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Roy Stevenson is one of our frequent contributors to Coaching Athletics Quarterly, edited by Toby Cook and American Track & Field, edited by James Dunaway. Roy has a nice, relaxed writing style, combining common sense practices with the latest in sports training. Please feel free to copy these articles and pass them around to your teams, that is what they are there for!
Hydration is a huge issue in modern sports. In my experience as a junior college and high school coach, I found that water took care of about 75 percent of my athletes’ complaints (add a nap or eight hours sleep, and you have 85 percent of their complaints).
By the time I started coaching community college, I demanded a water bottle, full of water, on my athletes or near them at all times. I am okay with sports drinks, as long as they are not carbonated and diluted, however, I believe in the eight to ten glasses of water a day for an athlete. Water helps take the waste products, such as lactic acid, out of an athletes body. It also helps in recovery and is one of the most important parts of a proper training plan.
Hydration is important in both warm and cold weather. I recall a training partner, who did not drink before or during most of a long Sunday run, getting into trouble with about a mile to go, cramping and hypothermia (being too cold), just not considering that hydration and proper clothing for a cool Northern California Sunday were just smart training practices.
The young man complained of cramping and could not complete a sentence. We thought he had a stroke, but it was dehydration and hypothermia (being too cold). Our coach, who would follow us in a car, put a blanket around him and made him drink water. Soon, he was fine, but it left an indelible mark on my training partners and myself.
Hydration and Running
Performance for Your Teenage Runner
By Roy Stevenson
Teenage runners are at high
risk for heat injury because they tolerate heat less efficiently than adults.
Compared with adults they have fewer sweat glands per square centimeter of skin
surface area, and a lower sweating rate.
This doesn’t mean that teenage
runners don’t sweat; in fact they can lose prodigious amounts of sweat. On a
hot, humid day an average sized teen (110-165 lbs) can lose 1.6 to 2 liters of
fluid, or 2.5% to 3.5% of body weight.
In addition, when young
runners train, their bodies produce more heat than adults because they have a
larger relative surface area than adults. The combined physiological effect of
these in teenagers is excessive core heat gain in high temperatures when they
get dehydrated, decreased ability to transfer heat from the muscles to the skin
for cooling, shorter exercise tolerance time, and a longer time to acclimatize
to heat and humidity.
Over one hundred research
papers show that the more sweat lost during a race, the more drastically our
running performance declines. Therefore, the key to maximizing teenage distance
running performance and avoiding heat injury is by proper hydration.
What should teenagers be
Hundreds of studies have
found that carbohydrate and sodium in sports drinks have performance enhancing
effects. Carbohydrate solutions between 6% and 8% (or 30-60 grams of CHO per
hour) have been shown to improve distance performance by replacing depleted
muscle glycogen stores. Sodium helps retain water, stimulates thirst and
prevents low plasma sodium. However, the problem with some commercially
available sports drinks is that they are too salty or too sugary for some
people, causing a delay in gastric emptying and absorption, so they don’t get
to where they are needed quickly enough.
Avoid the imposters that are
loaded with sugar–they’re no better for you than soft drinks. If electrolyte
drinks make you feel nauseated or cause gastric distress, they’re too
concentrated; dilute them by 50% to 100% to a concentration that works for you.
This is often all that is needed to make it tolerable to your system. Some
research indicates that the fluid should be cooled for maximal absorption.
Post-Race and Post-Training
Many studies show that
carbohydrates consumed immediately after and two hours after exercise enhance
muscle glycogen restoration. This is most effective if ingested from fluid, as
fluid is absorbed faster. Many studies also show that electrolyte balance is
restored almost to pre exercise levels when an electrolyte beverage is drunk
immediately after exercise.
Hydration Tips for Surviving
High Heat and Humidity and Maintaining Performance Intensity
Drink lots of cold water
before, during and after your training efforts. Select running routes that have
water fountains along the way. Drink 200-500 mls 15 – 20 minutes before
starting and drink at least one cup of water every 20 minutes during long
distance training. Carry a water bottle.
There is nothing macho
or intelligent about the archaic practice of shunning water on your training
efforts thinking it will toughen you up–it could kill you.
Post training or post
race rehydration: Weigh yourself before and after your race or training effort.
Make sure you drink that weight back on within an hour or two of finishing.
Choose carbohydrate rich fluids such as juices that replace both water losses
and muscle glycogen. Juices contain more carbohydrates than sports drinks, so
drink your fill of your favorite fruit juices.
You’ll be able to tell
whether you are hydrating adequately by the color of your urine. Dark yellow
indicates low hydration, and pale to light yellow is good.