How to maintain proper hydration in endurance and performance sports
Learn how to correctly manage hydration
Yes, it’s true that in a competition or a training session that last less than 45-60 minutes it’s difficult to become dehydrated. For longer activities you should however learn how to manage your hydration. This is of course very important in a sport such as cycling, where rides of several hours are the norm for the larger part of participants. There are basically four phases that should be managed well by adopting a strategy for each of them: every day, right before an activity (whether this is a training session or a race), the performance itself and the post-performance period.
A good daily habit is to drink about one glass of water (150-200 ml) every half hour, so that during a day those 1.5/2 liters of water that the body needs are met. It’s obvious however, that somebody who does a lot of physical activity may need to drink more water during the day. Don’t wait for thirst to start drinking. When you feel thirsty this means your body is already “water alert”.
Before starting make sure you are in the best condition
Your objective, before a workout, is to be well hydrated with the right electrolyte balance. To be able to achieve this drink about 500 ml of fluids (a mix of water and electrolytes) about three hours before the workout. Ideally, you should then also drink another 500 ml in the hour before the physical activity.
Hydrate your effort
The amount of fluids and electrolytes lost during a workout varies depending on the climate and the subjective characteristics of the athlete. This said, for activities of a long duration it’s recommended to drink about 150/200ml of liquid every 15’-20’. The best drinks would be those that are made up of water, sugars and electrolytes of equal (isotonic) or lower osmolarity than that of blood (hypotonic).
Reset the balance at the end of a physical effort
In the hours after a training session (24-48h) you should restore the fluids and electrolytes lost and the glycogen reserves of the muscles. To do this drink something rich in carbohydrates (preferably maltodextrin) with sodium, potassium and magnesium.