you need. So those two big things are checking out that video that’ll be up on the screen here shortly about how to calculate your sweat rate and number two, figuring out what your actual loss of electrolytes are when you sweat.

To find out a lab quality results, you can find that Solpri.com/shop. We also have an estimator guide if you don’t want to do this the Lab Quality Test will give you a rough range of where you probably fall on that spectrum. So check out that video. Figure out what your sweat rate is, and that’ll be helping you towards figuring out exactly what you need to hydrate for your best performance. I’ll see you next time on the next episode of Runner’s High.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.