Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Chug, Chug, Chug! Hydration on Long Runs

This weekend I set out to tackle 14 miles, my longest run yet.  I was slightly apprehensive but also looking forward to the feeling I would have once I finished.  You all know that feeling of accomplishment, pride and complete satisfaction.  When someone casually asks you what you did that day, you say “not too much, just ran 14 miles" and it feels great!

Angela and I took off for Encinitas to stop at Nytro before our run.  I decided to cave and buy a fanny pack, I mean hydration belt.  I have avoided this device at all costs, opting for water fountains instead.  Unfortunately, when you often run on trails there are very few fountains at your disposal.  I finally hunkered down and spent the $45 on the Fuel Belt brand and strapped it around my waste.  I bought the kind with 2 little bottles, rather than 4.  I could not quite commit to the 4 bottle tool-belt-like contraption.

With one bottle of sports drink and one bottle of water, we set off.  Keep in mind, San Diego has been blazing hot lately and Angela did not bring anything for herself.  We ran along the dirt and sand trail that follows the ocean at Torrey Pines which I feel is the most scenic trail here in San Diego.  We were in heaven, just floating along effortlessly doing our usual comparison of the beauty in San Diego to Chicago.  We always laugh and joke about our journey to California and all of the crazy moments along the way when we wanted to rip each other’s hair out.  Luckily, happy moments far outweighed the moments of insanity.

Torrey Pines - This is where I run.  Isn't it fabulous?

Here and there I sipped on my water bottles and felt okay, mostly hungry.  Angela on the other hand was quickly fading.  She didn’t drink a lot of water prior to our run and only had a few tiny sips along the way.  By mile 12 she told me to go on ahead without her.  I made it to the car at mile 13.5 and decided to stop my run a little short so I could grab Ang and then quickly get some food in both of us.  My stomach was rumbling and I had visions of burritos and cookies dancing in my head.

When I picked her up along side the road she was in worse shape than when I left her.  We ended up taking our food to go and drove home while she was keeled over in pain on the passenger seat.  The moment she walked in the door she was vomiting like nobody’s business.

She continued to hurl for a few hours and couldn’t keep any fluids down.  I say hurl, because it best describes her situation; it was rough.  I made her a drink with an electrolyte tablet and she was finally able to get down one tiny sip after another.  If this didn’t work, the next step would be an Intravenous intervention at an urgent care clinic.  Luckily, she was able to skip the IV.

I honestly had no idea this could happen from dehydration. This was a great reminder (sorry, Ang) to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate before, during and after.

I thought this next tid bit was interesting, especially considering this is the method I use to hydrate.

The most recent guidelines from the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races state:

"Try to drink to thirst. This advice seems way too simple to be true; however, physiologically the new scientific evidence says that thirst will actually protect athletes from the hazards of both over and underdrinking by providing real time feedback on internal fluid balance. If you are not thirsty, try to refrain from drinking. Drinking when thirsty is supposed to discourage over-hydrating, which can lead to hyponatremia, and prevent dehydration. "

Also, a key point: During long runs, runners should drink a sports drink, and not just water, after 30 minutes.

One size apparently does not fit all when it comes to hydration.  I certainly don’t want to end up like Angela did, so you will see me out there with my nifty fuel belt, truckin' along from now on!

Good luck on the rest of your hot August runs.  CHUG, CHUG, CHUG!


  1. YAY for you!! I love the "14 and feels great!"

    awesome place to run!!

  2. Great job...hope Angela is doing better. Dehydration can be bad. My brother-in-law has run for years and has attempted 3 marathons but hasn't been able to complete any due to dehydration. He sweats like crazy and has to take salt pills along the way and hydrate. At one of the marathons, they sent him to the hospital and then my sister had to figure out where in the world her husband was at the end of the race! Everyone is different though but I always sport my belt on long runs!

  3. Wow! Some people definitely sweat WAY more than others.

    The funny thing is, Angela has her M.S. in Exercise Physiology, so she knows better :) She is a big time sweater (like your brother-in-law) and sometimes it just happens.

    Luckily, I am not much of a sweater and I don't take in as much fluid as most. How about you?

  4. - great on the 14.
    - too bad about the yakking
    - you need to be aware that you either want to train your body to handle different hydration or accommodate your body on hydration needs, the article is talking about training your body to "need" less water, the situation you experienced was definitely that the person was not trained but "needed" a s-load of water
    - I use the rule of 1 cup (8 oz) every 20 minutes - without fail. In hot weather or high heart rate workouts 1 1/2 cups
    - I also drink before until I can pee "clear" then I stop an hour before running
    - you need to experiment and see what works best for you (you're unique, just like everybody else!)

  5. Wow 14 miles is a LONG way to go! Sounds like a good, memorable time though.

    And Torrey Pines is my favorite hiking trail! the ocean backdrop.

    Keep up your insightful blog:)

  6. Nice post! Yeah, I did a sweat test this summer and learned that I can lose 3.5 pounds, or 1.5 liters of sweat in 60 mins when running in heat. I was shocked when I reweighed myself and subtracted my thermal expenditures. I am looking forward to fall temps and sweating less!

  7. Andrew: That is an interesting perspective. I took it to say that we should listen to our bodies and respond accordingly. I don't think it is about training yourself to need less as much as it is about drinking less if you need less, and drinking more if you need more. Drink accordingly. I also drink until I pee clear. The good old pee test :)

    Jon- Holy cow! That is a lot of sweat! I feel like I am the oddball for not sweating a great deal. It is interesting how different we all are.

  8. This is why I carry water with me on EVERY run :) Better to have water than to not. Thanks for visiting my blog!

  9. I love the caption under your Torrey Pines photo. I am always saying "this is where I run, isn't it fabulous" on my runs around SD. (I say it to myself, of course!)

    Did you feel like you had the urge to mess around with the belt the whole time? That is my concern...I currently use a water bottle that straps to my hand.

  10. have a great weekend, love the torrey pines pic!!!!


  11. can we swtich places where we run???
    ur is so much better then my busy streets with lots of ppl and car. boooo

  12. HEY!! I made it to your blog! It's great. I know you said you're jealous that I'm in LA... well we do not live anywhere near places to run. We have to drive to run someplace besides the concrete jungle. So LA, right? I have tons of work to do and I don't think I'm going to get it done, I need to go back and read your archives!

    Is Angela your partner? I'm sorry she was so sick! I hope she's re-hydrated. I'm trying coconut water (the non-flavored kind) on my LR this weekend (measily 8, compared with 14...I've never run further than a half). It's supposed to be a natural electrolyte. Have you tried it? Is it totally gross? (That's my fear).

  13. Check out the Body Bottle ( - its the most comfortable option out there. It straps to your arm, and pulls off easily. Definitely more comfortable than water bladder backpacks, waist-belt bottles and handhelds.

    Check it out:

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