HYDRATION DURING TRAINING
Words and photo: © Julia Revitt
As we saw in my article ‘Hydration Before Riding’, the body is made of between 50% and 60% water and a 2% drop in this can impair your riding ability – a 5% drop can affect your performance by as much as 30%. From giving you a headache and nausea to renal failure and death – hydration can affect you in a variety of ways.Starting the ride
So you’ve kicked off your ride hydrated and you’re raring to go. You now need to think about what and how much to drink while you’re out on the trails.
Relying on thirst is not advisable during exercise as dehydration can start before becoming thirsty. (I easily forget to drink when concentrating hard or when I’m totally absorbed in the ride, it’s easily done.) Also when riding in cold temperatures we often forget about drinking as we don’t get as thirsty, but it’s still essential to hydrate. Therefore a measure of testing and planning is required…How much should you drink?
The amount of liquid you should drink is unique to you. The only way to know if you are getting enough is to test your weight before and after an hour’s training session. So weigh yourself in all your training gear before you head out, train for 1 hour with no food (drink as you feel you need to) and then weigh yourself in all your training gear again when you get back home. If you have lost weight – you will need to drink more. Make sure you are using an accurate set of scales too – preferably one with a digital reading and always use them on the same surface. You will need to drink 1.5 times the amount of fluid lost to rehydrate – so if you weighed 74kg before your training and 73kg afterwards – you would need to drink 1.5litres of fluid to rehydrate.
As the weather changes, so do your fluid requirements. You will need to drink more in hot weather as you lose more fluid through sweat. So regularly perform the weight test to make sure you are getting it right. Use the colour of your urine too as a good guideline – it should be a pale yellow colour.What to drink on rides
Straight water is fine for rides of under an hour or that do not take place in very hot conditions or if you are following my guidelines from ‘Nutrition During Riding’ and are eating carbohydrates during your rides. For training in hot conditions, the drink needs to contain some electrolytes to replace those lost in sweat. The drink should be hypotonic or isotonic – which means it gets absorbed into the blood stream very quickly.
Drink small, regular amounts throughout your ride to avoid stomach discomfort caused by drinking too much at once and also to make sure you have a steady supply of fluids to keep you hydrated.Make it at home
You don’t need to buy expensive sports drinks though as you can make your own. Try mixing some freshly squeezed orange juice (or unconcentrated juice) with a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt. Add some water to dilute to taste and if it’s a little sharp add a pinch of sugar. Stir well and enjoy. It’s probably best to use smooth juice for this recipe if you are drinking from a bladder otherwise you could end up with a clogged nozzle – ouch!
Experiment during training to see what works for you and never try anything new during a race or big ride.Stay tuned for what to eat for optimum recovery, so you can ride hard again tomorrow.
To read the previous article by Julia click here.