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Hydrating for Heat, Hills, and Humidity

If you’re running in Atlanta during the summer, you understand “Heat, Hills & Humidity”. Hydration is key to surviving the big day on July 4th. Here’s what you need to know about hydrating for the AJC Peachtree Road Race.

Welcome to Atlanta.

Home to some 464,000 people, Atlanta is a vibrant city with numerous attractions, including the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola, Fox Theatre, High Museum of Art, and the renowned Varsity. Speaking of food, nothing conjures up a hankering for some authentic Southern grub like a 10K race on July 4th. What is Independence Day in Atlanta without the iconic AJC Peachtree Road Race, 60,000 runners, young and old, blazing through the streets under a blazing sun in route to a glorious finish at Piedmont Park?

Hydrating For The AJC Peachtree Road Race

Welcome to Hotlanta.

Speaking of warm weather, in a July 4th, 2016, article for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the “Peachtree”, Army Sargent Samantha Kanatzar discussed the challenging 10K course and how it compared to her 2015 AJC Peachtree Road Race satellite race in Kuwait with temperatures around 130 degrees. “There was no escaping the humidity,” said Kanatzar. Heat. Hills. Humidity. These three quintessential conditions, also on the back of Big Peach RUNATL shirts, will once again define the 48th running of the Peachtree Road Race on July 4th, 2017. Besides adequate training and ample nutrition, hydration, before, during, and after training runs, will undoubtedly decrease the risk of injury and increase the likelihood of a solid race as the rising sun sets the roads on fire.

Before a Run

Though water stops will be available at every mile on the course, training for the AJC Peachtree Road Race requires thorough preparation before, during, and after a run as the mercury rises in the coming weeks and months. Exercise scientist Dr. Timothy Noakes has a few words on the subject, starting with the days prior to training runs. “The aim of ingesting fluid before exercise is to ensure that we are appropriately hydrated at the start of exercise. This is quite easily achieved by ensuring adequate fluid intake with meals.” Likewise, appropriate hydration can be gauged by urine color (light yellow). Finally, in addition to adequate fluid at meals, sip water throughout the day with a water bottle to ensure the aforementioned urine color is maintained.

During a Run

Information for hydration during a run is complex. Some experts suggest drinking to thirst while others suggest drinking to replenish lost sweat. Dr. Noakes, who has watched this subject evolve for many decades as a researcher, advises the following: “The idea that you should drink ahead of thirst is absolutely nonsensical. If you rely on thirst you won’t ever become dehydrated, and you won’t also ever become overhydrated.” Numerous 10K training plans structure the longest run to be 7-10 miles, and water is the ideal fluid for sixty minutes or less of running. For a 10-mile run, which will likely translate into 90 or 100 minutes of running based on pace, bring a gel for extra carbohydrates.

For hydration gear to go the distance, drop by your local Big Peach Running Co. for a robust selection of options. Most runners opt for a bottle like the Nathan QuickDraw Plus (22 ounces) or the SpeedDraw Plus (18 ounces) for 10K training, though others like belts which provide additional fluid capacity and space for phone and nutrition storage. The Nathan Peak (18 ounces), TrailMix (20 ounces), Mercury 3 (30 ounces), and Amphipod RunLite Xtech 4 Plus (42 ounces) are all worth considering. Finally, runners who prefer to train with hydration vests cannot use them during Peachtree due to security concerns. Change to a bottle or belt for this race.

After a Run

Hydration after a run follows the same principle for fluid intake during a run. Drink to thirst. In the words of Dr. Noakes, “Dehydration is not a disease, and it only has one symptom, and that is thirst.” Too much water in the body can lead to hyponatremia, a potentially fatal condition that is characterized by very low sodium levels in the blood. Therefore, after finishing a training run in hot conditions, and after crossing the finish line at Peachtree, find shade, stretch the legs, hydrate slowly, and enjoy this accomplishment.

A Note on Heat

Since spring is here, now is the time to step off the treadmill and step onto the roads. First, the impact on the body during a treadmill run is lower than a run on concrete or asphalt. Acclimate to this harder surface to effectively prepare for the AJC Peachtree Road Race. Speaking of which, begin acclimating to the heat as well. In the words of Dr. Noakes, “The importance of heat acclimatization (developed after 7-14 days) is that it not only provides considerable protection from heat injury but in competition in the heat, heat-acclimatized athletes will always have the edge over their equally fit but unacclimatized opponents.” In summary, head outside and work up a good sweat.

A Part of History

According to the Atlanta Track Club website, on July 4th, 1970, 150 runners gathered to run 6.2 miles through Atlanta.

110 finished.

In 2016, 56,878 finished.

56,878 people decided to forego a race that was comfortable and enjoyable; they embraced the heat, hills, and humidity that the fine city of Atlanta has to offer. They etched another memory on their running timeline and collected a special tee shirt.

Are you ready to be number 56,879?

Austin Bonds is a Guest Advocate at the Big Peach Suwanee location.